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1893 photo of Rudolf Steiner

Two 1895 Reviews Of Rudolf Steiner's Die Philosophie der Freiheit
(The Philosophy Of Freedom)


THE MONIST QUARTERLY MAGAZINE VOLUME V
CHICAGO
THE OPEN COURT PUBLISHING CO.
1894-95
COPYRIGHT BY THE OPEN COURT PUBLISHING Co 1895.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME V.

p. 150 Die Philosophie der Freiheit. By Dr. Rudolf Steiner

URL: http://archive.org/stream/monistquart05hegeuoft/monistquart05hegeuoft_djvu.txt

DIE PHILOSOPHIE DER FREIHEIT. Grundzuge einer modernen Weltanschauung.
By Dr. Rudolf Steiner. Berlin: Emil Felber. 1894. Pp. 242.

The essential characteristic of the present age the author finds in the evident striving of individual culture to make itself the centre of all the interests of life. To bear the stamp of validity, a thing must have its origin deep in the roots of individuality. This, in a certain form, is the gospel of the development from within outwards which Goethe championed. Between heredity, tradition, iron-clad custom, and the independent mind filled with new ideas, a constant battle is fought the battle of knowledge against belief. Man, however, must not bow to the new idea lest he be what he was before, but must make himself master of it. The ground or reason for the translation of an idea into actual reality by the agency of the individual man can be found only in the man himself. For an idea to become an act, a man must will its transformation. But such a volition can spring solely from man himself. Man is the ultimate mover of his acts; he is free. /IK/IK.



Source: The Philosophical Review, Vol. 4, No. 5 (Sep., 1895) pp. 573-574
Published by: Duke University Press on behalf of Philosophical Review
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2176164

Die Philosophie der Freiheit. Von DR. RUDOLF STEINER.
Berlin, Emil Felber, 1894.-pp. 242.

Freedom, the author asserts, is a fact that stares us in the face, and those who deny it do so through misunderstanding. It is obvious that an action is not free if the agent does not know why he does it, but how does the matter stand with reference to an action which is performed after the reasons for and against it have been considered? This involves an inquiry into the nature of Thought, for only when we know what Thought is can we tell what part it plays in human action. Thought is a principle which exists for itself, and from it arise Notions which are applied to the given element of experience. The latter element is the necessary consequence of individuality, and the function of Thought is to restore the unity of the Ego with the world which particularity has broken. Freedom can be understood by means of this analysis. In action, as in knowledge, there is a given element to which the mind adds conceptions of its own. Only, in this case, the given does not determine in any way the conceptions which the mind applies, and, as these conceptions constitute our motives to action, this means that our motives are not determined.

Monism is the doctrine that the world is given as a duality of subject and object, but becomes a unity through knowledge. Thought unites what sensation has separated. The distinction between subject and object is therefore not absolute and there is no thing-in-itself. Further, Monism means that experience cannot be transcended at all, and it therefore excludes the notions of End, World-Ruler, etc. All that exists is a multitude of particular persons and things forming somehow a unity. It is not made very clear why "Monism " should involve this, and no attempt is made to show how one can get at the notion of a multitude of individuals, if one is to keep entirely to experience on its phenomenal side. Yet the views thus assumed determine to a large extent the author's results. Since Monism excludes everything beyond experience, man's being is not dependent on any first principle or ground of all existence. He is therefore thrown upon himself; makes his own ends; and determines his own actions. " Monism," in short, necessarily involves freedom.

It is difficult to find out exactly what Dr. Steiner understands by ' freedom.' He defines it differently in different places, and involves himself in contradictions in attempting to answer objections. The best part of the book is the chapter on " The Worth of Life," which contains a thorough and suggestive criticism of Pessimism. It is a remarkable piece of writing, and Hartmann refers to it in his noteworthy article1 in the Zeitschrift fur Philosophie und Philosophische Kritik (Band 106, Heft. I). In other parts of the work there are passages of value, but the book is too uncritical and dogmatic to be satisfactory as a whole. There is throughout a lack of thoroughness and cohesion.

DAVID IRONS.

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Cognitive research by Benjamin Libet and others have shown that our brains generate decisions before we’re even aware of them, which suggests there is no free will because our decisions are made unconsciously.

Scientist locates free will in the brain
Paul Bisceglio writes about a new study with unexpected results. Free will may sneak its way into our decision making through a surprising source: brain static. This neural noise is simply that the brain is always firing even in the absence of input or responses.

Researchers at the University of California-Davis measured the brain activity of a handful of undergraduates as each made choices to look left or right when prompted by images on a screen.

The study's result: Fluctuations in brain static actually predicted the direction in which students chose to look.

