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Encyclopedia > Spiritual science

Spiritual science refers to the application of scientific methodology to experiences or phenomena of mind, culture or spirit. Interest in such an application arose widely at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Edmund Husserl, for example, wrote in 1935: Edmund Husserl Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl (April 8, 1859 - April 26, 1938, Freiburg) was a German philosopher, known as the father of phenomenology. ...

It is my conviction that intentional phenomenology has for the first time made spirit as spirit the field of systematic scientific experience, thus effecting a total transformation of the task of knowledge.[1]

The term spiritual science is a translation from the German "Geisteswissenschaft" (pl. "Geisteswissenschaften"), which arose as a translation of John Stuart Mills' reference to "moral sciences". The term is also translated as human studies, the humanities, cultural studies or the social sciences.[2] Its literal meaning, however, is the sciences of the mind or spirit. It is not meant to be a branch of natural science. John Stuart Mill (May 20, 1806 - May 8, 1873), aka JS Mill, an English philosopher and political economist, was the most influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. ... The lunar farside as seen from Apollo 11 Natural science is the study of the physical, nonhuman aspects of the Earth and the universe around us. ...


Spiritual science is often used as a synonym for anthroposophy. The latter, however, refers more narrowly to the work of Rudolf Steiner and the movement connected with him, while spiritual science refers more broadly to any research that uses the methodology of science to explore cultural, human or spiritual experience. Anthroposophy, also called spiritual science by its founder Rudolf Steiner, is an attempt to investigate and describe spiritual phenomena with the same precision and clarity with which natural science investigates and describes the physical world. ... Rudolf Steiner Rudolf Steiner (February 27, 1861 – March 30, 1925) was an Austrian philosopher, literary scholar, architect, playwright, educator, and social thinker. ...

Contents


Historical Foundations

Even before the rise of modern science, Thomas Aquinas and the Scholastics asserted the applicability of reason to the divine. They could thus be regarded as forerunners of late-nineteenth and twentieth century attempts to apply scientific methods of systematic investigation to inner or spiritual experiences. This began with Wilhelm Dilthey, who founded a systematic approach to the expanded sciences. Dilthey introduced the term "Geisteswissenschaften", variously translated as human sciences, cultural sciences, or spiritual sciences, into the philosophical discourse of his time (see his Introduction to the Human Sciences). He used this term to cover all fields treating human experience: history, cultural anthropology, qualitative psychology and sociology, philosophy, etc.: Saint Thomas Aquinas [Thomas of Aquin, or Aquino] (c. ... Scholastic redirects here. ... Wilhelm Dilthey (November 19, 1833–October 1, 1911) was a German historian, psychologist, sociologist, student of Hermeneutics, the study of interpretations and meanings, and a philosopher. ...

"The human sciences [Geisteswissenschaften] have as their comprehensive material all manifestations of life. These manifestations become comprehensible to us because they are imbued throughout with the relationship of their outward form to an inner nature....Only what spirit created, does it understand. Nature, the object of the natural sciences, comprehends that part of reality which arises independently of the activity of the human spirit [Geist]. The human sciences are concerned with all that is imprinted with human character."[3]

Two pupils of Dilthey carried his philosophical approach forward:

  • Rudolf Steiner sought to treat inner experiences with methodological rigor; he gave his major philosophical work, the Philosophy of Freedom, the motto "Results of soul observations using the methodology of natural science".
  • Edmund Husserl attempted to include physical, psychological and spiritual phenomena in his phenomenological philosophy. Husserl emphasized that all our experience originates in the psychological realm; thus, soul experience is primary for Husserl. From this, we derive physical and spiritual phenomena as secondary results. It was and is easy to misinterpret this as extreme subjectivism, an interpretation against which Husserl fought vigorously, clarifying his standpoint that, though I can only know the physical and spiritual worlds through my experience of them, nevertheless they exist and are objectively real.

Later phenomenological philosophers generally have not followed up Husserl's work on the spiritual level of reality. Rudolf Steiner Rudolf Steiner (February 27, 1861 – March 30, 1925) was an Austrian philosopher, literary scholar, architect, playwright, educator, and social thinker. ... The Philosophy of Freedom is Rudolf Steiners fundamental philosophical work. ... Edmund Husserl Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl (April 8, 1859 - April 26, 1938, Freiburg) was a German philosopher, known as the father of phenomenology. ...


