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Should We Trust Our Gut Feelings?

Gut feelings
Sometimes we make decisions after careful deliberation, but often we make decisions simply because it feels right. Call it a hunch, a gut feeling, or an instinct—what they all have in common is that we don’t know why we feel the way we do, yet the feeling can be so compelling, it moves us to act.

Should we listen to our gut feelings and make decisions based on feelings we don't understand or should we stop to think and make a deliberate decision?

Feeling tells us about ourselves, thinking tells us about the world
The relationship between thinking and feeling is complicated. We begin with how we react to a life event. While passively facing a life situation we are immediately hit with a feeling response of like or don't like. When we think about the situation it is different, it is not passive but requires conscious activity that takes effort. Our immediate feeling reaction tells us about ourselves. To objectively learn about the actual life situation requires that we think. Philosophy Of Freedom (POF) 3.2

Fear that something isn’t right
Our gut feeling can tell us that we don't like something, that “something isn’t right”. This sense of foreboding can irrationally warn us of something that threatens our survival like a roller-coaster ride, or it can be the unconscious bias of our cultural conditioning that warns us of gay marriage or of different races, or the fear can reflect the unconscious bias of our narrow-minded ideology.

Selective memory
We tend to overestimate the reliability of gut feelings. The best example is a gambler who is absolutely certain he will win based on nothing but a feeling. His selective memory quickly forgets the ninety percent of the time he loses, but vividly remembers the one time it worked.

Understanding feelings
Sometimes a gut feeling is subconsciously recognizing a conflicting pattern within our environment that we should be aware of, or sorting out a complex situation. But until we have a conscious understanding and test our assumptions we cannot be sure.

Feeling can alert us to something, but as it first appears feeling is an incomplete reality until it is understood. POF 8.3  Unless we think, or observe more closely to understand the reasons behind a feeling, it is more of a nuisance that can mislead us. There are lots of people who are constantly making wrong decisions about everything in their life because they have a gut feeling.

Education Of Feeling
The feelings of experts in a particular field are fundamentally different from ordinary gut feelings and are more reliable. As we gain knowledge in a field, we develop an immediate feeling sense for truth that reflects that knowledge. POF 6.11

Can we distinguish trustworthy intuitions from irrational feelings and biases?
Gut feeling, hunch, sixth sense, instinct, intuition—we use a number of terms to denote the fuzzy sense when we know something without being able to explicitly state how or why. Is there a way to distinguish trustworthy intuitions from irrational feelings and biases?

Old Eastern clairvoyance
By intuition we do not mean the old Eastern all-knowing clairvoyance. If you go to parts of India you will find people who will look at your face and tell you everything about yourself, what has happened to you and what will happen to you. Perhaps they have the remnants of a long lost clairvoyance from before the Age Of Reason, or perhaps they are frauds?

Intellectual intuition
Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom defines intuition not as a feeling, but as a thought. “The form in which thought first appears in consciousness we will call 'Intuition'.” POF 5.10  This is why we call it “intellectual intuition”, it is found in the experience of thinking, but only when pure concepts are produced in that experience.

Concepts are not vague like feelings, but clear and fully comprehensible. When our intuition gives us the concept that corresponds to what we are observing, we have the essential nature of that thing in full clarity. Rather than a hunch, with intellectual intuition we act out of knowledge.
Cognitive satisfaction
The goal of knowledge is cognitive satisfaction. POF 7.2  We pose questions based on a feeling of “dissatisfaction” with what we observe in the world. We observe that our child is upset and seek the cause by asking, “Why is the child upset?” We experience a feeling of “satisfaction” only when our questions are sufficiently answered. In this way our pursuit of knowledge is guided by our individual feelings. The feeling of disharmony, that “something isn’t right” is the beginning of the pursuit of knowledge.

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Who Ruined Rudolf Steiner's Good Name?

Rudolf Steiner branding
A skull, spider, and dice matched with a portrait of Rudolf Steiner on the label of an alcohol intoxicant (wine) called “The Supernatural”. A winery in New Zealand is using the image of Rudolf Steiner with other occult images as a gimmick to sell brain dulling booze. Will the Rudolf Steiner portrait next appear as a spooky icon on Halloween paraphernalia with ghosts, goblins and witches?

Alcohol will cure one of clairvoyance
What's with “biodynamic” wine anyway? Are the mystics of Anthroposophy unaware of what alcohol does to their clairvoyant perception of the spiritual worlds? Rudolf Steiner recommended wine as a "cure" for clairvoyance. Steiner told a story of a German pilot in World War I who began to know in advance which of his companions would be killed on missions. This knowledge thoroughly unnerved him. Steiner advised him to drink wine; when he followed this prescription, the clairvoyant insights vanished.

Is the "biodynamic" erection enhancement product available yet, focusing supernatural forces where its really needed? 

From respected scholar to pseudo-scientist of the occult
What happened over the last century for the name of “Rudolf Steiner” to fall from respected scholar to mocked pseudo-scientist of the occult? When he wrote the Philosophy Of Freedom at the end of the 20th century his name was highly respected as an up and coming philosopher. A few years later he turned to spiritual science. Since his death in 1925 the Anthroposophical Society has claimed to be the bearers of the Rudolf Steiner name and works.

