Die Philosophy der Freiheit Pt. 1
- (*******I hesitated to post this but finally decided to. It's a summary I've
done of the "Philosophy of Freedom" over the past twenty years of working
with it. But reading a mere summary is not the same as reading the book! If
you'd prefer not to read this at all and instead wait to read the book
together, you won't be hurting my feelings by ignoring it! That might be the
better thing to do. Or, save it and read it afterwards. nything's better than
taking these as fixed ideas and approaching te book with them: you should
read the book with an open mind. But for those to whom it might be helpful,
here it is.)
B. The Philosophy of Rudolf Steiner: Die Philosophie der Freiheit.
The Philosophy of Freedom (or, as Steiner said it should be titled in
English, the Philosophy of Spiritual Activity) is divided into two parts: the
first part deals with questions of knowledge and the second with free will.
The first part could be said to embody, "Ye shall know the Truth..." and the
second part, "and the Truth shall make you free."
In the first part, Steiner explains that the attitude one takes towards
knowledge will determine the position one takes about free will: that we can
choose to do this or that does not mean we are free, because we may be pushed
to do something by unconscious motives. So, we can only say there is such a
thing as free will if we believe it's possible to know why we act. The
question of freedom is thus dependent on the question of knowledge: if we
believe our knowledge is severely limited, as most people do today, it's
impossible to think we truly know our inner selves and are conscious of our
motives for acting and therefore are truly acting freely.
Steiner then leads the reader through the process of knowing, step by
step. This is the whole first half of the book, and going through it has a
different effect than just reading a summary such as is given here. He
begins, not with perception (as so many do), but with our thinking, since we
know without doubt it exists, unlike perceived things, because we produce it.
One is led in the book to experience how thinking is not limited but
universal in nature, and that we actually draw pure Ideas from the ideal
(spiritual) world by Intuition. In Ch. 5: "Our thinking is not individual
like our sensing and feeling; it is universal. It receives an individual
stamp in each separate human being only because it comes to be related to his
individual feelings and sensations.... There is only one single concept of
'triangle'.... To match up, to unite the two elements, inner and outer, is
the task of knowledge... Intuition is for thinking what observation is for
the percept." (All quotes are from Michael Wilson's 1964 translation.). Ch.
9: "Intuition is the conscious experience ---in pure spirit---of a purely
This is only a restating of Steiner's ideal philosophy given voice in
every other work of his; for instance, from "Goethe the Scientist":
"Whoever recognizes as an attribute of thinking its capacity of perception
extending beyond apprehension through the senses must necessarily also
attribute to thinking objects existing beyond the limits of mere sense
perceptible reality. But the objects of thinking are Ideas. As thinking
takes possession of the Idea, it merges with the primordial foundation of the
world; that which works without enters into the spirit of man; he becomes one
with objective reality at its highest potency. Becoming aware of the Idea
within reality is the true communion of man. Thinking has the same
significance in relationship to Ideas as the eye has for light, the ear for
sound; it is the organ of perception." And again: "Thinking is the flashing
up in consciousness of that which objectively constitutes the world. What is
essential in the idea, therefore, is not what it is for us, for our
consciousness, but what it is in itself. For it is by reason of its own
essential nature that it underlies the world as Principle. Thinking,
therefore, is a perceiving of that which is, in and of itself. Although the
idea would not come to manifestation if there were no consciousness, yet it
must be so conceived that not its being conscious constitutes its character
but that which it is in itself, what lies in the idea itself, to which the
consciousness adds nothing."
The Ideas & concepts which pure thinking gains through intuition we then
matched to each perception of an object, gained by observation, and the
result of this is what he calls by the German "vorstellung", a representation
or mental picture, which is a concept related to specific perceptions. Ch.
6: "A mental picture is nothing but an intuition related to a particular
percept...the mental picture is an individualized concept."
IDEAS SPIRITUAL (IDEAL)
OR MENTAL PICTURES I
Observation with our senses gives us percepts; we draw concepts from the
spiritual world by intuition; and then we match each percept to our concepts.
A middle entity is created by this pairing, the vorstellungen, literally
"represention" or mental picture. The physical lion I see with my eyes, the
concept "lion" is the pure idea of one I draw by intuition from the ideal
world, my mental picture of "lion" is the middle ground. Lastly, our feeling
of ourselves makes the whole cognitive process an individual one. Ch. 6:
"Feeling is the means whereby, in the first instance, concepts gain concrete
life." Feeling is individual, not universal like thinking.
In Steiner's philosophy there are thus 4 Levels of consciousness:
1. Pure thinking in ideas & concepts---gained through intuition;
2. Mental pictures or individualized concepts---gained through imagination;
3. Perceptions----gained through observation;
4. Feeling of all this as personal---gained as a secondary result of
To Be Continued....