Stebbing Summary - Chapter 7

Chapter Summary Of The Philosophy Of Freedom
Rita Stebbing

Chapter 7 Are There Limits to Knowledge?
Chapter 7 closes the first half of the book. This half is called, Knowledge of Freedom. Chapter 7 shows that when thinking is understood in the way Steiner presents it, one cannot speak of limits to knowledge , but only of limits to sense perceptions. Where sense-perception reaches a limit, thinking goes beyond that limit, for that is its nature. One could say that man's problem is not that there are limits which his thinking cannot go beyond, but rather his problem is how to grow strong enough to accompany thinking with his full ego-consciousness on its further journey. It must be acknowledged that here man, so to speak, confronts an abyss where danger lurks. Those who practice spiritualism and mediumship attempt to cross that abyss, leaving their ego-consciousness behind, with the result that they enter a world of illusions, for they are bereft of all powers of discrimination.

“Nature brings man to a certain stage of development, society takes him a step further, the final polish he can only give himself” ( Chapter 9). The wings man needs to cross the abyss, taking with him his most precious possession, his ego-consciousness, must grow out of his own moral forces.

Therefore, the first half of the book shows the way to freedom. Thinking is revealed as a reality in itself. In the second half of the book is shown how the inherent forces in thinking can be developed so that the latter can light up not only man's external world but his inner world as well, and can lead him to a self-knowledge that will make him free.

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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