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The Philosophy Of Freedom Study Guide

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  THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM STUDY GUIDE

THE STUDY GUIDE WITH PAGE DESCRIPTIONS
This is a link to the Study Guide with page descriptions added.

  AUTHOR

THE CREED OF RUDOLF STEINER
WHO WAS RUDOLF STEINER?
SCHOLAR
ANARCHIST
HUMANIST
PUBLISHER Magazin für Literatur

  INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS FREEDOM?
1895 REVIEWS OF TPOF
RUDOLF STEINER'S PATH
BOOK INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER SUMMARY
PRINCIPLES

  THOUGHT-STRUCTURE

12 WORLD VIEWS
TOPIC HEADINGS EXPLAINED

  READING

THE MISSING CHAPTER
WHY READ THE UNREVISED PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM?
HOERNLE EDITION
ILLUSTRATED EDITION
NEW READABLE EDITION
ALL TRANSLATIONS

  STUDY

HOW TO STUDY
PROJECT BASED STUDY
START A STUDY GROUP
GROUP CONVERSATION
FREE COMMUNITIES

  SELF-STUDY COURSE

ASK RUDOLF STEINER
COMPARATIVE STUDY
12 VIEWS STUDY
BRIAN GRAY LECTURES
COMIC BOOKS
LET'S PLAY JEOPARDY!

  INTROSPECTION

OBSERVATION OF THOUGHT EXERCISES

  ETHICS

THE HUMAN IDEAL
ETHICAL INDIVIDUALISM
ETHICAL ACTIVISM

  SOCIAL AND POLITICAL

SOCIETY AND POLITICS
CENSORSHIP
COGNITIVE RIGHTS

  VIDEOS

VIDEO PLAYER
SUBSCRIBE TO YOUTUBE FOR NEW VIDEOS

  REFERENCE

DOWNLOAD THE FOUR BASIC BOOKS
BASIC BOOKS REFERENCE QUOTES
LEXICON
RELATED ARTICLES

  CONTACT

CONTACT TOM

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translations

THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM

Thank you publishers and translators
I would like to thank all the publishers and translators who have made Rudolf Steiner's "The Philosophy Of Freedom" available to the world. Each translation adds a slightly different perspective of the book allowing the reader to check other translations for help to understand a particular passage.

Note: There are two editions of The Philosophy Of Freedom. The original edition written by Steiner in 1894 and translated to English in 1916 by Prof. and Mrs. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé and the revised edition of 1918. All the available translations, other than the 1916 Hoernlé, are not of the original edition, but rather of the 1918 revised edition.

10 English Translations Of Rudolf Steiner's "The Philosophy Of Freedom"

Translation Summary: The first English translation of The Philosophy Of Freedom was published in 1916 by Hoernle, who was a respected philosophy scholar of that time. This is the only edition sanctioned by Rudolf Steiner himself. After Steiner’s passing, a once head of the Anthroposophical Society, the Hermann Poppelbaum was published, a copy of the Hoernle, except for revising some key terms “from the strictly Steiner point of view”. Poppelbaum’s 1939 translation replaces Hoernle’s clearer philosophy terms with vague spiritual terms like changing “mind” to the vague term “spirit”. This vagueness makes it very difficult to do the inner observations described in the book. All the following translations were heavily influenced by the insertion of Poppelbaum’s “Steinerism”. Steinerism refers to the rigid, traditional beliefs and opinions held by the long time followers of Steiner.

The next 2 translations, the 1963 Stebbing and the 1964 Wilson, are based on Poppelbaum's revised Hoernle. They make minor word selection changes but without really advancing the understanding. Then in 1986 Lindeman produces the ultimate literal translation of the German. It is hard to read but gives insight into the original German. This is followed by the most liberal translation, the more readable 1988 Stebbing. But a few years later in 1992, Stebbing backtracks by removing the liberal parts and replaces them with more traditional wording in a new translation. It has been difficult to make progress through the many English translations of The Philosophy Of Freedom because when a translator produces a more readable line, it is "corrected" by reverting back to the literal rigid style that mirrors the awkward German.

Referring to the 1986 Lindeman, in 1995 Lipson’s translation, sold in bookstores today titled Intuitive Thinking As A Spiritual Path, mainly tries to be different by rephrasing and selecting alternate words to use. He also removes gender bias by always using collective terms like “we” and “us”. This seems awkward in a book about individualism. It often has more readable sentences, but by trying to always be “different” the alternative words selected by Lipson are not always the best words, they are the seconfd choice. A remarkable translation is the 2011 Graham Rickett. It is buried in another book and has only been half completed. While it is usually not much more readable than the others, it is very good in taking on the difficult sentences in the book. Rickett thinks before he translates, and makes sense of difficult parts others just copy from previous editions.

The new revised translation currently being written is based on the original Hoernle without the later insertion of Steinerism theosophy. But it also includes all of the progress made by a century of translations.

1894 Steiner Die Philosophie der Freiheit. Grundzuege einer modernen Weltanschauung. Seelische Beobachtungsrelultate nach naturwissenschaftlicher Methode, by Rudolf Steiner, German language editions: 1894, ISBN 3-7274-0040-4,
1916 Hoernle 1st English edition, The Philosophy of Freedom, G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, 1916, translated from the original German edition of 1894 by Mr. and Mrs. R. F. A. Hoernle
1918 Steiner Revised, Rudolf Steiner revises and makes additions to the original Die Philosophie der Freiheit, German language editions: 1918, 1921, 1929, 1936, 1936, 1940, 1947, 1949, 1949, 1955, 1962, 1973, 1978, 1995 ISBN 3-7274-0040-4,
1922 Hoernle 2nd English edition, revised to include Steiner's changes and additions made in the revised second German edition of 1918, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, 1922, 382 pp., translated by Prof. and Mrs. R. F. A. Hoernle, 1932 edition
1939 Poppelbaum 4th edition revisions made  by Dr. H. Poppelbaum to the Hoernle translation of the revised German edition of 1918, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, and Anthroposophic Press, New York, 1939, 260 pp., 1940 5th edition, 1949 6th edition
1963 Stebbing The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, Rudolf Steiner Publications, West Nyack, New York, 1963, 1980, 285 pp., translated from the revised German edition of 1918 by Rita Stebbing. This edition is bound together with Truth and Science.
1964 Wilson The Philosophy of Freedom, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1964, 1970, 1972, 1979, 230 pp., translated from the 12th German edition of 1962 by Michael Wilson
1986 Lindemann The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, Anthroposophic Press, Spring Valley, N. Y., 1986, translated from the revised German edition of 1918 by William Lindemann ISBN 0-88010-157-1, Cloth ISBN 0-88010-156-3, Paper
1988 Stebbing The Philosophy of Freedom: A Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1988, translated from the revised German edition of 1918 by Rita Stebbing ISBN 0-85440-736-7, Cloth ISBN 0-85440-746-4, Paper ISBN 0-85584-000-6, Cloth
1992 Stebbing The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity: A Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1992, translated from the revised German edition of 1918 by Rita Stebbing ISBN 0-85440-736-7, Cloth ISBN 0-85440-746-4, Paper ISBN 0-85584-000-6, Cloth
1995 Lipson Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path, A Philosophy of Freedom, Anthroposophic Press, Hudson NY, 1995,translated from the revised German edition of 1918 by M. Lipson ISBN 0-88010-385-X, Paper
2011 Rickett The Philosophy Of Freedom translated by Graham B. Rickett, (part 1 done).
Rickett's English translation of The Philosophy Of Freedom is found within his translation of G. A. Bondarev's book: Rudolf Steiner's 'Philosophie der Freiheit' as the Foundation of the Logic of Beholding Thinking. Religion of the Thinking Will. Organon of the New Cultural Epoch. (vol 1 & 2 of 3 done)

Note on the English Translations
Two 1895 Philosophy Of Freedom Book Reviews

Reference Material
Text with Reference Material
1883 Goethean Science  Online  PDF  GA1-EPUB  GA1-MOBI
1886 Science of Knowing  Online   PDF  GA2-EPUB  GA2-MOBI
1892 Truth and Science   Online   PDF  GA3-EPUB   GA3-MOBI

The Philosophy Of Freedom in other languages:

Η ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΙΑ ΤΗΣ ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑΣ
Greek  Online  PDF

La Filosofía de La Libertad
Spanish Online  PDF

Философия свободы
Russian Online

A szabadság filozófiája
Hungarian Online

La Filosofia Della Liberta'
Italian  PDF Part 1   PDF Part 2


SCIENCE OF FREEDOM


1894
Die Philosophie der Freiheit by Rudolf Steiner
PDF-1  PDF-2  PDF

The Die Philosophie der Freiheit was written 20 years before the founding of the Anthroposophical Society. In 1918 Steiner declared, "The purpose of The Philosophy Of Freedom is to lay the foundations of ethical individualism and of a social and political life."

“this book occupies a position completely independent of my writings on actual spiritual scientific matters... What I have said in this book may be acceptable even to some who, for reasons of their own, refuse to have anything to do with the results of my researches into the spiritual realm.”  Rudolf Steiner, The Philosophy of Freedom, 1918 Preface to the Revised Edition

Translations Based On Original Edition (1894) of the Philosophy Of Freedom


1916
The Philosophy Of  Freedom translated by Prof. and Mrs. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé.
Online   PDF  PDF (with topic headings)  Mobi   EPUB  Purchase

Illustrated Edition
Online   PDF   Mobi   EPUB

Main Reference: 1894 German Die Philosophie der Freiheit
This first English translation of Rudolf Steiner's Die Philosophie der Freiheit is distinct in that it is the only translation actually sanctioned by Rudolf Steiner himself. The joint translators, Prof. and Mrs. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé, were selected for their outstanding qualifications.

“their thorough knowledge of philosophy and their complete command of the German and English languages enabling them to overcome the difficulty of finding adequate English equivalents for the terms of German Philosophy.” H. Collison, 1916 Editor’s Note, The Philosophy of Freedom

This 1916 Hoernlé translation is based on the original, unrevised German Die Philosophie der Freiheit published in 1894. The other translations, available up to now, are not based on the original Die Philosophie der Freiheit, instead they are based on the 1918 revised edition. Hoernle incorporated the revisions into his 1922 edition.

I have found no evidence in his translation or in his life that Hoernlé had any interest in theosophy or in Steiner's later anthrposophy. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé was trained in philosophy at Oxford and taught it at Harvard. He was familiar with the philosophical issues of Steiner's day. A review of Hoernlé's book Studies in Contemporary Metaphysics (1920) said he had a flexible and assimilative mind and:

“He has had quite exceptional opportunities for seeing contemporary philosophies in the making and for understanding, from personal experience, how far a set of philosophical opinions can bear transplanting from one country to another... a very staunch believer in the truth of the philosophical tradition.” 1921 Oxford University Press

Strength: Translation true to Steiner's original intention using the language of philosophy and science.



NEW 2016 Centennial Edition
          ---work in progress---

New Edition Page

Reference: 1922 Hoernlé English translation and all previous translations.
2016 will mark 100 years since the original unrevised edition of The Philosophy Of Freedom first appeared in the English language (1916 Hoernlé translation). Over the years the translations have drifted away from Steiner's original impulse from a philosophy of life to a supposed basis for research into spiritual worlds. It is time to restore it and publish a new improved edition based on the original intention:"to lay the foundations of ethical individualism and of a social and political life".

This is a philosophyoffreedom.com online project that intends to improve the readability of The Philosophy Of Freedom with a new revised edition of the 1922 Hoernle English edition.

Strength: Restoration of original mood and intention. Improve readability.

