Rudolf Steiner gave a science path to truth for the science-minded and an occult path to truth for the spiritual-minded.
Tuesday December 12, 2017 Study Group Discussion
Die Soziale Frage
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 28, 16 July 1898
Google translate: German to English
THE SOCIAL QUESTION
It is not easy to talk about the "social question" today, endless talking helps to influence our judgment on this issue in the least favorable way. Nothing like this has been "confused by the parties favor and hate." As in few areas, the views are sharply opposed. What has not been put forward? And how soon one notices, with many views appearing, that they stem from spirits who are wandering through the world of facts with the utmost fury.
However, I do not even consider the party passions to be the worst obstacles to a desirable assessment of the social question. Only those who are within the Party's operations are missled by them. Anyone who is beyond this transmission, always has the opportunity to make a personal judgment. A much more significant obstacle seems to be that our thinking heads, our scientifically trained culture bearers, do not want to succeed in finding a sure way to find a methodical way of tackling this question.
Again and again I come to this conviction when I read writings on the social question of authors who are quite earnest because of their scientific education. I have noticed that in this field the kind of thinking which our researchers have adopted under the influence of Darwinism is for the time being not yet beneficial. Do not misunderstand me. I realize that with the Darwinist mindset, one of the greatest advances mankind has made has been accomplished. And I believe that Darwinism must be beneficial in all areas of human thought, if its in accordance with one's spirit. I myself have delivered in my Philosophy of Freedom a book which, in my opinion, is written in the very spirit of Darwinism. What happened to me in the conception of this book is very curious. I had been thinking about the most intimate questions of human spiritual life. I did not care about Darwinism at all. And when my mind was finished, I got the idea: You have made a contribution to Darwinism.
Now I think that sociologists do not do it that way. They first asked the Darwinian-thinking naturalists: How do you do it? And then they transferred their methods to their field. They committing a big mistake. The laws of nature governing the organic realm of nature are simply transferred to the field of human spiritual life; these laws are applied to human development in exactly the same way as it is observed in the animal. There is undoubtedly a healthy core in this view. There is certainly a similar conformity to law throughout the world. But it is by no means necessary for the same laws to be active in all fields. The laws that the Darwinists have found work in the animal and plant kingdoms. In the human kingdom we have to look for laws that are thought in the spirit of Darwinism - but which are just as specifically inherent to the human realm as the laws of organic development are to the natural kingdoms mentioned above. We have to search for the laws of human development, even when these are also thought in the spirit of Darwinism. Simply transferring the laws of Darwinism to the development of humanity will not lead to satisfactory views.
I noticed this especially when reading the book, "The Social Question In The Light Of Philosophy" by Dr. Ludwig Stein (published by Ferdinand Enke, Stuttgart 1897) for which I write down these thoughts: controlled by the intention to treat the social question in a way that corresponds to that prevailing in Darwinian natural science.
"What Buckle did to the concept of causality in history over a lifetime ago, namely that, supported by the emerging statistics, proved its unconditional validity for the past history of all life, has to be done today for the sake of development, after we have reaped the achievements of Darwin and his successors."
Starting from this inclination, Ludwig Stein examines how the various forms of human social coexistence control the people. And he tries to show that "adaptation" and "struggle for existence" play the same role as in animal development. First of all, I want to pick one of these forms in order to make the approach of Steins vivid: the religious one.
Man finds himself surrounded by various forces of nature. These intervene in his life. They can be useful or harmful to him. They become useful to him if he finds means by which he can use the forces of nature in the sense that they serve his existence. Man invents tools and devices to make the forces of nature serviceable. That is, he seeks to adapt his own existence to that of his environment. There may be many attempts that prove to be erroneous. Among countless many, however, they will always hit upon those that are right. These remain the winners. You keep them for yourself. The mistaken attempts are destroyed. The useful is preserved in the "struggle for existence."