Rudolf Steiner called his research Geisteswissenschaft, which has the triple meaning in English of the Humanities generally, of a science of the mind, and of spiritual science. He reported his evolving methodology in a series of books; of these, the most relevant are: The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity and How to Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds. He also reported on a vast number of research results, both in a series of books (e.g. Theosophy: An Introduction and An Outline of Occult Science) and in many lectures, about 6000 of which were transcribed and are now published. The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view. ... Mind refers to the collective aspects of human intellect and consciousness that originate in the brain and which are manifest in some combination of thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination. ... The Philosophy of Freedom is Rudolf Steiners fundamental philosophical work. ...


Steiner's cultural-scientific research extended into nearly every aspect of human life; the major categories of his publications (those for which there are multiple published works devoted solely to the theme) include art, eurythmy, speech and drama, music, fine arts and architecture, art history, education, medicine, science, agriculture, sociology, Christianity and religion. His declared purpose was to bring a new foundation to human existence, and he certainly succeeded in bringing significant impulses to many realms, as out of his work has come a new kind of education, medicine, agriculture, phenomenological approach to science (often called Goethean science), jurisprudence, sociology, psychology, art, and other new directions. Central to his work is a unique view of the human being as a reincarnating, developing soul originating in a spiritual existence and indwelling a bodily organization composed of the physical body; a life and rhythmic organization; and consciousness. Steiner describes a complex interaction of destiny and freedom with considerable scope for free will. Anthroposophical medicine is a holistic and salutogenetic approach to health. ...


Present-Day Work

There are a large number of researchers that have followed a spiritual-scientific methodology since Steiner's times, some examples being: Ita Wegman, Albert Steffen, Guenther Wachsmuth, Valentin Tomberg, Walter Johannes Stein, Alfred Meebold, George Adams, Carl Unger, Karl König, Ernst Kranich, Lawrence Edwards, Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Bernard Lievegoed, Theodor Schwenk, Herbert Witzenmann, Owen Barfield, Sergei Prokofieff, Georg Kühlewind, Friedemann Schwarzkopf, Massimo Scaligero, Jostein Saether, John Allison, Jesaiah Ben-Aharon, Richard Leviton,Christopher Bamford, Jonael Schickler, Adrian Anderson, Al G. Manning, and Dennis Klocek. Ita Wegman (* February 22, 1876 in Kravang, West Java; † March 4, 1943 in Arlesheim, Switzerland) is known as the co-founder of Anthroposophic Medicine with Rudolf Steiner. ... Albert Steffen (December 10, 1884, Murgenthal, Switzerland — July 13, 1963, Dornach, Switzerland) was a poet, painter, dramatist, essayist, and novelist. ... Valentin Tomberg (February 27, 1900 - February 24, 1973) was a Russian Christian mystic and hermetic magician. ... Walter Johannes Stein, cc1930 Walter Johannes Stein (February 6, 1891, Vienna – July 7, 1957, London) was an Austrian philosopher, Waldorf teacher, Grail reseacher, and one of the pioneers of anthroposophy – the science of the spirit founded by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. ... Alfred Karl Meebold (Heidenheim, a. ... George Adams is the name of several people: George Adams (optician), an optician and scientific writer. ... Karl König was an Austrian paediatric Doctor who in 1940 founded at Aberdeen, Scotland the Camphill Movement, an international movement of therapeutic intentional communities for those with special needs or disabilities. ... Ehrenfried Pfeiffer was a scientist and anthroposophist. ... Bernard Lievegoed (1905-1992) was a Dutch medical doctor, psychiatrist and author. ... Theodor Schwenk (1910 - 1986) was an anthroposophist, an engineer and a pioneer water researcher. ... Herbert Witzenmann (1905, Pforzheim, Germany —) was a German philosopher and anthroposophist. ... Owen Barfield (November 9, 1898–December 14, 1997) was a British philosopher, author, poet, and critic. ... Sergei Prokofieff was born in Moscow in 1954, where he studied fine arts and painting at the Moscow School of Art. ... Georg Kühlewind (1924 – January 15, 2006) was a Hungarian philosopher, writer, lecturer, and meditation teacher who worked from the tradition of Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science. ... Jostein Saether (b. ... John Allison can refer to the following people: John A. Allison IV - Chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation John Allison (webcomic), the webcomic author of Bobbins and Scary Go Round. ... Jesaiah (Yeshayahu) Ben-Aharon (1955, Israel —) is an Israeli philosopher, social activist, and anthroposophist. ... Richard Leviton is a writer and editor. ... Jonael Angelus Schickler (1976-2002), philosopher, was born at Dornach in Switzerland. ... Dennis Klocek is a “Renaissance man”— artist, scientist, teacher, researcher, gardener, and alchemist. ...


