The time of decision is around the end of the Twentieth Century when we will either stand at the grave of civilization in a War of All against All or turn toward a spiritualized culture. Rudolf Steiner GA 240
CULTURE WAR Video Series With Transcript
P1 Rudolf Steiner: Origin Of The Culture War
P2 Rudolf Steiner: The Culture War Of Human Nature
P3 Rudolf Steiner: The Culture War To Unify The People
P4 Rudolf Steiner: Winning The Culture War With A Science Of Freedom
P1 Rudolf Steiner: Origin Of The Culture War
We are in a culture war between the values of freedom and the politically correct values of social justice identity politics. What is the source of the Culture War?
ORIGIN OF THE CULTURE WAR
0.00 Culture War Philosophies
0:43 The Philosophy Of Freedom
1:55 Premodern Age Of Authoritarianism
2:18 Age Of Reason Individualist
3:59 Rudolf Steiner's Ethical Individualist
4:48 Postmodern Skepticism
5:46 Frankfurt School
6:19 Institutional Oppression
7:15 Neomarxist French Intellectuals
8:08 Cultural Determinism
CULTURE WAR PHILOSOPHIES
We are in a culture war between the values of freedom and the politically correct values of social justice identity politics. I wanted to understand the philosophies underlying the culture war so I took several months off from producing videos and looked into it. Now I'm ready to start producing videos again.
You really need to know the underlying principles of a social and political movement before you can understand it and see where it will take us. Its a good time to subscribe so you don’t miss the upcoming videos.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM
The Philosophy Of Freedom is a philosophy of life written by Rudolf Steiner in the 1890’s. The title page describes it as “A modern philosophy of life developed by scientific methods.”
In this video I want to place The Philosophy Of Freedom in a historical context. Then we can better understand its contribution to human development and to the progress of civilization.
Here’s a timeline of the premodern age, modern age, and the so called postmodern age. The Philosophy Of Freedom appeared at the turn of the 20th century in 1894 before the rise of the post-modern movement. The 1890’s was a critical point in history when new cognitive powers of scientific thinking began to rapidly accelerate the growth of technology.
The Philosophy Of Freedom was intended to meet the need of Western civilization as we entered the 20th century with these new powers of thinking.
The Philosophy Of Freedom “conforms to the needs of Western civilization, and is particularly suited to anyone immersed in the scientific life of the West.” Rudolf Steiner The Boundaries of Natural Science VIII
PREMODERN AGE OF AUTHORITARIANISM
The premodern age was a medieval feudal society. It was a top down authoritarian society with the King at the top politically and the Pope at the top spiritually. At the bottom was the peasant.
Knowledge had irrational sources such as magic, superstition, mystical experience and religious faith.
AGE OF REASON INDIVIDUALIST
In the modern age, the age of reason, science was developed as a method for the individual to discover truth independent of outside authority.
Rather than blindly accepting cultural beliefs and traditions an individual could think it through and make their own independent judgment. The subservient peasant was expected to act on faith and do what they were told. This changed in the modern age when people became rational, autonomous individuals or ‘selves’ who are capable of thinking and acting independently of other selves.
Having the ability to reason and make competent decisions elevated the respect for the individual. The reasoning individual became the foundation for Enlightenment humanism that emphasizes liberty, universal human rights and equal opportunity.
Scientific reason and knowledge was the path to human freedom and happiness.
In defense of the free individual it was boldly said, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” The Bill Of Rights was inspired by the ideals of the Enlightenment.
The new liberty and equality was first extended to 6% of the population. Only responsible tax-paying males were allowed to vote. Then the right to vote was extended to others who developed into reasoning individuals capable of thinking for themselves.
American progress was driven by the Enlightenment values of reason, science, individualism and freedom.
RUDOLF STEINER'S ETHICAL INDIVIDUALIST
Steiner gave a detailed description of the ideal liberated human who he called an ethical individualist or free spirit. The ethical individualist is a thinker on the Hero's Journey who can grasp the reality of a situation and then act out of his highest ideals. It is difficult to do the right thing if you do not understand the situation.
Steiner embraced the universal ideals of liberal humanism. These philosophical and ethical values of the Enlightenment are interwoven throughout The Philosophy Of Freedom.
Equipped with the knowledge of what it means to be free and by making the effort to develop one self each of us can become an empowered free spirit.
Postmodernists are skeptical of the Enlightenment ideals that built Western civilization and America. They reject the Enlightenment vision of reason, science, individualism, liberalism, freedom and progress.
To learn about postmodern philosophy watch the videos of Stephen Hicks. A link is in the description below.
At the turn of the century the critics of Western civilization were Marxist socialists and communists. They claimed inequality and suffering was the result of capitalism.
But having the freedom to decide for your self how to live your life inspired hard work and resulted in prosperity.
At the same time Marxism’s promise of liberty and prosperity has failed horribly wherever it is tried. With the failure of Marxism an attempt was made to come up with a new Marxist theory that people would accept.
In Germany intellectuals at a Marxist think tank, the Frankfurt School developed a social theory to try and justify Marxism again. The social theories of today’s social justice movement can be traced back to the Frankfurt School.
In classical Marxism the workers of the world are oppressed by the ruling class. The new Marxist worldview splits society into many groups of oppressors and oppressed victims; women, minorities, homosexuals, immigrants and so on.
The new theory is that everyone in society is psychologically oppressed by the institutions of Western culture. We can’t escape the oppression of Western culture because the Marxist’s believe in cultural determinism, that the culture in which we are raised determines who we are. This means the only solution is to tear down these oppressive Western values and institutions.
Frankfurt School critical theory is a simple idea to weaken and prepare Western civilization for new NeoMarxist ideas. The plan is to criticize every pillar of Western culture: family, democracy, common law, and freedom of speech in the hope that these pillars will crumble under the pressure. The goal is to stir up feelings of resentment to motivate activism in a culture war against Western values.
NEOMARXIST FRENCH INTELLECTUALS
Later in the 1960’s NeoMarxist French intellectuals also sought to tear down or, as they would call it, “deconstruct” Western thought, values, and institutions.
They reject the existence of universal Truths that all cultures will embrace. Postmodernists claim that truth and morality are merely culturally relative. They say no culture is superior or inferior to any other culture even though institutional slavery is still a part of many nonWestern cultures.
Many nonWestern cultures also have institutional structures and beliefs that systematically oppress women.
While America leads the world in reducing pollution the Eastern cultures of China and India are rapidly increasing CO2 emissions.
Postmodernists believe that the way people think and behave is culturally constructed by their ethnic and social surroundings. This is because Postmodernists do not view people as autonomous reasoning individuals who can overcome cultural determinism by thinking and acting for themselves.
They highly value group identity and dismiss individual identity.
The new Marxism moves backward into collectivist tribalism pitting one group against another.
When the first thing we notice about someone is their race, gender or political identity we are no longer truly looking at that person.
Liberal education is no longer a pursuit of truth and individual freedom. Now it is about training students in political activism to change the world according to Marxist social justice ideology.
In the 1980’s the radical ideas of the Frankfurt school, the French postmodernists, and identity politics all came together in Intersectionality Theory. Indoctrination into Intersectionality Theory is now a part of university liberal arts programs.
