page contents


All Posts (196)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Read more…

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

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

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

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

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

Read more…

Difficulties in thinking the POF

I am a lazy nature,

I have to pull myself like I'm pulling a huge rock to start thinking the thoughts R. Steiner wrote in his POF

A certain pain-sensation appears

As if something in me says "Not again! Not that! Not that alone activity!"

But then I already know because I already experienced the thinking outside of the physical brain

That clarity, that clear self awareness that I'm weaving thoughts, I, for that I'm coming again.

I warm up with simple concepts like "Freedom". I dig up my memory, my human organization, for traces of what this concept means to me. Like in adolescence, freedom meant being able to go wherever you want, drink alcohol, make love and so on. But than, I try to update the concept to what it really is.

What are your difficulties in thinking the Pof?

Read more…

Reasoning Is More Intuitive than We Think

Is reasoning really different from intuition?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more…

moral maxim

Can someone give me examples of moral maxims?

I'm trying to understand this paragraph:

"While I am performing the action I am influenced by a moral maxim in so far as it can live in me intuitively; it is bound up with my love  for the objective that I want to realize through my action."


Read more…

Was Rudolf Steiner An Anarchist?

This is from an 1898 letter from Rudolf Steiner to John Henry Mackay

Individualist Anarchism
Hitherto I have always avoided using even the term “individualist anarchism” or “theoretical anarchism” for my world view. For I put very little stock in such designations. If one speaks one’s views clearly and positively in one’s writings: what is then the need of also designating these views with a convenient word? After all, everyone connects quite definite traditional notions with such a word, which reproduce only imprecisely what the particular personality has to say. I utter my thoughts; I characterize my goals. I myself have no need to name my way of thinking with a customary word.

If, however, I were to say, in the sense in which such things can be decided, whether the term “individualist anarchist” is applicable to me, I would have to answer with an unconditional “Yes.”

The state believes people can only get along if one tells them: you must be like this. And if you are not like that, then you’ll just have to — be like that anyway. The individualist anarchist, on the other hand, holds that the best situation would result if one would give people free way. He has the trust that they would find their direction themselves. Naturally he does not believe that the day after tomorrow there would be no more pickpockets if one would abolish the state tomorrow. But he knows that one cannot by authority and force educate people to freeness. He knows this one thing: one clears the way for the most independent people by doing away with all force and authority.

Read more…

This is an original poem by Vivian Rose expressing "Moral Imagination", a term from Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of FreedomIt is the use of imagination to translate a general moral principle into a specific goal to be carried out. Free spirits need moral imagination to realize their ideals and make them effective!

Make My Own Way

How you attempt to corner me, you relentlessly passionate sea!
Threatening to lose balance, my little boat
Holds me casually – caring not if I live or drown.
My ineffective dips with this old splintered paddle
create futile whirls that steer and stay no recognizable course.
Maddening helplessness!
Directionless wandering!

Retreating into unconscious fantasy could well numb my tumultuous reality –
Pique my overwhelming interest in rest and gain –
No! I will not, I cannot, be fattened on the bones of desire.

The greater choice, I am compelled to make –
The truer action I am born to take:
To strive, to steer, to stay awake.

From an inward impression a resounding resolve becomes:
I make my own way
… And I do it for you.

Vivian Rose

Read more…

Pure Thinking In Everyday Life?

Normally pure thinking is recognized in fields such as mathematics and philosophy. Michael Muschalle makes the point in his "Goethe, Kant and Intuitive Thinking in Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Spiritual Activity" that we use pure thinking in every single act of knowledge on a daily basis. Pure thinking is thinking in universal concepts. So the concept "door" that does not refer to a specific door but to all doors in a universal concept.

I examined a recent experience in thinking wondering how I had arrived at a practical idea. I entered a room and a child was seated at a table with crayons who had started a crayon drawing, but the child's attention was being diverted to a pile of small plastic eyes used for gluing onto craft projects. I felt a discomfort as I wanted the child to continue with the art project and not have their attention split between two things.

My attention focused on the drawing and the pile of eyes next to it. My thinking had in mind the pure concept "drawing" next to the pure concept "eyes". Thinking intuition then discovered a relationship between the two, a common element between them which was the pure concept "animal". Animal relates to the drawing because you can draw an animal. Animal relates to eyes because an animal has eyes. This universal link found on the level of pure concepts was particularized in the concrete imagination-picture of drawing an animal and then using glue to attach the plastic eyes to the drawn animal. In this way the child could combine the two separate activities into one craft project.

After making this suggestion a person in the room said, "What a good idea!" By learning about how we get ideas through the study of The Philosophy Of Freedom and observing our thought processes we can experience more useful practical ideas in our everyday life. The ideas may not be that profound but they can improve a day.

Read more…

Ethical individualism represents Rudolf Steiner's conception on human freedom. It follows that in Steiner action is free when the action coincides with the motive for that action. This means that action is free when its cause (the motivation which determines such action) is the same as its purpose (the representation of the idea that justifies the action). So, human behavior is free when, not being motivated by other causes, the person behaves by practically applying the idea which justifies that action in his/her own awareness. So, when the human follows his/her own ideas, and applies them, he/she is being free. He also affirms that:

“While I am performing the action I am influenced by a moral maxim in so far as it can live in me intuitively; it is bound up with my love for the objective that I want to realize through my action. I ask no man and no rule, ‘Shall I perform this action?’ — but carry it out as soon as I have grasped the idea of it. […] I have found in myself the ground for my action, namely, my love of the action. I do not work out mentally whether my action is good or bad; I carry it out because I love it. […] Again, I do not ask myself, ‘How would another man act in my position?’ — but I act as I, this particular individuality, find I have occasion to do. […] I feel no compulsion, neither the compulsion of nature which guides me by my instincts, nor the compulsion of the moral commandments, but I want simply to carry out what lies within me.”

