page contents

Blog

intuition (3)

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.

Read more…

Can You Be Free Without Knowing What Freedom Is?


Human drive to be free

The fundamental characteristic of our times is the growing interest around the world to express one's unique individuality. This need for individual expression is the result of an intense striving towards freedom, for we are only human to the extent that we are free.

Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom describes what freedom is so we can determine whether we are free or not, and if not, how to acquire it.


What is freedom?
The question of “What is freedom?” has been debated since the times of the Greeks by the greatest minds. Many offer the key to freedom which may end up leading to deeper enslavement or may be a step forward.

Technology, social and political ideologies, and spiritual theories promise various forms of inner and outer freedom. How do we know what to trust?


Science of freedom
What is needed to end the speculation is an empirical science of freedom. Through introspective research into how the mind works and its relation to the world, Rudolf Steiner located freedom empirically.

With thought training anyone of good will can enter the realm of universal concepts where unbiased free thinking is possible. In this place “pure” reasoning proceeds only on the basis of its own ideal universal content.


Intuitive insight
Pure reasoning is intuitive and leads to intuitive insight free from the determinants of one's characterological make-up or the demands of authority.

Intuitive thinking uncovers the lawful order of things making science possible and when applied to ethics makes free morality possible.


Concept of the free spirit
Through the determined study of The Philosophy Of Freedom the concept of the free spirit is won. Now you know what freedom is; freely forming ideas to be realized in free ethical action.

Not all of our actions are free. The task of self-development is to transform the actions that are unfree into actions that are free. This is possible when you know what freedom is. It requires the emancipation of the cognitive processes, and to obey only yourself.


Proper study
The book was written to be a thought training exercise to awaken the readers intellectual intuition, a requirement for freedom. Steiner wrote it intentionally out of independent thinking so the terms and phrasing are not familiar and not easily understood. To work your way through it takes great effort. Everything in the book must be won. The study should not be a mere reading, it should be an experiencing with inner shocks, tensions and resolutions.

Global humanism
We learn in The Philosophy Of Freedom a personal God will never unite the world because we will have different experiences of it. POF 5.9 The universal ideal content which thinking supplies is the only common element in the separate things of the world.

A free spirit thinks universally and acts individually. She is described in The Philosophy Of Freedom as an ethical individualist and a humanist who “affirms the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom.” 2002 World Humanist Congress

Science and ethics
An ethics informed by a science of human well-being is possible with a shared objective knowledge of human freedom as the basis of collaborative support for its unfoldment. A science of freedom lays the foundation of ethical individualism and of a social and political life.

Read more…

Top 5 Reasons To Study The Philosophy Of Freedom

Top 5 Reasons To Study The Philosophy Of Freedom

1. It is Science
Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom is the result of introspective observation of the human mind following the methods of science. The subtitle is “A Modern Philosophy Of Life Developed By Scientific Methods”.

The Philosophy Of Freedom is not philosophy as such, but rather a description of Rudolf Steiner's experiences on the way to freedom. It does not give a definition of freedom that we merely memorize, but points to a place where freedom originates --the conceptual realm of universal concepts-- where free thinking, pure and unbiased, can be experienced.

“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.”

2. It is Freedom
Steiner divides the question of freedom into free thinking and free morality. Intellectual freedom is achieved when we bridge the gap between our perception (the outer appearance of the world) and our conception (the inner working of the world) with knowledge.

Moral freedom is achieved when we bridge the gap between our perceptible unfree nature (built up by nature, society and religion) and the concept of free individuality (ethical individualism) through the course of one's development with the expression of our ideals in life. To become a free individuality we need to have a clear understanding of what free individuality is. POF 9-11

True freedom is only achieved when knowledge and morality are united. (morality informed by knowledge) POF 10-1918 Addition

3. It is Thought Training
Incomprehensible!…. Baffles the experts!….. You’ll never finish it!….. It’s a tangle of thought!….
These are the comments on the disappointing experience of readers when Rudolf Steiner first published The Philosophy of Freedom in 1894.

The book is intentionally composed in a certain way to broaden and deepen the readers thinking. Each chapter expresses a variety of views leaving the reader free to arrive at their own conclusions. It is independent thinking so we cannot rely on familiar terms and images but must instead make an effort to “intuitively” grasp the universal concepts pointed to by the words. This training in the realm of universal thought is the thought training required to attain freedom.

“The primary purpose of my book is to serve as thought training, training in the sense that the special way of both thinking and entertaining these thoughts is such as to bring the soul life of the reader into motion in somewhat the way that gymnasts exercise their limbs.”
4. It is Humanism
Rudolf Steiner's philosophy of life recognizes the "human individual as the source of all morality and the center of all life" POF 9.12 and that “if we all really draw from the world of ideas, and do not follow physical or spiritual impulses” we find that we all share the same ideals and can get along within a harmony of intentions. POF 9.10

“A personal God is nothing but a human being transplanted into a Beyond.”
POF The Consequences Of Monism

5. It is not Anthroposophy
The Philosophy Of Freedom is independent of the speculations of Anthroposophy. It is a Science Of Mind that is verifiable to any normal person who can recall their thinking processes and think about thinking. Anthroposophy is different. It is a Science Of Spirit that requires extremely rare clairvoyant thinking capacities to verify its findings.

Near the end of his life, Steiner suggested that The Philosophy of Freedom would outlive all his other works. It stands on its own completely independent of his later spiritual research and organizations,

“You will find nothing at all in The Philosophy of Freedom that is derived from clairvoyant communications of spiritual science.”

“this book occupies a position completely independent of my writings on actual spiritual scientific matters... What I have said in this book may be acceptable even to some who, for reasons of their own, refuse to have anything to do with the results of my researches into the spiritual realm.” POF, 1918 Preface to the Revised Edition

Read more…
© Tom Last 2017