How an action is born?

(Chapter Nine - The Idea of Freedom)

I'm preoccupied by the 3 concepts used by Rudolf Steiner to explain action:

1.Mobile (or driving force - permanent determining factor of the individual)

2.Motive (or the temporary determinant of will)

3.Characterological disposition

1. Those can be the driving force of an action: lusts or desires /feelings / representations/ concepts/ pure concepts.

One question about the driving force is why are they the permanent determining factor of the individual? Is it because one lives for a long period of time (sometimes maybe a lifetime) with the same desires/lusts, he has the same feelings in certain situations and he always reacts in the same way to them, and the measure of one's experience is limited so one can have just a limited amount of representations of "what to do" in different situations - so he does just those actions about which he has a representations?

2. Motives, says Rudolf Steiner, can be either representations or thoughts. A representation or a thought is a motive, only if it made a human being make an action, otherwise is just a candidate for a motive.

The example in the book is: the representation of going for a walk in the next half an hour. This is the candidate for being the motive of an action.

Now, the characterological disposition (c.d.) enters the scene. From what I read, I understood that the c.d. is a group of mental objects of different types: representations, concepts, mental pictures and feelings. (Representation being a individualized notion or a mental picture).


So when the candidate for being a motive enters one's consciousness,  objects from one's c.d. come to validate or invalidate the candidate. 

In the example from the book those objects that come to validate the candidate are: one's idea about the utility of walking, the value of one's health and in the end the feeling generated in me by the representation of taking a walk in the next half of hour.

*One thing that I forgot to say about c.d. is that is more or less permanent.

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  • Because we are not always acting out of the highest level of morality, moral intuition, where an intuitive ideal is stronger than an opposing driving force of the characterological disposition, the quote below is handy.

    We can set goals that will win the support of our lower drives and habits. For example, I wanted to take a walk for all the good examples mentioned in chapter 9 such as good health. But my character was not excited as exercise was not a habit. So I told myself I can ride my bike to a lunch place that had healthy food. I like to eat.

    This motivated my characterological disposition to take a bike ride. Not for the exercise but for the enjoyment of the lunch.

    This reminds me that religious food charity groups that provide free dinners made you listen to a sermon before the free meal. Same principle. 

    POF 9.4
    [9] Thus, we must distinguish between (1) the possible subjective dispositions that are suited to making specific mental pictures and concepts into motives and (2) the possible mental pictures and concepts that are capable of influencing my characterological disposition so that an act of will results. The former represent the motive powers, the latter the goals of morality.

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