Ethical individualism is Intuitively Determined "Action"
POF 9-7 The conduct of a human being will therefore depend on the manner in which his faculty of intuition works in a given situation. The sum of ideas which are effective in us, the concrete content of our intuitions, constitutes what is individual in each of us, notwithstanding the universality of the world of ideas.
In so far as this intuitive content applies to action, it constitutes the moral content of the individual. To let this content express itself in life is both the highest moral driving force and the highest motive a man can have, who sees that in this content all other moral principles are in the end united. We may call this point of view ethical individualism.
The decisive factor of an intuitively determined action in any concrete instance is the discovery of the corresponding purely individual intuition.
In this small volume Rudolf Steiner lays the epistemological basis for Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on Self-Reliance that had been written some forty years earlier. This book, rightly known, provides a sound philosophical basis for the writings of Ayn Rand on capitalism and the teachings of Dr. Andrew Joseph Galambos on volitional science, and many other writings and teachings of our time.
Alex Keller, my first metaphysical teacher, liked to start off his basic course with the question, "Why did you come here?" No matter what your initial answers, he soon led you to know that you had come there "because you love yourself". What Steiner does is to provide the philosophical underpinnings to justify my teacher's line of questioning. Rightly understood, the reasons we do things come from deep within us, from an ever-flowing spring we call intuition, when we dip into it.
What I mean above by "rightly known" and "rightly understood" is carefully explained by Steiner in the first half of this book. So carefully explained that the going is imponderably slow at times, like a trek through a swamp. When we finally reach high ground in Chapter Nine, The Idea of Freedom, he begins by using Kant's categorical imperative to destroy itself (p. 104):
Kant's moral maxim says: Act so that the principle on which you base your action may be valid for all. This maxim spells death to all individual impulses to act.
Steiner's point is that the use of such a maxim, by destroying the individual impulse to act, cannot be valid for all, and thus Kant's maxim must be invalid. If one restates Kant's maxim as follows, a more salubrious result ensues: "Act using a process such that all would be better off if all used the process." Stated thus, one can see that, rightly understood, the world would be enormously better off if everyone used Steiner's process of freedom.
The process referred to above, Steiner's process of freedom, is the process he calls intuition, and it will require a lot of intuition for you, dear Reader, to rightly understand from my paltry words what Steiner uses an entire book to explain. Here are some selected quotes, a mere glimmer of what awaits in the treasure trove of the book:
p. 100: The highest level of individual life is conceptual thinking without reference to any definite perceptual content. Here the content of the concept is derived, through pure intuition, from the conceptual sphere itself.
p. 101: When we act under the influence of intuition, then the driving force of our will is . . . practical reason . . . that is, an impulse to action springing directly from intuition.
p. 102: It signifies moral progress when a person does not simply accept the commands of an outer or an inner authority as motives for his actions, but strives to understand why a particular principle of conduct should motivate him. This is to progress from morality based on authority to conduct based on moral insight.
p 105: General standards always presuppose concrete facts from which they can be derived. But facts are first produced by human action.
And what if criminals acted this way, justifying their vile acts as intuition? By asking that question you have betrayed a lack of understanding of intuition which may require a complete reading of his book to set right. Here's a bit of what Steiner says on the question:
p. 107: But the blind urge that leads to crime does not originate in intuition and does not belong to what is individual in the human being but to what is most common in him, to what is the same in all.
In so far as the reason for an action springs from the spiritual aspect of my individual nature it is felt to be free; in so far as it is carried out under the compulsion of natural instincts or because of an obligation to moral standards it is felt to be unfree.
p. 108: A moral misunderstanding, a clash, is out of the question between people who are morally free. Only one who is morally unfree, who obeys bodily instincts or conventional demands of duty, turns away from a fellow human being if the latter does not obey the same instincts and demands as himself.
