Stebbing Summary - Chapter 10

Chapter Summary Of The Philosophy Of Freedom
Rita Stebbing

Chapter 10 Philosophy of Freedom and Monism
If Chapter 9 is compared with the innermost sanctuary of the temple---where to the pupil was revealed at last the secret of existence---then one could say that in the remaining chapters the reader---having now left the innermost sanctuary---looks back upon it, asking, “How does this knowledge apply to practical life?"

In each of the remaining five chapters certain aspects of life are considered which appear very different in the light that has been shed on the being of man. The usual viewpoint is often completely reversed.

In Chapter 10 we see that for an understanding of freedom it is essential to understand thinking. In Chapter 3 Steiner draws attention to the fact that knowledge of thinking is attained in the same way as knowledge of anything else: by observation and thinking. He shows that the moment a person attempts this he takes the first step on the pilgrimage in search of man. He sets out on life's greatest adventure! This, to begin with , is to experience thinking as a reality which it is possible to observe and contemplate as objectively as one observes and contemplates other facts and objects. But when thinking is the object under consideration, all the doubts one may have concerning the validity of knowledge as such vanish, because here perception and knowledge do not come to us from two different sources. Here, seeing is knowing.

A tremendous mystery begins to be unveiled, once man sets foot upon this path. Thinking is seen, on the one hand, as the very Being of the Godhead of whose substance---when he actively thinks---man can and does partake. Nevertheless, what he thus partakes of, man himself creates in the moment of participation. ---It is not just handed to him in the way he finds the objects and events around him. This “divine substance” may indeed be misunderstood and used in a merely one-sided way, as happens when eternal nature is investigated without taking account of thinking.

In Chapter 3 we see that the moment when man “turns around” and begins to observe thinking, he begins to knock on the door of a different world. It is into this world that a study of The Philosophy of Freedom leads the reader—step by step---without his losing firm footing in the ordinary world for a moment. The reader is not asked to accept this or that theory; he is simply asked to look at the great mystery within him---Thinking.

In Chapter 10 we see that it is just because man partakes of thinking in this extraordinary way that he has the possibility to develop himself into a being who is free. He can also fail to do so. For example, with extreme cleverness he may apply the mighty power of thinking to external phenomena, yet remain blind in regard to his own being (in regard to man). Or he may use thinking merely to gratify cravings in his bodily nature. In either case he does not discover his own self, for, his 'I' is to be found neither in external phenomena nor in his bodily nature, which is also a part of the external world. He gets entangled in what should be merely a tool for something higher. Steiner points out that a criminal deed is not and never can be a deed of man's individuality. In the light of the four levels of moral life described in Chapter 9 one must say that his spirit or 'I' cannot shine in and take proper possession of the “house.” In other words, to be a criminal is an illness, an illness from which it can be said we all suffer to some degree. It is an illness which man will cure as he progresses in knowledge and in development of his life of feelings.

Chapter 10 goes on to show that freedom can be understood only through knowledge of man's union---in the core of his being---with the universal process, i.e. with what Steiner in Chapter 5 calls the “All-One Being.” If the universe is seen as a mechanistic universe then the idea of freedom for man is excluded—he is but a creature of necessity. If the Godhead is pictured as some Absolute Being, external to man, sending His forces and intentions into the human being, freedom is again excluded. Then man is slave to the Godhead, and however good and perfect, he cannot be said to be free.

The very essence of freedom implies that it can neither be given nor taken away. Each individual must win it anew in each moment. In other words, freedom is not something one can possess, it is an activity.

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The Knowledge of Freedom

Chapter 1   Conscious Human Action
Chapter 2   The Fundamental Urge for Knowledge
Chapter 3   Thinking in the Service of Comprehending the World
Chapter 4   The World as Percept
Chapter 5   Attaining Knowledge of the World
Chapter 6   The Human Individuality
Chapter 7   Are There Limits to Knowledge?


The Reality of Freedom
Chapter 8   The Factors of Life
Chapter 9   The Idea of Freedom
Chapter 10  Philosophy of Freedom and Monism
Chapter 11  World Purpose and Life Purpose (Mankind's Destination)
Chapter 12   Moral Imagination (Darwinism and Morality)
Chapter 13  The Value of Life (Pessimism and Optimism)
Chapter 14  Individuality and Type
The Consequences of Monism