Chapter 1 Modules (old)

The Science Of Freedom Study Course
Text: "The Philosophy of Freedom" by Rudolf Steiner
Modules: Chapter 1, Conscious Human Action

Chapter 1 Learning Modules

Learning Objective
The objective of the 12 learning modules of chapter 1, Conscious Human Action, is to learn how to identify hidden motives (the law of conduct) in order to understand why you act. The aim of this chapter is to become master of your conduct by fully knowing why you act. When you become conscious of a hidden motive and fully understand it, it loses its power over you.

Known Action Modules
Module 1.0 Questioning Freedom
Module 1.1 Always A Reason
Module 1.2 Desire
Module 1.3 External Cause
Module 1.4 Character
Module 1.5 Conscious Motive
Module 1.6 Rational Necessity
Module 1.7 Strongest Motive
Module 1.8 Invisible Cause
Module 1.9 Unknown Origin Of Thought
Module 1.10 Compassion Aroused By Thought
Module 1.11 Idolized Love
Module 1.12 Perception-Picture Of Good Qualities

In today's world, we often observe troubling characteristics like declining personal responsibility, rising rates of depression and anxiety, diminished creativity, decreased ambition and motivation, and increasing levels of cynicism and pessimism. Numerous theories have been proposed to explain these concerning trends. However, one perspective that is often overlooked is the concept of 'illusory freedom' — the idea that many people live under the mistaken belief that their actions are entirely free when they are, in fact, significantly influenced or even controlled by natural urges or cultural conditioning. These unrecognized influences can result in the negative outcomes outlined above.

Rudolf Steiner, in Chapter 1, 'Conscious Human Action,' of his work The Philosophy Of Freedom, contends that anyone 'with any depth of character' will inevitably question their freedom. In the Preface to the same work, he writes:

"And one may well feel that if the soul has not at some time found itself faced in utmost seriousness by the problem of free will or necessity it will not have reached its full stature."

If our actions are driven by unconscious motives, we might mistakenly believe we are acting freely, when, in fact, we are propelled by forces unknown to us. According to Steiner, genuine freedom occurs only when we fully understand our motives and they become transparent to us. This awareness and self-understanding empower us to act consciously and purposefully, rather than being driven by hidden impulses. When we are truly free, we embrace personal responsibility rather than shirking it, as we recognize that our choices and actions are our own, not the result of external forces. This realization fosters creativity and ambition, as we understand that we are not bound by our past or present circumstances but are free to envision and create our desired future.

Genuine freedom can also provide an antidote to depression, anxiety, cynicism, and pessimism. When we recognize that we have the power to shape our lives and are not merely at the mercy of external forces, we can cultivate a more optimistic and hopeful outlook, finding joy in our agency and the possibilities it presents. Instead of feeling oppressed, we can find liberation in understanding and choosing our path. Consequently, genuine freedom can be seen as a route to personal fulfillment, mental well-being, and a more engaged, proactive stance towards life.

Therefore, for anyone experiencing the negative influences mentioned above, it may be beneficial to sincerely pose and reflect upon the opening question of The Philosophy Of Freedom: "Is a human being free in thought and action, or compelled by the unyielding necessity of natural law?" Such contemplation could be the first step towards understanding, and potentially ameliorating, these widespread societal issues.

Known Action
"Obviously, an action cannot be free if the doer carries it out without knowing why. But what are we to say of the freedom of an action when the reasons are known?" TPOF 1.9

Rudolf Steiner's concept of freedom as the ability to act according to one's internal laws and understanding is deeply connected to the "Known Action" theme of Chapter 1. "Known Action" refers to the conscious awareness and understanding of the motives, or reason, for acting. A "Known Action" is one where we fully grasp the reason behind the act. Chapter 1 discusses 12 possible motives for action. A discussion of possible motives will assist us in identifying the motives that are driving our life.

Many of our actions are performed under the illusion of freedom. Chapter 1 declares that anyone "with any depth of character" will question their freedom. And we find this in the Preface to The Philosophy of Freedom:

"And one may well feel that if the soul has not at some time found itself faced in utmost seriousness by the problem of free will or necessity it will not have reached its full stature."

If our actions are dictated by unconscious motives, we might believe we are acting freely, while in reality, we are driven by forces unknown to us. Only when we fully understand our motives and they become transparent to us, do we truly act freely. Unconscious motives, on the other hand, can compel us much like the impulses of nature do, without us being aware of them.

We question our freedom by reflecting on a recent action to discover the motive. Why did we act? What is the origin of the motive? The Determinants Of Action checklist contains a list of possible motives for action. For each of the 12 possible motives there is a module for an in-depth investigation into why we act. By reflecting on a recent action, and using the Determinants of Action checklist, we can identify and examine the reason for an action to assess its freedom.