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How Readable is The Philosophy Of Freedom?

I have seen the need for a more "readable" edition of the Philosophy Of Freedom. Readability has to do with removing waste words that can be eliminated without losing the meaning of the sentence. It means not overusing adverbs, using less difficult words, and shortening sentences. My first attempt at a better translation was to write more clearly in order to make the long sentences make sense. Then I discovered some tools that grade your writinging readability  and found that my new edition was not any more "readable" than the existing translations. It was a waste of time if that is the case.

All of the English translations, and probably the native German, are written for those who have the reading and comprehension skills of someone with 2 years of college, according to the online analysis tools. This is not OK if your objective is to make the Philosophy Of Freedom available to a wider readership.

I experimented and rewrote a paragraph readable at the high school grad level. Now this is what is needed. There is nothing inherent about The Philosophy Of Freedom that requires it be written at a level that you need to have completed 2 years of college to read it. This has only to do with the writer. Steiner's audience included accomplished German philosophers. Today's audience is the general public. Now the average American reads at a 7th or 8th grade level, yet The Philosophy Of Freedom is only available at the 14th grade level. Could this be a big part of the reason nobody reads it?

The readability level of the writing example above rates at the high school graduate level but would be at the 8th or 9th grade level with a simpler vocabulary. But the more difficult words are needed as they point to concepts of knowledge. The reader can focus on these and use a dictionary and the internet when outside help is needed. 

I used the readability tools to compare my recent editing (which I thought was more readable) with the popular Lipson and Wilson translations. All 3 of them require the reading ability of someone who has completed 2 years of college. Below is a more readable translation edited for the high school graduate. It uses 25% less words by removing waste words and has shorter sentences. Anything more difficult than this just won't work.

Today/2016 The Philosophy Of Freedom edited by Tom Last
Number of Words: 154 25% less words
Reading Grade Level: 11.83 (Complete high school)

"Is a human being free to act and think, or compelled by the unyielding necessity of natural law? Few questions have been the focus of so much ingenuity. The idea of freedom has many enthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents. Moral zealots accuse anyone of stupidity who denies so obvious a fact as freedom. Scientific thinkers oppose them. They say its just ignorance for anyone to believe the universality of natural law suspends itself in the field of human action and thought. The same thing is as often called humanity's most precious possession as its worst illusion. Endless distinctions are used to explain how freedom is consistent with the laws working in nature. Man, after all, is a part of nature. No less effort has gone into explaining how this delusion could arise. The importance of the question of freedom for life, religion, conduct, and science is felt by anyone with any depth of character."

Earlier in May/2016 The Philosophy Of Freedom edited by Tom Last
Number of Words: 187
Reading Grade Level: 14.30 (Complete 2 years of college)

"Is the human being free in action and thought, or compelled by the unyielding necessity of natural law? Few questions have expended so much ingenuity. The idea of freedom has found enthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents in large numbers. There are people who, in their moral zeal, declare it to be sheer stupidity to deny so obvious a fact as freedom. Standing against them are others who say it is naively unscientific for anyone to believe that the universality of natural law is suspended in the field of human action and thought. One and the same thing is as often proclaimed to be humanity's most precious possession as it is declared to be our worst illusion. Endless distinctions have been used to explain how human freedom can be compatible with Determinism; that is, a freedom consistent with the laws working in nature, of which man is, after all, a part. No less effort has gone into explaining how this delusion has come about. The importance of the question of freedom for life, religion, conduct and science can be felt by anyone whose character is not totally lacking in depth."

1995 Intuitive Thinking As A Spiritual Path translated by Michael Lipson
Number of Words: 192
Reading Grade Level: 14.16 (Complete 2 years of college)

"Is a human being spiritually free, or subject to the iron necessity of purely natural law? Few questions have excited so much ingenuity. The idea of the freedom of human will has found both sanguine supporters and stiffnecked opponents in plenty. There are those who, in their moral zeal, cast aspersions on the intellect of anyone who can deny so obvious a fact as freedom. They are opposed by others who see the acme of unscientific thinking in the belief that the lawfulness of nature fails to apply to the area of human action and thinking. One and the same thing is explained equally often as the most precious possession of humankind and as its worst illusion. Infinite subtlety has been expended to explain how human freedom is consistent with the workings of nature of which, after all, human beings are also a part. No less effort has gone into the attempt from the other side to explain how such a delusion could ever have arisen. All but the most superficial thinkers feel that we have to do here with one of the most important questions of life, religion, conduct, and science."

1964 The Philosophy Of Freedom translated by Michael Wilson
Number of Words: 212
Reading Grade Level: 14.33 (Complete 2 years of college)

"Is man in his thinking and acting a spiritually free being, or is he compelled by the iron necessity of purely natural law? There are few questions upon which so much sagacity has been brought to bear. The idea of the freedom of the human will has found enthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents in plenty. There are those who, in their moral fervor, label anyone a man of limited intelligence who can deny so patent a fact as freedom. Opposed to them are others who regard it as the acme of unscientific thinking for anyone to believe that the uniformity of natural law is broken in the sphere of human action and thinking. One and the same thing is thus proclaimed, now as the most precious possession of humanity, now as its most fatal illusion. Infinite subtlety has been employed to explain how human freedom can be consistent with the laws working in nature, of which man, after all, is a part. No less is the trouble to which others have gone to explain how such a delusion as this could have arisen. That we are dealing here with one of the most important questions for life, religion, conduct, science, must be felt by anyone who includes any degree of thoroughness at all in his make-up."

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  • Wow, the next Philosophy Of Freedom paragraph I ran through the readability tool says you need 19 years of formal education to comprehend it which would work out to be a doctorate degree. 

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