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A Progressive Philosophy Of Freedom


WELCOME to the new website design. This website, since 2005, examines Rudolf Steiner's early work (pre 1900 before he turned to theosophy) when he presented a way of life called Ethical Individualism based on a Science Of Freedom. “this book occupies a position completely independent of my writings on actual spiritual scientific matters... What I have said in this book may be acceptable even to some who, for reasons of their own, refuse to have anything to do with the results of my researches into the spiritual realm.” Rudolf Steiner, The Philosophy of Freedom , 1918 Preface to the Revised Edition 

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The Philosophy Of Freedom lays the foundation for ETHICAL INDIVIDUALISM and a progressive social and political life.

A progressive stands for progress that improves the human condition rather than maintaining things as they are. Being a progressive does not refer to any external institution, it is a state of mind. It is an attitude through which a person, aware of himself or herself as one among a valued global community of individuals, comes nearest to living up to the ideal of human worth and dignity.

Essential to human dignity is freedom; freedom of thought, morality and action. The ethical individualist is a self-determining free individuality who acts out of knowledge.

Ethical Individualism Anchored In A Science Of Freedom

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.

How Do We Find Unity In The World?

A separation exists between ourselves and others. How do we find unity? Will a God unify humanity? The video, This Land Is Mine, gives a brief history of the land called Israel/Palestine and the use of a God by leaders to unite their people. Of course this results in the perpetual conflict between the “chosen people” and the “others”.

Philosophy Of Freedom 9.10 The Moralist believes that a social community is possible only if all men are held together by a common moral order. This shows that the Moralist does not understand the community of the world of ideas. He does not realize that the world of ideas which inspires me is no other than that which inspires my fellow-men. I differ from my neighbour, not at all because we are living in two entirely different mental worlds, but because from our common world of ideas we receive different intuitions. He desires to live out his intuitions, I mine. If we both draw our intuitions really from the world of ideas, and do not obey mere external impulses (physical or moral), then we can not but meet one another in striving for the same aims, in having the same intentions.

A moral misunderstanding, a clash of aims, is impossible between men who are free. Only the morally unfree who blindly follow their natural instincts or the commands of duty, turn their backs on their neighbours, if these do not obey the same instincts and the same laws as themselves. Live and let live is the fundamental principle of the free man. He knows no "ought." How he shall will in any given case will be determined for him by his faculty of ideas.

Philosophy Of Freedom 5.9 The preceding discussion shows clearly that it is futile to seek for any other common element in the separate things of the world, than the ideal content which thinking supplies. All attempts to discover any other principle of unity in the world than this internally coherent ideal content, which we gain for ourselves by the conceptual analysis of our perceptions, are bound to fail. Neither a personal God, nor force, nor matter, nor the blind will (of Schopenhauer and Hartmann), can be accepted by us as the universal principle of unity in the world.

Note: This Land Is Mine is a PARODY of “The Exodus Song.” That music was sort of the soundtrack of American zionism in the 1960′s and 70′s. It was supposed to express Jewish entitlement to Israel.

What the religions call God, we call the idea
To investigate the essential being of a thing means to begin at the center of the thought-world and to work from there until a thought-configuration appears before us that seems to be identical to the thing we are experiencing.

When we speak of the essential being of a thing or of the world altogether, we cannot therefore mean anything else at all than the grasping of reality as thought, as idea. In the idea we recognize that from which we must derive everything else: the principle of things. What philosophers call the absolute, the eternal being, the ground of the world, what the religions call God, this we call, on the basis of our epistemological studies: the idea.

Everything in the world that does not appear directly as idea will still ultimately be recognized as going forth from the idea. What seems, on superficial examination, to have no part at all in the idea is found by a deeper thinking to stem from it. No other form of existence can satisfy us except one stemming from the idea. Nothing may remain away from it; everything must become a part of the great whole that the idea encompasses.

By taking possession of the idea, we arrive at the core of the world. What we grasp there is that from which everything goes forth. We become united with this principle; therefore the idea, which is most objective, appears to us at the same time as most subjective. Rudolf Steiner Goethean Science IX Goethe's Epistemology

Why Being Human Matters, for the People of Gaza and the World

"Love depends on the thoughts we form of the loved one. And the more we idealize the loved one in our thoughts, the more blessed is our love. Thought is the father of feeling." Rudolf Steiner, Philosophy Of Freedom chapter 1

By Stephanie Van Hook
Common Dreams

Dr. Mona El-Farra, recently made headlines on Democracy Now! with her plea to end the military assault on Gaza with one powerful statement: “We are human beings.” She is, of course, absolutely right. Human beings live in Gaza, and it seems like nothing could be more obvious. Of course, what she is really saying is something much deeper. She’s saying, that to the people in Gaza, it seems like we have somehow forgotten that human beings are there.