Among the forces of nature man finds not only the visible but also the invisible. He calls them, next to the purely natural, the divine powers. He also wants to adapt to this. He invents religion with sacrificial service, believing that it will move the divine powers for his benefit. Stein considers the origin of marriage, property, state, language, and law in the same way. All of these forms are created by man's adaptation to his environment; and the present forms of marriage, property, etc., have been preserved because they have proved to be most useful to man in the struggle for existence. One sees that Stein is simply trying to transfer Darwinism to the human domain. I will use the cited book to show where such a transfer leads in the following article. ("Freedom And Society""
Unzeitgemässes Zur Gymnasialreform
Magazine for Literature, 67th Y., No. 9, March 5, 1898
Google translate: German to English
CONTEMPORARY HIGH SCHOOL REFORM
There is much talk of high school reform now. When you read the reports of negotiations that are being conducted on this matter, you get a strange impression. There is talk about everything possible, but little about the main thing. There are endless debates about whether a few hours should be more or less used for Latin and Greek instruction or not, whether the German essay should be maintained in one way or another. And yet these things are of least concern. The main lack of our high school is apparent. It does not do anything to get the pupils to the point where they are able to grasp the modern spiritual life.
Or is it not correct that the high school graduate of today is at a loss when faced with the very basis of our view of the world and life, the modern scientific conception? What Socrates, what Plato taught, what Caesar wrote, is not a living part of our spiritual life. What Darwin revealed, what modern physiology, physics, and biology reveal, should be.
It does not occur to me to underestimate the educational value of the Greeks and Romans. But I believe that the past is only given the right value for the formation of our time when seen from the point of view of the present. Whoever does not know the content from our cultural period can only get into a skewed relationship with Socrates and Plato.
Everything taught at the high school should be fulfilled with the spirit of the present. People steeped in this spirit should be teachers alone. It matters whether the teacher of Greek or Latin understands modern science or not. Everything is connected in the spiritual life. Thousands of details will be taught by a modern mind in a different way than one rooted in classical philology who knows nothing but his "subject."
It would have incalculable consequences for our entire intellectual life if our high school students were educated in the sense of the scientific world view of our time. Our entire public life would have to take on a different form. Numerous discussions about the relationship between religion and science, of faith and knowledge, etc., would be spared us. It would no longer be possible to put forward things that have long been dismissed from the point of view of modern thought.
One does not object that the views of the scientific worldview are for the most part still hypotheses that still need to be tested. You are entitled to any doubt. But I would have to reply that this is true of every opinion, of the old no less than the new one. But we do not have the task to convey convictions to our growing generation. We should make them use their own judgment, their own perception. You should learn to look into the world with open eyes.
Whether we doubt the truth of what we convey to youth or not, that is not important. Our beliefs apply only to us. Teach the youth by saying: this is how we look at the world; watch how it presents itself to you. We should awaken abilities, not deliver beliefs.
The youth should not believe in our "truths" but in our personality. The adolescents should notice that we are seekers. And we should bring them to the ways of the seekers. We tell the next generation how we got on with things and leave it up to them on how to succeed.
Therefore, we should not withhold from the students what we have gained that has replaced the religious ideas we have overcome. They should not grow up with feelings that contradict modern thought.
Many will regard what I have said as a figment of the imagination of a man who is so absorbed in the ideas of the scientific world-view that he does not realize how much he overlooks the opposite feelings of others. That does not matter. Those others emphasize their demands. We want to do the same with ours. No Catholic bishop will shy away from reforming the school in his favor. We also want to express our opinion about the path that must lead to where we want the world to be. Moderation dulls the weapons.
Rudolf Steiner, Magazine for Literature, 66th year, No., 38, 25 September 1897
Google translate: German to English
THE DESIRE OF THE JEWS FOR PALESTINE
Not a few smart people will find it superfluous that any word was spoken about the strange gathering that took place in Basel a few days ago under the name Zionist Congress. The fact that a number of European-born Jews come together to propagate the idea of establishing a new Palestinian empire and to cause the Jews to emigrate to this new "promised land" seems to these wise men to be an insane idea of a morbidly excited fantasy. In this judgment, they are reassured. They do not talk about it anymore. I believe, however, that these wise men have lagged ten years behind in their judgments. And ten years is a small eternity in our time when events are flowing so fast. Ten years ago, with some justification, one could think that a Jew was half mad who had the idea of bringing his people to Palestine. Today one may only consider him hypersensitive and vain; but in another ten years things can be very different.
