Summary Of The Philosophy Of Freedom



Do we have free will?
Most of us believe we do, at least some of the time.
If I want to write a sentence, I will my fingers to type on the keypad.

Others say we are not free, but in fact, we are controlled by hidden factors, such as genes, upbringing, culture, current situation, unconscious activity, past experiences, etc.
Our sense of freedom is an illusion.
They say the illusion of freedom occurs because we do not know the real reasons that determine our action.
Obviously, we are not free if we do not know why we act.

All “human” motives contains thought.
This is the concept or idea that rules the action.
When we know the idea that guides our deed it is ours, and we are conscious of our freedom.
But what does it mean to know?
What is the origin of our ideas?
By learning about the knowing process, we advance toward freedom.


Our world-view determines the way we pursue knowledge.
We have a desire to explain everything in the terms of our world-view, whether it be Materialism, Spiritism, Realism or Idealism.
If we are a Materialist, we look to the material world and its processes to explain everything.
If we are a Spiritist, we try to explain everything in terms of the underlying spiritual.
A one-sided view refuses to look at the world from all sides.
Broad-mindedness is necessary to penetrate into the truth of the world.

The demand to explain the world comes from our desire to unite our thought-content with the perceived world-content.

While we are observing the world, we feel something more of it within that presses toward manifestation.
We feel something arising within that corresponds to the outer world.
This is our guide.
An element is discovered within that reveals itself as belonging not only to the self, but also to the world.
This element is the concept that corresponds to our observation.
What is at first dimly felt is fully grasped in conceptual clarity.


What does it mean to think?
First, we are free to think or not think.
Second, it requires effort to think.

The purpose of my reflection is to produce pure concepts that are universal and known in the same way by all thinkers.
For example, the pure concept “triangle” comprises all triangles.
Since it is universal it does not contain the particularity of specific triangles, yet it contains the essence of all triangles.

If we wish to know what is happening we need to discover the concepts that correspond to the event.
I add to the observed event a second process that takes place in the conceptual sphere.
When I have discovered the corresponding concepts of an event, I can predict what will happen.

By observing thought and the thinking process we can learn what thinking is.
What I observe in studying a thought process is not what brain process connects one thought with another, but my reason for bringing them into a relationship.
While thinking, I am guided solely by the content of my thoughts.

In mathematics pure conceptual thinking is the common practice.
With pure concepts one can remain within thinking.
What is to be known results from thinking itself, and in the same way for every thinker.

Conceptual thinking is self-supporting; not dependent on anything else.
Pure conceptual thinking:
1. Takes place in the sphere of universal concepts
2. Is guided by the content of the concepts.

Pure conceptual thinking is free thinking.
It exists on the level of pure concepts, liberated from biological and characterological control.
It is free of bias.
Freedom occurs most purely at this level, when we are freely forming ideas out of ego activity.
There is only one single concept of "triangle."
It will, however, be grasped by each one in its own individual way.
A free deed has its origin in pure conceptual thinking.

How do we know if our thinking is correct?
We can understand our thinking with transparent clarity through itself.
The question remains whether we can understand anything else with thought.
To understand the world we apply our thought-content to the perceived world-content.
How do we know if our thoughts are rightly applied?
The task of the “Philosophy Of Freedom” is to show how far the application of thought to the world is right or wrong.


Chapter 3 shows how we can understand our thinking with transparent clarity through itself.
In chapter 4 we look at the immediate application of thought to the world in the perception process.

No matter how long or how intensely we observe an object, the object does not tell us what it is; this our thinking does.
Since childhood, we have gradually built up concepts of the objects that surround us, such as the concept “tree”.
At any moment the content of our consciousness will already be interwoven with concepts in the most varied ways.
These concepts are added to our observations in the perception process.

When I see a tree, my thinking immediately reacts and adds the concept “tree” to the observation.
When the tree disappears from my field of vision, an after-effect of this process remains, a memory-picture of the tree.
I retain this memory-picture as my experience of the tree.
The next time I encounter a tree my existing memory-picture may insert itself between myself and the world blocking me of having a new experience of the tree.
Perception triggers our memories and we relive our past experience.

