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philosophy of freedom (104)

Rudolf Steiner: What Religion Calls God, We Call The Idea

The loftiest idea of God is the one which assumes that God, after His creation of the human being, withdrew and gave man completely over to himself. Rudolf Steiner, Goethean Science VI Goethe's Way of Knowledge

God led His creation only to a certain point. From there He let the human being arise, and the human being, by knowing himself and looking about him, sets himself the task of working on and completing what the primal power began. Rudolf Steiner, Goethean Science IX Goethe's Epistemology

So it is not the human beings business to realize God's will in the world, but his own. He carries out his own decisions and intentions, not those of another being.
Rudolf Steiner, Chapter 10.8 (Hoernle) Philosophy Of Freedom

The moral world order is through and through the free work of human beings. The moral laws which the Metaphysician regards as flowing from a higher power, are the thoughts of human beings. Rudolf Steiner, Chapter 10.8 (Lindeman) Philosophy Of Freedom

We reject any metaphysical influence beyond the reach of the intellect that cannot be experienced conceptually. Rudolf Steiner, Chapter 12.8 (1988 stebbing) Philosophy Of Freedom

The divinity has merged with the world. In order to know God, human knowing must penetrate into the world. The laws that our mind recognizes in nature are therefore God in His very being. Rudolf Steiner, Goethean Science XI Relationship of the Goethean Way of Thinking to Other Views

Everyone, in so far as he thinks, lays hold of the universal Reality. To fill one's life with such thought-content is to live in Reality, and at the same time to live in God. The world is God. The thought of a Beyond owes its origin to the misconception of those who believe that this world does not have the ground of its existence in itself. Rudolf Steiner, The Consequences Of Monism (Hoernle) Philosophy Of Freedom

When we speak of the essential being of a thing or of the world altogether, we cannot mean anything else than the grasping of reality as thought, as idea. In the idea we recognize that from which we must derive everything else: the principle of things. What philosophers call the absolute, the eternal being, the ground of the world, what the religions call God, this we call: the idea.

Everything in the world that does not appear directly as idea will still ultimately be recognized as going forth from the idea. What seems, on superficial examination, to have no part at all in the idea is found by a deeper thinking to stem from it. No other form of existence can satisfy us except one stemming from the idea. Nothing may remain away from it; everything must become a part of the great whole that the idea encompasses. Rudolf Steiner, Goethean Science IX Goethe's Epistemology

By taking possession of the idea, thinking fuses with the primal ground of world existence; what is at work outside enters into the mind of man: he becomes one with objective reality in its highest potency. Becoming aware of the idea within reality is the true communion of man. Rudolf Steiner, Goethean Science VI Goethe's Way of Knowledge

It is futile to seek any common element in the separate things of the world other than the conceptual content gained by thinking. All attempts to find world unity, other than the coherent conceptual content gained by the conceptual analysis of our perceptions, must fail. Rudolf Steiner, Chapter 5.9 (Hoernle) Philosophy Of Freedom

No personal God can unify the world, because we experience our limited personality only in ourselves. Rudolf Steiner, Chapter 5.9 (Hoernle) Philosophy Of Freedom

A personal God is nothing but a human being transplanted into a Beyond.
Rudolf Steiner, The Consequences Of Monism (Hoernle) Philosophy Of Freedom

Only this is worthy of man: that he seek truth himself, without being led by revelation. When that has been thoroughly recognized once and for all, then the religions based on revelation will be finished. The human being will then no longer want God to reveal Himself or bestow blessings upon him. He will want to know through his own thinking and to establish his happiness through his own strength. Whether some higher power or other guides our fate to the good or to the bad, this does not concern us at all; we ourselves must determine the path we have to travel. Rudolf Steiner, Goethean Science VI Goethe's Way of Knowledge

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What We Believe

The Cosmic religion of the future - Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein claimed God can be conceived only through the “rationality or intelligibility of the world which lies behind all scientific work of a higher order.”

“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.”

Cosmic religious feeling
“It is very difficult to elucidate this [cosmic religious] feeling to anyone who is entirely without it... The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it.”

