“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Rudolf Steiner on Thinking

By what right do you declare the world finished without thinking? Does not the world bring forth thinking in human heads with the same necessity as it brings forth blossoms on the plant? Plant a seed in the earth. It puts forth roots and stem. It unfolds into leaves and blossoms. Set the plant before you. It links itself to a specific concept in your soul. Why does this concept belong to the plant any less than the leaves and blossoms do? You might reply that the leaves and blossoms are present without a perceiving subject, while the concept appears only when a human being confronts the plant. Very well. But blossoms and leaves arise in the plant only when there is earth in which the seed can be laid and light and air in which leaves and blossoms can unfold. Just so, the concept of the plant arises when thinking consciousness approaches the plant.”

-p. 79-80, Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path: A Philosophy of Freedom translated by Michael Lipson







5 responses to “Rudolf Steiner on Thinking”

  1. Jason Hills Avatar

    Very poetic, and much more so than when I try to explain it in my own thought. In my articles, I’ve used a “pyramid” metaphor.

  2. mary Avatar

    thinking with steiner

  3. Trevor Owen Jones Avatar

    Rudolf Steiner was more than a bit of white supremacist, I don’t think you should be reading him or taking his ideas seriously.

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      I am aware that he didn’t interact much (or at all) with people of color, since he lived in central Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But he was a vocal opponent of any elevation of race identity above individual identity. In a lecture in 1917, he said “A man who speaks today about a racial, national, or tribal community as an ideal is describing impulses leading to humanity’s destruction” (October 26, 1917). He spoke often of the inevitability of the eventual dissolution of all races into one human community. There are, of course, many smear campaigns online that take comments out of context, or even intentionally mistranslate his words, to try to paint him as a racist, among other things. What are you referring to, exactly, when you say he was a white supremacist?

      See this essay for a response to many of the claims made against him.

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