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Global Footprint
Since the dawn of civilization, the planet replenished its resources faster than humans consumed them. Starting around 1970 that changed, we began to take more from the planet each year than it could restore. Since then, the gap between our rate of consumption and the planet's rate of regeneration has widened.

Its only mid-August but we have already used an entire year’s worth of the Earth’s natural resources according to the Global Footprint Network. For the rest of the year we will consume more than the Earth can replenish. This natural resource debt is not sustainable, how can we change?

Individual versus collective action
There is a continuing debate within the environmental movement about the relative merits of individual versus collective action. We are autonomous individuals as well as members of a local and global collective. I thought I would compare various possibilities of collective and individual action.

To act we need an “idea” of what to do and a “desire” to do it.

1. Collective idea and collective desire
Example: A democratic collective (State) agrees on an idea (environmental law) and the collective (citizens) desire to obey to avoid penalties (fines, jail).
Result: The planet is saved but individual freedom is lost due to threat of force.

2. Collective idea and individual desire
Example: A collective (NGO) agrees on an idea (recycling) and individuals who desire to act do so on a voluntary basis.
Result: Individual freedom is saved but the planet is lost due to lack of participation.

3. Individual idea and collective desire
Example: Individual eco-friendly inventions and marketing (solar powered toothbrush) and the collective desires it because of mass marketing.
Result: The planet is saved but individual freedom is lost due to mind control.

4. Individual idea and individual desire
Example: Individual accepts eco-friendly ideas that she desires to act upon. Taking the global and her individual situation into consideration the necessary changes are made.
Result: Individual freedom empowers diverse individual action and the planet is saved.

Mature free individuals
To meet the challenges of our time will take fully functioning mature individuals we are capable of unbiased scientific understanding of life situations (free thinking) and have a desire to live a life that expresses their highest ideals (free action). Nothing can stop you if you think universally and act individually.

Impossible dream?
Is their really any other solution than the need for human development? Is this an impossible dream? Not if we start with ourselves. The global footprint is the total of individual footprints.

Ethical individualism
Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom presents a way of life called Ethical Individualism. It is about being inspired by your ideals, setting real goals, and realizing them without doing harm.

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Principles Of Individual Life

This short video is based on the first paragraph in Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom. It describes the early drive toward freedom as it expresses itself in the forming of a unique individuality.

SCRIPT
In order to survive the animal is driven by natural instincts for food, water, and shelter. Social learning gives an evolutionary advantage to those who join and conform to the group.
Yet, if society is to continue evolving it needs something more than social conformity, it needs the innovation and creativity of free individuals.
The social order is only formed so it can react in favor of the individual, but society cannot produce even one free individual.
Only the individual himself can complete the final stage of evolution and realize freedom.
The pursuit of individuality is the modern struggle for survival.
To be true to yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something less, requires great effort.

There is a natural conflict between individualism and authority.
When challenged by authority, typically individualism cannot be sustained without paying a harsh price.

No matter what anyone else asserts, an individualist will think for himself.
Nothing is accepted as valid until he fits it into his own context of knowledge.
Knowing that human perfection cannot be found by following in the footsteps of another, the individualist finds his own way in the difficult ascent to freedom.
Why adoringly serve leaders who will turn out to be just as weak as yourself?

No ideals will be forced upon him.
He will select his own ideals and strive for their realization, which is his highest pleasure.

We no longer believe that there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform.
We are convinced that in each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development.
We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual.
We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well.
No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something which, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer.

Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each of them asserts his right to express what is unique in him.
The structure of a language can affect how we conceptualize the world, our world-view, so there are writers who do not conform to the standard selection of words and arrangement that grammar demands.

We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition that it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.
Individuality is one of the fundamental characteristics of our age.
There is no better expression of this phenomena than striving towards freedom with the greatest intensity.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM

0. THE GOAL OF KNOWLEDGE (Preface)

0.0 Impulse Of Freedom
[1] I BELIEVE I am indicating correctly one of the fundamental characteristics of our age when I say that, at the present day, all human interests tend to center in the culture of human individuality. An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority. Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality. Everything which hinders the individual in the full development of his powers is thrust aside. The saying “Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Olympus” no longer holds for us. We allow no ideals to be forced upon us. We are convinced that in each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development. We no longer believe that there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform. We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual. We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something that, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer. Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each of them asserts their right to express, in the creations of their art, what is unique in them. There are dramatists who write in dialect rather than conform to the standard diction which grammar demands.

