Why There Is A Need For A Science Of Freedom.
Shortly after its publication in 1894, Rudolf Steiner found an audience for his Philosophy of Freedom among individualist anarchists. They included Benjamin Tucker in America and John Henry Mackay in Germany who were leading thinkers in the individualist anarchism movement. A very good friendship developed among Steiner, Mackay, and Tucker.
Magazine for Literature
Steiner acquired the Magazine for Literature to have a public platform for ideas he considered timely. Everything he wrote for the Magazine “is imbued with the spirit of The Philosophy of Freedom.” The Magazine expressed support for the individualist anarchism movement.
“But the movement with which the Magazine was concerned and which was associated with the names of Benjamin Tucker and J. H. Mackay failed to make any impression amid the increasing philistinism of the age.” Rudolf Steiner
The Magazine failed and Steiner sought another platform to express the ideas in The Philosophy of Freedom.
“At the back of my mind there always lurked this question: how could the age be persuaded to accept the ideas of The Philosophy of Freedom?”
The socialist working class presented another opportunity. He gave lectures to all kinds of socialist workers associations and learned about their view of the world. But there was a problem in that he was allowed to lecture on any subject except one –freedom.
“To speak of freedom seemed extremely dangerous. I had only a single follower who always supported me whenever I delivered my libertarian tirades, as the others were pleased to call them.”
Steiner criticised socialism because he believed you get the best results when people are given freedom to find their own way. Individuals should assert themselves in a “fully free battle of competition.” The challenge of competition unfolds the abilities and forces that lie within. He also warned of the eventual consequences of social democracy.
“At the final moment, when social democracy draws its consequences, the state will have its cannons work. The individualist anarchist knows that the representatives of authority will always reach for measures of force in the end.”
The crucial difference between collectivism and individualism is their understanding of human nature.
Stages Of Human Development
The different views of human nature depend on what stage of human development you are looking at. Nature makes us a natural being, society develops us further into a social being, but society cannot make us a free being. We must find our own way to freedom.
Natural Being – Social Being – Free Being
“At a definite stage in his development Nature releases man from her fetters; Society carries his development a step further; he alone can give himself the final polish. TPOF 9.11
A major influence on the libertarian movement is Ayn Rand's philosophy of freedom. Every political philosophy has to begins with a theory of human nature. Rand believed that rational selfishness was the ultimate expression of human nature. She concludes that human nature is primarily concerned with its own life.
altruism: unselfish concern for the well-being of others
True Human Nature
Rudolf Steiner’s deeper knowledge of human nature leads to a different philosophy of freedom.
“What is called ‘the Good,’ is not what we ought to do, but what we want to do when we express our full, true human nature. TPOF 13.11
Science Of Freedom
Steiner explains that without the solid foundation of a science of freedom, to really know what freedom is, what is called freedom will lead to license; an unrestrained or excessive freedom, such as that which causes harm to others.
"What is lacking in our time is precisely what The Philosophy of Freedom seeks to achieve. On a basis of freedom of thought, The Philosophy of Freedom establishes a science of freedom which is fully in accord with natural science, yet reaches beyond it. This book makes it possible for really independent thinkers to be able to develop within the present social order.”
“Without the solid foundation of a science of freedom, freedom would of necessity lead not to liberty, but to license. Real freedom can only be found in the firm inner discipline of a thinking freed from the tyranny of the senses, in genuine scientific thinking.” Rudolf Steiner, 1918 Reflections on the Publication of the New Edition
John Henry Mackay letter to Rudolf Steiner
Brief Reflections on the Publication of the New Edition of The Philosophy of Freedom