Wise ones throughout history have given humanity a picture of the human ideal to strive for, such as religious saints like Jesus in the Gospels or Ayn Rand's selfish individualist. Rudolf Steiner presents to the world a new Human Ideal for our age, the Ethical Individualist. The Ethical Individualist stands at the highest point of human evolution. Part I of the book describes the FREE THINKING while Part II describes the FREE MORALITY of the Ethical Individualist. The human ideal unites these two sides.
1. Conscious Human Action
14. The Individual
2. Why The Desire For
13. The Value Of Life
3. Thought As The
12. Moral Imagination
4. The World As Percept
11. World Purpose And Life Purpose
5. Our Knowledge Of The World
10. Monism And The Philosophy Of Freedom
6. Human Individuality
9. The Idea Of Freedom
7. Are There Any Limits To Knowledge?
8. The Factors Of Life
How can we get along? HARMONY OF INTENTIONS A moral misunderstanding, a clash of aims, is impossible between those who are free.
Rudolf Steiner 1919
The man of modern times cannot live instinctively; he must live consciously. He needs a freedom that is real. He needs more than vague talk about freedom; more than the mere verbiage of freedom. He needs that freedom should actually grow into his immediate life and surroundings. This is only possible along roads that lead to ethical individualism.
At the time when my book The Philosophy of Freedom appeared, Eduard von Hartmann wrote to me: “The book ought not to be called ‘The Philosophy of Freedom’ but ‘A Study in Phenomena connected with the Theory of Cognition, and an Ethical Individualism.’ ” For a title of course that would have been rather long-winded; but it would not have been bad to have called it “Ethical Individualism,” for ethical individualism is nothing but the personal realization of freedom. The best people were totally unable to perceive how the actual impulses of the age were calling for the thing that is discussed in that book.
Philosophy Of Freedom Study Course
I am putting together a new Philosophy Of freedom study course. Some features include:
- Watch Videos: I will be producing 200 short videos of under 5 minutes that cover each of the main topics in the book. They will be posted at the rate of 1 or 2 per week.
- Take Quiz: A short quiz of 5-10 questions will accompany each video. The quiz results will be sent in and recorded in each one's file.
- Work at own pace
- Cost: Course is free, but participants are encouraged to share what they learn with a study project or by starting a study group.
November 12, 2015
The fourth view of thinking presented in Chapter 3 is Idealism. The Idealist likes to produce ideas and think about them. So this topic is the Observation Of Thinking. First we produce thought, then we direct our attention to contemplate these thoughts.
The third view of the discussion of thinking in Chapter 3 is Realism, so the Realist is interested in "thinking observation" as the way to know the external world.
Chapter 3 new study course video. We now move from the inactive state of Materialism to the active state of Spiritism. For us the underlying spiritual, which the Spiritist seeks, is concepts and ideas. We gain this through our own inner activity, our thinking. So the topic becomes the concept formed through my activity.
This is the second completed video for a new Philosophy Of Freedom study course. Each short video makes a single clear point. Find the first video at the STUDY COURSE link on the Home page.
The Philosophy Of Freedom Study Course
Chapter 3 How To Think, Not What To Think
Topic 3-0 To Think, Or Not Think
Chapter 3, "Thinking as A Means Of Gaining Knowledge Of The World", presents 12 topics that describe the thinking process so we can learn what it means to think and the value of thinking. Our knowledge of the world relies upon both observation and thinking, but thinking is different in that for anything to happen, we must first choose to think.
Learn about the Rudolf Steiner study course here.
Monadism: I am a self-conscious and completely self-dependent ego. Truth is not revealed to outer observation so I do not accept anything as truth from the outside world. A being can build up existence in itself, and force concepts outward (Monads are will entities). Reflects on the spiritual element in the world.
Monadism worldview in Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom
1.9 Monadist action: Know The Reason For Action
Freedom is an action of which the reasons are known by reflecting on the motive before we act.
