American Philosophy and Rudolf Steiner
Emerson – Thoreau – Peirce – James – Royce – Dewey – Whitehead – Feminism
Few thinkers from outside the United States have touched American culture in as many ways as Rudolf Steiner. Agriculture, education, spirituality, and medicine—or more precisely, alternative practices in these fields—all bear clear marks of his influence, for those with eyes to see. Yet the very breadth of Steiner’s impact has perhaps made him harder, not easier, for observers of American culture to notice.
American Philosophy and Rudolf Steiner aspires to raise Steiner’s profile by digging into just one field of inquiry: philosophy. Before he became known to the world as a transmitter of clairvoyant wisdom, Steiner was an academic philosopher, editor of the scientific writings of Goethe and author of a foundational work in philosophy, The Philosophy of Freedom: The Basis for a Modern Worldview, published in 1894. That book expressed in philosophical terms many of the ideas that would later emerge as integral to the spiritual science of Anthroposophy.
Though the authors cover a wide range of topics, most share an elegiac tone. They see great potential for dialogue between Rudolf Steiner and the great American philosophers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. American philosophy may have taken a wrong turn in the mid-twentieth century, when pragmatism gave way to a tradition of analytical philosophy that eschewed metaphysics as inherently meaningless and focused on the coherence or incoherence of linguistic structures. Nonetheless, many new sites of potential dialogue exist between Steiner and American philosophy.
Five of the articles in this volume were written as part of a seminar on Rudolf Steiner and American Thought as part of a Project for the Renewal of Philosophy, Science, and Education sponsored by Laurance S. Rockefeller. The contributors—David Ray Griffin, Gertrude Reif Hughes, Frank M. Oppenheim, S. J., Douglas Sloan, and Robert McDermott—were originally published in ReVision: A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation (spring and summer 1991).
C O N T E N T S:
Preface by Robert McDermott
Foreword by Dan McKanan
Introduction by Robert McDermott
1. Hearing Steiner’s Anthroposophy in Emerson’s Prophetic Voice
by Gertrude Reif Huges
2. Deliberate Lives, Deliberate Living: Thoreau and Steiner in Conversation
by Rebecca Kneale Gould
3. William James and Rudolf Steiner
by Robert McDermott
4. Charles Sanders Peirce and Rudolf Steiner: Prophetic Philosophers
by Robert McDermott
5. Josiah Royce and Rudolf Steiner: A Comparison and Contrast
by Frank M. Oppenheim, S.J.
6. Steiner’s Anthroposophy and Whitehead’s Philosophy
by David Ray Griffin
7. John Dewey’s Project for “Saving the Appearances”
by Douglas Sloan
8. Rudolf Steiner’s Activist Epistemology and Feminist Thought in America
by Gertrude Reif Hughes