These constant fluctuations exist apart from our normal unconsciously determined thought, so they seem to allow for “spontaneous” thought. “Neural noise might be how we can generate novel responses to new situational demands,” says Jesse Bengson, the study’s lead author.

Others have criticized the short time frames between action and movement used in this kind of research that were likely creating distortions in the data.

Rudolf Steiner's locates free will in the mind
Rudolf Steiner's theory of free will is dependent on finding the region of the mind where free will can originate. 1918 Preface to the revised Philosophy Of Freedom

Conceptual sphere of universal concepts
This region is the conceptual sphere of universal concepts. It is the sphere where mathematical, philosophical, logical and analytical scientific thinking takes place when one is immersed in pure universal concepts.

Universal concepts are an all inclusive ideal just as the concept triangle includes all triangles and the concept tree includes all trees. Universals do not include sense perceptible content such as a particular triangle (right triangle) or a particular tree (oak tree). Thinking in universals is non-sensory, non-empirical, and non-physical pure thinking.

Free thinking is possible in the conceptual sphere
To think in pure concepts is free thinking, free of bias, where thought is linked with thought according to the ideal content. This is also known in philosophy as reason. Pure concepts are not sense perceptible, they are perceived intuitively in the mind, making reason an intuitive process. POF 9.4

If free thinking is possible, then free will is possible
An action determined by free thinking means that our conduct is not influenced by an established character disposition, or an external moral principle accepted on authority. The action is not a stereotypical one that follows a set of norms, or is it an automatic response to external stimuli. Free action is guided by an idea consciously originating in free thinking. POF 9.5

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The Philosophy Of Freedom is the result of applying the methods of science to introspection observation. For us Rudolf Steiner is not some mystical clairvoyant master with psychic powers authoritatively handing down deep truths we can only accept on faith. For us who study The Philosophy Of Freedom he is a fellow scientist of the mind who describes inner experiences that are within our capacity to recognize. The Philosophy Of Freedom is written for us, normal people with normal abilities. It is not even really a philosophy book, philosophy is merely used by Steiner to describe human experience. 

We have the level of competence to evaluate what he called a science of freedom as peers when we turn within to observe our thoughts, feelings and willing. A "science" of freedom requires peer review. That is something we can do. You can see how you are qualified to be a peer of Rudolf Steiner by going to the "Thought Exercises" page where you will find over 70 exercises related to the descriptions found in The Philosophy Of Freedom

Here is a new exercise that has been added called "An Exploration Of Motives" by Tim Nadelle. You can see it is not hard to create your own exercises if you want to fully experience what is being discussed in the book. 

An Exploration of Motives

The following exercise and its sequel were inspired by the content of the first chapter of the Philosophy of Freedom. Pertinent quotes from chapter one are as follows:

“If there is a difference between a conscious motive of action and an unconscious urge, then the conscious motive will result in an action which must be judged differently from one that springs from blind impulse. Hence our first question will concern this difference, and on the result of this enquiry will depend what attitude we shall have to take towards the question of freedom proper.” POF 1.5

“The question is not whether I can carry out a decision once made, but how the decision comes about within me.” POF 1.7

An Exploration of Motives
1. Look into your recent past and identify two different actions which you took…
- one which resulted more from impulse
- one in which you were, to a greater extent, conscious of the motive for your action
2. In each case, how did the decision to act unfold within you?
3. How did the character of the motive behind the two actions differ?

Sequel:
Over the course of the day, make an effort to become aware at times when you are about to take action arising from an unexamined motive. Pause before acting and recognize the motive. Consider whether a different motive might more appropriately meet the needs of the situation.

By Tim Nadelle
http://www.philosophyfreedom.ca/

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Problem is millionaires and billionaires
Humanity is now using nature’s resources 50 percent faster than what Earth can renew. Actually, it is not humanity, but rather a specific small population of humanity that is consuming 80% of the world's resources. The higher the income the higher the consumption of the earth's limited resources. Our survival is being threatened by the population explosion of millionaires and billionaires in the world. Since the financial crisis, the number of billionaires in the world has more than doubled. Millionaires will increase 50% by 2018.


Unsustainable population growth of the rich

The unsustainable population growth of the rich threatens the environment, our health, and happiness. While the poor make up most of the world population, they consume little of the earth's resources as 50% of the worlds population live on less than $2/day.

What can be done?
The children from the richest families receive on average $2.7 million in inheritance and become instant high consuming millionaires causing many social and environmental problems. The population growth of wealthy heirs is a choice, not an unstoppable force of nature. Rational, responsible and rigorously monitored mandatory birth control of the rich is the only logical, mature and ethical answer to this unprecedented over consumption.

