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4301Re: Questions concerning feminism and freedom

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  • Robert Mason
    Apr 18, 2007
      To Jenny, who wrote:

      >>I hope I am understanding you correctly when
      I interpret you as saying that each of the
      sexes is a complement to the other (Like a yin-
      yang?)and that the distinctions in the sexes
      should be honored and not disregarded? Or am I
      reading into what you've written?<<

      Robert writes:

      I wasn't really *saying* anything about the
      sexes so much as I was trying to refer you to
      the relevant, deep wisdom that has been given
      by spiritual science. And I wasn't trying to
      tell you, or anyone, what you "should" do or
      how you "should" live your life. I do think
      that if someone does not act in accordance with
      Reality, he is likely to get some hard knocks
      in life, and will likely cause some pain to
      others. And if one does not think in
      accordance with Reality, he is hardly likely to
      act habitually in accordance with Reality.

      And for thinking in accordance with Reality,
      the first rule is (as was emphasized by Steiner
      for the esoteric student in *KoHW*) to be free
      of prejudice. Relevant to "gender issues",
      there do exist in the ambient culture
      prejudices both about the supposed differences
      and supposed sameness, about the supposed
      equality and supposed inequality, of the sexes.
      Anyone who hopes to think and act in accordance
      with Reality in this area needs to pull free of
      all these prejudices, to acquire as much
      information as possible, and to think and
      perceive with living, flexible intercourse with
      the facts that he encounters in life. In other
      words, one must "work on oneself", best if
      according to such principles as are given in
      *KoHW*.

      Jenny wrote:

      >>Steiner mentions that we often alternate
      sexes from one incarnation to the next. I would
      imagine then that there is something unique and
      special to male and female aside from the
      biology and these qualities are not random or
      arbitrarily assigned.<<

      Robert writes:

      In *Occult Science*, in the appendix "The Life
      of Man after Death", Steiner says that *as a
      rule* one has a male and a female incarnation
      in each cultural epoch (of about 2100 years).
      But he also says that in individual cases there
      can be many variations on this rule. I seem to
      recall that elsewhere (don't have the citation)
      that he says that there can be a maximum of
      seven consecutive incarnations in the same sex.

      Jenny wrote:

      >>I guess that in this modern age we have lost
      touch with what is essentially feminine and
      what is essentially masculine. And the
      spiritual goal of "getting in touch with your
      feminine side" and "getting in touch with your
      masculine side" has somehow (how?) led to a
      real disintegration of gender roles.<<

      Robert writes:

      I don't know that *disintegration* in any
      negative sense is altogether the right word,
      though some trends do seem to be downward. But
      in the modern age it is right that human
      "roles", including "gender roles", should
      change: the Consciousness Soul is emerging,
      and people are rightfully seeking the "freedom
      of the individual". As I see it, this increase
      in the individual's freedom must entail the
      overcoming of the traditional subordination of
      women. This necessary and rightful cultural
      ferment has led to some confusion about "gender
      roles"; freedom in general can be confusing.
      (Also, some powerful occult forces have tried
      and are trying to take advantage of this
      cultural ferment, with the aim of leading
      Mankind downward; this is the case especially
      in relation to sexuality, "gender roles", the
      family, etc.) But change in itself isn't bad;
      evolution must go forward. The "trick" is, for
      us, to have the wisdom to make these changes in
      a healthy way.

      Jenny wrote:

      >>So...how does one properly pursue the eternal
      feminine and the eternal masculine (in which we
      are inherently "whole") while still honoring
      the differences between the sexes?<<

      Robert writes:

      I don't think that there can be one answer that
      could be right for everyone. People are unique
      individuals, in unique circumstances. As
      general rules of conduct in general are
      becoming outmoded in our age of the emerging
      Consciousness Soul. As Steiner taught in *PoF*
      . . . .

      Jenny wrote:

      >>I appreciate your bringing me back to The
      Philosophy of Freedom. You are right...the
      freedom Steiner speaks about is inner. I am a
      product of my culture, it would seem, in
      thinking of freedom as "the freedom to live the
      life you choose". <sigh>

      Robert writes:

      When I said that this freedom is *primarily*
      inner, perhaps I should have added that this
      inner freedom is a necessary precondition for
      truly free (outer) actions. One might be
      acting "freely" in the "outer" sense (socially,
      politically, etc.), but if he is not acting
      from conscious, inner freedom (such as is
      taught in *PoF*) his actions are still not
      truly free; he is still a slave to his inner
      impulses, usually subconscious or semi-
      conscious. (And of course, without the social
      conditions that permit individual freedom, even
      one who is inwardly free will have a hard time
      accomplishing very many free deeds outwardly.)
      If one is not inwardly, consciously free, it is
      not really *you* who are choosing the "life you
      choose".

