"The purpose of The Philosophy Of Freedom is to lay the foundations of ethical individualism and of a social and political life." Rudolf Steiner
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Do we know someone who we consider to represent the human ideal?
Friends call young mother “Ideal Human”
A small town community in Michigan mourned the tragic death of a 21-year-old college student and mother of a young child. “She’d hang out with everyone. She brought groups of kids together,” said a friend. “There wasn’t anyone that she didn’t make feel wonderful, said a former teacher. “She’s the 'ideal' of a what a human being should be.”
Since the dawn of civilization, human beings have striven to perfect themselves, emulating those who have achieved greatness. Every culture has their celebrities and super heroes of people everyone wishes to be like.
There are historical superhumans such as the enlightened Buddha looked to as an ideal human being. The prophet Moses possessed supernatural powers to part the Red Sea. Islamic tradition is full of written descriptions of Mohammed and his qualities — describing him as the ideal human being. Ayn Rand's modern hero is a self-serving individualist, in contrast to the superhuman Christian ideal of the gospels Jesus. Jesus Christ, according to legend, lives to use his super powers to selflessly serve others.
We learn from our heroes only up to a point where we must then continue on the journey without them.
To be human is to be free
An ideal is an idea of something in its perfect form or essence. The essence of being human is found without the “need to discard our human nature” and become superhuman. Inner development removes the barriers that prevent our human nature from expressing its essence. The purest expression of human nature is freedom. We are only fully human when we are free.
“Our life is made up of free and unfree actions. We cannot, however, form a final and adequate concept of human nature without coming upon the free spirit as its purest expression. After all, we are human in the fullest sense only in so far as we are free.” POF 9.11
What is human freedom?
Philosophers have debated the question of freedom for over two millennia, and just about every great thinker has a different opinion. This is a problem as we can only strive for freedom if we know what it is. POF 9.11 In science everyone is not entitled to their own opinion. Science is based on facts, not opinion or preferences. What is needed is a science of freedom.
Science of freedom
Rudolf Steiner understood the need for a science of freedom. The Philosophy Of Freedom is the "result of introspective observation following the methods of science".
“What I was really trying to do in The Philosophy of Freedom, was to locate freedom empirically, and thus put it on a solidly scientific basis.”
Nature makes us merely natural creatures, social community develops us further, but only the human individual can finish the process and make themselves free ethical human beings. The human evolves from his ancestors into an ethical individual without the need of some sort of supernatural intervention. Rudolf Steiner's ethical human follows directly from the theory of evolution.
“The same ethical individualism that I have developed on the basis of the preceding principles could also be derived from the theory of evolution.” POF 12.7
A science of freedom informs our ethical decisions concerned with human well-being
A science of freedom contributes to human evolution by providing a map to freedom. Having knowledge of what freedom is will inform our ethical decisions concerned with human well-being. The more this science is clarified and presented to the world the greater influence it will have throughout social and political life.
"The purpose of The Philosophy Of Freedom is to lay the foundations of ethical individualism and of a social and political life." Rudolf Steiner
Over 100 years ago Rudolf Steiner presented a Science Of Freedom that laid the foundation for Ethical Individualism and a new social and political life. His Philosophy Of Freedom is a humanist philosophy of life that integrates science, ethics and creative imagination into free ethical deeds independent of conditioned bias and the influence of authoritarian institutions.
This philosophy of life has remained largely unknown until now. If it had been vigorously presented 100 years ago I have no doubt it would be commonly known today and the world we live in would be a different place. This website, philosophyoffreedom.com, has been working very hard everyday since 2005 with minimal human and financial resources to find ways to present it and get the word out.
What we have found is that there is an interest in Ethical Individualism once people hear about it.
International Baccalaureate 2014 conference in Rome
In 2014 the ideas of Ethical Individualism was part of an educational service learning package presented by keynote speaker Cathryn Berger Kaye M.A. at the International Baccalaureate conference held in Rome.
The International Baccalaureate (IB), founded in 1968, “is an educational foundation offering highly respected programs of international education. There are more than 1 million IB students at 3,462 schools in 143 countries around the world.”
“The prestigious pre-university IB program develops well-rounded students with character who respond to challenges with optimism and an open mind, make ethical decisions, join with others in celebrating our common humanity and are prepared to apply what they learn in real-world, complex and unpredictable situations.”