Social justice ideology is now even creeping into the other levels of education all the way down to preschool.
Intersectionality defines and judges people based on their race, gender and other group characteristics.
You can calculate the level of your systemic oppression by counting the number of your social identities. They say the more oppressed groups that you fall into the less chance you will be successful in life. Islam is most oppressed, followed by the LGBT community, then people of color and women.
The NeoMarxists hope is that different groups will unite together to fight oppression based on the solidarity of mutual victimhood.
The oppressor is white people who all have white privilege. White privilege is as racist as it sounds. If you are a white person life is not a struggle because everything you need is just handed to you. White people should feel ashamed because any success they have is due to social advantages.
Affirmative action programs use the oppression scale to favor members of oppressed groups at the expense of others. Reverse discrimination is supposed to correct past discrimination.
But to motivate individual achievement and build a competent society it is necessary to reward merit.
Most people support equality of opportunity. But the social justice activists demand equality of outcome which is equality of result.
Affirmative action actually drops success rates for minorities according to research. When you lower school or job qualifications for a minority group they are unable to compete with the others.
No matter how good the intentions socialism will inevitably turn to the use of force. Only a totalitarian state can force the acceptance of equality of outcome and the socialist idea of equal distribution of wealth.
“At the final moment, when social democracy draws its consequences, the state will put it cannons to work. ...the representatives of authority will always reach for measures of force in the end.” 1898 Rudolf Steiner's letter to Individualist Anarchist John Henry Mackay
We already see the use of force by social justice activists to censor free speech.
Those skeptics who claim the American dream is over are wrong.
Your destiny is not predetermined by being born into a disadvantaged group.
"I have no predestined mission in the world; my mission, at any one moment, is that which I choose for myself. I do not enter upon life's voyage with a fixed route mapped out for me." TPOF 11.7
Each person’s destiny is determined by the decisions they make each day. It doesn't matter if you are poor or a spoiled rich kid.
The Philosophy Of Freedom emphasizes Enlightenment values that by freeing your thinking you can change your reality.
According to Jordan Peterson the way forward is to first take responsibility for your life. He says start somewhere, clean your room.
Each of us has something special within us --as a potential-- that needs to be developed.
"We are convinced that in each of us if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being there dwells something noble, something worthy of development." TPOF 0.0
The perfection of the group is not the selfless submission of each individual. It is the perfection of each individual.
"We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual." TPOF 0.0
The culture war can be simplified into a choice between a culture of victimhood where everything is someone elses fault or a culture of individual development where each person strives to reach their full potential.
P2 Rudolf Steiner: The Culture War Of Human Nature
Is the human being an independent free being or merely a social construction determined by the groups we belong to? Societies answer to this question will determine who wins the culture war. This video is part of a series about the historical context of Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom and why it is still relevant today for understanding the culture war.
0:00 Social Views Of Human Nature
1:41 Three Stages Of Human Development
2:47 Sinful Nature Of Ancient Pagans (Natural Being)
3:44 Obedient Nature Of Medieval Church Believers (Social Being)
4:36 Rational Nature Of The Age Of Reason (Free Being)
5:40 Good Nature Of The Free Spirit - Rudolf Steiner
9:18 Obedient Nature Of The Social Justice Activist (Social Being)
9:59 Social Justice Ideology
10:50 Original Sin Of Being Born In Western Culture
SOCIAL VIEWS OF HUMAN NATURE
This video is about human nature. How society views human beings strongly influences the social and political life of civilizations.
Today’s culture war between freedom and social justice is a conflict between two different views of human nature. Is the human being an independent free being or merely a social construction determined by the groups we belong to? Societies answer to this question will determine who wins the culture war.
Rudolf Steiner wrote The Philosophy Of Freedom in the 1890’s. By understanding the historical context of this period in history we can better understand why his ideas of freedom are still relevant today.
I have placed The Philosophy Of Freedom on a timeline of the ancient pagan age, the pre-modern age of the feudal peasant, the modern age of the reasoning individual, Rudolf Steiner’s ethical individualist, and our own post-modern age of social justice activists. Steiner’s freedom philosophy appeared in 1894 before the rise of post-modern thought and at the critical point in history when new powers of scientific thinking rapidly accelerated the growth of technology.
THREE STAGES OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
The building of a civilization is strongly influenced by its view of human nature. There are three stages of human development that can be recognized within these periods of history. The states are called the natural being, the social being and the free being.
Quote “The human being remains in his undeveloped state if he does not take up the stuff of transformation within him, and develop himself through his own power. Nature makes a human into merely a natural being; society makes him into a law-abiding being; only he alone can make himself into a free being. At a certain stage of his development nature releases the human being from her chains; society carries his development a stage further; he alone can give himself the finishing touches.” TPOF 9.11
Social and cultural life can not produce a free being. In the final stage of human development it is up to the individual alone by one’s own effort to think and act freely.
SINFUL NATURE OF ANCIENT PAGANS (NATURAL BEING)
The ancient pagans were natural beings who lived in harmony with nature. Pagans were in the natural state as creatures of nature with superior instincts and senses necessary to survive within nature.
It was the Church that called non-Christians pagans. To the Church the pagans were undisciplined heathens controlled by basic sensual desires. The Catholic Church viewed the pagans as having a sinful nature in need of salvation.
OBEDIENT NATURE OF MEDIEVAL CHURCH BELIEVERS (SOCIAL BEING)
The Church taught the doctrine of original sin. The tendency of human nature is to sin. The pagans were sinful and society is sinful. There is nothing you can do to get out of the sinful state. The only chance of escape is in the after life. To convert the pagans to Christianity the Church told stories of heaven and hell and how they were sinners in danger of eternal damnation.
The peasants obeyed the Church because they were told that the only way to go to heaven was through the Church. The peasants learned how to be meek and obedient to authority. They were told to give up the pursuit of pleasure and instead perform their moral duty to serve the church and society.
The Church legitimized the hierarchical feudal system by teaching that God appointed the pope and kings. If you were a king, you and your descendants would always be kings. If you were a peasant the fate of you and your descendants was to always be peasants. This was God's will.
The peasants became social beings who learned how to be morally and socially obedient to authority. The priests controlled the peasants minds while the feudal Lords controlled their activity.
RATIONAL NATURE OF THE AGE OF REASON (FREE BEING)
Faith in the Truths of the church was challenged by the scientific revolution. The methods of science refuted the churches teaching that the earth was the center of the universe.
The modern age of reason viewed human nature as rational. Viewing the human being as rational by nature was the distinctive feature of Enlightenment thought. The reasoning individual became the foundation for the liberal principles of Enlightenment humanism including the idea of freedom.
Becoming a thinker gives rise to the individual Self, the "I" that "thinks". There exists an autonomous thinking Self who rises above the natural state by transcending nature. The free individual rejects the religious and social demands of duty and instead obeys only oneself. With the ability to think rationally an individual learns how to make their own independent decisions and become a self-determined free being.
GOOD NATURE OF THE FREE SPIRIT - RUDOLF STEINER
Rudolf Steiner introspectively observed human nature and discovered something deeper, what he called the free spirit. The free spirit is the purest expression of human nature.
