Thanks for your brief review of my book. My intention was to write a short sketch of the book for people who are unfamiliar with it, rather than for those who are already engaged in its study.
You are right in saying that Steiner was wanting readers to work strictly scientificly, through observation and thinking, but as I understand it, 'observation' is not limited to sense perceptions, but includes observation of one's own inner life, and in particular of one's own thinking. The observation of one's own thinking has nothing of a material quality, but is purely spiritual. But this cannot be shown, only experienced. Can you reach 'spirit' scientifically? Yes, if you accept that observations can be directed within. No, if you think that 'scientific' refers to observations with the senses, as contemporary science does.
The problem is that this 'science of the spirit' is very difficult for most of us. Nevertheless, one can sense, through the contemplation on the nature of one's own thinking, that such an experience indeed would lead into the spiritual world. This then makes it easier to accept Steiner's later work, to understand where it came from, even though this should never interfere with one's own struggle towards an authentic understanding. In other words, don't give up striving towards such an understanding, but be open minded about Steiner's later work.
Some philosophy books need a companion guide so that non-philosophy types can read, understand and enjoy the work as much as those who are scholars of the field. Author Iddo Oberski has done just that. In his new book, Key to Life, he provides a sketch of the important yet underrated work, The Philosophy of Freedom, by 19th-century Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. Key to Life will help new readers make sense of the essential ideas of Steiner’s book and prepare them for working through the detailed account itself. Authors website with purchase information.
The question of free will versus determination is huge, of course. In the one reality, every pair of opposites is ultimately an illusion. We’ve already blurred the division between good and evil and life and death. Is free will going to turn out to be the same as determinism? A lot seems to ride on the answer. Free will is: Independence, Self-determination, Choice, Control over events, Future is open. Determinism is: Dependence on an outside will, Self determined by fate, No control over events, Choices made for you, Future is closed.
These phrases sketch in the common understanding of what’s at stake. Everything in the free will list sounds attractive. We all want to be independent; we want to wake up with hope that the future is open and full of endless possibilities. On the other hand, nothing seems attractive in the determination list. Emotionally at least, the prospect of free will has already won the argument.
And at a certain level nobody has to delve any deeper. If you and I are marionettes operated by an invisible puppeteer–call him God, fate, or karma–then the strings he’s pulling are also invisible. We have little proof that we aren’t making free choices.
There is a reason to delve deeper, however, and it centers on the word Vasana. In Sanskrit, a Vasana is an unconscious cause. It’s the software of the psyche, the driving force that makes you do something when you think you’re doing it spontaneously.
Adapted from The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2004).
"At the heart of Rudolf Steiner's work is a book called The Philosophy Of Freedom (Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity) and in that book what he says in effect is that we have the capability, through our thinking, to free ourselves from all the things in our past, all the stuff in our biography's that holds us back."
Submitted by Tom Last on Sun, 01/23/2011 - 9:24am.
Introduction to re-publication of the Hoernle translation of the original Philosophy of Freedom. The purpose is to make a clear distinction between this edition and other POF editions. Please comment if you have any suggestions to improve it.
This first English translation of Rudolf Steiner's Die Philosophie der Freiheit has only been available if you were fortunate enough to locate one of the rare 1916 books. For this reason alone its seems appropriate to republish it now, yet this edition is distinct in other ways. It is the only translation sanctioned by Rudolf Steiner himself. The joint translators, Prof. and Mrs. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé, were selected for their outstanding qualifications.
“their thorough knowledge of philosophy and their complete command of the German and English languages enabling them to overcome the difficulty of finding adequate English equivalents for the terms of German Philosophy.” H. Collison, 1916 Editor’s Note, The Philosophy of Freedom
R. F. Alfred Hoernlé was trained in philosophy at Oxford and taught it at Harvard. He was familiar with the philosophical issues of Steiner's day. A review of Hoernlé's book Studies in Contemporary Metaphysics (1920) said he had a flexible and assimilative mind and:
“He has had quite exceptional opportunities for seeing contemporary philosophies in the making and for understanding, from personal experience, how far a set of philosophical opinions can bear transplanting from one country to another... a very staunch believer in the truth of the philosophical tradition.” 1921 Oxford University Press
This Hoernlé translation is based on the original, unrevised German Die Philosophie der Freiheit published in 1894. The other translations, available up to now, are not based on the original Die Philosophie der Freiheit, instead they are based on the 1918 revised edition.Rudolf Steiner revised the original German text twenty-five years after it was originally published. The Hoernlé translation is also unique to the extent that later translations have been influenced by the thought and terminology of theosophy and spiritual science.