2.9 Monadist pursuit of knowledge: Know Element Of Nature Within
“Desires to know the element of nature within that corresponds to nature without. We can find Nature outside of us only if we have first learnt to know her within us. The Natural within us must be our guide to her.”
3.9 Monadist thinking: Create Before Knowing
“We must resolutely proceed with thinking, in order afterward, by means of observation of what we ourselves have done, gain knowledge of it.”
4.9 Monadist perception: Only Perceive What My Organization Transmits
“Nothing can any longer be found of what exists outside of me and originally stimulated my sense-organs. The external object, on its way to the brain, and through the brain to the soul, has been entirely lost. What we perceive is something we produce.”
5.9 Monadist knowing: Principle Of Unity Is Ideal Element
“All attempts to discover any other principle of unity in the world than this internally coherent ideal content, which we gain for ourselves by the conceptual analysis of our percepts, are bound to fail.”
6.9 Monadist individual representation of reality: Individual Point Of View
“Each one of us has his special standpoint from which he looks out on the world. His concepts link themselves to his percepts. He has his own special way of forming general concepts.”
7.9 Monadist cognition: Monism
Reality is sum of perceptions and laws of nature. “Monism replaces forces by ideal relations which are supplied by thinking. These relations are the laws of nature. A law of nature is nothing but the conceptual expression for the connection of certain percepts.”
8.9 Monadist personality: Personality Expressed In Will
“Willing Personality: The individual relation of our self to what is objective.”
9.9 monadist idea to act: Individual Element
Expression of ideals in individual way. “The individual element in me is not my organism with its instincts and feelings, but rather the unified world of ideas which reveals itself through this organism. An act the grounds for which lie in the ideal part of my individual nature is free.”
10.9 Monadist moral authority: Stage Of The Free Spirit
“Monism looks upon man as a developing being, and asks whether, in the course of this development, he can reach the stage of the free spirit.”
11.9 Monadist purpose: Formative Principle In Nature
“The structure of every natural object, be it plant, animal, or man, is not determined and conditioned by an idea of it floating in midair, but by the formative principle of the more inclusive whole of Nature which unfolds and organizes itself in a purposive manner.”
12.9 Monadist moral idea: Moral Self-determination
“The life of moral self-determination is the continuation of organic life. The characterizing of an action, whether it is a free one, he must leave to the immediate observation of the action.”
13.9 Monadist value of life: Strength Of Will
Will For Pleasure (intensity of desire) “The question is not at all whether there is a surplus of pleasure or of pain, but whether the will is strong enough to overcome the pain.”
14.9 Monadist individuality: Emancipation Of Knowing
“If we are to understand a free individuality we must take over into our own spirit those concepts by which he determines himself, in their pure form (without mixing our own conceptual content with them).”
THE SPIRITIST (World Of Mind)
Spiritism: The material world is only a manifestation of the underlying spiritual. By developing our powers, the truth that we seek is revealed through our own inner activity. The way we directly experience the spirit is in the act of thinking. The human spirit is that part of us that thinks.
2.2 Spiritist pursuit of knowledge: Spiritualistic Theory
“The Spiritualist denies Matter (the World) and regards it merely as a product of Mind (the Self). He supposes the whole phenomenal word to be nothing more than a fabric woven by Mind out of itself.”
3.2 Spiritist thinking: Concept Formed Through My Activity
“I am conscious, in the most positive way, that the concept of a thing is formed through my activity.”
4.2 Spiritist perception: Thinking Refers Concept
“When, I, as thinking subject, refer a concept to an object, we must not regard this reference as something purely subjective. It is not the subject, but thinking, that makes the reference.”
5.2 Spiritist knowing: Thinking Assertion
“If I want to assert anything at all about the perception, this can happen only with the help of thinking. If my thought is not applicable to the world, then my result is false.”
6.2 Spiritist individual representation of reality: Thinking Connects An Intuition With The Percept
“The moment a percept appears in my field of consciousness, thought, too, becomes active in me. A member of my thought-system, a definite intuition connects itself with the percept. An idea is nothing but an intuition, a concept, related to a particular percept; it retains this reference to the percept.”
