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A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Term Definition
A (index)

To bring about action that is Christian or unselfish—the outcome of an accepted moral code of principles—just inject some stimulus to action into their mind, and at once the cogwheels of their moral principles are set into motion to produce an action considered Christian. POF 9.8


I am not talking of children or of men who follow their animal or social instincts. I am talking of men who are capable of raising themselves to the level of the ideal content of the world… The instincts, cravings, passions that drive a man to a criminal act do not belong to what is individual in him, but rather to that which is most common in him.

I distinguish myself from others by my thinking, that is, by actively grasping the ideal element that expresses itself in my organism. Thus, we cannot say that the action of a criminal proceeds from an idea. In fact, what is characteristic of criminal acts is precisely that they spring from the non-ideal elements in man. POF 9.9

ethical ideal

Ethical ideals have their root in moral imagination. Their realization depends on the desire for them being strong enough to overcome pain and suffering. Ethical ideals are man's own intuitions, the driving forces that his spirit harnesses. They are what he wills, because their realization is his highest pleasure. He does not need ethics to forbid him from striving for pleasure and then tell him what he should strive for. He will, of himself, strive for ethical ideals provided his moral imagination is sufficiently active to inspire him with the intuitions that give strength to his will to overcome all obstacles.

If a man strives towards sublimely great ideals, it is because they are the content of his will, and because their realization will bring him an enjoyment compared with which the pleasure that pettiness derives from satisfying everyday drives is trivial. Idealists delight in translating their ideals into reality. POF 13.11


An action is free when its reason stems from the ideals part of my individual nature. Every other act compelled by natural instincts or obligation to moral standards is not free. POF 9.9

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 truly human in the fullest sense only in so far as we are free. POF 9.11

The concept of duty excludes freedom, because it will not acknowledge the right of individuality, but demands the subjection of individuality to a general norm. Freedom of action is conceivable only from the standpoint of Ethical Individualism. POF 9.10

According to the Monistic view, man's action is unfree when he obeys some perceptible external compulsion, it is free when he obeys none but himself. POF 10.6


My action becomes “good” if my intuition, steeped in love, stands in the right way in the intuitively experienceable world continuum; it becomes “evil” if that is not the case. POF 9.8 1918  See Moral technique

love of

I acknowledge no lord over me, no external authority, and no so-called inner voice. I acknowledge no external principle for my action, because I have found in myself the ground for my action—my love of the action.

When I review my action later, I can discover the ethical principle that influenced me, but while I am acting the ethical principle moves me in my love for the goal that I wish to bring about through my action.

It is only when I follow solely my love for the objective, that it is I, myself, who act. POF 9.8

action aaa
B (index)
Brain I am speaking here of thinking as given by the observation of our own mental activity. I am not concerned with how one material process in the brain influences another while I carry out a process of thought. What I observe, in studying a thought-process, is not which process in my brain connects the concept of thunder with that of lightning, but rather my reason for bringing these two concepts into a definite relation. Introspection shows that, in linking thought with thought, I am guided by their content not by the material processes in the brain. This remark would be quite superfluous in a less materialistic age than ours… Many people today find it difficult to grasp the concept of thinking in its purity. POF 3.6
C (index)
keepers of conscience

External powers may prevent me from doing what I will. In that case, they simply condemn me to do nothing. Not until they enslave my spirit, drive my motives out of my head and replace them with their own— only then do they really intend to make me unfree. This is why the Church is not merely against actions, but especially against impure thoughts, the motives for my actions. The Church makes me unfree when it sees as impure all motives it has not itself decreed. A church or any other community does not produce genuine slaves until its priests or teachers turn themselves into keepers of conscience, so that the faithful (in the confessional) must take their motives from the church. 12.12

Community, social

The Moralist believes that a social community is possible only if we are all united by a common moral order. The Moralist does not understand the unity of the world of ideas. The world of ideas that inspires me is the one that inspires my neighbor.

I differ from my neighbors, not because we live in two entirely different mental worlds, but because from the common world of ideals we receive different intuitions. My neighbors want to live out their intuitions, I mine.

If we all really draw from the world of ideas, and do not follow external physical or spiritual impulses, then we cannot but meet in the same striving and intentions. An ethical misunderstanding, a clash of aims, is impossible among ethically free human beings.