“I am of the opinion that all the finer speculations in the realm of science spring from a deep religious feeling, and that without such feeling they would not be fruitful. I also believe that, this kind of religiousness, which makes itself felt today in scientific investigations, is the only creative religious activity of our time.”

“I maintain that cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research.”

Scientific workers are the profoundly religious people
“Only one who has devoted his life to similar ends [scientific research] can have a vivid realization of what has inspired these men and given them the strength to remain true to their purpose in spite of countless failures. It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man such strength. A contemporary has said, not unjustly, that in this materialistic age of ours the serious scientific workers are the only profoundly religious people.” (Albert Einstein, Religion and Science)

Unity attained with the deepening of scientific research - Rudolf Steiner
“The history of our spiritual life is a continuous seeking after union between ourselves and the world.”

“Only when we have made the world-content into our thought-content do we rediscover the connection from which we have detached ourselves. We will see later that this goal can only be reached when the task of the research scientist is understood much more deeply than is usually the case.” (Rudolf Steiner, The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 2.0)


The Philosophy Of Freedom's Religious Elements


What the religions call God, we call the idea
To investigate the essential being of a thing means to begin at the center of the thought-world and to work from there until a thought-configuration appears before our soul that seems to us to be identical to the thing we are experiencing.

When we speak of the essential being of a thing or of the world altogether, we cannot therefore mean anything else at all than the grasping of reality as thought, as idea.

In the idea we recognize that from which we must derive everything else: the principle of things. What philosophers call the absolute, the eternal being, the ground of the world, what the religions call God, this we call, on the basis of our epistemological studies: the idea.

Everything in the world that does not appear directly as idea will still ultimately be recognized as going forth from the idea. What seems, on superficial examination, to have no part at all in the idea is found by a deeper thinking to stem from it. No other form of existence can satisfy us except one stemming from the idea. Nothing may remain away from it; everything must become a part of the great whole that the idea encompasses.

By taking possession of the idea, we arrive at the core of the world. What we grasp there is that from which everything goes forth. We become united with this principle; therefore the idea, which is most objective, appears to us at the same time as most subjective. (Goethean Science IX Goethe's Epistemology)

In thinking we are the All-One Being
There is only one single concept of "triangle." It is quite immaterial for the content of this concept whether it is in A's consciousness or in B's. It will however be grasped by each of the two minds in its own individual way.

This thought conflicts with a common prejudice which is very hard to overcome. The victims of this prejudice are unable to see that the concept of a triangle which my mind grasps is the same as the concept which my neighbor's mind grasps. The naive man believes himself to be the creator of his concepts. Hence he believes that each person has his private concepts. One of the first things which philosophic thought requires of us is to overcome this prejudice. The one single concept of "triangle" does not split up into many concepts because it is thought by many minds. For the thought of the many is itself a unity.

In thought we have the element which welds each man's special individuality into one whole with the cosmos. In so far as we sense and feel (perceive), we are isolated individuals; in so far as we think, we are the All-One Being which pervades everything. This is the deeper meaning of our two-sided nature. We are conscious of an absolute principle revealing itself in us, a principle which is universal. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 5.8)


Becoming aware of the idea within reality
The objects of thinking are ideas. Inasmuch as thinking takes possession of the idea, thinking fuses with the primal ground of world existence; what is at work outside enters into the mind of man: he becomes one with objective reality in its highest potency. Becoming aware of the idea within reality is the true communion of man. (Goethean Science VI Goethe's Way of Knowledge)

World unity
The preceding discussion shows clearly that it is futile to seek for any other common element in the separate things of the world, than the ideal content which thinking supplies. All attempts to discover any other principle of unity in the world than this internally coherent ideal content, which we gain for ourselves by the conceptual analysis of our percepts, are bound to fail. Neither a personal God, nor force, nor matter, nor the blind will (of Schopenhauer and Hartmann), can be accepted by us as the universal principle of unity in the world. These principles all belong only to a limited sphere of our experience. Personality we experience only in ourselves, force and matter only in external things. The will can be regarded only as the expression of the activity of our finite personalities. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 5.9)


written by Rudolf Steiner in 1888 and titled “Credo” which means, “What I believe”.
(the idea is the spirit, immortality in this life, divine voice of the idea,
eternal deeds, devotion, spiritual love, entering the divine life)