THEOSOPHY INFLUENCE BEGINS


1918 REVISIONS
Die Philosophie der Freiheit (Revised Edition) by Rudolf Steiner

1894 German (original edition)  online  PDF
1918 German (revised edition)  online  PDF
Hornle's later 1922 English trans. contains the major 1918 additions and revisions. But many small revisions that appear in the published German 1918 edition are missing, which creates a mystery. How is this possible? Hoernle would have had the 1918 revised German edition. Was this so-called 1918 German edition revised after 1918? These additional small revisions first appear in English in the 1939 Poppelbaum. The additional revisions are spiritualistic and change the meaning significantly.   
1962 German (revised edition)  online
1995 German (revised edition)  online

 

Translations Based On Revised Edition (1918) of the Philosophy Of Freedom


1922
The Philosophy Of Freedom (The Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity) translated by Prof. and Mrs. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé
Online  PDF-1 (in settings select "plain text" to copy)
 PDF-2

Main Reference: 1916 Hoernlé translation.
Hoernlé revised his earlier edition to incorporate the new Steiner additions and revisions. 


1923
The Philosophy Of Freedom (The Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity) translated by George Metaxa

There is no Metaxa translation of The Philosophy Of Freedom. There is a PDF online that claims to be such, but it is really the 1963 Rita Stebbing translation. The Index page of the mis-titled PDF is pictured here.

In 1918 George Metaxa was well known in Dornach where he fully participated in the life of the Anthroposophical Society as a eurythmy composer, contributor and leader. In 1923 he worked on the reorganization of the Society and raising funds for the rebuilding of the Goetheanum.


1939
The Philosophy Of Freedom (The Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity) translated by Hermann Poppelbaum 

Online   PDF

Main Reference: 1922 Hoernle
The influence of theosophy continued in 1939 with revisions made to the Hoernlé translation by theosophist/ anthroposophist Hermann Poppelbaum, one time Director of the Anthroposophical Society. While recognizing the excellence of the Hoernlé translation, Poppelbaum's aim was to correct it according to the Society’s developing institutionalization on Steiner thought. Poppelbaum's objective was to,   

“check certain words and phrases from the strictly Steiner point of view." 1939 The Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity, Editor's Preface to the Fourth Edition

Strength: Raises awareness to the difficulty in translating "Idee" and "Vorstellung", where Hoernlé mainly used "idea". Idea, representation or mental picture are used to translate "Vorstellung" depending on which translator you read. Hoernle revises the book to try and fit it into theosophy terminology creating confusion and leading it away from science. All following translations by anthroposophists follow his lead. 


1963

The Philosophy Of Freedom (The Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity) translated by Rita Stebbing
Online   PDF   DOC

Main Reference: 1939 Poppelbaum
There appears to be a collaboration between Stebbing and the 1964 Michael Wilson translation. Wilson thanks Stebbing for her translation suggestions in his Introduction. The Stebbing incorporates the revisions in the Wilson and then goes further with more revisions that are more liberal. It seems they worked together to produce US and UK editions. Though they mostly just copied the Hoernle as Poppelbaum did.

Strength: This Stebbing translation seems to be the American version of the Wilson UK translation, Her next try in 1988 is more liberal, where she makes a bold effort to use more plain talk. In the end, her 3rd translation of 1992, she recants these revisions for some reason and replaces them with the traditional translation lines.


1964
The Philosophy Of Freedom translated by Michael Wilson
Online   PDF


Main Reference: 1963 Stebbing (see above)
Michael Wilson clearly explains the task of the anthroposophist translator:

“Any work describing Steiner's point of view in terms of English philosophy would have to deal with the mind as a central theme, but here our task is to introduce readers to Steiner's concepts of spirit and soul.” 1964 The Philosophy of Freedom, Introduction by translator Michael Wilson

Strength: The Wilson, Stebbing and Poppelbaum translations are for the most part copies of the Hoernle with very few revisions. The popular Wilson edition adds more of UK traditional old time English style.


1986
The Philosophy Of Freedom translated by William Lindeman
Online   PDF

Main Reference: 1918 German Die Philosophie der Freiheit
This is a literal translation of text almost “word for word” from German to English, lacks any readability. The translator, as with most anthroposophists, has a strong spiritualistic and Christ centered views in regards to cognition.

"The goal of this translation is to give the reader an experience as close as possible to that presented by the original book." (meaning an experience  as close as possible to the German language in the 1918 revised edition). William Lindeman, Translator's Appendix

Strength: This is the first new translation since the Hoernle. It is the most unreadable since it is a literal translation attempting to be a word for word copy. Its a great reference as it is the closest to the literal German so you can spot where other translators add more or less than what is in the German.


1988
The Philosophy Of Freedom (A Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity) translated by Rita Stebbing
Online   PDF

Main Reference: Liberal revision of her 1963 Stebbing translation
Rita Stebbing has written that the freedom discussed in The Philosophy of Freedom has more to do with one's relationship with the Being Of Christ in her The Philosophy of Freedom As A Path To Self-Knowledge. This is the only bold liberal translation done by anybody, to put it in words the reader can understand and relate to. It likely upset the Steiner literalists so you can't find the book. Stebbing recants this edition and her next 1992 translation is more like her 1963 effort. In the 1992 she removes all the liberal lines and replaces them with the tradition translation lines.   

Strength: This is the most liberal plain talk edition and is the easiest to read. Though her boldness leads to some more controversial interpretations. Boldness and independent thinking does not fit well within the elderly circles of strict traditionalism found in anthroposophy. Rather than improving this edition she abandoned it in 1992.


1992
The Philosophy Of Freedom (The Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity) translated by Rita Stebbing
Online   PDF

Main Reference: 1963 Stebbing
This is Stebbings third translation. The 1963 has minor revisions to the Hoernle. The 1988 is the most liberal of all the translations. Her 1992 pulls back the 1988 so it again fits in as another traditional translation.

Strength: Stebbing edits out the liberal parts of her 1988 translation bringing it back to the traditional mainstream. At this time the Wilson is the most popular until heavy marketing and distribution by the publisher makes the new 1995 Lipson the dominate translation.

 


1995

The Philosophy Of Freedom (Intuitive Thinking As A Spiritual Path) translated by Michael Lipson
Online  AudioBook   PDF

Main Reference: 1986 Lindeman
Zen Buddhist and Anthroposophist Michael Lipson brings a Zen philosophy to his translation by avoiding attachment to words. Lipson's flexibility with words permits him to re-title the book Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path:

“By approaching Steiner through inadequate and changing English terms, we are the more likely to face the inadequacy of all terms, and leap to his meaning.” Michael Lipson, 1995 Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path, Translator's Introduction

Strength: Lipson's translation is new but seems most of all an attempt to be different. Gender neutral translation, written in more modern American English such as replacing "which" with "that" are new. Though I found it impossible to sustain a "we" plural gender neutral style in a book about individuality. When key words are compared to the Lindeman translation, Lipson appears to come up with a different key word in the sentences and he likes to rephrase. By trying to be different his terms and phrasing are a second choice and may not be best. This does make it a good reference as you will likely find he rewords it differently from your current edition. But as I say, he prefers being different more than selecting the clearest and best way, so the book is often difficult to understand.


2011
The Philosophy Of Freedom (‘Die ‘Philosophie der Freiheit) translated by Graham B. Rickett


Main Reference: 1995 Lipson, but mostly an origibal translation
Rickett's English translation of The Philosophy Of Freedom is found within his 3 volume translation of  G. A. Bondarev's book:
Rudolf Steiner's 'Philosophie der Freiheit' as the Foundation of the Logic of Beholding Thinking. Religion of the Thinking Will. Organon of the New Cultural Epoch. 

2011  Vol. 1 Chapter 1
2013  Vol. 2 Chapters 2-7
          Vol. 3 Chapters 8-14 (in progress)

Strength: A new independent translation that is uninterested in repeating past translations. Rickett understands this is a science book. Rickett takes on the difficult sentences and patiently with great insight into the meaning finds a way to translate them in a new clear way. Fantastic translation. He also has a grasp of subtle distinctions that are brought to light with the selection of the right word. Though sometimes his translation of many of the easier parts are not as readable.

Rickett has been involved in Rudolf Steiner's work for a long time. He was one of the 11 students in the first class that began Emerson College in 1962.

Note: Gennady Bondarev's 'Organon' is an introduction to Anthroposophical Methodology and a complete analysis of Rudolf Steiner's 'Philosophy of Freedom (Spiritual Activity)'. The 3 volumes, taken together, contain a completely new translation of 'Die Philosophie der Freiheit' by Graham B. Rickett.

"Bondarev demonstrates that the methodology intrinsic to Anthroposophy is fundamental and capable of unifying all modern sciences as it describes the monistic sensible-supersensible reality. Through its anthropocentric and ontological character, the methodology's actualization implies an evolutionary change of both the human subject and the process of cognition itself. Rudolf Steiner's fundamental epistemological work is thereby shown to be the foundation for the development of a new kind of 'beholding' thinking - what Goethe began to experience and called 'anschauende Urteilskraft'. "

 

Misc.
1918 Rudolf Steiner's Brief Reflections on the Publication of the New Edition of 'The Philosophy of Freedom'

What is Freedom? from Truth And Knowledge Practical Conclusion by Rudolf Steiner

Aha The Cognitive Neuroscience Of Insight PDF by John Kounios and Mark Beeman

Goethe, Kant and Intuitive Thinking in Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Spiritual Activity by Michael Muschalle

Conflict Between Heart And Intellect

Individualism In Philosophy 1899 Rudolf Steiner

Individualist Anarchism 1898 Rudolf Steiner

The Being Of The Internet by Sergei Prokofieff (the silliness of Sergei Prokofieff)

The Boundaries of Natural Science VIII by Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner Thoughts About Theosophists And Spiritualists by Rudolf Steiner

Read more…

Comparative - c5

4. The World As Perception

TOPIC
Compare Ideal Element with External Object

"When someone sees a tree, his thinking reacts to his observation. An ideal element is added to the object, and the observer regards the object and Ideal complement as belonging together. When the object disappears from his field of observation, only the Ideal counterpart remains. This is the concept of the object." TPOF 4.0

Concepts Added To Observation
Concepts cannot be drawn from observation. This is evident from the fact the growing human being only slowly and gradually builds up the concepts that correspond to the objects in his environment. Concepts are added to observation.

Concept

Concepts and Ideas are formed by thinking. What a concept is cannot be expressed in words. Words can only draw our attention to the fact we have concepts. When someone sees a tree, his thinking reacts to his observation. An ideal element is added to the object, and the observer regards the object and Ideal complement as belonging together. When the object disappears from his field of observation, only the Ideal counterpart remains. This is the concept of the object.

Idea
The wider the range of our experience, the larger the number of our concepts. Concepts are never found in isolation. They combine to form an ordered and systematic whole. For example, the concept “organism”  links up with others such as "development according to law" and "growth." Other concepts, formed from single objects, merge together into a unity. All concepts I form of particular lions merge in the universal concept "lion." In this way, all the single concepts unite to form an enclosed, conceptual system in which each has its special place. Ideas are not qualitatively different from concepts. They are filled with more content, are more complex and more comprehensive concepts.

Thinking
I must emphasize here that my starting-point is thinking, not concepts and Ideas, which must first be gained by thinking. Thinking precedes concepts and Ideas. Consequently, what I have said about the nature of thought, that it is self-supporting and determined by nothing but itself, cannot simply be transferred and applied to concepts.

 

STEP #61 (4.1)
Compare Generalize Relationships with Conceptualize Relationships

Phenomena
While wandering through fields in September you hear a rustle a few steps ahead, and see the grass moving by the side of the ditch. You will probably approach the spot to learn what caused the noise and the movement. As you approach, a partridge flutters in the ditch. Seeing this, your curiosity is satisfied; you have what we call an explanation of the phenomena.