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Ethical Individualism
Lets look at the Greek debt crisis from an ethical perspective. We will examine two principles from extremely different sources, one from the insurance industry and another from Muslim Shari’a Law. An Ethical Individualist is not restricted to a fixed set of given ethical principles but is open-minded and,

“sees a certain value in all ethical principles, always asking whether this or that is more important in a particular case.” (POF 9.4)

Greek debt crisis
Greece owes European countries and banks €340 billion borrowed over the past five years. To afford the debt repayments, Greece made huge cuts leaving many impoverished. As Greece lagged on repayments, they were told to make more cuts. Greece refused. The big problem now is that Greek banks are running out of money.

Two principles that could be applied in this case are moral hazard (suffer the consequences) and forgiveness (debt relief).

Principle Of Moral Hazard (suffer the consequences)
Moral Hazard originated as an insurance company principle. It occurs when all the risks shift to one party after a financial transaction has taken place due to the removal of the severe consequences that force the other party to act appropriately. In this case, Greece will lose the incentive to pay back the huge debt if it is granted debt relief.

The thrifty Germans, the biggest opponent of debt relief, insist on more harsh austerity measures, even though that makes it even less likely that Greece can pay its debts. By ignoring the Greeks terrible economic plight along with the disparaging language that is routinely used about Greeks, the Germans seem more interested in inflicting punishment rather than any genuine reform.

Principle Of Forgiveness (debt relief)
To explain the principle of forgiveness I will turn to Islamic financial principles guided by Shari’a Law. Islamic finance must contribute to the development and good of the community. Not surprising, then, the fundamental feature of Islamic finance is socio-economic and distributive justice. Islamic finance principles state clearly that individuals who have trouble repaying their debts should have their obligations made easier for them and not more difficult. It is immoral for a lender to harass or pressure a person who has borrowed money and is unable to repay the loan, if that person has fallen on hard times. Instead, such individuals are deserving of charity.

Do you agree with the finance principles of Shari’a Law or the finance principles of the insurance industry?

sources: Frances Coppola and Dr. Kara Tan Bhala

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*The first chapter in the original Philosophy Of Freedom was entitled The Goal Of Knowledge. In 1918, in later editions it was removed as the first chapter and placed at the back of the book as an appendix.

Shake off every kind of authority
Chapter 1, The Goal Of Knowledge (in the original 1894 edition* of Rudolf Steiner's The Philosophy Of Freedom) begins with these two sentences:

“I BELIEVE I am indicating correctly one of the fundamental characteristics of our age when I say that 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." POF 0.0

The path to freedom begins with a struggle to be free of oppression, an energetic effort to shake off every kind of authority. While the Philosophy Of Freedom is considered a path to "inner" freedom, the long journey to inner freedom begins in the second sentence of Steiner's freedom philosophy, with the struggle for "outer" freedom. From the earliest age when a toddler first shouts “No!” to authority, the human being strives to be free.

The violent outer suppression of people disrupts the long path to inner freedom, that at a later stage of development can no longer be suppressed. The support of inner freedom of the mind involves also the support of the outer freedom of action to allow the space for personal development and individual expression. It is interesting to see that mainstream churches are joining in the struggle to end the oppression of the Palestinian people.


Will the churches end the oppression of the Palestinian people?
This week the United Church of Christ (UCC) voted by an overwhelming 80% majority to divest from companies profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and to boycott all Israeli settlement goods. Joining the UCC in showing support to end Palestinian oppression are the Presbyterian Church, World Council of Churches United Methodist Church, the Church of England synod. Other churches are considering joining the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“In approving this resolution, the UCC has demonstrated its commitment to justice and equality,” said Rev. Mitri Raheb, a Christian Palestinian. “For Palestinians living under occupation or facing systematic discrimination as citizens of Israel, enduring the destruction of their homes and businesses, the theft of their land for settlements, and living under blockade and siege in Gaza, this action sends a strong signal that they are not alone, and that there are churches who still dare to speak truth to power and stand with the oppressed.”

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The Ethical Principle Of Dignity

Equal dignity in the eyes of the law
The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision ruled that same-sex couples who want to be married have a constitutional right to "equal dignity in the eyes of the law."

But Justice Clarence Thomas, one of four dissenting judges who each wrote separate opinions in the case, took issue with the majority's use of the word "dignity."

"The majority goes to great lengths to assert that its decision will advance the 'dignity' of same-sex couples," Thomas wrote. "The flaw in that reasoning, of course, is that the Constitution contains no 'dignity' Clause, and even if it did, the government would be incapable of bestowing dignity. Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate."

Government cannot bestow dignity
Justice Thomas took issue with the notion that marriage equality restores dignity to gay people, and insisted that enslaved people kept their dignity. “Slaves did not lose their dignity because the government allowed them to be enslaved. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away,” Thomas wrote in his dissent.

