Chapter 1 - Comparative Study Guide

Last revised 1/18/2017

The Philosophy Of Freedom

Chapter 1
The Conscious Human Deed

Compare the Experience of Outer Truth with that of Inner Truth


Observed state of things
(compare difference)

Link to
Chapter One

Case 1

Case 2

1.0 The Question Of Freedom

Compare the scientific view that our thinking and action are compelled by the necessity of natural law, with the moral view that free thinking and action are an obvious fact.

Natural Law
Is a human being compelled by the unyielding necessity of natural law? Its just ignorance for anyone to believe the universality of natural law suspends itself in the field of human action and thought.

Is a human being free in his thinking and acting? Distinctions are made to explain how freedom can be compatible with the laws working in nature.

1.1 Freedom Of Indifferent Choice

Compare a choice determined by a reason, with the freedom of an indifferent choice made arbitrarily, without a reason.

Action Determined By A Reason
We are not concerned with the question of free will. The supposedly “indifferent” freedom of choice has always been recognized as an empty illusion by every reputable philosophy. An indifferent choice is not a factor in determining the moral value of human conduct and character.

Freedom Of Indifferent Choice
The freedom of indifferent choice is to arbitrary choose, entirely at will, between two courses of action. An indifferent choice is made without being aware of the reason why we act.

Always A Reason
It is superficial to dismiss the possibility of freedom based on the scientific fact that there is always a specific reason why a person carries out one action from among several possibilities.

1.2 Freedom Of Choice

Compare a choice compelled by desire, with a free choice made according to one’s own preferences.

Action Determined By Desire
That everyone is at liberty to desire or not to desire, as he pleases, is the essential principle concealed in the dogma of free will. This freedom is refuted by the analysis of consciousness.

Free Choice
Opponents of freedom direct their main attacks against freedom of choice. Free choice is the freedom to make a choice according to one’s own preferences.

1.3 Free Necessity Of One's Nature

Compare action determined by the necessity of human nature, with action that expresses the free necessity of one’s “own” nature.

Action Determined By External Causes
A person’s nature is created by external causes. All created things are determined by these external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way.

Because a person is only conscious of his action, he falsely looks upon himself as the free originator of it.

Free Expression Of One’s Nature
I locate freedom, not in free decision, but in free necessity. If we know our self, existing and acting solely out of the necessity of our “own” nature, we are free, even though we exist in a necessary way.

Known Motive Is Different
With the same necessity, a person is supposed to carry out an action when driven by any reason. It is overlooked that a person is not just conscious of his action. He can also become conscious of the causes that guide his action. There is a profound difference between knowing and not knowing why I act. A motive of action fully known to me, compels me in a different way than an organic process does.

1.4 Conduct According To Character

Compare an action compelled by the necessity of an outside situation, with an action that expresses our inner character free of outside motivation.

Action Determined By Character
Even though we first adopt an idea as a motive, this is not done arbitrarily. An idea is turned into a motive according to the necessity of the disposition of our character. We are anything but free.

Free Of Outside Motivation
A person is free, independent of outside motivation, because he must first make the idea imposed on him from outside into a motive, according to his character.

Known Motive
There are motives I allow to influence me only after I have consciously made them my own, and others I follow without a clear knowledge of them.

1.5 Action Resulting From Conscious Motive

Compare an action that springs from blind urge, with a free action that is the result of a conscious motive.

Action Resulting From A Conscious Motive
If there is a difference between a conscious and an unconscious motive of action, then the conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently than one that springs from blind urge.

Action Resulting From A Known Motive
What is the significance of knowing the reasons for one's action?

Too little attention has been given to this question because we split in two what is an inseparable whole: the human being.

Knowing Doer
The doer may not know what to do, but acts anyway. The knower may know what to do, but does not act. The one that matters most is the knowing doer, the one who acts out of knowledge.

1.6 Free When Controlled By Reason

Compare an action controlled by animal cravings, with an action freely determined by purpose and deliberate decision.

Action Determined By Necessity Of Rationality
The real issue is whether reason, purpose, and decision exercise the same compulsion over a human being as his animal cravings. If, without my involvement, a rational decision occurs in me with the same necessity as hunger or thirst, then I must obey it. My freedom is an illusion.

Power Of Reason Over Animal Craving
It is said that man is free when his reason rather than his animal cravings control his action. Or freedom means to determine one’s life and action according to purpose and deliberate decision.

