A great delight of my life as an undergraduate was studying Ancient Greek for 3 years. Reading Homer, Aristotle, Herodotus, Plato and Euripides in Greek (very badly, I admit) was a thrill. In addition, my fellow students were a diverse and fascinating bunch.
But I digress.
Are Rudolf Steiner’s Waldorf Schools `Non-Sectarian’?
Dan Dugan and Judy Daar
was published in Free Inquiry in 1994. I’m not going to take the time to analyze the entire article (already taken care of), but there is one goody I wanted to point out. At the very end of the article it says:
“The four temperaments” refers to Steiner’s revival of medieval psychology. Waldorf teachers classify personalities as sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic, or choleric, and treat children differently according to their types.
Now it is true that scholars in the Middle Ages still used these terms, although during that period they had little to do with psychology: these concepts were actually central to medieval medical practice.
My amusement arises from two sources. First, the fact that Dan and Judy are unaware of the true source of the temperaments in Ancient Greece. The ideas were derived from Aristotle’s work with the elements and transformed into medical practice by Galen (2nd century A.D.) Everyone calls them “medieval” so at least their ignorance is common currency.
The second source of amusement is the following quote:
A psychology colleague at Oxford remarked recently that, as a classification of personality types, the four humours are as good as any that has ever been offered.
From Greek Fire: The Influence of Ancient Greece on the Modern World by Oliver Taplin. Macmillan, 1989.
I’d much rather study the work of someone like Rudolf Steiner, who had the good sense to recognize a useful set of concepts, develop them further and put them into practice; than hang out with the Waldorf Critics who, in spite of all the ranting about ad homs, just toss out the word “medieval” and feel no need to think further.
Ignorance and closed minds.