Dignity Is An Ideal That Is Applied
As an ethical individualist I agree that the government cannot bestow “inherent” dignity and it cannot take it away. The inherent worth and dignity of every person is an ideal principle that we can affirm. But for an ethical principle to matter it needs to be applied to life. When an ethical principle lives in the core of our being it becomes a call to action to apply it. We become empowered and motivated to support and protect the dignity of our self and of others. A proper reading of the U.S. Constitution would suggest that it is the state’s obligation to protect and affirm the dignity of every citizen.


Attitude Toward Others
Human dignity is expressed daily in the attitude we have for others. This is why we are outraged when those on top demonize poor people with less social advantage by unjustly calling them “parasites”, “spongers”, and “loafers”.

"...the attitude, the state of the soul, with which a human being, experiencing himself or herself amidst esteemed fellow human beings, can best do justice to human dignity." POF 9.10 (1918 addition)

"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." POF 0.0

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"To let our moral substance (our moral ideas) express itself in our 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." POF 9-7

The highest principle of an Ethical Individualist is to express one's moral ideas in life. That is, to take ethical action. We were all grieved over the Israeli bombing of the Gaze Strip in 2014 which killed 1473 civilians, but how many of us did anything about it?

Over 500 children were killed, 3374 injured with 1500 orphaned, twenty-two schools were completely destroyed and 118 schools damaged.

You can be sure that the widespread Israeli campaign of violence to weaken and terrorize the Palestinian people has successfully left the soul of every surviving Palestinian child with deep wounds and traumatizing memories. Even after years have passed, such unresolved trauma can trigger symptoms that profoundly disturb the development of children and adolescents.

We all know that what is being done to the Palestinian children is not right. Thankfully, there are some who are taking direct action. The Friends of Waldorf Education sent a crisis intervention team to Gaza to help the traumatized children.

By providing stabilizing actions on the basis of Waldorf education emergency pedagogy, they are aiding the traumatized Palestinian children by providing ways to process the traumatizing experiences. These emergency pedagogic interventions help prevent potential long-term post-traumatic stress disorders. The Ethical Individualist is an ethical activist.

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String theory is progress, but it is far from the theory of "everything". It is limited to force and matter in the external world. String theory implies that the particles that comprise all the matter that you see in the universe—and all the forces that allow matter to interact—are made of tiny vibrating strands of energy. These vibrating strings are the fundamental building blocks of nature.

The theory of everything does not include everything, it just finds a common unifying element --tiny vibrating strings-- in force and matter.

To meet our human need for knowledge we must find the common element of truly “everything”. By everything I mean all that we experience in life, what we experience within and without. This includes everything that we observe; all sensations, all perceptions, contemplations, feelings, acts of will, dreams and fantasy images, memories, concepts, ideas, all illusions and hallucinations. Inner and outer observation gives us a multiplicity of separate objects. We are not satisfied until we place each thing within a harmonious whole.

What is the common element in all the separate things we experience? What is the common element in literally everything? Everything has an ideal content, or pure concept that is the principle or rule that governs the object. This conceptual content becomes connected with all other conceptual content within a unified system of concepts within our mind.

“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 perceptions, are bound to fail.” POF 5.9

The mere appearance of a snail and a lion does not tell me why the lion is a higher developed creature than the snail. Thinking contributes the ideal content to the snail and lion from the world of concepts and ideas to make them intelligible and place them within the whole. All the separate objects that we observe gradually become unified into one whole by adding this ideal content. POF 5.10

All progress in knowledge depends upon incorporating all observed phenomena into the harmony of the conceptual world.

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What is the origin of thinking?

Chapter 1 concludes with this: [19] However we may care to approach the subject, it becomes more and more clear that the question concerning the nature of human action presupposes another, that of the origin of thinking. So I will turn to this question next.

So Chapter 2 can be organized to answer this question, Where do our thoughts originate, what is the source? How do we first experience thought? Each of the chapter 2 views give an answer. Which do you agree with?

2-1. Thinking originates in material processes
2-2. Thinking originates in the mind
2-3. Thinking originates in experience of the external world
2-4. Thinking originates in the ego
2-5. Thinking originates in sense perception, while sense perception is produced by thinking
2-6. Thinking originates in the indivisible unity of mind and matter
2-7. Thinking originates in our consciousness
2-8. Thinking originates in a feeling of belonging to nature
2-9. Thinking originates within as an inner quality of nature
2-10. Thinking originates as something more than “I”
2-11. Thinking originates as an experience in consciousness
2-12. Thinking originates as a fact of everyday experience

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"The first thing that my contemporaries found unpalatable in my book The Philosophy of Freedom was this: they would have to be prepared first of all to fight their way through to a knowledge of freedom by self-disciplined thinking." If you don't know what freedom is you will be unable to realize freedom because freedom is not an inborn idea, the idea of freedom must first be gained and understood before it can be realized by incorporating it into your life. Since this is a science of freedom it applies to everyone just like global warming does whether you believe in it or not. Steiner's concept of freedom can be found in other sources, a piece discussed here and another part there. All the ideas in POF are discussed elsewhere, separately. After finding the pieces you will still need to fit them together properly. Within POF you find the full concept of freedom with all the parts organized into a whole, but you still have to fight to understand it. You have a good chance if you know nothing of anthroposophy. 