In normal experience, thinking appears through our psyche-physical organization.
Rather than a fresh look at the world, we insert dubious personal opinions and judgments.
This is perception bias, not real thinking.

Non-thinkers do not critically examine their experience, whether that experience is of an event in the world, a deed, a feeling, or an opinion.
Living the unreflective life, first impressions quickly flicker past before we have decided anything about them.
Non-thinkers passively observe the stream of experience that passes before their consciousness.
Life is without reflection, and therefore, is simply non-critical.
What follows is a description of a brief moment in the unreflective life.
It consists of a sequence of pictures that pass before consciousness in an unconnected way.

I am conscious of the mental picture of having worked hard today; immediately joining itself to this is a mental picture of being able, with good conscience, to take a walk; but suddenly there appears the perceptual picture of the door opening and of the mailman entering. The mailman appears, now sticking out his hand holding a letter, now opening his mouth, now pulling back his hand. At the same time the mouth opens, I have an auditory impression; “it is starting to rain outside”.

The mailman disappears from my consciousness, and a sequence of pictures occur: picking up scissors, opening the letter, criticism of illegible writing, visible images of diverse written characters, diverse imaginations and thoughts associated with them; then the mental picture appears again of having worked hard today and the perception, accompanied by ill humor, of the rain continuing.

This disappears from my consciousness, and a mental picture appears of a problem at work that I believed was resolved,… it was not actually resolved!; following quickly are the mental pictures: freedom of will, empirical necessity, responsibility, value of virtue, absolute chance, incomprehensibility, etc. These all join together with each other in the most varied and complicated way; and so it continues.

This everyday experience is the form of reality in which reflection plays no part at all.
Living the unreflective life we passively accept the happenings of daily life.


When we reflect on our relationship to the world we become aware that we form a part of that relationship by having ideas and retaining memory pictures.
This draws our attention away from the outside world and to our inner world.

Psychology considers memory pictures as a representation of the real world created by our own psychological condition.
These mental pictures insert themselves between the observer and what exists outside in the world.
The world is no longer seen through the intervening world of mental pictures.
How can we know anything of the outside world if a picture called up in our mind inserts itself between the outside world and ourselves?

If all I experience are "mental pictures", then my everyday life would be like a dream.
The world is then merely a product of my mind.
But we cannot remain in this dream unless we intentionally close our mind to our desire for knowledge.
It is the deepening of thinking that will awaken us from this dream.

When I, as thinker, approach a plant, the plant connects itself with a concept in my mind.
The world causes thoughts in my mind with the same necessity as it causes the blossom on a plant.
Plant a seed in the earth.
It puts forth root and stem, it unfolds into leaves and blossoms.
Set the plant before yourself and it connects itself, in your mind, with a definite concept.
This concept belongs to the whole plant as much as the leaves and blossoms.
The concept of a plant appears when a thinking consciousness approaches the plant.

We shall call the form in which the concept first arises conceptual intuition.
Conceptual intuition can be described as intellectual seeing.
This is an intellectual intuition that gives us concepts and ideas.

Intuition and observation are the sources of our knowledge.
Our observation remains unintelligible without the corresponding concept.
We are unable to know which experience is important and which isn’t, and how it relates to the whole of reality.
By discovering the universally valid concept, we are given the actual driving and active principle in things.
Our separate observations become combined into a whole, bit by bit, through our coherent, unified conceptual system.
We advance from the world as it first appears to a conceptual knowledge of it that satisfies our reason.

Without the deeper penetration of reality by intuition, our thinking will just extract the concepts our perception bias has already added.
Full reality remains closed off to anyone without the intuitive ability to find corresponding concepts.
The deepening of knowledge depends on the powers of conceptual intuition.


to be continued

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  • Looking for a central theme of The Philosophy Of Freedom is leading me to the problem that is clearly explained in Chapter 2. There is a separation between our thought-content and the perceived world-content leading to duality. This is resolved by finding the element within us which also belongs to the world. It seems to me almost every paragraph in Part 1 relates to that problem. I may set aside this summary for now and turn to a Chapter 1 video with the study panel.

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