Blame it on the outsiders
When I have talked to Anthroposophists about what has happened to Steiner's reputation they blamed it on outsiders for being unable to recognize his genius. They also believe it doesn't matter as Anthroposophy is for those of a certain destiny anyways. When I suggested a renewal of Anthroposophy to meet today's human being who is much different than a German of the 1920's I was treated as a threat to the establishment. 

Barrier to learning about The Philosophy Of Freedom
My problem is that the damage done to Rudolf Steiner's reputation has formed a barrier to presenting The Philosophy Of Freedom to the world. This has required making a distinction between Steiner the respected scholar who wrote The Philosophy Of Freedom and the Steiner of today's Anthroposophy. I believe it was not inevitable that just because Steiner turned to spiritual science that he would necessarily become known as a kook.

The science remains in the science of freedom
It could have been done differently if the “science” in spiritual science had not been replaced by “faith” bordering on religious commitment. See “Who is an Anthroposophist?”

The problem has its roots in disregarding the science principles in The Philosophy Of Freedom that confirm science as a way of knowing. The Anthroposophist tends to always be looking for Theosophy confirmation instead:

“The members read it, but reading is not the same as understanding. They took what I offered, not as something issuing from my mouth or written in my books, but rather as what this one thought ‘mystical,’ that one ‘theosophical,’ another something else again”. RS

The best example of misreading The Philosophy Of Freedom is Sergei O. Prokofieff's “Anthroposophy and the Philosophy of Freedom”.

Without science you have pseudo-science
Without the science in spiritual science you have pseudo-science, which results in the Anthroposophical Society dragging down the other Steiner initiatives. Steiner warned of this:

"The trouble is The Philosophy of Freedom has not been read in the different way I have been describing. That is the point, and a point that must be sharply stressed if the development of the Anthroposophical Society is not to fall far behind anthroposophy itself. If it does fall behind, anthroposophy's conveyance through the society will result in its being completely misunderstood, and its only fruit will be endless conflict!" RS

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Steiner's most important work
The Wilson translation of The Philosophy Of Freedom is being published by Wilder Publications (SMK Books). The interesting thing is the ebook image cover, which says in bold type, “STEINER'S MOST IMPORTANT WORK”.

I think this website can take some credit for the bold text pronouncement as we have been broadcasting this message since 2005. Before that, the standard repeated message was that The Philosophy Of Freedom was one of 4 basic books of Anthroposophy that also included Theosophy, Knowledge Of The Higher Worlds, and Occult Science.

Wilder Publications is a rogue publisher that is not controlled or associated with Anthroposophy. For them to proclaim The Philosophy Of Freedom to be "Steiner's most important work" means that this has become part of main stream public knowledge established outside of the PR outlets of Anthroposophy. Mission accomplished!

 

Why is it Steiner's most important work?
The next point that needs to enter the public domain is why it is Steiner's most important work? Anthroposophy's talking points always direct the attention away from the freedom philosophy, and directs it toward Steiner's later clairvoyant spiritual science, Anthroposophy. Whenever the philosophy is mentioned the talking point is,

"The Philosophy of Freedom forms the philosophical basis for his later writings." (later writings are Anthroposophy) wiki link

This statement is the death of any interest in The Philosophy Of Freedom. Nobody wants to read an abstract philosophy that gives you nothing other than philosophical support for something else.

The title was even changed to Intuitive Thinking As A Spiritual Path to make it sound more spiritualistic.


It is about science, ethics and how to change the world

If you read the book you find that it is about science, attaining certainty in knowledge rather than belief in doctrines, groups or spiritual leaders. It is about ethical individualism and how to change the world. It is not abstract philosophy but gives descriptions of cognitive processes and life experiences that lead one to free thinking and free action. Rather than being told what to think by an organization, it shows how to stand on your own feet and think for yourself.

The Philosophy Of Freedom is written in an individualist anarchist mood that emphasizes the individual and their will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions, and ideological systems. This is obvious in the original first chapter, "The Goal Of Knowledge" that Steiner considered the preface. Is this why any institution or leadership would surely have little interest in this book?


Its not about clairvoyance

There is nothing to be found in it to directly support the clairvoyant ability to perceive spiritual worlds, and certainly nothing to support the content of Anthroposophy. You can make a stretch by calling the intuition commonly involved in acquiring knowledge "clairvoyance".

The link that is commonly made to relate it to Anthroposophy is the recognition of a non-physical universal world of ideas that could open the possibility of some kind of higher knowledge. This is true. True, just as the discovery of quantum randomness opens the possibility of free will. My point is that its support of Anthroposophy is not why The Philosophy Of Freedom is Steiner's most important work.


It is a philosophy of life

Most people (99.999%?) will never have an interest in understanding the philosophical basis of Anthroposophy, but each of us have a life and we want a better world. In 1918, while immersed in Anthroposophy, Steiner gives the intended purpose,

"The purpose of The Philosophy Of Freedom is to lay the foundations of ethical individualism and of a social and political life." link

This is the point that this website (philosophyoffreedom.com) will be declaring to the world until it becomes part of the public domain of knowledge. This is something that will bring The Philosophy Of Freedom the interest it deserves.

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© Tom Last 2017