7.2 Spiritist cognition: Cognitive Power Of The Self
“Within ourselves we find the power to discover also the other part of reality. Only when the Self has combined for itself the two elements of reality which are indivisibly bound up with one another in the world, is our thirst for knowledge stilled.”
8.2 Spiritist personality: Perception of Feeling
“Feeling plays on the subjective side exactly the part which percepts play on the objective side. Feeling is the guarantee of the reality of one's own personality.”
9.2 Spiritist idea to act: The Motive Is The Conceptual Factor
“The conceptual factor, or motive, is the momentary determining cause of an act of will. The motive of an act of will can be only a pure concept, or else a concept with a definite relation to perception, i.e., an idea. Motives of will influence the individual make up (characterological disposition) and determine him to action in a particular direction.”
10.2 Spiritist moral authority: Spiritual Force
“Man may picture the extra-human Absolute that lies behind the world of appearances as a spiritual being. In this case he will also seek the impulse for his actions in a corresponding spiritual force. To this kind of dualist the moral laws appear to be dictated by the Absolute, and all that man has to do is to use his intelligence to find out the decisions of the absolute being and then carry them out.”
11.2 Spiritist purpose: Conceptual Factor Of Purpose
“If the effect is to have a real influence upon the cause, it can do so only by means of the conceptual factor.”
12.2 Spiritist moral idea: Moral Imagination
“The human being produces concrete mental pictures from the sum of his ideas chiefly by means of the imagination. Therefore what the free spirit needs in order to realize his ideas, in order to be effective, is moral imagination.”
13.2 Spiritist value of life: Pain Of Striving
Pain Of Striving (universal idleness) “Eternal striving, ceaseless craving for satisfaction which is ever beyond reach, this is the fundamental characteristic of all active will. For no sooner is one goal attained, than a fresh need springs up, and soon. Schopenhauer's pessimism leads to complete inactivity; his moral aim is universal idleness.”
14.2 Spiritist individuality: Generic Medium For Individual Expression
“A man develops qualities and activities of his own, and the basis for these we can seek only in the man himself. What is generic in him serves only as a medium in which to express his own individual being.”
Phenomenalism: An explanation of the world of phenomena. There is a world spread out around me, but I do not maintain this world is is the real one. I can only say that it 'appears' to me. I am not saying that this world of colors and sounds, which arises only because certain processes in my eyes present themselves to me as colors, while processes in my ears present themselves to me as sounds—I am not saying that this world is the true world. It is a world of phenomena.
Phenomenalism worldview in Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom
1.11 Phenomenalist action: Idealize A Person
“Love depends on the thoughts we form of the loved one. And the more we idealize the loved one in our thoughts, the more joyful is our love.”
2.11 Phenomenalist pursuit of knowledge: Description Of Consciousness
“I have so far not been concerned with any scientific results, but simply with the description of what every one of us experiences in his own consciousness.”
3.11 Phenomenalist thinking: Impartial Consideration Of Thinking
“We must first consider thinking quite impartially without relation to a thinking subject or to an object of thought. There is no denying that thought must be understood before anything else can be understood.”
4.11 Phenomenalist perception: External Perception Is My Idea
“I thought that the percept, just as I perceive it, had objective existence. But now I observe that it disappears with my act of perception, that it is only a modification of my mental state. For as soon as I see clearly that my sense-organs and their activity, my nerve- and soul-processes, can also be known to me only through perception, the argument which I have outlined reveals itself in its full absurdity.”
5.11 Phenomenalist knowing: Conceptual Connections Of Percepts
“Other than what is immediately perceived, we cannot speak of there being anything except what is known through the conceptual connections between the percepts—connections that are accessible to thinking.”
6.11 Phenomenalist individual representation of reality: Education Of Feelings
“Man is meant to be a whole. Knowledge of objects will go hand-in-hand with the development and education of the feeling-side of his nature.”