[2] No better expression for these phenomena can be found than this, that they result from the individual’s striving towards freedom, developed to its highest pitch. We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition that it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.

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Here are names for the kinds of thinking discussed in the first 7 chapters in Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom. With every shift in the level of consciousness, what we call thinking undergoes a change. In chapter 1 a rational debate occurs about whether we are free or not. In chapter 7 various theories of cognition are discussed, then Monism is show to remove all the limitations of cognition making wholistic thinking possible.  

Chapter 1 Conscious Human Action
RATIONAL THINKING Level of consciousness - will
Rational debate is a discussion about what we should believe. Both sides give arguments for some belief and defend that belief from objections.

Chapter 2 Desire For Knowledge
SPECULATIVE THINKING Level of consciousness - feel
Speculative thinking expresses human curiosity about the world. It transcends experience, but the chapters one-sided views lack experience of the world or the inner connection.

Chapter 3 Thinking in Understanding The World
REFLECTIVE THINKING -Level of consciousness - thought
Reflective thinking is reflection on thinking itself, on the mind and its activities. It is based on contemplation and introspection.

Chapter 4 The World As Perception
REACTIVE THINKING Level of consciousness - perception
Thinking immediately reacts to our observation by adding a preconception, and we consider the object and the preconception as belonging together forming our world of first appearance.

Chapter 5 Knowing The World
CRITICAL THINKING Level of consciousness - concept
We refute our initial impression of the world with critical thinking to discover the concept that corresponds to our perception.

Chapter 6 Individuality
INDEPENDENT THINKING Level of consciousness - mental picture
Independent thinking individualizes the universal concept by forming mental pictures.

Chapter 7 Are There Limits To Cognition?
WHOLISTIC THINKING Level of consciousness - cognition
Wholistic thinking endeavors to remove the limits of cognition in order to integrate all the parts into a whole.

 

 

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How is Rudolf Steiner trending on the web? The Google trend chart below shows him sinking from year to year faster than the Anthroposophical Society. I came to the conclusion in 1989 that unless Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom was presented to the world in a contemporary way it would disappear, but I didn't go as far as predicting the disappearance of Rudolf Steiner. Steiner's work needs a rebirth from outside the Anthroposophical Society as this graph has disqualified them as the rightful heirs of Steiner.* If The Philosophy Of Freedom can be renewed all of his work has a chance, as freedom is the core understanding of his work.

 Movements like Waldorf education may continue but they will become merely another institutionalization of the original living impulse as long as freedom is not understood. A few Waldorf self-appointed authorities already have seized the name "Waldorf" and made themselves its owner to enforce Waldorf dogma.

I have an important message for you if you are waiting for someone else to stand up for freedom. Not enough people are involved at this time to make much difference. Most anthroposophists are better at driving people away with narrow-minded Steiner doctrine than broadening his work. And his work hasn't been presented in a way to make it relevant to daily life.

The good news is that a few dedicated people could make a difference. Dedicated means that the first time you get your feelings hurt you don't quit. It means that the first time you realize how ignorant you are to think you can explain Steiner's principles you have enough courage to keep trying. It means that when you realize nobody else seems to give a damn and you yourself are no guru who can enlighten anybody you keep going. I suppose you have to be the kind of fool who says give me and others freedom or give me nothing.

*The Anthroposophical Society in America has appointed a new position of Director of Development to move the society forward.

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Reasoning Is More Intuitive than We Think



Is reasoning really different from intuition?

Reasoning is often thought of as being the exact opposite of intuitions. A typical example of intuition is the first impression we form when we meet someone new. It comes spontaneously and quickly to mind and, in many cases, we can't quite pinpoint why we think that this guy is nice while this one is likely to be a jerk. By contrast when people think of reasoning they think of, say, solving math problems in the classroom: a slow, effortful, conscious process. People -- Westerners at least -- also think that intuition is often more efficient than reasoning; after all, why go through all that trouble to reason if the result is not any better than intuitions?

