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Spiritual Activity (Acting Freely)

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  • DRStarman2001@aol.com
    Dr. Steiner in Ch. 8 writes:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2002
      Dr. Steiner in Ch. 8 writes: << The deeds of a person who acts
      solely because he acknowledges a definite moral standard, come about as a
      result of a principle which is part of his moral code. He is merely the
      agent. He is a higher kind of automaton. If some impulse to action enters his
      consciousness, then at once the clockwork of his moral principle will be set
      in motion and run to rule, in order to bring about a deed which is Christian,
      or humane, or is deemed unselfish, or to further the progress of culture.
      Only when I follow my love for the object is it I myself who acts. At this
      level of morality I do not act because I acknowledge a ruler over me, an
      external authority, or a so-called inner voice. I do not acknowledge any
      external principle for my conduct, because I have found the source of my
      conduct within myself, namely, my love for the deed. I do not prove
      intellectually whether my deed is good or bad; I do it out of my love for it.
      My action will be "good" if my intuition, immersed in love, exists in the
      right way within the relationship between things; this can be experienced
      intuitively; the action will be "bad" if this is not the case. Nor do I ask
      myself: How would another person act in my place? -rather I act, as I, as
      this particular individuality, find my will motivated to act. I am not guided
      directly by what happens to be the usual thing, the general habit, some
      general human code or moral standard, but solely by my love for this deed. I
      feel no compulsion-neither the compulsion of nature which rules me through my
      instincts, nor the compulsion of moral commands. Rather, I simply carry out
      what lies within me.
      Those who defend general moral standards will perhaps object: If each person
      strives to express and do only what he pleases, then there is no difference
      between a good deed and a crime; every depraved impulse in me has the same
      right to express itself as has the intention to do my best. The fact that I
      have a deed in mind, according to an idea, cannot set my standard as a moral
      human being, but only the test as to whether it is a good or evil deed. Only
      if it is good should I carry it out.
      My reply to this obvious objection, which nonetheless is based on a
      misunderstanding of what is meant here, is this: One who wants to understand
      the nature of human will must differentiate between the path which brings
      this will to a certain degree of development, and the unique character which
      the will assumes as it approaches its goal. On the way toward this goal
      standards do play their justified part. The goal consists in the realization
      of aims of morality, grasped purely intuitively. Man attains such aims to the
      degree that he is at all able to raise himself to the intuitive idea-content
      of the world. In particular instances such aims are usually mixed with other
      elements, either as driving force or as motive. Nevertheless, in the human
      will intuition can be the determining factor, wholly or in part. A person
      does what he ought to do, he provides the stage upon which "ought" becomes
      deed; it is absolutely his own deed which he brings to expression. The
      impulse here can only be completely individual. And, in fact, only an act of
      will which springs from intuition can be individual. To call the acts of
      criminals and what is evil an expression of the individuality, in the same
      sense as the embodiment of pure intuition, is only possible if blind urges
      are reckoned as part of the human individuality. But the blind urge which
      drives a person to crime does not spring from intuition and does not belong
      to what is individual in man, but rather to what is most general in him, to
      what is equally valid in all men, and out of which man works his way by means
      of what is individual in him. What is individual in me is not my organism
      with its urges and feelings, but rather the universal world of ideas which
      lights up within this organism. My urges, instincts, passions confirm nothing
      more than that I belong to the general species, man; the fact that something
      ideal comes to expression in a particular way within these urges, passions
      and feelings, confirms my individuality. Through my instincts and urges I am
      a person of whom there are twelve to the dozen; through the particular form
      of the idea, by means of which I name myself "I" within the dozen, 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, through
      the active grasp of what expresses itself as an ideal within my organism, do
      I distinguish myself from others. Therefore one definitely cannot say that
      the action of a criminal springs from the idea in him. Indeed, this is just
      what is characteristic of a criminal deed: it stems from elements in man
      which are external to the ideal-element in him.
      An action is felt to be free insofar as the reason for it springs from the
      ideal part of my individual being; any other part of an action, irrespective
      of whether it is carried out under the compulsion of nature or under the
      obligation of a moral code, is felt to be unfree.
      Man is free insofar as he is able, in every moment of his life, to follow
