Stebbing Summary - Consequences

Chapter Summary Of The Philosophy Of Freedom
Rita Stebbing

The Consequences Of Monism
The Philosophy of Freedom has a concluding part,  The Consequences Of Monism, which sums up its content. This part may become a kind of test. For example, if it is possible to say in regard to every point in it, “This I have tested for myself, I have recognized its truth through my own experience,” then it could be said also that the book has been understood---though doubtless one must add that this is only the beginning. This is where the thoughts and ideas begin to grow within the reader and lead to a deeper understanding of life.

The present writer is only too well aware that this article is but a brief sketch, and that many essentials have not been touched upon. The intention was merely to draw attention to a few aspects, more particularly to Steiner's indications in the passage quoted at the beginning of the article: that the real importance of The Philosophy of Freedom lies more in the way it is written than in the actual content—important though the latter may be. The book becomes a training in thinking which leads the reader to a consciousness of thinking. The person standing in the midst of modern life is not accustomed to exercise thinking for its own sake, i.e., to observe its own nature. To follow this book is to do just that: to observe thinking. The examples given in the book which usually refer to ordinary everyday situations in life, call the reader's attention not to these events, but to his own thinking about them. He comes to the experience that thoughts whose content is worthy of reverence. They begin to “speak” within him and tell him what they are in their own reality.

In approaching The Philosophy of Freedom a scientific training is doubtless a valuable asset, particularly a training in mathematics, for the same exactness of thought necessary for natural science is a fundamental prerequisite when observing one's own thinking. Nevertheless, ordinary thinking, even when thus trained, is not strong enough to penetrate to the hidden qualities in man and in life. This kind of thinking is trained to follow only the external sequence of events rather than to exercise its own inherent powers.

Even when ordinary thinking goes beyond the external event---which of necessity it must, and even more so in the case of the creative scientist—it always has a foothold, a support in the form of the external event. To understand man's nature—which is to experience, not theoretically but concretely, that being in man who does the thinking—it is necessary to take leave of such support, for this part of man's being is not found in the external world. Although many “dragons” have to be fought on the way, obstacles in the form of self-delusions, these are far outweighed by the liberation from doubt in the inherent wisdom, goodness and beauty of man's being.

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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