Stebbing Summary - Chapter 12

Chapter Summary Of The Philosophy Of Freedom
Rita Stebbing

Chapter 12 Moral Imagination (Darwinism and Morality)
In Chapter 12 Steiner explains moral intuitionmoral imagination and moral technique. These develop only through man's initiative. In Chapter 12 is shown also how men need one another along this path, though the way of each person is necessarily individual and unique, and therefore must to some extent be walked alone.

To transform an ideal into a deed, moral intuition alone does not suffice. Something more is needed, and this Steiner called moral imagination. This is the ability to form a concrete picture of how a moral intuition may be realized in actual life, that is, to picture the transition from idea to deedMoral technique will also be necessary. This consists of technical knowledge of already existing circumstances and facts in order that the new can be skillfully incorporated into the old, without doing damage to what exists already.

In an actual situation these faculties are often not as yet to be found in one and the same person. One man may have moral intuitions regarding some future task in the world. Others may help him to form from this a concrete picture of how to transform this into reality; and still others will have the necessary technical skill to incorporate the new into the old.---It is interesting and extremely “awakening” to consider the above in order to find out in which of the three spheres one tends to be asleep the most. Apart from this it is surprising that in general it is very often the moral technique that is lacking. Often we can observe a tendency to sweep aside the old in order to replace it by something new without giving sufficient consideration to the fact that the old has its place and must be the foundation on which the new is built up.

The transformation of moral ideas into concrete deed takes the path from moral intuition via moral imagination into moral technique. This path is the exact reverse of the way things are often done. Because we fail to reach the level of ethical individualism, the tendency is to look at a situation which is in need of improvement and attempt, through trial and error, to alter things.---This procedure is of course justified in the sphere of physical experiments, but Steiner shows that this is not the case in spiritual or moral life. For example, people concerned with education may feel that present-day methods of educating children do not give satisfactory results and they will perhaps endeavor to devise a different method and, if not successful, discard it and try something else. In other words, they form abstract ideas on education and try arbitrarily to make the child conform to them. How different, if instead a beginning were to be made with a knowledge of man. Such knowledge would lead naturally to a knowledge of how to educate the child so that education would help him to unfold his individual human capacities to the highest degree. To establish such an education moral technique would also be required in order not to sweep away existing methods which were right for past generations, but to bring them into harmony with the new.

In the latter part of Chapter 12 Steiner shows that what in Chapter 9 is called ethical individualism—man's expression of the content of his true 'I'---in no way contradicts what is called the theory of evolution, provided only that this evolution is not misinterpreted and made to terminate with the ape but is extended to man as a moral being. Then we view the process of evolution the other way round—not as man evolving from the ape, but the ape as a creature who at a certain point of evolution fell away from man. Man is seen as existing before all else, though not as a physical being composed of matter, but in the realm of soul and spirit.

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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