However, in the case of Messrs. Herzl and Nordau, the present leaders of the Zionist movement, I think it is more about vanity than a sensitivity to a perceived increase in anti-Semitism. The commonplace phrases that Herzl put forward in his booklet "The Jewish State" (M. Breitenstein's bookstore, Leipzig and Vienna, 1896) and the story-telling with which the sensationalist Nordau in Basel delighted his listeners are certainly not troubled from the deepest depths of their souls. But they come from intelligent minds who know what works most strongly for those Jews who have a sensitive heart and a sophisticated sense of self-respect. These latter members of the Jewish people will, in my opinion, become followers of Messrs. Herzl and Nordau. And the number of these members is certainly not small.
What good is it to emphasize so often that the Jews who feel this way are in grave error? They turn their eyes away from the great advances that have been made in recent decades, the emancipation of the Jews, and only see that they are still excluded from many places, and many rights are reduced; and, moreover, they hear that they are being insulted by the anti-Semites in the most desperate way. They do so because their hurt feelings cloud their minds. They are unable to see the powerlessness of anti-Semitism; they only see its drive and its outrageous excesses. They doubt whoever tells them: look at how futile the machinations of the hate of the Jews is, and how all their endeavors end in embarrassment.
Their listen only to those who say to them like Theodor Herzl: "In the populations, anti-Semitism is growing daily, hourly, and must continue to grow, because the causes persist and can not be resolved. ... Our well-being seems to contain something provocative, because for many centuries the world has been accustomed to seeing in us the most despicable of the poor. At the same time one does not realize, out of ignorance or narrow-mindedness, that our well-being weakens us as Jews and extinguishes our peculiarities. Only the pressure presses us back to the old tribe, only the hatred of our surroundings makes us strangers again. So we are and will remain, whether we like it or not, a historical group of recognizable togetherness. We are a people - the enemy makes us without our will, as has always been in history".
And those who find such sentences the most powerful reverberations today were very ready with a passion to let their own peoplehood merge into that of the West. It is not real anti-Semitism that is the cause of this Jewish over-sensitivity, but the false image formed by an over-excited fantasy of the anti-Semitic movement. Anyone who has anything to do with Jews knows how deeply among the best of its people is the tendency to make such a false picture. Mistrust of the non-Jew has thoroughly seized their souls. In the case of people with no trace of conscious anti-Semitism, they suspect an unconscious, instinctive, secret hatred of the Jews at the bottom of the soul. I count it among the most beautiful fruits, which can drive human inclination, if every trace of suspicion between a Jew and a non-Jew is extinguished in the direction indicated above. I would almost call such a passion a victory over human nature. It is not excluded that in a short time such inclinations will be altogether impossible.
There may come a time when the sensation sphere of Jewish personalities becomes so irritated that every understanding with non-Jews becomes impossible. What counts in the so-called Jewish question is sensible arguments and plans, not the tearing of intimate threads between Jew and non-Jew, or the rise of emotional tendencies, or a thousand unspeakable things. It would be best if there were as little talk as possible in this matter. Only the mutual actions of individuals should be valued. It does not matter if someone is Jewish or German: if I find him nice, I like him; if he is disgusting, I avoid him. This is so simple that it is almost silly when you say it.
But how foolish do you have to be when you say the opposite! I think the anti-Semites are harmless people. The best of them are like children. They want to have something to blame for the ill they suffer. When a child drops a plate, it looks for somebody or something that has bumped it to blame for the accident. It does not seek the cause, the fault, in itself. That is what the anti-Semites do. It is bad for many people. They are looking for something to blame. The circumstances have brought it about that many currently see this something in Judaism.
Much worse than the anti-Semites are the heartless leaders of the European-weary Jews, Messrs. Herzl and Nordau. They turn an unpleasant childish world into a world-history stream; they are making a harmless banter into a terrible cannon fire. They are seducers, tempters of their people. They sacrifice the understanding that all reasonable people should wish, for their own vanity, which thirsts for programs, because - where deeds are lacking, at the right time a program is established.
