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Philosophy Influences Politics

Maybe I will spend my time taking on Ayn Rand and her influence in politics by offering an alternative philosophy.

Ayn Rand’s philosophy of “selfish individualism” now dominates the thinking of the leadership of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. She claims to know the human being. Maybe I will contrast her selfish individualism with another philosophy of “ethical individualism”. Political platforms are an expression of values. The Republican platform is strongly influenced by Ayn Rand’s values. Are progressive values rooted in a different understanding of the human being?

“Man — every man — is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.”
–Ayn Rand, 1962

“If a man strives towards sublimely great ideals, it is because such ideals are the content of his being, and to realize them brings an enjoyment compared with which the pleasure that is drawn from the satisfaction of commonplace needs is a mere nothing. Idealists delight in translating their ideals into reality.” –Rudolf Steiner, 1894

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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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© Tom Last 2017