Action is performed for the love of one’s own moral maxim, for the moral pleasure of applying such moral maxim, which the individual loves it because it is his/her own idea. Love for one’s own ideas is the affective motivation and intellectual reason; this means to recognize that it is legitimate to behave out of love for applying one’s own ideas, and this way of behaving is the free action. 

It follows that in Steiner, applying one’s own ideas for the sake of applying them, is what defines free action. Free action is performed gratuitously, i.e. it does not expect anything in exchange for performing it, besides satisfying love for applying one’s own ideas. Free action is not anarchical, it is not random, but it is the application of one’s own ideas. Love for behaving in conformity with these ideas is the cause that pushes to their application. The human that performs his/her own moral maxims, because he/she loves the action which is determined by these ideas, he/she is considered free by Rudolf Steiner.
Tudor Georgescu

Read more…

Not My Will, But Thy Will Be Done - Really?

Not My Will, But Thy Will Be Done?

Throughout the religious world, including anthroposophy, you hear the words, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” The religious leaders encourage us to submit our own will to obey a higher authority. Many people accept this as sensible considering we all make many bad decisions and the general desire to avoid taking responsibility for choices. After having difficulty reaching the “Divine will”, most then look to some wise human to bestow the Divine wisdom upon them.

POF 10.0 Eventually the conviction dawns on you that your authorities are, at bottom, human beings just as weak as yourself.

Of course the key factor is the “thy will” that should guide us, who or what is it? Anthroposophy will explain it with lofty spiritual theory that will confuse you until you fall back to your innocent childhood faith in higher authority or you won't bother trying to understand it but just accept that it confirms your childhood faith.

How can we mature enough to make our own decisions and take full responsibility for our choices? This begins with clear thinking so we can do our best to act out of our own highest knowing, which is our own highest authority.

The Philosophy Of Freedom has no need for the comfort food of religion, but just describes what it is to be a fully mature human being. Beginning with our particular life situation, we can discover the universal principles at work in it, and then reach our thinking and feeling into the realm of universal ideas to reflect. At this level intuitive insight works better. Its not about obeying “voices” as the lunatic, or gut feelings originating in pizza, but comprehending our insights. These new ideas become ideals when it motivates our action. We take what we have learned in our unbiased refection and imaginatively translate these ideals into specific action.

Because they are "our" insights we will be empowered. If we follow the ideas of another authority (Divine or human) we will lack power and will have to continually fall limply to our knees whining for help. 

When you are ready to remove the extra fluff, you find everything right here, as a responsible human being, what The Philosophy Of Freedom calls an ethical individualist. That's just my opinion.

POF 10.8 The moral laws which the Metaphysician is bound to regard as issuing from a higher power have, according to the upholder of Monism, been conceived by men themselves.

Read more…

Steiner's life before his mid-thirties had been a life of the intellect. This was the boy who had surreptitiously read Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) during high school history lessons. Large sections of Steiner's autobiography consist of detailed accounts of his subsequent philosophical reading and thinking.

In 1896 Rudolf Steiner turned his attention to the physical world. He would intentionally focus on his direct perceptions of the present moment. Likewise, he began trying to observe other people exactly as they actually were--in other words, observing without judging.

Over the course of that year, these practices transformed Steiner's way of being with people. He had previously been aloof, intellectually combative, and unable to listen to someone without wanting to argue with them. But now he found it easy, even natural, to be with people just as they were, observing, noting, and learning.

The observational skills thus developed proved useful in his own inner development. He would take quiet moments to observe and reflect on himself with this same objectivity.

Yet disinterested observation proved to be only a first step. In an unexpected turn, Steiner discovered that he now wanted to become more involved in the world. For the first time, he became one passionately engaged in life. His method of tranquil self-observation and contemplation he called his "meditation." Steiner learned clearly to distinguish between his intellectual activity and the underlying perceptions and feelings. While this "meditation" began as an activity he valued on purely intellectual grounds, he soon noted that "meditation became an absolute necessity for my inner life." -Derek Cameron

Read more…

How an action is born?

(Chapter Nine - The Idea of Freedom)

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

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

2.Motive (or the temporary determinant of will)

3.Characterological disposition

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Read more…

thinking is living in spiritual content

Intuition, says R.S, is living in spiritual content and is what defines thinking. If you come to accept this, says R.S, you come to realize that the human organization (I read this as: the human brain) doesn't influence thinking, contrary to the common sense opinion. For example in the contemporary philosophy of mind, the reductionist would give this kind of explanations to sensations: the sensation of pain is the excitation of the c-fibers from the brain - and I suppose they had a similar conception on what thinking is.

Steiner says that thinking takes as a point of start the human organization, but then it makes it stop what it does and is occupying its space. Is maybe hard to imagine what  is happening in the head when you think. But when I think most intensely sometimes I feel as I'm above my head and there's this flow of energy pouring in to me from above, and sometimes I start even to hear some non physical sounds that sound more like a wind blowing through a hole. The usual counter-image of thinking (as R.S calls it and which he describes as lifeless) stops its activity and makes place for real thinking! 

Another phenomenological observation that I made is that when I read the  brain is making thinking (the common opinion) something in me was quite satisfied with that thought. And most of my life, my double was very satisfied with the materialism-conception. I do wonder why :)

Read more…

The Crossroads Film

I found the transcript for the Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview. It is located here. The video calls for a new worldview to solve the many world problems. I want to examine their solution and relate it to the solution presented in the Philosophy Of Freedom. The film maker wants to start a conversation and is even suggesting remixing of this video to produce your own video.

Read more…