However harmless anti-Semitism is in itself, it becomes dangerous when the Jews see them in the light, into which Herzl and Nordau place them. And they understand the language of the tempters, these gentlemen: "One will pray in the temples for the success of the work. But in the churches too! It is the solution of an old pressure under which everyone suffered. But first it must be light in the mind. The idea must fly out to the last deplorable nests where our people live. They will wake up from their dull brooding. For in all our lives comes a new content. Everyone only needs to think about it themselves, and the train will be a huge one. And what fame awaits the selfless fighters for the cause! That is why I believe that a generation of wonderful Jews will grow out of the earth. The Maccabees will rise again." So writes Mr. Theodor Herzl in his "The Jewish State".
I fear there will come a time when the Jews no longer believe what we non-Jews tell them about anti-Semitism, in favor of parroting their Jewish seducers. And like so many beguiled, soulful Jews they will translate the empty phrases of these deceivers into the language of their hearts. The seduced will suffer; but the seducers will triumph over the success their vanity has won. In Basil the question has been basically decided: what should be done to make the solution of the Jewish question as impossible as it possibly could be?
Whether the gentlemen Herzl and Nordau really believe that the Palestinian empire can be established, I can not decide. I hypothesize, in honor of their intelligence, that they do not believe in it. If I am right in this assumption, then one must blame these leaders for placing more obstacles in the way of the confrontation between Jews and non-Jews than the anti-Semitic agitators. The Zionist movement is an enemy of Judaism. The Jews would do best to look closely at the people who make specters of them.
Rudolf Steiner, Magazine for Literature, 66th year, No. 37, 18 September 1897
Google translate: German to English
CATHOLICISM AND PROGRESS
The Würzburg Professor of Theology Herman Schell has published: "Catholicism as a Principle of Progress" (Würzburg 1897). This title had an effect on me like a protest against ideas that I have become accustomed to for many years. I remember that in my youthful years a lasting impression was made on me by a statement made by the famous Cardinal Rauscher in the Austrian mansion. He said, "The Church knows no progress." This sentence always seemed to me to be inspired by a truly religious spirit. And he still seems this way to me today.
If I were a devout Catholic, I would probably take every opportunity to prove and defend that sentence. I would then say, as the Church Father Tertullian, that man's curiosity is no longer necessary, after the divine truth has been revealed to him through Jesus Christ. I would swear by the words of St. Thomas Aquinas that Scripture contains the doctrine of salvation, and that reason can do nothing but use its powers to find human proofs for these eternal truths of Scripture.
I consider the freedom of thinking a paradoxical idea, for I could scarcely associate any sense with the idea of free thinking, if I had to assume that reason must ultimately end up in revelation. I must confess that a devout Catholic who does things differently appears to me first as a problem, as a big question mark. One such question mark for me at first was Professor Herman Schell. As I read his book, the problem took on a more definite shape. It became a psychological task. I found that in the mind of the Professor, ideas are in perfect harmony, which I have hitherto thought to be a complete contradiction.
So says our author: "Freedom of thought is really an ideal, insofar as it means freedom from all prejudices, and remains an ideal, as long as the greatest danger to judgment and to progress is bias by prejudice. Freedom of thought means nothing other than the endeavor to break and keep away from those influences on thought which have no right to truth, because they are not factual or substantiated, because they are only imaginings, habitual ways of thinking, false and superficial interpretations of sensory impressions other communications, such as historical documents or religious source scripts."
The Professor knows quite well what must be drawn from this sentence to draw conclusions when dealing with different modern world-views. He proves to materialism, to monism, that they are based on judgments that thought does not test, because it has become accustomed to them, because it has become entrenched in them by settling in to it. "Materialism has no sense of the facts of internal experience and of the mind; only the tangible is considered a fact. Monism does not want to accept a cause of the world that is different from the world and is a supramundane personality: that is its dogma. "
But I would now like to ask the Catholic professor what he said when it turned out before the forum of free thinking that any of the basic Christian dogmas must be dropped. It seems to me, if I recall the contents of the book, as if the author had no sense for such a possibility. It is as if he believes that thinking can not be anything but the last to arrive at the Christian salvation truths. He wants the promotion of knowledge, but he is convinced that this promotion can not exist in the abandonment of the essential doctrines of the Church, "ranging from the personality of the Creator and the personal immortality of the soul to the historical revelation of God".
