Introduction - Comparative Study Guide

This is a comparative study guide to the The Goal Of Knowledge, an introduction to Rudolf Steiner's The Philosophy Of Freedom. The first column has the topic headings that will appear in the new revised edition. The other two columns highlight an experience of Outer Truth next to an experience of Inner Truth described in the particular text section so they can be compared. Steiner uses a comparative approach to the book. The book is a philosophy of life based on knowing and ethically acting on inner truth, which results in being empowered to live to your full human potential. To understand what inner truth is, it is compared to outer truth throughout the book.

The study guide will point out this comparative approach to the book for each chapter. The revised edition is complete up to chapter 7 and the study guide so far includes the preface and chp. 1.

Last revised 1/17/2017

The Philosophy Of Freedom

Introduction: The Goal Of Knowledge

Compare the Experience of Outer Truth with that of Inner Truth


Observed state of things
(compare difference)

Link to

Case 1

Case 2

0.0 Striving For Individuality

Compare a life of conformity that believes there is a norm of human life that we must all strive to conform, with a life of individuality that accepts nothing as valid unless it springs from the roots of individuality.

There is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform.

Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality.

Striving For Freedom
No better expression for the phenomena of individuality can be found than this, they result from the individual’s striving towards freedom, developed to its highest pitch.

0.1 Conviction Of Inner Truth

Compare the uncertainty of truth that comes from outside, with the conviction of truth that comes from within.

Truth that comes to us from outside always bears the stamp of uncertainty.

Each one of us is only convinced of truth when he recognizes it within his own inner life.

0.2 Empowered By Truth

Compare having your powers weakened by being tormented by doubt, with the confidence and empowerment that comes with truth.

Doubt Weakens
Whoever is tormented by doubts finds his powers weakened. If baffled by a world full of riddles, he can find no goal for his creative activity.

Confidence Empowers
Only truth can give us confidence in developing our individual powers.

0.3 Understood Truth

Compare belief’s acceptance of truth that is not wholly understood, with the satisfaction of a knowing that springs from the inner life of the personality. 

Belief demands the acceptance of truths that we do not wholly understand. We no longer want to believe; we want to know.

What is not clearly understood goes against our individuality, that wants to experience everything in the depths of its inner core. The only knowing that satisfies us is the kind that submits to no external norm, but springs from the inner life of the personality.

0.4 Advancing In Knowledge From Experience

Compare advancing in knowledge with the kind that has been encased in rigid academic rules, with advancing in knowledge by starting from the facts we know and our own personal experience.

Academic Knowledge
We do not want the kind of knowledge that has been encased in rigid academic rules, and stored away as valid for all time.

Personal Experience
Each of us claims the right to start from the facts we know, from our own personal experience, and from there advance to knowledge of the whole universe. We strive for certainty in knowledge, but each in his own way.

0.5 Driven By Individual Need To Understand

Compare the student that is compelled to understand, with the student driven to understand by his own particular need.

Compelled To Understand
The teachings of science should not be presented in a way that implies its acceptance is compulsory. No one should be compelled to understand.

Driven By Need To Understand
We expect neither recognition nor agreement from anyone who is not driven to a certain view by his own particular, individual needs.

Develop Desire For Knowledge
We do not want to cram facts of knowledge into even an immature person, a child. We try to develop the child's capacities in such a way that he no longer needs to be compelled to understand, but wants to understand.

0.6 Living The Principles Of Individual Truth 

Compare a stereotypical life that follows cultural trends, with an individualistic life that follows the path of inner truth by applying the principles in this book. 

A Life Flaunting Cultural Trends
I know how much a stereotypical attitude, lacking all individuality, is prevalent everywhere. Many flaunt a way of life that follows only the current cultural trends.

Living The Principles Of Individual Truth
I also know that many of my contemporaries strive to conduct their lives in the direction of the principles I have suggested. 

