Study Course Steps 10.1 - 10.12

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Chapter 10 Freedom Philosophy And Monism

Free Ethical Impulse

CHAPTER THEME: Moral Authority - Obey only yourself.

Theme: Moral Authority
topic 10.1: Mechanical Laws Of Materialism
topic 10.2: Dictates Of Spiritual Being
topic 10.3: Automaton Or Slave
topic 10.4: Imposed Principles
topic 10.5: Free Ethical Impulse
topic 10.6: Accusation Of Unfreedom
topic 10.7: Realization Of Free Spirit
topic 10.8: Individual Will Impulse
topic 10.9: Course Of Development That Leads To Free Spirit
topic 10.10: Find Own Self
topic 10.11: Truly Moral Worldview
topic 10.12: Moral Way Is Freedom

10.0 Moral Authority
From external moral authority To internal moral authority

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External Moral Authority
Outer Truth: The naive person, who only accepts as real what he can see with his eyes and grasp with his hands, also demands motives for his moral life that can be perceived with the senses. He needs someone to communicate the grounds for action to him in a way that is understandable to his senses. He will allow these grounds of action to be dictated to him as commands by a person whom he considers wiser and more powerful than himself, or whom he recognizes for some other reason to be a power over him. In this way there result, as moral principles, the authority of family, state, society, church and Divinity mentioned in the previous chapter. The most narrow-minded person still submits to the authority of one particular person. He who is a little more advanced allows his ethical conduct to be dictated by a majority (state, society). In every case he relies on some power that can be perceived. When at last the conviction dawns on some one that his authorities are, after all, human beings just as weak as himself, then he seeks guidance from a higher power, from a Divine Being, whom he endows, however, with features perceptible to the senses. He conceives this Being as communicating to him the conceptual content of his moral life in a perceptible way—believing, for example, that God appeared in a burning bush, or that He walked among the people in human form, telling them in ways audible to their ears what to do and what not to do.

  

Internal Moral Authority
Inner Truth: At the highest ethical level of development attained by naive realism, the moral law (the moral Idea) is separated from every external being, and is thought of hypothetically as an absolute power within oneself. What is first heard as the external voice of God is now perceived as an independent power in his own mind. He now speaks of it in a way that identifies it with the voice of conscience.

 
STEP 10.1 Mechanical Laws Of Materialism
From mechanical laws of materialism To illusion of freedom
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Mechanical Laws Of Materialism
Outer Truth: When this happens, the level of naive consciousness has been abandoned and we enter the region where moral laws, as ethical standards, are treated as independently existing norms. They are no longer made dependent on a human mind, but are turned into metaphysical entities that exist in and through themselves. They are analogous to the visible-invisible forces that always accompany Metaphysical Realism. Metaphysical Realism, as we have seen, refers the world of percepts which is given to us, and the world of concepts which we think, to an external thing-in-itself. In this, its duplicate world, it must also look for the origin of morality. Here there are several different possible views on the origin of morality. If the thing-in-itself is unthinking and acts according to purely mechanical laws, which is the view of materialism, then it must also produce out of itself, by purely mechanical necessity, the human individual along with everything about him.

  

Illusion Of Freedom
Inner Truth: On that view the consciousness of freedom can be nothing but an illusion. For while I believe myself to be the creator of my deeds, it is the material substances of which I am composed, together with their processes, that are at work within me. I imagine myself free, but in fact everything I do is merely the result of the material processes underlying my physical and mental organization. We have the feeling of freedom only because we are ignorant of the motives that compel us. "We must emphasize that the feeling of freedom is due to the absence of external compelling motives... Our action, like our thinking, is necessitated.” (Ziehen, Guidelines of Physiological Pathology)

     

STEP 10.2 Dictates Of Spiritual Being
From dictates of spiritual being To do god's will

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Dictates Of Spiritual Being
Outer Truth: Another possibility is that the Absolute hidden behind all phenomena is thought of as a spiritual being. In this case he will also seek the impulse to act in some kind of spiritual power. He will regard the moral principles to be found in his own reason as flowing from this spiritual being which has its own special intentions for humanity. To this kind of Dualist the moral laws appear to be dictated by the Absolute. The human being's only task is to discover, by means of his reason, the decisions of the Absolute Being and then carry them out. For the Dualist the moral world order is the visible reflection of a higher order that lies behind it. Our earthly morality is a manifestation of the divine world order.

