"My Philosophy of Freedom presents the wide range of human view-points in a way that leaves the reader free of attachment to any particular approach and able to let the various concepts speak for themselves, as though each were a photograph of one and the same object taken from many different angles." Rudolf Steiner on his book the Philosophy of Freedom p. 97
Short video clips are being produced for each view and will be added regularly.
1. CONSCIOUS HUMAN ACTION
1.0 The Question Of Freedom
1.1 Freedom Of Indifferent Choice
“There is no need to go into the question of free will. The supposed freedom of indifferent choice has always been regarded as an empty illusion by every philosophy worthy of the name. The moral evaluation of human conduct and character is not affected in any way by this question."
I quote this passage, not because I think the book in which it is found has any special importance, but because it appears to express the only view that the thinking of most of our contemporaries is able to achieve on this question. Today, everyone who claims to have outgrown the kindergarten stage of science seems to know that freedom cannot consist in choosing, wholly at will, between one or the other of two possible courses of action. There is always, so we are told, a quite specific reason why a person carries out one particular action from among several possibilities.
1.2 Freedom Of Choice
"That everyone is at liberty to desire or not desire, as one pleases, which is the real proposition involved in the dogma of free will, is refuted by the analysis of consciousness, as well as by the contents of the preceding chapters [on psychology]."
1.3 Free Necessity Of One's Nature
"I call a thing free that exists and acts out of the pure necessity of its nature, and I call it compelled, if its existence and activity are exactly and inflexibly determined by something else. For example, God, though he exists necessarily, is nevertheless free, because he exists solely out of the necessity of his own nature. Similarly, God freely knows himself and all other things, because it follows solely from the necessity of his nature that he knows all things. You see, then, that I locate freedom not in free decision, but in free necessity."
 "But let us come down to the level of created things, which are all determined by external causes to exist and act in a fixed and exact way. To see this more clearly, let us imagine a very simple case. A stone, for example, receives a certain momentum from an external cause that strikes it, so that afterwards, when the impact of the external cause has ceased, the stone necessarily continues to move. The continued motion of the stone is compelled, not the necessity of its own nature, because it has to be defined by the impact of an external cause. What is true here for the stone is true also for every other single thing, no matter how complex and adaptable to many purposes it may be, namely, that everything is necessarily determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way."
 Now please imagine that the stone, while it is moving, thinks and knows that it is striving to the best of its ability to continue in motion. This stone, which is only conscious of its striving and is not at all indifferent to what it is doing, will be convinced that it is entirely free and that it continues in motion for no other reason than because it wants to. This is just the human freedom that we all believe we have, and the reason it appears to be freedom is because people are conscious of their desires, but do not know the causes that determine those desires. Thus the child believes that it freely desires milk, the angry boy that he freely desires revenge, and the coward freely desires to run away. Drunkards believe it is a free decision to say what, when sober again, they will wish they had not said, and since this prejudice is inborn in all human beings, it is difficult to free oneself from it. Experience teaches us often enough that people are least able to moderate their desires, and when torn by conflicting passions they see the better and pursue the worse. Yet they still consider themselves free because they desire some things less strongly, and many desires can be easily inhibited by recalling something familiar that often preoccupies one's mind.”
 Because this view is so clearly and definitely expressed, it is easy to discover the fundamental error contained within it. The human being is supposed to carry out an action when motivated by any reason, with the same necessity as a stone that is put in motion by an impact. It is only because the human being has a consciousness of his action that he believes himself to be the free originator of it. In doing so, however, he overlooks that he is driven by a cause which he must obey unconditionally. The error in this line of thought is soon found. Spinoza and all who think like him overlook the fact that a person not only has consciousness of his action, but may also become conscious of the cause which guides him.
Anyone can see that a child is not free when it desires milk, the drunkard is not free when saying things he later regrets. Both know nothing of the causes, working deep within their organisms, that exercise irresistible control over them. But is it right to lump together actions of this kind with those in which a person is not only conscious of his actions but also of his reason for acting? Are human actions really all of one kind? Should the act of a soldier on the battlefield, a research scientist in the laboratory, a diplomat involved in complex negotiations, be placed scientifically on the same level as that of a child when it desires milk? It is certainly true that it is best to seek the solution of a problem where it presents itself in the simplest form. But inability to see distinctions has often resulted in endless confusion. There is, after all, a profound difference between knowing and not knowing the reason for why I am doing something. This would seem to be an obvious truth. And yet the opponents of freedom never ask themselves whether a motive of action that I recognize and understand, compels me in the same way as the organic process that causes a child to cry for milk.
