Stebbing Summary - Chapter 14

Chapter Summary Of The Philosophy Of Freedom
Rita Stebbing

Chapter 14 Individuality and Type
In the final chapter of The Philosophy of Freedom, Steiner shows that though man incarnates into a particular family, nation and race, is brought up in a definite way and lives either as a man or woman, this does not contradict either the idea of freedom nor the uniqueness of his individuality. All these things, when rightly understood, are not hindrances and should not be made into hindrances in an artificial way. They may be seen rather as opportunities and challenges to the spirit of man.

Self-knowledge may lead a person to realize why he came to a particular family, nation and race. He may recognize that this provides him with just those circumstances he needs at a particular time for his further progress. When confronted with a difficult human relationship, such insight may lead him to recognize that the deeper reason for his difficulties lies within himself, that certain qualities in himself may be enhanced or perhaps changed through transforming them. Seen in this light, life becomes rather like a work of art which each person creates for himself. His material is the circumstances that come to meet him; what he makes of this material is his life's adventure!

In the Addition to Chapter 8 Steiner speaks of the power of spiritual love within thinking, of its warm, luminous reality which is able to penetrate into the depth of the phenomena. In the final chapter we see that this power is an “organ” for comprehending the individuality of another person; without it, only his external qualities can be explained. A thinking which may suffice to grasp the external phenomena is not necessarily sufficiently strong and alive to judge people or solve social problems. This is explained by the fact that the creatures belonging to the kingdoms of nature have come to a certain final stage of development. The plant or animal reveal externally their inner qualities, but man does not. In him the “outer” corresponds to the “inner” only to the extent that he himself has made it correspond.

We saw in Chapter 9 that with his thinking each human being may reach upward into the “Being of Thinking, the All-One Being. Therefore, each human being has the possibility to develop the “higher man” within him by transforming his bodily-soul nature to become an ever more perfect vessel for His light. This picture of man may kindle in one an infinite reverence for each human being. Whoever the person may be, even a so-called mentally retarded man or a criminal, one may recognize that the bodily vessel is too imperfect a tool to allow his spirit to shine through and take possession of the “house.” Yet within the All-One Being his spirit may shine far brighter than one's own.

14/15 Next



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