Quote “The concept of man is not complete unless it includes the free spirit as the purest expression of human nature. After all, we are human in the fullest sense only to the extent that we are free.” TPOF 9.11
The ethical individualist strives to be fully human by expressing his true nature as a free spirit. Our true nature does not try to be “ethical” but is ethical in the sense that it desires to do “good”, to do what is right.
Quote "What is called “the Good,” is not what a person ought to do, but what he wants to do when he expresses his fully developed true human nature... Ethical conduct does not depend on the eradication of a one-sided personal will, but in fully developing human nature." TPOF 13.11
The ethical individualist goes beyond a rational thinker that only draws his ideas from the external world of the Senses. The thinking of a free spirit is capable of rising to the intuitive level of universal ideals that inspire ethical conduct where a person wants to do what he considers to be right. It is not necessary to deny the pursuit of pleasure, or to threaten damnation, or for an authoritarian society to force a person to be “Good”. The inspired ethical individualist loves to strive for idealistic goals.
Quote “Ethical ideals are an individual’s own intuitions, the driving forces harnessed by his spirit. He desires them because their realization is his greatest pleasure. He needs no ethics to forbid him from striving after pleasure and then tell him what he ought to strive for… Idealists delight in transforming their ideals into reality.” TPOF 13.11
Individualists are self-motivated or you could say self-empowered to be ethical because their greatest pleasure is to realize their highest ideals in life. Whenever we are striving to realize our ideals we are expressing the free spirit.
The ethical individualist is on the hero’s journey. Success will depend on having a strong enough will to reach noble goals even though the “path is full of thorns.” Human evolution reaches its highest point in the noble deeds of the morally free ethical individualist.
Quote "Ethical Individualism is the crowning pinnacle of the edifice that Darwin and Heckel have erected for Natural Science. It is the theory of evolution applied to the moral life." TPOF 12.8
Human evolution reaches its highest point in the noble deeds of the morally free ethical individualist. To summarize we have the sinful pagan who is a natural being driven by the urges of nature. The feudal peasant is a social being taught by society to obey the rules and develop an obedient nature. The reasoning individual is a free being able to make their own independent decisions. And the idealistic ethical individualist is empowered to do what he considers to be right by rising to the level of universal ideals.
OBEDIENT NATURE OF THE SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVIST (SOCIAL BEING)
In the Post-modern period the possibility of individual freedom is ignored. The social justice movement rejects the modern age of the enlightened individual and reverts back to the pre-modern view that people are primarily social beings with an obedient nature that conforms to the group. We are all merely group members who conform to the expectations of the in-group and are obedient to the laws and rules of the group. The “Self” is merely a social construct. How we think and act is socially determined by our racial, ethnic, gender and religious group.
SOCIAL JUSTICE IDEOLOGY
Human nature is also culturally determined by living in Western Culture. According to the social justice social theory of intersectionality the institutions of Western Culture are structured in ways that some groups have more opportunities than others.
Western institutions bestow unearned privilege and power to white people while other groups are oppressed by institutional racism and bigotry. White people have an inherently racist nature for maintaining institutional racism even though they likely are not even aware of it.
People are divided into two groups: the privileged and the oppressed. The nature of the oppressed who have woken to institutional oppression is to be resentful.
Viewing the world through the lens of institutional racism takes us back to the pre-modern age when the Church believed everyone was born with the stain of original sin.
According to social justice ideology we are all stained by the original sin of being born in Western culture. We are told to be ashamed of our Western heritage that culturally determined us to be racists and bigots.
To overcome racism everyone must submit to the moral authority of the cult of the Woke and obey the moral laws of political correctness. Otherwise we face the eternal damnation of being canceled.
The Woke moralists demand that disobedient free spirits be censored, deplatformed, publicly shamed, loose their jobs and credit, and even go to jail.
There is no escape from original sin and there is no escape from institutional oppression. The only real escape for the Christian is to die and enter the Utopian afterlife in Heaven. The only escape for the Social Justice Activist is to tear down Western civilization and enter the Utopian afterlife of a new imaginary society free of oppression.
To understand the culture war it is important to know how each side views human nature. If you believe that at the heart of each one’s being there dwells a free spirit wanting to express itself then fighting the culture war is critical.
P3 Rudolf Steiner: The Culture War To Unify The People
Rudolf Steiner’s idea of unifying the people with a "harmony of intentions' is placed in a historical context to compare it with other ways used to unify the people. Both Rudolf Steiner and Jordan Peterson warn that this is a time of decision between a free society or the end of civilization in the Hobbesian nightmare of a "War Of All Against All'.
0:00 Unifying The People
2:22 I. Unity In The Pagan Age
4:07 II. Unity In The Medieval Age
6:10 III. Unity In The Age Of Reason
7:30 A. Pure Reason
9:53 IV. Unity Of Individuals - Rudolf Steiner
10:50 A. Practical Reason
16:30 B. Harmony Of Intentions
24:15 V. Unity Of Justice Activists
26:31 A. Social Justice Studies
30:52 B. War Of All Against All
32:43 C. Jordan Peterson
We all want a harmonious society where our children and families and friends and communities can all live together in peace and cooperation. Social harmony is needed to hold society together.
Diversity is a challenge to social harmony and can cause social conflict. People are different having different backgrounds, life experience, opinions, philosophies, political views, and religious beliefs. The increase in immigration is bringing more cultural diversity to our neighborhoods. This makes communication more difficult leading to distrust and social separation. And the demands of the social justice movement has raised tensions between racial, ethnic, and gender groups.
To maintain order social control is necessary. Social control regulates behavior to conform to established norms. The more diverse a society is the more social authority is needed to unify the people. Increasing demands for equality of outcome and the equal distribution of wealth can only be enforced by an authoritarian government. This raises the question, is a community of free individuals possible? How do you unify independent thinking individuals who will not commit to a system of social norms and will not submit to an authoritarian social order?
In the previous video Part 2 The Culture War Of Human Nature we placed Rudolf Steiner’s idea of the free spirit in a historical context to compare it with other ways to view human nature. How a society views human nature strongly influences social and political life.
In this video we will place Steiner’s idea of ‘unifying the people’ in a historical context to compare it with other ways used to unify the people.
UNITY IN THE PAGAN AGE
The life of the ancient pagan was fully immersed within nature not above it or outside it.
The common bond of unity for pagans was survival by living in harmony with nature.
For the Pagan truth was revealed in Nature.
Pagan culture were adapted to specific regions of nature. This prevented them from uniting with people who lived in different natural environments.
Village life was simple and free. All men were equal. There was no oppression in pagan village society and no need to teach obedience.
Their gods, myths and morality varied widely from tribe to tribe. Pagans did not agree on how to understand human nature or the meaning and purpose of life. They lived in the moment and were unconcerned about the future. Traditions were handed down and humanity learned how to survive in the natural world but there was no progress.
Pagan tribes were diverse with different beliefs and ways of life. Their diversity caused disagreement and conflict with other tribes. Tribal conflict limited the size of the pagan social system. Without a commitment to a system of beliefs and no authority structure the pagan social system could not unify a larger society.
UNITY IN THE MEDIEVAL AGE
In the premodern Medieval age the Catholic Church was the most powerful institution. The basis of Truth was faith in revelation, scriptures and the Church. The Church was able to unite the people by providing a common moral order. Religion unified the peasants in a collective sense of good and evil.