Included in her education material at the conference was this diagram (pictured below) on Ethical Individualism created here at philosophyoffreedom.com. When properly presented education professionals recognize that The Philosophy Of Freedom and Ethical Individualism offer something of value. The better job we can do to find ways to package these ideas and make them available the more they will become known.
|An Ethical Individualism diagram from philosophyoffreedom.com was part of keynote speaker Cathryn Berger Kaye's Education material at 2014 International Baccalaureate conference. Improved diagram here.
Cathryn is involved in Service Learning. What is that? Could it be a way to teach Ethical Individualism?
Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.
Through service-learning, young people—from kindergarteners to college students—use what they learn in the classroom to solve real-life problems. They not only learn the practical applications of their studies, they become actively contributing citizens and community members through the service they perform.
Service-learning can be applied in a wide variety of settings, including schools, universities, and community-based and faith-based organizations. It can involve a group of students, a classroom or an entire school. Students build character and become active participants as they work with others in their school and community to create service projects in areas such as education, public safety, and the environment.
Community members, students, and educators everywhere are discovering that service-learning offers all its participants a chance to take part in the active education of youth while simultaneously addressing the concerns, needs, and hopes of communities. --National Service-Learning Clearinghouse
The Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.
Earlier this month, with the support of many others, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin announced her intention to defy her state Supreme Court's decision to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state capitol grounds.
Have you read the ten commandments?
In the fervor to impose their religious beliefs on others, it's as if they forgot what the Ten Commandments actually say. They may want to re-read it. Four demand love and respect for a jealous God of a single religion, if you do not comply, that God will harm you. Three more deal with coveting other people's stuff (the wife is included among your stuff after the house and before the servants/slaves and ox), and the others are obvious like forbidding murder and theft.
Few, if any, of the Ten Commandments would make it on any modern person's own top ten list of rules for living. I'm sure most people can do a better job writing such a list than the biblical version. It wouldn't be hard to pick ten better, more universal, more relevant principles to live by.
I decided to look for some principles that are relevant for today and worth striving for in my favorite part of The Philosophy Of Freedom, the original preface. Here is what I came up with for my list.
My Top 10
1. Shake off every kind of authority.
2. Accept nothing as valid, unless it springs from within yourself.
3. The saying that “when the student is ready the teacher will appear” no longer holds for you.
4. Probe deep into the heart of your being, where dwells something noble and worthy of development.
5. Allow no ideals to be forced upon you.
6. No longer believe that there is a norm of human life to which you must all strive to conform.
7. Assert your right to express what is unique in you.
8. No longer be satisfied merely to believe; instead want to know.
9. Find in the separate sciences those principles that lead to a wholistic science.
10. Value science only when it shows its results are important for human development.
Source of morality is human beings
Just as Monism has no use for supernatural creative ideas in explaining living organisms, so it is equally impossible for it to derive the moral world-order from causes which do not lie within the world. Monism cannot admit any continuous supernatural influence upon moral life (divine government of the world from the outside), or to a particular revelation at a moment in history (giving of the ten commandments), or to the appearance of God on the earth (divinity of Christ). For monism moral processes are products of the world like everything else that exists, and their causes must be sought in the world—that is to say, in human beings, because humans are the bearers of morality. POF 12.8
Adaptation of a Roy Speckhardt article
It is easy to build community with submissives unwilling to think for themselves, who prefer not to rock the boat by doing or saying something, who dutifully obey the rules, and conform.
But how is it possible for free individuals to join together if everyone is striving to express his or her own individual ideals?
Common ethical order
The Moralist believes that a social community is possible only if the group is held together by a common ethical order. POF 9-10 What makes you a Christian, Jew, or Muslim is which book of ethical principles you selflessly submit to.
Betul Ulusoy is denied a job
Here is a story of how social organization is built around a common ethical principle. It begins when Betul, a Muslim law school graduate, was recently denied a trainee job at a law office in Berlin because she wore a headscarf. Without the addition of an ideal principle the incident would likely only be of interest to Betul, who is disappointed she didn't get the job. She posted a complaint on Facebook about being denied the job solely for the reason she chose to wear a headscarf. This incident then grew into a rally that unified many diverse groups. How did this happen?
