Stebbing Summary - Chapter 1 & 2

Chapter Summary Of The Philosophy Of Freedom
Rita Stebbing

Chapter 1 Conscious Human Action and
Chapter 2 The Fundamental Urge for Knowledge
If we continue the comparison with the temple of Apollo we can say that the temple contained a forecourt into which the pupil for initiation was received before he was permitted to enter the temple itself. In this forecourt he had to leave all earthly possessions because if he took them with him into the temple, they would be a hindrance to his progress. In this sense the first two chapters represent a forecourt where the reader is required to recognize and leave behind the prejudices he may have acquired in life, which will bind him to true self-knowledge. In Chapter 1 he is introduced to the viewpoints of seven well-known philosopher who have influenced the development and trend of thought of our time.

It may happen that a reader, upon meeting these perhaps unfamiliar names, feels he should study the works of these philosophers before he is able to assess Rudolf Steiner's approach; or he may feel that since they all belong to the past their viewpoints can have little significance today.

However, both lines of thought really miss the point. If one looks at the sentences quoted from the various philosophers it can be recognized that what they express is highly relevant today and will remain so for a long time into the future. And when one thinks it necessary to study the works of each philosopher quoted in order to assess Rudolf Steiner's own viewpoint, one actually overlooks that what is quoted simply expresses the views most generally held. It is just that these views have been expressed by the seven philosophers in clear concepts. Further, a closer study of The Philosophy of Freedom, more particularly of Chapter I and II, will soon convince the reader that Steiner does not arrive at what he presents as the philosophical basis for an understanding of the world, by a comparison of points of view, but by observation of man in his relation to the world, to the universe. The Philosophy of Freedom which Steiner himself called a “Monism of Thought” is theresult of this observation.

The reader may come to recognize the seven views presented in chapter I as seven temptations to one-sidedness in thinking which have to be recognized. Here we touch on something which perhaps is easily overlooked. It is sometimes said: Had Steiner dealt only with the positive aspect, with his own viewpoint, then The Philosophy of Freedom would have been easier to grasp. However, in saying this one really forgets an essential aspect of human nature, namely that for the recognition of truth it is necessary to recognize also what is not true.

It is because Rudolf Steiner does not simply present a new viewpoint, a new philosophy, but takes his start from the way an ordinary person sees the world and carefully sifts the true from the one-sided, that is possible for the reader to recognize in just what direction his own line of thought may fall short. In other words, the path through Chapters I and II is essentially already the beginning of self-knowledge.

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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