Generalize Relationships
Observation: Throughout life you have learned through countless experiences that a disturbance among small stationary bodies, is accompanied by the movement of other bodies among them. Because of having generalized the relationship between disturbances and movements, you consider this particular disturbance explained as soon as you find it to be an example of just such a relationship.

  

Conceptualize Relationships
Ideal Element: A closer analysis leads to a very different description. When I hear a noise the first thing I do is search for the concept that fits this observation. My thought makes it clear that the noise is an effect of something. Only when I connect the concept of effect with the perception of the noise am I inclined to go beyond the single observation and look for its cause. The concept “effect” calls up the concept “cause.” My next step is to look for the object that acts as the cause. I can never gain the concepts “cause” and “effect” by mere observation, no matter how many cases I observe.

Strictly Objective Science
Representation Of World: If one demands a “strictly objective science” that draws its content from observation alone, then one must also demand that it renounce all thinking. Because thought, by its very nature, goes beyond what is observed..

     
STEP #62 (4.2)
Compare Thinking Consciousness with Thinking Reference

Thinking Consciousness
Observation: When thought is directed to the observed world we have consciousness of objects; when thought is directed to itself we have self-consciousness. Human consciousness must of necessity be also self-consciousness, because it is a thinking consciousness.

 

Thinking Reference
Ideal Element: When I, as thinking subject, refer a concept to an object, we must not regard this referring as a purely subjective activity. It is not the subject, but thought, that makes the reference.

Embrace And Contrast Self With World
Representation Of World: The basis for the dual nature of the human being is that he thinks. His thought embraces himself along with the rest of the world. But also, by means of thought, he defines himself as an individual in contrast with the objective world.

     
STEP #63 (4.3)
Compare Pure Observation with Establish Conceptual Relationship

Pure Observation
External Object: All we would be aware of before our thought became active is the pure content of observation. The world would appear as a chaotic aggregate of disconnected sense-data: colors, sounds, touch, warmth, taste and smell; followed by feelings of pleasure and pain. This aggregate is the content of pure, thought-free observation.

 

Establish Conceptual Relationship
Ideal Element: Thought is able to draw connecting threads from one sense-datum to another. It unites specific concepts with these elements, and in this way establishes a relationship between them.

Conceptual Relationships Not Merely Subjective
Representation Of World: We will not be tempted to believe the relationships between observations established by thought only have subjective validity, if we recall that in no circumstance can the activity of thought be considered merely subjective.

     
STEP #64 (4.4)
Compare World-Picture Contradictions with World-Picture Corrections

World-Picture Contradictions
External Object: The unreflective, naive person regards his percepts, as they first appear, to have an existence completely independent of him. When he sees a tree, he believes right away that it is standing there on the spot where his look is directed having the shape, color and details just as he sees it. He believes phenomena exists and occurs just as he observes it. He clings to this belief until further perceptions contradict the earlier ones.

Definition Of Percept
The term “percept” is the immediate conscious apprehension of objects through observation. This includes sense-data, feelings and also thought as it first appears to our consciousness. It is the observed object, not the process of observing.

 

World-Picture Corrections
Ideal Element: Every widening of the circle of my perceptions makes me correct my picture of the world. We see this in everyday life, as well as in the intellectual development of humanity. The picture which the ancients made of the relation of the earth to the sun and other celestial bodies, had to be changed by Copernicus, because the ancient picture did not agree with new, previously unknown perceptions.

Continuous Corrections
Representation Of World: The picture we form of the world needs to be continually corrected with each new perception.

     
STEP #65 (4.5)
Compare Mathematical with Qualitative Determination Of Perception-Picture

Perception-Picture Dependent On Place Of Observation
External Object: If I stand at one end of a tree-lined avenue, the trees at the far end appear smaller and closer together than those where I am standing. My perception-picture is dependent on my place of observation and changes when I change my place of observation.

 

Perception-Picture Dependent On Bodily And Mental Organization
Ideal Element: My perception-picture is dependent on my bodily and mental organization. We only perceive vibrations as sound if we have normally constructed ears. The perception-picture of the color blind only has shades of light and dark. The fact that a red surface appears to me red depends on the structure of my eye.

Mathematical And Qualitative Determination Of Perception-Picture
Representation Of World: We are forced to make continual corrections to our observations. The dependency of my perception-picture on my place of observation is "mathematical," and its dependency on my organization is "qualitative." The first determines the relative sizes of my percepts and distances between them, the second their quality. The fact that a red surface appears to me red—this qualitative determination—depends on the structure of my eye.

     
STEP #66 (4.6)
Compare Percept Exists While Perceived with Object Exists As Collection Of Percepts

Percept Only Exists While Being Perceived
External Object: "The whole choir of heaven and all things of the earth—in a word, all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world—have no subsistence outside the mind." From this point of view, nothing remains of the percept if we consider it apart from being perceived. There is no color when none is seen, no sound when none is heard. Outside the act of perception, categories such as extension, form, and motion exist just as little as color and sound.

 

Object Exists As Collection Of Percepts
Ideal Element: An object is nothing but a collection of percepts connected in a certain way. If I strip a table of its figure, extension, color, etc.—in other words everything that is only my percept—then nothing is left.

The objection can be made that, even if figure, color, sound, and so forth do not existence outside the act of perception, there must still be something else there. Something must exist independently of our consciousness and be similar to our conscious perception-pictures.

Percept Partly Determined By Subject’s Organization
Representation Of World: No objection is made as long as it is only meant as a general fact that the percept is partly determined by the organization of the perceiving subject.

     
STEP #67 (4.7)
Compare Myself As Observer with My Idea-Image

Myself As Observer
External Object: When I am absorbed in the perception of a given object I am, for the moment, aware only of this object. The awareness of myself can be added to this. I am then not only conscious of the object, but also of my own personality standing over against the object and observing it. I not only see a tree; I know it is I seeing it.

 

My Idea-Image
Ideal Element: When the tree disappears from my field of vision, an aftereffect of this process remains: an image of the tree. This image has become associated with my Self during my observation. My Self has become enriched; a new element has been added to its content. I call this element my idea (Vorstellung) of the tree.

Idea Within Me
Representation Of World: I would never be in a position to speak of ideas if I did not experience them by being aware of my Self. Percepts would come and go; I would simply let them pass by. By noticing the connection between the observation of the object and the changes that occur in me, I then speak of having an idea.

     
STEP #68 (4.8)
Compare Idea Inserts Itself Before Object with Object Is Unknowable

Idea Inserts Itself Before Object
External Object: The failure to recognize the relationship between idea and object has led to the greatest misunderstandings. The perception of a change in me, the modification my Self undergoes, is thrust into the foreground, while the object causing this modification is completely lost sight of. As a consequence it is said: We do not perceive the objects, but only our ideas.

 

Only Ideas Exist
Ideal Element (Berkeley): Knowledge of the world is limited to my ideas because there are no objects other than ideas. What I see as a table no longer exists, according to Berkeley, when I cease to look at it.

Object (thing-in-itself) Is Unknowable
Ideal Element (Kant): Kant also limits our knowledge of the world to our ideas. But it does not do so because of a conviction that nothing other than ideas exist. Rather, the Kantian view believes we are organized in a way that we can learn only of the changes undergone by our own Self, not the things-in-themselves that cause them.

Knowledge Of The World Limited To Mental Representations
Representation Of World: Our ideas are the only things we experience directly and learn to know directly. At the very beginning of all philosophy, it is necessary to state explicitly that all knowledge that goes beyond ideas is open to doubt. --Kantian view

     
STEP #69 (4.9)
Compare Object Is Motion with External Object Lost

Object Is Motion In External World
External Object: Physics
Outside our organism we find vibrations of physical bodies and of the air perceived by us as sound. What we call sound is nothing more than a subjective reaction of our organism to these motions in the external world. The same external stimulus applied to different senses evokes different sensations. Our sense-organs can transmit only what occurs within them, and transmit nothing from the external world.

  External Object Lost On Way To Psyche
Ideal Element: Physiology And Psychology
The external process undergoes a series of transformations through the nerves to the brain. What the subject perceives are always only modifications of his own psychical states and nothing else. The psyche constructs things out of the various sensations transmitted to it by the brain. The final stage of the process, the representational idea of the object, is the very first thing to enter my consciousness. The external object has been completely lost on the way to the brain and through the brain to the human psyche.
   

Our Organization Determines What We Perceive
Representation Of World: Physics, physiology and psychology teach us that for perception to take place our organization is necessary. Consequently, we cannot know anything about external objects other than what our organization transmits to us.

     
STEP #70 (4.10)
Compare External Object Is Colorless with Color Projected Onto Object

External Object Is Colorless
External Object: The theory begins with what is given in naive consciousness, the thing as perceived. Then it shows that none of the qualities found in it would exist for us if we had no sense organs. The object, then, is colorless.

 

Color Projected Onto Object
Ideal Element: Color is produced in our psychical nature by the brain process. But even here I am still not conscious of it. It is first projected outwards by our psyche onto a spatial body in the external world. Here, finally, I see the color, as a quality of this body.

Perceived World Created By Psyche
Representation Of World: The theory leads me to believe that what the naive person thinks is existing outside him in space, is really a creation of my own psyche.

     
STEP #71 (4.11)
Compare The External Percept Is My Idea with Ideas Cannot Act On Each Other

The External Percept Is My Idea
External Object: As a naive person, I had an entirely false view of it. I thought the percept, just as I perceive it, had objective existence. Now I realize it disappears as I represent it to myself in the act of perceiving. The external percept is no more than a modification of my mental condition. Previously I believed the table had an effect on me, and brought about an idea of itself in me. From now on I must treat the table as itself an idea.

 

Web Of Ideas Cannot Act On Each Other
Ideal Element: If I go through each step of the act of cognition once again, the cognitive act described reveals itself as a web of ideas that, as such, cannot possibly act on each other. The full impossibility of the described line of thought reveals itself. I cannot say: My idea of the object acts on my idea of the eye, and the result of this interaction is my idea of color.

Confuses External And Internal Observations
Representation Of World: There is a gap between external and internal observations. The method of external observation ends with the process in the brain. The method of internal observation, or introspection, begins with the sensations, and continues up to the construction of things out of the material of sensation.

     
STEP #72 (4.12)
Compare Objective Reality with Subjective Reality

Objective Reality
External Object: Naive Realism accepts that one's own organism has objective existence. To be consistent, the theory that “The world is my idea” would mean our organism would be a mere complex of ideas. This removes the possibility that the content of the perceived world is solely a product of our mental organization. For only my real eye and my real hand could have the ideas of sun and earth as their modifications—my ideas “eye” and “hand” could not.

  Subjective Reality
Ideal Element: The Critical Idealism says the world is my idea. "This truth applies to every cognizing being. The world around me is present only as an idea. It is there only in relation to something else, to the one who depicts it, namely, myself. My eye that sees the sun, and my hand that feels the earth, are my ideas just like the sun and the earth."

Collapse Of “The world is my idea” Theory
Representation Of World: Critical idealism can only refute Naive Realism if it accepts, in naive-realistic fashion, that one's own organism has objective existence. As soon as the Idealist realizes the percepts of his own organism are exactly the same kind as those Naive Realism assumes to have objective existence, his theory can no longer use those percepts as a secure foundation for his theory.

Next Chapter
Critical Idealism is unable to gain insight into the relationship between percepts and ideas. It cannot find what must already be present in the object before it is perceived. To do this, we must find another way to approach this question.

     

 

BOOK TEXT

4. THE WORLD AS PERCEPTION

4.0 Reactive Thinking
[1] Concepts and Ideas are formed by thinking. What a concept is cannot be expressed in words. Words can only draw our attention to the fact we have concepts. When someone sees a tree, his thinking reacts to his observation. An ideal element is added to the object, and the observer regards the object and Ideal complement as belonging together. When the object disappears from his field of observation, only the Ideal counterpart remains. This is the concept of the object.