The greatest barrier to understanding POF are the revisions, omissions and explanations of anthroposophists. It really is a scandal. If you began with the original version and had no other reference than Steiner's pre-theosophy work (pre-1900) most wouldn't have a problem. Every truth I get is a correction of an anthroposophy misunderstanding about POF. There misleading translations and misdirecting summaries have set me back a decade. The book can be won through simple reading comprehension if you work with the original 1916 Hoernle edition. That translation still needs basic translation cleaning up and will be done some day.

Anthroposophists distort POF to fit their theory of clairvoyance that for some reason none of them seem to ever achieve (except Steiner, but he was born with it). The science of freedom is not compatible with the vague mysticism of spiritual clairvoyance. A great example of the clarity of the original version is the beginning of Chapter 9 in the original Hoernle edition that explains the relation between ones Conceptual System and Knowledge & Action. Most of this was deleted in the other editions.

9. THE IDEA OF FREEDOM
9.0
[1] THE concept "tree" is conditioned for our knowledge by the percept "tree." There is only one determinate concept which I can select from the general system of concepts and apply to a given percept. The connection of concept and percept is mediately and objectively determined by thought in conformity with the percept. The connection between a percept and its concept is recognized after the act of perception, but the relevance of the one to the other is determined by the character of each.

[2] In willing the situation is different. The percept is here the content of my existence as an individual, whereas the concept is the universal element in me. What is brought into ideal relation to the external world by means of the concept, is an immediate experience of my own, a percept of my Self. More precisely, it is a percept of my Self as active, as producing effects on the external world. In apprehending my own acts of will, I connect a concept with a corresponding percept, viz., with the particular volition. In other words, by an act of thought I link up my individual faculty (my will) with the universal world-process. The content of a concept corresponding to an external percept appearing within the field of my experience, is given through intuition. Intuition is the source for the content of my whole conceptual system. The percept shows me only which concept I have to apply, in any given instance, out of the aggregate of my intuitions. The content of a concept is, indeed, conditioned by the percept, but it is not produced by it. On the contrary, it is intuitively given and connected with the percept by an act of thought. The same is true of the conceptual content of an act of will which is just as little capable of being deduced from this act. It is got by intuition.

9.1
[3] If now the conceptual intuition (ideal content) of my act of will occurs before the corresponding percept, then the content of what I do is determined by my ideas. The reason why I select from the number of possible intuitions just this special one, cannot be sought in an object of perception, but is to be found rather in the purely ideal interdependence of the members of my system of concepts. In other words, the determining factors for my will are to be found, not in the perceptual, but only in the conceptual world. My will is determined by my idea.

The conceptual system which corresponds to the external world is conditioned by this external world. We must determine from the percept itself what concept corresponds to it; and how, in turn, this concept will fit in with the rest of my system of ideas, depends on its intuitive content. The percept thus conditions directly its concept and, thereby, indirectly also its place in the conceptual system of my world. But the ideal content of an act of will, which is drawn from the conceptual system and which precedes the act of will, is determined only by the conceptual system itself.
An act of will which depends on nothing but this ideal content must itself be regarded as ideal, that is, as determined by an idea. This does not imply, of course, that all acts of will are determined only by ideas. All factors which determine the human individual have an influence on his will.

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The highest moral principle in the Philosophy Of Freedom is:

To let our moral substance (our moral ideas) express itself in our 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. POF 9-7

What is considered here to be a "moral idea"?

  • Free human beings act because they have a moral idea, they do not act in order to be moral.
  • They who are incapable of producing moral ideas through intuition must receive them from others. In so far as a human being receives their moral principles from without they are actually unfree.
  • It is not possible to deduce a single new moral idea from earlier ones.
  • Freedom is impossible if anything other than I myself (whether a mechanical process or God) determines my moral ideas.
  • Moral ideals have their root in the moral imagination of human beings.
  • A human being without imagination does not create moral ideas.
  • Immature youths without any moral imagination like to look upon the instincts of their half developed natures as the full substance of humanity, and reject all moral ideas which they have not themselves originated, in order that they may "live themselves out" without restriction.
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What is Rudolf Steiner’s Path to Freedom?