7.11 Phenomenalist cognition: Sum of Effects and Underlying Causes
Inductive inference “This kind of conclusion infers, from a sum of effects, the character of their underlying causes.”
8.11 Phenomenalist personality: Ideal Principle And Real Experience Of Feeling and Willing
“Besides the ideal principle which is accessible to knowledge, there is said to be a real principle which cannot be apprehended by thinking but can yet be experienced in feeling and willing.”
9.11 Phenomenalist idea to act: Free And Unfree Actions
“Our life is made up of free and unfree actions. We cannot, however, form a final and adequate concept of human nature without coming upon the free spirit as its purest expression.”
10.11 Phenomenalist moral authority: Illumine The Phenomena Of The World
“Monism regards the transition through automatic behavior (according to natural drives and instincts) and through obedient behavior (according to moral norms) as necessary preliminary stages for morality, but sees the possibility of surmounting both transitional stages through the free spirit. And it rejects the latter because monism seeks within the world all the principles of explanation which it needs to illumine the phenomena of the world, and seeks none outside it.”
11.11 Phenomenalist purpose: Coherence Within Whole
“The orderly coherence of the members of a perceptual whole is nothing more than the ideal (logical) coherence of the members of the ideal whole which is contained in this perceptual whole.”
12.11 Phenomenalist moral idea: Depends On External Circumstances
“Whether I am able to do, i.e., to make real, what I will, i.e., what I have set before myself as my idea of action, that depends on external circumstances and on my technical skill.”
13.11 Phenomenalist value of life: Highest Pleasure Is The Realization Of Moral Ideals
“Moral ideals spring from the moral imagination of man. They are his intuitions, the driving forces which his spirit harnesses; he wants them, because their realization is his highest pleasure.”
14.11 Phenomenalist individuality: Ethical Conduct
“Only that part of his conduct that springs from his intuitions can have ethical value in the true sense.”
Mathematism: Mathematism is a transition moving from Materialism to Idealism. It takes the world as a mechanical apparatus and orders it accurately. It would like to explain the world in mathematical terms. It is calculating and orders things by measure and number. It gives percept and concept equal value. Mathematism can also lead to a paradox between the ideal and the real.
Mathematism worldview in Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom
1.5 Mathematist action: Action Resulting From Conscious Motive
Rather than blind urge, freedom is to act according to a conscious motive; the knowing doer.
2.5 Mathematist pursuit of knowledge: Paradox Between Physical And Ideal
Mathematical paradox between physical and ideal. “The Materialists are quite right in declaring all phenomena, including our thought, to be the product of purely material processes, but, in turn, Matter and its processes are for him themselves the product of our thinking.”
3.5 Mathematist thinking: Know Content Of Concept
“I know immediately, from the content of the two concepts, why my thought connects the concept of thunder with that of lightning.”
4.5 Mathematist perception: Mathematical Percept-Picture
“I should like to call the dependence of my perceptual world on my point of observation 'mathematical'. It determines proportions of size and mutual distances of my percepts.”
5.5 Mathematist knowing: Indivisible Existence of Concept With Percept
“Indivisible existence of concept with percept. Mathematics teaches me to distinguish various kinds of lines, one of which is the parabola. If I analyze the conditions under which the stone thrown by me moves, I find that the line of its flight is identical with the line I know as a parabola.”
6.5 Mathematist individual representation of reality: Cognitive personality
“If our personality expressed itself only in cognition, the totality of all that is objective would be contained in percept, concept, and idea.”
7.5 Mathematist cognition: Real Principles in addition to Ideal Principles
“The ideal principles which thinking discovers are too airy for the Dualist, and he seeks, in addition, real principles with which to support them.”
8.5 Mathematist personality: Knowledge is inseparably bound up with our feeling
“What for us only emerges later is, however, inseparably bound up with our feeling from the beginning. Because of this fact the naive person falls into the belief that in feeling, existence presents itself to him directly; in knowing, only indirectly. The cultivation of his feeling life will therefore seem to him more important than anything else.”