      himself. A moral deed is my deed only if it can be called free in this sense.
      What here have to be considered are the presuppositions necessary for a
      willed action to be felt as free; how this purely ethically grasped idea of
      freedom realizes itself in human nature, will be seen in what follows.
      A deed done out of freedom does not at all exclude, but includes moral laws,
      but it will be a deed done from a higher sphere compared with those dictated
      solely by such laws. Why should my deed serve the general welfare any less
      when it is done out of love, than when I do it solely for the reason that I
      feel that to serve the general welfare is a duty? The concept of mere duty
      excludes freedom because it does not include what is individual, but demands
      subjection of the individual to a general standard. Freedom of action is
      thinkable only from the standpoint of ethical individualism.
      But how is it possible for people to live in a community if each person
      strives to assert only his own individuality? This objection is
      characteristic of misunderstood moralism. A person holding this viewpoint
      believes that a community of people is possible only if all men are united by
      general fixed moral rules. He simply does not understand the oneness and
      harmony of the idea-world. He does not realize that the idea-world which is
      active in me is none other than the one active in my fellow-man. This unity
      of ideas is indeed nothing but a result of men's experience of life. Only
      this can it be. For if the unity of the idea-world could be recognized by any
      means other than by individual observation, then general rules and not
      personal experience would be valid in its sphere. Individuality is possible
      only when each individual is acquainted with others through individual
      observation alone. The difference between me and my fellow men is not at all
      because we live in two quite different spiritual worlds, but because from the
      world of ideas which we share, he receives different intuitions from mine. He
      wants to live out his intuitions, I mine. If we both really draw from the
      idea, and are not obeying any external impulses (physical or spiritual), then
      we cannot but meet in the same striving, in having the same intentions. A
      moral misunderstanding, a clash between men who are morally free, is out of
      the question. Only the morally unfree who follow natural instincts or some
      accepted command of duty, turn away from a fellow-man if he does not follow
      the same instinct and the same command as themselves. To live in love of the
      action and to let live, having understanding for the other person's will, is
      the fundamental principle of free human beings. They know no other "ought"
      than that with which their will is intuitively in accord; how they shall will
      in a particular instance, their power of ideation will tell them.
      If human nature were not fundamentally social, no external laws could make it
      so! Only because individual human beings are one in the spiritual part of
      their being, can they live out their lives side by side. The free man is
      confident that others who are free belong to the same spiritual world as he
      does, and that they will meet him in their intentions. The free man does not
      demand agreement from his fellow men, but he expects it, because it lies in
      human nature. This does not refer to the existing necessity for this or that
      external arrangement, but rather to the disposition, the attitude of soul
      through which man, in his experience of himself among fellow men for whom he
      cares, comes nearest to doing justice to human dignity.
      There are many who will say that the concept of a free human being outlined
      here is a chimera, is nowhere to be found as a reality, and that we have to
      deal with real people from whom one can hope for morality only when they obey
      some moral law, when they regard their moral mission as a duty. and do not
      freely follow their inclinations and preferences. -I certainly do not doubt
      this. Only a blind man could do so. But then, away with all hypocrisy of
      morality if this is to be the ultimate conclusion. Then simply say: Human
      nature must be compelled as long as it is not free. Whether the unfreedom is
      dealt with by physical means or through moral laws, whether man is unfree
      because he follows his immeasurable sexual instinct, or because he is hemmed
      in by the fetters of conventional morality, is quite immaterial from a
      certain point of view. But one should not maintain that such a man can
      rightly call his actions his own, for he is driven to them by external
      powers. But there are human beings who raise themselves above all these
      compelling rules, free spirits who find their own self in the jumble of
      habits, regulations, religious observance, etc. They are free insofar as they
      follow only themselves; unfree insofar as they submit themselves. Which of us
      can say that he is really free in all that he does? But in each of us exists
      a higher being in whom the free man comes to expression. >>

      *******To be free a man must act out of his own pure ideas, not a moral code
      or even an impelling voice of conscience. Free men will still act together
      because the world of ideas is a common unity. The criminal does not act out
      of an Idea. He is compelled by the body just as a conventional morality
      compels the spirit (like the Taliban).

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