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TRUTH AND SCIENCE by Rudolf Steiner vii Practical Conclusion

January 31, 2022


"The complete plan of my book (The Philosophy Of Freedom) can be found in the last chapter of my doctoral dissertation, Truth and Science." Rudolf Steiner, Brief Reflections on the Publication of the New Edition of 'The Philosophy of Freedom'

Truth and Science

Practical Conclusion

The aim of the preceding discussion has been to throw light on the relationship between our cognizing personality and the objective world. What does the possession of knowledge and science mean for us? This was the question to which we sought the answer.

Knowing The Laws Of The World
Our discussion has shown that the innermost core of the world is manifestly revealed in our knowing. The harmony of laws ruling throughout the universe reveals itself precisely in human cognition.

It is part of man's task to reveal the fundamental laws of the universe that regulate all existence. These laws would never appear in the realm of reality in themselves. The very nature of knowledge is that the world-foundation manifests itself in it. This foundation is not found in the object-world. Knowing is — metaphorically speaking — a continual merging of one's life into the world’s foundation.

The Laws Of Conduct
This view also throws light on our understanding of practical life.

The whole character of our conduct in life is determined by our moral ideals. These are the ideas we have of our tasks in life, in other words, the objectives we set our selves to achieve by our action.

Our conduct is part of the total world-process. It is therefore also subject to the universal laws that regulates this process.

Whenever something takes place in the universe, two things must be distinguished: the external course the event follows in space and time, and the inner law ruling it.

Knowing The Laws Of Conduct
To recognize the ruling law in the field of human conduct is simply a special case of cognition. This means the conclusions arrived at concerning the nature of knowledge must apply to this field of knowledge also. To know oneself as a person who acts means to possess, as knowledge, the laws of conduct — the moral concepts and ideals — that correspond to the deeds. If we recognize these laws as our own, then our deeds are also our own creations. In such cases the laws are not something given, that is, they are not outside the object in which the activity appears. The laws are the content of the object itself, that is engaged in living activity. The “object” in this case is our own Ego.

Master Of Conduct
If the Ego has really penetrated its deed with full insight, then it feels itself to be master of its conduct. As long as this is not the case, the laws ruling the deed confront us as something external. They rule us; what we do is done under the compulsion they exert over us. But this compulsion ceases, as soon as their alien character has been transformed into our own Ego's activity and the deed completely originates within our own Ego. Thereafter, the law no longer rules over us, but rules in us over the deed issuing from our Ego.

To carry out a deed in obedience to a law external to the person who acts, is to be unfree. To carry out a deed in obedience to the person’s own law, is to be free. Thus, the process of cognition is the process for the development of freedom.

Not all of our conduct has this character. There are many cases in which we do not know the laws of our conduct. This part of our conduct is the unfree part of our activity. In contrast, there is the other part where the laws are completely our own. This is the realm of freedom. Only insofar as one is able to live in this realm, can he be called moral.

To transform the unfree realm into the realm of free activity is the task of self-development for every individual, as well as the task of humanity as a whole.

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Study Group 1&2 January Discussion Topics

The Philosophy Of Freedom
by Rudolf Steiner


December 27, 2021

0.0 Cultivation Of Individuality
[1] I believe I am right in pointing out one of the fundamental characteristics of our age when I say that, at the present day, all human interests tend to center in the cultivation of individuality.
Shake Off Authority
An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority.
Individual Validation
Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality.
Everything that hinders the individual from fully developing his powers is thrust aside.
Leaderless Striving
The saying “Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Mount Olympus” no longer holds true for us.
Select Own Ideals
We allow no ideals to be forced upon us.
Inner Worthiness Of Each
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.
We no longer believe there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform.
Unique Perfection Of Each
We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual.
Unique Individual Contribution
We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something that, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer.
Free Creative Expression
Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each one asserts the right to express in the creations of his art what is unique in him, just as there are playwrights who write in dialect rather than conform to the standard diction grammar demands
Striving For Freedom
[2] No better expression for these phenomena can be found than this, they result from the individual’s striving for freedom, developed to its highest pitch.
We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.

January 3, 2022

As a kind of motto to The Philosophy of Freedom I wrote in the original preface: "Only truth can give us assurance in developing our individual powers. Whoever is tormented by doubts finds his powers weakened. If baffled by a world full of riddles he can not find an aim for his creative activity." "This book does not claim to offer the only possible way to truth, but is meant to describe the path taken by one for whom truth is central." (Rudolf Steiner, 1918 Reflections on the Publication of the New Edition of The Philosophy of Freedom)

0.1 Path Of Inner Truth
[3] Truth, too, will be sought in our age only in the depths of human nature. Of the following two well-known paths described by Schiller, it is the second that will today be found most useful:

We both seek truth; you in outer life, I in the heart within.
Each of us are sure to find it.
The healthy eye can track the Creator in the outer world;
The healthy heart mirrors the world within.

