Tom Last's Posts (247)


Rudolf Steiner is an Individualist Anarchist

Rudolf Steiner proudly declared himself an individualist anarchist in a letter to John Henry Mackay, a noted individualist anarchist and author of The Anarchists in 1891. Mackay is also an important European early activist for LGBT rights.

“I have the conviction that we agree, with respect to our views, every bit as far as two natures fully independent of one another can agree.” wrote Steiner to Mackay.

Individualist anarchism is a type of anarchism that emphasizes the individual and their will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions, and ideological systems. Besides Mackay, Steiner was influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche and individualist anarchist Max Stirner at the time.

Individualist anarchism in Europe

European individualist anarchism in general is the emphasis on individual subjective exploration and defiance of social conventions.

Individualist anarchist philosophy was found amongst artists, intellectuals and the well-read, urban middle classes in general. As such Murray Bookchin describes a lot of individualist anarchists as people who expressed their opposition in uniquely personal forms, especially in fiery tracts, outrageous behavior, and aberrant lifestyles in the cultural ghettos of fin de siecle New York, Paris, and London. As a credo, individualist anarchism remained largely a bohemian lifestyle, most conspicuous in its demands for sexual freedom ('free love') and enamored of innovations in art, behavior, and clothing. wiki

Steiner enjoyed hobnobbing with artists and political activists

Steiner edited the Magazine for Literature from 1897 to 1900 in Berlin. Biographer Gary Lachman writes; "Steiner seems to have enjoyed hobnobbing with the bohemians; his acquaintances included poets, playwrights, novelists and political activists. In fact, his reputation among the demi-monde (people considered to be on the fringes of respectable society) caused academics to cancel their subscriptions, and Steiner also earned the distinction of having a periodical banned in Czarist Russia because its editor was known to socialize with anarchists."

The world is not governed rationally
In the letter to Mackay Steiner notes that the world is not governed rationally. The State hinders the individual "at every step in the unfolding of his abilities",

“The State hates the individual. The State says: I can only use a person who behaves thus and thus. Whoever is different, I shall force him to become the way I want.”

The Individualist Anarchist knows that people should be trusted to find their own direction, should be given “free way”. The way is then cleared “for the most independent people by doing away with all force and authority”.

Pope reference material: Lauren McCauley


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ETHICAL ACTIVISM  The original Philosophy Of freedom was subtitled a "Philosophy Of Life". In 1918 Steiner said"The purpose of The Philosophy Of Freedom is to lay the foundations of ethical individualism and of a social and political life."  

The highest principle of an Ethical Individualist is to express one's moral ideas in life, that is, to take ethical action.

An example of Steiner's ethical activism was his speaking out against Zionism. 

Why Rudolf Steiner Opposed A Zionist State Of Israel
Being true to the principles of freedom and individuality in his Philosophy Of Freedom, "Rudolf Steiner was a critic of his contemporary Theodor Herzl's goal of a Zionist state, and indeed any other ethnically determined state, as he considered ethnicity to be an outmoded basis for social life and civic identity." wiki link

Here is a video about how an ethnically determined state will result in the oppression of the "other":

Today it takes courage and moral consistency to stand up for the human rights of Palestinians. The Jewish Anti-Defamation League and YouTube have restricted the viewing of the Philosophy Of Freedom video below because it mentions the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to pressure Israel on human its rights violations. Here is a link  to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to become informed about the Palestinian fight for freedom. 

This is a video about the Palestinian sponsored BDS Movement.

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Steps To Freedom Comparative Study

Path To Freedom
This is a step by step path to free thinking and action based on a science of freedom. The scientific method of comparative study and self-observation are applied for each step. You are asked to compare two sides of human experience, Case 1 and Case 2, as a means to understand individuality, knowledge, and ethics. It is drawn from Rudolf Steiner's "The Philosophy Of Freedom", with 12 steps for each chapter.

