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Who is an Anthroposophist?

Who, exactly, qualifies for the label 'Anthroposophist'?. This question can be approached from several angles, and the definition you chose will depend on your reasons for needing one. A broad definition might define as an Anthroposophist as anyone who finds value in Steiner's work. But this definition is overly broad, since it would include many people who might fundamentally disagree with Steiner despite finding some part of his work valuable in some small way. Likewise defining as an Anthroposophist anyone who is a consumer of the practical results of Rudolf Steiner's spiritual insights is also overly broad, as it includes anyone who regularly buys Demeter or Weleda or Dr. Hauschka, as well as all Waldorf parents and anyone who happens to be treated in an anthroposophical hospital. Such consumers can hardly be called "followers" of Rudolf Steiner. To me an Anthroposophist is, at the very least, someone who studies Steiner's work actively. But even this is not a full definition, for a number of very hostile critics arguably also fit this description. Whether or not a person is an Anthroposophist is very much a question of inner attitude towards the work of Steiner's as they actively study it. If they feel a sort of warm enthusiasm, then they are part of the way to meeting my definition.

Another way of approaching the question would be to ask, Who would Anthroposophists recognizes their own? Those who qualify would be those who in general accept the greater portion of Rudolf Steiner's teachings, or at least are among those who don't actively reject significant portions of it. This disqualifies those who pick and choose and make their own philosophy of racial superiority out of bits and pieces of Rudolf Steiner's work, for in doing this they reject Steiner's central principles of racial, national, ethnic and cultural tolerance. This also disqualifies those who go through a shorter or longer phase of their life in which they are enthusiastic supporters of Anthroposophy only to reject it later, either from neglect or by actively turning against it. These can be said to have had an anthroposophical phase in their life, but the description 'Anthroposophist' cannot be fairly applied in describe their life as a whole.

If we limit our definition to those people who have exhibited a continuing enthusiastic support for Anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner's teaching, in whole and not just portions thereof, then we are approaching a fair definition of 'Anthroposophist'.

Daniel Hindes, June 30th, 2005