1. Specific situation: Betul Ulusoy is denied a job because she wore a headscarf.
Interest: Betul Ulusoy
Common ethical principle
The situation drew the attention of others with the addition of an ethical principle. By universalizing the incident the interest in it broadens. The scarf becomes a “head covering” while Betul Ulusoy becomes a “religious person” who wears a head covering. This inspires a Muslim-Jewish organization to get involved whose members wear head coverings. They hold a rally and make it clear,
"We emphasize that we didn't demonstrate for Betül only, but for all with head coverings who are discriminated against based on their religious practices."
2. Ideal principle added: Equal rights for all religious people who wear head coverings
Interest: Muslim-Jewish organization
Further purifying the ethical principle by removing “religious” and “head covering” more people are inspired and join the rally. It becomes a social justice issue by adding the ideals of “democracy” and “equality”. The rally now gains support from a wide range of religious and secular organizations who say,
"We are working for a pluralistic democracy that respects all equally even if they are different."
3. Ideal principle further purified: Democratic principle of “equality”
Interest: Wide range of religious and secular organizations
The group has grown but is still held together by a single ethical principle of "social justice". Free individuals, at any one moment, are working to realize their own lofty ideals that they have chosen, whether it be saving the planet, world peace, fiscal responsibility, ethical business, raising an educated child etc. How is it possible to form a community of individuals if there is no common ethical principle to rally around?
Common world of ideas
A diverse social compatibility is possible when we understand that the universal world of ideas that inspires me is none other than the one that inspires other individuals. I differ from other individuals not because we are living in two entirely different mental worlds, but because from our common world of ideas we each receive different insights. My neighbors want to live out their ideas, I mine.
Unity of the world of ideas
Pure ideas are not found isolated from each other, they connect to other ideas to form an ordered and systematic whole. The Moralist demands that others accept his ethical code because he does not understand that all universal ideals are joined together in a comprehensible unity in the world of ideas.
Harmony of intentions
An ethical individualist knows that a community of individuals can harmoniously work together “if we really draw from the Idea (unity of ideas) and do not obey external impulses (physical or spiritual). Then we cannot but meet in the same striving, the same intentions. An ethical misunderstanding, a clash, is impossible among ethically free human beings.” POF 9.10
Reference article by Antonia Blumberg
Pope assails capitalist greed telling youth to rise up and “make a mess”
Pope Francis has called for a youth uprising against global capitalism. Last Sunday the Pope gave a rousing speech during which he told a crowd of young people in Paraguay that it is their time to "go make a mess." He assailed the prevailing economic system as the "dung of the devil," saying that the systemic "greed for money" is a "subtle dictatorship" that "condemns and enslaves men and women."
The Pope went off-script during the address to tens of thousands of youth and spoke from a free heart, "They wrote a speech for me to give you. But speeches are boring," Pope Francis said. "Go make a mess, but then also help to tidy it up. A mess which gives us a free heart, a mess which gives us solidarity, a mess which gives us hope."
He spoke of “the necessity of fighting for the right to lead a dignified life.” "We don't want young weaklings. We do not want young people who tire quickly, who live life worn out with faces of boredom. We want youths with hope and strength," Francis told the crowd.
Self-absorbed spiritualists should take action
On other occasions, the Pope has urged priests to leave “the stale air of closed rooms” and has characterized traditional Catholics as “self-absorbed.” "I want the Church to go out into the streets,” Pope Francis told a cheering crowd gathered for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013.
Is Jorge Mario Bergoglio an non-violent "Anarchist” at heart, clothed in popes clothing? In an interview later the Pope continued, perhaps disappointingly, “It is not that the Church has an option for the anarchic way.”
“I have the conviction that we agree, with respect to our views, every bit as far as two natures fully independent of one another can agree.” wrote Steiner to Mackay.
Individualist anarchism is a type of anarchism that emphasizes the individual and their will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions, and ideological systems. Besides Mackay, Steiner was influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche and individualist anarchist Max Stirner at the time.
Individualist anarchism in Europe
European individualist anarchism in general is the emphasis on individual subjective exploration and defiance of social conventions.