1. The world of ideas is the primary source
The world of ideas is the primary source and sustaining principle of all existence. Within it is never-ending harmony and joyous tranquility. Existence not enlightened by it, would be dead and lifeless, and would have no part in the wholeness of the world. Only that which stems from the idea has meaning as part of the universal tree of creation.
2. The idea is the spirit
The idea is the spirit, which is clear and lucid in itself and independently sufficient in itself. The individual must have the spirit within, otherwise he will drop from the tree like a withered leaf, and would have existed for no good reason, and without purpose.
3. Longing for the idea
The human being feels and recognizes himself as an individual when he becomes fully conscious. In the individualization process there is implanted within him a longing for the idea. This longing drives him to overcome his separateness and to let the spirit come to life within him, and to be in accord with it.
4. The divine voice of the idea
Everything that is selfish, that makes him a separated being, this he must shed and cast away, for it is this that darkens the light of the spirit. The egotistic self desires only to follow his sensual lust, instinctive drives, greed, and passions. He must root out this selfish will, and instead, as an individual, seek what the idea wants, the spirit within. Let the individuality move there, and follow the voice of the idea within, because only the idea is divine.
5. Eternal deeds
What one wills as a separate-being, is an insignificant point in the circumference of the universe as a whole. It is without value, and therefore worthless, fast disappearing within the flow of time. Whatever one wills in the spirit is in the center, because the central light of the universe lights up within us. Such a deed is independent of time.
6. Living in world harmony
When we act selfishly in isolation, we lock ourselves out from the closed chain of creation, and separate ourselves off. When a human being acts in the spirit, he lives ever more into the universal working of the world. The banning from oneself of all self-centeredness is the foundation for the higher life.
7. Immortality in this life
Whoever deadens the egotistical within himself, lives in eternal existence. To the extent to which we can let the selfishness within us die, to that extent we are immortal. That which is mortal in us is selfishness. This is the true meaning of the saying: “he who does not die before he dies finds extinction when he dies.” This means, whoever does not end egotism during his lifetime, plays no part in the universal life, which is immortal. A person who has never existed within this greater life, has never experienced true existence.
8. The search for knowledge is devotion to the universal in thought
There are four fields of human activity in which the human being devotes himself to the spirit, while giving up selfish activity: science, art, religion and the loving devotion, spiritually, to a personality. Whoever does not live within one of these four activities, does not live at all. The search for knowledge is devotion to the universal in thought, art is devotion to the universe in beholding, religion in the depths and breadths of the soul, and dedicated love is devotion with all ones’ spiritual forces directed to something, someone that appears to us as a treasured member of the universal whole.
9. Spiritual love; love of knowledge, ennobles our being
Knowledge is the most spiritual form of selfless devotion, love is the most beautiful form. For love is truly a heavenly radiance shining into ordinary daily life. Sacred, truly spiritual love ennobles our being to its inmost core; it uplifts all that lives within us. This pure and holy love transforms our whole being into something that is in touch with the world spirit.
10. Spiritual love carries the breath of divine life to the most repulsive regions
To love, in this most exalted sense means to carry the breath of divine life into regions where only the most repulsive egotism and the most disrespectful passions are found. One has to know something of the holiness of love before one can speak of spirituality.
11. Freedom is to enter the divine life of the ideal
If a human being has made his way out of the separated condition, through one of these four fields, and entered into the divine life of the ideal, then he has reached that for which the seed of longing was placed in his heart; the union with the spirit. This is the true destination of the human being. Whoever lives in the spirit lives freely, for they have removed themselves from subordination. Nothing can compel him or her to act, other than what he wishes to be freely compelled by because he recognizes it as the highest calling.
12. Let truth be lived
Let truth be lived: lose yourself to find yourself once again in the spirit of the world!


