Human drive to be free

The fundamental characteristic of our times is the growing interest around the world to express one's unique individuality. This need for individual expression is the result of an intense striving towards freedom, for we are only human to the extent that we are free.

Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom describes what freedom is so we can determine whether we are free or not, and if not, how to acquire it.

What is freedom?
The question of “What is freedom?” has been debated since the times of the Greeks by the greatest minds. Many offer the key to freedom which may end up leading to deeper enslavement or may be a step forward.

Technology, social and political ideologies, and spiritual theories promise various forms of inner and outer freedom. How do we know what to trust?

Science of freedom
What is needed to end the speculation is an empirical science of freedom. Through introspective research into how the mind works and its relation to the world, Rudolf Steiner located freedom empirically.

With thought training anyone of good will can enter the realm of universal concepts where unbiased free thinking is possible. In this place “pure” reasoning proceeds only on the basis of its own ideal universal content.

Intuitive insight
Pure reasoning is intuitive and leads to intuitive insight free from the determinants of one's characterological make-up or the demands of authority.

Intuitive thinking uncovers the lawful order of things making science possible and when applied to ethics makes free morality possible.

Concept of the free spirit
Through the determined study of The Philosophy Of Freedom the concept of the free spirit is won. Now you know what freedom is; freely forming ideas to be realized in free ethical action.

Not all of our actions are free. The task of self-development is to transform the actions that are unfree into actions that are free. This is possible when you know what freedom is. It requires the emancipation of the cognitive processes, and to obey only yourself.

Proper study
The book was written to be a thought training exercise to awaken the readers intellectual intuition, a requirement for freedom. Steiner wrote it intentionally out of independent thinking so the terms and phrasing are not familiar and not easily understood. To work your way through it takes great effort. Everything in the book must be won. The study should not be a mere reading, it should be an experiencing with inner shocks, tensions and resolutions.

Global humanism
We learn in The Philosophy Of Freedom a personal God will never unite the world because we will have different experiences of it. POF 5.9 The universal ideal content which thinking supplies is the only common element in the separate things of the world.

A free spirit thinks universally and acts individually. She is described in The Philosophy Of Freedom as an ethical individualist and a humanist who “affirms the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom.” 2002 World Humanist Congress

Science and ethics
An ethics informed by a science of human well-being is possible with a shared objective knowledge of human freedom as the basis of collaborative support for its unfoldment. A science of freedom lays the foundation of ethical individualism and of a social and political life.

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  • I feel many people today are humanists - yet they are this DESPITE the prevaling science - just as many (non fundamentalist) religious people are humanists despite their particular religion favouring one group of people over another. What makes the Philosophy of Freedom so radical is it's scientific foundation, which sadly, is unappreciated by most humanists, religious or not - leaving the door wide open to scientific conceptions of humanity that are anything but humanist! Without the scientific foundation in POF being secured, no amount of shouting the word "Humanist!" will stand up to the force of modern scientific conceptions that put human freedom in the category of mere illusion or wishful thinking.

    • Good point, modern day humanism is moving in the direction of materialism which has no place for freedom with spiritualism in denial of a material world. The world of universal ideas (ideals) bridges the gap because it is non-material existing in the mind yet also is the directing principle within the world. For example the laws of nature. I have been struggling with how to define the humanism of The Philosophy Of Freedom and comparing it to other forms of humanism. It puts the human being at the center but then expects human development toward the ideal human who is capable of free thinking and free morality.It is holistic as you can find all the ism's someplace within it. I have always thought what makes POF unique is that it integrates everything by putting each human experience within a whole process of development.

      That would be one approach. Call it holistic humanism and then show how everything else fits somewhere within it.

      • Yes, I see the challenge. I suppose the ethical value of humanism is in direct proportion to the understanding of what exactly the human being is. 

        • Holistic humanism

          POF talks of a holistic science by referring to an all-inclusive science that utilizes all the separate sciences. POF 0.8 And in POF 5.10 "The objects which, in observation, appear to us as separate, become combined, bit by bit, through the coherent, unified system of our intuitions. By thought we fuse again into one whole all that perception has separated."

          In Ethics it talks of action in which we are fully engaged (thinking, feeling, willing). Problems occur when we act without knowing why we act, are not inspired or empowered to act, act in a way that causes harm because we lack skill, etc. The action in POF, using Moral Intuition, Moral Imagination, and Moral Technique integrates all of our abilities for a full commitment to the deed. We, as actor, are integrated beings and our action is integrated into the world without doing harm.

          So knowledge and ethics clearly have a holistic approach in POF that is different from the other forms of humanism. This seems to be the clearest distinction.

          POF is based on "reason" which connects things. So are other forms of humanism. But POF goes into great detail of how to fully use reason to connect things into a whole. So its knowledge and ethics result in being much more holistic. 

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