The Pope was at the top of the hierarchical feudal social system followed by the King, the land Barons, the Knights and the Peasants or Serfs.
The life of a peasant was very hard in the Middle Ages.
Life was so hard that many pagans gave up their freedom for the security and protection provided by the King.
The serf swore loyalty and allegiance to the King in return for a small plot of land for growing food. By joining the King’s strict feudal system the serfs placed themselves at the bottom of the social hierarchy with no chance of advancement.
In the feudal system the King owned everything.
All the serfs possessions their food, homes and animals all belonged to the King.
The serf did not have freedom of movement and could not marry without permission. Their job was to do whatever the baron of the land told them to do.
What made it possible to unify a diversity of people into a larger society was the peasants submission to a common moral order and their obedience to the feudal authoritarian structure. The problem was that social cohesion came at the expense of individual freedom.
Unity IN THE AGE OF SCIENCE
The Age Of Enlightenment centered on reason as the primary source of authority. The methods of science was emphasized. The source of truth was reason and the evidence of observation. Nothing was to be accepted on faith. The scientific truths of the objective world became a unifying principle of consensus and cooperation for building a better society.
It is the task of the scientist to reveal the harmony of laws ruling throughout existence. Isaac Newton was a key figure in the scientific revolution discovering the laws of gravity, motion and calculus.
The new scientific approach promoted critical thinking. It was expected that any claim of truth would be backed up by reason and evidence. Critical analysis was applied to everything in society from religious dogma, to understanding the human being, to political systems.
The rational individual was capable of making their own life choices and demanded freedom. At the founding of America the Bill Of Rights was written to protect the rights of the individual.
The Enlightenment emphasized developing the capacity to think universally. Observed events in the world are conceptualized into universal laws and principles to place them in context within a bigger picture.
At the level of pure conceptual thinking ideas can be organized to make more connections with the rest of our knowledge. This is pure reason. Pure reason leads to the objective discovery of knowledge but it is also, paradoxically, a free creation of the human mind.
For example there outside stands a tree. I conceptualize it when the tree connects itself with a concept in my mind. The concept is indivisibly bound up with the tree. Once within me the tree becomes more than it is outside. The tree is no longer isolated in external space. The concept of the tree combines with other ideas that exist in me. It becomes a part of the whole world of ideas. It embraces the vegetable kingdom and is further integrated into the evolutionary scale of every living thing.
Pure reason comes up with new theories and creative insights to expand the fields of knowledge. Mathematics is an example of how it is possible to discover ultimate truths through the use of pure reason alone.
Universal truths are discovered that all cultures will embrace. The Enlightenment inspired social unity by appealing to a universal liberal spirit that values individuality, liberty, equality, universal human rights, using reason to reconcile opposing views, and focusing on our shared humanity rather than our differences. A diversity of different kinds of people find a common unity at the level of the universal truths of science and the universal values of classical liberalism.
UNITY OF INDIVIDUALS
Since the Enlightenment science has been the authority of truth. In this spirit Rudolf Steiner based his Philosophy Of Freedom on reason and the evidence of observation. He made verifiable observations of human nature and called his freedom philosophy a ‘science’ of freedom.
Enlightenment humanism emphasized the reasoning individual who was free to pursue his own happiness. But if everyone is going in their own direction how can we build community? Steiner described how it is possible to build a community of individuals through the experience of a ‘harmony of intentions’. But first of all lets place the Philosophy Of Freedom in a historical context.
Steiner wrote The Philosophy Of Freedom during the 1890’s. This was the period when American pragmatic thinkers find modernist philosophy too abstract. Scientists and engineers were more interested in applying scientific theory to practical life. At the end of the century applied science caused an exponential growth of technology.
The pragmatists believed the purpose of knowledge is not just to come up with pure and beautiful truths but rather knowledge should be functional. Steiner agreed with the pragmatists.
He believed truth should be used to guide action. This is practical reason. Practical reason is the use of reason to decide how to act. Even though The Philosophy Of Freedom is very abstract at times and can be difficult to understand it is a practical book about how to think and act freely.
Part 1 presents a theory of freedom through a study of the processes of cognition. Part II is about applying the theory of freedom to life as an ethical individualist.
The Philosophy Of Freedom is not just another Steiner spiritual book to be read and then put on a bookshelf to collect dust.
It was meant to be applied --to individual life, social life and political life.
QUOTE "The purpose of The Philosophy Of Freedom is to lay the foundation of Ethical Individualism and of a social and political life."1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI: Brief Reflections on the Publication of the New Edition of 'The Philosophy of Freedom'
Steiner valued The Philosophy Of Freedom as his most important work.
And he valued those of us who refuse to conform to stereotypes and superficial cultural trends.
QUOTE "I know how much a stereo-typical attitude, lacking all individuality, is prevalent everywhere. Many flaunt a way of life that follows only the current cultural trends. But I also know that many of my contemporaries strive to conduct their lives in the direction of the principles I have suggested. To them I dedicate this book." TPOF 0.6 first edition
Steiner dedicated The Philosophy Of Freedom to those who apply the principles of ethical individualism to their life. And then go on to become freedom activists who STAND UP for the principles of freedom in social and political life.
His most important gift, knowledge of freedom, makes it possible to actualize freedom in individual and social life.
The ethical individualist with practical reason as his guide acts out of knowledge.
QUOTE "What does it mean to have knowledge of the motives of one's actions? Too little attention has been given to this question because we always split in two what is an inseparable whole: the human being. The doer is set apart from the knower, but the one that matters most is lost sight of —-the knowing doer, the one who acts out of knowledge.” TPOF 1.5
Society has many knowers who know what to do but do not act. Society has many doers who act but do not know what they are doing. What is needed are knowing doers. The one-sided knower and the one-sided doer lack the empowerment of practical reason that leads to achievement.
QUOTE "When we act under the influence of pure intuitions the driving force of our action is pure thinking. Since it is customary in philosophy to call pure thinking 'reason' we are justified in calling the moral driving force characteristic of this level practical reason." TPOF 9.4
When pure thinking is used to make a decision about how to act it becomes the driving force of practical reason. We are not talking about the kind of practical down to earth thinking that merely follows old habits and traditional opinions.
Practical reason is creative, innovative and empowering. It leads to intuitive insight that integrates our inner knower and outer doer into the empowered creative action of a leader. For a simple explanation of practical reason see my video “How To Make Better Decisions”.
At the level of practical reason what Steiner calls the ‘impulse of freedom’ is experienced. I did a video about the ‘impulse of freedom’ called “Science Breakthrough Verifies Rudolf Steiner’s Impulse Of Freedom.” Links are below in the description box.
HARMONY OF INTENTIONS
Now we arrive at the question we want to answer. If free spirits are following their own powerful impulses to act and going in their own direction how can we build community? Is a free community of diverse individuals possible?
QUOTE “If the source of social compatibility was not a basic part of human nature, no external laws could instill it into human nature! Only because individuals are of one mind can they live out their lives side by side. The free individual lives in full confidence that all other free human beings belong to a spiritual/intellectual (geistigen) world with himself, and that their intentions will harmonize with his. The free individual does not demand agreement from his fellow human beings, but he expects it, because it is inherent in human nature.” TPOF 9.10
In his study of the human being Steiner recognized that the source of social compatibility was to be found in human nature. There are certain characteristics of the mind that are shared by all humanity. One of these characteristics is that we are all part of one mind. We are not all one people, we are diverse, but on a deeper level we are of one mind. This is what makes community possible. Otherwise real community would not be possible.