If thinking is to be really free, then it must also be open to the possibility of leading to a world-view which derives the order of things from other powers than from a personal God, and knows nothing of personal immortality and historical revelation. Whoever sets these doctrines as goals from the beginning to which thinking must come, speaks as a Catholic; but he can not possibly become the defender of free thought. This becomes a guideline when you set the target yourself. It is inhibited by recognizing the facts as only an arbitrary flight into fantasy, yet the interpretation depends on the statement of the facts. Thought is the last determining factor.
Christian theology, however, must be concerned with interpreting the phenomena of the world so that the interpretation agrees with the content of the revelation. Our author says: "The ideal that guides theological research is the conviction that the equation between properly recorded revelation and properly interpreted reality is to be established." Free thinking sails out into the unknown when it searches for truth. Where the boat is going, it does not know. It only has the strength and the courage to come to a satisfactory view from its own power. Catholic theology knows exactly what the cognition looks like to which thought must arrive. Schell knows this because he says: "The return of faith to demonstrable facts and to convincing principles and proofs is the ideal of theological science."
For me, the question now arises: how is it possible for a logically trained person like Herman Schell to unite the two assertions: thinking must be free, and: this free thinking must provide the proof that the Catholic belief in revelation has unconditional truth? This question seems to me to be a psychological one. I want to solve it in the following way. The modern theologian is educated in the belief in divine revelation. His education makes it impossible for him to doubt the truth of revelation. But in addition to the divine salvation truth, he also gets to know modern science with its fruitful research methods. He gain respect for this fruitfulness. At the same time, he feels a sense of weakness in the face of the achievements of the modern spirit. Only strong spirits will presume to fight against this feeling; and they will also be able to suppress it. They will remain faithful and brave in the true faith, in the true spirit of their fathers, namely the Fathers of the Church: the Church knows no progress.
The others will unite black and white, and as Schell says: "Catholicism signifies the covenant of peace of reason and faith, of research and revelation without the degradation and humiliation of the Logos: for Christianity is the religion of the Spirit and the Logos! The true spirit of religion and sanctity is only the spirit that proceeds from the Word of Truth." Thus says one who feels a sense of shame, perhaps dormant in the unconscious, when viewed as an adversary of progress. The word "Progress" has a suggestive effect on today's educated people, be they theologians, scholars, politicians, etc.
How rare are the people who are proud to think "anti-progressive". Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the opponents of progress: "Progress is merely a modern idea, that is, a false idea. The European of today remains deep in his values under the Renaissance European; development is not necessarily essential for exaltation, elation, or augmentation." These propositions are in one of the antichristlidist books that have been written. But they are in the book that was written by a truly independent mind. However, the treatise "Catholicism as the Principle of Progress" has come up with a heading that is dependent on two sides: the spirit of true Catholicism and a false shame that prevents denying the claims of anti-Catholic science. A Catholic in the true sense of the word must be called, according to the author: "Catholic is a name that not only is from a time-honored tradition, the central church and conservative Christianity in its firmly organized world inventory, but a name that is a high principle, to accomplish a God-given task: to realize the kingdom of God in spirit and in truth among all peoples, and indeed through all peoples and national characters, and thus to carry out Christianity in the Church really fully, genuinely and truthfully."
Non-catholic, and only out it is said in reverence for anti-Catholic science: "The concept of God of the arbitrary power, which expresses its supreme mastermind just as frequently as possible in breaking through the laws of nature and the great chaos of uncontrollable forces, has no basis in reason and can not be proved scientifically. Only God as the almighty realization of the perfect spiritual life, as the eternal omnipotence of infinite wisdom and holiness itself, is provable to unbelief as indispensable truth and makes all superstition unacceptable." This sentence affects me as if it were a Haeckelian not a professor of Catholic theology in Würzburg. A God as the realization of the perfect spiritual life, as the epitome of wisdom and holiness, is something very different from the personal God of the Catholic, the one and only one who can break the laws of nature. This is what the Gospels teach.
