Note 2.0

New Translation Draft - Preface

"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

New translation Preface
New translation Chapter 1
New translation Chapter 2 

Note: The original preface is located at the end of all translations as an appendix, except for the Hoernle where it appears as Chapter 1, The Goal Of Knowledge

0. THE GOAL OF KNOWLEDGE (Preface)

0.0 Impulse Of Freedom
[1] I BELIEVE I am indicating correctly one of the fundamental characteristics of our age when I say that, at the present day, all human interests tend to center in the culture of human individuality. An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority. Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality. Everything which hinders the individual in the full development of his powers is thrust aside. The saying “Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Olympus” no longer holds for us. We allow no ideals to be forced upon us. We are convinced that in each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development. We no longer believe that there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform. We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual. We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something that, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer. Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each of them asserts their right to express, in the creations of their art, what is unique in them. There are dramatists who write in dialect rather than conform to the standard diction which grammar demands.

[2] No better expression for these phenomena can be found than this, that they result from the individual’s striving towards freedom, developed to its highest pitch. We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition that it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.

0.1 Outer Truth
[3] Truth, too, will be sought in our age only in the depths of human nature. Of Schiller’s two well known paths, the second will be preferred today:

We both seek truth; you in outer life,
I in the heart within. Each of us are sure to find it.
The healthy eye can track the creator through the world;
The healthy heart mirrors the world within.

0.2 Inner Truth Empowers
[4] Truth that comes to us from outside always bears the stamp of uncertainty. Only truth that appears within ourselves will convince us. Only truth can give us confidence in developing our individual powers. Whoever is tormented by doubts finds his powers weakened. If we are baffled by a world full of riddles, we can find no goal for our creative activity.

0.3 Understandable Truth
[5] We no longer want to believe; we want to know. Belief demands the acceptance of truths without having the insight to fully understand. But what is not clearly understood goes against what is individual in us, that wants to experience everything in its deepest inner core. The only knowing that satisfies us is the kind that submits to no external standard, but springs from a person's own inner life.

0.4 Advance In Knowledge
[6] Nor do we want the kind of knowledge that has been formulated in rigid academic rules, and stored away as valid for all time. Each of us claims the right to start from the facts we know, from our personal experience, and from there advance to knowledge of the whole universe. We strive for certainty in knowledge, but each in his or her own way.

0.5 Cultivate Desire To Know
[7] Nor should the teachings of science be presented in a form that implies its acceptance is compulsory. None of us would give a scientific work a title like Fichte once did: “A Crystal Clear Report for the General Public on the True Nature of the Latest Philosophy. An Attempt to Compel the Reader to Understand.” Today, no one should be compelled to understand. We demand neither acceptance nor agreement from those who are not moved to a certain view by their own particular, individual needs. We do not want to cram facts of knowledge into even an immature human being, a child. We try rather to develop the child’s capacities in such a way that the child no longer needs to be compelled to understand, but wants to understand.

0.6 Application Of Principles
[8] I am under no illusion concerning the characteristics of the present time. I know how much a stereotypical attitude, lacking all individuality, is prevalent everywhere. But I also know that many of my contemporaries strive to orient their lives in the direction of the principles I have indicated. To them I would dedicate this book. It is not meant to be the "only possible" way to Truth, but is meant to describe the path taken by one for whom truth is central.

0.7 Practice Of Pure Thinking
[9] This book at first leads the reader into more abstract regions, where thought must have sharp outlines if it is to reach clearly defined positions. But the reader is also led out of these arid concepts into concrete life. I am fully convinced that if existence is to be experienced in all its aspects, one must raise oneself up into the realm of concepts. Whoever appreciates only the pleasures of the senses misses the sweetest enjoyments of life. Oriental sages make their disciples live a life of resignation and asceticism for years before imparting their own wisdom to them. The Western world no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic practices as a preparation for science, but it does require a sincere willingness to withdraw oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life and enter the realm of pure thought.

0.8 Wholistic Knowledge
[10] There are many realms of life and for each of them specific sciences develop. But life itself is one, and the more deeply the sciences are immersed in their separate fields, the more they distance themselves from viewing the world as a living whole. There must be a kind of knowing that seeks in the separate sciences the principles that leads to the fullness of life once more. The aim of the scientific specialist is to become aware of the world and gain insight into how it works. The aim of this book is philosophical: science itself is to be instilled with the life of an organic whole. The various branches of science are preparatory stages on the way to this wholistic science. A similar relationship governs the arts. The composer's work is based on the theory of composition. This theory is an accumulation of principles that one has to know in order to compose. In composing, the rules of theory serve life itself, that is, it serves true reality. In exactly the same sense philosophy is an art. All genuine philosophers have been artists in the conceptual realm. Human ideas become their artistic materials and scientific method their artistic technique. Abstract thinking takes on concrete individual life. Ideas turn into life-forces. Then we do not merely have knowledge about things, but have made knowledge into an actual self-governing organism ruled by its own laws. Our consciousness, alive and active, has lifted itself beyond a mere passive reception of truths.

0.9 The Science Of Freedom
[11] The main theme of my book concerns these questions: How philosophy, as an art, is related to freedom; what freedom is; and whether we do, or can, participate in it. All other scientific discussions are included only because they ultimately throw light on this question. In my view, the question of freedom is the most immediate concern of the human being. These pages offer a "Philosophy of Freedom".

0.10 Human Development
[12] All science would be nothing but the satisfaction of idle curiosity, if it did not strive to elevate the value of existence for the human personality. The true value of the sciences is seen only when we have shown the importance of their results for humanity. The ultimate goal of the individuality cannot be the cultivation of any single faculty, but only the development of all capacities dormant within us. Knowledge has value only in so far as it contributes to the all-around development of the whole of human nature.

0.11 Ethical Use Of Science
[13] Therefore, this book does not regard the relationship between science and life in such a way that human beings must bow down before ideas and devote their powers to its service. On the contrary, it shows that we should take possession of the world of ideas to use them for our human goals, which go beyond those of mere science.

0.12 Confront Idea
[14] One must be able to confront an idea as master; otherwise one will fall into its bondage.

 

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© Tom Last 2017