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On the path towards thinking: Learning from Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Steiner
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education, Department of Education.
2008 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper is a philosophical consideration of how to understand thinking as a mental activity. It starts by noting that some teachers claim to observe the decrease of thinking abilities among young people today. Apart from the questions of how to establish this as a fact and the possible empirical causes behind it, it is also important to consider the more basic question of what thinking really is. Heidegger deals with this question in his later philosophy; another important, if generally less well known, thinker and researcher, who devoted much attention to this issue was Rudolf Steiner. For Heidegger, some pre-Socratic Greek philosophers exemplify genuine thinking, appreciating the meaning of Being and transcending the subject-object dualism. But this kind of philosophy was soon replaced by the onto-theological approach, in which Being is reductively objectified, and the question of the meaning of Being is forgotten. Hence, according to Heidegger, we still have to learn to think. Commentators on Heidegger point to the similarity between his approach to thinking and that of various mystical teachings, such as those of Meister Eckhart or Zen Buddhism. Like Heidegger, Steiner also claimed that we do not know what it means to really think. Steiner was however more outspoken and penetrating in his approach, insisting that only through meditative practice can we directly experience the nature of thinking as mental activity. However, the present day materialistic explanations of thinking as originating in (or being identical with) neurological brain processes of a purely biochemical nature, stand in clear opposition to these or any other spiritual conceptions of thinking. Drawing upon Heidegger (somewhat) and Steiner (mostly) we argue against the materialistic understanding of thinking as misguided and jumping to unwarranted conclusions. We also argue that the materialistic understanding of thinking widespread today may be one of the reasons behind the alleged decrease of thinking abilities among young people. As is well known, Rudolf Steiner was the founder of Steiner Waldorf education, which is based on a spiritual conception of the human being. The paper ends with describing some of the elements of Steiner Waldorf education which are intended to promote the development of living, creative thinking

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URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-22092OAI: diva2:595768
ECER, Göteborg, 10-12 september, 2008
Available from: 2013-01-21 Created: 2013-01-21 Last updated: 2015-09-30Bibliographically approved

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