And completely anti-Catholic spirit speaks from the words: "Does it need a separate principle, that everything in the rational man must be mediated by his personal reason and freedom, by his earnest examination of conscience, concerning faith and the purpose of life? That's obvious!" Yes, it goes without saying, but for an unchristian thinking. Anyone who does so seriously with these words must refuse to tie the thinking by the established doctrines of faith. But he stops thinking Catholic. For the modern thinker, ghosts like Professor Schell have only a psychological interest. From them you can learn how the most contradictory ideas can live side by side in one mind. The example cited is particularly instructive because it is typical of a large number of modern theologians, and because it shows how little logical training can combat the power of human sensations. Logically, the spirit of the Catholic theologian is trained. But what good does all logic do if contradictory feelings develop their power from two sides. Logical thinking then becomes a sophistry that fools the thinker that things that will be eternally hostile could live side by side in deepest peace.
Rudolf Steiner, Magazine for Literature, 66th year, No. 14, April 8, 1897
Google translate: German to English
GRAND DUCHESS SOPHIE OF SAXONY
In the history of German literary research, the Grand Duchess Sophie of Saxony, who died on March 23, 1897, deserves a place of honor. Goethe's last grandson appointed her the heir to the entire manuscript estate of his grandfather. He could not have entrusted the precious treasures to any better care than theirs. In April 1888, the papers of Goethe passed into their possession. From that point on she considered the administration of the legacy a sacred and loving duty. She wanted to make it as fruitful as possible for science. She carefully discussed with men who were considered to be good Goethe connoisseurs, with Herman Grimm, Wilhelm Scherer, Gustav von Loeper and Erich Schmidt, how the good entrusted to her should be put to literary-historical research. She founded the "Goethe Archive" and hired Erich Schmidt as its director.
By publishing a Goethe edition corresponding to all the scientific requirements of the time, she believed she could best serve the knowledge of Goethe and his time. A large number of scholars were invited to participate in this issue. It was her heart's desire to experience the completion of the monumental work. Unfortunately, it has not come true. Only half of the envisaged number of volumes is still available today. The Grand Duchess took the most active part in the work of her archive. The current director of this institution, Bernhard Suphan, could only speak in terms of the highest enthusiasm when he spoke of this sympathy. She went into all the details of the work.
Goethe's estate was a magnet for the papers left behind by other German poets and writers. The descendants of Schiller in May 1889 made the manuscripts of their ancestor as a gift to the Grand Duchess. As a result, the "Goethe Archive" expanded into the "Goethe and Schiller Archive".
The plan was to gradually design this for the German literary archive. Much has already happened to the realization of this plan. The estates of Otto Ludwigs, Friedrich Hebbel, Eduard Mörikes u. a. are already in the Goethe and Schiller archives. In order to complete her creation, the Grand Duchess made the decision to construct her own building to house the treasures. On June 28, 1896, the magnificent building on the Um, near the Residenzschloss, was ready to be turned over to its purpose. Anyone who attended the opening ceremony of this literary archive was able to observe with what seriousness and with what love the Grand Duchess spoke of her creation. One saw how happy she felt to be able to serve science.
A clear view, a sure feeling for the great and the important were inherent to Grand Duchess Sophie. She had a keen judgment that made her do the right thing on the toughest questions. An indomitable energy and a rare prudence enabled her to devote her care to even the smallest trifles that were connected with their work. What she has done for the care of art, for the education of the youth in Weimar, for the material welfare of their country, can not be overlooked today. Setting beautiful tasks and performing them with strong will was in her nature. Great is the veneration that she enjoys in Weimar.
It is highly appreciated by the members of the Goethe Society, the Shakespeare Society, the Schiller Foundation, who were able to see at their meetings in Weimar, how great was the interest that brought this woman spiritual aspirations, and how great the understanding she had for cultural tasks. Her wish was that everyone in Weimar should spend beautiful days when they visit this place, in order to revive the memory of great times of the past. It has been said many times in recent times that one lives in Weimar from the past. That's right. The best way to understand this life is in great memories. And that there is such a place where people from time to time gather, who otherwise live only in the present, is hardly to be regretted. It's nice to see the past alive from time to time, as if in a dream. The fact that Weimar is today such a place that many people like to visit again and again, and that they take home good impressions of their visits, the recently deceased Grand Duchess has much, much contributed.
