Cunningham Summary - Chapter 2

Chapter Summary Of The Philosophy Of Freedom
Eric Cunningham

Chapter 2 The Fundamental Desire for Knowledge
In this chapter, Steiner begins by observing the fundamental split between the self and the world, and characterizes this split in terms of the desire that the self has to know about the world. People sense that despite being detached from the world they see, they also belong intimately to it. Accordingly they want to know how the world works and to know where they belong in it.

The means with which we approach this knowledge is as much a polarity as the "self and world" polarity itself. Steiner identifies this particular polarity of approaches as "one world monism" vs. "two world dualism." Assigning a variety of terms to dualism, Steiner equates "self and world" to "subject and object," "spirit and matter," and "thinking and phenomenon." To the degree that the self/subject thinks about the object/phenomenal world, it takes part in a spiritual activity, but it does so in a material world.

Steiner argues that neither monism nor dualism are satisfactory for gaining knowledge about the world, because "they do not do justice to the facts (18)." By separating the two worlds into opposed spheres, dualism creates a state of alienation between self and world. Monism for its part either denies the reality spirit, leading to materialism, or denies reality of matter, leading to spiritualism.

Materialism cannot explain the world because any description of the material world must begin with forming thoughts about the world, and thinking is a spiritual activity. The world is never "just what it is," to a human perceiver--it is always thought about and speculated about. On the other hand, spiritualism cannot explain the world fully because pure spirit has no way to make itself known to the human organism without material senses or the object world about which thoughts and ideas are formed. 

Steiner argues that the way back to "unity" is to seek out that part of the spirit world that our material organisms have taken into their own beings. "We can find nature outside us only when we we first know it is within us. What is akin to it in our own inner being will be our guide (22)."

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The Knowledge of Freedom

Chapter 1   Conscious Human Action
Chapter 2   The Fundamental Desire for Knowledge
Chapter 3   Thinking in the Service of Apprehending the World
Chapter 4   The World as Perception
Chapter 5   The Activity of Knowing the World
Chapter 6   The Human Individuality
Chapter 7   Are There Limits to Cognition?


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 Genus