Desire for knowledge
However abundant the gifts which we have received, still more abundant are our desires. We seem born to dissatisfaction. And our desire for knowledge is but a special instance of this unsatisfied striving. Suppose we look twice at a tree. The first time we see its branches at rest, the second time in motion. We are not satisfied with this observation. Why, we ask, does the tree appear to us now at rest, then in motion? Every glance at nature evokes in us a multitude of questions. Every phenomenon we meet presents a new problem to be solved. Every experience is to us a riddle. We observe that from the egg there emerges a creature like the mother animal, and we ask for the reason of the likeness. We observe a living being grow and develop to a determinate degree of perfection, and we seek the conditions of this experience. Nowhere are we satisfied with the facts which nature spreads out before our senses. Everywhere we seek what we call the explanation of these facts. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 2.0)

Love of knowledge (reach feelings up to the region of the ideal)
Our life is a continual oscillation between our share in the universal world-process and our own individual existence. The farther we ascend into the universal nature of thought where the individual, at last, interests us only as an example, an instance, of the concept, the more the character of something individual, of the quite determinate, unique personality, becomes lost in us. The farther we descend into the depths of our own private life and allow the vibrations of our feelings to accompany all our experiences of the outer world, the more we cut ourselves off from the universal life. True individuality belongs to him whose feelings reach up to the farthest possible extent into the region of the ideal. There are men in whom even the most general ideas still bear that peculiar personal tinge which shows unmistakably their connection with their author. There are others whose concepts come before us as devoid of any trace of individual coloring as if they had not been produced by a being of flesh and blood at all. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 6.8)


Strive to live according to the principles of human flourishing: a science of freedom
(found in The Philosophy Of Freedom and elsewhere)
[8] I am under no illusion concerning the characteristics of the present age. I know how many flaunt a manner of life which lacks all individuality and follows only the prevailing fashion. But I know also that many of my contemporaries strive to order their lives in the direction of the principles I have indicated. To them I would dedicate this book. It does not pretend to offer the "only possible" way to Truth, it only describes the path chosen by one whose heart is set upon Truth. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 0.6)


Thought training in the realm of pure thought
The reader will be led at first into somewhat abstract regions, where thought must draw sharp outlines if it is to reach secure conclusions. But he will also be led out of these arid concepts into concrete life. I am fully convinced that one cannot do without soaring into the ethereal realm of abstraction, if one's experience is to penetrate life in all directions. He who is limited to the pleasures of the senses misses the sweetest enjoyments of life. The Oriental sages make their disciples live for years a life of resignation and asceticism before they impart to them their own wisdom. The Western world no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic practices as a preparation for science, but it does require a sincere willingness to withdraw oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life, and to betake oneself into the realm of pure thought. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 0.7)

Study of The Philosophy Of Freedom is thought training
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.” (Rudolf Steiner on His Book "The Philosophy of Freedom")

Catharsis of the emotions
Catharsis is an ancient term for the purification of the emotions by means of meditation and concentration exercises. If a reader takes this book as it was meant and relates to it in the way a virtuoso playing a composition on the piano relates to its composer, reproducing the whole piece out of herself, the books organically evolved thought sequence will bring about a high degree of catharsis. (Steiner's lectures on the Gospel Of St. John)


The human individual is the source of all morality and the center of all life. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 9.12)

The knowing doer
The doer is distinguished from the knower, but the one that matters most is lost sight of—the knowing doer—the one who acts out of knowledge. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 1.5)

Ethical evolution
Monism cannot admit any continuous supernatural influence upon moral life (divine government of the world from the outside), nor an influence through a particular act of revelation at a particular moment in history (giving of the ten commandments), or through God's appearance on the earth (divinity of Christ). Moral processes are, for Monism, natural products like everything else that exists, and their causes must be looked for in nature, i.e., in man, because man is the bearer of morality.