The wider the range of our experience, the larger the number of our concepts. Concepts are never found in isolation. They combine to form an ordered and systematic whole. For example, the concept “organism”  links up with others such as "development according to law" and "growth." Other concepts, formed from single objects, merge together into a unity. All concepts I form of particular lions merge in the universal concept "lion." In this way, all the single concepts unite to form an enclosed, conceptual system in which each has its special place. Ideas are not qualitatively different from concepts. They are filled with more content, are more complex and more comprehensive concepts.

I must emphasize here that my starting-point is thinking, not concepts and Ideas, which must first be gained by thinking. Thinking precedes concepts and Ideas. Consequently, what I have said about the nature of thought, that it is self-supporting and determined by nothing but itself, cannot simply be transferred and applied to concepts. (I make special mention of this here, as this is where I differ with Hegel, who regards the concept as the primary and original element.)

[2] Concepts cannot be drawn from observation. This is evident from the fact the growing human being only slowly and gradually builds up the concepts that correspond to the objects in his environment. Concepts are added to observation.

4.1 The Response Of The Mental Process To Observation
[3] A popular contemporary philosopher, Herbert Spencer, describes the mental process that takes place in response to observation as follows:

[4] “While wandering through fields in September you hear a rustle a few steps ahead, and see the grass moving by the side of the ditch. You will probably approach the spot to learn what caused the noise and the movement. As you approach, a partridge flutters in the ditch. Seeing this, your curiosity is satisfied; you have what we call an explanation of the phenomena.

The explanation, please notice, amounts to this: Throughout life you have learned through countless experiences that a disturbance among small stationary bodies, is accompanied by the movement of other bodies among them. Because of having generalized the relationship between disturbances and movements, you consider this particular disturbance explained as soon as you find it to be an example of just such a relationship" (First Principles, Part I, par. 23).

A closer analysis leads to a very different description from what Spencer gives. When I hear a noise the first thing I do is search for the concept that fits this observation. Only when I have this concept am I led beyond the noise itself. Whoever does not reflect on the event simply hears the noise and is content to leave it at that. But my thought makes it clear to me that a sound must be the effect of something. Only when I connect the concept of effect with the perception of the noise am I inclined to go beyond the single observation and look for its cause. The concept “effect” calls up the concept “cause.”

My next step is to look for the object that acts as the cause, which I find to be a partridge. But I can never gain the concepts “cause” and “effect” by mere observation, no matter how many cases I observe. Observation calls up thought, and thought shows me how to link separate experiences together.

[5] If one demands a “strictly objective science” that draws its content from observation alone, then one must also demand that it renounce all thinking. Because thought, by its very nature, goes beyond what is observed.

4.2 The Thinker
[6] We must now pass from thought to the being who thinks. For it is through the thinker that thought is combined with observation. Human consciousness is the place where concept and observation meet, and are connected to each other. This is, in fact, what characterizes human consciousness. It mediates between thought and observation.

In observation the object appears as given, in thought the mind experiences itself as active. It regards the thing as the object and itself as the thinking subject. When thought is directed to the observed world we have consciousness of objects; when thought is directed to itself we have self-consciousness. Human consciousness must of necessity be also self-consciousness, because it is a thinking consciousness. For when thought contemplates its own activity, the subject makes its own essential nature an object of study. Subject and object are here one and the same.

[7] It is important to note here that it is only by means of thinking that I am able to define myself as subject and contrast myself with objects. For this reason, thinking should never be regarded as a merely subjective activity. Thinking is above the distinction of subject and object. It produces these two concepts just as it produces all others. When I, as thinking subject, refer a concept to an object, we must not regard this referring as a purely subjective activity. It is not the subject, but thought, that makes the reference.

The subject does not think because it is a subject; rather, it appears to itself as subject because it can think. The activity of thinking consciousness, exercised by a human being as a thinker, is therefore not merely subjective. In fact, it is an activity that is neither subjective nor objective; it transcends both concepts. I should never say that I, as an individual subject, think. The truth is that I, as subject, exist only by the grace of thought. Thought takes me out of myself and relates me to objects. But it also separates me from the objects by setting me over against them, to face them as subject.

[8] The basis for the dual nature of the human being is that he thinks. His thought embraces himself along with the rest of the world. But also, by means of thought, he defines himself as an individual in contrast with the objective world.

4.3 The Observed Object
[9] Next, we must ask ourselves: How does the other element—which we have so far simply called the ‘observed object’—enter our consciousness where it comes into contact with thought?

[10] To answer this question, we must remove from our field of observation all thought that has already been brought into it. For at any moment the content of our consciousness is always pervaded with concepts in a variety of ways.

[11] Let us imagine a being with fully developed human intelligence originates out of nothing and has the world in front of him. All this being would be aware of, before its thought became active, is the pure content of observation. The world would appear to this being as a chaotic aggregate of disconnected sense-data: colors, sounds, touch, warmth, taste and smell; followed by feelings of pleasure and pain. This aggregate is the content of pure, thought-free observation.

Facing it stands thought, ready to begin its activity as soon as it can find a point of engagement. Experience shows that it soon does. Thought is able to draw connecting threads from one sense-datum to another. It unites specific concepts with these elements, and in this way establishes a relationship between them. We have already seen how a noise we encounter is brought into relationship with another observation by characterizing the first as an effect of the second.

[12] We will not be tempted to believe these relationships established by thought only have subjective validity, if we recall that in no circumstance can the activity of thought be considered merely subjective.

4.4 The Conscious Subject
[13] Our next task is to discover, by thoughtful reflection, how the immediately given sense-data—the pure, relationless aggregate of sensory objects—is related to our conscious subject.

[14] Because of the various ways of using words, it seems necessary for me to come to an agreement with the reader on the meaning of a word that I will use from now on. The word is percept. I will use the word “percept” to refer to “the immediate objects of sensation” mentioned above, insofar as the conscious subject becomes aware of them through observation. It is the observed object, not the process of observing, that I call “percept.”

[15] I do not choose the term “sensation,” because sensation has a specific meaning in Physiology narrower than my concept of “percept.” I can call an inner feeling a percept, but not a sensation in the physiological use of the term. When I become aware of a feeling it becomes a percept for me, and I can then gain knowledge of it. And the way we gain knowledge of our thought-processes, through observation, is to first notice thought. Then thought too, may be called a percept.

[16] The unreflective, naive person regards his percepts, as they first appear, to have an existence completely independent of him. When he sees a tree, he believes right away that it is standing there on the spot where his look is directed having the shape, color and details just as he sees it. From this naive standpoint, if a person sees the sun appear in the morning as a disc on the horizon, and then follows the course of this disc, he believes the phenomenon exists and occurs just as he observes it. He clings to this belief until further perceptions contradict the earlier ones. A child, with no experience of distance, reaches for the moon, and does not correct its first impression until it conflicts with later ones.

Every widening of the circle of my perceptions makes me correct my picture of the world. We see this in everyday life, as well as in the intellectual development of humanity. The picture which the ancients made of the relation of the earth to the sun and other celestial bodies, had to be changed by Copernicus, because the ancient picture did not agree with new, previously unknown perceptions. A man who had been born blind said, after an operation performed by Dr Franz, that the picture he had formed of the size of objects before his operation was a very different one. It was formed on the basis of a blind man’s perceptions of touch. He had to correct his touch percepts with his new visual percepts.

4.5 The Perception-Picture
[17] Why are we forced to make continual corrections to our observations?

[18] A simple reflection provides the answer to this question. If I stand at one end of a tree-lined avenue, the trees at the far end appear smaller and closer together than those where I am standing. My perception-picture changes when I change my place of observation. Therefore, the way things appear to me is determined by a factor that has to do, not with the object, but with myself as the observer. It is all the same to the avenue where I stand. But the picture I have of it depends to a great extent on my standpoint. In the same way, it makes no difference to the sun and solar system that human beings happen to observe them from the earth. But the perception-picture human beings have of the sun and solar system is determined by their living on the earth.

This dependence of the perception-picture on our place of observation is the easiest to understand. It becomes more difficult when we learn how our perceptual world is dependent on our bodily and mental organization. The physicist teaches us that in the space where we hear a sound, there are vibrations of the air. And in the body where the sound is emitted there are vibrations of its parts. But we only perceive these vibrations as sound if we have normally constructed ears. Without them the whole world would remain forever silent.

The physiologist teaches us there are people who perceive nothing of the wonderful display of colors surrounding us. Their perception-picture only has shades of light and dark. Others fail to perceive just one particular color, such as red. Their picture of the world lacks this color hue, and is different from the average person. I would like to call the dependency of my perception-picture on my place of observation "mathematical," and its dependency on my organization "qualitative." The first determines the relative sizes of my percepts and distances between them, the second their quality. The fact that a red surface appears to me red—this qualitative determination—depends on the structure of my eye.

4.6 The Subjective Perception-Picture
[19] My perception-pictures, then, are at first subjective. The recognition of the subjective character of our percepts can easily lead us to doubt whether anything objective underlies them at all. We know that a percept, for example the color red or a certain musical tone, is only possible thanks to a specific structure of our organism. From this we can easily be led to believe that the percept, apart from our subjective organization, ceases to be. If not for our act of perceiving it as an object, it has no existence at all.

This view found its classic expression in George Berkeley, who was convinced that when we realize how significant the human subject is for the percept, we can no longer believe in a world that exists apart from a conscious mind. He says:

"Some truths are so near and so obvious to the mind man need only open his eyes to see them. One such truth is this important one: The whole choir of heaven and all things of the earth—in a word, all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world—have no subsistence outside the mind. Their sole existence is being perceived or known. Consequently, as long as they are not actually perceived by me, or exist in my mind or in that of some other created spirit, they either have no existence or subsist in the mind of some Eternal Spirit." (Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge, Part I, Section 6.)

From this point of view, nothing remains of the percept if we consider it apart from being perceived. There is no color when none is seen, no sound when none is heard. Outside the act of perception, categories such as extension, form, and motion exist just as little as color and sound. Nowhere do we see extension and form alone. They are always bound up with color or other qualitative elements unquestionably dependent on our subjectivity. If these disappear when we cease to perceive them, then extension and form, which are bound up with them, must disappear also. 

[20] The objection can be made that, even if figure, color, sound, and so forth do not existence outside the act of perception, there must still be something else there. Something must exist independently of our consciousness and be similar to our conscious perception-pictures. The Berkeleyan response would be to say: A color can only resemble a color and a figure can only resemble a figure. Our percepts can only resemble our percepts, and nothing else.

Even what we call an object is nothing but a collection of percepts connected in a certain way. If I strip a table of its figure, extension, color, etc.—in other words everything that is only my percept—then nothing is left. Carried to its logical conclusion, this view leads to the assertion: The objects of my perception are there through me, and only insofar and as long as I am perceiving them. They disappear with the perceiving and have no meaning without it. Other than my percepts, I know of no objects and cannot know of any.

[21] To the claim that we can know only our percepts, no objection is made as long as it is only meant as a general fact that the percept is partly determined by the organization of the perceiving subject. It would be very different if we were able to determine the exact role our perceiving plays in bringing about a percept. We would then know what happens to the percept during the act of perception. And we could also determine what properties it has before it is perceived.

4.7 Self-Perception
[22] This leads us to turn our attention from the perceived object to the perceiving subject. I do not only perceive other things; I also perceive myself.