The free human being expects to find agreement with others, not because of some external arrangement, but in the attitude, the inner disposition of a human being experiencing oneself amidst other valued fellow human beings, that best does justice to human worth and dignity.

Only the ethically unfree who blindly follow their natural instincts or the commands of duty, turn their backs on their neighbors if they do not follow the same instincts and obligations as themselves.

Live and let live is the fundamental principle of the free human being. POF 9-10

The individual must degenerate, if he leads an isolated existence beyond the pale of human society. That is just the reason why the social order arises, that it may react favorably upon the individual. POF 9-12

The world of ideas is not expressed in a human community, but only in human individuals. What appears as the common goal of a human collective is in reality the result of the will impulse of a few select individuals, whom the rest obey as their leaders. POF 10.8

C v

The products of thinking are concepts and ideas. What a concept is cannot be expressed in words. Words can do no more than draw our attention to the fact that we have concepts. When some one perceives a tree, the perception acts as a stimulus for thought. Thus an ideal element is added to the perceived object, and the perceiver regards the object and its ideal complement as belonging together. When the object disappears from the field of his perception, the ideal counterpart alone remains. This latter is the concept of the object. The wider the range of our experience, the larger becomes the number of our concepts. Moreover, concepts are not by any means found in isolation one from the other. They combine to form an ordered and systematic whole. The concept "organism," combines with those of "development according to law," "growth," and others. Other concepts based on particular objects fuse completely with one another. All concepts formed from particular lions fuse in the universal concept "lion." In this way, all the separate concepts combine to form a closed, conceptual system within which each has its special place. Ideas do not differ qualitatively from concepts. They are but fuller, more saturated, more comprehensive concepts.

Concepts cannot be derived from perception. This is apparent from the fact that, as man grows up, he slowly and gradually builds up the concepts corresponding to the objects which surround him. Concepts are added to perception. POF 4.0

Conceptual sphere

When I observe how a billiard ball, when struck, communicates its motion to another, I remain entirely without influence on the process before me. The direction and velocity of the motion of the second ball is determined by the direction and velocity of the first. As long as I remain a mere spectator, I can say nothing about the motion of the second ball until after it has happened. It is quite different when I begin to reflect on the content of my observations. The purpose of my reflection is to construct concepts of the process. I connect the concept of an elastic ball with certain other concepts of mechanics, and consider the special circumstances which obtain in the instance in question. I try, in other words, to add to the process which takes place without any interference, a second process which takes place in the conceptual sphere. This latter process is dependent on me. This is shown by the fact that I can rest content with the observation, and renounce all search for concepts if I have no need of them. If, therefore, this need is present, then I am not content until I have established a definite connection among the concepts, ball, elasticity, motion, impact, velocity, etc., so that they apply to the observed process in a definite way. As surely as the occurrence of the observed process is independent of me, so surely is the occurrence of the conceptual process dependent on me. POF 3.0

Cognition ...establishing ideal connections between percepts themselves, and between them and ourselves. POF 8.0
D (index)
d ddd
E (index)

We do not want any knowledge that has encased itself once and for all in hide bound formulas, and which is preserved in Encyclopedias valid for all time. Each of us claims the right to start from the facts that lie nearest to hand, from his own immediate experiences, and thence to ascend to a knowledge of the whole universe. We strive after certainty in knowledge, but each in his own way. POF 0.4

Nowadays there is no attempt to compel anyone to understand. We claim no agreement with anyone whom a distinct individual need does not drive to a certain view. We do not seek nowadays to cram facts of knowledge even into the immature human being, the child. We seek rather to develop his faculties in such a way that his understanding may depend no longer on our compulsion, but on his will. POF 0.5

Ethical individualism

The aggregate of the ideas which are effective in us, the concrete content of our intuitions, constitute that which is individual in each of us, notwithstanding the universal character of our ideas. In so far as this intuitive content has reference to action, it constitutes the moral substance of the individual. To let our moral content express itself in life is the moral principle of the human being who regards all other moral principles as subordinate. We may call this point of view Ethical Individualism. POF 9.7

F (index)
G (index)

It is not the human being's business to realize God's will in the world, but his own. He carries out his own decisions and intentions, not those of another being. POF 10.8

The good

What we call the good is not what a man must do, but what he wills to do when he unfolds the fullness of his nature. POF 13.11

Good and

My action becomes “good” if my intuition, steeped in love, stands in the right way in the intuitively experienceable world continuum; it becomes “evil” if that is not the case. POF 9.8 1918  See Moral technique.

