Introduction to The Philosophy Of Freedom
As an indication of his intentions, Dr. Steiner inscribed upon the title page of his Philosophy of Freedom these words: —"Some results of introspective observation following the methods of Natural Science."
The procedure of Natural Science is well-known: —"Reject appeals to authority and to tradition! Let the facts decide! Trust nothing but evidence! Observe for yourself! Test for yourself! Let actual experience be the criterion of truth! Let your views arise not out of credulity but out of vigilant, critical intelligence!
This is the method of Dr. Steiner's book. It asks of the student nothing except open-minded consideration of the facts of his own being.
The reader may find such mental receptivity less easy than he would have anticipated. Below the level of consciousness, we are all of us subject to numberless influences that prevent us from seeing things objectively. The reader is never, as he reads what Dr. Steiner has written, asked to accept any statement on authority. But he is continuously asked to listen with the whole of his truth-loving self to what the author has to say.
Dr. Steiner contends that if we are willing to look without any a priori assumptions at the facts of our own being, we shall find beyond controversy that we have within us a source of free activity, —that though external physical conditions in general determine what we do, it is not beyond our power to assert ourselves and defy them.
If Dr. Steiner can make good his claims, this book would seem to have for present-day mankind a hardly exaggerable importance. It offers to a thinking, educated, modern-minded person what religious agencies are no longer able to give him —the certainty of his own higher being. Whoever makes this book his own, will have come to know that he stands possessed of a perpetual fountain of self-originated energies. He becomes unshakably able to trust in his own selfhood. He knows unanswerably that he is possessed of free activity.
It is becoming more and more obvious that unless mankind is capable of a spiritual awakening, disasters we dare not envisage are in store for us. But no genuine, permanent, effective spiritual awakening is practicable except as a result of the sort of appeal that Steiner makes in this book —an appeal to the individual man or woman, —an appeal to experience, —an appeal to intelligence. That —in such a state of human affairs— this book of Steiner's should be known only in tiny Anthroposophical circles is a tragedy. Wherever there are thinking men and women, in any corner of the globe, it has potential readers. Its proper destiny is that of establishing a common understanding the world over among thinking, responsibly-minded men and women; of offering a starting-point for the re-making of civilization.
The Philosophy of Freedom is not easy reading. If more people are to read it, they will have to be offered encouragement.
Paul Marshall Allen
Gertrude Reif Hughes
Evelyn Francis Capel
Olin D. Wannamaker
Hugo S. Bergman
G. A. Bondarev
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