Self-perception first reveals that I am the enduring element in a continuous coming and going of perception-pictures. The awareness of myself can come up in my consciousness at any time, while I am having other perceptions. However, when I am absorbed in the perception of a given object I am, for the moment, aware only of this object. The awareness of myself can be added to this. I am then not only conscious of the object, but also of my own personality, standing over against the object and observing it. I not only see a tree; I know it is I seeing it.

I also know something goes on in me while I am observing the tree. When the tree disappears from my field of vision, an after-effect of this process remains: an image of the tree. This image has become associated with my Self during my observation. My Self has become enriched; a new element has been added to its content. I call this element my idea (Vorstellung) of the tree.

I would never be in a position to speak of ideas if I did not experience them by being aware of my Self. Percepts would come and go; I would simply let them pass by. It is only because I perceive my Self that I notice that with each perception the content of my Self, too, is changed. By noticing the connection between the observation of the object and the changes that occur in me, I then speak of having an idea. 

4.8 Perception Of Ideas
[23] I perceive ideas in my Self in the same way I perceive colors, sounds, etc. in other objects. From this point of view, I can now make the further distinction of calling these other objects that confront me the outer world, while the content of my Self-observation I call my inner world.

The failure to recognize the relationship between idea and object has led to the greatest misunderstandings in modern philosophy. The perception of a change in me, the modification my Self undergoes, is thrust into the foreground, while the object causing this modification is completely lost sight of. As a consequence it is said: We do not perceive the objects, but only our ideas. I know nothing, so it is claimed, of the object of my observation; the table itself. I know only of the change that is going on within me while I am perceiving the table.

This view should not be confused with the Berkeleyan view mentioned previously. Berkeley upholds the subjective nature of my perceptual content, but he does not say I can know only my own ideas. He limits my knowledge to my ideas because, in his view, there are no objects other than ideas. What I see as a table no longer exists, according to Berkeley, when I cease to look at it. This is why for Berkeley my percepts are created directly by the power of God. I see a table because God calls forth this percept in me. For Berkeley nothing is real except God and human spirits. What we call the "world" is present only within spirits. What the naive person calls the outer world, or physical nature, does not exist according to Berkeley.

Berkeley’s view stands in contrast to the currently prevailing Kantian view. This also limits our knowledge of the world to our ideas. But it does not do so because of a conviction that nothing other than ideas exist. Rather, the Kantian view believes we are organized in a way that we can learn only of the changes undergone by our own Self, not the things-in-themselves that cause them. This view draws a conclusion on the fact I can know only my ideas. According to the Kantian view, the reason we know only our ideas is not that no reality exists independent of these ideas. It is because the human subject cannot receive such a reality into itself directly. The mind can only through "the medium of its subjective thoughts imagine it, think it, cognize it, or perhaps fail to cognize it" (O. Liebmann, Analysis of Reality, p. 28). Kantians believe their view expresses something absolutely certain, something immediately evident without any need of proof.

“The first fundamental principle the philosopher must clearly grasp is the recognition that our knowledge does not initially go beyond our ideas. Our ideas are the only things we experience directly and learn to know directly. The fact that we experience ideas directly means not even the most radical doubt can rob us of our knowledge of them. On the other hand, all knowledge that does go beyond my ideas—taking ideas here in the widest sense to include all psychical processes—is open to doubt. At the very beginning of all philosophy, it is necessary to state explicitly that all knowledge that goes beyond ideas is open to doubt.”

4.9 Our Organization
Volkelt's book on Immanuel Kant’s Theory of Knowledge begins with the statement given above. What is presented here as if it were an immediate and obvious truth, is really the result of the following thought process. "Naive common sense believes that things, just as we perceive them, also exist outside our minds. Physics, physiology and psychology, however, teach us that for perception to take place our organization is necessary. Consequently, we cannot know anything about external objects other than what our organization transmits to us. What we perceive as objects are modifications that occur in our organization, not the things themselves." This line of reasoning has been characterized by Eduard von Hartmann as leading inevitably to the conviction that we can have direct knowledge only of our ideas (see Hartmann’s “Basic Problem of Theory of Knowledge”, p.16-40).

Physics
Because outside our organism we find vibrations of physical bodies and of the air perceived by us as sound. This view reasons that what we call sound is nothing more than a subjective reaction of our organism to these motions in the external world. In the same way color and warmth are only modifications of our organism. Our percepts of warmth and color are the effects of processes in the external world. These external processes are entirely different from what we experience as warmth and color. When these processes stimulate the nerves in my skin, I perceive warmth. When they stimulate the optic nerve, I perceive light and color. Light, color, and warmth, then, are the way the nerves of my sense organs react to outside stimuli. Even the sense of touch does not transmit to me the objects of the outer world, but only conditions in myself.

The physicist thinks of bodies as consisting of infinitely small parts called molecules. These molecules are not in direct contact with each other, but have certain distances separating them. Between them is empty space. Across this space they act on each other by forces of attraction and repulsion. When I place my hand on an object, the molecules of my hand never touch the molecules of the object. There always remains a certain distance between object and hand. What I feel as the resistance of the object, is nothing other than the effect of the force of repulsion its molecules exert on my hand. I remain completely external to the object. All I perceive is its effect on my organism.

[24] An extension of this idea is the Specific Nerve Energies theory, proposed by J. Müller (1801- 1858). According to this theory, each sense-organ has the peculiar quality of reacting to all external stimuli in only one specific way. Stimulation of the optic nerve results in perception of light. It does not matter whether the nerve stimulation is due to what we call light, or to mechanical pressure, or to an electric current. Conversely, the same external stimulus applied to different senses evokes different sensations. This seems to indicate that our sense-organs can transmit only what occurs within them, and transmit nothing from the outer world. The senses determine the percepts, each according to its own nature.

Physiology
[25] Physiology further shows there can be no direct knowledge even of the effects objects have within our sense-organs. When the physiologist follows the processes that take place in the body, he finds the effects of external motion already transformed within the sense organs in a variety of ways. We see this most clearly in the eye and the ear. Both are very complicated organs that alter the external stimulus considerably, before conveying it to the corresponding nerve. From the peripheral nerve-ending, the already changed stimulus is transmitted further to the brain, and here the central organ is stimulated. From this, it is concluded that the external process undergoes a series of transformations before it enters consciousness.

What finally takes place in the brain is connected to the external stimuli by so many intermediate processes, any similarity between the two is out of the question. What the brain finally transmits to the human psyche is neither external processes, nor processes in the sense-organs, but only processes inside the brain. Yet even these are not perceived directly by our inner being. What we finally have in consciousness are not brain-processes at all, but sensations. My sensation of red has absolutely no similarity to the process taking place in the brain when I sense red. The redness that occurs in the mind is an effect, and the brain process is its cause. This is why Hartmann says (The Basic Problem of Epistemology), "What the subject perceives are always only modifications of his own psychical states and nothing else."

Psychology
When I have sensations, however, they are still far from being grouped into what I perceive as "things." After all, only single sensations can be transmitted to me by the brain. Sensations of “hard” and “soft” are transmitted to me by the sense of touch; color and light by the sense of sight. Yet all these are found united in one object. This unification, then, can only be brought about by our psychical nature. The psyche constructs things out of the various sensations transmitted to it by the brain. My brain conveys to me the single sensations of sight, touch and hearing by entirely different pathways. The psyche then combines the sensations to form the idea “trumpet.” This final stage of the process (the idea of the trumpet) is the very first thing to enter my consciousness. In this result nothing can any longer be found of what exists outside me and made the original impression on my senses. The external object has been completely lost on the way to the brain and through the brain to the human psyche.

4.10 The External World Is A Projection Of My Psyche
[26] It would be hard to find in the history of human intellectual life an edifice of thought built up with greater ingenuity, and yet, on closer analysis, collapses into nothing. Let us look more closely at the way it has been constructed. The theory begins with what is given in naive consciousness, the thing as perceived. Then it shows that none of the qualities found in it would exist for us if we had no sense organs. No eye—no color. So color is not yet present in what affects the eye. The color first arises through the interaction of the eye with the object. The object, then, is colorless. But the color is not present in the eye either. In the eye there is a chemical or physical process that is conducted by the nerve to the brain, where it sets off another process. The process in the brain is not yet the color. The color is produced in our psychical nature by the brain process. But even here I am still not conscious of it. It is first projected outwards by our psyche onto a spatial body in the external world. Here, finally, I see the color, as a quality of this body.

We have come full circle. We have become conscious of a colored object. That comes first. Now the thought-operation begins. If I had no eyes, the object would be colorless for me. So I cannot attribute the color to the object. I go looking for it. I look for it in the eye,—in vain; in the nerve,—also in vain; in the brain,—again in vain.

Finally, I look for it in the psyche. Here I find it, but unconnected with the spatial body. I only find the colored object again—there, at the place where I started. The circle is closed. The theory leads me to believe that what the naive person thinks is existing outside him in space, is really a creation of my own psyche.

4.11 The External Percept Is My Idea
[27] As long as one stops here, everything seems to fit perfectly. But we must go over it again from the beginning. Up to now I have been dealing with an object—the external percept. As a naive person, I had an an entirely false view of it. I thought the percept, just as I perceive it, had objective existence. Now I realize it disappears as I represent it to myself in the act of perceiving. The external percept is no more than a modification of my mental condition.

Do I still have the right to take it as a starting point for my reflections? Can I say it has an effect on my psyche? Previously I believed the table had an effect on me, and brought about an idea of itself in me. From now on I must treat the table as itself an idea. But then to be logically consistent, my sense organs and the processes going on in them must also be only subjective manifestations. I have no right to speak of a real eye, only of my idea of the eye. The same would apply to the nerve paths and the brain process. And even to the process that occurs within the psyche itself, by which things are supposedly constructed out of the chaos of various sensations.

If I go through each step of the act of cognition once again, assuming the correctness of the first circular line of thought, the cognitive act described reveals itself as a web of ideas that, as such, cannot possibly act on each other. I cannot say: My idea of the object acts on my idea of the eye, and the result of this interaction is my idea of color. But I do not need to. For as soon as it is clear to me that my sense organs and their activity, and my nerve and psychic processes, are also known to me only through perception, then the full impossibility of the described line of thought reveals itself. It is true to say: For me there is no percept without the corresponding sense organ. But it is just as true to say: There is no sense-organ without a percept of it.

From the percept of a table I can pass to the eye that sees it, to the nerves of the hand that touch it. But what takes place within these I can learn, once again, only through perception. Then I soon notice there is no trace of similarity between the process taking place in the eye and what I perceive as color. I cannot deny my color percept just because I can point out the process taking place in the eye during this perception. Nor can I find the color in the nerve and brain-processes. All I do is connect new percepts located within my organism to the first percept, which the naive person locates outside his organism. I simply pass from one percept to the next.

[28] In addition, there is a gap in the whole chain of reasoning. I can follow the processes in my organism up to those in my brain. My assumptions, though, become more and more hypothetical the closer I come to the central processes in the brain. The method of external observation ends with the process in the brain. More precisely, it ends with what I would observe if I examine the brain using the instruments and methods of Physics and Chemistry. The method of internal observation, or introspection, begins with the sensations, and continues up to the construction of things out of the material of sensation. At the point of transition from brain process to sensation, there is a break in the method of observation.

[29] The way of thinking just described, known as Critical Idealism, stands in contrast to the position of naive common sense, known as Naive Realism. The Critical Idealist makes the error of characterizing one kind of percept as an idea, while accepting the other kind in exactly the same way as the Naive Realist, whom he claims to have refuted. He sets out to prove that our percepts are representational ideas, while naively accepting the percepts belonging to his own body as objectively valid facts. What is more, he fails to see he is confusing two fields of observation, between which he can find no connecting link.