Government See State
H (index)

The human individual is the source of all morality and the center of all life. POF 9.12

Monism rejects also the concept of moral maxims other than those originated by the human being. POF 10.12

Morality is a specifically human quality, and freedom is the human way of being moral. POF 10.12

I (index)

The form in which thought first appears in consciousness we will call "Intuition"Intuition is to thoughts what observation is to percepts. Intuition and observation are the sources of our knowledge. POF 5-10

Intuition, conceptual

The only question one can ask concerning the given content is, what it is apart from perception, that is, what it is for thought. The question concerning the "what" of a percept can, therefore, only refer to the conceptual intuition which corresponds to the percept. POF 5.12

Intuition, corresponding

An external object which we observe remains unintelligible to us, until the corresponding intuition arises within us which adds to the reality those sides of it which are lacking in the percept. To anyone who is incapable of supplying the relevant intuitions, the full nature of the real remains a sealed book.

To explain a thing, to make it intelligible means nothing else than to place it in the context from which it has been torn by the peculiar organisation of our minds, described above. Nothing can possibly exist cut off from the universe. Hence all isolation of objects has only subjective validity for minds organized like ours.

The objects which, in observation, appear to us as separate, become combined, bit by bit, through the coherent, unified system of our intuitions. By thought we fuse again into one whole all that perception has separated. POF 5-10


The highest level of individual life is that of conceptual thinking without reference to any definite perceptual content. We determine the content of a concept through pure intuition on the basis of an ideal system... When we act under the influence of pure intuitions, the spring of our action is pure thought. As it is the custom in philosophy to call pure thought "reason," we may perhaps be justified in giving the name of practical reason to the spring of action characteristic of this level of life.

It is clear that such a spring of action can no longer be counted in the strictest sense as part of the characterological disposition. For what is here effective in me as a spring of action is no longer something purely individual, but the ideal, and hence universal, content of my intuition.

The highest principle of morality which we can conceive, however, is that which contains to start with, no such reference to particular experiences, but which springs from the source of pure intuition and does not seek until later any connection with percepts, with life.

When all other grounds of determination take second place, then we rely, in the first place, on conceptual intuition itself. All other motives now drop out of sight, and the ideal content of an action alone becomes its motive. POF 9.4

related to percept (perception)

The moment a percept appears in my field of consciousness, thought, too, becomes active in me. A member of my thought-system, a definite intuition, a concept, connects itself with the percept. POF 6.2

related to percept (knowledge)

The concept "tree" is conditioned for our knowledge by the percept "tree." There is only one determinate concept which I can select from the general system of concepts and apply to a given percept... The content of a concept corresponding to an external percept appearing within the field of my experience, is given through intuition. Intuition is the source for the content of my whole conceptual system. The percept shows me only which concept I have to apply, in any given instance, out of the aggregate of my intuitions. The content of a concept is, indeed, conditioned by the percept, but it is not produced by it. On the contrary, it is intuitively given and connected with the percept by an act of thinking. POF 9.0

Intuition, individual
(moral action)

The reason why I select from the number of possible intuitions just this special one, cannot be sought in an object of perception, but is to be found rather in the purely ideal interdependence of the members of my system of concepts. In other words, the determining factors for my will are to be found, not in the perceptual, but only in the conceptual world.

The conceptual system which corresponds to the external world is conditioned by this external world. We must determine from the percept itself what concept corresponds to it; and how, in turn, this concept will fit in with the rest of my system of ideas, depends on its intuitive content. The percept thus conditions directly its concept and, thereby, indirectly also its place in the conceptual system of my world. But the ideal content of an act of will, which is drawn from the conceptual system and which precedes the act of will, is determined only by the conceptual system itself. POF 9.1

The determining factor of an action, in any concrete instance, is the discovery of the corresponding purely individual intuition. At this level of morality, there can be no question of general moral concepts (norms, laws). General norms always presuppose concrete facts from which they can be deduced. But facts have first to be created by human action. POF 9.7