Individualist anarchist philosophy was found amongst artists, intellectuals and the well-read, urban middle classes in general. As such Murray Bookchin describes a lot of individualist anarchists as people who expressed their opposition in uniquely personal forms, especially in fiery tracts, outrageous behavior, and aberrant lifestyles in the cultural ghettos of fin de siecle New York, Paris, and London. As a credo, individualist anarchism remained largely a bohemian lifestyle, most conspicuous in its demands for sexual freedom ('free love') and enamored of innovations in art, behavior, and clothing. wiki
Steiner enjoyed hobnobbing with artists and political activists
Steiner edited the Magazine for Literature from 1897 to 1900 in Berlin. Biographer Gary Lachman writes; "Steiner seems to have enjoyed hobnobbing with the bohemians; his acquaintances included poets, playwrights, novelists and political activists. In fact, his reputation among the demi-monde (people considered to be on the fringes of respectable society) caused academics to cancel their subscriptions, and Steiner also earned the distinction of having a periodical banned in Czarist Russia because its editor was known to socialize with anarchists."
The world is not governed rationally
In the letter to Mackay Steiner notes that the world is not governed rationally. The State hinders the individual "at every step in the unfolding of his abilities",
“The State hates the individual. The State says: I can only use a person who behaves thus and thus. Whoever is different, I shall force him to become the way I want.”
The Individualist Anarchist knows that people should be trusted to find their own direction, should be given “free way”. The way is then cleared “for the most independent people by doing away with all force and authority”.
Pope reference material: Lauren McCauley
Yet, Human Rights Watch has slammed Israel over “abusive arrests” of Palestinian children as young as 11. In a report released on Monday, "Israeli security forces have choked children, thrown stun grenades at them, beaten them in custody, forced confessions without the presence of parents or lawyers, and failed to let their parents know their whereabouts."
What allowed the Israeli forces to morally justify carrying out acts that they normally find abhorrent? Situational ethics. Situational ethics proponents argue that high ethical ideals are vague and unrealistic. They have little to do with having to deal with tough real life situations. Sometimes the situation, not principles, should dictate action.
“Sometimes you gotta put your principles aside and do the right thing”.
Conflict between principles and situation
Are we required to choose between adhering to rigid principles or going down the slippery slope of giving up those principles in certain situations?
President Obama has been reluctant to use military force and said, “Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct.” This is opposed by situational realists who support torture believing that the ends justifies the means.
An Ethical Individualist always stands on principles
The deed of an ethical individualist is never determined by the external situation. If that was the case the deed would not be determined by the individual, meaning it would not be ethical or free. Of course she is aware of the situation but “does not allow herself to be determined by it”. POF 9.6
The situation is conceptualized to understand the context and circumstances of the event. Within the conceptual sphere, free from personal or ethnic bias, an ideal principle is selected (Moral Intuition). The principle is universal so imagination needs to translate it into a specific situational goal that fits the event (Moral Imagination). In this way you are able to stand on your principles while your action is suited to the specifics of the situation.
What about flexibility? The principles and goals of the ethical individualist are not set in stone. If changing conditions or new knowledge calls for a different approach the ethical individualist can adjust from moment to moment, without compromising an ethical life.
“My mission, at any one moment, is that which I choose for myself. I do not enter upon life's journey with fixed marching orders.” POF 11.7
Both Scientology and the Philosophy Of Freedom claim to offer paths to freedom. On what scientific principle do they base this claim?
For Scientology the barrier to freedom is the Reactive Mind. It is defined in Scientology as that part of the mind that works on a totally stimulus-response basis. It is not under a persons control and exerts force and the power of command over our awareness, purposes, thoughts, and actions.
In the Philosophy Of Freedom (POF) we find something similar at the lowest level of individual life called simply “drive” when our will is immediately triggered by the senses without intervening reflection or having a special feeling for what is perceived. This immediacy originally belonged to the lower instinctive life necessary for survival. POF 9.4
Scientology and POF speak of mental images that can insert themselves between us and the outer world resulting in cognitive bias distorting our grasp of reality and creating unreasonable fears, upsets and insecurities. POF Chp5 Addition to the revised edition (1918)
How do we free ourselves from compulsions, obsessions, and neuroses that spring from what Scientology calls the Reactive Mind and what POF calls in a broader term our Psyche-Physical Organization?
There are two ways that this battle can be tilted in the favor of reason. One way is to weaken the stimulus-response reactions while the other way is to strengthen thinking.