To live in love of action, and to let live in understanding of the other person's volition, is the fundamental maxim of free human beings. They know no other 'ought' than one with which their volition is in intuitive agreement . . .
p. 109: A free individual does not demand agreement from his fellow human beings, but he expects it because that is inherent in human nature. This does not point to a necessity for this or that external arrangement, but to the disposition, the inner attitude, through which a person, experiencing himself among fellow human beings whom he values, does most justice to human dignity.
p. 112: A free person acts morally because he has a moral idea; he does not act morally for the sake of morality. Human individuals, with the moral ideas belonging to their nature, are the prerequisites of a moral world order.
p. 116: Indeed each individual pursues his own particular aims, for the world of ideas does not come to life in a group, only in individual human beings. What appears as a common goal is in reality the result of the will impulses of the individuals, usually of a few who are outstanding and whose authority the rest follow.
Each of us is called upon to become a free spirit, just as every rose seed is called upon to become a rose.
Rose seeds cannot become a rose by stealing genetic material from its surrounding wheat kernels or acorns. And yet that is the essence of theft: to take from someone else what, rightly understood, can only come from your inner self, your intuition. A rose seed who steals will only delay its blooming into a rose. A rose can only bloom in freedom, in a land of the free, by the free, and for the free.
BLOG: Ianthe Sarah Benson
Gnosticism and contemporary spirituality by Sarah Benson
The development of thought in the right way was of particular importance to Rudolf Steiner. In 'Philosophy of Freedom', he further seeks to show that the function of thinking is not to be separated from the spiritual path. He sets out in a logical and clear way how thinking as a spiritual activity can be a gateway to human freedom and perception and consequently a bridge between spirit and matter via its own activity. In this way he was able to bring spirituality into harmony with western intellectuality - seeing this as the essential step in healing the division that had developed in the west between the human and the divine.
The activity of thinking is inextricably linked with the 'I'. Thinking does not occur of its own accord, only with conscious effort. French philosopher Descartes knew this: 'Cogito ergo sum', he concluded: 'I think, therefore I am.'
It is in this activity that I believe we bring the light and being of Christ into our thinking something that will help us to deal with the extraordinary challenges that are being presented to us today.
When Christ spoke to his disciples he spoke directly to their hearts via the parables. This was appropriate then, as the intellect was not as developed as it is now. However we have evolved highly sophisticated left-brain thinking, and this type of thought is increasingly dominating civilization. For this reason it seems appropriate that a spiritual path should include the training of thinking to become more attuned to spiritual realities.
Evidence of Conscious Shifts throughout History
From the dawn of civilisation man has experienced huge changes in conscious perspective; from hunter gatherers to the early civilisations of Mesopotamia, through the great cultural and spiritual shifts of the Egyptians and Greeks, to the artistic revelations of the Renaissance and man’s subsequent journey into the era of scientific exploration.
Each of these shifts appear as natural occurrences whereby the masses experience some kind of inner requirement for change; as Steiner points out in his book ‘Philosophy of Freedom’, the basis for all external social changes begins with the spiritual intuition of its individuals.
He also discusses the core, subconscious aspiration that is the primary cause for human activity as a whole; that of seeking to form a connection between themselves and the world. This is referred to as the ‘fundamental urge for knowledge’ and it is this connection that art, religion and science all strive to attain.
As hunter gatherers this search for connection was obsolete; the world was us and we were the world and as such the consciousness of these people could be associated with that of the growing child. There was no separation between us and nature and there was no concept of ‘I’, or ‘myself’.
From this stage, somewhere along the line the notion of ‘I’ came to fruition, and with it came the concept of ownership of resources. The agricultural revolution further separated us spiritually from the world and from each other; however this was the necessary basis for what was to become the first civilisation; Mesopotamia.
So where are we now? In first-world society it is apparent that the ideas of scientific exploration are the most prevalent and there still exists, in many places, established religion. However, within the past few decades a new perspective has been growing; the post modern era presents a combination of various new perspectives on things such as ecologism and spirituality. People are beginning to take a step back and look at the problems that our superficial lifestyles have caused for us, others and the Earth.
There are students in my class who believe Steiner’s ideas could lead the way, others are more inclined to discuss the ideas of other philosophers or argue ideas of their own creation.
The Philosophy of Freedom is filled with polarities such as thinking and observation, concept and perception, subject and object to name a few. Could this be one of the reasons it activates intuitive insight?
