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Paper presentation at the International Steiner Symposium 2021. The Actuality of Rudolf Steiner: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Steiner in the 21st Century.

Although Steiner’s epistemological-anthropological concept is fundamental to his increasingly recognized impulses for cultural practice, it has not yet received much attention in current philosophy and science. Nonetheless, it holds potential for methodological and theoretical innovation that could yield valuable contributions to mainstream research, especially with a view on phenomenal consciousness. To open up this option, bridges must be built between Steiner’s writings and the academic paradigms that have become entrenched in the 20th century. Here, however, it is not enough to search for philosophical references, but ways must also be paved into empirical research as the supreme discipline of today’s science.

For all the criticism one may have of empirical science (e.g., reductionism, operationalism) it is nevertheless driven by the modern-times principle of a sharpened consciousness that can be further developed in unexpected ways. One possibility is to provide a new nexus between philosophy and experimental psychology focusing on the first-person perspective – as reminiscent of Steiner’s “introspective observation following the methods of natural science” in his Philosophy of Freedom. Various first-person methods have been developed recently, of which the “Task-Based Introspective Inquiry” seems well suited to the challenge at hand. In the talk, I will briefly outline this approach, give examples of empirical-introspective studies, and explain the implications to be drawn in terms of Steiner. More precisely, specific forms of mental activity and respective agentive awareness will be pursued in perception, thought, and social interaction which can shed light on the basic structure of consciousness and the idea of freedom.

Dr. Johannes Wagemann: Alanus University, Germany

Johannes is Professor of Consciousness Research with a focus on Pedagogical Anthropology at Alanus University, Mannheim Campus. He received his doctorate on the mind-brain problem at the University Witten-Herdecke. Since then he has been developing a structure-phenomenological approach to a consciousness-immanent theory of consciousness incorporating a first-person methodology. He conducted experimental studies on various cognitive and social processes in which introspective observation is coupled with empirical aspects such as independent participants, non-reactive data acquisition, and a mixed-methods data analysis. The results of these studies imply new perspectives on philosophical topics such as the human self, mental action, or social aesthetics.