Module 1.5 Conscious Motive

Science Of Freedom Workbook
Text: "The Philosophy of Freedom" by Rudolf Steiner
Topic 1.5 Chapter 1 Conscious Human Action

1.5 Conscious Motive
[7] This leads straight to the standpoint from which the subject will be considered here. Should the question of free will be posed narrowly by itself, in a one-sided way? And if not, with what other question must it necessarily be linked?

[8] If there is a difference between a conscious and an unconscious motive of action, then the conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently from one that springs from blind urge. Our first question will concern this difference. The position we must take on freedom itself will depend on the result of this investigation.

[9] What does it mean to have knowledge of the motives of one's actions? Too little attention has been given to this question because we always split in two what is an inseparable whole: the human being. The doer is set apart from the knower, but the one that matters most is lost sight of —the knowing doer, the one who acts out of knowledge.

Worldview Of Mathematism
"there is only so much real science as there is mathematics."
"one can become a ready-reckoner of the universe, taking nothing as valid except a world composed of atoms, they collide and gyrate, and then one calculates how they inter-gyrate."
"By this means one obtains very fine results, which shows this way of looking at things is fully justified."
"you take the whole world as a kind of mechanical apparatus, and can reckon it up accurately."
"If we want to explain the world in strictly mathematical terms, we shall not be able to explain the simplist perception"
"they will recognize as valid only whatever can be treated mathematically."
Rudolf Steiner, Human And Cosmic Thought lectures

In the topic 1.5 Conscious Motive, the text can be broken down into three parts, each echoing the ideas that align with the worldview of Mathematism.

"Should the question of free will be posed narrowly by itself, in a one-sided way? And if not, with what other question must it necessarily be linked?"

The part probes the framework within which questions about free will should be posed. In Mathematism, questions are not isolated but connected to larger systems, akin to equations in a mathematical model. By asking what other questions free will must be linked to, it reflects the mathematical emphasis on systems thinking and interrelated variables.

"If there is a difference between a conscious and an unconscious motive of action, then the conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently from one that springs from blind urge."

This part introduces the notion of variables—conscious and unconscious motives—in determining actions. In Mathematism, elements or variables are distinct and carry their own values. Understanding these variables helps in creating a 'formula' for outcomes—in this case, actions. Actions driven by conscious motives are valued differently, much like variables in an equation.

"What does it mean to have knowledge of the motives of one's actions? Too little attention has been given to this question because we always split in two what is an inseparable whole: the human being."

The final part touches on the quest for knowledge about the self as a unified system, criticizing the separation between the 'doer' and the 'knower.' Mathematism also aims for a unified understanding of systems, arguing against arbitrary divisions that fail to capture the essence of how parts interact. Here, the emphasis is on the 'knowing doer,' reflecting a mathematical quest for a unified formula that combines multiple variables effectively.

MODULE 1.5 Conscious Motive

□ STEP 1.5 From a conscious motive, to act out of knowledge.

At the heart of this module lies a pivotal question: Is there genuine freedom when we act from a conscious motive? This certainly is an advancement from acting out of blind urge. While there's an undeniable sense of autonomy when our actions result from deliberate intent, one must ponder whether our grasp over such motives is complete. Do we truly understand the intricacies of our motivations, or are we mere puppets to unknown strings?

Furthermore, a conscious motive without execution can trap us in a paradoxical state of freedom and bondage. It's akin to seeing a path before us and acknowledging its direction but remaining rooted to the spot. Step 1.5 of our journey will encourage you to advance towards becoming a knowing doer, one who acts with clarity, understanding, and intent. The objective is to develop the skill to transition from merely recognizing what needs to be done to becoming a knowing doer who acts out of knowledge.

Acting out of knowledge gifts you with an inner alignment where your actions resonate harmoniously with your convictions. Such alignment breeds confidence, empowering you to stand unwaveringly on your truth. And in this strength lies personal integrity—a steadfast commitment to oneself and the world, exemplifying the highest ideals of ethical individualism.

Conscious Motive: This refers to taking action based on a clear and deliberate understanding of the reasons behind that action. The motive is not impulsive or instinctual but rather is well-considered and intentional.

Act Out of Knowledge: This goes a step beyond a conscious motive. Here, not only is the motive behind the action clear, but there is also an informed understanding of the broader implications and consequences of the action.