The Inner Truth Of Knowledge
Preface: The Goal Of Knowledge Part 1
Preface: The Goal Of Knowledge Part 2

The Inner Truth Of Human Action
Chapter 1 Conscious Human Action

The Inner Truth Of The Desire For Knowledge
Chapter 2 Scientific Impulse

The Inner Truth Of Thinking
Chapter 3 Thinking As A Means Of Forming A View Of The World

The Inner Truth Of Perception
Chapter 4 The World As Perception

The Inner Truth Of Personality
Chapter 8 The Factors Of Life

The Inner Truth Of Freedom
Chapter 9 The Idea Of Freedom

The Inner Truth Of Moral Authority
Chapter 10 Monism And The Philosophy Of Freedom

The Inner Truth Of Free Individuality
Chapter 14 Individuality And Type

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Jonathan Westphal Neutral Monism

Jonathan Westphal has been a student of Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom his whole life. This led him to develop ideas on neutral monism. (See correction in comment below) Below is an article and a review of his latest book.

Neutral Monism
Jonathan Westphal December 16, 2016 Consciousness / Jonathan Westphal: The Mind-Body Problem / metaphysics of mind

Neutral monism has a fascinating history, from Mach and Chancey Wright (b. 1830 in Northampton MA, where I happen to live) through William James, the American New Realists, including E.B. Holt and Ralph Barton Perry, many of them very much Harvard figures, Bertrand Russell, from 1919 to 1927, to Moritz Schlick and A.J. Ayer.

There is a slightly overlooked aspect to the view that fits in with the post-Hegelian preoccupations of the time. Here are a few lines from Chauncey Wright’s Philosophical Discussions:

Our own mind is not “first known as a phenomenon of the subject ego, or as an effect upon us of an hypothetical outward world, its first unattributed condition would be, by our view, one of neutrality between the two worlds.” Rather, “The distinction of subject and object becomes … a classification through observation and analysis, instead of the intuitive distinction it is supposed to be by most metaphysicians.”

The neutral monist wants us to start with neutral data, some of them having to do with the objects of sense, such as colors and sounds and so on. But also included by neutral monists such as Mach are times and pressures! This sounds odd, but it is really a testament to Mach’s powerful philosophical naiveté. The naive approach paid off well for him in science too, and he was sensitive to things that other researchers missed or did not notice. An example is Mach bands. Mach’s photography of the shock wave shows the same cheerful empirical spirit. Another fine example is the difference in appearance of shapes under rotation. An eighth rotation of a square makes the horizontal distance across the square narrower, so that what is a perceived is more of a diamond than a square.

What did this approach do for the mind-body problem? Take as an example a neutral item the color that I see, like the pale green (a very New England colour) of the door to my left. Is this color physical or psychological? It is hard to say. The natural thought is that the color is paint, so that what you buy at the paint shop are colours. On the other hand what color you see is determined by all sorts of things having to do with the psychology and physiology of the one who is looking at it. The answer of Mach and the other neutral monists was that pro tem a colour is neither physical nor psychological. Asking which it is is a bit like asking whether I am looking at the first, or second or third. An object becomes the first or second or third only by being put in some sort of order, and, according to the neutral monists, though the neutral data such as colours retain their neutral character come what may, in one series of things they can be regarded as physical (for example in connection with the action of light on the coloured surface) and in another they can be regarded as psychological (for example the saturation of colours is often different in the left and right eye).

So where does this get us? Russell, rather surprisingly, having said that physical and psychological items are distinguished “only by their causal laws” (this is in “On Propositions”) allows that unperceived material things obey only physical laws, images obey only psychological laws, and sensations obey or can obey both. So for Russell during this period sensations are the only genuinely neutral elements. His view then is a sort of sandwich, with the genuinely neutral elements only in the middle. Yet if thoughts do not obey physical laws and unperceived material things obey only physical laws, how is this a genuinely neutral monism?

I have tried to give an account in The Mind-Body Problem of the way in which the neutral monist deals with causal relations between mind and body. The neutral monists seem not to have been struck by this problem, contenting themselves with naturalistic dithyrambs about the oneness of things. But that does not tell you how a puncture in the stomach lining will give you the pain of the ulcer. What seems to me very significant is the overlap of two elements in the two different cases, here a searing. The pain is a searing one, but what the stomach acids do the lining of the stomach is searing too. Searing is something that can take a physical or psychological interpretation, and that is very interesting. The fiery aspect of searing can be seen physically on inspection of the ulcers. In connection with this sort of example I offer an account in the book of what causal relations must be for the neutral monist – I hope that readers will find it interesting.

