Steiner, Ostwald and materialism
- Good Morning Peter,
Hope you're enjoying the Autumn days.
depicted Ostwald as a critic of materialism, while at other times Steiner
depicted Ostwald as a proponent of materialism, indeed the very embodiment of
I have given several reasons why discussing 'Goethe against atomism' is worthwhile. A good one is that this is the only place where Steiner discusses Ostwald at length, over an extended chapter - the other references you've mentioned so far are only peripheral ones that appear to do little more than mention him. Another reason was given in my '3 materialisms' summary. In this, I pointed out that by Steiner's expressed understanding of materialism, which I had showed by quoting him matched that of the American Heritage Dictionary definition, Ostwald was indeed a materialist.That Steiner has labelled Ostwald a materialist in his writings is not therefore surprising, What is more interesting is that there are also 3 places where he has mentioned Ostwald in a positive context concerning materialism. As we've discussed, two of these contain single line references. One of these references is in Cosmic Memory, where he doesn't mention Ostwald's relation to materialism directly, and instead remarks that Ostwald had set up a journal promoting science's need to overcome materialism; the other is in 'Damit der Mensch...' where he remarks that Ostwald was 'not exactly' a materialist. The third is in 'Goethe against atomism', where he discusses Ostwald at length. In this chapter he endorses Ostwald's attempt to overcome 'hypothetical pictures' in nature (atomism, in Ostwald's definition 'Scientific materialism') but castigates him for failing to move past primary quality materialism (let alone the materialism of his own understanding). Your characterisation of Ostwald as simply a 'critic of materialism' ignores the fact that in the only place where Steiner discusses Ostwald's relationship to materialism he also criticises him for his relationship to materialism.
If you ever feel you'd like like to discuss Steiner, Ostwald and materialism, rather than pontificating about the topic and me, let me know.
- Hi Ted,
I'd appreciate hearing from you on this simple - yet important - point. I
think it might help to bridge at least some of the gap between you and
Peter wrote: "Let’s say that Steiner sometimes said Ostwald was a proponent
of yabbledeedoodoo, and that at other times Steiner said Ostwald was an
opponent of yabbledeedoodoo. We don’t need to agree on what yabbledeedoodoo
means, or even know what yabbledeedoodoo is, in order to determine that
Steiner contradicted himself."
And/or . . . (gulp) that Steiner might have changed his position on
Ostwald's take on yabbledeedoodoo from time to time. And how do we know
this? Because historical evidence clearly states this to be the case. It
does not matter how you or I define yabbledeedoodoo. Does this make sense to
you now, Ted?