Path To Inner Truth
To them I dedicate this book. It is not meant to offer the "only possible" way to Truth, but to describe the path taken by one for whom truth is central.

0.7 Practicing Pure Thinking

Compare the pious exercises and ascetic practices necessary to receive the knowledge of a sage, with the practice of entering the realm of pure thinking necessary to attain scientific knowledge.

Preparation To Receive Wisdom Of Sage
The oriental sage requires his disciples to live a life of resignation and asceticism for years before he shares with them what he knows.

Preparation For Science
The West no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic practices to attain knowledge. It does require, however, a sincere willingness to prepare for science by withdrawing oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life, and entering the realm of pure thought.

Soar Into The Realm Of Concepts
I am fully convinced that to experience life in all its aspects, one must soar into the realm of concepts. Whoever is limited to the pleasures of the senses misses the sweetest joys of life.

0.8 A Wholistic Science

Compare the aim of the scientific specialist's research to gain knowledge of the world and how it works, with wholistic knowing that seeks in the separate sciences the principles for leading man back to the fullness of life.

Separate Sciences
The aim of the scientific specialist's research is to gain knowledge of the world and how it works. But life itself is a unity, and the more the sciences immerse themselves in separate fields, the more they move away from seeing the world as a living whole.

Wholistic Science
The world as a living whole. It is essential to have a wholistic knowing that seeks in the separate sciences the principles for leading man back to the fullness of life. The various branches of science are preparatory stages on the way to the wholistic science intended here.

Wholistic Art
A composer works on the basis of the theory of composition. This theory is an accumulation of principles of what one needs to know in order to compose music. In composing, the rules of theory serve life, that is, theory serves actual reality.

Wholistic Philosophy
For philosophers, abstract thinking takes on an individual life of its own. Ideas become powerful forces in life. We no longer merely know about things, but have made knowing into a real self-governing organism, ruled by its own laws. Our actual working consciousness has lifted itself above a mere passive reception of truths.

0.9 A Science Of Freedom

Compare answering the questions of human freedom without science, with answering these questions which are the most intimate that concern humanity with science.

Questions Of Freedom
The main theme of my book concerns these questions: How philosophy, as an art, relates to freedom; what freedom is; and whether we do, or can, participate in it.

A Science Of Freedom
Scientific discussions are included because it is science, at long last, that will throw light on these questions which are the most intimate that concern humanity. These pages offer a "Philosophy of Freedom."

0.10 A Science Of Humanism

Compare the value of science that satisfies idle curiosity, with the value of science that elevates the existential value of human personality.

Idle Curiosity
All science would be nothing but the satisfaction of idle curiosity, if it does not elevate the existential value of human personality.

Value Of Science
The true value of the sciences is seen only when we are shown the importance of their results for humanity.

Aim Of Individuality
The ultimate aim of an individuality cannot be the cultivation of only a single capacity. Rather, it must be the development of all the potential that slumbers within us. Knowledge has value only by contributing to the all-around development of the whole of human nature.

0.11 A Science Of Ethics

Compare serving the ideas of science, with the ideas of science serving human aims that go beyond science.

Serving Ideas Of Science
This book does not regard the relationship of science to life in such a way that the human being must bow down before the world of Ideas and devote his powers to its service.

Using Ideas For Human Aims Beyond Science
The book shows that we should take possession of the world of ideas in order to use them for our human aims. These extend beyond those of mere science.

0.12 Master Of Ideas

Compare being controlled by ideas, with being master of ideas.

Slave Of Ideas
Fall into the bondage of an idea.

Confront Idea As Master
One must confront an idea as master, experiencing it; otherwise one falls into its bondage.

Transition To Next Chapter

On To Freedom
We conclude with the need to confront ideas, otherwise ideas will control us. The next chapter, The Conscious Human Deed, is about freedom. It discusses the need to become aware of the unconscious motives that compel our action. These ideas lose power over us when we confront them and gain full knowledge of them.

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of The Philosophy Of Freedom Steiner to add comments!