1. It is Science
The Philosophy Of Freedom is not philosophy as such, but rather a description of Rudolf Steiner's experiences on the way to freedom. It does not give a definition of freedom that we merely memorize, but points to a place where freedom originates --the conceptual realm of universal concepts-- where free thinking, pure and unbiased, can be experienced.
“What I was really trying to do in The Philosophy of Freedom, was to locate freedom empirically, and thus put it on a solidly scientific basis.”
2. It is Freedom
Moral freedom is achieved when we bridge the gap between our perceptible unfree nature (built up by nature, society and religion) and the concept of free individuality (ethical individualism) through the course of one's development with the expression of our ideals in life. To become a free individuality we need to have a clear understanding of what free individuality is. POF 9-11
True freedom is only achieved when knowledge and morality are united. (morality informed by knowledge) POF 10-1918 Addition
3. It is Thought Training
The book is intentionally composed in a certain way to broaden and deepen the readers thinking. Each chapter expresses a variety of views leaving the reader free to arrive at their own conclusions. It is independent thinking so we cannot rely on familiar terms and images but must instead make an effort to “intuitively” grasp the universal concepts pointed to by the words. This training in the realm of universal thought is the thought training required to attain freedom.
“The primary purpose of my book is to serve as thought training, training in the sense that the special way of both thinking and entertaining these thoughts is such as to bring the soul life of the reader into motion in somewhat the way that gymnasts exercise their limbs.”
“A personal God is nothing but a human being transplanted into a Beyond.”
5. It is not Anthroposophy
Near the end of his life, Steiner suggested that The Philosophy of Freedom would outlive all his other works. It stands on its own completely independent of his later spiritual research and organizations,
“You will find nothing at all in The Philosophy of Freedom that is derived from clairvoyant communications of spiritual science.”
“this book occupies a position completely independent of my writings on actual spiritual scientific matters... What I have said in this book may be acceptable even to some who, for reasons of their own, refuse to have anything to do with the results of my researches into the spiritual realm.” POF, 1918 Preface to the Revised Edition
Intelligence continues to decline
Now we finally know why we struggle so much to comprehend The Philosophy Of Freedom. Since the time of its writing in 1894 Western IQ's have dropped a staggering 14 points. Researchers looked at intelligence studies going back to the late Victorian Era (1884) and find that the Victorians were substantially more intelligent than modern Western populations.
The Victorian era, measured on a per capita basis, was the height of innovations in science and technology with the highest number of scientific geniuses (Rudolf Steiner).
Our brains are actually becoming smaller. IQ studies show people in the UK, Denmark and Australia have become less intelligent in the past decade. You don't need science to verify that Americans are becoming stupider.
What is the cause? Modern life has become easy without the need to ever think. Casual entertainment like video games and television impede our development by keeping us away from skill-building activities.
True? Science disagrees about the video games. (video)
Video games for cognitive development
While television is passive entertainment, video games are not. Good video gamers require intense concentration, keen perception, brilliant strategy and quick reactions. Scientific studies have shown that the challenge posed by action video games improves cognitive functions, motor control, overall perception, increases grey matter and our ability to learn new things. (I enjoy rattling the cage of Waldorf dogmatists)
Multitasking and cognitive development
Does modern multitasking develop cognitive skills? A neuroscientist and expert on attention at MIT says: “When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly.” Multitasking prevents deep, creative thought as we switch back and forth. As a result, thoughts are more superficial.
Just spotting an email is enough distraction to reduce your IQ by 10 points as your mind wanders from your task.
Exercise body and mind
We all have recognized that modern life requires regular exercise for a healthy body. People are only beginning to realize life also requires regular thinking exercise for a healthy mind.
Knowledge of cognitive processes and thought training
For a healthy body we learn about how our body works by studying its processes like nutrition, digestion etc. and we exercise. It is the same with thinking, we learn how it works by studying the cognitive processes like perception, knowing etc. and exercise with thought training. We can increase our intelligence these two ways: thought training and learning about the cognitive processes. This is what Rudolf Steiner's path to freedom is about, as described in The Philosophy Of Freedom. By studying the cognitive processes and applying what is learned along with disciplining thinking we can improve our ability to know.
The Philosophy Of Freedom is the result of "independent" thinking meaning we do not have the comfort of immediately relating familiar terms to what is being discussed. After we struggle to the meaning of the terms we find it all makes perfect sense. This is because the terms used point to experience rather than merely abstract philosophy.
We discipline our thinking with thought training which deepens our knowing. This is practiced by “withdrawing awhile to enter into the conceptual realm of pure thought.” POF 0.7 The study of The Philosophy Of Freedom is to enter the "conceptual world of pure thought". Keeping our thinking sharp is a requirement for a healthy mind and is achieved with the challenging study of this book.
“The primary purpose of my book is to serve as thought training, training in the sense that the special way of both thinking and entertaining these thoughts is such as to bring the soul life of the reader into motion in somewhat the way that gymnasts exercise their limbs.” Rudolf Steiner
Study Of The Philosophy Of Freedom
Both of theses practices of learning about thinking and deepening it can be done at the same time by studying the book! You learn what it means to "know" and discipline your thinking at the same time when you study The Philosophy Of Freedom (without multitasking). It will require effort just like physical exercise does, but you will soon notice you are getting more “insights” into things than before.
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