Known Action
'Acting Out of Knowledge' is essential for 'known action' because it ensures that the choices and behaviors are not just intentional but also informed. In 'known action,' you are fully aware of not only what you are doing but also why you are doing it and what the broader implications of those actions might be. For example, a voter may spend weeks researching the policies, track records, and public statements of each candidate before casting their vote. An investor may study the fundamentals of the stock market, learn how to read financial statements, and analyze market trends. By acting out of knowledge, you bring a depth of understanding to your actions, making them deliberate, considered, and aligned with your overall goals or values. This conscious coupling of knowledge and action creates a framework for responsible and purposeful behavior. It represents a fusion of the 'doer' and the 'knower,' resulting in actions that are not only intentional but also well-informed.

Scenario: Gym Routine
Stage 1 - Conscious Motive: A man recognizes that his sedentary job and lack of physical activity is affecting his health. He researches and finds the perfect gym routine, meticulously planning out a weekly schedule and even noting down the exercises he should do. He advises his friends on the benefits of each exercise. Yet, he never actually goes to the gym himself.
Stage 2 - Act out of Knowledge: Upon seeing a health scare on a routine checkup, he realizes that merely knowing what to do isn’t enough. He starts following the routine he so expertly crafted, transforming his health and ultimately participating in a triathlon, something he had always dreamt of.

Scenario: Startup Investments
Stage 1 - Conscious Motive: A woman, after researching investments, understands the potential of an emerging technology market. She's constantly discussing market trends and the potential of certain startups in this field with her friends, advising them on where they might invest. However, she never commits her own money, despite knowing the potential returns.
Stage 2 - Act out of Knowledge: After hearing a friend made a significant profit from an investment she advised, she realizes the potential of her knowledge. She starts to actively invest in the market she's so familiar with, not only reaping financial benefits but also creating a consulting firm to advise others professionally on investments.

Scenario: Community E-Commerce
Stage 1 - Conscious Motive: A young adult, having lived in a tight-knit community, notices the lack of a platform for local businesses to showcase their products. He sketches out a detailed plan for a community-centric e-commerce platform and often discusses the potential benefits with business owners. However, he never moves forward with the plan.
Stage 2 - Act out of Knowledge: After seeing many local businesses struggle during an economic downturn, he decides that merely discussing the idea isn't enough. He acts on his knowledge, launching the e-commerce platform. The platform not only boosts the local economy but also allows him to expand the model to other similar communities.

Scenario: Elderly Storytelling
Stage 1 - Conscious Motive: A young woman observes that her neighborhood has many elderly residents who often seem lonely and lack interaction with the younger generation. She contemplates an idea to organize monthly storytelling sessions where the elderly can share their life stories with the youth. However, she never gets around to organizing it.
Stage 2 - Act out of Knowledge: One day, she learns about an old man in her neighborhood passing away, and how many stories died with him. Struck by the urgency of her idea, she organizes the first session. It turns out to be a hit, creating a bridge between generations and even inspiring a book based on these stories.

Scenario: Historical Photographer
Stage 1 - Conscious Motive: A hobbyist photographer realizes that many people in his city are unaware of its rich architectural history. He often talks about organizing weekend photo-walks to showcase the city's heritage structures, discussing potential routes, and the significance of each site, but he never moves beyond the planning stage.
Stage 2 - Act out of Knowledge: After a significant historical site is torn down for new development, the photographer feels a renewed urgency. He starts the weekend photo-walks, and they gain immense popularity. Not only does he educate hundreds about the city's heritage, but he also starts an online gallery that attracts the attention of city planners and historians.

Scenario: Innovative Employee
Stage 1 - Conscious Motive: An employee in a large corporation realizes there's a lack of communication between departments, leading to duplicated efforts and inefficiencies. He often speaks about introducing a centralized communication tool and workflow system, and has even chalked out how it would work to his colleagues during lunch breaks. Yet, he never presents it to management.
Stage 2 - Act out of Knowledge: After a major project fails due to lack of inter-departmental coordination, he sees the immediate need for his idea. He pitches the centralized system to his superiors. It's implemented and not only improves efficiency but also positions him as an innovator within the company, leading to a significant promotion.

"What does it mean to have knowledge of the motives of one's actions? Too little attention has been given to this question because we always split in two what is an inseparable whole: the human being. The doer is set apart from the knower, but the one that matters most is lost sight of —the knowing doer, the one who acts out of knowledge."

Let's dive into the intriguing concept about why we often neglect the question: "What does it mean to have knowledge of the motives of one's actions?" Are we more of a 'knower' or a 'doer'? The essence of the problem lies in our attraction to extremes. Being a "knower" feels intellectually satisfying, while being a "doer" feels emotionally rewarding. Striving to be a "knowing doer" requires a balanced approach that we often find challenging.