 

Do God's Will
Inner Truth: It is not human beings who matter in this moral order but reality in itself, that is, God. Human beings should do what God wills. Eduard von Hartmann, who presents this being as a deity whose existence is a life of suffering, believes that the Divine Being created the world so that it could be redeemed from its infinitely great suffering through it. This philosopher regards the moral evolution of humanity as a process whose purpose is the redemption of God.

     

STEP 10.3 Automaton Or Slave
From materialist automaton or spiritualist slave To no room for freedom

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Materialist Automaton Or Spiritualist Slave
Outer Truth: In this view, the human being does not act of his own volition; he is obliged to act because it is God's will to be redeemed. A Materialistic Dualist makes the human being into an automaton, whose action is nothing but the effect of causality according to purely mechanical laws, a Spiritualistic Dualist (the one who treats the Absolute, the thing-in-itself, as spiritual) makes the human being a slave of the will of the Absolute.

 

No Room For Freedom
Inner Truth: There is no room for freedom in Materialism or Spiritualism, and in fact any form of Metaphysical Realism.

STEP 10.4 Imposed Principles
From imposed principles To freedom denial

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Imposed Principles
Outer Truth: Naive and Metaphysical Realism, if they are to be consistent, have to deny freedom for one and the same reason. They both see the human being as doing no more than putting into effect, or carrying out, principles imposed upon him by necessity.

 

Freedom Denial
Inner Truth: Naive Realism kills freedom through submission to authority, whether it be that of a perceptible being, or that of an entity thought of as similar to a perceptible being, or, finally, that of the abstract voice of conscience. The Metaphysician cannot acknowledge freedom because, for him, the human being is determined, mechanically or morally, by a "thing-in-itself."

     
STEP 10.5 Free Ethical Impulse
From accept moral principles From others To free ethical impulse
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Accept Moral Principles From Others
Outer Truth: Monism acknowledges the partial justification of Naive Realism because it recognizes the part played by the world of percepts. Whoever is not capable of producing moral Ideas through intuition must accept them from others. To the extent a person receives his ethical principles from outside he is in fact unfree.

 

Free Ethical Impulse
Inner Truth: But Monism attaches as much importance to the Idea as to the percept. And the Idea can manifest itself in the human individual. To the extent a person follows his impulses from this side, he is free.

     

STEP 10.6 Accusation Of Unfreedom
From reject accusations of unconscious compulsion To identify specific cause that made this person act unfreely

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Reject Accusations Of Unconscious Compulsion
Outer Truth: Monism denies any validity to Metaphysics, and consequently it also rejects the impulses of action that come from so-called "things-in-themselves." According to the Monistic view, a person acts unfreely when he obeys some perceptible external compulsion, he acts freely when he obeys none but himself. There is no room in Monism for any kind of unconscious compulsion hidden behind percept and concept.

 

Identify Specific Cause That Made This Person Act Unfreely
Inner Truth: If someone claims that the action of another person is done unfreely, then he must identify the thing or the person or the institution within the perceptible world, that made this person act. If the claimant bases his assertion upon motivating causes of action lying outside the real world that is accessible to the human being through his senses and intellect, then Monism must reject such an assertion.

     

STEP 10.7 Realization Of Free Spirit
From unfree in world of percepts To realization of free spirit

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Unfree In World Of Percepts
Outer Truth: According to the Monistic view, human action is partly free, partly unfree. He is conscious of himself as unfree in the world of percepts.

 

Realization Of Free Spirit
Inner Truth: But from within himself he brings the free spirit to realization.

     

STEP 10.8 Individual Will Impulse
From free creation of ethical world order To ruler of authoritarian collective

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Free Creation Of Ethical World Order
Outer Truth: The moral laws which the Metaphysician is bound to assume flow from a higher power, are, for the Monist, thoughts conceived by human beings. For him the ethical world order is neither the imprint of a purely mechanical natural order, nor that of a divine government of the world. It is entirely the free creation of human beings. The human being does not have to enforce God's will in the world, but his own. He does not carry out the decisions and intentions of another being, but his own. Monism does not find, behind human actions, a ruler of the world who determines them according to his will. Rather, to the extent that they realize intuitive Ideas, human beings pursue only their own, human goals. In fact, each individual pursues his own particular goals.