Janusian Thinking - A Creative Approach to Ideas by Chris King
Janusian Thinking is "bringing two opposites together in your mind, holding them there together at the same time, considering their relationships, similarities, pros and cons, and interplay, then creating something new and useful."
Background: Dr. Albert Rothenberg, a noted researcher on the creative process, identified the process in 1979 he terms, "Janusian Thinking", named for the Roman god Janus, who had two faces that looked in opposite directions. Dr. Rothenberg has identified traces of Janusian Thinking in the works of Einstein, Mozart, Picasso and Conrad. The way to use Janusian Thinking is to ask "What is the opposite of this?" and then try to imagine both opposites existing at the same time.
Rothenberg claimed, after studying 54 Nobel Prize winners, that most major scientific breakthroughs and artistic masterpieces are products of Janusian thinking. He concluded that creative people who actively formulate antithetical ideas and then resolve them, produce outstanding results.
He cites the example of Einstein's account of "the happiest thought of my life." Einstein recalled his first thinking of the concept that "for an observer in free fall from the roof of a house, there exists, during his fall, no gravitational field... in his immediate vicinity. If the observer releases any objects, they will remain, relative to him, in a state of rest." This antithetical idea led to his general theory of relativity. Rothenberg's point is to advocate reversing or contradicting currently accepted ideas to expand the range of perspectives considered.
Submitted by Tom Last on Fri, 05/07/2010 - 9:51pm.
The quote below seems to express something that if it was understood would make the Philosophy of Freedom very popular. This book is written in a special way so that the study of it is very effective in developing pure thinking (sense-free thinking). After time it "comes to pass" that your ability to intuitively perceive the truth in a daily life situation is greatly enhanced. You are able to act in the moment when needed or perhaps after some later short reflection.
I now saw that the finding of the spirit within the sense-world is not a question of logical inferences or of projection of sense perception, but something that comes to pass when man continues his evolution from perception to the experience of sense-free thinking. Story of My Life10. by Rudolf Steiner
Someone not usually conscious of subtle changes in intuitive depth may not be aware of improving capacities, so that new readers may not notice that this ability has improved and would likely not, at first, give credit to their book study.
One way to tell is if you are working hard with a difficult sentence in the book and you are able to achieve a deeper understanding, then it is very likely the results of your effort of deepening your intuitive abilities will also carry over into your normal everyday life.
I take my inspiration from many sources, both from a positive modeling perspective (i.e. “do what they did”) as well as from a negative modeling perspective (i.e. “don’t do what they did”).
When I participated in an “authentic thinking” course, the facilitator helped me become a sharper thinker, even though later on, I detached from his organization because I disagreed with how he handled intimate relationships in the group.
Herman Hesse inspired me solely through writing Siddhartha, even though he’s dead and Siddhartha is a fictional character based on Gautama Buddha. Rudolf Steiner inspired me to see thinking in a different way with Philosophy of Freedom – even as a spiritual activity – even though he’s as dead as Hesse and some have questioned the relevance of his later works relating to clairvoyance (those I’ve not read).
Often these examples inspire me to “BE” more without necessarily “doing” more. Competition motivates me to DO more.
Love (realizing an Ideal) inspires me to BE more.
In other words, motivation to do more is like filling up my vessel faster and higher. Inspiration to be more is like expanding the vessel itself. Both are necessary for me to create and live a full life.
The primary purpose of my book (Philosophy of Freedom) is to serve as thought training, training in the sense that the special way of both thinking and entertaining these thoughts is such as to bring the soul life of the reader into motion in somewhat the way that gymnastics exercise their limbs. --Rudolf Steiner
exercises for spiritual development (wiki) posted by marți
According to Steiner's view of history, in earlier periods people were capable of direct spiritual perceptions, or clairvoyance, but not yet of rational thought; more recently, rationality has been developed at the cost of spiritual perception, leading to the alienation characteristic of modernity.
Steiner proposed that humanity now has the task of synthesizing the rational and contemplative/spiritual components of cognition, whereby spiritual perception would be awakened through intensifying thinking.
A central principle of Steiner's proposed path to spiritual development is that self-development - inner transformation - is a necessary part of the spiritual path.