A FREE spirit acts according to his impulses, intuitions, which his thinking has selected out of the whole world of his ideas. For an UNFREE spirit, the reason why he singles out a particular intuition from his world of ideas, in order to make it the basis of an action, lies in the perceptual world which is given to him, in his past experiences. POF 12.0

J (index)
K (index)


 ...we call this establishment of an ideal relation an "act of cognition," and the resulting condition of ourselves "knowledge… POF 8.0

L (index)
Live and
let live

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. POF 9.10

M (index)


Monism denies all justification to Metaphysics, and consequently also to the impulses of action which are derived from so-called "things-in-themselves." According to the Monistic view, man's action is unfree when he obeys some perceptible external compulsion, it is free when he obeys none but himself. There is no room in Monism for any kind of unconscious compulsion hidden behind percept and concept. POF 10.6

The ethical laws which the Metaphysician regards as issuing from a higher power are human thoughts; the ethical world order is the free creation of human beings. POF 10.8

Monism liberates man from the self-imposed fetters of naive ethical maxims within the world, and the imposed ethical maxims of speculative Metaphysicians outside the world, because it looks for all principles of explanation of the phenomena of the world within that world and not outside it. POF 10.11

A science which restricts itself to a description of percepts, without advancing to their ideal complements, is, for Monism, but a fragment. But Monism regards as equally fragmentary all abstract concepts which do not find their complement in percepts, and which fit nowhere into the conceptual net that embraces the whole perceptual world. Hence it knows no ideas referring to objects lying beyond our experience and supposed to form the content of Metaphysics. Whatever mankind has produced in the way of such ideas Monism regards as abstractions from experience, whose origin in experience has been overlooked by their authors. POF 15


We have established that the elements for the explanation of reality are to be taken from the two spheres of perception and thought. It is due, as we have seen, to our organization that the full totality of reality, including our own selves as subjects, appears at first as a duality. Knowledge transcends this duality by fusing the two elements of reality, the percept and the concept, into the complete thing. Let us call the manner in which the world presents itself to us, before by means of knowledge it has taken on its true nature, "the world of appearance," in distinction from the unified whole composed of percept and concept. We can then say, the world is given to us as a duality (Dualism), and knowledge transforms it into a unity (Monism). A philosophy which starts from this basal principle may be called a Monistic philosophy, or Monism. POF 7.0

For Naive Realism the real world is an aggregate of percepts; for Metaphysical Realism, reality belongs not only to percepts but also to imperceptible forces; Monism replaces forces by ideal relations which are supplied by thought. These relations are the laws of nature. A law of nature is nothing but the conceptual expression for the connection of certain percepts. POF 7.9


Monism, then, in the sphere of genuinely moral action is the true philosophy of freedom. Being also a philosophy of reality, it rejects the metaphysical (unreal) restriction of the free spirit as emphatically as it acknowledges the physical and historical (naively real) restrictions of the naive man. POF 10.9


The most narrow-minded trust in the authority of a single person. Someone a little more advanced allows his conduct to be dictated by a majority (state, society). When, at last, it dawns on him that the authorities are just as weak as himself, the naive seek refuge in a Divine Being. POF 10.0

The naive person conceives a Divine Being that dictates to him the ideal content of his moral life by way of his senses—be it as the God that appeared in the burning bush, or who walked in human form among the people and audibly declares for their ears what they should and should not do. POF 10.0

Man's action is unfree when he obeys some perceptible external compulsion, it is free when he obeys none but himself. POF 10.6


The standpoint of free morality does not claim that the free spirit is the only form in which a human being can exist. Free morality sees the freedom of the spirit only as the final stage of human evolution. This is not to deny that conduct in obedience to norms has its legitimate place as a stage in development. The point is that we cannot acknowledge it to be the absolute standpoint in morality. For the free spirit overcomes such norms, in the sense that they are insensible to them as commands, but regulate their conduct according to their impulses (intuitions). POF 9.11

Anyone incapable of producing moral ideas through intuition must receive them from others. To the extent that humans receive their ethical principles from without, they are in fact not free. POF 10.5

The actions of human beings are not free if they obey external compulsion; they act freely only when they obey themselves. POF 10.6

In regards to genuinely moral conduct, Monism is the true philosophy of freedom. Being also a philosophy of reality, it rejects the metaphysical (unreal) restriction of the free spirit. POF 10.9

Freedom is impossible if anything other than I myself (physical processes or God) determines my moral ideas. I am free only when I myself produce these ideas, not when all I do is carry out the ideas another has implanted in me. POF 12.11

The ethical life of humanity is the sum total of what free human individuals have created through their moral imagination. POF 14.12


The capacity to intuitively experience the particular moral principle for each single situation.