Alte und neue Moralbegriffe
Rudolf Steiner, The Future, II. Volume, No. 16, January 14, 1893
Google translate: German to English
OLD AND NEW MORAL CONCEPTS
The word "modern" is on everyone's lips today. Every moment an "all-newest" is discovered on this or that area of human creativity, or at least a promising start to it is noticed. Most of these discoveries, however, do not lead the discerning mind to something really new, but simply the inadequate historical education of the discoverers. For those who are currently influencing public opinion through speech and writing, knowledge equates to the same degree of judgment as the assertions of hubris and audacity in ninety-eight out of a hundred cases. Where now the words "new" and "modern" must help out, they should set terms that have something to do with the thing itself.
I do not want to tune into the wild cries of the unthinking and immature banner bearers of the "modern age" when I speak here of a "new" morality in opposition to the old one. But I have the conviction that the imperative of our time demands of us an acceleration of the change in the views and ways of life that has been taking place very slowly for a long time. Many branches of culture are already saturated with the spirit that speaks out in this demand, but a clear awareness of the main characteristics of the change is not common.
In the following sentence I find a simple expression for the basic feature of a truly future-oriented endeavor: Today, we seek to replace all otherworldly and extra-worldly motive forces with those that lie within the world. In the past people were looking for transcendent powers to explain the existence of phenomena. Revelation, mystical vision, or metaphysical speculation were supposed to lead to knowledge from higher beings. But at present, we seek to find the means to explain the world within ourselves.
One always needs to interpret these propositions in the right way, and one will find that they indicate the characteristic trait of a spiritual revolution that is in full swing. Science is turning more and more from the metaphysical point of view and seeks their explanatory principles within the realm of reality. Art strives to offer in its creations only that which is borrowed from nature and refrains from embodying supernatural ideas. With this endeavor, however, there is a danger of a departure in science as well as in art. Some of our contemporaries did not escape this danger. Instead of pursuing within themselves the traces of the spirit that one had erroneously sought outside of reality, they have lost sight of everything ideal; and we must see how science is content with mindless observing and registering facts, and art often with mere imitation of nature.
But these are abuses that must be overcome by recovering from what lies in the whole school of thought. The significance of the movement lies in the departure from that view of the world which regarded mind and nature as two completely separate entities, and in the recognition of the proposition that both are but two sides, two manifestations of one entity. Replacement of the two-world theory by the unitary world-view, that is the signature of the new time.
The area where this view appears to respond to the most severe prejudices is that of human action. While some naturalists already committed wholeheartedly to her, some aestheticians and art critics are steeped in her, more or less, the ethicists want to know nothing about it. Here there is still the belief in norms that are supposed to dominate life like an otherworldly power, laws that are not created within human nature, but those that are finished
Guidelines are given to our actions. If one goes a long way, one admits that we owe these laws not to the revelation of a supernatural power, but that they are innate to our soul. They are not called divine commandments but categorical imperatives. But in any case, one thinks of the human personality as consisting of two independent entities: of the sensual nature with a sum of instincts and passions, and of the spiritual principle, which penetrates to the knowledge of the moral ideas, by which then the sensory element is controlled and restrained. The sharpest expression of this fundamental ethical view has been found in Kantian philosophy. Just think of the well-known apostrophe of duty! "Mandatory! you exalted great name, in whom you do not grasp anything beloved, what ingratiation with you, but demand submission, 'which you' establish as law, which finds its way into the mind itself, and yet acquires veneration against his own will, where all inclinations are silenced, yet in secret they counteract it."
In these words an independence of the moral commandments lies in a special power, to which everything individual in man simply has to submit. If this power also announces itself within the human personality, then it has its origin outside. The commandments of this power are the moral ideals that can be codified as a system of duties. He is considered by the followers of this direction to be a good person who puts these ideals as motives for his actions. One can call this doctrine the ethics of motives. It has numerous followers among German philosophers.