For insight into these questions, we might first explore the basic dynamic of conflict escalation. Conflict, in itself, is not at issue — it’s the image we have of the human beings with whom we engage in conflict. Michael Nagler, maintains in his book, that conflict escalates increasingly toward violence — according to the degree of dehumanization in the situation. Violence, in other words, doesn’t occur without dehumanization.

Dehumanization is a backdrop making violence possible — both directly, like a bomb, and structurally, like exploitation. By constantly imprinting that negative image of the human being in our minds, even if we don’t perpetuate direct violence, we certainly can’t deny that we live under the institutions that inflict violence on others for us, be it corporations, the military or the police.

The most urgent struggle of today is to reclaim the human image and restore its dignity.

We may need to draw strength from our imaginations as we resist dehumanization, keeping our eyes on the problem without demeaning the person. But what greater purpose can the imagination serve than to help us do that? Carol Flinders affirms that it is one of the most powerful tools of our nature when she writes, “Imagination seems to be a vital component of genuine nonviolent resistance, for it allows us to hold on to a positive view of ourselves no matter what the world tells us we are.”

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  • Mowing The Grass
    Jafar M Ramini Salem-News.com

    (LONDON) - Today is Sunday and in the West it is a day of leisure. A popular activity is tending well-manicured gardens, enjoying the peace and quiet and mowing the grass.

    Mowing the grass in Israeli military speak has a different connotation altogether. ‘Mowing the grass’ is a recognized Israeli military strategy as defined by Professor Efraim Inbar and Dr Eitan Shamir, both of the Begin-Sadat Center of Strategic Studies at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University.

    The grass they have in mind, particularly in Gaza, is every living thing and every standing structure.

    Professor Inbar and Dr Shamir are not bashful about this strategy. They say: ‘Against an implacable, well-entrenched, non-state enemy like the Hamas, Israel simply needs to “mow the grass” once in a while in order to degrade enemy capabilities.’

    Just conjure up the image of a gardening nursery stocked to the brim with many plants, from tiny saplings to mature, not to say elderly, trees. Now change the plants to human beings. Because, horrifying as it may look or sound, this is exactly what has been happening in, around and over Gaza for the last four weeks.

    This is not a new policy. It has nothing to do with accusing Hamas of capturing the three Israelis squatters without a shred of evidence. It has nothing to do with ineffective rockets fired from Gaza. It is an unwavering Israeli military policy of land theft and resources and genocide in Palestine.

    Abhorrent, I know. But for this madness to stop it is incumbent on the American people to call upon their government to stop supplying Israel with state-of-the-art armory, blanket political and diplomatic cover and huge amounts of money. No matter what.

    This video is a speech by an American Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Christopher Hedges. He is not muzzled by Zionism, Congress or the corporate media. He calls it as it is. Please listen.

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  • As I have been working with the ideas in the script above two themes emerged. One was the Science Of Freedom and the other was An Ethical Understanding Of The Idea Of Freedom. Then I saw that they could be joined into the profound statement; The Science Of Freedom Leads To The Ethical Understanding Of The Idea Of Freedom. This then looked to me as the basis of Ethical Individualism. 

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Key Terms Of Ethical Individualism

Each chapter in The Philosophy Of Freedom has an essential term to learn for building understanding for what Ethical Individualism is.

KEY TERMS OF ETHICAL INDIVIDUALISM

KNOWLEDGE
(universal cognitive ideas)
MORALITY
(individual moral ideas)
0. Striving For Individuality   
1. Striving For Freedom action 14. Free Individuality
2. Striving For Knowledge desire 13. Moral Ideals
3. Conceptual Thinking thought 12. Moral Imagination
4. Perception Bias perception 11. Purposeful Life
5. Conceptual Intuition conception 10. Obey Yourself
6. Individualized Concept   individualization      9. Moral Intuition
7. Whole Reality cognition 8. Whole Personality      

Striving For Individuality (6 videos)

The following 6 videos animate the text in the opening of Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom called The Goal Of Knowledge. This is the first group of a series of videos being produced for each chapter. Work is currently being done on the next series Striving For Freedom that will animate Chapter 1, Conscious Human Action.

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Apartheid Is Inevitable In A Jewish State

A democracy will strive for the ideal of equality for each individual. Forming a religious State establishes from the beginning that all people will never be equal. It was inevitable that the "Jewish" State Of Israel would become an apartheid State, otherwise non-Jews might gain power. A Jewish State cannot exist without the oppression of the "Others". 

Post General Questions and Comments Here

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  • I added two POF introduction videosJon McAlice seems to be a student of the book.

  • I added two new pages; an effective way to study the Philosophy Of Freedom called Project Based Study and a fun study group process at Start A Study Group. These links will be on the side bar.

    I also added a search box which has some problems.

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