Talk:Rudolf Steiner

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Adding "writer" to Steiner's list of attributes seems both superfluous and misleading. Superfluous because other characteristics given in the lede -- philosopher, social reformer, literary critic -- imply this. Misleading because adding "writer" to the other categories implies he wrote about something other than these things. HGilbert (talk) 12:37, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

Neither superfluous nor misleading. Writer, because not all of those who engage in those activities are writers about them, and writing about them is not implied in the activity. His writings are a notable part of his lifework, as the List shows. He was not only a writer but a social reformer etc as well. In the field of social reform he was possibly more notable as a writer than activist compared with most of those usually called social reformers. In the field of esotericism he was unusually notable as a published writer, not merely a teacher or ritualist. His published philosophical and other writings notably underpin his anthropsophical and other activities. We cannot assume that readers will be aware of this. Qexigator (talk) 16:10, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
I think the last philosopher who was not a writer was Socrates, so yes, it is really implied in this, at least. Furthermore there is a whole section on his writings, so no one could be mistaken. Perhaps you could find a reliable source for this as a principal attribute. Not that it is a big issue. HGilbert (talk) 16:15, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
Res ipsa loquitur, philosopher does not = writer, never has, and the top/lead is supposed to mention the essential points for inquirers who may not read the whole. His published writings were essential to his lifework and his influence today. But, since you ask, a quick websearch offers:
Steiner was a true polymath, with interests in agriculture, architecture, art, drama, literature, math, medicine, philosophy, science, and religion, among other subjects. His doctoral dissertation at the University of Rostock was on Fichte's theory of knowledge. He was the author of many books and lectures with titles like The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (1894), Occult Science: An Outline (1913), Investigations in Occultism (1920), How to Know Higher Worlds (1904),[1]
Not a bad source for that testimonial. Qexigator (talk) 17:02, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
Author is already better, and I have changed it to fit your source. HGilbert (talk) 17:45, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
OK. I spy J.K.Rowling! Daresay that suits many readers, and if this give some an entree' to Rudolf Steiner, well and good.Qexigator (talk) 18:07, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
+But hold on: A person more fluent in the German language than I am has drawn my attention to the Steiner article in German[2] where the word used is "Publizist"[3] and not the equivalent of "author" as might be used of a creative writer such as Thomas Mann, ein deutscher Schriftsteller[4] sind Urheber und Verfasser literarischer Texte und zählen damit zu den Autoren[5]. Similarly, Stefan Zweig, Friedrich Dürrenmatt; and Joanne K. Rowling[6] is a female Schriftsteller. Now, of course, allowance must be made for nuance, idiom and usage from language to language (and writer to writer), but my feel for educated written English, together with that glimpse of German, inclines me to see that of the two, it should be writer not author. Note also, French: writer (generally) - écrivain, author (creative, imaginative)-auteur. And in plain English, "The formalist definition is that the history of "literature" foregrounds poetic effects; it is the "literariness" or "poeticity" of literature that distinguishes it from ordinary speech or other kinds of writing."[7]. Qexigator (talk) 22:08, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Your source used author. Let's stick with how Steiner is described, not random quotes from elsewhere! HGilbert (talk) 00:14, 13 September 2015 (UTC)

Hugo Bergmann[edit]

Seems like he ought to be on the list of people in the reception section. Jellypear (talk) 22:31, 13 September 2015 (UTC)

Maybe: he translated a work of Steiner, but does that amount to "inluenced by"? Qexigator (talk) 10:42, 14 September 2015 (UTC)
+ For the record: "Samuel Hugo Bergman(n), auch Hugo Bergman(n)... war ein deutschsprachiger Pionier der neuhebräischen Philosophie, Schriftsteller und Bibliothekar".[8] (Eng. "writer and librarian".) Qexigator (talk) 11:07, 14 September 2015 (UTC)
Just a suggestion. I'll leave it up to editors who know more. See this entry from an encyclopedia of Jews in Easten Europe for an explanation of Steiner having some "influence" on his thought [[9]]. I don't know if it qualifies as a RS for wikipedia. Again, just a suggestion. Jellypear (talk) 16:20, 14 September 2015 (UTC)
He was a close student of Steiner's who emigrated to Israel and continued to represent anthroposophy there. He should definitely be included, though an RS would be helpful. HGilbert (talk) 00:05, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

National Socialism: right or left-wing movement[edit]

The sources here refer to other right-wing movements, not just the NS party. In addition, though I know there's some controversy over this, reliable sources overwhelmingly support the classification of NS as right-wing: see e.g. Guy Tourlamain, Völkisch Writers and National Socialism: A Study of Right-wing Political Culture in Germany, 1890-1960. I have reverted the change that cast this in doubt. HGilbert (talk) 20:18, 17 May 2016 (UTC)


I'd like to incorporate what is of value in the suggested edit, but I am encountering a few difficulties comprehending how best to do so.