1.7 Freedom To Do What One Wishes

Compare being able to will what you wish, with being able to freely do what you wish.

Will Determined By The Strongest Motive
The human will is not free to the extent its direction is always determined by the strongest motive. If I am forced to will something, then I may be completely indifferent as to whether I can also do it.

Freedom Is Being Able To Do What One Wishes
A person can do what he wishes, but he cannot will as he wishes, because his will is determined by motives.

How Decision Arises
To will something means to have a reason for doing this rather than that. The primary question is how the motive influences me. Do all motives work with inescapable necessity? It is a question of how the decision comes about within me.

1.8 Freedom Of A Spontaneous Unconditioned Will

Compare a spontaneous act of a donkey, with a spontaneous free act of a human.

Will Determined By Invisible Cause
The causes that determine the donkey's acts of will are internal and invisible. We cannot see the determining cause, and so believe it does not exist. It is the same for humans. The human is not free.

We do not perceive the causes that determine our will and so believe it is not causally determined at all.

Spontaneous Unconditioned Will
Seeking analogies for human action in the animal kingdom does not help to clarify the concept of freedom. It leads to misunderstandings such as this:

“The will is indeed the cause of the donkey’s turning around, but is itself unconditioned; it is an absolute beginning.” The donkey is free. It is the same for humans.

Conscious Motive
There are actions, not of the donkey, but of the human being, where between us and the deed lies the motive that has become conscious.

1.9 The Self-Determined Reason For Action

Compare an action carried out without knowing why, with a free action where the reason is known.

Act Without Knowing Why
An action cannot be free if the doer carries it out without knowing why.

Know The Reason For Action
What are we to say of the freedom of an action, if we know the reasons for carrying it out?

Self-Determined Reason
This leads us to the question: What is the origin of our thoughts and what does it mean to think? For without knowledge of the thinking activity of the mind, it is impossible to form a concept of what it means to know something, including what it means to know the reason for an action.

1.10 Driving Force Of The Heart

Compare an action that results from the calm deliberation of reason, with a free action driven by the heart.

Action Determined By The Heart
Love, compassion, and patriotism are driving forces for deeds that cannot be dissipated into cold intellectual concepts. It is said that here the heart-felt sensibility prevails.

Motives Are Shaped By Thoughts
By no means should it be said that all our actions proceed only from the calm deliberations of our reason. I am not suggesting that only actions resulting from abstract judgment alone, are human in the highest sense. But the moment our conduct rises above the satisfying of purely animal desires, our motives are always shaped by thoughts.

Heart Does Not Create Motives
The heart and its sensibility do not create the motives of action. Motives are given prior to being received into the hearts domain. Compassion appears in my heart after the thought of a person who arouses compassion occurs in my mind. The way to the heart is through the head.

1.11 Idealizing The Loved One

Compare an action compelled by love that expresses the sexual drive, with a free action motivated by thoughts idealizing the loved one.

Action Determined By Sexual Drive
Action motivated by love is merely the expression of the sexual drive.

Love Depends On Thoughts We Form
Whenever love is not merely the expression of the sexual drive, it depends on the thoughts we form of the loved one.

Idealizing Thoughts
The more idealistic these thoughts are, the more blissful is our love. Here, too, thought is the father of feeling.

1.12 Seeing The Good

Compare an action compelled by seeing flaws, with a free action motivated by seeing good qualities.

Seeing Good Qualities
It is said that love makes us blind to the flaws of the loved one. But we can turn this around and say love opens our eyes to the good qualities of the loved one. Many pass by these good qualities without noticing them. One, however, sees them, and just because he does, love awakens in his heart.

Forming A Perceptual Thought Picture That Recognizes Good Qualities
What else has he done but formed a thought picture of something that a hundred other people have ignored and formed none. Others do not experience love because they lack the thought picture.

Transition To Next Chapter

From whatever point we approach this subject, one thing becomes more and more clear. An investigation into the origin of our thoughts must come before we can answer the question concerning the nature of human action. So I will turn to this next.

Self-Determined Action
Human action is determined by thought. Is our action self-determined by thoughts that we have either originated or made our own? To find out we need to study the thought process.

What Does It Mean To Know?
To be free we need to know why we act. What does it means to know something, including what does it means to know the reason for an action?  The next chapter is 2 The Fundamental Drive For Science. The pursuit of knowledge begins with questioning and seeking the kind of inner truth that will satisfy our individual need to know.

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