In his analysis here and throughout, Rohen is diligent in citing both anthroposophical and non-anthroposophical sources, both contemporary and time tested. However, while he points to some successful examples of regional currencies from the s, he makes practically no mention of the more than 2, alternative currencies currently in existence, which have varied degrees of success and equally wideranging usually unconscious alignment with threefold principles.
It is also worth clarifying that in the U. In addition, he points to automation, deregulation, and other culprits of our social unhealth. In each of these cases, Rohen paints a bleak picture of the current state of affairs and of the pathological growth in already unhealthy systems, and illustrates how these tendencies are stark aberrations from the robust and healthy functional threefold pictures that he has outlined.
Although Rohen offers some important suggestions for the redemption of our ailing systems, he fails to mention what seem to be some of the most hopeful examples of positive change, such as community land trusts and worker-owned co-ops though he does mention profit sharing with employees. Rudolf Steiner Library Newsletter: Reviews tion. Perhaps after heeding his recommendation, one could turn to the advice of another author and activist extraordinaire , whom Rohen references with admiration: Nicanor Perlas. In the same time frame, however, Nicanor Perlas ran for the presidency of the Philippines, and more recently initiated a new civil-society organization, MISSION, which is showing signs of becoming just this kind of much-needed third force in society.
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In addition, millions of people worldwide have come together in solidarity as part of the Occupy movement. If we can marry this emergent cultural force with the wisdom and knowledge of social processes and threefolding that Rohen so vividly describes, perhaps we can take some real steps toward healing. But perhaps here the analogy with the human physical organism falls especially short.
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Affecting systemic, positive social change requires the free, conscious, inner and outer activity of human beings working together out of insight, and for this—and perhaps just as well— there is no analogy. Functional Threefoldness brings a new voice and perspective to many of the long called-for reforms and new ideas of threefolders and some of the larger circle of individuals and organizations seeking social renewal.
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Floris Books, , pages. He focused initially on the history of the s counterculture, but by had found a different interest. Readers hoping to find the true identity of Hermes Trismegistus will not find it here. Here, as in A Secret History of Consciousness, he sketches out the wandering history of an idea. He traces the meandering stream of Hermetic thought from its fabled beginnings in Egypt, to the murmur of its underground music in Hellenistic and medieval times, to the roar of its resurgence in the Renaissance.
Then comes the plunge. Lachman is perhaps at his best recounting the near disappearance of Hermeticism following the relentless scrutiny of the scholar Isaac Casaubon, who demonstrated convincingly that the supposedly ancient texts regarded as the core works of Hermeticism were pious forgeries. Lachman recounts the resurfacings of Hermeticism in the new forms of Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, the Cambridge Platonists, German and British Romanticism, Theosophy, anthroposophy, and the best of New Age thinking.
Hermes, it seems, may be unidentifiable, but is still immortal. If Lachman is sometimes short on analysis, he is a wonderful storyteller. The cumulative effect of The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus is to shine a light on the manifestations of Hermeticism through the ages and to make a case for its centrality.
It provides the reader with generous starting points for further reading and an impetus for personal research. Because there is little that can be said with any degree of certainty about Hermes Trismegistus, and because the Corpus Hermeticum is dialogic, obscure, and stubbornly resistant to translation, most of The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus is discursive, exploring associated themes such as Egyptian cosmogony, alchemy, and various accounts of the journey through the planetary spheres which Lachman compares to the anthroposophical account of the period between death and rebirth.
Lachman also looks at subjects more loosely related with his theme, such as experimen-. He is less able to elicit the meaning of Hermeticism, relying upon the sweeping distinction between gnosis, with which he associates Hermeticism, and episteme, with which he associates reductive knowledge. Many readers are likely to find his conclusions wanting. We are left intrigued, stimulated, but hungry for something more nourishing—like anthroposophy. The word is older, but it has found its particular meaning in the work of Rudolf Steiner.
In this short review we will not look at the action of members of the German section of the Theosophical Society in forming an Anthroposophical Society. Our interest is in drawing a larger picture of anthroposophy, and the society devoted to it, in human history and culture, and today, here in the USA. Should we expect it to have accomplished more? They have shown many failings, but have persisted and endured. Alongside that crucial fact, two others appear: First, the great foundation for their work was the spirit and idea of Europe, and it failed, catastrophically, in World War I.
