Secular Humanism vs. Anthroposophy


I just found your site. Our priest, Fr. Steven Kachel thought I might look up secular humanism on the web and that is how I found your article on that subject. There is a private school in our town. It is a Waldorf school based on the plilosophy of a man named Rudolf Steiner. He started a movement called anthroposophy. What, if anything, do you know about this movement? Is it secular humanism or pantheism or what? Is a tolerance for this growing belief system a good thing or should Catholics be staying away from this educational system and its followers? I would appreciate knowing more about where to stand as a Catholic who would like to respect others beliefs, but see those same beliefs as a threat to my religion and its practice. If you have done research on this subject or have articles on it, they would be of great interest to me and others in our community who are wondering about in influx of antroposophy into an otherwise mostly Christian community.

Thanks for the wonderful work you do!

Paula Menn
Viroqua, WI


Dear Paula,

Thank you for your question. From what I understand, anthroposophy is a reaction against nineteenth century materialism - which is the underlying philosophy of secular humanism. (cf. Carl Sagan "The cosmos is all there is, all that has been, all that will ever be.") On what is wrong with materialism, G.K. Chesterton said it best:

As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity.
It has just the quality of the madman's argument;
we have at once the sense of it
covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out.
Contemplate some able and sincere materialist, as, for instance,
Mr. McCabe, and you will have exactly this unique sensation.
He understands everything, and everything does not seem
worth understanding. His cosmos may be complete in every rivet
and cog-wheel, but still his cosmos is smaller than our world.
Somehow his scheme, like the lucid scheme of the madman, seems
unconscious of the alien energies and the large indifference of the earth;
it is not thinking of the real things of the earth, of fighting
peoples or proud mothers, or first love or fear upon the sea.
The earth is so very large, and the cosmos is so very small.
The cosmos is about the smallest hole that a man can hide his head in.

Anthroposophy senses that materialism leaves out what is most important and hence takes into account the spiritual nature of man, even applying that insight to medicine. The question I would have is to what or to whom they see as the object of our self-transcendence. Do you see what I am saying?

Let me know what you find out from your research.

God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom



I thought that you might find this article interesting as Sharon is from Viroqua. It is about their family's experience with Waldorf Education: Our Brush With Rudolf Steiner by Sharon Lombard.

The Case Against Naturalism

The Moral Law: A Response to Carl Sagan

The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant (A Review)