Imagine someone constantly scrolling through their social media, absorbing all sorts of information—politics, fashion, food trends, etc. This person becomes a repository of knowledge, a "knower," but never acts on it. They might share a post about climate change but never recycle; they might like a post about a new workout regimen but never go to the gym. The focus is so skewed towards "knowing" that they forget to implement, forgetting the essential act of doing.

Consider a person who goes through life navigating solely based on gut feelings or momentary urges. They're the "doer," always busy, always in motion, tackling one task after another. Their life is a perpetual to-do list, but they rarely stop to question the "why" behind their actions. They may volunteer at multiple places, sign up for every work project, or always be the one to help a friend move. While their action-oriented approach might earn them praise for being energetic and proactive, it may lack discernment or strategic focus.

The "knowing doer" bridges the gap between action and understanding, leading not just to a more meaningful life for the individual, but also to more impactful contributions to the wider world. Being a "knowing doer" means you don't just plant a tree; you plant a tree knowing it will provide shade and consume carbon dioxide, and you choose a species that is native and beneficial to the local ecosystem.

To become a "knowing doer," one needs to cultivate the habit of reflective action—pausing before leaping into tasks, weighing the options based on what one knows, and then proceeding with purpose and clarity. In practical terms, this could mean spending some time every morning planning your day, pausing to think: What do I know about this? By consciously integrating what we know into what we do, we create a life that's not just busy, but also meaningful, deliberate, and fulfilling.

Objective: Experience the joy of soaring into the realm of concepts.
What fears are holding you back from acting on your truth? Are you afraid to may offend someone or do you fear the consequences from living your truth? What's one small step you can take to confront these fears and act more freely out of truth?

In the heart of a bustling town, surrounded by the clamor of life, lived a man known as the "Mathematist." From the outside, his life appeared neat and orderly, much like the equations he spent his days solving. His home was a gallery of countless papers filled with charts, graphs, and intricate calculations. He was often found deep in contemplation, his mind wandering through realms of possibility, probability, and outcomes.

The Mathematist had an insatiable curiosity, often embarking on numerous projects. His table was laden with materials for these ventures: a model airplane kit, paints for a half-finished canvas, and seeds for a garden that never bloomed. He had every intention to complete them; the problem wasn't lack of knowledge or resources. His meticulous nature, which was an asset in his mathematical pursuits, became his nemesis in the realm of action. He would often drown in the minutiae of perfect preparation, plagued by the shadows of past failures that whispered doubts into his ears.

One chilly evening, while engrossed in his work, the Mathematist stumbled upon a grave calculation. His research indicated an impending disaster that threatened his beloved community. Panic-stricken, he cross-checked his findings, hoping for an error. But the grim truth remained unchanged.

This was no longer a small project or hobby. Lives were at stake. The weight of the knowledge felt like an anvil on his chest. He was gripped by the familiar paralyzing fear of failure. What if he raised an alarm and it turned out to be a false one? What if his calculations were wrong this time? The ridicule and judgment would be unbearable.

However, there was another voice in him, faint but persistent, urging him to act, to rise above his insecurities and perfectionism. For the first time, he realized that true freedom wasn't just in knowing but in acting upon that knowledge, especially when it mattered most.

The next morning, the town's square was abuzz with the daily hustle and bustle. In the distance, the Mathematist could be seen, papers clutched tightly in his hand, his face a shade of resolute determination. But as he approached the square's center, he hesitated, looking around nervously.
The Mathematist was caught in the eternal dance between fear and courage. The decision was his, and the echoes of it would shape his destiny and that of his community.

Objective: Adopt an individualistic attitude aligned with principles of freedom.

  • Why Act?: When you act ask why? Is it merely because you can, or is it based on a deeper understanding and knowledge of the situation?
  • Inaction: Find situations where you felt you knew what should be done but restricted your freedom by taking no action. What held you back? What were the potential consequences of not acting?
  • Knowing Doer: Recall some recent actions that were done out of knowledge where you consulted experts, did research, analyzed your options, or stayed updated.

While recognizing the right course of action is a step forward, freedom truly finds its essence when knowledge sparks action. It's not just about understanding; it's about translating understanding into tangible action.

For society, the implications are profound. Ethical individualists acting out of knowledge are not just isolated examples of excellence; they form the backbone of societal progress. With informed decision-making, they prevent the pitfalls of shortsightedness, impulsiveness, or misinformation. Their actions, grounded in truth, serve as beacons, guiding society away from potential hazards and towards constructive paths.

Standing up for truth isn't just about correcting false narratives—it's about building trust. When more members of society operate from a place of genuine understanding and intent, it fosters a climate of trust and mutual respect. By championing truth, we don't just serve our personal interests, but pave the way for a future society marked by wisdom and integrity.