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The Philosophy Of Freedom

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"The purpose of The Philosophy Of Freedom is to lay the foundations of ethical individualism and of a social and political life." Rudolf Steiner

Ethical individualism is a humanist world-view that recognizes that the most cherished human dignity is to live according to one's own freely chosen values.

"I know that many of my contemporaries strive to conduct their lives in the direction of the principles of individualism I have suggested in this book. To them I dedicate this book." Rudolf Steiner POF 0.6


    

Love For The Deed

Friday's video will be on this section of The Philosophy Of Freedom.
(Text revised for improved readability)

Chapter 9.8
Love For The Deed

When we look for the laws (conceptual principles) underlying the actions of individuals, peoples, and epochs, we obtain a system of Ethics that is not a science of ethical norms, but rather a science of morality as a natural fact. The laws discovered in this way relate to human behavior as the laws of nature relate to particular phenomena. These laws, however, are not at all identical with the impulses that we make the basis of our action. If we want to understand how a human action springs from an individual’s ethical willing, we must first study the relationship of this willing to the action in question. For this purpose we must single out for study those actions where ethical willing is the determining factor. When I, or someone else, later review my action, one can discover what ethical principles come into consideration for that action.

While I am acting, the ethical principle moves me to act to the extent it lives in me intuitively; this intuitive ethical principle is united with my love for the goal that I want to accomplish by my deed. I do not ask any person or rules, “Should I do this?” On the contrary, I carry it out the moment I have grasped the Idea of it. This alone makes it my action. If a person acts because he accepts a certain moral norm, his deeds will be the result of the principles that compose his moral code. He merely carries out orders. He is a higher kind of machine. Toss a stimulus to act into his awareness, and, right away, the clockwork of his moral principles are set in motion and run its course in a lawful manner to produce a deed that is Christian, or humane, or selfless, or to further the progress of civilization.

However, only when I follow my love for the object is it I myself who acts. At this level of morality, I acknowledge no lord over me, no external authority, and no so-called inner voice of my conscience. I recognize no external principle for my action, because I have found in myself the ground of action in my love for the deed. I do not consider whether my action is good or bad; I do it because I love it (action). It will be “good” if my intuition, immersed in love, fits in the right way within the world continuum (this can be experienced intuitively). The action will be “bad” if this is not the case. I also do not ask how another person would act in my situation. I act as I, this unique individuality, wants to act. No common tradition, no common custom, no common human maxim, and no moral norm is my immediate guide. Rather, it is my love for the deed. I feel no compulsion, not the compulsion of natural instincts or the compulsion of moral commandments. I simply want to carry out what lives within me.

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Preview Of Next Video

In the next video I am going to use the scientific research method of comparative study to go through chapter 8, The Factors Of Life, to draw conclusions from comparing two self observations and then follow the logic in the chapter. Here is a sample diagram.

 

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Revised to improve readability
The Philosophy Of Freedom
Chapter 8 The Factors Of Life

8.0 Knowing Personality
[1] LET us briefly review the results gained in the previous chapters. The world appears to me as a multiplicity, a sum of separate details. As a human being, I am myself one of these details, a thing among other things. We call this form of the world simply the given. Insofar as we just encounter it and do not explain it through our conscious activity, we call it percept. Within the world of percepts we perceive our Self. This perception of Self would simply remain as one percept among the many others, if something did not emerge out of this self-perception capable of connecting all percepts, and also the sum total of all percepts with the percept of our own Self. This something that emerges is not mere perception. Neither is it, like percepts, simply given. It is produced by our activity. It seems at first to be bound up with what each of us perceives as his Self. But its inner meaning reaches beyond the self. It adds conceptual definitions to the single percepts. These conceptual factors relate to each other and form a whole. This something conceptually defines what we gain in self-perception in the same way as it defines all other perceptions, and places it as subject, or “I,” over against the objects. This “something” is thinking, and the conceptual factors are concepts and Ideas.

Thought, therefore, first manifests itself in connection with the percept of self. But thought is not merely subjective, for it is only with the help of thought that the Self can define itself as subject. How the Self relates to itself in thought determines our personality. Through it, we lead a purely conceptual existence. Through it, we are aware of ourselves as thinking beings. This determination of our lives would remain a purely conceptual (logical) one, if it were not supplemented by other determining factors of our Selves. Our lives would be spent in establishing purely conceptual relationships between percepts themselves, and between them and ourselves. If we call the establishment of a conceptual relationship an "act of cognition," and the resulting change achieved in the self “knowledge,” then, according to the above assumption, we would have to consider ourselves as only cognizing or knowing beings.

8.1 Feeling Personality
[2] However, this assumption does not hold up to the facts. We do not relate percepts to ourselves only through concepts, but also through feeling, as we have already seen. Therefore we are not beings with solely a conceptual content. The Naive Realist sees in the emotions more real life of the personality than in the purely conceptual activity of knowledge. From his viewpoint he is entirely right to describe it in this way.