1.4 Independent Of Outside Motives
“Even if it is we ourselves who turn an idea into a motive, we do not do this arbitrarily, but according to the necessity of our characterological organization; that is, we are anything but free."
Here again no consideration is given to the difference that exists between motives that I allow to influence me only after I have consciously made them my own, and those that I follow without any clear knowledge of them.
1.5 Action Resulting From Conscious Motive
 If there is a difference between a conscious motive and an unconscious urge, then the conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently from one that springs from blind impulse. Our first question will concern this difference. The result of this investigation will then determine how we are to approach the freedom question itself.
 What does it mean to have knowledge of the reasons for one’s action? This question has been given too little attention, because unfortunately there is a tendency to tear into two parts what is an inseparable whole: the human being. The doer is distinguished from the knower, but the one that matters most is lost sight of—the knowing doer—the one who acts out of knowledge.
1.6 Free When Controlled By Rational Decision
 Nothing is gained by assertions of this kind. For the question is just whether reason, purposes, and decisions work with the same compulsion over a person as animal desires. If without my active involvement, a rational decision emerges in me with the same necessity as hunger or thirst, then I can only obey it, and my freedom is an illusion.
1.7 Free To Do What One Wishes
“The human being can certainly do what he wishes, but he cannot will as he wishes, because his will is determined by motives! He cannot will as he wishes? Let us look at these words more closely. Do they make any sense? Is free will to mean the ability to will something without reason, without motive? But what else does willing mean, other than having a reason for doing or striving for this rather than that? To will something without a reason, without a motive, is to will it without wanting it. The concept of willing is inseparable from that of motive. Without a determining motive the will is an empty capacity: only through the motive does it become active and real. It is, therefore, correct to say that the human will is not 'free', to the extent that its direction is always determined by the strongest motive. But it is absurd, in contrast to this 'unfreedom', to speak of a possible freedom of will that amounts to being able to will what one does not want.”
 Here too, only motives in general are discussed, without taking into consideration the difference between conscious and unconscious motives. If a motive affects me, and I am compelled to act on it because it proves to be the “strongest” of its kind, then the idea of freedom ceases to have any meaning. Why should it matter to me whether I can do something or not, if I am forced by the motive to do it? The primary question is not whether I can or cannot do something once the motive has influenced me, but whether all motives work with inescapable necessity. If I am compelled to will something, then I may well be completely indifferent as to whether I can actually do it. If, because of my character and the circumstances prevailing in my environment, a motive is forced on me that I find to be unreasonable, then I would even be glad if I am unable do what I will.
 The question is not whether I can carry out a decision once made, but how the decision comes about within me.
1.8 Spontaneous Unconditioned Will
"It is easy to explain why the movement of a stone seems to us necessary, while the willing of a donkey does not. The causes that set the stone in motion are external and visible. But the causes that determine the donkey's willing are internal and invisible: between us and the place where they occur is the donkey’s skull... The causal conditioning is not seen, so it is thought to not exist. Then an explanation is given that the will is certainly the cause of the donkey’s turning around, but the will itself is not conditioned, it is an absolute beginning.”
So, here again, human actions in which there is a consciousness of the reasons for the action are simply ignored, because Rée explains that: “between us and the place where they occur is the donkey’s skull.” These words show that Rée has no idea that there are actions, not of the donkey but of the human being, where between us and the action lies the motive that has become conscious. A few pages later Rée demonstrates the same blindness when he says: “We do not perceive the causes that determine our will and so believe it is not causally determined at all.”
 But enough of examples proving that many oppose freedom without knowing what freedom really is.
1.9 Knowledge Of The Motive
1.10 Driving Force Of The Heart
1.11 Love For The Ideal
1.12 Love Opens The Eyes
 However we may care to approach the subject, it becomes more and more clear that the question concerning the nature of human action presupposes another, that of the origin of thought. So I will turn to this question next.