 

Ruler Of Authoritarian Collective
Inner Truth: For the world of Ideas does not come to expression in a collective of people, but only in human individuals. What appears as the common goal of a collective of people is in reality the result of the will impulses of individual members, usually a few select ones whom the others obey as authorities. Each one of us has it in him to be a free spirit, just as every rosebud is potentially a rose.

     
STEP 10.9 Course Of Development That Leads To Free Spirit
From true philosophy of freedom To course of development that leads to free spirit
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True Philosophy Of Freedom
Outer Truth: Monism, then, in the sphere of genuinely moral action, is the true philosophy of freedom. As a philosophy of reality, Monism rejects the metaphysical (unreal) restrictions on the free spirit—just as it recognizes the physical and historical (naive real) restrictions on the naive person.

  Course Of Development That Leads To Free Spirit
Inner Truth: Because the Monist does not look upon the human being as a finished product who expresses his full nature in every moment of his life, he considers the dispute as to whether a human being is free or not to be of no consequence. He sees a self-developing human being and asks whether, on this course of development, can the level of the free spirit be attained.
     
STEP 10.10 Find Own Self
From stages of development To find own self
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Stages Of Development
Outer Truth: Monism knows that Nature does not release the human being from its care finished and complete as a free spirit, but that she leads him up to a certain stage.

 

Stage Of Finding Own Self
Inner Truth: From this, as still unfree beings, he must develop himself further to the point where he finds his own self.

     

STEP 10.11 Truly Moral Worldview
From preparatory stages of morality To truly moral worldview

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Preparatory Stages Of Morality
Outer Truth: Monism is not a denial of morality; it is the clear realization that someone acting under physical or moral compulsion cannot be truly ethical. It regards the stages of automatic behavior (following natural urges and instincts) and the passage through obedient behavior (following ethical norms), as necessary, but it also understands that the human being can overcome both preliminary stages through the free spirit.

  Truly Moral Worldview
Inner Truth: Monism liberates a truly moral world view from the shackles, within the world, of naive ethical maxims, and from the ethical maxims, outside the real world, of speculative Metaphysicians. Monism can no more eliminate naive maxims from the world than it can eliminate percepts from the world. But it rejects the otherworldly maxims of speculative Metaphysicians because Monism looks for all the principles for explaining world phenomena within the world, and none outside it.
     
STEP 10.12 Moral Way Is Freedom

From ethical maxims of higher beings To moral way is freedom

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Ethical Maxims Of Higher Beings
Outer Truth: Just as Monism refuses even to think about cognitive principles other than those that apply to human beings (see Chapter 7), so it also decisively rejects the thought of ethical maxims other than those originated by human beings. Human morality, like human knowledge, is conditioned by human nature. And just as beings of a higher order would probably understand knowledge to mean something very different from what it means to us, so we may assume that they would also have a very different morality. Perhaps, even, their actions should not be viewed from the standpoint of morality at all. To talk about such things is absurd from the point of view of Monism.

 

Moral Way Is Freedom
Inner Truth: For Monists, morality is a specifically human quality, and freedom is the human way of being moral.

 

 BOOK TEXT

10. FREEDOM PHILOSOPHY AND MONISM

10.0 Moral Authority
[1] The naive person, who only accepts as real what he can see with his eyes and grasp with his hands, also demands motives for his moral life that can be perceived with the senses. He needs someone to communicate the grounds for action to him in a way that is understandable to his senses. He will allow these grounds of action to be dictated to him as commands by a person whom he considers wiser and more powerful than himself, or whom he recognizes for some other reason to be a power over him. In this way there result, as moral principles, the authority of family, state, society, church and Divinity mentioned in the previous chapter. The most narrow-minded person still submits to the authority of one particular person. He who is a little more advanced allows his ethical conduct to be dictated by a majority (state, society). In every case he relies on some power that can be perceived. When at last the conviction dawns on some one that his authorities are, after all, human beings just as weak as himself, then he seeks guidance from a higher power, from a Divine Being, whom he endows, however, with features perceptible to the senses. He conceives this Being as communicating to him the conceptual content of his moral life in a perceptible way—believing, for example, that God appeared in a burning bush, or that He walked among the people in human form, telling them in ways audible to their ears what to do and what not to do.

