Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

5536Why Steiner recommended the title in English as "Philosophy of Spiritual Activity"

Expand Messages
  • Durward Starman
    Aug 28, 2012
      ****** I mentioned before in my summary of the PoF that since, in "ethical individualism", the only action that is truly free is when you make a pure idea drawn from the ideal, spiritual world into the motive for your deeds, the "freedom" in the title means acting out of the spirit, so "spiritual activity." Steiner knew quite a bit of English, and he said the "-dom" ending of the word freedom was the wrong translation since it means a state you're born into (kingdom, serfdom) where the "-heit" ending in German (-hood in English) means something you attain to (manhood, knighthood). So the "Philosophie der Freiheit" would be Philosophy of Freehood if there was such a word. And we're not born with free will(the child cannot know why it cries for milk) but can attain to it--- so freedom has the wrong connotation in English. * * * And another example of how Steiner's idealist philosophy is not only in that one book, is that this entire teaching was summed up by Emerson, if you think about it: "The reward of doing a good deed is to have done it." ;-). -starman. P.S. Goethe, Steiner and his teacher Schroer all lived in ancient Greece once.
      Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

      -----Original Message-----
      From: juancompostella <juancompostella@...>
      Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2012 19:58:34
      To: <steiner@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: [steiner] Re: Steiner's Philosophy and Goethe


      --- In steiner@yahoogroups.com <mailto:steiner%40yahoogroups.com> , Durward Starman <DrStarman@...> wrote:
      > *******I'd say a glossary of Steiner's terms for his philosophy of "ethical individualism" (a lot of which can be found in the introduction to Michael Wilson's 1964 translation of the Philosophy of Freedom) would have: intuition as the faculty of acquiring pure concepts & ideas from the ideal, spiritual world; then, perception through the senses giving us a "percept" as its content, as intuition gives us concepts; then the forming of vorstellung, representations or mental pictures, in each act of cognition connecting a concept to a percept or group of percepts.
      > But in turning Steiner's philosophy into a system we can compare to other systems, we want to make sure we don't lose its essence. He started out the book by saying he was avoiding the usual strict definitions which were customary in philosophical treatises of his time, because what he wanted to do (and wanted anyone reading the book to do), was simply look at the facts of everyday life in a new way. In the first three chapters, he tries to turn the reader's attention away from the usual 'subjectivist' philosophy ("what the senses give us is imperfect, so we can't really know anything objectively") to what has sometimes been called the Perennial Philosophy, where our thinking is experienced as more real than what we observe with the senses. Then, in chapter 5, he brings this to the point where he demolishes all the objections of subjectivist philosophy by pointing out that, regardless of the appearance of a thing to the senses, our pure ideas which we have to match to all perceptions remain the same and trustworthy guides to truth.
      > Today we celebrate the birthday of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who also never propounded a philosophy with a glossary of terms and such as is demanded in academia; rather, he demonstrated and lived his philosophy of life, and never let himself get dragged down by the demands of the mediocre minds that ruled academia in his time as they still rule it in ours. (There's an old Chinese saying, that "The one who thinks doing something is impossible should not bother the man who is doing it.") Steiner spent the first 20 years of his adult life writing philosophy, not only the one book we're discussing; as he wrote in his autobiography, he was born with the ability to see into the spiritual world and knew it existed, but was insistent on developing this psychic ability with scientific control, which required him to build a bridge between ordinary, everyday consciousness and the higher levels. He found a lot in some of the philosophers of his day that was positive--- but only the spirit of Goethe truly answered his needs.
      > His first written works were his commentaries on Goethe's scientific writings (gathered together into one volume under the title "Goethe the Scientist") and then a brief work derived from that study in which he argued that Goethe's life and work demonstrated a conception of the world that he never put into a theoretical form ("The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's Conception of the World"). Out of this he began working out what we've been discussing, his Philosophie der Freiheit, publishing first his expanded PhD thesis, "Truth and Knowledge" (the title a play on Goethe's biography's title, Poetry and Truth) which he subtitled "A Prelude to a Philosophy of Freedom". In 1897 he published a fuller version of his explanation of Goethe's philosophy, "Goethe's Conception of the World", and in addition he published a number of smaller articles such as "Egoism in Philosophy" in 1899 and the article about the Rosicrucian symbolism hidden in Goethe's "Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily" ("Goethe's Secret Revelation") which led to Steiner's being invited to lecture on Theosophy (and he based his Mystery Play on it in 1910). So, for almost 20 years Steiner wrote a series of books and articles all advancing his philosophical view that we are experiencing the spirit all the time without knowing it, because it is what we think with, which is just what Goethe believed and demonstrated. His Philosophy of Freedom is just the main work advancing his philosophy, but it can be found all throughout his works. And a large part of it can be found in other German idealist philosophers such as Hegel, although Steiner felt they left out some things which were essential and were where he differed from them.
      > All hail the spirit of Goethe and Schiller, the German idealist philosophy shared by Emerson and so many other shining spirits of the past two centuries, that seeks to wake up the human being to his spiritual nature!
      > Starman
      > www.DrStarman.com

      Great comments! I appreciate having this discussion very much. As I may have mentioned, I was studying Steiner's autobiography when this topic began, and so I have been able to focus even more intently on the developments toward the writing of "The Philosophy of Freedom". Now, the book I was lent (ILL) is the 1928 Olin Wanamaker first English edition, "The Story of My Life", which is the same as on the RS-Archive. And whenever the book's title is given, as in Chapter X, it is given as, "The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity", which I believe Steiner recommended as the title for the English-speaking world, true? But why would that be, Starman and/or Tom. I like both titles pretty equally.

      Today is Goethe's birthday, yes, and yesterday was Hegel's. Steiner gave a great lecture on the 150th anniversary of Hegel's birth (1770) on August 27, 1920, contained in the volume entitled: Spiritual Science as a Foundation for Social Forms, lecture IX, GA 199, which gives great weight to Hegel's two main works, "The Phenomenology of Spirit", and "The Science of Logic." In these works, Steiner says that Hegel comprehended the spiritual very extensively, but only in an abstract way; his knowledge did not penetrate into actual perception. I find that very interesting.

      An excellent lecture concerning Goethe, with special reference to his cherished trip to Italy around the age of forty, is this one: "Goethe and the Evolution of Consciousness",


      It was in Italy that Goethe seems to engage in some form of spirit recollection, because two significant things occur out of this trip. He begins his natural-scientific investigations with, "The Metamorphosis of Plants", c. 1790, and his most renowned literary work, Faust, which had laid dormant for years, was renewed with Part II. Steiner indicates clearly that the reason for these events involves the renewal of a Greek influence upon Goethe.

    • Show all 2 messages in this topic