Re: Epistemology and esotericism (was: Quotes of next month)
- Well put!
I composed the following in response to your first mail on this and it might just about be worth keeping:
I don't myself think that there's such a thing as 'esoteric epistemology'; rather there's just different kind's of more or less accurate, more or less credible epistemologies. Steiner's epistemology has high credibility in my view because it has few suppositions and directly addresses the facts of the situation, as good science should. Positivism and the 'dialectical', fence-sitting hybrid that Der Staudi appears to endorse seem, in comparison to Steiner's thinking on the subject, more arbitrary and less cogent. So I agree with you that Steiner's PoF, Truth and Science, Theory of Knowledge in Goethe's World Conception and etc. do no more than make sense-free thinking and esotericism possible. But, after all, that is a great deal and enough for Steiner to consider PoF his magnum opus (I think that the others are just as good).
--- In email@example.com, "elfuncle" <elfuncle@...> wrote:
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "elfuncle" <elfuncle@>
> > "Esoteric epistemology" has nothing to do with Rudolf Steiner's
> > epistemology, with his monism. This is where Der Staudi is not merely
> > misleading and deceptive (as his wont), but genuinely confused. First
> > off, he has decided long ago that Steiner was an atheist and an
> > anarchist (like Der Staudi himself) when he wrote the PoF in 1894, and
> > that he "converted" to esotericism after the turn of the century, when
> > he came in contact with the theosophists. Now he wants it both ways by
> > infusing Steiner's 19th century philosophical scholarship into his
> > century esotericism by calling it "esoteric epistemology", which is
> > nonsense.
> I meant it the other way around: Der Staudi tries to infuse Steiner's
> 20th century esotericism back into his 19th century episteomoligical
> principles. Precisely because this epistemology is based upon
> individualism and freedom, there is nothing supersensible in it, a fact
> that Der Staudi has pointed out repeatedly. And precisely because he is
> very much aware of this, his present rants about "esoteric epistemology"
> are self-contradictory.
> Esotericism can only lay claim to a scientific culture (spiritual
> science) if it is built upon a sound epistemological foundation. This
> does not mean that this epistemology IS, ipso facto, esotericism. It
> would be the same thing to say that the soil is corn because the latter
> grows out of the former. Many other foods, fruits, vegetables, herbs
> etc. may grow from the same soil, and such is also the relationship
> between epistemology and esotericism in Steiner's case.
> If Der Staudi should see this, or if anyone should point this out to
> him, don't expect an intellectually honest or intelligent comment. There
> will only be more balderdash to bewilder his handful of faithful
> disciples, whose loyalty and devotion to their master should be of great
> interest to scholars researching topics like cults, brainwashing,
> pathological lying etc.
> Yours for philosophy and logic,
--- In email@example.com, "ted.wrinch" <ted.wrinch@...> wrote:
> I don't myself think that there's such a thing as 'esoteric epistemology'; rather there's just different kind's of more or less accurate, more or less credible epistemologies.
Der Staudi and his devoted Sugar Cherubs would be less bewildered about epistemology if they they kept it simple and refrained from confusing the issue. The dictionary says that epistemology is "a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge." Rudolf Steiner's exposition of this topic in GA 3 and GA 4 has nothing to do with esotericism.
Wikipedia has a well-written article on esotericism here -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esotericism -- that covers all the basics, including the scholarly analyses Der Staudi claims to be enamored by. It's a strange thing, however, that he's so sloppy and deceptive about the true state of things when claiming over and over that esotericists are not only too dumb to be scholars but also too dense to read them. The Wikipedia article mentions five individuals who happen to be both scholars and esotericists.
If one wants to go beyond the simple dictionary definition of epistemology as mentioned above, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a good place to look it up (a kind of reference that is frequently used by students of anthroposophy btw): http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemology/ .
This covers a lot of ground, but to get to the point that Der Staudi and his devoted disciples are especially interested in, it looks like "Testimony" covers it. If a sighted person were to give descriptions of nature to a group of blind people, they would not be able to verify or corroborate this empirically themselves, so they would have to accept or reject such testimony based not only upon the credibility of the witness but also upon whether or not the information made sense and resonated with whatever they could experience through their other senses and powers of reason.
I would like to pick one example mentioned in this encyclopedic article and elaborate on it, construct upon it: You're on the subway (or the tube or the metro or the underground or whatever). You have no watch, no cell phone, no radio, and there are no clocks mounted anywhere, so you ask the lady sitting next to you what time it is. She says 3:30 P.M. Ten minutes later you exit, walk for another ten minutes, and on the street you notice that the afternoon congestion is developing, and if it's mid-winter in a northern city, dusk has begun to fall too. All of this indicates that the lady told you the right time 20 minutes earlier. Ten minutes later, office workers leave for home (having finished at 4 P.M.), and the congestion peaks. The testimony from the lady who told you what time it was, is corroborated.
A man who concludes that the lady on the subway must have been right because of his own knowledge of sunset and rush hour traffic, is contemptuously called an "esotericist" by Der Staudi. A "proper scholar" like himself, on the other hand, has no foolish assumptions about traffic, the closing of offices, dusk and dawn and things like that. He is exclusively concerned with textual analyses, and he would probably argue that the assumed credibility of the lady with the watch would depend upon her race. If she was black, the esotericist would be too much of a a racist to believe her; if she was white, she would have told him Third Reich Time and so on, and thus he would have continued about Asians and Jews as well, with selected quotes by Steiner about these groups, and he would have finished the whole thing off by citing some Anthro-Nazi , maybe an honored Adorable Darling guest in Sugarland, who denies the holocaust because the lady on the subway couldn't tell him at what hour the holocaust had actually started. That's basically how Der Staudi's nutty mind works. Anarchist revolts and revolutions used to be a concern of his (something that seemed to alarm the late, politically conservative Paulina btw), but now he seems to have no interest in the huge, huge Wall Street protest with massive arrests and of course no interest whatsoever in history -- not in antiquity, not in the Middle Ages, and his present dabbling in Enlightenment philosophy (like modern epistemology beginning with Descartes) indicates that he has never studied the matter, regardless of how many books written by others he tells his faithful to read. Those who ignore Der Staudi's Sugarland-postings are, of course, averse to reading or simply dyslectic, hateful towards scholars (and other smart people), completely ignorant of and hostile to history, incapable of replacing a light bulb or a fuse, and they are all suffering from a mental disorder called "esoteric epistemology", which is probably an exotic variety of ADHD.