Both of them are usually characterized by a list of traits. Intuitions are supposed to be fast, effortless, unconscious, with little reliance on working memory and prone to mistakes and biases. Reasoning is supposed to be slow, effortful, conscious, with a crucial reliance on working memory and able to correct the mistakes and biases of intuitions.

Despite being widespread and indeed quite 'intuitive', I want to argue that this distinction-this opposition in fact-mostly stems from a 'sampling mistake'. While the characterization of intuitions is more or less on spot, that of reasoning relies on a highly artificial use of reasoning. Imagine that you had to characterize memory. You can think of the conscious, strenuous exercise of trying to remember a long string of random numbers. Or you can think of the automatic recollection of how to go to your house or what your name is. Most intuitions can be made to be conscious, effortful, taxing on working memory: reading if you try to decipher some very poor handwriting, visual search if you're looking for a particular face in a large crowd, etc. Yet the basic, simple form of the intuition is what we should focus on: it is the mechanism that makes the more effortful version possible. To be fair to reasoning we should also look at its most simple expression, the smaller step that can still qualify as reasoning.

Margo and Simon disagree about the movie they should see tonight. Simon says: "Last week you picked the movie, so this week it's my turn." Margo replies: "Fair enough, your turn to pick." This exchange is quite trivial, but it still requires reasoning. Simon has to be able to find a reason for why he should be the one deciding which movie to see. Margo has to be able to evaluate this reason and decide it's good enough that she should concede the point.

Looking at this minimal sample of reasoning, we realize that it is in fact very much like an intuition. It happens very quickly: neither Simon nor Margo needs to stop for a few minutes to ponder upon the strength of "Last week you picked the movie, so this week it's my turn." It doesn't take much effort or working memory to garner such an argument, and even less to evaluate it. Importantly, people don't really know why this argument is persuasive. It relies on intuitions of fairness that we can't easily make explicit, and that psychologists are still trying to figure out. Even though the reason is consciously processed, they way it is processed is kept under the hood.

Reasoning is so much like intuition that it's more adequate to say that reasoning is mostly intuitive. Or, rather, that reasoning relies on a set of intuitions: reasoning taps into intuitions about what is a good reason to accept a given conclusion. We have an intuition that if Margo has picked the movie last week, Simon can use that as a reason to pick the movie this week.
The picture of reasoning that is most easily conjured-the strenuous solving of math problems-is misleading. When people reason on their own, reasoning can indeed by slow and effortful. But finding and evaluating reasons comes very spontaneously.

Published on August 17, 2011 by Hugo Mercier in Social by Design

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How an action is born?

(Chapter Nine - The Idea of Freedom)

I'm preoccupied by the 3 concepts used by Rudolf Steiner to explain action:

1.Mobile (or driving force - permanent determining factor of the individual)

2.Motive (or the temporary determinant of will)

3.Characterological disposition

1. Those can be the driving force of an action: lusts or desires /feelings / representations/ concepts/ pure concepts.

One question about the driving force is why are they the permanent determining factor of the individual? Is it because one lives for a long period of time (sometimes maybe a lifetime) with the same desires/lusts, he has the same feelings in certain situations and he always reacts in the same way to them, and the measure of one's experience is limited so one can have just a limited amount of representations of "what to do" in different situations - so he does just those actions about which he has a representations?

2. Motives, says Rudolf Steiner, can be either representations or thoughts. A representation or a thought is a motive, only if it made a human being make an action, otherwise is just a candidate for a motive.

The example in the book is: the representation of going for a walk in the next half an hour. This is the candidate for being the motive of an action.

Now, the characterological disposition (c.d.) enters the scene. From what I read, I understood that the c.d. is a group of mental objects of different types: representations, concepts, mental pictures and feelings. (Representation being a individualized notion or a mental picture).

Ok.

So when the candidate for being a motive enters one's consciousness,  objects from one's c.d. come to validate or invalidate the candidate. 

In the example from the book those objects that come to validate the candidate are: one's idea about the utility of walking, the value of one's health and in the end the feeling generated in me by the representation of taking a walk in the next half of hour.

*One thing that I forgot to say about c.d. is that is more or less permanent.

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