THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM
Thank you publishers and translators
Note: There are two editions of The Philosophy Of Freedom. The original edition written by Steiner in 1894 and translated to English in 1916 by Prof. and Mrs. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé and the revised edition of 1918. All the available translations, other than the 1916 Hoernlé, are not of the original edition, but rather of the 1918 revised edition.
10 English Translations Of Rudolf Steiner's "The Philosophy Of Freedom"
Translation Summary: The first English translation of The Philosophy Of Freedom was published in 1916 by Hoernle, who was a respected philosophy scholar of that time. This is the only edition sanctioned by Rudolf Steiner himself. After Steiner’s passing, a once head of the Anthroposophical Society, the Hermann Poppelbaum was published, a copy of the Hoernle, except for revising some key terms “from the strictly Steiner point of view”. Poppelbaum’s 1939 translation replaces Hoernle’s clearer philosophy terms with vague spiritual terms like changing “mind” to the vague term “spirit”. This vagueness makes it very difficult to do the inner observations described in the book. All the following translations were heavily influenced by the insertion of Poppelbaum’s “Steinerism”. Steinerism refers to the rigid, traditional beliefs and opinions held by the long time followers of Steiner.
The next 2 translations, the 1963 Stebbing and the 1964 Wilson, are based on Poppelbaum's revised Hoernle. They make minor word selection changes but without really advancing the understanding. Then in 1986 Lindeman produces the ultimate literal translation of the German. It is hard to read but gives insight into the original German. This is followed by the most liberal translation, the more readable 1988 Stebbing. But a few years later in 1992, Stebbing backtracks by removing the liberal parts and replaces them with more traditional wording in a new translation. It has been difficult to make progress through the many English translations of The Philosophy Of Freedom because when a translator produces a more readable line, it is "corrected" by reverting back to the literal rigid style that mirrors the awkward German.
Referring to the 1986 Lindeman, in 1995 Lipson’s translation, sold in bookstores today titled Intuitive Thinking As A Spiritual Path, mainly tries to be different by rephrasing and selecting alternate words to use. He also removes gender bias by always using collective terms like “we” and “us”. This seems awkward in a book about individualism. It often has more readable sentences, but by trying to always be “different” the alternative words selected by Lipson are not always the best words, they are the seconfd choice. A remarkable translation is the 2011 Graham Rickett. It is buried in another book and has only been half completed. While it is usually not much more readable than the others, it is very good in taking on the difficult sentences in the book. Rickett thinks before he translates, and makes sense of difficult parts others just copy from previous editions.
The new revised translation currently being written is based on the original Hoernle without the later insertion of Steinerism theosophy. But it also includes all of the progress made by a century of translations.
1894 Steiner Die Philosophie der Freiheit. Grundzuege einer modernen Weltanschauung. Seelische Beobachtungsrelultate nach naturwissenschaftlicher Methode, by Rudolf Steiner, German language editions: 1894, ISBN 3-7274-0040-4,
The Philosophy Of Freedom in other languages:
Η ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΙΑ ΤΗΣ ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑΣ
A szabadság filozófiája
The Die Philosophie der Freiheit was written 20 years before the founding of the Anthroposophical Society. In 1918 Steiner declared, "The purpose of The Philosophy Of Freedom is to lay the foundations of ethical individualism and of a social and political life."
|Translations Based On Original Edition (1894) of the Philosophy Of Freedom
Main Reference: 1894 German Die Philosophie der Freiheit
“their thorough knowledge of philosophy and their complete command of the German and English languages enabling them to overcome the difficulty of finding adequate English equivalents for the terms of German Philosophy.” H. Collison, 1916 Editor’s Note, The Philosophy of Freedom
This 1916 Hoernlé translation is based on the original, unrevised German Die Philosophie der Freiheit published in 1894. The other translations, available up to now, are not based on the original Die Philosophie der Freiheit, instead they are based on the 1918 revised edition. Hoernle incorporated the revisions into his 1922 edition.
I have found no evidence in his translation or in his life that Hoernlé had any interest in theosophy or in Steiner's later anthrposophy. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé was trained in philosophy at Oxford and taught it at Harvard. He was familiar with the philosophical issues of Steiner's day. A review of Hoernlé's book Studies in Contemporary Metaphysics (1920) said he had a flexible and assimilative mind and:
Strength: Translation true to Steiner's original intention using the language of philosophy and science. In the 1918 Preface Steiner mentions that at times his writing “awkwardly expressed” what he wanted to say. Because of Hoernle’s philosophy qualifications of that day he was able to make minor corrections (a word here or there) so the book makes more sense. But of course the literalist anthroposophist translators removed these improvements in later translations. (mainly 1939 Poppelbaum)
Reference: 1922 Hoernlé English translation and all previous translations.