[2] At the highest ethical level of development attained by naive realism, the moral law (the moral Idea) is separated from every external being, and is thought of hypothetically as an absolute power within oneself. What is first heard as the external voice of God is now perceived as an independent power in his own mind. He now speaks of it in a way that identifies it with the voice of conscience.

10.1 Mechanical Laws Of Materialism
[3] When this happens, the level of naive consciousness has been abandoned and we enter the region where moral laws, as ethical standards, are treated as independently existing norms. They are no longer made dependent on a human mind, but are turned into metaphysical entities that exist in and through themselves. They are analogous to the visible-invisible forces that always accompany Metaphysical Realism. Metaphysical Realism, as we have seen, refers the world of percepts which is given to us, and the world of concepts which we think, to an external thing-in-itself. In this, its duplicate world, it must also look for the origin of morality. Here there are several different possible views on the origin of morality. If the thing-in-itself is unthinking and acts according to purely mechanical laws, which is the view of materialism, then it must also produce out of itself, by purely mechanical necessity, the human individual along with everything about him. On that view the consciousness of freedom can be nothing but an illusion. For while I believe myself to be the creator of my deeds, it is the material substances of which I am composed, together with their processes, that are at work within me. I imagine myself free, but in fact everything I do is merely the result of the material processes underlying my physical and mental organization. We have the feeling of freedom only because we are ignorant of the motives that compel us. "We must emphasize that the feeling of freedom is due to the absence of external compelling motives... Our action, like our thinking, is necessitated.” (Ziehen, Guidelines of Physiological Pathology)

10.2 Dictates Of Spiritual Being
[4] Another possibility is that the Absolute hidden behind all phenomena is thought of as a spiritual being. In this case he will also seek the impulse to act in some kind of spiritual power. He will regard the moral principles to be found in his own reason as flowing from this spiritual being which has its own special intentions for humanity. To this kind of Dualist the moral laws appear to be dictated by the Absolute. The human being's only task is to discover, by means of his reason, the decisions of the Absolute Being and then carry them out. For the Dualist the moral world order is the visible reflection of a higher order that lies behind it. Our earthly morality is a manifestation of the divine world order. It is not human beings who matter in this moral order but reality in itself, that is, God. Human beings should do what God wills. Eduard von Hartmann, who presents this being as a deity whose existence is a life of suffering, believes that the Divine Being created the world so that it could be redeemed from its infinitely great suffering through it. This philosopher regards the moral evolution of humanity as a process whose purpose is the redemption of God.

"Only through the building up of an ethical world order by reasoning, self-aware individuals is it possible for the world process to be led towards its goal... Existence in its reality is the incarnation of God. The world process is the passion of God who has become flesh, and at the same time the path to redemption of Him who was crucified in the flesh; and morality is our cooperation in the shortening of this path of suffering and redemption." (Hartmann, Phenomenology of Moral Consciousness)

10.3 Automaton Or Slave
In this view, the human being does not act of his own volition; he is obliged to act because it is God's will to be redeemed. A Materialistic Dualist makes the human being into an automaton, whose action is nothing but the effect of causality according to purely mechanical laws, a Spiritualistic Dualist (the one who treats the Absolute, the thing-in-itself, as spiritual) makes the human being a slave of the will of the Absolute. There is no room for freedom in Materialism or Spiritualism, and in fact any form of Metaphysical Realism.

10.4 Imposed Principles
[5] Naive and Metaphysical Realism, if they are to be consistent, have to deny freedom for one and the same reason. They both see the human being as doing no more than putting into effect, or carrying out, principles imposed upon him by necessity. Naive Realism kills freedom through submission to authority, whether it be that of a perceptible being, or that of an entity thought of as similar to a perceptible being, or, finally, that of the abstract voice of conscience. The Metaphysician cannot acknowledge freedom because, for him, the human being is determined, mechanically or morally, by a "thing-in-itself."

