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The Free Spirit

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  • DRStarman2001@aol.com
    DRSteiner in Ch. 8 writes:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2002
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      DRSteiner in Ch. 8 writes:

      << Our life is composed of free and unfree deeds. But we cannot complete the
      concept of man without including the free spirit as the purest characteristic
      of human nature. After all, we are truly human only insofar as we are free.
      That is an ideal, many will say. Without doubt -but it is an ideal which
      works itself to the surface from within our nature as a reality. It is no
      "thought out" or imagined ideal, but one in which there is life, one which
      clearly announces its presence even in its least perfect form of existence.
      If man were merely a product of nature, the search for ideals, that is, for
      ideas which for the moment are inactive but whose realization we demand,
      would not be possible. In the case of external objects the idea is determined
      by the perception. We have done our share when we have recognized the
      connection between idea and perception. But with man this is not so. His
      content is not determined without him; his true concept as a moral being
      (free spirit) is not objectively united with the perceptual picture "man"
      from the start merely in order to be confirmed by knowledge later. By his own
      activity man must unite his concept with the perception, man. Concept and
      perception only coincide here if man himself brings it about. But he cannot
      do this till he has found the concept of the free spirit, that is, his own
      concept. In the objective world a line of division is drawn by our
      organization between perception and concept; cognition overcomes this
      division. In our subjective nature this division is no less present; man
      overcomes it in the course of his development by bringing his concept to
      expression in his outward existence. Both man's intellectual as well as his
      moral life point to his twofold nature: perceiving (direct experience) and
      thinking. In the intellectual life the two-foldness is overcome through
      knowledge; in the moral life through actually bringing the free spirit to
      realization. Every being has its inborn concept (the law of its existence and
      activity), but in external objects the concept is indivisibly connected with
      the perception and separated from it only within our spiritual organism. In
      man concept and perception are to begin with, actually apart, to be united by
      him just as actually. One could object: To our perception of a man a definite
      concept corresponds at every moment of his life, just as is the case with
      everything else. I can form a concept of a typical man, and I may also find
      such a man given to me as a perception. If to this I also bring the concept
      of the free spirit, then I have two concepts for the same object.
      This line of thought is one-sided. As perceptual object I am subjected to
      perpetual change. As a child I was one thing, another as a youth, yet another
      as a man. In fact, at every moment the perceptual picture of myself is
      different from what it was a moment ago. These changes may take place in such
      a way that either it is always the same (the typical) man who expresses
      himself in them, or they become the expression of the free spirit. The
      perceptual object of my action is subjected to these changes.
      In the perceptual object "man" the possibility of transformation is given,
      just as in the plant-seed there lies the possibility of becoming a fully
      developed plant. The plant transforms itself because of the objective laws
      which are inherent in it; man remains in his imperfect state unless he takes
      hold of the substance to be transformed within him and transforms it through
      his own power. Nature makes man merely into a product of nature; society
      makes him into a being who acts rationally, but he alone can make himself
      into a free being. At a definite stage in his development nature releases man
      from its fetters; society carries his development a stage further; the final
      polish he can only apply himself.
      Therefore, from the standpoint of free morality it is not asserted that as
      free spirit is the only form in which a man can exist. Free spirituality is
      the ultimate stage of man's development. And it is not denied that conduct
      according to rules has its justification as a stage of development. However,
      this cannot be acknowledged as the highest level of morality. But the free
      spirit in man overcomes rules in the sense that he does not accept only
      commands as motives, but also regulates his conduct in accordance with his
      impulses (intuitions).
      When Kant says of duty: "Duty! You sublime, you great name, you encompass
      nothing beloved or endearing, but you demand submission," you "lay down a law
      . . . before which all inclinations become silent, even if in secret they
      also go against it," then man, conscious of the free spirit, answers:
      "Freedom! You friendly, humane name, you encompass all that is morally
      beloved, all that is most worthy of my humanity, you make me no one's
      servant, you do not merely lay down a law, but wait for what my moral love
      will of itself recognize as law, because it feels unfree when faced with any
      law simply forced upon it.
      This is the contrast between mere law-abiding morality and morality born of
      freedom. >>

      *******So Man is not either free or unfree; he is a being moving from unfree
      to free. Just as a child must obey its parents until maturity, so we live
      under moral codes up to a point; then we freely find out what is moral by
      moral intuition of the moral ideas which underlay the codes originally.

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