Ethical Individualism Anchored In A Science Of Freedom
Part 1 Video: Science Of Freedom
Part 2 Video: Ethically Understood Idea Of Freedom
Based on Rudolf Steiner's Truth And Knowledge chapter viii Practical Conclusion and his Philosophy Of Freedom.
Part 1 SCIENCE OF FREEDOM
VALUE OF SCIENCE
What does science and the knowledge that results from it mean to us?
How important is it to us?
SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE OF THE LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE
The innermost core of the world is clearly revealed in our scientific knowledge.
The harmony of laws ruling throughout the universe is precisely expressed through thinking (cognition).
These laws are not readily seen in the world but they are present in it.
We are required to “think” if we are to recognize the unique lawfulness of whatever we observe, otherwise the part of reality that rules all existence will remain a mystery.
It is up to us to deepen our knowledge if our life and personality is to be oriented in the objective real world.
SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE OF LIFE
Having a reality-based view will contribute to a successful life.
Once we know what to make of the world, it is not that hard to deal with it.
SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE OF OUR SELF
The true value of science is its contribution toward unfolding human potential.
Science can also help us to understand our self.
For example, our practical life is filled with continuous activity, but do we really know why we rush from here to there?
Why do I think the way I think? Why do I act the way I act?
What is the origin of my activity?
SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE OF FREEDOM
Whether our action is freely self-determined or determined by something else is an age old question of religion and philosophy.
Today, the question of human freedom is also a question of science.
What has been lacking is a "science of freedom" that is fully in accord with natural science, yet reaches beyond it.
SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE OF THE LAWS OF BEHAVIOR
Human action is subject to universal lawfulness just as everything else is.
There is always a reason for why we act.
Whenever something takes place in the universe, two sides must be distinguished: the external course the event follows in time and space, and the inner law ruling it.
This also applies to human behavior.
We use “external” observation to follow the course of an action.
We use “inner” observation to become conscious of the law that directs the action.
By reflecting upon what we did we can discover the relevant law.
There is a profound difference between knowing why we act and not knowing it.
When we have full insight into why we act, we feel ourselves to be master of our conduct.
When the laws of our behavior remain unknown, they rule over us.
They become our master.
We believe we are free simply because we are not aware of the real cause of our behavior.
Our freedom is an illusion.
Part of our activity is free and part is unfree.
The task of individual development is to change the actions that are unfree into actions that are free.
Part 2 ETHICALLY UNDERSTOOD IDEA OF FREEDOM
SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE OF AN ETHICAL IDEA
In Part 1 it became obvious that we are not free if we do not know why we act.
Through introspective observation we can become conscious of the motivations of our actions.
When we have full knowledge of our deed, it is ours, and we are conscious of our freedom.
By gaining knowledge of our action we can characterize it.
The first level of action is the immediate reaction of survival instincts such as the need for food, shelter, sex and the fight-or-flight response.
When our conduct rises above the lower passions it is influenced by universal ideals.
Our ethical ideals determine the whole character of our conduct in life.
These are the ideas we have of our task in life, what we should bring about through our deeds.
In the second level of action our ethical ideas are given to us by family, leaders or institutions.
We are expected to obey established social norms.
Mature individuals transcend both these preliminary stages to obey only their self.
Only when we obey our self can we say the deed is truly our own.
Each individual determines the laws of their own conduct.
The free deed originates in one's own free thought which makes the foundation of the human being one's self.
The deed is guided by the ethical principles that we choose to apply in each particular situation.
The action is neither a predictable conditioned response or obedience to some external authority.
It is freely self-determined.
Only free deeds can be considered moral.
This is an ethically understood idea of freedom.
SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL
Those who strive to bring their highest ideals into reality are self-empowered.
Idealists experience the greatest joy of translating their ideals into reality.
This does not mean that the well meaning intentions of an ideal point of view will necessarily make the deed “good”.
If we wish to transform something according to an ethical idea, such as ourselves, someone else, culture or nature we will need to understand the laws at work to avoid doing harm.
A way will need to be found to transform the given laws into the new one.
In addition the changes we make will need to be tested before it can be deemed “good or evil”.
THE WAY TO TRUE FREEDOM
What has been described is ethical individualism, an individual ethical freedom anchored in a science of freedom.
True freedom is not an unrestrained freedom, as that is a license to do harm.
The striving of ethical individualists is to act out of knowledge, always guided by their ethical principles.
We are not free if we do not know why we act.
When we know why we act the deed is ours, and we are free.
Knowledge of anything, including the grounds to act, is acquired with the inner discipline of scientific thinking.
If freedom is to become one's reality it will be found in self-observation and the firm inner discipline of scientific thinking.
The development and deepening of scientific thinking is the way to freedom.
Long ago Oriental sages made their students spend years in resignation and asceticism as preparation for knowledge.
The scientific age no longer demands pious exercises or self-denial to attain knowledge.
Science does require the regular practice of withdrawing into the realm of universal concepts to gain knowledge of the inner aspect of reality.
The pure conceptual thinking of mathematics is an example of studying the inner aspect of reality within the realm of universal thought.
It takes thought training to deepen thinking.
The thinking discipline of engineers and computer scientists is achieved though a rigorous mathematics curriculum.
Pure thinking in universal concepts is also practiced in philosophy.
The study of Rudolf Steiner's “The Philosophy Of Freedom” is excellent thought training to deepen scientific thinking.