  1. The lead should summarize the article and be supported by reliable sources. To say that Steiner developed a "new epistemology" may be valid, but is there any reliable source that claims this?
  2. "esoterically inspired movement". Does this mean to say that there was a supernatural inspiration? Or that he was inspired by an esoteric group? In both cases, it would be hard to find reliable sources to back this up.
    In comparison, the existing article uses the phrasing, "esoteric spiritual movement". Authoritative independent sources (e.g. Hanegraff and Faivre) confirm that this is the case
  3. To say that someone "founded a meditative practice" is to me quite puzzling wording. To my ear, institutions or movements are founded, while meditative practices are developed or taught. Furthermore, the very word "esoteric" already seems to me to imply a meditative component -- and the body of the article tells much more about this. But if you feel it needs to be explicit in the lede, let's do that in a clearer way (e.g. "including a meditative component"). Again, a reliable source might help to word this well.
  4. As written, the sentence beginning, "His work had multidisciplinary roots," is difficult to parse and even more difficult to understand. For example:
    1. His work had roots in philosophy? Can you explain what you mean by that? Giving specific philosophers or philosophic movements (as the current version does) would be more helpful.
    2. You suggest that his work had roots in Phenomenology (philosophy), but if you look at that article, you will see that this is a philosophical movement that began after Steiner's time. This makes no chronological sense Clean Copytalk 23:15, 30 July 2016 (UTC)

Side by side[edit]


At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.


At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoterically inspired movement and meditative practice with spiritual, artistic, social and other practical applications anthroposophy. His work had multidisciplinary roots in Scientific method, albeit representing a new Epistemology, German idealist philosophy, Phenomenology (philosophy) and Goethean science. Other influences include theosophy and Rosicrucianism.

Editor of Goethe's works and such[edit]

According to my professor of Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam, Wouter Hanegraaff, no serious scholar wanted the dubious honor of editing Goethe's scientific work, which was largely considered at the time "worthless prose and wrong science". So, it was not actually something appreciated by most of Steiner's contemporaries. WP:PUFF should be avoided. Tgeorgescu (talk) 20:26, 23 November 2016 (UTC)

Steiner complaining about his job at the Goethe archive:

Leijenhorst, Cees (2006). "Steiner, Rudolf, * 25.2.1861 Kraljevec (Croatia), † 30.3.1925 Dornach (Switzerland)". In Hanegraaff, Wouter J. Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Leiden / Boston: Brill. p. 1086. Steiner moved to Weimar in 1890 and stayed there until 1897. He complained bitterly about the bad salary and the boring philological work, but found the time to write his main philosophical works during his Weimar period. ... Steiner’s high hopes that his philosophical work would gain him a professorship at one of the universities in the German-speaking world were never fulfilled. Especially his main philosophical work, the Philosophie der Freiheit, did not receive the attention and appreciation he had hoped for. 

Quoted by Tgeorgescu (talk) 20:51, 23 November 2016 (UTC)

For Goethe's standing as a scientist according to that time's mainstream view see Peter Selg (26 August 2014). Rudolf Steiner, Life and Work: Volume 1 (1861-1890): Childhood, Youth, and Study Years. SteinerBooks. p. 130. ISBN 978-1-62148-084-6.  Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:45, 24 November 2016 (UTC)

Another source: Henry Barnes (1 August 2005). Into the Heart's Land. SteinerBooks. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-88010-857-7.  I know that these sources (the later two books) are published by Anthroposophical presses, but we could use the criterion of dissimilarity: if Anthroposophists concede these points, that really was the mainstream view of that time. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:59, 24 November 2016 (UTC)

Do we have a published source stating that no reputable academic wanted this editing position? Your original citation appears not to be a published work (I'm not sure -- is this your memory of a lecture?), and we should be careful not to draw conclusions that are actually a WP:SYNTHESIS of several sources. Goethe was probably not highly regarded as a scientist, but that does not mean that there would have been no interest from any academic in editing his scientific works.
I'm also not sure how Hanegraff could possibly know such a thing (that no academics were interested in an editing position offered to Steiner in the 1880s) from his standpoint 120 years later, unless he has some source he is drawing upon -- in which case we should probably use that source directly. Clean Copytalk 02:35, 24 November 2016 (UTC)
Yes, it is what Hanegraaff said during a lecture. I can offer proof that I have attended the course. Besides I think that "worthless prose and bad science" kind of belongs to WP:BLUE. Tgeorgescu (talk) 05:24, 24 November 2016 (UTC)
To be a verifiable source, the material needs to be out there, published, able to be verified. So if you (or another attendee) would publish your lecture notes through a reputable press, this would become a valid source for WP, but otherwise not.
Goethe's standing as a scientist could be sourced, it looks like, but that alone is probably not relevant to this article. Clean Copytalk 20:15, 24 November 2016 (UTC)

Lead (reverted edits)[edit]

To be clear: Steiner was not to any significant extent an artist: he painted a few paintings and carved one joint sculpture. He taught one child for a number of years, but this does not make him an educator (though he was a lecturer on education and a founder of a new pedagogy). He studied science for a few years at university, and wrote about science, but this does not make him a scientist.

Nor did he gain recognition in the 19th century as a philosopher, scientist, or social analyst. His works on Nietzsche and Haeckel were in no sense best-selling.

Wikipedia standards are to avoid "puff", such as the claim that he was "a genius in 12 fields", though if this claim was from a more notable cultural figure it would be suitable for the reception section. It is enough to list his accomplishments and let readers judge for themselves Clean Copytalk 10:13, 14 August 2017 (UTC)