4.12 The Bodily Organism Has Objective Existence
[30] Critical idealism can only refute Naive Realism if it accepts, in naive-realistic fashion, that one's own organism has objective existence. As soon as the Idealist realizes the percepts of his own organism are exactly the same kind as those Naive Realism assumes to have objective existence, he can no longer use those percepts as a secure foundation for his theory. He would, to be consistent, have to regard his own organism also as a mere complex of ideas. But this removes the possibility of thinking that the content of the perceived world is a product of our mental organization. One would have to accept that the idea "color" was only a modification of the idea "eye." So-called Critical Idealism cannot be proved without borrowing the assumptions of Naive Realism. The apparent refutation of Naive Realism is achieved only by uncritically accepting its basic assumptions as valid in another area.

[31] This much, then, is certain: Investigation of the field of perception cannot prove the correctness of Critical Idealism, and, consequently, cannot strip percepts of their objective character.

[32] But even less can the principle, "The perceived world is my idea" be claimed as obvious in need of no proof. Schopenhauer begins his main work, The World as Will and Idea, with the words:

"The world is my idea—this truth applies to every living and cognizing being, although the human being alone can bring it into reflective, abstract consciousness. And when he really does this, he will have attained to philosophical self-knowledge. It then becomes clear and certain to him that he knows no sun and no earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, and a hand that feels the earth. The world around him is present only as an idea. It is there only in relation to something else, to the one who depicts it, namely, himself. If ever a truth could be declared a priori, it is this one; for it expresses the most general form of all possible and thinkable experience. A form that is more universal than all others, than time, space, or causality, for all these presuppose it …” (The World as Will and Idea, Book I, par. I.)

This whole theory, based on the principle “The world is my idea” collapses in the face of the fact, noted above, that the eye and hand are percepts just as much as the sun and the earth. In Schopenhauer’s terms, and using his style of expression, one could respond: My eye that sees the sun, and my hand that feels the earth, are my ideas just like the sun and the earth. Put in this way, it is immediately clear Schopenhauer’s proposition cancels itself out. For only my real eye and my real hand could have the ideas of sun and earth as their modifications—my ideas “eye” and “hand” could not. Yet it is only in terms of these ideas that Critical Idealism is entitled to speak.

[33] Critical Idealism is completely unable to gain insight into the relationship between percepts and ideas. It cannot begin to make the distinction we indicated earlier, between what happens to the percept during the act of perception, and what must already be present in it before it is perceived. To do this, we must find another way to approach this question.

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Chapter 4 Condensed Philosophy Of Freedom

The Condensed Philosophy Of Freedom
by Rudolf Steiner

The World As Perception
Chapter 4
(perception bias)
“When someone sees a tree, his thinking reacts to his observation.
An ideal element is added to the object, and the observer regards
the object and Ideal complement as belonging together.”

Content
4.0 Concepts Added To Observation
4.1 Conceptualize Relationships
4.2 Thinking Reference
4.3 Conceptual Relationships
4.4 World-Picture Corrections
4.5 Perception-Picture Dependent On My Organization
4.6 Know Only My Percepts
4.7 Speak Of Ideas
4.8 Know Only My Ideas
4.9 Psyche Forms Idea
4.10 External Object Creation Of Psyche
4.11 Confuse External With Internal Observations
4.12 Content Of Percept Before Perception

4.0 Concepts Added To Observation
1. World As Percept: Reactive Thinking
2. World Experience: Concepts Built Up From Experience
3. Intuitive Experience: Concepts Added To Observation

Reactive Thinking
[1] When someone sees a tree, his thinking reacts to his observation. An ideal element is added to the object, and the observer regards the object and Ideal complement as belonging together. When the object disappears from his field of observation, only the Ideal counterpart remains. This is the concept of the object.

Concepts Built Up From Experience
The wider the range of our experience, the larger the number of our concepts. Concepts combine to form an ordered and systematic whole. All concepts I form of particular lions merge in the universal concept "lion." In this way, all the single concepts unite to form an enclosed, conceptual system in which each has its special place. Ideas are not qualitatively different from concepts. They are filled with more content, are more complex and more comprehensive concepts.

Concepts Added To Observation
[2] Concepts cannot be drawn from observation. This is evident from the fact the growing human being only slowly and gradually builds up the concepts that correspond to the objects in his environment. Concepts are added to observation.

4.1 Conceptualize Relationships
1. World As Perception: Remain Within Observed Content
2. World Experience: Generalize Relationships
3. Intuitive Experience: Conceptualize Relationships

[3] Herbert Spencer describes the mental process that takes place in response to observation as follows:

Remain Within Observed Content
[4] “While wandering through fields in September you hear a rustle a few steps ahead, and see the grass moving by the side of the ditch. You will probably approach the spot to learn what caused the noise and the movement. As you approach, a partridge flutters in the ditch. Seeing this, your curiosity is satisfied; you have what we call an explanation of the phenomena.”

Generalize Relationships
Spencer’s explanation is this:
“Throughout life you have learned through countless experiences that a disturbance among small stationary bodies, is accompanied by the movement of other bodies among them. Because of having generalized the relationship between disturbances and movements, you consider this particular disturbance explained as soon as you find it to be an example of just such a relationship".

Conceptualize Relationships
A closer analysis leads to a very different description. When I hear a noise the first thing I do is search for the concept that fits this observation. Whoever does not reflect on the event simply hears the noise and is content to leave it at that. Only when I connect the concept of effect with the perception of the noise am I inclined to go beyond the single observation and look for its cause. The concept “effect” calls up the concept “cause.”

My next step is to look for the object that acts as the cause, which I find to be a partridge. But I can never gain the concepts “cause” and “effect” by mere observation, no matter how many cases I observe. Observation calls up thought, and thought shows me how to link separate experiences together.

[5] If one demands a “strictly objective science” that draws its content from observation alone, then one must also demand that it renounce all thinking. Because thought, by its very nature, goes beyond what is observed.

4.2 Thinking Reference
1. World As Perception: Human Consciousness
2. World Experience: Thinking Consciousness
3. Intuitive Experience: Thinking Reference

[6] We must now pass from thought to the being who thinks. For it is through the thinker that thought is combined with observation.

Human Consciousness
Human consciousness is the place where concept and observation meet, and are connected to each other. It mediates between thought and observation.

Thinking Consciousness
In observation the object appears as given, in thought the mind experiences itself as active. It regards the thing as the object and itself as the thinking subject. When thought is directed to the observed world we have consciousness of objects; when thought is directed to itself we have self-consciousness. Human consciousness must of necessity be also self-consciousness, because it is a thinking consciousness.

Thinking Reference
[7] Thinking should never be regarded as a merely subjective activity. When I, as thinking subject, refer a concept to an object, we must not regard this referring as a purely subjective activity. It is not the subject, but thought, that makes the reference. Thought takes me out of myself and relates me to objects. But it also separates me from the objects by setting me over against them, to face them as subject.

4.3 Conceptual Relationships
1. World As Perception: Thought Pervades Field Of Observation
2. World Experience: Thought-Free Observation
3. Intuitive Experience: Conceptual Relationships

[9] Next, we must ask ourselves: How does the other element—which we have so far simply called the ‘observed object’—enter our consciousness where it comes into contact with thought?

Thought Pervades Field Of Observation
[10] To answer this question, we must remove from our field of observation all thought that has already been brought into it. For at any moment the content of our consciousness is always pervaded with concepts in a variety of ways.

Thought-Free Observation
[11] Let us imagine a being with fully developed human intelligence originates out of nothing and has the world in front of him. All this being would be aware of, before its thought became active, is the pure content of observation. The world would appear to this being as a chaotic aggregate of disconnected sense-data: colors, sounds, touch, warmth, taste and smell; followed by feelings of pleasure and pain. This aggregate is the content of pure, thought-free observation.

Conceptual Relationships
Facing it stands thought, ready to begin its activity as soon as it can find a point of engagement. Thought is able to draw connecting threads from one sense-datum to another. It unites specific concepts with these elements, and in this way establishes a relationship between them. We have already seen how a noise we encounter is brought into relationship with another observation by characterizing the first as an effect of the second.

4.4 World-Picture Corrections
1. World As Perception: The Term “Percept”
2. World Experience: World-Picture Contradictions
3. Intuitive Experience: World-Picture Corrections

[13] Our next task is to discover, by thoughtful reflection, how the immediately given sense-data—the pure, relationless aggregate of sensory objects—is related to our conscious subject.

The Term “Percept”
[14] I will use the word “percept” to refer to “the immediate objects of sensation” mentioned above, insofar as the conscious subject becomes aware of them through observation. It is the observed object, not the process of observing, that I call “percept.”

[15] When I become aware of a feeling it becomes a percept for me, and I can then gain knowledge of it. And the way we gain knowledge of our thought-processes, through observation, is to first notice thought. Then thought too, may be called a percept.

World-Picture Contradictions
[16] The unreflective, naive person regards his percepts, as they first appear, to have an existence completely independent of him. When he sees a tree, he believes right away that it is standing there on the spot where his look is directed having the shape, color and details just as he sees it. From this naive standpoint, if a person sees the sun appear in the morning as a disc on the horizon, and then follows the course of this disc, he believes the phenomenon exists and occurs just as he observes it. He clings to this belief until further perceptions contradict the earlier ones.

World-Picture Corrections
Every widening of the circle of my perceptions makes me correct my picture of the world. We see this in everyday life, as well as in the intellectual development of humanity. The picture which the ancients made of the relation of the earth to the sun and other celestial bodies, had to be changed by Copernicus, because the ancient picture did not agree with new, previously unknown perceptions.

4.5 Perception-Picture Dependent On My Organization
1. World As Perception: World-Picture Corrections
2. World Experience: Picture Dependent On Place Of Observation
3. Intuitive Experience: Perception-Picture Dependent On My Organization

[17] Why are we forced to make continual corrections to our observations?

Picture Dependent On Place Of Observation
[18] A simple reflection provides the answer to this question. If I stand at one end of a tree-lined avenue, the trees at the far end appear smaller and closer together than those where I am standing. My perception-picture changes when I change my place of observation. Therefore, the way things appear to me is determined by a factor that has to do, not with the object, but with myself as the observer.

Perception-Picture Dependent On My Organization
It becomes more difficult when we learn how our perceptual world is dependent on our bodily and mental organization. The physicist teaches us that in the space where we hear a sound, there are vibrations of the air. And in the body where the sound is emitted there are vibrations of its parts. But we only perceive these vibrations as sound if we have normally constructed ears. Without them the whole world would remain forever silent.

The physiologist teaches us there are people who perceive nothing of the wonderful display of colors surrounding us. Their perception-picture only has shades of light and dark. Others fail to perceive just one particular color, such as red. Their picture of the world lacks this color hue, and is different from the average person.

I would like to call the dependency of my perception-picture on my place of observation "mathematical," and its dependency on my organization "qualitative."

4.6 Know Only My Percepts
1. World As Perception: Perception-Picture Is Subjective
2. World Experience: Percept Exists During The Act Of Perceiving
3. Intuitive Experience: Know My Percepts

Perception-Picture Is Subjective
[19] My perception-pictures, then, are at first subjective. The recognition of the subjective character of our percepts can easily lead us to doubt whether anything objective underlies them at all. We know that a percept, for example the color red or a certain musical tone, is only possible thanks to a specific structure of our organism. From this we can easily be led to believe that the percept, apart from our subjective organization, ceases to be. If not for our act of perceiving it as an object, it has no existence at all.

Percept Only Exists During The Act Of Perceiving
This view found its classic expression in George Berkeley, who was convinced that when we realize how significant the human subject is for the percept, we can no longer believe in a world that exists apart from a conscious mind. He says:

“The whole choir of heaven and all things of the earth—in a word, all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world—have no subsistence outside the mind.”