Many would agree that we are of one mind with members of our in-group. In fact the group demands it. But no one really expects to find agreement with those of another religion or an opposing political party. Yet Steiner boldly declared that our intentions will harmonize and we should expect to find agreement with others.
We are of one mind in that we belong to the same intellectual world that makes communication possible. On a deeper level we are of one mind because we all grasp the same universal concepts. This makes it possible for pure thinkers like philosophers and mathematicians from around the world to clearly understand each other.
QUOTE "There is only one single concept of triangle. It does not matter for the content of this concept whether it is grasped in A's consciousness or in B's." TPOF 5.7
"A common preconceived opinion that is difficult to overcome prevents one from recognizing that the concept of a triangle that my mind grasps is the same as the concept that my neighbor's mind grasps. The naive person believes himself to be the creator of his concepts. He consequently believes that everyone has their own concepts. The one single concept of triangle does not become many concepts of triangle because it is thought by many minds. Rather, the thought of many becomes a single whole." TPOF 5.8
We each have different life experiences but we are able to communicate and understand each other because we all think the same concepts.
Another characteristic of the mind is that concepts combine with each other to form an organized whole. In the example given all specific varieties of triangles are unified in the single concept ‘triangle’. All concepts I form of particular lions merge into the universal concept ‘lion.’ The concept "organism" links up with other concepts such as "development according to law" and "growth." The single concepts unite into a harmonious conceptual system in which each concept has its special place. This unity of the world of Ideas is what makes a "harmony of human intentions" possible.
QUOTE “But how is a social life possible if each one is only striving to assert their own individuality? This question is characteristic of misguided Moralism. The Moralist believes that a social community is possible only if all are united by a common moral order. This shows that the Moralist does not understand the unity of the world of Ideas. He fails to see that the world of Ideas that inspires me is none other than the one inspiring my neighbor.” TPOF 9.10
What we have in common is that we are inspired by the same world of Ideas. At the core of human intention is an ethical concept or ideal that inspires the action. It may be the pursuit of individual happiness, serving humanity, or it may be cultural progress. Although we may be inspired by different ideals they are all drawn from the same unified world of Ideas. This means each person’s intentions are part of a harmonious unity that binds individuals together. But not all of our conduct has this character.
QUOTE “I differ from my neighbor not because we are living in two entirely different mental worlds, but because he receives different intuitions than I do out of our common world of Ideas. He wants to live out his intuitions I mine. If our source truly is the world of Ideas and we do not obey any external impulses (physical or spiritual) then we can only meet in the same striving, in the same intentions. A moral misunderstanding, a clash of aims, is impossible between morally free people.” TPOF 9.10
To understand the intentions of an individual’s act of will it requires observing their deeds and asking them to share their views. If the source of action is drawn from the world of universal Ideas each one’s intentions can find its special place of harmony within a community of individuals. A "harmony of intentions" is only possible for those who are morally free. Those who are obedient to the teachings of spiritual leaders or spiritual groups will always have clashes with others. Clashes will never end with those who conform to natural groupings of race, ethnicity and sex and do their duty to serve social and political groupings.
SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMUNITY
This brings us to the group identity based social justice movement. Social justice ideology is based on cultural determinism that divides us into groupings. Human nature is thought of as a blank slate that is socially constructed by our racial, ethnic and gender group.
Truth is also a social construct. There is no truth to be discovered. Each separate social group has its own cultural narrative to teach community values, reinforce social norms and strengthen its identity. How we think and act is determined by our group.
Social Justice ideology further divides us up into privileged and oppressed groups. It views life as a conflict between the privileged and the oppressed. Today’s social justice does not seek social harmony it calls for revolution. It considers social compatibility an external problem that will only be resolved through gaining enough power to overthrow the privileged class. But how can the social justice movement unify so many diverse groups of people to fight a revolution? The unifying principle that each disadvantaged group has in common is OPPRESSION. To strengthen their coalition they also call upon members of the privileged class who have empathy for the disadvantaged to join their fight for justice.
The fuel for revolution is agitation and propaganda. The leaders of social justice agitate by inflaming feelings of resentment and victimhood. They ignore the importance of personal responsibility in a free society. The revolutionary propaganda is Intersectionality Theory which is taught throughout our universities.
UNIVERSITY SOCIAL JUSTICE STUDIES
The hotbed of Intersectionality is Social Justice Studies. Programs in ethnic studies, women studies and gender studies train students to become social justice activists. These programs are also known as grievance studies. They help you to create an identity as an oppressed black or brown person, an oppressed woman, or one of many gender identities. What these programs will not do is help you identify as a unique individuality. Instead you will learn how to conform to a group stereotype created by academics.
This is not the inclusive social justice movement of Martin Luther King Jr. who sought universal human rights for everyone regardless of skin color. Nor does Intersectionality reach for universal ideals that make a "harmony of intentions" possible.
Knowledge is attached to identity so a black person will have authoritative knowledge on racism based of their experience as a black person. Personal experience is then generalized into false claims about society while research data is ignored. Because a black person has an experience of racism does not mean racism is on the rise. Support for segregated schools has been a way to measure racism in society. This has dramatically decreased. The problem is that each person’s personal experience will be different. This makes communication and agreement very difficult. The social justice identitarian will say “I am Black” which is different than saying “I am a person who happens to be Black.” “I am Black” expresses a racial identity that focuses on our differences rather than the universal human essence that we all have in common. “I am a person who happens to be Black” expresses the autonomous self that stands above culture and biology. For example the call for "black rights" is divisive while the call for "human rights" is inclusive.
It is astonishing that Rudolf Steiner warned us about the limitations of social justice academic study over 100 years ago.
QUOTE "Whoever judges people according to their typical characteristics stops short at the boundary line beyond which people begin to be individuals whose activity is based on free self-determination. What lies below this boundary line can naturally become the subject of academic study. The characteristics of race, ethnicity, nation and sex are the subjects of specific branches of study. Only people who wish to live as nothing more than an example of a type could possibly fit the general picture that emerges from this kind of academic study. None of these branches of study are able to reach the unique character of the single individual. Determining the individual according to the laws of his type ends where the region of freedom (in thinking and acting) begins." TPOF 14.5
A person has to Deny themselves and try very hard to live the group identity described in these courses. It would be more beneficial to student development, if they replace social justice courses with a free individuality studies program.
WAR OF ALL AGAINST ALL
Now we can begin to see how Rudolf Steiner wrote The Philosophy Of Freedom over 100 years ago to prepare free spirits for the culture war that is being fought today. He warned us that the great battle of civilization will be fought in our time right in this moment. He calls it the “time of decision.”
QUOTE “The time of decision is around the end of the Twentieth Century when we will either stand at the grave of civilization in a 'War Of All Against All' or turn toward a spiritualized culture.” Rudolf Steiner
The social justice movement pits one identity group against another and one identitarian against another in a final struggle for power. The Hobbesian battleground of a "War Of All Against All" is based on Hobbes view of human nature that saw man as a selfish natural being in a fight over scarce resources. The social justice movement views the human being as a natural being of race, ethnicity and sex in a zero-sum struggle with the privileged over a limited number of opportunities and wealth. This is the Hobbesian nightmare.
