Start A Local Study Group
Study Group Process
Meeting regularly with a single study partner can be very fruitful. Here is a study process that works well for larger groups that can be organized by anyone, including you, irrespective of how much experience you have with the book. It gets everybody involved, is fun, and results in new insights. It is a three part process:
- Part I: Book Review What does The Philosophy Of Freedom say?
- Part II: Individual Artistic Response What do you say?
- Part III: Group Conversation What do we say?
Part I: Reading Review
It begins with a review of the section of the Philosophy of Freedom being studied. The purpose here is to review and help each other with basic reading comprehension of the text. The book may be read, words may need to be looked up in a dictionary, other translations could be referred to, and someone may present a review of the main points. An effort is made to enter the thoughts as presented by Rudolf Steiner. What did Rudolf Steiner say?
Part II: Individual Artistic Response
The next step is to have a quiet time where participants may take a moment to prepare their response to the reading. If some simple art materials are available such as block crayons, regular crayons, colored pencils, paper and some rigid boards or tables for sketching then individual insight can be given a form. This has shown itself as a fun way to get everyone involved.
Each person is usually eager to show their sketch and talk about their response to the reading. Doing it this way ensures that everyone participates without one or two people dominating the discussion.
Part III: Group Contemplation
We express our individual insight in our artistic response. Now the principles of individual contemplation are applied to a group conversation in an effort to experience group insight. The art is placed on a wall in view of the group. What is expressing itself in manifold ways through the individual responses? Does a common theme reveal itself? Successful group conversation will lead to genuine discovery and a higher comprehension of Truth.
Some Chapter Questions
Part I Knowledge of Freedom
1. Are we free thinkers with free will or is our sense of freedom an illusion?
2. How do we try to reconcile the disconnection between our thoughts and the world we perceive?
3. How does thought differ essentially from all other things?
4. Is the whole perceived world only a picture called up in my mind?
5. How can we find the concept that corresponds to the world we observe?
6. Why is our mental picture an individualized concept?
7. How do we overcome duality by reconciling our thoughts with the world?
Part II Reality of Freedom
8. Is thinking lifeless and abstract while willing and feeling fill the soul with warmth?
9. In what ways does individual intuitive impulse express itself?
10. To what moral authority do we submit ourselves?
11. What is a human being’s task in life?
12. How do moral intuition, moral imagination and moral technique work together?
13. What is our highest pleasure?
14. What are the characteristics of individuality?
Some Principles Of Group Contemplative Conversation
• Understanding others view: Something can be learned by maintaining a condition of open-mindedness and seeking the truth-value of another view.
• Silence: The occurrence of group silence can be a useful tool when it is used as an opportunity to reflect and digest. There is no need to be afraid of it.
• Retrospection: Retrospection occurs when, in monitoring your own self and the way you react or respond to the others, you observe yourself and, quite objectively, make the adjustments necessary to establish harmony with the basic guidelines and attitudes of the group conversation.
• Attitude: An attitude of acceptance and acknowledgment that truth may speak through anyone at any time.
• Attention: Place full attention and support with those who are speaking. Is not thinking about what to say while another is speaking.
• Hear: It is more important to hear out the other person than to agree with him, questioning rather than disputing will clear up disagreements.
• Be brief: Keeps statements to the point (brief and concise), both out of respect for the other members, and also in recognition that your idea needs no defending or justifying. Avoid monopolizing the conversation.
• Continuity: Keep the continuity alive by referring to points already made and asking the group how a current point relates to those expressed earlier.
• Thought Sequence: Try to relate your new comment out of the preceding comments if possible.