From this point of view, nothing remains of the percept if we consider it apart from being perceived. There is no color when none is seen, no sound when none is heard. Outside the act of perception, categories such as extension, form, and motion exist just as little as color and sound.

Know Only My Percepts
[20] Even what we call an object is nothing but a collection of percepts connected in a certain way. If I strip a table of its figure, extension, color, etc.—in other words everything that is only my percept—then nothing is left. Carried to its logical conclusion, this view leads to the assertion: The objects of my perception are there through me, and only insofar and as long as I am perceiving them. They disappear with the perceiving and have no meaning without it. Other than my percepts, I know of no objects and cannot know of any.

[21] To the claim that we can know only our percepts, no objection is made as long as it is only meant as a general fact that the percept is partly determined by the organization of the perceiving subject.

4.7 Speak Of Ideas
1. World As Perception: Aware Of Myself As The Observer
2. World Experience: After-Effect Of Observation: An Idea-Image
3. Intuitive Experience: Speak Of Ideas

[22] This leads us to turn our attention from the perceived object to the perceiving subject. I do not only perceive other things; I also perceive myself.

Aware Of Myself As The Observer
When I am absorbed in the perception of a given object I am, for the moment, aware only of this object. The awareness of myself can be added to this. I am then not only conscious of the object, but also of my own personality, standing over against the object and observing it. I not only see a tree; I know it is I seeing it.

After-Effect Of Observation: An Idea-Image
I also know something goes on in me while I am observing the tree. When the tree disappears from my field of vision, an after-effect of this process remains: an image of the tree. This image has become associated with my Self during my observation. My Self has become enriched; a new element has been added to its content. I call this element my idea (Vorstellung) of the tree.

Speak Of Ideas
I would never be in a position to speak of ideas if I did not experience them by being aware of my Self. Percepts would come and go; I would simply let them pass by. It is only because I perceive my Self that I notice that with each perception the content of my Self, too, is changed. By noticing the connection between the observation of the object and the changes that occur in me, I then speak of having an idea.

4.8 Know Only My Ideas
1. World As Perception: Outer World And Inner World
2. World Experience: Perceive Only My Ideas
3. Intuitive Experience: Know Only My Ideas

Outer World And Inner World
[23] I perceive ideas in my Self in the same way I perceive colors, sounds, etc. in other objects. From this point of view, I can now make the further distinction of calling these other objects that confront me the outer world, while the content of my Self-observation I call my inner world.

Perceive Only My Ideas
The failure to recognize the relationship between idea and object has led to the greatest misunderstandings in modern philosophy. The perception of a change in me, the modification my Self undergoes, is thrust into the foreground, while the object causing this modification is completely lost sight of. As a consequence it is said: We do not perceive the objects, but only our ideas. I know nothing, so it is claimed, of the object of my observation; the table itself. I know only of the change that is going on within me while I am perceiving the table.

Know Only My Ideas
The Kantian view limits our knowledge of the world to our ideas. But it does not do so because of a conviction that nothing other than ideas exist. The reason we know only our ideas is not that no reality exists independent of these ideas. It is because the human subject cannot receive such a reality into itself directly.

Kantians believe their view expresses something absolutely certain, something without any need of proof:
“The first fundamental principle the philosopher must clearly grasp is the recognition that our knowledge does not initially go beyond our ideas. Our ideas are the only things we experience directly and learn to know directly. On the other hand, all knowledge that does go beyond my ideas—taking ideas here in the widest sense to include all psychical processes—is open to doubt.

4.9 Psyche Forms Idea
1. World As Perception: Know Only My Ideas
2. World Experience: Organization Transmits External Object
3. Intuitive Experience: Psyche Forms Idea

Know Only My Ideas
Naive common sense believes that things, just as we perceive them, also exist outside our minds. Physics, physiology and psychology, however, teach us that for perception to take place our organization is necessary. Consequently, we cannot know anything about external objects other than what our organization transmits to us. What we perceive as objects are modifications that occur in our organization, not the things themselves. This line of reasoning has been characterized by Eduard von Hartmann as leading inevitably to the conviction that we can have direct knowledge only of our ideas.

Organization Transmits External Object
Because outside our organism we find vibrations of physical bodies and of the air perceived by us as sound. This view reasons that what we call sound is nothing more than a subjective reaction of our organism to these motions in the external world. Our percepts of warmth and color are the effects of processes in the external world. These external processes are entirely different from what we experience as warmth and color.

Physics
The physicist thinks of bodies as consisting of infinitely small parts called molecules. These molecules are not in direct contact with each other, but have certain distances separating them. Between them is empty space. When I place my hand on an object, the molecules of my hand never touch the molecules of the object. There always remains a certain distance between object and hand. What I feel as the resistance of the object, is nothing other than the effect of the force of repulsion its molecules exert on my hand. I remain completely external to the object. All I perceive is its effect on my organism.

Physiology
[25] Physiology further shows there can be no direct knowledge even of the effects objects have within our sense-organs. When the physiologist follows the processes that take place in the body, he finds the effects of external motion already transformed within the sense organs in a variety of ways. We see this most clearly in the eye and the ear. Both are very complicated organs that alter the external stimulus considerably, before conveying it to the corresponding nerve. From the peripheral nerve-ending, the already changed stimulus is transmitted further to the brain.

What finally takes place in the brain is connected to the external stimuli by so many intermediate processes, any similarity between the two is out of the question. What the brain finally transmits to the human psyche are processes inside the brain. Yet even these are not perceived directly by our inner being. What we finally have in consciousness are not brain-processes at all, but sensations. This is why Hartmann says, "What the subject perceives are always only modifications of his own psychical states and nothing else."

Psyche Forms Idea
Psychology
When I have sensations they are still far from being grouped into what I perceive as "things." The psyche constructs things out of the various sensations transmitted to it by the brain. My brain conveys to me the single sensations of sight, touch and hearing by entirely different pathways. The psyche then combines the sensations to form the idea “trumpet.” This final stage of the process (the idea of the trumpet) is the very first thing to enter my consciousness.

In this result nothing can any longer be found of what exists outside me and made the original impression on my senses. The external object has been completely lost on the way to the brain and through the brain to the human psyche.

4.10 External Object Creation Of Psyche
1. World As Perception: Projection Of Psyche
2. World Experience: Conscious Of Object
3. Intuitive Experience: External Object Creation Of Psyche

[26] It would be hard to find in the history of human intellectual life an edifice of thought built up with greater ingenuity, and yet, on closer analysis, collapses into nothing.

Projection Of Psyche
The theory begins with what is given in naive consciousness, the thing as perceived. Then it shows that none of the qualities found in it would exist for us if we had no sense organs. No eye—no color. The color first arises through the interaction of the eye with the object. The object, then, is colorless. But the color is not present in the eye either. In the eye there is a chemical or physical process that is conducted by the nerve to the brain. The process in the brain is not yet the color. The color is produced in our psychical nature by the brain process. But even here I am still not conscious of it. It is first projected outwards by our psyche onto a spatial body in the external world. Here, finally, I see the color, as a quality of this body.

Conscious Of Object
We have come full circle. We have become conscious of a colored object. That comes first. Now the thought-operation begins. If I had no eyes, the object would be colorless for me. So I cannot attribute the color to the object. I go looking for it. I look for it in the eye,—in vain; in the nerve,—also in vain; in the brain,—again in vain.

External Object Creation Of Psyche
Finally, I look for it in the psyche. Here I find it, but unconnected with the spatial body. I only find the colored object again—there, at the place where I started. The circle is closed. The theory leads me to believe that what the naive person thinks is existing outside him in space, is really a creation of my own psyche.

4.11 Confuse External With Internal Observations
1. World As Perception: External Percept Is My Idea
2. World Experience: Web Of Ideas
3. Intuitive Experience: Confuse External With Internal Observations

[27] As long as one stops here, everything seems to fit perfectly. But we must go over it again from the beginning. Up to now I have been dealing with an object—the external percept. As a naive person, I had an an entirely false view of it. I thought the percept, just as I perceive it, had objective existence. Now I realize it disappears as I represent it to myself in the act of perceiving. The external percept is no more than a modification of my mental condition.

External Percept Is My Idea
Do I still have the right to take it as a starting point for my reflections? Can I say it has an effect on my psyche? Previously I believed the table had an effect on me, and brought about an idea of itself in me. From now on I must treat the table as itself an idea. But then to be logically consistent, my sense organs and the processes going on in them must also be only subjective manifestations. I have no right to speak of a real eye, only of my idea of the eye. The same would apply to the nerve paths and the brain process. And even to the process that occurs within the psyche itself, by which things are supposedly constructed out of the chaos of various sensations.

Web Of Ideas
If I go through each step of the act of cognition once again, assuming the correctness of the first circular line of thought, the cognitive act described reveals itself as a web of ideas that cannot possibly act on each other. I cannot say: My idea of the object acts on my idea of the eye, and the result of this interaction is my idea of color. As soon as it is clear to me that my sense organs and their activity, and my nerve and psychic processes, are also known to me only through perception, then the full impossibility of the described line of thought reveals itself.

Confuse External With Internal Observations
[28] There is a gap in the whole chain of reasoning. I can follow the processes in my organism up to those in my brain. The method of external observation ends with the process in the brain. The method of internal observation, or introspection, begins with the sensations, and continues up to the construction of things out of the material of sensation. At the point of transition from brain process to sensation, there is a break in the method of observation.

[29] The Critical Idealist sets out to prove that our percepts are representational ideas, while naively accepting the percepts belonging to his own body as objectively valid facts. What is more, he fails to see he is confusing two fields of observation, between which he can find no connecting link.

4.12 Content Of Percept Before Perception
1. World As Perception: Percept Product Of Our Organism
2. World Experience: Ideas Based On Senses
3. Intuitive Experience: Content Of Percept Before Perception

Percept Product Of Our Organism
[30] Critical idealism can only refute Naive Realism if it accepts, in naive-realistic fashion, that one's own organism has objective existence. As soon as the Idealist realizes the percepts of his own organism are exactly the same kind as those Naive Realism assumes to have objective existence, he can no longer use those percepts as a secure foundation for his theory. He would, to be consistent, have to regard his own organism also as a mere complex of ideas. But this removes the possibility of thinking that the content of the perceived world is a product of our mental organization.

[31] This much, then, is certain: Investigation of the field of perception cannot prove the correctness of Critical Idealism, and, consequently, cannot strip percepts of their objective character.

Ideas Based On Senses
[32] But even less can the principle, "The perceived world is my idea" be claimed as obvious in need of no proof. Schopenhauer begins his main work, The World as Will and Idea, with the words:

"The world is my idea—this truth applies to every living and cognizing being, although the human being alone can bring it into reflective, abstract consciousness. And when he really does this, he will have attained to philosophical self-knowledge. The world around him is present only as an idea.”

This whole theory, based on the principle “The world is my idea” collapses in the face of the fact, noted above, that the eye and hand are percepts just as much as the sun and the earth. In Schopenhauer’s terms, and using his style of expression, one could respond: My eye that sees the sun, and my hand that feels the earth, are my ideas just like the sun and the earth. Put in this way, it is immediately clear Schopenhauer’s proposition cancels itself out. For only my real eye and my real hand could have the ideas of sun and earth as their modifications—my ideas “eye” and “hand” could not.

Content Of Percept Before Perception
[33] Critical Idealism is completely unable to gain insight into the relationship between percepts and ideas. It cannot begin to make the distinction we indicated earlier, between what happens to the percept during the act of perception, and what must already be present in it before it is perceived. To do this, we must find another way to approach this question.

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1895 Friedrich Nietzsche, A Fighter Against His Time by Rudolf Steiner

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Study Guide With Descriptions


  THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM STUDY GUIDE

THE STUDY GUIDE WITH PAGE DESCRIPTIONS
This is a link to the Study Guide with page descriptions added.

