Anthroposophy is a philosophy founded in the early 20th-century by esotericist Rudolf Steiner that postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, accessible to human experience.
The philosophy has its roots in German idealist and mystical philosophies. Steiner chose the term anthroposophy (from anthropo-, human, and Sophia, wisdom) to emphasize his philosophy’s humanistic orientation. Anthroposophical ideas have been employed in alternative movements in many areas including education (both in Waldorf schools and in the Camphill movement, agriculture, medicine, banking, organizational development, and the arts. The main organization for advocacy of Steiner’s ideas, the Anthroposophical Society, is headquartered at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.
Anthroposophical proponents aim to extend the clarity of the scientific method to phenomena of human soul-life and spiritual experiences. Steiner believed this required developing new faculties of objective spiritual perception, which he maintained was still possible for contemporary humans. The steps of this process of inner development he identified as consciously achieved imagination, inspiration, and intuition. Steiner believed the results of this form of spiritual research should be expressed in a way that can be understood and evaluated on the same basis as the results of natural science.
Steiner hoped to form a spiritual movement that would free the individual from any external authority. For Steiner, the human capacity for rational thought would allow individuals to comprehend spiritual research on their own and bypass the danger of dependency on an authority such as himself.
Steiner contrasted the anthroposophical approach with both conventional mysticism, which he considered lacking the clarity necessary for exact knowledge, and natural science, which he considered arbitrarily limited to what can be seen, heard, or felt with the outward senses.
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