Truth that comes to us from the outside always brings with it uncertainty. We are only convinced by what appears to each of us inwardly as truth.

0.2 Empowered By Truth
[4] Only truth can give us assurance in developing our individual powers. Whoever is tormented by doubts finds his powers weakened. If baffled by a world full of riddles he can find no goal for his creative activity.

0.3 Inner Knowing
[5] We no longer want to believe; we want to know. Belief demands the acceptance of truths without having the insight to wholly comprehend. What is not clearly understood goes against our individuality that wants to experience everything in the depths of its inner core. The only knowing that satisfies us is the kind that submits to no external norm, but springs from the inner life of the personality.

0.4 Advance In Knowledge
[6] Nor do we want the kind of knowledge that has been encased in rigid academic rules, and stored away as valid for all time. Each of us claims the right to start from the facts we know, from our own direct experience, and from there advance to knowledge of the whole universe. We strive for certainty in knowledge, but each in his own way.

0.5 Recognition Of Truth
[7] Nor should the teachings of science be presented in a way to imply that its acceptance is compulsory. None of us would give a scientific work a title like Fichte once did: “A Crystal Clear Report to the General Public on the Actual Nature of the Latest Philosophy, An Attempt to Compel the Reader to Understand.” Today, no one should be compelled to understand. We expect neither recognition or agreement from anyone unless through his own insight he recognizes the truth of what is proposed. We do not want to cram facts of knowledge into an immature person, or even a child. We try to develop the child's capacities in such a way that his understanding arises from within and compulsion becomes unnecessary.

January 10, 2022

0.6 Apply Freedom Principles
[8] I have no illusions as to the characteristics of the present time. I know how much a stereotypical attitude, lacking all individuality, is prevalent everywhere. Many flaunt a way of life that follows only the current cultural trends. But I also know that many of my contemporaries strive to conduct their lives in the direction of the principles I have suggested. To them I dedicate this book. It does not claim to offer the 'only possible' way to truth, but is meant to describe the path taken by one for whom truth is central.

0.7 Practice Pure Thinking
[9] At first the reader is lead into abstract regions, where thought must draw sharp outlines to reach clearly defined positions. But the reader is also led from arid concepts into concrete life. I am fully convinced that to experience life in all its aspects, one must soar into the realm of concepts. Whoever is limited to the pleasures of the senses misses the sweetest joys of life.

The oriental sage requires his disciples to live a life of resignation and asceticism for years before he shares with them his knowledge. The West no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic practices to attain knowledge. It does require, however, a sincere willingness to prepare for science by withdrawing oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life, and enter the realm of pure thought.

January 17, 2022

0.8 Principles Serve Life
[10] There are many regions of life. A specific field of science develops for each one. But life itself is a unity, and the more the sciences immerse themselves in separate fields, the more they move away from seeing the world as a living whole. It is essential to have a supreme science that seeks in the separate sciences the principles for leading man back to the fullness of life. The aim of the scientific specialist's research is to become aware of the world and gain insight into how it works. The aim of this book is philosophical: science itself is to become a living whole. The various branches of science are preparatory stages on the way to the all-inclusive science intended here.

A similar relationship governs the arts. A composer works on the basis of the theory of composition. This theory is an accumulation of principles of what one needs to know in order to compose music. In composing, the rules of theory serve life, that is, theory serves actual reality.

In the same way philosophy is an art. All genuine philosophers have been artists in the conceptual realm. For them human Ideas become their artistic material and the scientific method their artistic technique. Abstract thinking takes on an individual life of its own. Ideas become powerful forces in life. We no longer  merely know about things, but have made knowing into a real self-governing organism, ruled by its own laws. Our actual working consciousness has lifted itself above a mere passive reception of truths.

January 24, 2022

0.9 Science Of Freedom
[11] The main theme of my book concerns these questions: How philosophy, as an art, relates to freedom; what freedom is; and whether we do, or can, participate in it. Scientific explanations are included because in the end they provide clarification about those questions that are, in my opinion, most important to people. These pages offer a 'Philosophy of Freedom.'

0.10 All-Around Human Development
[12] All science would be nothing but the satisfaction of idle curiosity if it did not raise the value of existence for the human personality. The true value of the sciences is seen only when we are shown the importance of their results for humanity. The ultimate aim of the individuality cannot be the cultivation of only a single capacity. Rather, it must be the development of all the potential that slumbers within us. Knowledge has value only by contributing to the all-around development of the whole of human nature.

0.11 Ideas Serve Human Goals
[13] This book does not regard the relationship of science to life in such a way that the human being must bow down before the world of Ideas and devote his powers to its service. On the contrary, it shows that he should take possession of the world of Ideas to use them for his human goals. These extend beyond those of mere science.

0.12 Master Of Ideas
[14] One must confront an Idea as master, or else become its slave.

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