  AUTHOR

THE CREED OF RUDOLF STEINER
The guide begins with Rudolf Steiner’s Creed. It was written in 1888 when he was 27 years old and sets down his core principles and beliefs. The Philosophy Of Freedom is published 6 years later and expresses Steiner’s belief that the “idea” is the spirit.
WHO WAS RUDOLF STEINER?
The next page asks, Who was Rudolf Steiner? He was a respected scholar, anarchist, and advocate of the scientific worldview. His most important work is The Philosophy Of Freedom. His life was devoted to finding ways to interest people in freedom, individualism, thinking and ethics. This all changed when The Philosophy Of Freedom was banned and he was accused of associating with terrorists.
SCHOLAR
This page has videos that show the significant difference between Steiner’s Scholar Period and his Occult Period. This website is focused on Rudolf Steiner’s Scholar Period because it is a valuable resource that is filled with the spirit of The Philosophy Of Freedom.
ANARCHIST
In 1898 Rudolf Steiner publicly declared himself an “Individualist Anarchist”. When you understand what Individualist Anarchism is you can see why some have called The Philosophy Of Freedom the “anarchist’s bible”.
HUMANIST
The Humanist page compares the views in The Philosophy Of Freedom with those of established Humanism. It includes over 100 quotes in The Philosophy Of Freedom that express a humanist point of view.
PUBLISHER Magazin für Literatur
In 1897 Rudolf Steiner became an owner, chief editor and essay contributor to the literary journal "Magazin für Literatur". He acquired the magazine in hopes of persuading others to accept the ideas in The Philosophy Of Freedom. The Publisher page includes a link to all his published articles including a few that have been translated to English.

  INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS FREEDOM?
Before the publication of The Philosophy Of Freedom Steiner included a plan for the book in “Truth And Science” where he briefly describes a free deed.
1895 REVIEWS OF TPOF
The Reviews page has some interesting 1895 book reviews.
RUDOLF STEINER'S PATH
Each of us will make the journey to free thinking and action in our own way. The Philosophy Of Freedom serves as a map of the territory we will pass through on the way to freedom. The short videos on this page show how the path can be described in many different ways.
BOOK INTRODUCTION
The Book Introduction page has introductions by 15 different people.
CHAPTER SUMMARY
The Summary page has several chapter summaries.
PRINCIPLES
The Principles page has a list of the principles found in each chapter and can be used to locate ideas in the book.

  THOUGHT-STRUCTURE

12 WORLD VIEWS
After reading Rudolf Steiner’s “Human And Cosmic Thought” I suspected that the thought-structure described in these lectures was used in the writing of The Philosophy Of Freedom. The thought-structure features 12 worldviews because broad-mindedness is necessary to reach the truth of the world. I discovered that each chapter in The Philosophy Of Freedom begins with an introduction that is followed by 12 points-of-view.
TOPIC HEADINGS EXPLAINED
I placed topic headings in the text to mark the shifts from one viewpoint to another. The reader may become confused if the shifting points-of-view are not noticed. These topic headings are found on the website in the online editions of the book.

  READING

THE MISSING CHAPTER
It was many years before I realized that a chapter had been removed from The Philosophy Of Freedom. This is the story of what I had to do to find it.
WHY READ THE UNREVISED PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM?
The Philosophy Of Freedom was written with the mood and intention of describing the free spirited radical individualist. This changed in 1918 when the book was edited and revised in an attempt to make a connection between The Philosophy Of Freedom and Steiner's later occult science. Now there were two versions of The Philosophy Of Freedom, the original written in 1894 and the 1918 revised edition. The original Philosophy Of Freedom went out of print and was forgotten. After doing some research I discovered that an English edition of the original 1894 Philosophy Of Freedom was published in 1916. The translator was Hoernle. It was out of print and no longer available so I republished it. A free copy is available on the website and it is on Amazon priced at cost.
HOERNLE EDITION
This link takes you to the 1916 Hoernle translation with topic headings added. The Hoernle is the only English translation based on Steiner’s original unrevised 1894 German edition. It is also the only translation sanctioned by Rudolf Steiner himself.
ILLUSTRATED EDITION
A free downloadable textbook edition of The Philosophy Of Freedom is also available with diagrams and pictures.
NEW READABLE EDITION
The existing translations of The Philosophy Of Freedom closely follow the form of the German language with long sentences and paragraphs, and German word order. These translations are too literal making the text unreadable. For this reason I decided to edit the Hoernle English translation to make it more readable. It is a work in progress and only available online.
ALL TRANSLATIONS
This is a link to 9 English translations on the Translation page. It is helpful to refer to other translations if you are having difficulty.

  STUDY

HOW TO STUDY
The Philosophy Of Freedom can not be studied like a normal book. As you read you will be asking yourself, What does this mean? Your thinking is disciplined by following the special organization of the thoughts and struggling for the meaning. Proper study will result in the joy of intuitive insights that reveal meaning. Proper study also develops the faculty of intellectual intuition that is required for Ethical Individualism.
PROJECT BASED STUDY
Project based study is about making the ideas in the book your own by expressing them in a project. The ideas can be expressed in art, videos, making diagrams or even cartooning. You can write chapter summaries or apply the principles in social or political commentary. Let me know about your project and I will post it on the website.
START A STUDY GROUP
Deep study is usually done in solitude. But finding a study partner or a study group can be awakening. This page describes a fun study group process I created that everyone loved.
GROUP CONVERSATION
Group conversation leads to fresh insights but it requires discipline. This page has links to articles on group contemplation.
FREE COMMUNITIES
In 1923 Steiner recommended the formation of free communities. It would be for people who were not satisfied with living a familiar traditional life, but were concerned with the great dangers facing society.

  SELF-STUDY COURSE

ASK RUDOLF STEINER
After over a century since its publication The Philosophy Of Freedom is still unknown. We need to get the word out. The “Ask Rudolf Steiner” video series poses a question about life and then looks to see what The Philosophy Of Freedom says.
COMPARATIVE STUDY
This self-study course uses the scientific method of comparative research. It is a way of learning that compares two experiences discussed in The Philosophy Of Freedom. It compares the experience of outer truth that we observe in the external world with the experience of inner truth that appears within.
12 VIEWS STUDY
This video series discusses The Philosophy Of Freedom in light of the 12 worldview thought-structure. Each chapter presents 12 views of the chapter topic. The 12 worldviews are represented by characters.
BRIAN GRAY LECTURES
Brian Gray was a teacher at Rudolf Steiner College for many years. You can watch 17 Brian Gray lectures about The Philosophy Of Freedom on this page.
COMIC BOOKS
You will find links to 3 comic books about The Philosophy Of Freedom on the Comic Book page.
LET'S PLAY JEOPARDY!
Have you ever wondered what Philosophy Of Freedom Jeopardy would be like? Watch it here.

  INTROSPECTION

OBSERVATION OF THOUGHT EXERCISES
Rudolf Steiner called the observation of thought the most important observation we can make. By practicing the exercises on this page you will train yourself in the observation of thought.

  ETHICS

THE HUMAN IDEAL
Rudolf Steiner presents to the world a new Human Ideal, the Ethical Individualist. The Ethical Individualist stands at the highest point of human evolution as one who acts according to one's own highest ethical ideals. He is reality-based and acts out of knowledge as a free thinker. He freely selects the ethical principle to apply to each life situation without regard for what others would do.
ETHICAL INDIVIDUALISM
The leading principle of the Ethical Individualist, above all others, is to express his moral content in action. To bring change the Ethical Individualist wears four hats; that of a scientist, a philosopher, an artist, and a technician.
ETHICAL ACTIVISM
A problem today is that many lack the motivation to take ethical action. The Philosophy Of Freedom is an answer to apathy by guiding the individual to their inner truth that will empower ethical action. Inner truth brings the conviction to take a stand where others may lack the courage.

  SOCIAL AND POLITICAL

SOCIETY AND POLITICS
Rudolf Steiner stated the purpose of The Philosophy Of Freedom is to “lay the foundations of ethical individualism and of a social and political life.” Our political views are rooted in our values. The political value of freedom has united many from the Left and the Right. Naturally the political compass of one who values freedom will lean toward the Libertarian axis that supports individual freedom.
CENSORSHIP
At the core of ethical individualism and building a free society is freedom of thought and expression. Today alternative views and “offensive” speech is being restricted or completely censored. This is an attack on the broad-mindedness necessary to reach truth.
COGNITIVE RIGHTS
Should we be more concerned about Cognitive Rights? There are people who use mind control, brainwashing, or marketing to control our thoughts. At what point is our human right of free thinking violated?

  VIDEOS

VIDEO PLAYER
This page has a video viewer to watch Philosophy Of Freedom videos.
SUBSCRIBE TO YOUTUBE FOR NEW VIDEOS
This link takes you to the YouTube channel. By subscribing you will know when new videos come out.

  REFERENCE

DOWNLOAD THE FOUR BASIC BOOKS
The ideas in The Philosophy Of Freedom are found in 4 books. There are 3 books that lead up to and expand on some of the ideas briefly outlined in The Philosophy Of Freedom. You can get free downloads of these basic books on science and freedom on the Download Page.
BASIC BOOKS REFERENCE QUOTES
This page inserts quotes from 3 basic books into the text of The Philosophy Of Freedom to expand on the ideas.
LEXICON
A Lexicon of Philosophy Of Freedom terms has been started.
RELATED ARTICLES And finally a list of articles that relate to the book is located here.

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The Illustrated Philosophy Of Freedom

Below are PDF links to each single Philosophy Of Freedom chapter. The chapters are in a textbook format with diagrams and images added.

File of the complete textbook in one PDF

 

The ILLUSTRATED Philosophy Of Freedom
by Rudolf Steiner

1916 Hoernle translation
(Based on the 1894 Die Philosophie der Freiheit)

PART I : THEORY
The Theory of Freedom

0. THE GOAL OF KNOWLEDGE
1. CONSCIOUS HUMAN ACTION
2. WHY THE DRIVE FOR KNOWLEDGE IS FUNDAMENTAL
3. THOUGHT AS THE INSTRUMENT OF KNOWLEDGE
4. THE WORLD AS PERCEPTION
5. OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD
6. HUMAN INDIVIDUALITY
7. ARE THERE ANY LIMITS TO COGNITION?
PART II : PRACTICE
The Reality of Freedom

8. THE FACTORS OF LIFE
9. THE IDEA OF FREEDOM
10. MONISM AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM
11. WORLD PURPOSE AND LIFE PURPOSE (The Destiny Of Man)
12. MORAL IMAGINATION (Darwinism and Morality)
13. THE VALUE OF LIFE (Optimism and Pessimism)
14. THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE GENUS
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Observation Of Thought Exercises


Observation Of Thought Exercises

OBSERVATION OF THINKING EXERCISES by Jügen Strube
Philosophy Of Freedom Observation Of Thinking Exercises
(42 exercises)

PRACTICAL THOUGHT TRAINING EXERCISES by Rudolf Steiner
Practical Training in Thought
(7 exercises)

PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM EXERCISES by Tim Nadelle
(2 exercises)
Foundational Exercise 
An Exploration of Motives

PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM EXERCISES by Tim Nadelle
(12 exercises)
PDF Individual Exercises
PDF Individual And Group Exercises
The 12 exercises are broken into three groups: Thinking, Feeling and Willing. Each exercise is preceded by the quotes from the Philosophy which inspired the exercise. The first seven exercises, on Thinking, correspond to the first seven chapters of the Philosophy. The exercises on Feeling work with quotes from various chapters. The exercises on Willing derive primarily from chapter 9, but also later chapters.

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© Tom Last 2017