This paper has two objectives. First: the humanistic idea of knowledge, philosophically formulated by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), should be presented in relation to history of ideas. In the meeting with different kinds of cultural and social needs in Central Europe during the decades of the turn of the 20th century, Steiner developed his idea of knowledge into a singular Thought Style (Ge. Denkstil). A Thought Style can be described as a selective and aimed cognitive preparedness. The idea of knowledge and the Thought Style are here described as anthroposophical humanism. The second objective is to show how the Thought Style, in a historical way, was established in Sweden, and how it, until the mid 1980s, changed and was adapted to Swedish culture, i.e. how the style in various ways became Swedish.
Organisations and movements that were influenced by the anthroposophical humanism were The Anthroposophical Society, the biodynamic movement, the movement for anthroposophic medicine, the medical pedagogical movement with special pedagogical institutions and social therapeutic homes for treatment, the Waldorf movement, the Christian Society, anthroposophic architecture and art practice etc. Since they co-operated with a common background, they formed a Thought Collective (Ge. Denkkollektiv).
The anthroposophical humanism has its roots relating to history of ideas far back in the Central European Middle Ages. During the new humanism era, the idea of knowledge had a renaissance in German culture life. Rudolf Steiner remodelled the idea at the end of the 19th century and developed it into the singular Thought Style. When Steiner was a theosophical teacher he gave it an esoteric design. After the First World War, when Steiner was working as a social reformer, he gave it a humanistic design. Within The Anthroposophical Society, the double image of the anthroposophical movement, internationally and in Sweden, led to severe opposition and conflicts. Right until the mid 1980s, reorganisations were common in order to handle the two directions of the Thought Style when it came to differences in traditions, ideology and sociology.
In Sweden, the anthroposophical movement has undergone four stages of development: the reception period 1890-1935, the conversion period 1935-55, the expansion period 1955-1985 and the integration period as from 1985. As from 1913, when The Anthroposophical Society was established, until 1985, the development of ideas in the anthroposophical Thought Style and the Thought Collective can be described as a wandering from Christian esotericism to an anthroposophical humanistic idea of knowledge, with a cultural education in the ideological focus of the Thought Style. The traditional development of ideas can also be described as an anthroposophical process of secularisation. There are mainly four things that have contributed to the expansion of the anthroposophical movement in Sweden during the phase of expansion: the post-war period economic expansion, the development of the educational system, the renaissance of esotericism in the late 1960s, as well as the need for an alternative to the post-war abundance consumerism and waste of resources. The Swedish development indicates similarities with the international development within those areas where different activities have been adapted to Swedish legislation, traditions and views, mainly through care and education.
Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International , 1997. , 296 p.
Anthroposophy, Humanism, Theosophy, Esoteric Spirituality, Biodynamic, Farming Methods, Waldorf- education, Curative Education, Goetheanism, Thought Style.