Among the levels of characterological disposition, we have singled out as the highest that which manifests itself as pure thought, or practical reason. Among the motives, we have just singled out conceptual intuition as the highest. On nearer consideration, we now perceive that at this level of morality the spring of action and the motive coincide, i.e., that neither a predetermined characterological disposition, nor an external moral principle accepted on authority, influence our conduct. The action, therefore, is neither a merely stereotyped one which follows the rules of a moral code, nor is it automatically performed in response to an external impulse. Rather it is determined solely through its ideal content.

For such an action to be possible, we must first be capable of moral intuitions. Whoever lacks the capacity to think out for himself the moral principles that apply in each particular case, will never rise to the level of genuine individual willing. POF 9.5

He acts as he wills, that is, in accordance with his moral intuitions; and he finds in the attainment of what he wills the true enjoyment of life. POF 13.12


The general moral principle selected by moral intuition needs to be imaginatively translated into a specific goal of action. We call this moral imagination.

Only those men who are endowed with moral imagination are morally productive. Those who merely preach morality, those who merely spin out moral rules without being able to condense them into concrete ideas, are morally unproductive. POF 12.2


Moral technique is the ability to transform the world according to moral imaginations without violating the natural laws by which things are connected.

In order to be able to transform a definite object of perception, or a sum of such objects, in accordance with a moral idea, it is necessary to understand the object's law (its mode of action which one intends to transform, or to which one wants to give a new direction). Further, it is necessary to discover the procedure by which it is possible to change the given law into the new one. This part of effective moral activity depends on knowledge of the particular world of phenomena with which one has got to deal. We shall, therefore, find it in some branch of scientific knowledge. Moral action, then, presupposes, in addition to the faculty of moral concepts and of moral imagination, the ability to alter the world of percepts without violating the natural laws by which they are connected. This ability is moral technique. It may be learnt in the same sense in which science in general may be learnt. POF 12.3


The tendency just described, the philosophy of feeling, is Mysticism. The error in this view is that it seeks to possess by immediate experience what must be known, that it seeks to develop feeling, which is individual, into a universal principle. POF 8.8

N (index)
O (index)
P (index)

The ambiguity of current speech makes it advisable for me to come to an agreement with my readers concerning the meaning of a word which I shall have to employ in what follows. I shall apply the name "percepts" to the immediate sense-data enumerated above, in so far as the subject consciously apprehends them. It is, then, not the process of perception, but the object of this process which I call the "percept."

I reject the term "sensation," because this has a definite meaning in Physiology which is narrower than that of my term "percept". I can speak of feeling as a percept, but not as a sensation in the physiological sense of the term. Before I can have cognisance of my feeling it must become a percept for me. The manner in which, through observation, we gain knowledge of our thought-processes is such that when we first begin to notice thought, it too may be called a percept. POF 4.4

of feeling

Now a feeling is entirely individual, something equivalent to a percept. Hence a philosophy of feeling makes a cosmic principle out of something which has significance only within my own personality. Anyone who holds this view attempts to infuse his own self into the whole world. What the Monist strives to grasp by means of concepts, the philosopher of feeling tries to attain through feeling, and he looks on his own felt union with objects as more immediate than knowledge. POF 8.7

of will

He sees in the will an element in which he is immediately aware of an activity, a causation, in contrast with thought which afterwards grasps this activity in conceptual form… The mode of existence presented to him by the will within himself becomes for him the fundamental reality of the universe. His own will appears to him as a special case of the general world-process; hence the latter is conceived as a universal will. The will becomes the principle of reality just as, in Mysticism, feeling becomes the principle of knowledge. This point of view is called the philosophy of the will (or Thelism). It makes something which can be experienced only individually the dominant factor of the world. POF 8.10

Q (index)
R (index)