This is the script of a video to be posted later today. It is an old video that was given a new audio track.

What is Rudolf Steiner’s Path to Freedom?

“Each one of us has it in themselves to be a free spirit, just as every rose bud has in it a rose."

What is the path of Rudolf Steiner?

Eternal becoming in thinking 
Every step a deepening.
Overcoming the surface,
Penetrating the depths.

“My purpose was to write a biographical account, of how one human soul made the difficult ascent to freedom.”

“I found my own way as best I could, and then later on, described the route that I had taken.”

In a letter to Rosa Mayreder, “If you had rejected my book, it would have been incomparably painful for me… I don’t teach. I relate what I have inwardly experienced. I relate it as I have experienced it.”

He was once asked for which of his books would he be remembered as writer, Rudolf Steiner answered, “For my Philosophy of Freedom.”

The Philosophy of Freedom is a Path of Science

The Philosophy of Freedom is the result of introspective observation, following the methods of natural science.

“I was not setting forth a doctrine, but simply recording inner experiences through which I had actually passed. And I reported them just as I experienced them.”

“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.”

Galileo took a seminal role in launching the first revolution in the physical sciences, and a key element in this revolution was the rigorous, sophisticated observation of physical phenomena.

Darwin likewise launched a revolution in the life sciences on the basis of decades of meticulous observation of biological phenomena.

By using the Philosophy of Freedom as a map for making introspective observations of inner life, an opportunity exists for a 21st century revolution in our understanding of the mind sciences.

“For one of the things most centrally needed is clarity on the path of inner striving, a clarity of inner striving comparable to the clarity of external striving. Not vague mysticism, but brightest clarity.”

In a conversation with Rudolf Steiner in 1922 Walter Johannes Stein asked,
“What will remain of your work in thousands of years? 
Rudolf Steiner replied: “Nothing but the Philosophy of Freedom,” and then he added: “But everything is contained in it. If someone realizes the act of freedom described there, he finds the whole content of Anthroposophy”.

The pure thinking of science (rightly understood) is the sole avenue leading to the spirituality of the future.

Rudolf Steiner, while writing The Philosophy of Freedom was not concerned with philosophy as such, but with working out for himself the means of expression which, in its very thought-formation could bring about the transformation of those forces which had been brought to highest possible peak in pure scientific thinking and now could become the spring board for a final leap into new realms.

The Philosophy of Freedom is a Path of Cosmic Logic

"In 1894 I made the attempt with my Philosophy of Freedom to provide a philosophic basis on which to approach spiritual science. It presents the wide range of human standpoints, often masquerading under such strange philosophical names, in a way that leaves the reader free of attachment to any particular approach and able to let the various concepts speak for themselves, as though each were a photograph of one and the same object taken from many different angles."

The Philosophy of Freedom is a thought organism whose structure is depicted in Steiner’s World-Outlook diagram found in his Human and Cosmic Thought lectures. 
World-Outlook Diagram
Steiner states the World-Outlook diagram indicates the logic of the Spiritual Hierarchies of the cosmos. "..their logic was indicated in the diagram I drew for you."

“For in the case of a book like this, the important thing is so to organize the thoughts it contains that they take effect. With many other books it doesn’t make a great deal of difference if one shifts the sequence, putting this thing first and that later. But in the case of The Philosophy of Freedom that is impossible. It would be just as unthinkable to put page 150 fifty pages earlier as it would be to put a dog’s hind legs, where the front ones belong.”

“Catharsis is an ancient term for the purification of the astral body 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.”

“Within this book thinking is experienced in a way that makes it impossible for a person involved in it to have any other impression, when he is living in thought, he is living in the cosmos. This relatedness to cosmic mysteries is the red thread running through the book.”

One can’t bend and twist pure thinking to one’s subjective will. Thinking itself thinks. 
The spiritual beings of the higher hierarchies enter free thinking and then your thinking receives its content from above.

The Philosophy of Freedom is a Path of Anthroposophy 

"Anyone interested in looking for them will find the basic principles of anthroposophy already enunciated in this book."

“It takes no great effort of will to observe and then think about one's observations. It takes energy to engage in the activity of sense-free thinking.”

“People have to be shown how to get beyond merely poetical, artistic imagination to creative moral imagination.”

The content of The Philosophy of Freedom is not contrived or the results of mystical superstition, but rather in the strictest sense the result of introspective observation verifiable by others.

“You will find nothing at all in The Philosophy of Freedom that is derived from clairvoyant communications of spiritual science. It is written for the express purpose of disciplining thinking without any mention of theosophy.”

In the first decade of the 20th century, August Ewerbeck got word that there were intimate circles in which Rudolf Steiner gave special esoteric training to those admitted to them. So he asked his teacher whether he too might be allowed to attend, and received the astonishing reply: “You don’t need to! You have understood my Philosophy of Freedom!”

