Stebbing Summary - Chapter 3

Chapter Summary Of The Philosophy Of Freedom
Rita Stebbing

Chapter 3 Thinking in the Service of Comprehending the World
If Chapters 1 and 2 are seen as the forecourt, then in chapter 3 it can be said that we enter the temple proper. This chapter deals exclusively with the nature of thinking as such. If anything dealt with later is found difficult, the reason is often that one has forgotten or overlooked some point or other in Chapter 3. This Chapter is really the key to the book; one could also say it gives the key to the riddle of man.

When in ancient times the pupil entered the temple he would not immediately confront the holiest of holies, situated in the innermost part of the temple, but would first be required to pass many tests. Only if successful, would he be allowed eventually to cross the threshold to that innermost sanctuary, and thus find the answer to the riddle: “Man, Know Thyself.

In Chapter 3 the reader is led to recognize what thinking is. Not by means of theory, but simply and solely through observation of his own thinking. It would be true to say that Chapter 3 is one of Steiner's most essential gifts to modern man. In this activity of the observation of thinking, the reader is left completely free. Steiner merely points to the object to be observed: thinking. It is as if someone were showing us a well-known object, perhaps a red rose, and asked if we agreed that this object had this or that quality. We would be able to ascertain everything under discussion, for we would see the object for ourselves. This holds good to a much higher degree when the object we observe is thinking, for then we not only “see' the object, but we produce it as well. This is true of no other object on earth. Where thinking is concerned, all possibility of deception is excluded.

The unusual process of observing thinking leads to awareness of the infinite greatness of man's essential being. In other words, we do not yet actually enter the innermost sanctuary of the temple, but begin to recognize the direction in which to seek it and also what must be done to make it attainable.

The mood kindled in the reader through this new insight into thinking may be compared to that conveyed by the words that sounded to Moses from the burning bush: “Take off thy shoes, for the ground on which thou now treadest is holy.”

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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