The highest level of individual life is that of conceptual thinking without reference to any definite perceptual content. We determine the content of a concept through pure intuition on the basis of an ideal system... When we act under the influence of pure intuitions, the spring of our action is pure thought. As it is the custom in philosophy to call pure thought "reason," we may perhaps be justified in giving the name of practical reason to the spring of action characteristic of this level of life. POF 9.4

R u
S (index)
value of

All science would be nothing but the satisfaction of idle curiosity did it not strive to enhance the existential value of human personality. The true value of the sciences is seen only when we have shown the importance of their results for humanity. Knowledge has value only in so far as it contributes to the all-round unfolding of the whole nature of man. POF 0.10

theory of

Ethical Individualism, then, so far from being in opposition to the theory of evolution, is a direct consequence of it. Haeckel's genealogical tree from protozoa up to man as an organic being, ought to be capable of being worked out without a breach of natural law, and without a gap in its uniform evolution, up to the individual as a being with a determinate moral nature.

The same Ethical Individualism which I have developed on the basis of the preceding principles, might be equally well developed on the basis of the theory of evolution. The final result would be the same; only the path by which it was reached would be different. POF 12.7

Ethical Individualism, then, is the crown of the edifice that Darwin and Haeckel have erected for Natural Science. It is the theory of evolution applied to the moral life. POF 12.8

Science, thought

The Oriental sages make their disciples live for years a life of resignation and asceticism before they impart to them their own wisdom. The Western world no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic practices as a preparation for science, but it does require a sincere willingness to withdraw oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life, and to betake oneself into the realm of pure thought. POF 0.7


The spheres of life are many and for each there develop a special science. But life itself is one, and the more the sciences strive to penetrate deeply into their separate spheres, the more they withdraw themselves from the vision of the world as a living whole. There must be one supreme science which seeks in the separate sciences the elements for leading men back once more to the fullness of life. POF 0.8


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 percepts, 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. These principles all belong only to a limited sphere of our experience. Personality we experience only in ourselves, force and matter only in external things. The will can be regarded only as the expression of the activity of our finite personalities. POF 5.9


The Dualist regards the human mind to be a spiritual being entirely foreign to Nature and then tries to hitch this being on to Nature. No wonder it cannot find the connecting link. We can find Nature outside us only if we first know her within us. What corresponds to Nature within us will be our guide. POF 2.9


To the Spiritual Dualist, moral laws appear to be dictated by the Absolute. Human beings through their intelligence need only discover and carry out the decisions of this Absolute Being... It is not man who matters in this moral order but reality in itself, that is, God. POF 10.2

Just as the Materialistic Dualist makes human beings into automatons whose actions are the result of purely mechanical laws, a Spiritual Dualist makes human beings slaves to the will of the Absolute. Freedom has no place either in Materialism or Spiritualism. POF 10.3


What of the Spiritualistic theory? The Spiritualist denies Matter (the World) and regards it merely as a product of Mind (the Self). He supposes the whole phenomenal word to be nothing more than a fabric woven by Mind out of itself. This conception of the world finds itself in difficulties as soon as it attempts to deduce from Mind any single concrete phenomenon. It cannot do so either in knowledge or in action. POF 2.2


The human individual is the fountain of all morality and the centre of all life. State and society exist only because they have necessarily grown out of the life of individuals.

The individual must degenerate, if he leads an isolated existence beyond the pale of human society. That is just the reason why the social order arises, that it may react favorably upon the individual. POF 9-12


The Philistine who looks upon the state as embodied morality is sure to look upon the free spirit as a danger to the state. But that is only because his view is narrowly focused on a limited period of time. If he were able to look beyond, he would soon find that it is but on rare occasions that the free spirit needs to go beyond the laws of his state, and that it never needs to confront them with any real contradiction. For the laws of the state, one and all, have had their origin in the intuitions of free spirits, just like all other objective laws of morality.

The laws of the state are always born in the brain of a statesman. These free spirits have set up laws over the rest of mankind, and only he is unfree who forgets this origin and makes them either divine commands, or objective moral duties, or the authoritative voice of his own conscience.