"Those who had no desire to undertake the uncomfortable and demanding pursuit of clear thinking, were little attracted to the direction taken by The Philosophy of Freedom."

"Too many seeking experience in all sorts of unclear paths, nebulous mystical approaches, attached themselves to what anthroposophy was trying to achieve in clarity. This group of people attracted the attention of a lot of ill-disposed persons who now attack, what people with whom I have no connection whatsoever, have been saying. But in these attacks they attribute to 'me' what these vague mystics have produced as their own twisted version of something intended to meet the urgent needs of our modern culture. 
“What is needed is the brightest clarity in everything that has to do with thinking, not vague mysticism.”

“The proper study of this book gives the reader an inner attitude that enables him to stand entirely on his own feet in relating to anthroposophy.” 
It teaches her to present it on her own authority rather than on that of someone else.

The Philosophy of Freedom is a Path of Freedom 

When in the bright circles of the spirit,
The soul calls forth 
Pure energy of thinking,
It lays hold on knowledge of what freedom is.
When entering fully in life, 
Free, conscious man 
Shapes reality from willing,
Then freedom is made living fact.

Steiner initially divides the problem of free will into freedom of thought and freedom of action. He argues that inner freedom is achieved when we bridge the gap between our perception, which reflects the outer appearance of the world, and our cognition, which give us access to the inner structure of the world. Outer freedom arises when we bridge the gap between our ideals and the constraints of external reality, letting our deeds be inspired by what he terms moral imagination. Steiner considers inner and outer freedom as integral to one another, and that true freedom is only achieved when they are united.

“My book addresses itself mainly to the question of how philosophy, as an art, deals with the subject of human freedom, what the nature of freedom really is, and whether we already possess it or can develop it.”

The Philosophy of Freedom is a Path of Pure Thinking 

“What I called pure thinking in my Philosophy of Freedom was certainly not well named when judged by outer cultural conditions. For Eduard von Hartmann said to me: 
“There is no such thing, one can only think with the aid of external observation.” And all I could say in reply was:
“It has only to be tried and people will soon learn to be able to make it a reality.”

When is an action free? Only when it has its origin in pure thinking.

The Philosophy of Freedom is a path, a method leading to the actual experience of a thinking detached from the body-soul makeup.

“Freedom dawns when we enable the will to become an ever mightier and mightier force in our thinking.”

“Out of pure thinking there can flow powerful impulses to moral action that are no longer determined by anything but pure spirit.”

“The intention in my Philosophy of Freedom is that the reader must lay hold with his own thinking activity page by page, that the book itself is only a sort of musical score, and that one must read this score through inner thinking activity in order to progress continually out of his own resources from thought to thought. Who does not sense that he was in a manner been lifted above his ordinary way of thinking into a thinking free of the sense perceptible and that he moves altogether in this so that he feels that he has become ‘free’ in his thinking from the limitations of the corporeal nature, –such a person has not really read in the true sense of the word this Philosophy of Freedom.

The Philosophy of Freedom is a Path of Study

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.

“Back in the 1890’s when the book was published, people hadn’t the least idea what to do with it. It was as though Europeans had been given a book in Chinese, and couldn’t understand a thing it said.”

“Readers often stop reading the book soon after they begin it, for the simple reason they would like to read it as they do any other book.” 
“Other popular books are read on a chaise lounge letting thought pictures pass in review before one’s mind.”

“In The Philosophy of Freedom, readers have to keep shaking themselves to avoid being put to sleep by the thoughts they encounter. One has to try with all of one’s human strength to activate one’s inner being, to bring one’s whole thinking into motion.”

“The least honest, are those who read The Philosophy of Freedom as they would any other book, and then flatter themselves that they have really taken in the thoughts it contains. They’ve kept on reading strings of words without anything coming out of it that might be likened to the striking of steel on flint.”

Now what kind of reader approach did The Philosophy of Freedom count on? It had to assume a special way of reading. It expected the reader, as they read, to undergo the sort of inner experience that, in an external sense, is really like waking up out of sleep in the morning.

“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.”

The reading of the Philosophy of Freedom should not be a mere reading, it should be an experiencing with inner shocks, tensions and resolutions.

The Philosophy of Freedom is a Path of Ethical Individualism

We hear calls for an improvement of public morality, but this overlooks the fact that moral action is a characteristic only of the free individual. Actions motivated by instincts, reflexes, dispositions, maxims, commandments, social and religious customs and even laws are not truly moral. A deed can only be described as moral in the truest sense when the individual has intuited the moral principle for the particular situation and brought into play the imagination needed to realize that principle in the deed.

Free moral action involves moral intuition, moral imagination, and moral technique.