The level of Clear in Scientology
The scientific principle used in Scientology is that you can weaken the Reactive Mind by bringing unwanted motives into consciousness where they lose their power, so the ill effects they cause end. POF 1.3 A state of clear is reached through a long period of auditing therapy until the Reactive Mind is eliminated.
Once the Reactive Mind is eliminated we will be happier and return to a more childlike simplicity having removed the pain of past traumatic experiences.
The level of Clear in The Philosophy Of Freedom
The Philosophy Of Freedom takes the other approach by strengthening thinking, then the power of thinking suspends the control over us by the organization of our body and mind, the Psyche-Physical Organization. This state of clear is called pure thinking or reason. It takes place in the sphere of universal concepts. It is developed by learning how the mind works (study of the Philosophy Of Freedom) and then applying this knowledge to unfold free thinking. It is also necessary to practice the kind of thought discipline that is necessary in the fields of science.
When we enter the pure conceptual sphere the Psyche-Physical Organization which holds our past experiences, natural urges, and biases “suspends its own activity—it makes room—and, in the space that has been made free, thinking appears. First, thinking represses the human organization’s own activity and, second, it replaces that activity with itself.” POF 9.1 found only in revised 1918 edition
With empowered thinking we become fully mature human beings, and fulfill our human potential.
Pure thinking is the most important part of The Philosophy Of Freedom. That there is a power within thinking that can suspend our Psyche-Physical Organization is the scientific principle that can be used to free ourselves of the habitual ruts and cognitive biases that enslaves us.
Another historic chance for change
After an idealistic campaign calling for justice and sovereignty, Greek newspapers carried dramatic headlines of the Syriza parties stunning victory last January. The anti-austerity Syriza party is defined by their youthful idealism and determination to smash the mold of practical politics and business as usual.
Many pro-leftist newspapers hailed the win as a historic chance for the people of Greece to take charge of their own future with the emergence of these young, anti-establishment members of government.
Can they make their ideals a reality, which is the objective of what The Philosophy Of Freedom calls “Ethical Individualism”?
Youthful idealism without a plan of action
It doesn't look like the Syriza government will realize any ideals. Now a historic betrayal has consumed Greece as the new government has agreed to many repressive, impoverishing measures in return for a “bailout” that means sinister foreign control and a warning to the rest of the world.
It turned out the Syriza government had no plan. The day after the January election a truly democratic and radical government would have begone taking action, but there was no plan.
Preaching ideals is not enough
The Syriza party has ideals but appear to lack imagination and technique. Or they could even have been phony idealists from the start.
Bernie Sanders is a US presidential candidate who has ideas, but what are the chances he could implement any of them if elected? He is 73 years old, yet he can still sound like an innocent idealist. In my view Gov. Jerry Brown of Ca. has the right balance of idealism and realism --he gets things done and has returned California to being a great state again.
Freedom and imagination
Lofty ideals such as social justice are universal and are applicable to all cultures. To apply social justice to a particular situation like Greece, you need imagination. The ideal principle needs to be imaginatively translated into a specific plan of action that meets the Greek situation directly.
Our creative and imaginative capacity depends on how free we are as individuals. The biases we receive from our family, nation, ethnic group and religion and all that we inherit from the past restrict our creativity. Imagination is a characteristic of free individuality. Free individuality is attained through an inner striving for freedom.
Science and technique
The Greece crisis is highly complex. The idealist has to work with an already existing set of conditions, to which he wants to give a new form. In order to transform the situation one has to have knowledge of the rules and laws of how it works. This is the kind of knowledge taught at universities in the different branches of general scientific knowledge. By acquiring this knowledge or surrounding your self with experts in the fields needed the world can be transformed without major disruptions and you are more likely to gain the support of others.
Changing the world, according to The Philosophy Of Freedom, involves three abilities. We select ideal principles with Moral Intuition, we imagine creative goals with Moral Imagination and we implement those goals with the knowledge of science or Moral Technique. POF 12.2
Greece reference: John Pilger, Andrew Flood
We are studying the Philosophy of Freedom by Rudolf Steiner.
Each week we do artistic exercises in relation to the text.
Here are a few samples from our first session on the prefaces.
Hillsdale, New York
see Start A Study Group
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What religion calls God, we call the Idea.
Learn more about Ethical Individualism here