Monday, February 16, 2015

The Tao of the Dow II: Spirituality & Economics - Rudolph Steiner on Interdependence

Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was an Austrian philosopher and scientist whose work influenced a number of fields, including agriculture, education, medicine, science, architecture, spiritual development, and social theory. Biodynamic farming and Waldorf schools are contemporary examples inspired by Steiner. In 1922, he gave a course of lectures on economics.

While not constituting an endorsement of his entire philosophy, we share some summaries of his work in economics for general culture, as we explore the link between money and consciousness.

Rudolph Steiner on Economics and Spirituality:

If you understand Spanish, you may find these lectures of interest as well, featuring Joan Melé of Triodos Bank:

To Steiner, interdependence is at the root of most spiritual traditions, and increasingly serves as the foundation of scientific inquiry, including systems theory and quantum mechanics. In the sphere of economics, Rudolf Steiner described it as “associative.” He understood money to be a bridge – a circulatory system – invented to connect human beings in relationships of service.

To Steiner, societies are structured through spiritual life, with educational and cultural aspects, the legal life, with political and social aspects, and economic life, with the production, consumption and distribution. These three founding members of the society obey their own laws and ideals: individual freedom in cultural and spiritual life; Legal equality in life and in the state; and fraternity or solidarity in economic life.

Steiner encouraged us to strive for a less hierarchical, more networked approach to business leadership. Like all philosophers, Steiner was all too human and a product of his time. For instance, a BBC piece has raised questions about how much of his outdated ideas such as those regarding race make their way into schools inspired on his work. It could be argued that Steiner still has much to offer to our contemporary world, but as with any approach or body of knowledge, one must use discernment, a critical mind and apply - put to the test - only what may be constructive. 

Nelson Abreu
IAC California


Two Nobel Peace Prize laureates discuss the interconnectedness of nature and of nations. To address global crises, we need an economy that is measured by new indices that acknowledge this and takes into account not just capital assets, but ecological and socio-political ones. Discussion with H.H. the Dalai Lama and the Director of University of Washington-Madison's Global Health Institute, co-author of UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, president and founder of International Association for Ecology and Health

IAC Blog: Toward an Ecological Mind

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