The Templeton Prize is awarded yearly to a recognized scientist for "progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities". It has been given to John Barrow, Charles H. Townes, George Ellis, Holmes Rolston III, John Polkinghorne, Arthur Peacocke, Freeman Dyson and many others. The Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities was until 2001 awarded for Progress in Religion. ... This article is about the English statesman Sir John Barrow. ... Charles Hard Townes (born July 28, American physicist and educator. ... George Ellis is the Distinguished Professor of Complex Systems at the University of Cape Town (South Africa), in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. ... Biography Holmes Rolston III is University Distinguished Professor of philosophy at Colorado State University. ... The Rev. ... Dr. Arthur Peacock was born in 1924. ... // Freeman Dyson in San Francisco in 2005 (Photo: Jacob Appelbaum) Freeman John Dyson (born December 15, 1923) is an English-born American physicist and mathematician, famous for his work in quantum mechanics, nuclear weapons design and policy, and for his serious theorizing in futurism and science fiction concepts, including the...


Problems of acceptance

The idea that the inner nature of human experience can be treated scientifically has not found any easy acceptance, especially in English-speaking countries. On the one hand, many who accept the existence of an experiencing soul, spiritual Being or beings see faith and revelation, not scientific research, as the primary portal to these.[4] On the other hand, many who see in empirical (outer) observations the sole route to legitimate truth and knowledge deny the very existence of a spiritual realm, and point to the inaccessibility of inner experience to outer observation.


Dilthey's work was largely subsumed under the wave of empirical sociology, psychology and history that followed him. This tradition consciously ignored all inner experience; for Dilthey, the essence of the human sciences was that they were bound up with inner experience.


Husserl's own followers were challenged to follow his approach to inner experience, which tread a path between pure subjectivism in the tradition of Berkeley and pure objectivism in the tradition of Locke.[5] Thus, his comments on "Geisteswissenschaft" have elicited little philosophical echo.


Steiner often did not cite his own research approach when reporting results. This has raised the question of the replicability of his results. In fact, even the methodology itself (insofar as he reported this) is extremely difficult to replicate. Steiner recognized this problem but seems to have been unable to train others to anything like his own apparent level of competence here.


Publishers of literature on spiritual science

(Note: this is by no means a comprehensive list)

Notes

  1. ^ Husserl, Edmund, Crisis of European Humanity, Pt. III.
  2. ^ Rickman, H.P., Introduction to Wilhelm Dilthey, Pattern and Meaning in History. Harper: 1961 p. 23.
  3. ^ Dilthey, Wilhelm, "Die Verfahrungsweisen, in denen die geistige Welt gegeben ist", in Die Philosophie des Lebens. Frankfurt (n.d.), p. 84.
  4. ^ Emmanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason.
  5. ^ Held, Klaus, introduction to Edmund Husserl's Die phänomenologische Methode I. Stuttgart 1985.

See also

Anthroposophy, also called spiritual science by its founder Rudolf Steiner, is an attempt to investigate and describe spiritual phenomena with the same precision and clarity with which natural science investigates and describes the physical world. ...

References

  • Dilthey, Wilhelm
    • Introduction to the Human Sciences (Selected Works Volume I) ISBN 0691020744
    • Pattern and Meaning in History. Harper, 1961.
  • Husserl, Edmund
    • Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. ISBN 081010458X
    • Phenomenology and the crisis of philosophy: Philosophy as a rigorous science, and Philosophy and the crisis of European man Harper: 1965. ASIN B0007DLQZ8
  • Steiner, Rudolf
    • Truth and Science (1892), ISBN 1425349161
    • The Riddles of Philosophy (1914), ISBN 0910142564
    • Philosophy and Anthroposophy (essays, 1904-23), ISBN 1425456553

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