There is no place for rising above natural and cultural determinism to enter the one mind of universal ideals where a "harmony of intentions" is attained.
Jordan Peterson carries on the work of Rudolf Steiner by echoing the same warning today.
Jordan Peterson VIDEO
QUOTE “So for the postmodernists, the world is a Hobbesian battleground of identity groups. They do not communicate with one another, because they can't. All there is, is a struggle for power, and if you're in the predator group, which means you're an oppressor, then you better look out, because you're not exactly welcome. Not exactly welcome, and neither are your ideas. So that's what you're up against.” Jordan Peterson
The social justice movement is not about justice it is a struggle for power. Rudolf Steiner and Jordan Peterson are right now is a time of decision that will determine the fate of civilization. What is at stake is the continued evolution of the free human being.
I do not believe the social justice movement will win the culture war because their ideas are in opposition to true human nature.
All they can accomplish is to disrupt society for a long time but they will never conquer the human spirit.
In the end I believe the free spirit will not allow itself to be denied.
P4 Rudolf Steiner: Winning The Culture War With A Science Of Freedom
0:00 I. The Enlightenment Vision
4:28 A. What Is Lacking In Western Civilization?
6:54 B. The Science Of Freedom
9:03 II. The Meaning Of Real Freedom
14:37 A. Nature Versus Nurture
16:19 B. The Impulse Of Freedom
20:45 C. Why The Philosophy Of Freedom Failed
26:42 III. Tactics To Win The Culture War
28:27 A. Jordan Peterson
30:29 B. What You Can Do
I. THE ENLIGHTENMENT VISION
The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement in the 18th century known as the "Century of Philosophy." Western civilization was built on the ideas of Enlightenment philosophers who argued for a society based on reason, a science based on observed evidence, and ethics based on the universal ideals of liberal humanism.
The Enlightenment vision is that a free people will build a better society.
When individuals are allowed to choose their careers, own property, and enter their own contractual agreements with others in a free market the result is a very productive economic system. When individuals acquire the powers of scientific thinking the result is a better grasp of the objective world and an increase of technological innovation. When individuals hold Enlightenment liberal values that emphasize freedom of thought, freedom of expression, universal human rights and equal opportunity the result is human development.
The best example of a free society is America. The Statue Of Liberty was created as a symbol of liberty spreading outward from America. The beacon of freedom has attracted generations of immigrants who attained their own version of success through sacrifice, risk-taking and hard work. Most Americans love freedom and stand up for individual rights and a free society. But there are others who label love of our free society as some kind of threat.
Postmodern philosophers rejected the Enlightenment vision that free people will build a better society. Postmodernism is a reaction to the Enlightenment vision’s claims of progress. They say it has all been revealed to be a fraud.
Capitalism has produced a great amount of wealth but it has gone to a small group at the top. Technology has not improved our lives. Instead technology is damaging human relationships, developing weapons and destroying the environment. Individualism is merely a mask that covers our real identity defined by our culture and economic background. The social justice movement is based on this kind of postmodern thought. They are upset that everyone is expected to bow down before the truths of science. Why should the truths of science be held above other ways of viewing the world?
Social justice activists reject the enlightenment commitment to a free society. This has today erupted into a Culture War between the vision of a free society and the Social Justice call for a revolution to institute fairness and equality.
Social justice activists say a free society will never solve the problems of class division, sexism and racism. Capitalism will never distribute the wealth equally. Equal opportunity will never result in equal outcome. Free speech will never end hate speech. And a merit system will never end personal failure. The problem with a free society is that it produces winners and losers. They say it is unfair to expect members of disadvantaged groups to compete in a free society because of individual and institutional discrimination. Social Justice activists want to replace our merit-based society with an entitlement society.
Rudolf Steiner disagreed. Everyone faces their own barriers to success. The skills and character needed to compete in a free society are developed by dealing with any obstacles that get in the way.
"Individuals should assert themselves in a fully free battle of competition. The present state has no sense for this battle of competition. It hinders the individual at every step in the unfolding of his abilities."
1898 Rudolf Steiner letter to John Henry Mackay
The challenge of a competitive society is necessary to develop individual potential. Steiner trusted people. He believed that if you give people the freedom to find their own way it will result in the best situation.
WHAT IS LACKING IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION?
This may come as a surprise but Rudolf Steiner agreed with the postmodernists that something was indeed lacking in Western civilization. As a libertarian though he certainly did not believe that the problem was freedom. Long ago in the 1890’s he was already aware of the decline of western civilization. He wrote The Philosophy Of Freedom to try and stop it.
In the premodern age knowledge was based on religious faith, mysticism and superstition. The modern age changed that by placing the various fields of knowledge on a solid scientific foundation of evidence, reason and peer review. But there was one significant exception and that was the field of philosophy. There is no science of philosophy. This has led to a steady decline of interest in what philosophers have to say. Daniel Dennett said that “a great deal of philosophy doesn’t really deserve much of a place in the world” and has become “self-indulgent clever play in a vacuum that’s not dealing with problems of any intrinsic interest.”
Philosophical ideas lack the certainty of science since they are proposed without much evidence. Western civilization was built on the ground of Enlightenment philosophers which is no longer a stable foundation. What was needed was a ‘science of philosophy’ to put the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment on a solid scientific foundation. What was needed was a ‘science of freedom’.
“When we look at the present epoch and the new trends we perceive that what is lacking 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.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI:
Brief Reflections on the Publication of the New Edition of 'The Philosophy of Freedom'
Every significant philosopher has presented a theory of freedom since the time of the Greeks without any one of them gaining a consensus of support. The question of freedom cannot be settled by philosophical argument. So how can we expect to build a free society if no one agrees on what it really means to be free?
A SCIENCE OF FREEDOM
Rudolf Steiner recognized that a clear knowledge of freedom was necessary to cultivate free ethical individuals and to build a free society. So he devoted himself to establishing a science of freedom that would be developed using the methods of science. He published his results in The Philosophy Of Freedom in 1894. The subtitle of The Philosophy Of Freedom states that the book is the result of scientific research. It was “A Modern Philosophy Of Life Developed By Scientific Methods.” The Philosophy Of Freedom is a ‘science of philosophy’ in that it provides observable evidence to support philosophical views.
"The Philosophy Of Freedom is the foundation of a new branch of science, the science of freedom. Its method is philosophic based on psychological observation. Its style is the way cognitive theory was expressed in that time.”
1920 June 15 Stuttgart lecture
One of the reasons it is difficult to read is that it is written in the style needed to convince 19th century German philosophers. But the philosophical views are backed up by introspective observations of the mind. This was only possible because of Steiner’s keen observation skills and mental discipline to accurately describe his inner experience.
“I was not setting forth a doctrine but simply recording inner experiences through which I had actually passed. And I reported them just as I experienced them.”
1894 Rudolf Steiner letter to Rosa Mayreder
Anyone of good will and the willingness to study the book and observe their own cognitive processes can understand and verify his findings.