This is a philosophyoffreedom.com online project that intends to improve the readability of The Philosophy Of Freedom with a new revised edition of the 1922 Hoernle English edition.
Strength: Restoration of original mood and intention. Improve readability.
|THEOSOPHY INFLUENCE BEGINS
1894 German (original edition) online PDF
|Translations Based On Revised Edition (1918) of the Philosophy Of Freedom
Main Reference: 1916 Hoernlé translation.
In 1918 George Metaxa was well known in Dornach where he fully participated in the life of the Anthroposophical Society as a eurythmy composer, contributor and leader. In 1923 he worked on the reorganization of the Society and raising funds for the rebuilding of the Goetheanum.
The Philosophy Of Freedom (The Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity) translated by Hermann Poppelbaum
“check certain words and phrases from the strictly Steiner point of view." 1939 The Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity, Editor's Preface to the Fourth Edition
Strength: Raises awareness to the difficulty in translating "Idee" and "Vorstellung", where Hoernlé mainly used "idea". Idea, representation or mental picture are used to translate "Vorstellung" depending on which translator you read. Poppelbaum revises the book to try and fit it into theosophy terminology creating confusion and leading it away from science. All following translations by anthroposophists follow his lead.
Main Reference: 1939 Poppelbaum
Strength: This Stebbing translation seems to be the American version of the Wilson UK translation, Her next try in 1988 is more liberal, where she makes a bold effort to use more plain talk. In the end, her 3rd translation of 1992, she recants these revisions for some reason and replaces them with the traditional translation lines.
The Philosophy Of Freedom translated by Michael Wilson
Strength: The Wilson, Stebbing and Poppelbaum translations are for the most part copies of the Hoernle with very few revisions. The popular Wilson edition adds more of UK traditional old time English style.
Main Reference: 1918 German Die Philosophie der Freiheit
Strength: This is the first new translation since the Hoernle. It is the most unreadable since it is a literal translation attempting to be a word for word copy. Its a great reference as it is the closest to the literal German so you can spot where other translators add more or less than what is in the German.
Main Reference: Liberal revision of her 1963 Stebbing translation
Strength: This is the most liberal plain talk edition and is the easiest to read. Though her boldness leads to some more controversial interpretations. Boldness and independent thinking does not fit well within the elderly circles of strict traditionalism found in anthroposophy. Rather than improving this edition she abandoned it in 1992.
Main Reference: 1988 Stebbing
Strength: Readable with some corrections? to her 1988 edition.
Main Reference: 1986 Lindeman
“By approaching Steiner through inadequate and changing English terms, we are the more likely to face the inadequacy of all terms, and leap to his meaning.” Michael Lipson, 1995 Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path, Translator's Introduction
Strength: Lipson's translation is new but seems most of all an attempt to be different. Gender neutral translation, written in more modern American English such as replacing "which" with "that" are new. Though I found it impossible to sustain a "we" plural gender neutral style in a book about individuality. When key words are compared to the Lindeman translation, Lipson comes up with a different key word in the sentences and he likes to rephrase. By trying to be different his terms and phrasing are a second choice and may not be best. This does make it a good reference as you will likely find he rewords it differently from your current edition. But as I say, he prefers making translation choices for the sake of being different rather than selecting the clearest and best expression. But it is more readable than most.
The Philosophy Of Freedom (‘Die ‘Philosophie der Freiheit) translated by Graham B. Rickett
Strength: A new independent translation that is uninterested in repeating past translations. Rickett understands this is a science book. Rickett takes on the difficult sentences and patiently with great insight into the meaning finds a way to translate them in a new clear way. Fantastic translation. He also has a grasp of subtle distinctions that are brought to light with the selection of the right word. Though sometimes his translation of many of the easier parts are not as readable.
Rickett has been involved in Rudolf Steiner's work for a long time. He was one of the 11 students in the first class that began Emerson College in 1962.
Note: Gennady Bondarev's 'Organon' is an introduction to Anthroposophical Methodology and a complete analysis of Rudolf Steiner's 'Philosophy of Freedom (Spiritual Activity)'. The 3 volumes, taken together, contain a completely new translation of 'Die Philosophie der Freiheit' by Graham B. Rickett.
"Bondarev demonstrates that the methodology intrinsic to Anthroposophy is fundamental and capable of unifying all modern sciences as it describes the monistic sensible-supersensible reality. Through its anthropocentric and ontological character, the methodology's actualization implies an evolutionary change of both the human subject and the process of cognition itself. Rudolf Steiner's fundamental epistemological work is thereby shown to be the foundation for the development of a new kind of 'beholding' thinking - what Goethe began to experience and called 'anschauende Urteilskraft'. "