9.5 Mathematist idea to act: Moral Intuition
“The action is individually adapted to the special case and the special situation, and yet at the same time is ideally determined by pure intuition.”
10.5 Mathematist moral authority: Accept Moral Principles
“Anyone incapable of producing moral ideas through intuition must receive them from others. To the extent that humans receive their ethical principles from without, they are in fact unfree. Monism ascribes to the idea the same importance as to the percept.
11.5 Mathematist purpose: Laws Of Nature
“Monism rejects the concept of purpose in every sphere, with the sole exception of human action. It looks for laws of Nature, but not for purposes of Nature.”
12.5 Mathematist moral idea: Normative Moral Laws
“Some people have wanted to maintain the standard-setting (normative) character of moral laws.”
13.5 Mathematist value of life: Quantity Of Pleasure
“What is the right method for comparing the sum of pleasure to pain? Eduard von Hartmann believes that it is reason that holds the scales. The rational estimation of feelings is reinstated as the standard of value.”
14.5 Mathematist individuality: Social Science Laws
“Racial, tribal, national, and sexual characteristics form the content of specific sciences. Determining the individual according to the laws of his genus ceases where the sphere of freedom (in thinking and acting) begins.”
Psychism: Ideas are bound up with a being capable of having ideas. Ideas are connected with beings.
Psychism (psyche, psychology) worldview in Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom
1.7 Psychist action: Strongest Motive Works On Me
“If a motive works on me, and I am compelled to follow it because it proves to be the 'strongest' of its kind, then the thought of freedom ceases to make any sense.”
2.7 Psychist pursuit of knowledge: Polarity Of Consciousness
Desires to resolve polarity of consciousness. “We meet with the fundamental opposition first in our own consciousness. It is we ourselves who break away from the bosom of Nature and contrast ourselves as self with the world.”
3.7 Psychist thinking: My Content Of Thought
“I think, therefore I am. I qualify my existence by the determinate and self-sustaining content of my thinking activity.”
4.7 Psychist perception: My Mental Picture
“When the tree disappears from my field of vision, an after-effect of this process remains within myself, a picture of the tree. My self has become enriched; to its content a new element has been added. This element I call my mental picture of the tree.”
5.7 Psychist knowing: Self Definition Through Thinking
“Self-perception is to be distinguished from self-determination, by thinking. Through thinking, I integrate the percepts of myself into the world process.”
6.7 Psychist individual representation of reality: Two-Fold Nature: Thinking And Feeling
“Thinking and feeling correspond to the twofold nature of our being. It is only because with self-knowledge we experience self-feeling and with the perception of objects pleasure and pain, that we live as individuals who have a special value in themselves.”
7.7 Psychist cognition: Ideal Entities
“The tulip I see is real today; in a year it will have vanished into nothingness. What persists is the species 'tulip'. Naive Realism is compelled to acknowledge the existence of something ideal by the side of percepts. It must include within itself entities which cannot be perceived by the senses.”
8.7 Psychist personality: Philosopher Of Feeling
“The Philosopher Of Feeling makes a universal principle out of something that has significance only within one's own personality.”
9.7 Psychist idea to act: Ethical Individualism
“In some, ideas bubble up like a spring, others acquire them with much labor. The situations in which men live, and which are the scenes of their actions, are no less widely different. The conduct of a man will depend, therefore, on the manner in which his faculty of intuition reacts to a given situation.”
10.7 Psychist moral authority: Realization Of The Free Spirit
“According to the monistic view man acts in part unfreely, in part freely. He finds himself to be unfree in the world of his perceptions, but brings the free spirit to realization in himself.”
11.7 Psychist purpose: My Purpose
“Life has no other purpose or function than the one which man gives to it. If the question be asked: What is man's purpose in life? Monism has but one answer: The purpose which he gives to himself.”
12.7 Psychist moral idea: My Moral Ideas
“While it is quite true that the moral ideas of the individual have perceptibly grown out of those of his ancestors, it is also true that the individual is morally barren, unless he has moral ideas of his own.”