None of us are fully free. The path of freedom is a gradual step by step awakening process of increasing inner self-awareness and then having the courage to outwardly express oneself.
II. THE MEANING OF REAL FREEDOM
In the late 19th century the new powers of scientific thinking exponentially accelerated the growth of technology. Technology was having a dramatic effect on social and political life. People were moving to the cities, buying more goods
and had more time to pursue life’s pleasures. New cultural trends threatened Enlightenment values. A new materialistic attitude was emerging. This was the period of the Gay 90's when individuals began making more of their own moral choices.
With the growth of cities there was an ideological shift toward collectivism and away from self-reliant individualism and personal responsibility. Collectivist thinking rapidly increased the size and power of government. The Socialist Party in America was formed in 1897. New technology also made it possible for mass media to start manipulating opinions through magazines, radio and movies.
A strong commitment to freedom was needed if individual rights were to be protected in a time of rapid social and political change. Steiner warned that if we don’t have a clear understanding of the meaning of real freedom, freedom will eventually be understood to mean license.
“For if freedom without the solid foundation of a science of freedom were regarded as real freedom, then, in an age when evil is gaining ground, freedom would of necessity lead not to liberty, but to license.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI
License is unrestrained or excessive freedom such as that which causes harm to others. It means you are free to do whatever you want without restraint or personal responsibility. Many freedom lovers don’t like to hear this but real freedom requires a disciplined mind.
“What is necessary for the present epoch when freedom must become a reality can only be found in the firm inner discipline of thinking, in genuine scientific thinking.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI
The basis of a science of freedom is freedom of thought. Thinking is a tool for gaining knowledge and giving meaning. To do this well thinking must undergo training to emancipate knowing. Otherwise habitual thoughts, cognitive bias and the emotions distort our view of the world. Students receive thought training in science and technology programs such as biology, chemistry, physics, math, engineering and computing. The study of The Philosophy Of Freedom is also an excellent way to discipline thinking.
Without disciplining the mind to think scientifically it is difficult to make moral decisions. How can we make responsible decisions if our thinking distorts our reality of the objective world? We need scientific thinking to grasp the reality of personal life situations and to predict the consequences of our deeds. Truth is empowering and makes one effective.
Many today place a higher value on personal feelings than the pursuit of truth. Whether something is believed or not has more to do with how you feel about it than whether it is true. By allowing emotions to dominate thinking one can fall into impulsive compassion. This is when reason is overwhelmed by undifferentiated empathy. The place for undifferentiated empathy is in the care of an infant that isn’t capable of doing anything for itself. But it doesn’t work in most other cases.
The Philosophy Of Freedom was written by one who loved truth.
“(The Philosophy Of Freedom) does not claim to offer the only possible way to truth, but is meant to describe the path taken by one for whom truth is central.”
The Philosophy Of Freedom 0.6
If we do not develop a science of freedom Steiner gave an even more serious warning. It could mean the end of human development and cultural progress if the culture war is lost.
“If this science of freedom does not receive the same intensive cultivation accorded other sciences,
freedom will be irretrievably lost both by society and by the individual."
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI
I don’t believe that there can be a more serious threat to humanity than to forever lose freedom. Today 100 years after Steiner republished The Philosophy Of Freedom in 1918 Western civilization still lacks a science of freedom. And we are on our way to losing the ability to think freely. We now have a world full of NPC’s who do not think for themselves but merely obey others. An NPC is an internet meme of a human being that simply repeats arguments and slogans given to them by someone else. The NPC meme became very popular because it was expressing a truth that many people lack critical thinking skills. Rather than producing critical thinkers social justice universities are now producing NPCs.
NATURE VERSUS NURTURE
As Steiner predicted without a science of freedom, freedom is understood to mean license.
In the premodern age when the church was dominant it placed moral restraints on freedom. Free will was accepted as a matter of faith. It was necessary to believe in free will, otherwise, how could you hold someone morally responsible for their actions? But religious faith lacks the empirical evidence that science demands to prove that freedom exists.
Religious faith and philosophical argument could not settle the question of freedom. And empirical research was not able to locate freedom. But the scientists did find other factors that determined human behavior. They found evidence to support biological determinism and cultural determinism. This led to a vigorous "Nature Versus Nurture" debate in Steiner’s time.
The Enlightenment emphasized reason and science so it is ironic that the biggest threat to Enlightenment freedom ended up being science, scientific determinism. Steiner entered the debate by confronting scientific determinism in the opening sentence of The Philosophy Of Freedom.
“Is a human being free in thought and action, or compelled by the unyielding necessity of natural law?”
The Philosophy Of Freedom 1.0
You can’t have free will without free thought. The human being is unique in its ability to reflect, think and envision new possibilities and thus consciously originate the law that determines one’s conduct. Steiner presents the missing empirical evidence to support self-determinism as a lived experience.
“The underlying purpose of The Philosophy of Freedom was to seek freedom in the empirical, in lived experience, a freedom which at the same time should be established on a firm scientific foundation.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI
Steiner’s case for freedom is based on having an experience of what he called the ‘impulse of freedom’.
"I wrote The Philosophy of Freedom in order to give mankind a clear picture of the idea of freedom, of the impulse of freedom, which must be the fundamental impulse of our age (and which must be developed out of the other fragmentary impulses of various kinds.) To this end it was necessary first of all to establish the impulse of freedom on a firm scientific basis. Therefore the first section of the book was entitled ‘Knowledge of Freedom."
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI
THE IMPULSE OF FREEDOM
Steiner described his idea of freedom as an ‘impulse of freedom’. An impulse is a sudden strong feeling to do something. We are driven by many nature impulses such as animal, biological and survival impulses. And there are upbringing impulses that are conditioned by family, society and culture. There are consumer impulses, emotional and habitual thinking impulses and so on.
What is significant is that the impulse of freedom is stronger than all the other competing impulses.
The power of this impulse is what makes freedom possible.
The impulse of freedom experience enhances thinking, increases intelligence, improves focus, increases energy, and makes one more tolerate and compassionate.
IMPULSE OF FREEDOM EXPERIENCE
• enhances thinking
• increases intelligence
• improves focus
• increases energy
• makes one more tolerate
If human evolution is to continue the fundamental driving force of our age must be this enhanced thinking experience of the freedom impulse. Otherwise we will all eventually become NPC’s likely controlled by artificial intelligence.
Steiner also describes the region of the mind where the impulse of freedom originates.
“I attempt to show how this view fully justifies the idea of freedom of the will, provided that one finds the region of the mind where free will can develop… no theoretical answer is given that, once acquired, is simply carried as a conviction preserved by memory… rather, reference is made to a region of mind experience in which, through the soul’s inner activity, the question answers itself in a living way, always anew, whenever a human being needs it.”
1918 new preface to The Philosophy Of Freedom
To simply give a definition of freedom is not likely to change a person’s life. Experiencing the ‘impulse of freedom’ is life changing. It justifies the idea of free will.
Free will originates in the region of pure conceptual thinking. This is the place of empowering creative insights that makes freedom possible. This is not to deny that most people have already had this experience. But by becoming more aware of it, knowing where to go to find it, and how to develop it means the experience will happen more often.