In a very watered form, she meets us at the Americans Coit and Salt. Coit says ("The Ethical Movement in Religion", translated by G. von Gizycki, p. 7): "Every duty is to do with the fervor of enthusiasm, and with the feeling of its absolute and highest value"; and Salter ("The Religion of Morality", translated by G. von Gizycki, p. 79): "A moral act must be done on principle". In addition to this ethic, there is another that takes into account not so much the motives, but rather the results of our actions. Their followers ask for the greater or lesser benefit that an action brings, and thus designate it as a better or worse one.
In doing so, they either look at the benefit for the individual or for the social whole. Accordingly, a distinction is made between individualist or socialist utilitarians. If the former foresees setting up general principles whose observance is to make the individual happy, then they present themselves as one-sided representatives of individualistic ethics. They must be called one-sided because action for their own benefit is by no means the sole aim of human individuality. In their nature, they can also be quite selfless in their action. But if these individualistic or socialist utilitarians derive norms from the nature of the individual or a set of norms to be obeyed, they commit the same error as the professors of the concept of duty: they overlook that all general rules and laws immediately prove to be a worthless phantom when the human being is within the living reality.
Laws are abstractions, but actions always take place under very specific concrete conditions. Weighing the various options and choosing the most practical in the given case, this is befitting us when it comes to action. An individual personality is always faced with a very specific situation and will make a decision in accordance with the matter. In this case a selfish act, in that case a selfless act will prove to be the right one. Soon the interest of the individual, soon that of the whole, will have to be considered.
Those who pay homage to egoism are just as wrong as the eulogists of compassion. For what is higher than the perception of one's own or of the other's well-being is the consideration of whether one or the other is more important under given conditions. In the first place, action is not primarily about feelings, not selfish ones, not selfless ones, but the right judgment about what to do. It may happen that someone sees and acts on an action as correct, suppressing the strongest emotions of his compassion. But since there is no absolutely correct judgment, but all truth has only conditional validity, which depends on the standpoint of the one who expresses it, so too is the judgment of a personality about what it has to do in a certain case, according to their particular circumstances to the world. In exactly the same situation, two people will act differently because, depending on their character, experience and education, they make different notions of what their task is in the given case.
Anyone who sees that the judgment of a concrete case is the author of an action can only speak for an individualistic conception in ethics. The only way to form such a judgment is to have the right view in a given situation and not a fixed norm. General laws can only be deduced from the facts, but the actions of man first create facts. If we infer from the common and lawfulness of human action certain general characteristics in individuals, peoples, and ages, we obtain an ethics, but not as a science of moral norms, but as the natural doctrine of morality. The laws thus obtained are individual as well as the laws of nature. Human behavior, as well as the laws of nature, constitute a particular phenomenon in nature. Ethics as normative science bears witness to a complete misunderstanding of the character of a science. Science makes progress in overcoming the view that in the individual phenomena general norms, types, are realized according to the principle of expediency. Science investigating the real fundamentals of phenomena. Only when ethics does not ask for general moral ideals but for the actual facts of action which lie in the concrete individuality of man, only then may it be regarded as a science of ethics equal to natural science.
After Rudolf Steiner published The Philosophy Of Freedom he wrote social and political essays to bring his ideas of freedom to the public. These essays have not been translated so they have remained hidden--until now! Included are his articles published in his Magazin für Literatur. They are important as they give us an example of how to represent The Philosophy Of Freedom to the world through social and political commentary. I got a German copy of them (over 100) and am using Google translate, which is vastly improved, to put them in English. This translation is good enough to see how Steiner is commenting on the popular views of his day on ethics, freedom and the use of science to support freedom. Below are some examples done so far. Here is a link to the essays. I am working on part II.
"At the back of my mind there always lurked this question: how could the epoch be persuaded to accept the ideas of The Philosophy of Freedom? If you are prepared to take the trouble, you will find that everything I wrote for the Magazin für Literatur is imbued with the spirit of The Philosophy of Freedom." Rudolf Steiner
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