And yet today it is a present and future success which we are struggling to recognize. And until European powers were the masters of the world. The USA. European rule unfolded relentlessly, harshly, but the aggressive outward side of it was partnered by an inner cultural triumph, the development of modern science. But to start telling these stories, of the ships and guns and trade, the observations and experiments and hypotheses, would take many, many pages. So at the historical moment when Rudolf Steiner became active, Europe had become capable and worthy of leading the development of a world culture.
Slavery had been abolished. Reformers sought to care for the poor and elevate the displaced peasants who were now the urban industrial proletariat. The days of privilege by birth-right were fading fast and near forgotten over in America. The magical experience of reading was open to all. Art had begun to see and speak to everyone. Romanticism reaffirmed the meaning of the individual.
The novel, the canvas, and the opera created overwhelming alternate realities: imagination awakening imagination. Science had revealed vast invisible fields of forces stretching to the stars. Evolution now told us we had endured a vast process of development not mentioned in the Bible.
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Psychology was probing the inner life, finding unknown regions, determined to conquer the soul just like another hemisphere. If Christian theology held back, Mme. Europe was even beginning to listen to the world. Debussy learned from the Javanese gamelan, Picasso from African masks. This Europe was an idea and an ideal. Imagined esoterically, it was a chorus of archangels—a chorus of cultures and languages reaching up together to shape planetary destiny. It was a harmony of diverse voices hymning an exalted purpose.
And with the failing and falling away of old social forms and traditional understandings, it was demanding a new and higher stage to rise onto. All that was missing was a way of understanding, obfall issue It is in this situation that Rudolf Steiner appears, in a modest workingclass family of lower Austria. What he eventually brought would have made no sense, gained no traction, either outside Europe or earlier in its history.
It was a consummating step in a thousand years of cultural becoming. By imperial Germany was shattered socially and economically, and Austria-Hungary dissolved. The world into which Rudolf Steiner was bringing his vision and his tools for a higher cultural development—that world just vanished. Anthroposophy would have to find new possibilities in a world that would continue to destroy itself, and tens of millions of human lives, for many decades to come. Italy went fascist in Germany succumbed in , Spain in a hideous civil war from to The aftermath from forward was a choice of politically benign but culturally corrosive consumerism from the USA—or a long harsh winter under the commissars.
In the once world-conquering Europeans celebrated the simple fact that they are no killing each other with a Peace Prize to the European Union.
But their shared cultural vision has been stunted, and their sense of a world responsibility is largely buried under the shame of colonialism and its cultural brutality. Rudolf Steiner was asked about this in see CW , lectures of December. Two related impulses have succeeded, however.
Today anthroposophy in the USA is actually wellrepresented by a very substantial infrastructure of human services. They are widely recognized as outstanding in their goals and very credible in accomplishment. What is anthroposophy? Healing the Earth? And Geist is a word which points to mind and intellect and spirit. Or it may be a laughable oxymoron that places anthroposophy in the company of religions like Christian Science and Scientology.
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Dilthey called for a science Wissenschaft of mind-and-spirit Geist ; he saw this being founded on an understanding of the individual human spirit. Rudolf Steiner actually did this foundational work. His Philosophy of Free Spiritual Activity justified the individual human mind-and-spirit as foundation for a view of reality. His How to Know Higher Worlds is a preparatory manual for the researcher in this new field.
Academic thinkers did not recognize the significance of his early works, and eventually he found his audience in the Theosophical Society and went public with his esoteric researches. Though it radically challenged established and conventional modern thought, if Europe had not collapsed, it might have been understood. So what is anthroposophy? Anthroposophists will have to acknowledge and clarify and defend it in those terms, too. Where do the simple being-human and the new cultural paradigm meet? This is very timely.
But in the inner American impulse to form one nation out of free individuals, wherever they come from, and to afford all persons an opportunity to manifest their potential—in that unique organic principle the world senses an enduring ideal. By accepting the breadth of our differences, Americans reach up to that same high level of the universally human which the idea of Europe once achieved.
Anthroposophy is not needing to be led globally by US-Americans, who could not match all its rich development in Europe. But over here, in the inner America where humanity often sees a real generosity of spirit, Americans must help anthroposophy grow strong and open and credible. Is that possible?