Ethical Individualism is the crown of the edifice that Darwin and Haeckel have erected for Natural Science. It is the theory of evolution applied to the moral life. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 12.8)

Ethical Choice
There is a higher conduct that sees a value in all ethical principles and in each particular situation asks whether one or the other ethical principle is more important. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 9.4)

Ethical Individualism
To let our moral content express itself in life is the moral principle of the human being who regards all other moral principles as subordinate. We may call this point of view Ethical Individualism. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 9.7)


Moral Life Of Humanity
This is his contribution to the already existing total of moral ideas. In such ethical intuitions all moral activity of men has its root. To put this differently: the moral life of humanity is the sum-total of the products of the moral imagination of free human individuals. This is Monism's confession of faith. Monism looks upon the history of the moral life, not as the education of the human race by a transcendent God, but as the gradual living out in practice of all concepts and ideas which spring from the moral imagination. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 14.12)


Harmony of Intentions
But how about the possibility of social life for men, if each aims only at asserting his own individuality? This question expresses yet another objection on the part of Moralism. The Moralist believes that a social community is possible only if all men are held together by a common moral order. This shows that the Moralist does not understand the community of the world of ideas. He does not realize that the world of ideas which inspires me is no other than that which inspires my fellow-men. I differ from my neighbor, not at all because we are living in two entirely different mental worlds, but because from our common world of ideas we receive different intuitions. He desires to live out his intuitions, I mine. If we both draw our intuitions really from the world of ideas, and do not obey mere external impulses (physical or moral), then we can not but meet one another in striving for the same aims, in having the same intentions. A moral misunderstanding, a clash of aims, is impossible between men who are free. Only the morally unfree who blindly follow their natural instincts or the commands of duty, turn their backs on their neighbors, if these do not obey the same instincts and the same laws as themselves. Live and let live is the fundamental principle of the free man. He knows no "ought." How he shall will in any given case will be determined for him by his faculty of ideas. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 9.10)


Human Destiny
Human life has only the purpose and destiny that a human being gives it. If the question be asked: What is man's purpose in life? Monism has but one answer: The purpose which he gives to himself. I have no predestined mission; my mission, at any one moment, is the one I choose for myself. I do not enter upon life's voyage with a fixed route mapped out for me. (The Philosophy Of Freedom ch. 11.7)

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The Theory Of Evolution Advances To Evolutionary Ethics

The Philosophy Of Freedom (POF) answers the question of today's thinkers seeking evolutionary ethics that extends from the theory of evolution.

“The same Ethical Individualism which I have developed on the basis of the preceding principles, might be equally well developed on the basis of the theory of evolution.” Rudolf Steiner, Philosophy Of Freedom 12.7

Morality is human flourishing
Popular Atheist and islamophobe Sam Harris gave a Ted talk about a science of ethics based on the "facts" of human flourishing. What was missing is that Sam didn't have these facts. 

Science of freedom
The highest human flourishing is freedom, unique to humans. A science of ethics must be a science of freedom. 

Atheists should embrace a science of freedom (The Philosophy Of Freedom), from there a new ethics can grow to include everyone else.

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The belief among the religious is that morality is derived from religion; that the religious are the light of the world while the nonreligious lack any basis for ethics or morality. Human morality is a revelation from God who dictates how we should live. Our task is to obey God and establish His divine world order, which concludes with our salvation.

Nonbelievers fall behind
The righteous superiority of the believers supports the view that if they were to be swept away to heaven as in the Rapture, those left behind would descend into an orgy of sex, violence and anarchy without the enlightened ones to lead us. Only the religious and spiritual believers can hold back the modern worlds slide into the darkness of lying, cheating, and stealing anything the nonbelievers can get their hands on. It is the belief that humanity is “utterly depraved” without spiritual guidance.

Spiritual traditionalists fall behind
The morality of the religious and Eastern spiritualists has its origin from another time and culture dating back several millennium. The long past ideas are kept alive through the study of ancient texts and the practice of outdated rituals and meditations. These moral laws were at one time relevant, but have become entrenched in traditions and handed down for centuries, with few even knowing the origin of most modern day morality.

As culture continues to evolve and moral consciousness deepens it is the moral traditionalists that are the ones who fall behind, morally stunted by ancient beliefs and practices. Over time scriptural views become more out of touch. Young people, who are motivated by an honest search for truth and compassion, find the spiritual paths of the past less and less appealing.