      In *PoF*, chapter 9, Steiner says:

      "Those who defend general moral standards might reply to these
      arguments that if everyone strives to live his own life and do
      what he pleases, there can be no distinction between a good deed
      and a crime; every corrupt impulse that lies within me has as
      good a claim to express itself as has the intention of serving
      the general good. What determines me as a moral being cannot be
      the mere fact of my having conceived the idea of an action, but
      whether I judge it to be good or evil. Only in the former case
      should I carry it out.
      "My reply to this very obvious objection, which is nevertheless
      based on a misapprehension of my argument, is this: If we want
      to understand the nature of the human will, we must distinguish
      between the path which leads this will to a certain degree of
      development and the unique character which the will assumes as
      it approaches this goal. On the path towards this goal the
      standards play their rightful part. The goal consists of the
      realization of moral aims grasped by pure intuition. Man attains
      such aims to the extent that he is able to raise himself at all
      to the intuitive world of ideas. In any particular act of will
      such moral aims will generally have other elements mixed in with
      them, either as driving force or as motive. Nevertheless
      intuition may still be wholly or partly the determining factor
      in the human will. What one should do, that one does; one
      provides the stage upon which obligation becomes deed; one's own
      action is what one brings forth from oneself. Here the impulse
      can only be wholly individual. And, in truth, only an act of
      will that springs from intuition can be an individual one. To
      regard evil, the deed of a criminal, as an expression of the
      human individuality in the same sense as one regards the
      embodiment of pure intuition is only possible if blind instincts
      are reckoned as part of the human individuality. But the blind
      instinct that drives a man to crime does not spring from
      intuition, and does not belong to what is individual in him, but
      rather to what is most general in him, to what is equally
      present in all individuals and out of which a man works his way
      by means of what is individual in him. What is individual in me
      is not my organism with its instincts and its feelings but
      rather the unified world of ideas which lights up within this
      organism. My instincts, urges and passions establish no more
      than that I belong to the general species man; it is the fact
      that something of the idea world comes to expression in a
      particular way within these urges, passions and feelings that
      establishes my individuality. Through my instincts and cravings,
      I am the sort of man of whom there are twelve to the dozen;
      through the particular form of the idea by means of which I
      designate myself within the dozen as “I”, I am an individual.
      Only a being other than myself could distinguish me from others
      by the difference in my animal nature; through my thinking, that
      is, by actively grasping what expresses itself in my organism as
      idea, I distinguish myself from others. Therefore one cannot say
      of the action of a criminal that it proceeds from the idea
      within him. Indeed, the characteristic feature of criminal
      actions is precisely that they spring from the non-ideal
      elements in man.
      "An action is felt to be free in so far as the reasons for it
      spring from the ideal part of my individual being; every other
      part of an action, irrespective of whether it is carried out
      under the compulsion of nature or under the obligation of a
      moral standard, is felt to be unfree.
      "Man is free in so far as he is able to obey himself in every
      moment of his life. A moral deed is my deed only if it can be
      called a free one in this sense."

      Jenny wrote:

      >>. . . . "Follow your bliss" is sold as a
      spiritual roadmap.<<

      Robert writes:

      If one takes this saying in more than a
      superficial sense, then maybe it can be seen as
      essentially the same message as that of *PoF*.
      If one achieves the status of a conscious, free
      human spirit, then it is "blissful" to follow
      one's own "moral intuitions"; it is felt as a
      self-denial to follow the desires that one just
      "has".

      Jenny wrote:

      >>. . . . Is it more spiritual to become the
      most self-actualized person with the most
      experiences for the growth of soul(let's just
      say that these experiences are all healthy) or
      is it more spiritual to deny yourself --in
      other words, sacrafice -- your own ambitions
      for something higher such as family or
      community?<<

      Robert writes:

      It seems to me that you are posing a dilemma
      that is not necessarily a true one. In some
      cases one's "self-actualization" might well
      entail the choosing of "family" over "career";
      the following of "ambition" might be a real
      "self-denial". Again, the choice can be a
      free, conscious one only when one come to know
      (in the sense of *PoF*) which impulses really
      come from one's *self* and which don't.

      Jenny wrote:

      >>Just trying to dig myself out of a quagmire
      of conditining....<<

      Robert writes:

      Well, aren't we all? (Some of us, anyway.) At
      least you have likely come to the right "place"
      to work this out; the place is Anthroposophy.

      BTW, I did find that Steiner-said about "wages"
      in the 3fold commonweath. Actually, *wages*
      may not have been quite the right word, at
      least not in the sense that it has in our
      society-economy in most of the world today:

      Robert M
      (from: *Basic Issues of the Social Question*;
      Chapter Three: "Capitalism and Social Ideas")

      "The legal relationship between management and
      labour will not express itself in monetary
      values which, after the abolition of wages
      (representing the exchange relation between
      commodities and labour-power), will only
      measure commodity (and service) values. From a
      consideration of the social triformation's
      effect on the social organism, one must
      conclude that it will lead to arrangements
      which are not present in the political forms
      which have hitherto existed.

      "Through these arrangements, what is currently
      referred to as class struggle can be
      eliminated. This struggle results from wages
      being an integral part of the economic process.
      This book presents a social form in which the
      concept of wages undergoes a transformation, as
      does the old concept of property. Through this
      transformation a more viable social cooperation
      is made possible. It would be superficial to
      think that the realization of the ideas
      presented here would result in time-wages being
      converted into piece-wages. A one-sided view
      could lead to this opinion. However, what is
      advocated here is not piece-wages, but the
      abolishment of the wage system in favour of a
      contractual sharing system in respect of the
      common achievements of management and labour --
      in conjunction, of course, with the overall
      structure of the social organism."

      And apparently, Steiner wasn't speaking of the
      "wages" of only "men" in the male sense (if the
      translation is correct):

      "Each working person must receive for a product
      an amount sufficient to completely satisfy his
      and his dependents' needs until he has again
      produced an object requiring the same amount of
      labour. Such a price relation cannot be
      officially established, but must result from
      cooperation between the associations active in
      the social organism. And it will come if the
      cooperation rests on a healthy relationship
      between the three members of the social
      organization . . . ."


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