Empiricism (Greek: εμπειρισμός empirismos "empiricism"; Latin: experientia "experience") is an epistemological direction that seeks to derive all knowledge from experience in the broadest sense. Accordingly, all sciences are to be understood as empirical sciences. A special, but essentially limited form of empiricism is sensualism, according to which all knowledge is based on sensory perception. But empiricism also allows for experiences that come from non-sensory sources, such as measuring instruments.
In the broadest sense, anthroposophical spiritual science, which is based on systematic clairvoyant observation, can also be counted as empiricism, insofar as the principle of experience also applies to it. However, according to anthroposophical epistemology, concepts are not abstracted from snsory perceptions, but intuited as (ideal) universals and connected with perceptions, whether sensual or supersensual. In his basic philosophical work, the «Philosophy of Freedom», Rudolf Steiner describes the result of spiritual research as "results of soul observation according to the natural scientific method" (thus the subtitle). This view that all knowledge of reality must be empirically founded stands in contrast to all attempts to arrive at metaphysical or theological truths by inference or speculation, starting from dogmatic basic assumptions or those considered plausible (in the tradition of rationalism).
Empiricism is also one of the seven fundamental worldview moods that Rudolf Steiner distinguished and assigned to the seven planetary spheres, with empiricism corresponding to the solar sphere.
„A special mood of the soul is one which is not inclined to think or ponder much about whether there is anything behind the appearances, as the Gnostic mood does, for example, or the Logical or Voluntaristic mood does, but which simply says: I want to incorporate into my world-view that which confronts me in the world, that which shows itself to me, that which reveals itself to me externally. This can be done in all areas, that is, through all the spiritual constellations. You can do it as a materialist, taking only what appears to you externally; you can also do it as a spiritualist. One does not try to find a special connection behind the phenomena, but lets things approach and waits for what presents itself. Such a mood of the soul can be called empiricism. Empiricism means a mood of the soul that simply accepts experience as it presents itself. Throughout all twelve spiritual constellations one can be an empiricist, a person who views the world of experience. Empiricism is the fourth mood of the soul, which can pass through all twelve spiritual constellations.“ (Lit.:GA 151, p. 54)
- Rudolf Steiner: Die Philosophie der Freiheit, GA 4 (1995), ISBN 3-7274-0040-4 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Der menschliche und der kosmische Gedanke, GA 151 (1990), ISBN 3-7274-1510-X English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: email@example.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.