“While it is true that the ethical ideas of an individual have grown out of the past, it is also true that the individual is morally barren, unless he has moral ideas of his own.” Philosophy Of Freedom (POF) 12.7

Individual moral ideas
Individuals are turning to their own imagination to create inspiring moral ideals suited for their life situation. We are motivated to be ethical. Human beings strive toward sublimely great ideals because they want to. The realization of ones own ideals is the highest pleasure. POF 13.11

reference: Valerie Tarico

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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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Atheism United Posts Link To Our Blog Article

Rudolf Steiner's The Philosophy Of Freedom, published in 1894, is a humanist philosophy of knowledge and ethics based on the empirical observation of the mind. So it has value to anyone interested in science more so than blind belief, whether conservative or progressive, spiritualist or atheist, idealist or realist. This includes the secular, agnostic and atheist community, which has a strong interest in science. We have been using twitter, "Ethical Humanism" to reach this community. 

A new atheist online magazine called Atheism United posted a link to our recent blog post "First Impression Judgments Are An Error In Thinking". It is exciting to have attracted interest from the atheist community.

A recent poll shows a 13% decline in the U.S. in those who say they are "Religious" while Atheism is rising around the world. This decline would be expected in our age of science as "We no longer want to believe; we want to know." Philosophy Of Freedom 0.3

Well known atheists/agnostics include Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Wozaniak, John Lennon and Mark Twain.

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Common survival instincts
We all have survival instincts in common. We stay alive by obeying our needs for food, shelter and water. This promotes competition of the “survival of the fittest” where the weak are left behind.

Common social instincts
Gathering in families, tribes, clans, and nations increases everyone’s chance of survival. We get along by obeying social laws and constructing common social instincts.

Common moral code
As the size of the group increases it becomes more difficult to find common things they all share. This divisiveness is resolved with a common moral code from an Absolute power that no one can dispute.

The common moral code assigns value, worth, and legitimacy to our life. The truth is humans create moral codes, emphasize them, and eventually fight or oppress each other over them. The commands of duty cause the members to turn their backs on the “others” who do not obey the same moral code as themselves.

Obeying physical instincts and external moral codes will always lead to systems of oppression and war. Is there anything we have in common that will not end up causing conflict?

Common world of ideas
We share a common world of ideas. Philosophy Of Freedom 5.8“The concept of a triangle which my mind grasps is the same as the concept which my neighbor's mind grasps.” Without a common world of ideas there could be no philosophy, science or even language.

Within the world of ideas are universal ethical ideals. The “Golden Rule” that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself can be found historically in some form in almost every ethical tradition.

If we live by ideals individually selected from the common world of ideas and are not ruled by survival instincts or duty to external moral codes, a harmony of intentions is possible. By understanding the ideal intentions of others we realize we are all striving for the “good” in our own way.

“The world of ideas which inspires me is no other than the one that inspires my fellow human beings. I differ from my neighbor, not at all because we are living in two entirely different mental worlds, but because from our common world of ideas we receive different intuitions. He desires to live out his intuitions, I mine. If we both draw our intuitions really from the world of ideas, and do not obey mere external impulses (physical or moral), then we can not but meet one another in striving for the same aims, in having the same intentions. A moral misunderstanding, a clash of aims, is impossible between human beings who are free.” Philosophy Of Freedom 9.10

reference: Peter Kaufman

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First Impression Judgments Are An Error In Thinking

Common error in thinking
What is wrong with the way we think? One of the most common errors in the way people think is to judge something on a chance appearance, and conclude this is the thing.

First impression
We're all told about the value of making a good first impression. An interviewer, or a stranger, will form an impression of you, your character, your personality all within the first 60 seconds of meeting you. Or is it 30 seconds or just a few seconds?

A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly change those immediate impressions. Judgments based on appearance play a powerful role in how we treat others, and how we get treated.

Job interview
A business manager interviews someone with a great business record, highly recommended by others and a good resume, but during the interview the guy seems uninspired. So the manager tells his colleagues, I don’t think we should hire this guy. Most people say that’s reasonable, but how can we say that we know the person? Typically an interview is a half hour. A lot of what goes on in the interview has little to do with future executive performance.