13.7 Psychist value of life: Hopelessness Of Egotism
Pursuit Of Pleasure leads to the hopelessness of egotism. “If the quantity of pain in a person's life became at any time so great that no hope of future pleasure could help him to get over the pain, then the bankruptcy of life's business would inevitably follow.”
14.7 Psychist individuality: My Concrete Aims
“It is not possible to determine from the general characteristics of man what concrete aims the individual may choose to set himself.”
THE REALIST (External World)
Realism: One thing is clear –there is a world spread out around us. I recognize the external world, it is something I can see and think about. I restrict myself to what I see around me.
Realism worldview in Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom
1.3 realist action: Necessity of our nature
Our nature is built up by the external world. “Freedom is to express the necessity of our nature. But we are determined by our nature to act in a fixed and exact way.”
2.3 Realist pursuit of knowledge: Realism
“If one would really know the external world, one must turn one's eye outwards and draw on the fund of experience. Without experience Mind can have no content.”
3.3 Realist thinking: Thinking Contemplation Of Object
“Thinking activity which is directed solely on the observed object (external world) and not on the thinking subject.”
4.3 Realist perception: Pure Perception
“All that is perceived before thinking begins is the pure content of perception. The world would appear as a mere chaotic aggregate of sense-data, colors, sounds, sensations of pressure, of warmth, of taste, of smell, and, lastly, feelings of pleasure and pain. This mass constitutes the world of pure unthinking perception.”
5.3 Realist knowing: World Complete In Itself
“The picture which the thinker constructs concerning the phenomena of the world is regarded, not as part of the real things, but as existing only in men's heads. The world is complete in itself even without this picture. Set the plant before yourself. It connects itself, in your mind, with a definite concept.”
6.3 Realist individual representation of reality: Representation Of “Real” Object
“An idea is therefore nothing but an individualized concept. And now we can see how “real” objects can be represented to us by ideas. The full reality of a thing is present to us in the moment of observation through the combination of concept and percept.”
7.3 Realist cognition: Reconcile Familiar Percepts and Concepts
“A world of percepts, conditioned by time, space, and our subjective organization, stands over against a world of concepts expressing the totality of the universe. Our task consists in reconciling these two spheres, both of which we are familiar.”
8.3 Realist personality: Feeling Is Real
“Feeling is something real but incomplete which, in the first form in which it is given to us, does not yet contain its second factor: the concept or idea. In actual life, feelings, like percepts, appear prior to knowledge.”
9.3 Realist idea to act: Characterological disposition
“The characterological disposition consists of the more or less permanent content of the individual's life, that is, of his habitual ideas and feelings.” The characterological disposition is built up by experience and one's environment.
10.3 Realist moral authority: Reject Inferring Unexperienced Reality
“Whereas the Materialistic Dualist turns man into an automaton, the Spiritualistic Dualist makes man the slave of the will of the Absolute. Any metaphysical realism which infers something outside man as true reality and which does not experience this reality, is out of the question.”
11.3 Realist purpose: “Real” Factor In Purpose
“In order to have a purposive connection it is not only necessary to have an ideal connection of consequent and antecedent according to law, but the concept (law) of the effect must really, i.e., by means of a perceptible process, influence the cause.”
12.3 Realist moral idea: Moral Technique
“Moral action, in addition to the faculty of having moral ideas (moral intuition) and moral imagination, is the ability to transform the world of percepts without violating the natural laws by which these are connected. This ability is moral technique.”
13.3 Realist value of life: Service To The World
“He attempts, in keeping with the fashion of our age, to base his world-view on experience. By observation of life he hopes to discover whether there is more pain or more pleasure in the world. It is man's duty to permeate his whole being with the recognition that the pursuit of individual satisfaction (Egoism) is a folly, and that he ought to be guided solely by the task of unselfish service to the world."
14.3 Realist individuality: Social Position
“Man sees in woman, woman in man, almost always too much of the generic characteristics of the other's gender, and too little of what is individual in the other. In practical life this does less harm to men than to women.”
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