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IF ONLY IT WERE SO



"If these ideas are not true, they should be true.

What we believe shapes the reality. 

If we become conscious of these ideas

and hold them, they will become true."

                                                                    — from "Anthroposophy 101"




These plaintive words were written by Dr. Ronald E. Koetzsch, an Anthroposophist connected with the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. The essay "Anthroposophy 101" is Koetzsch's summary of Steiner's basic teachings. Koetzsch focuses on Steiner's more pleasing, upbeat doctrines, and he asserts that if Steiner's wonderful ideas are not true, we can make them true by believing in them fervently enough. 


I think everyone can all feel the deep yearning in Koetzsch's words, and everyone can sympathize — we all wish for the wonderful, the transcendent, the glorious. I feel such desires, intensely. I understand where Anthroposophists are coming from.


But wishing doesn't make anything true. Our wishes can be our guides, our motivators — but, in and of themselves, wishes create nothing. Thinking or hoping that something is true doesn't cause that thing to become true. Some thoughts are false, and no amount of fervent belief can redeem their falsity. You may tell yourself that the Moon is made of green cheese. You may dwell on this thought day after day, month after month. You may meditate upon it, visualize it, preach it from the rooftops. But it is false, and your efforts cannot make it true. The moon is not made of green cheese and it never will be. Your idea is false.* 


Truth is truth, in other words, and reality is reality. We have no reason to think that the universe is as Steiner described it, and we have no reason to think that we can make the universe become as Steiner described it. A fairy tale is a fairy tale. A false idea is false.


Anthroposophical thinking is mere wishfulness, which is tantamount to self-deception. During the play "Peter Pan", when the fairy Tinkerbell is dying, Peter tells the children in the audience to wish for Tinkerbell's recovery. And it works! The kids wish and wish, and Tinkerbell revives. It is a nice fairy tale. But that's all it is, a fairy tale.


Truth and reality have a great advantage — they are true and real. And they aren't so bad. We're alive, in a universe of beauty, grandeur, pain, suffering, and achievement and joy and victory. This is the universe that really exists, the universe of physics and astronomy and the soaring human intellect. Steiner would return us to a dark, medieval past. We need not go there. Indeed, we must not go there. For the sake of our planet, and our children, and ourselves, we must face reality squarely and then work to realize its best potentialities.


Truth and reality have a great advantage — they are true and real. Anthroposophy is divorced from truth and reality. And to the degree that it embodies Anthroposophy, Waldorf education is divorced from truth and reality. Waldorf schooling stands on the foundation of Anthroposophy [see, e.g., "Here's the Answer" and "Spiritual Agenda"] — which means that it stands on a foundation of shifting, vaporous falsehood.






*The moon is a physical object, and Koetzsh is mainly talking about spiritual reality. Fervently believing false ideas about physical reality will not change physical reality. But can our fervent beliefs about spiritual reality change that reality? Possibly. It is extremely doubtful, however. Truth is truth, reality is reality. (Note the illogic of Koetzsh’s proposition. He seems to entertain the possibility that Steiner is wrong, but in fact his argument hinges on the assumption that Steiner's description of the universe is true. Our thoughts would be able to change the spirit realm only if the spirit realm already is as Steiner described it, flexible and mutable, made and remade by our thoughts. So while seeming to concede that Steiner might be wrong, Koetzsh actually relies on the premise that Steiner is right. Koezsch is caught in a tautological vortex.)











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[R.R., 2014.]