Limited observation is unscientific
We will carry away and retain this incomplete picture of the person unless we have further contact to get to know them better. This is an unscientific judgment based on a single encounter.

Limited thinking is unscientific
Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom discusses how all living things are in a "process of becoming". Everything is constantly changing and moving through an infinite number of stages. A naive unthinking person does not take the unseen possibilities into consideration. A person convicted of a crime will always remain a criminal. The truth is we are all changing. “The picture which presents itself to me at any one moment is only a chance section out of the continuous process of growth in which the object is engaged.” POF 5.4

Unfoldment of human potential
Scientific thinking is able to go beyond mere observation and look at possibilities that lay within things if given the opportunity, such as what happens to a rose when given the proper water and light. A human being will flourish given the opportunities to unfold their potential. With thinking we can see and work with the process of becoming.

“Each one of us has it in us to be a free spirit, just as every rosebud is potentially a rose.' POF 10.8

reference: Eric Wargo, Samira Shackle

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The Values We All Stand For

Society consists of a wide variety of individuals. How can we get along if each is asserting their own individual aims? Moralists believe unity is possible only if we are held together by a common moral code. This leads to the belief in a higher authority, a God, to bestow upon us a moral code that will unite us. (such as Moses and the 10 commandments)

The moralist does not understand that we all share a common world of ideals. The ideals that inspire me are the same that inspire others. We differ because we select different ideals from our common world of ideals. We each desire to live out our chosen ideals. POF 9.10

The America we love welcomes a diversity of individuals striving to express their highest ideals. During the cold war a fearful America retreated more to the Moralist authoritarian view “In God We Trust” as the source of morality, leaving out many humanists --ethical individualists who have a deeper understanding that the human being is the source of morality. This video explains:

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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.

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Comparing Feminism And Humanism

Humanists oppose sexism on principle
As an ethical individualist and humanist I “affirm the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom.” 2002 Amsterdam Declaration of the World Humanist Congress

So certainly I oppose sexism since it is another form of prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, only this time based on ones gender. Both men and women can be victims of sexism. Men are expected to be the aggressive, rational, and dominant provider while women are the passive, intuitive, supportive nurturer.

It is impossible to really understand a human being if we judge them according to gender. But men see in woman, woman in men, too much of the others gender characteristics, and too little of what is individual. Gender stereotyping is a barrier to getting to know a unique individual. POF 14.3

Feminists oppose sexism on practical grounds
In practical life sexism does less harm to men than to women. Empirical studies have found widely shared cultural beliefs that men are more socially valued and more competent than women in a number of activities.

Feminists advocate for the rights of the underprivileged gender. The feminist movement fights for more opportunities for women because they are considered to be in the inferior position and need to be raised up to equality. Gender equality will be achieved in practical life by demanding change that improves the life of women.

Comparing feminism and humanism
A humanist will oppose all sexism on principle while a feminist opposes female inequality on practical grounds. Both sides would surely agree in principle that they support eliminating all forms of male or female gender bias. Each person, male or female, has the right to freely determine their activity in life according to their own individual abilities and inclinations. 

On the practical side of gender rights, more social changes need to be made for woman, but this shouldn't prevent supporting the rights of men in areas where men face gender discrimination. Otherwise feminism would contradict itself by seeming to be a gender biased movement.

Gender identity

While there are real biological differences between the sexes, gender is generally considered to be a social construction. Gender socialization begins at birth and occurs through family, education, peer groups, and mass media. Repeated socialization over time leads men and women into a false sense that they are acting "naturally", rather than following a socially constructed role.

Each human nature is unique. Human beings must be allowed to decide for themselves what social roles are suited to their particular nature, and not be judged if these roles do not fit what others consider appropriate gender behavior. POF 14.4

Only an individual knows what lies within their own "natural disposition". Nonconforming gender people face discrimination, oppression, and violence for not adhering to society's traditional gender roles. That is why LGBT rights is a human rights issue.

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