I am also naturally very interested in the way in which images can turn into sensations. If we could get a grip on this, we would be able to understand the way in which a mental image could have an effect on the body. It is also very interesting that thoughts can become images, and the other way round, in hypnopompic and hypnogogic imagery at the borders of sleep.

A few words, as promised, about the difference between neutral monism and double aspect theories. Neutral monism has categorically physical things and categorically mental things in its ontology. If something is physical, and not psychological, it cannot be placed in a psychological series. With the double aspect theory, however, something can be viewed either as physical or as mental, either as extension or as consciousness, or whatever the “principle attributes” of matter and mind are. This difference between the two theories has an important corollary. With neutral monism there is psychophysical causation, as with interactionist dualism, but not so with with the dual aspect theory. True, we can look at a book under the aspect of economic position (it has a price of $15, say) or we can look at it under the aspect of subject matter (its subject is astronomy, say). But the economic object and the object of the subject matter do not interact. For they are the same thing, viewed under different and incompatible aspects. Double aspect theorists owe more to Spinoza, neutral monists to Leibniz and Hume.

To conclude, may I offer a big thank you to John Schwenkler and The Brains Blog for hosting a great discussion? I have had a lot of fun and learnt a lot. I hope that everyone has enjoyed it and benefited from it as much as I have. Cheers John!

Book Overview

Philosophers from Descartes to Kripke have struggled with the glittering prize of modern and contemporary philosophy: the mind-body problem. The brain is physical. If the mind is physical, we cannot see how. If we cannot see how the mind is physical, we cannot see how it can interact with the body. And if the mind is not physical, it cannot interact with the body. Or so it seems.

In this book the philosopher Jonathan Westphal examines the mind-body problem in detail, laying out the reasoning behind the solutions that have been offered in the past and presenting his own proposal. The sharp focus on the mind-body problem, a problem that is not about the self, or consciousness, or the soul, or anything other than the mind and the body, helps clarify both problem and solutions.

Westphal outlines the history of the mind-body problem, beginning with Descartes. He describes mind-body dualism, which claims that the mind and the body are two different and separate things, nonphysical and physical, and he also examines physicalist theories of mind; antimaterialism, which proposes limits to physicalism and introduces the idea of qualia; and scientific theories of consciousness.

Finally, Westphal examines the largely forgotten neutral monist theories of mind and body, held by Ernst Mach, William James, and Bertrand Russell, which attempt neither to extract mind from matter nor to dissolve matter into mind. Westphal proposes his own version of neutral monism. This version is unique among neutral monist theories in offering an account of mind-body interaction.

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What Are Cognitive Rights?


Science Of Cognition: Cognition is how we acquire knowledge. The science of cognition can lead an individual to free thinking and self-determined action, or it can be misused by creating cognitive bias in the individual. Cognitive abuse has many names such as mind control, brainwashing, or marketing.

Cognitive Rights: Cognitive rights are an extension of the recognized human right of free thought to include free thinking. Free thought is the right of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints. Free thinking includes the right of the individual to pursue and acquire knowledge in their own way. The right of free thinking is violated when someone seeks to exploit an individual by manipulating cognition to change a person’s beliefs, behaviors or identity.

Evaluation Of Cognitive Environment: Each day people try to influence our thinking. This can be helpful in our pursuit of truth or it can be cognitive abuse depending on the cognitive environment. The question is whether the environment and methods used are respectful of individual cognitive rights or exploit and manipulate to serve the agenda of another.


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Here is a chart of views gained on my recent video posted on YouTube. The video started off in the first day getting more views than any of the other 140 videos I have posted on YouTube. You can see the tall bars. Then suddenly the views stopped. YouTube controls the views you get by controlling how easy is is to find with search and recommendations. They even make it difficult for subscribers to be informed of new videos. The video criticized the censorship of Google and YouTube. So to prove me right Youtube censored my video. Many reports are confirming this is happening across the internet.

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© Tom Last 2017