Since we are dealing with a ‘science’ of freedom we should expect that other researchers, over time, would uncover more evidence. This has happened. For example, a few years ago cognitive scientists empirically verified Steiner’s descriptions of the ‘impulse of freedom’ experience. Using brain scanning technology they recorded empowering intuitive insights of enhanced thinking that occurred within the conceptual thinking region of the brain. I did a video about it called "Science Breakthrough Verifies Rudolf Steiner's Impulse Of Freedom". It is a must watch video.
WHY THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM FAILED
Several decades after publication it already became clear that The Philosophy Of Freedom had failed to influence society. Steiner blamed the failure of The Philosophy Of Freedom on laziness. He was overly optimistic about the effort readers were willing to make. He challenged the reader because he wanted study to be an awakening experience. Instead the readers fell asleep.
“In The Philosophy of Freedom, readers have to keep shaking themselves to avoid being put to sleep by the thoughts they encounter. One has to try with all of one’s human strength to activate one’s inner being, to bring one’s whole thinking into motion.”
1919 Goetheanism as an Impulse for Man's Transformation - Lecture III: Clairvoyant Vision Looks at Mineral, Plant, Animal, Man
The first step to developing a science of freedom was for people to understand the book. Today this has became an almost insurmountable barrier. Anyone who has read the book will confirm how difficult it can be to connect the various thoughts into a coherent whole.
“The first thing that my contemporaries found unpalatable in my book The Philosophy of Freedom was this: they would have to be prepared, first of all, to fight their way through to a knowledge of freedom by self-disciplined thinking.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI
Steiner expected the reader to fight their way through the book to grasp the idea of freedom. In fact the only way to understand the book was to be awakened by the same experience of thinking that is described in the book. This was the genius of Steiner. The proper study of the book becomes an actual experience of the enhanced thinking that you are reading about.
This was done in two ways. First, by immersing yourself in the universal concepts of philosophy you enter the realm of pure conceptual thinking. Freed from the ruts of everyday thinking this is the place where creative thoughts originate.
Second, Steiner structured the thoughts in the book to kindle thought evoking questions. Many views of a topic are presented in each chapter and the reader is left to freely draw their own conclusions.
Study is intended to be an experience of “inner shocks, tensions and resolutions.” The reader completes the book with intuitive insights, living answers that are experienced “always anew”. For example, I have reread a paragraph numerous times
and each time gained new insights into its meaning and connection with other thoughts. But few people understood this well enough or cared enough to make the effort necessary to reach this experience of living thinking.
Steiner also blamed the failure of the book on the laziness of the career professionals that influence the way people think.
“I always found a measure of support. But hitherto everything has failed owing to the indolence of the learned professions, the scientists, doctors, lawyers, philosophers, teachers, etc. on whom the workers ultimately depend for their knowledge.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI
In Steiner’s time people looked to the well-educated and respected professions for knowledge. But the educators were comfortable and secure with establishment knowledge and did not want to make the effort to work through The Philosophy Of Freedom.
Today in the post-truth era it is much worse. For example, the social justice movement’s success is the result of the repetition of slogans, clueless celebrities, biased media coverage and Marxist university professors.
A better example of respected influencers is the advocacy of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of freedom. Credible institutions, organizations, academic papers, movies, documentaries, study courses, a lexicon and websites clearly present her freedom philosophy to others. As a result Ayn Rand’s view of the human ideal as a selfish individual has had a significant influence on people and society. If Rudolf Steiner’s view of the human ideal had been properly presented people today may be discussing the ethical individualist rather than the selfish individualist. Without organized support Rudolf Steiner’s ethical individualist remains unknown.
I have posted a study guide at philosophyoffreedom.com to help get the word out but it is a small contribution to what is needed.
III. WINNING THE CULTURE WAR
We entered the 20th century without a science of freedom. Instead the ‘nature and nurture’ view of the human being went in two directions; further research into genetic determinism and the acceptance of cultural determinism. Genetic engineering is going in the horrifying direction of designer babies and human cloning. Cultural determinism became the basis of quack collectivist social theories that will never work yet are still being pushed even after the tragic consequences of 20th century communism and socialism.
Today’s social justice movement is just another quack solution to the problems of society based on the various group identities formed by cultural determinism.
What can freedom activists do to end the threat of social justice identity politics by winning the culture war?
Steiner said the worst possible direction we can take is to “perpetually grumble” about what parties have done or how they treat people. In his time he suggested 3 tactics in the fight against the rise of socialism.
The 1st tactic is to determine whether the claims of social injustice are true.
The 2nd is to ask, If you follow the path indicated by the social justice worldview, will you attain what you seek to achieve in life?
The 3rd tactic is for people to understand how the world will be transformed if real freedom were understood and established. Steiner was convinced that the light will dawn for an ethical individualist. And then “you will attain what you seek to achieve and much else besides.”
“Mankind must realize how the world would be transformed if the meaning of freedom were understood, freedom, not in the sense of license, but freedom born of a free spirit and a firmly disciplined mind. If people understood what freedom and its establishment would signify for the world, then the light that many seek today would lighten the prevailing darkness of our time.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI
It is free spirits with disciplined minds who will bring light to the darkness of our times and transform the world. Such a free spirit is Jordan Peterson.
Jordan Peterson is fighting the culture war in the 3 ways Steiner suggested.
First Dr. Peterson has shown how many claims of injustice are just not true. Social justice claims such as the women’s pay gap, that gender is a social construct, and diversity increases creativity have been debunked.
Second he has warned us that the social justice movement will make it more difficult to attain what we want to achieve in life. If you prioritize the general concerns of your cultural identity group it will not actually help you achieve your own goals. Much of Dr. Peterson’s work is about how to be successful in life which begins by building character and putting your life in order. Individual freedom will be limited in a society based on social justice. It will require a more controlling totalitarian society to enforce social justice goals such as equally distributing the wealth. Dr Peterson warns that we are already witnessing the beginning of social justice totalitarianism in the censorship and deplatforming of free speech and the building of a network of informants to report politically incorrect behavior. To reap the rewards of your hard work, a merit system is needed. The justice activists are replacing merit with affirmative action quotas where everyone suffers including the under qualified applicant.
And third Dr Peterson has taught why it is necessary to respect the sovereignty of the individual for it is the independent thinking free individual that brings the light of creative ideas and ethical deeds to society.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Hopefully it’s not too late for The Philosophy Of Freedom to fulfill its unique role in the culture war. I recently watched a YouTube video by “The Distributist” that describes 9 archetypal roles that are needed to get a movement going forward. These roles can be filled by anyone with the inclination and some talent.
I see my own role as ‘The Intellectual’. The intellectual references the ideas of someone else, like Steiner. Every field has its own nomenclature of terms to provide a common language. Philosophy Of Freedom terms such as ethical individualism, the impulse of freedom, moral imagination, moral technique and the harmony of intentions need to be understood so Steiner’s ideas can be discussed and applied. The other roles needed to support a resurrection of The Philosophy Of Freedom are called The Ambassador, The Artist, The Engineer, The Archivist, The Educator, The Host, and The Networker.
If there is interest a loosely organized online work group could be hosted on the philosophyoffreedom.com website for those who want to see Steiner’s science of freedom have the social impact he hoped for. You can use the contact link on the website to express your interest or send me a suggestion.