If man is to be free, he has to cooperate to create a motive of action. At first I supposed that free man has to be the only creator of his motives, but that is not true. Motives are concepts, concepts are created by thinking (not by man), and thinking is not individual but universal. Having just one source of inspiration it is easy to work in harmony, but individuality seems to be impossible.
Is there any chance for man to be creative when he can only accept or not accept concepts - gifts of thinking, thinking that appears more like beyond-human force?
If thinking is universal we should rather speak about one free spirit, not free spirits. Free spirit is under absolute control of thinking, and he is not the one who has his own ideas, it is just conversely.
I recently joined a study group. We are reading Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom. I have been wanting to read this for some time, but felt I could really benefit from the insights of others on this work. The primary method we are using in our study is that we read a number of paragraphs and try to summarize them in one or two sentences. I have found this approach to be extremely helpful because it helps me gain more clarity in my thinking when I prepare myself, and I get everyone else's input each week on all I have read.
REPLY from anthromama
That's a great way to approach Philosophy of Freedom. The teacher when I studied it called it "boiling it down". And I think having a study group is a huge help, too.
The seven-sentence rhythm of love in R. Steiner’s “The Philosophy of Freedom”. Actually, it is there in all his basic written work, and there are no doubt several other rhythms. These observations of the author’s exact artistic technique, to me suggest further research into evidence from other scientific and artistic disciplines.
Download or open PDF:The Philosophy of Freedom as a Musical Composition, The seven-sentence rhythm of love. Inside is an article by Alan Stott...
“Don’t explain, show me!” Paperwork and artists…
BLOG: Heidegger Philosophical Discussions
POST: A Note on Authenticity by Tudor
The expression “the they” is not “they” (pointing to a real human group), but it is an abstract phantom.
The "they" is a slavish addiction of the moral conscience to the verdicts and the ways of doing specific to the public opinion. Wherein “public opinion” means “all and nobody, at the same time”, i.e. all people in an abstract and impersonal way and no one in particular (as personal as care would require).
This could be hinted at that by a quote from Petre Tutea, saying that “It is easy to love the humanity (the human specie), but it is very difficult to love the human being.”
What Heidegger did is to liberate ethical theory from this collective phantasm, and curiously enough for people who think that Rudolf Steiner was a wacko guru, Heidegger’s existential view of ethics is quite similar to Rudolf Steiner’s ethical individualism from the Philosophy of Freedom. I.e. moral decisions are personal and one chooses for himself how to act, without paying lip service to that very collective phantasm, which got expressed so well in Kant’s ethical imperative.
This of course does not mean that one acts immorally. It means rather that true moral action can only arise from liberating moral conscience from the chains of that collective phantasm. And here liberty does not mean “a privilege to act ad libitum”, but precisely “the freedom to act morally” and the freedom to follow the insights of one’s moral conscience.
Submitted by Society Minder on Wed, 04/28/2010 - 3:08pm.
As a solution to the Goetheanum's financial woes due to a decline in Society membership plans are underway to turn the Goetheanum into a Living Museum to boost tourism.
Guided by the Anthroposophical Society Executive Council, who have courageous resisted change for almost a 100 years, it was determined that very little would need to be done to replicate the proper period (early 1920's). Insiders, excited about the old new initiative say they will begin world-wide promotion by declaring the 2011 theme of the year to be "WE WON"T CHANGE".
Many who has been to Dornach to tour the Goetheanum say it is like a walk backward in time, a long gone era of mystical seers and their awe-inspired followers.
Current lecturers at the Goetheanum have caught the spirit and have agreed to wear period costumes. In the photo popular stigmata exhibitionist Judith von Halle models black initiate attire made popular by Rudolf Steiner.
To add authenticity special parking places are being put in front of the Goetheanum where members who are still driving vintage period automobiles may park. Any members still driving German automobiles from the 1920's or before are welcome to park in the designated parking spaces.
Members pictured below arriving to a lecture, are also encouraged to speak the language of late 19th century theosophy when attending events.
