Evolution - an Ecognostic Perspective

The Anthroposophical view of evolution

The Anthroposophical theory of evolution differs quite dramatically from the Darwinian view. It is, strictly speaking, involutionary rather than evolutionary.  But it is probably also the only worldview to present a viable detailed alternative paradigm to Darwinism as far as the evolution of the Earth goes.

Creationism also presents an alternative paradigm, but it is hardly viable - i.e. it involves a slavish adherence to biblical literalism, and the distorting of empirical observations to fit that religious perspective.

Anthroposophy can also be slavish, in adherence to the teachings of its founder the philosopher and esotericist Rudolph Steiner, but at least it presents a more interesting and organic picture. The anthroposophical perspective unfolds from within, just as the Darwinian perspective does. It stimulates the imagination, rather than restricting it.

Interestingly, both Creationism (and the literalist (Judaeo-)Christianity from which it is derived) and Anthroposophy display the same extreme speciest chauvanism. The human race is the paragon of creation, all other life is just there for a secondary (albeit still important) purpose. This is the very opposite of the biocentrism of the Deep Ecology movement for example.

The Anthroposophical paradigm can be defined according to the following points

The most annoying thing about Anthroposophy is, as indicated above, the strong speciest chauvanism found throughout. This is a natural consequence of Steiner's Graeco-Christian worldview and the reason why, with it's all its insights and strengths, Anthroposophy is unlikely to exert much influence on the future evolution of human consciousness. Man and the noosphere as a whole is (I like to think) evolving away from the limited tribal-centric mindset that characterised earlier generations, and nowhere in the history of humanity has this been greater than the development of moral thought in the Western world over the last one and a half centuries.

Although the Anthroposophical theory of evolution cannot be taken literally in the way that Darwinian evolution can. Anthroposophy provides a metaphysical and esoteric perspective that overlaps with science but is frequently wrong when explaining physical reality. To accept many anthroposophical statements woudl require as great a leap of faith, and embracing of absurdity, as would accepting Young Earth Creationism.

I interprete the Anthroposophical perspective on evolution as being a "right-brain" or intuitive one, a perfect compliment (with all the strengths and weaknesses of right-brain creativity) to the "left-brain" or rationalistic persepective of science.

Two good anthroposophical books on Anthroposophy and evolution are A New Zoology by Dr Hermann Poppelbaum, and Gaiasophy by Kees Zoeteman

Poppelbaum seeks to integrate zoology with Anthroposophy, Zoetemann external link  ecology. Poppelbaum comes from the old school of fundamentalist Anthroposophy in which Steiner's writings are seen as holy script. Zoeteman is a lot freer and more open-minded, presenting Anthropsophy as a persuasive alternative but still puzzling over the irreconceivable differences between Anthroposophy and Science when explaining the material world, and still tending to sympathise with the Anthroposophical perspective, even when it is patently absurd.

Is there anything Anthroposophy can show us or help us with in an attempt to create a new evolutionary paradigm?

My answer is yes, but it is less the anthroposophical doctrine of Earth history, which taken literally is patently as ridiculous as that of Christian Creation Science, and more the anthroposophical method of allowing nature to speak to us, and looking at nature as one would at a personality, rather than as dumb matter. But this latter is really the Goethean method, which was adopted by Steiner. In formulating a new ecognostic science, I have looked at nature in this way, and come to conclusions that differ from both reductionist science and fundamentalist esotericism, yet still incorporate the best of both.

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page uploaded 12 December 1999, relocated, last modified 23 December 2001