He, on the other hand, who does not forget the origin of laws, but looks for it in man, will respect them as belonging to the same world of ideas which is the source also of his own moral intuitions. If he thinks his intuitions better than the existing laws, he will try to put them into the place of the latter. If he thinks the laws justified, he will act in accordance with them as if they were his own intuitions.


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. It cannot admit any continuous supernatural influence upon moral life (divine government of the world from the outside), nor an influence through a particular act of revelation at a particular moment in history (giving of the ten commandments), or through God's appearance on the earth (divinity of Christ). Moral processes are, for Monism, natural products like everything else that exists, and their causes must be looked for in nature, i.e., in man, because man is the bearer of morality. POF 12.8

T (index)

If the things of our experience were ideas (mental pictures), then our everyday life would be like a dream, and the discovery of the true facts would be like waking. POF 5.1 contrast to dreaming, there is the waking state in which we have the opportunity to detect our dreams, and to realize the real relations of things, but that there is no state that stands in a similar relationship to waking consciousness. Those who profess this view fail entirely to see that there is, in fact, something which is to mere perception what our waking experience is to our dreams. This something is thinking. POF 5.1

Thinking, produce

I am definitely aware that the concept of a thing is formed by my activity, while the feeling of pleasure is produced in me by an object the same way as change is caused in an object by a stone falling on it.

In thinking about an occurrence, I am not concerned with it as an effect on me. I learn nothing about myself from knowing the concepts which correspond to the observed change caused to a pane of glass by a stone thrown against it. But I do learn something about myself when I know the feeling which a certain occurrence arouses in me. POF 3.2

contemplation of object

While I am reflecting on the object, I am absorbed in it; my attention is turned to it. To become absorbed in the object is to contemplate by thought. POF 3.3

contemplation of thought

I can never observe the present thought in which I am actually engaged; only afterward can I make the past experience of my thought process into the object of my present thinking. POF 3.4

of thought

Thought, as an object of observation, differs essentially from all other objects. I observe the table, and I carry on my thinking about the table, but I do not at the same moment observe this thought. While the observation of things and events, and thinking about them, are everyday occurrences filling my ongoing life, observation of the thought itself is a kind of exceptional state. POF 3.1

Thinking, pure

What I observe in studying a thought process is not which process in my brain connects the concept lightning with the concept thunder, but my reason for bringing these two concepts into a specific relationship. Introspection shows that in linking thought with thought I am guided by the content of my thoughts; I am not guided by any physical processes in my brain. Many people today find it difficult to grasp the concept of pure thinking. POF 3.6

Thinking, know

It is possible to know thought more immediately and more intimately than any other process in the world. Because we produce it ourselves we know the characteristic features of its course and the details of how the process takes place...  I do not know off-hand why, for perception, thunder follows lightning, but I know immediately, from the content of the two concepts, why my thought connects the concept of thunder with that of lightning. POF 3.5

Thinking, reflection

The purpose of my reflection is to form concepts of the event. I try to add to the occurrence that runs its course without my participation a second process which takes place in the conceptual sphere. This conceptual process depends on me. POF 3.0

Truth, empowerment

Truth alone can give us confidence in developing our powers. He who is tortured by doubts finds his powers lamed. In a world of riddle of which baffles him, he can find no aim for his activity. POF 0.2


Truth will be sought in our age only in the depths of human nature. POF 0.1

Truth that comes to us from outside always bears the stamp of uncertainty. Only truth that appears within ourselves will convince us. POF 0.1

We no longer want to believe; we want to know. Belief demands the acceptance of truths which we do not wholly comprehend. But the individuality which seeks to experience everything in the depths of its own being, is repelled by what it cannot understand. Only that knowledge will satisfy us which springs from the inner life of the personality, and submits itself to no external norm. POF 0.3

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  • I would like to know the diference between individualism and individuation 

    • The original 1894 Philosophy Of Freedom began with Chapter 1 The Goal Of Knowledge. The first two paragraphs that appear in the original edition describes the individual as one striving to cast off all dependency. And then says an individual is one who is striving for freedom. The Philosophy Of Freedom ends with the chapter on Free Individuality. By the end of the book a true individual is the person who has achieved freedom.

      So the meaning of an individual begins when the person strives for freedom, and after the individualization process is complete, a true individual is the free spirit who has achieved freedom.

      2017 The Philosophy Of Freedom
      Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom
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© Tom Last 2017