BLOG: Evergreen Essays by Tusar N. Mohapatra Ghaziabad
TITLE: Inspiration, heightened sensitivity
Inspiration coincides with the proceeding of “the self-awareness of the idea in the very moment it is being born”, which is the core presumption for a “free subject”.
Because “the (postmodern) subject must simultaneously contrapose itself to the idea which is raising in its mind and thus observe it in the very moment it occurs; if not, the subject falls under the reign of the idea and becomes unfree” (cf. the “bible of postmodern anarchism”: Rudolf Steiner: The Philosophy Of Freedom.)
At this point you might be wondering what is the difference between spiritless people, and spirited ones who are spiritually asleep in life or simply immature. After all, both may be worldly in their goals and thoroughly caught up in the illusion of the “Matrix.”
The difference is that a spirited but infantile/asleep person still has latent spiritual potential. Spiritless people lack that potential completely. They cannot grow spiritually. This is not a theoretical declaration, but a painful lesson learned from having dealt with too many such persons who never showed any signs of growth or evolution no matter how much help and opportunity for improvement was given to them.
The incurable nature of psychopathy is an accepted fact in psychology. The cause is believed to be an abnormality in the pain and fear centers of the brain.
Rudolf Steiner, in his foundational work, The Philosophy of Freedom addressed this problem. Steiner said that as long as humans obey external authority, their own biological instincts, or the animalistic parts of themselves in common with the rest of humanity, they are not free beings. Freedom comes from choosing based on intuitive understanding of what each option entails and what it means. This act of freewill requires introspection and spiritual acumen to act from a place of true understanding. Steiner acknowledged that not everyone introspects to the degree necessary to make intelligent freewill choices.
Submitted by Tom Last on Sat, 04/24/2010 - 10:37pm.
POF 5-1 If the things of our experience were "mental pictures", then our everyday life would be like a dream. The discovery of the truth of the matter would be like waking.
Science of Knowing by Rudolf Steiner
5. An Indication as to the Content of Experience
What follows is a description by Johannes Volkelt of everyday life in which thinking plays no part. Pictures pass before our consciousness in a completely unconnected way. If thinking is activated it will establish connections, and begin putting things within the context of the whole and determining the significance of the various things in our life.
“Now, for example, my consciousness has as its content the mental picture of having worked hard today;
immediately joining itself to this is the content of a mental picture of being able, with good conscience, to take a walk;
but suddenly there appears the perceptual picture of the door opening and of the mailman entering; the mailman appears, now sticking out his hand, now opening his mouth, now doing the reverse; at the same time, there join in with this content of perception of the mouth opening, all kinds of auditory impressions, among which comes the impression that it is starting to rain outside.
The mailman disappears from my consciousness, and the mental pictures that now arise have as their content the sequence: picking up scissors, opening the letter, criticism of illegible writing, visible images of the most diverse written figures, diverse imaginings and thoughts connected with them;
scarcely is this sequence at an end than again there appears the mental picture of having worked hard and the perception, accompanied by ill humor, of the rain continuing; but both disappear from my consciousness,
and there arises a mental picture with the content that a difficulty believed to have been resolved in the course of today's work was not resolved;
entering at the same time are the mental pictures: freedom of will, empirical necessity, responsibility, value of virtue, absolute chance, incomprehensibility, etc.; these all join together with each other in the most varied and complicated way; and so it continues.”
POST: Why Anthroposophy is Not a Cult by henitsirk
I think some anthroposophical groups suffer from a lack of freedom of thinking, and an overly dogmatic view of Steiner. I have met many anthroposophists who love to quote Steiner directly and celebrate his birthday every year! And I will not deny that the anthroposophical world contains some odd behaviors and beliefs.
Some common behavior and structure of a cult include indoctrination and suppression of the individual’s critical thinking through manipulation or mind control.
Mind control and suppression of critical thinking are the exact opposite of what Steiner believed and promoted. At every juncture he took pains to exhort his students to think freely for themselves, to develop their powers of cognition. His seminal work is The Philosophy of Freedom after all! If anyone expects me to believe something because Steiner said so or because it’s an anthro. tradition, they’re not really getting anthroposophy, in my opinion. NOT A CULT.