Moral Intuition: The capacity to intuitively experience the particular moral principle for each single situation.

Moral Imagination: The ability of imagination to translate a general moral principle into a concrete mental picture of the action to be carried out.

Moral Technique: The ability to transform the world according to moral imaginations without violating the natural laws by which things are connected.
What I have outlined here is what Rudolf Steiner called ethical individualism.

The Philosophy of Freedom is a Path of Clairvoyance

When a man in the eighteenth century said, “Embolden yourself, O man, to make use of your powers of reason,” these were considered the words of a great enlightener. Today a still greater challenge must ring out, that is, “Embolden yourself, O man, to recognize your concepts and ideas as the first stage of clairvoyance! The reader of The Philosophy of Freedom should be able to say to oneself: “Now I know, through this effort of my mind in thinking, what pure thinking really is.” Then what I should like to call modern clairvoyance ceases to be anything miraculous. That this clairvoyance should still appear as something particularly miraculous comes from people not wishing to develop the energy to bring activity into their thinking.

The Philosophy of Freedom is a Path of Philosophy

The question of freedom cannot be settled by philosophical argument. Nor is it simply granted to us. If we want to be free, we must work through our own inner activity to overcome unconscious urges and habitual thinking. Today’s materialism seeks to reduce us to totally unfree creatures completely determined by heredity and other influences. The experience of pure thinking is the only possible way of refuting materialism and is attainable by anyone with the goodwill to undertake this path.

The Philosophy of Freedom is a Path of Anthroposophical Community

What appears as the common goal of a community is usually determined by the top down authority of a few leaders who are followed by the others.

The Philosophy of Freedom bases the independence of the human being upon the awakening of pure thinking as the origin of freedom and impulse to moral action.

How can we work together in freedom? Can pure thinking be applied to a group?

Taking life's ordinary concerns as a starting point, group discussion can rise to the level of pure conversation, or rather pure thinking as a group experience that results in group insight, real relationship between person and person, and a powerful impulse to joint activism.

Most of us are so habituated to what has always been done that we find it impossible to conceive of a leaderless society. In a true anthroposophical community, the leader –if there may be said to be one– are impulses to action arising out of pure conversation that is no longer determined by anything but pure spirit.

If we turn toward thinking in its essence, we find in it the power of love in the depths of its reality.

No leaders or external measures can bring about anthroposophical community building. It has to be called forth from the profoundest depths of each one’s consciousness.

"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!"

“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”

“Anthroposophy is independent of anthroposophical societies and can be found independently of them. It can be found in a special way when one human being learns to wake up in the encounter with another and out of such awakening the forming of communities occurs.”

The Philosophy of Freedom is a Path of Individual Initiative
 
Asked which of his books he would most want to see rescued if catastrophe should come upon the world, Rudolf Steiner replied without hesitation: "The Philosophy of Freedom."

Many ethical individualists today are applying their idealism in re-imagining our relationship to the environment and one another. They are actively forming civil society organizations to forward: ecological sustainability, economic justice, human rights protection, political accountability and peace. Using the tools of modern communication technology to organize –texting, cell phones, the internet– a bottom up rising of ethical individualists is taking place.

An awakened human spirit working collectively with others can change the world. The possibilities are extraordinary.

The Philosophy of Freedom is a Path of a New Social Order 

“If the ideas contained in my Philosophy of Freedom are to be further developed and applied to external social life, so that these truths may become clear to a larger circle of people, it will be necessary to build a superstructure of the truths of spiritual science on the foundation of that philosophy.”

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Andrei Pinta wrote: Have you thought about doing something like this http://www.huffingtonpost.com/otto-scharmer/mooc-40-the-next-revolu... with the Philosophy Of Freedom ? I know studying PoF implies a lot of thinking by your own, but maybe the student would have some homework (eg. reading the first 10 paragraphs of a chapter) and then disscuss it in a larger group (via skype or what other platform is there), in a thoughtfull manner (eg not monopolize the conversation). I'm sure you'd be a great teacher.

What I find significant in this learning community experiment is finding 28,000 willing participants. I haven't been able to find 6, the minimum for a "group" discussion. Otherwise its "revolution" is the discovery of the experience of group insight that can happen in group contemplation or Goethean conversation. They have also used technology to expand the size of the group. We already have the basic knowledge of how to have life changing individual insight and group insight, the difficulty is having a lab of committed participants to further develop the process. My ultimate goal is active POF study groups conveniently available to anyone interested, in-person or online.

Right now I am trying to produce videos that will present the basic ideas in the book, copying a model produced by the dark side at Prager University.

If you have an interest in forming a lab group to experiment with learning I could set that up. We could begin a study group and see if anyone else was interested.
Tom

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© Tom Last 2017