10.5 Free Ethical Impulse
[6] Monism acknowledges the partial justification of Naive Realism because it recognizes the part played by the world of percepts. Whoever is not capable of producing moral Ideas through intuition must accept them from others. To the extent a person receives his ethical principles from outside he is in fact unfree. But Monism attaches as much importance to the Idea as to the percept. And the Idea can manifest itself in the human individual. To the extent a person follows his impulses from this side, he is free.

10.6 Accusation Of Unfreedom
Monism denies any validity to Metaphysics, and consequently it also rejects the impulses of action that come from so-called "things-in-themselves." According to the Monistic view, a person acts unfreely when he obeys some perceptible external compulsion, he acts freely when he obeys none but himself. There is no room in Monism for any kind of unconscious compulsion hidden behind percept and concept. If someone claims that the action of another person is done unfreely, then he must identify the thing or the person or the institution within the perceptible world, that made this person act. If the claimant bases his assertion upon motivating causes of action lying outside the real world that is accessible to the human being through his senses and intellect, then Monism must reject such an assertion.

10.7 Realization Of The Free Spirit
[7] According to the Monistic view, human action is partly free, partly unfree. He is conscious of himself as unfree in the world of percepts, but from within himself he brings the free spirit to realization.

10.8 Individual Will Impulse
[8] The moral laws which the Metaphysician is bound to assume flow from a higher power, are, for the Monist, thoughts conceived by human beings. For him the ethical world order is neither the imprint of a purely mechanical natural order, nor that of a divine government of the world. It is entirely the free creation of human beings. The human being does not have to enforce God's will in the world, but his own. He does not carry out the decisions and intentions of another being, but his own. Monism does not find, behind human actions, a ruler of the world who determines them according to his will. Rather, to the extent that they realize intuitive Ideas, human beings pursue only their own, human goals. In fact, each individual pursues his own particular goals. For the world of Ideas does not come to expression in a collective of people, but only in human individuals. What appears as the common goal of a collective of people is in reality the result of the will impulses of individual members, usually a few select ones whom the others obey as authorities. Each one of us has it in him to be a free spirit, just as every rosebud is potentially a rose.

10.9 Course Of Development That Leads To Free Spirit
[9] Monism, then, in the sphere of genuinely moral action, is the true philosophy of freedom. As a philosophy of reality, Monism rejects the metaphysical (unreal) restrictions on the free spirit—just as it recognizes the physical and historical (naive real) restrictions on the naive person. Because the Monist does not look upon the human being as a finished product who expresses his full nature in every moment of his life, he considers the dispute as to whether a human being is free or not to be of no consequence. He sees a self-developing human being and asks whether, on this course of development, can the level of the free spirit be reached.

10.10 Find Own Self
[10] Monism knows that Nature does not release the human being from its care finished and complete as a free spirit, but that she leads him up to a certain stage. From this, as still unfree beings, he must develop himself further to the point where he finds his own self.

10.11 Truly Moral Worldview
[11] Monism is not a denial of morality; it is the clear realization that someone acting under physical or moral compulsion cannot be truly ethical. It regards the stages of automatic behavior (following natural urges and instincts) and the passage through obedient behavior (following ethical norms), as necessary preparatory stages of morality, but it also understands that the human being can overcome both preliminary stages through the free spirit. Monism liberates a truly moral world view from the shackles, within the world, of naive ethical maxims, and from the ethical maxims, outside the real world, of speculative Metaphysicians. Monism can no more eliminate naive maxims from the world than it can eliminate percepts from the world. But it rejects the otherworldly maxims of speculative Metaphysicians because Monism looks for all the principles for explaining world phenomena within the world, and none outside it.

10.12 Moral Way Is Freedom
Just as Monism refuses even to think about cognitive principles other than those that apply to human beings (see Chapter 7), so it also decisively rejects the thought of ethical maxims other than those originated by human beings. Human morality, like human knowledge, is conditioned by human nature. And just as beings of a higher order would probably understand knowledge to mean something very different from what it means to us, so we may assume that they would also have a very different morality. Perhaps, even, their actions should not be viewed from the standpoint of morality at all. To talk about such things is absurd from the point of view of Monism. For Monists, morality is a specifically human quality, and freedom is the human way of being moral.