8.2 Reality Of Personality
The way a feeling first appears on the subjective side, is exactly the same as the percept on the objective side. Therefore, according to the basic principle of naive realism — that everything that can be perceived is real — it follows that feelings guarantee the reality of one's own personality.

8.3 Knowledge Of Feeling
Monism, however, recognizes that if it is to be present in its full reality, a feeling requires the same addition as do all percepts. A feeling as it first wells up is an incomplete reality that lacks its second factor, the concept or Idea. This is why in life feelings, like percepts, always appears before knowledge.

8.4 Knowledge Of Self
At first, we merely feel ourselves as existing. It is only in the course of our gradual development that we struggle through to the point where the concept of Self emerges from within the blind mass of feelings that fill our existence. What emerges later, however, is from the beginning inseparably bound up with our feelings.

8.5 Knowledge Of The World
This is why the naive person is led to believe that in the feeling of existence he immediately relates himself to what is there, what exists. While in thought, he relates to what exists indirectly only after it is mediated through knowledge.

8.6 World-Connections
The connection between things in the world must be felt before he will believe he has grasped it. He attempts to make feeling the instrument of knowledge rather than thought.

8.7 World-Principles
Now a feeling is something entirely individual, something equivalent to a perception. So the Philosopher of Feeling makes a principle that has significance only within his personality into a world principle. He tries to inject himself into everything. What the Monist strives to grasp by means of concepts, the Philosopher of Feeling tries to attain through feeling. He looks on his own felt union with objects as more direct, with nothing else coming in between.

8.8 Universal-Principles
[3] The tendency just described, the Philosophy of Feeling, is Mysticism. The error in the mystical form of intuition is that it wants to experience in feeling what should be attained as knowledge. The Mystic tries to elevate feeling, which is individual, into a universal principle.
[4] A feeling is a purely individual activity. It is the effect of the external world on the subject, insofar as this effect is expressed in a purely subjective experience.

8.9 Willing Personality
[5] There is another expression of human personality: willing. The Self, through thought, lives within the universal world-life. By means of thinking, in a purely conceptual way, it relates the percepts to itself, and itself to the percepts. In feeling, the Self experiences the immediate effect of objects on itself as subject. In willing, the opposite is the case. In willing, too, we have a perception before us, namely, the personal relation of the Self to the objective world. And whatever is not a conceptual factor in our act of will, is just as much a mere object of perception as is any other object in the external world.

8.10 Voluntarism
[6] From this point of view, what the Self accomplishes through this willing is a process that is experienced immediately. The adherent of this philosophy believes that, in the will, he has really got hold of one end of the world process. While all other events can only be followed from the outside by means of perception, he is confident that in his willing he directly experiences a real process. He makes the form of existence in which the will appears within the Self into the fundamental reality of the universe. His own will appears to him as a special case of the universal world process. The universal world process, then, is considered to be universal will. The will becomes the principle of reality just as, in Mysticism, feeling becomes the principle of knowledge. This way of viewing things is Voluntarism (Thelism). It makes something that can only be experienced individually into the dominant factor of the world.

8.11 Naive Experience Of Mysticism And Voluntarism
[7] Voluntarism cannot be called a science anymore than can Mysticism. For both maintain that a conceptual interpretation of the world is inadequate. In addition to a conceptual principle, both demand a real principle as well. But since perception is the only way to comprehend these so-called real principles, it follows that what Mysticism and Voluntarism are both saying is that we have two sources of knowledge: thought and perception, with perception appearing here as an individual experience of feeling and will. Since the immediate experiences that flow from one source cannot be taken up directly into the thoughts that flow from the other, perception (immediate experience) and thought remain side by side without higher mediation. Beside the conceptual principle that we attain by means of knowledge, there is supposed to exist a real principle that cannot be grasped by thought, but can be immediately experienced. In other words, Mysticism and Voluntarism are both forms of Naive Realism, because they embrace the doctrine: What is immediately perceived (experienced) is real. Compared with Naive Realism in its primitive form, they are guilty of the further inconsistency of making a particular instance of perception (feeling or willing) into the exclusive means of knowing reality. Since they can do this only if they cling to the general principle that everything perceived is real, they would also have to attribute an equal value of knowledge to external perceptions.

8.12 Universal Will
[8] Voluntarism turns into Metaphysical Realism when it asserts the existence of will in realms where it is not possible to experience it immediately in the same way as it is in one’s own subject. A hypothetical principle is assumed outside the subject, for which the sole criteria for its existence is subjective experience. As a form of Metaphysical Realism, Voluntarism is open to the criticism made in the previous chapter, namely, it has to overcome the contradictory element in every form of Metaphysical Realism, and recognize that the will is a universal world-process only to the extent it is conceptually related to the rest of the world.

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Overcoming Group Identity

An illustrated story about an immigrant overcoming ethnic, gender, social and religious group identity in the pursuit of an individual personal identity. Based on The Philosophy Of Freedom, Chapter 14 Individuality And Type by Rudolf Steiner.

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