To explain why The Philosophy of freedom was revised and came under the influence of theosophy it is necessary to understand the two different periods of Rudolf Steiner's life. The first is his ascent to freedom that began with training in mathematics, science, and philosophy culminating in his philosophy of life founded upon individualistic truth and ethical individualism. The Philosophy of Freedom describes his path to freedom and contains the ideas he formed in this first period. In the second period of his life Steiner converted to theosophy and began speaking of his clairvoyant research into spiritual realms.
Steiner intended that this first period, as it is expressed in ThePhilosophy of Freedom, stand independent of his later work in theosophy and spiritual science. In 1906 he says:
"You will find nothing at all in The Philosophy of Freedom that is derived from clairvoyant communications of spiritual science. It is written for the express purpose of disciplining thinking without any mention of theosophy." Rudolf Steiner, Berlin Oct. 20, 1906
Rudolf Steiner's original aim in The Philosophy of Freedom is to justify individualistic truth. This is presented in Chapter I, The Aim of Knowledge, that was part of the original 1894 edition:
“It is no longer enough merely to believe, we want to know. Belief demands the acceptance of truths that are not quite clear to us. But the individuality that seeks to experience everything in the depths of its own being, is repelled by what it cannot understand. The only knowing that satisfies us is one that does not submit to outer norms, but rather springs from the inner life of the personality.” Rudolf Steiner, in the original Philosophy of Freedom, Chapter I, The Aim of Knowledge.
In 1900 Steiner entered the second period of his life and his work took a new direction. He began lecturing on his clairvoyant research into spiritual realms to the Theosophical Society (later in the Anthroposophical Society that he started with a group of theosophists). Before this, Steiner seemed willing to speak to any group on a variety of topics, but now he gave lectures regularly on spiritual science to members of the Theosophical Society. This new direction likely led to his revising Die Philosophie der Freiheit in 1918 for the benefit of his theosophy followers who he regularly encouraged to read the book, but without much success as they were having great difficulty with it.
“Changes of text have been made only where it appeared to me that I had said clumsily what I meant to say a quarter of a century ago.”Rudolf Steiner, 1918 Preface to the Revised Edition
The principles of individualistic truth found in the first chapter of the original Die Philosophie der Freiheit were removed and replaced with a new preface giving the book a new aim, that of justifying his later research into the spiritual realm. Steiner explains in the new preface added in 1918:
“The aim of this book is to demonstrate, prior to our entry upon spiritual experience, that knowledge of the spiritual world is justified.” Rudolf Steiner, 1918 Preface to the Revised Edition
Other 1918 revisions included the books fundamental opening “question of freedom” which was revised to include a theosophy based preconception with the addition of “spiritual being”:
1894 original: Ist der Mensch in seinem Denken und Handeln frei,...
1918 revision: Ist der Mensch in seinem Denken und Handeln [ein geistig freies Wesen]...
1894 original: Is man, in his thinking and action free,...
1918 revision: Is man, in his thinking and action [a spiritually free being],...
The circle of the Anthroposophical Society became the authority to sanction and publish future translations after Steiner's death in 1925. The encroachment of theosophy continued in 1936 with revisions made to the Hoernlé translation by theosophist/ anthroposophist Hermann Poppelbaum, Director of the Anthroposophical Society, such as always translating “Geist” as “spirit” rather than “mind”. While recognizing the excellence of the Hoernlé translation, Poppelbaum's aim was to correct it according to the Society’s developing perspective on Steiner thought. Poppelbaum's objective was to,
“check certain words and phrases from the strictly Steiner point of view." 1939 The Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity, Editor's Preface to the Fourth Edition
Theosophy enters again in 1964 with the popular Michael Wilson translation:
“Any work describing Steiner's point of view in terms of English philosophy would have to deal with the mind as a central theme, but here our task is to introduce readers to Steiner's concepts of spirit and soul.” Michael Wilson, 1964 The Philosophy of Freedom, Introduction by translator Michael Wilson
In 1995 Zen Buddhist and Anthroposophist Michael Lipson brings a Zen philosophy to his translation by avoiding attachment to words. Lipson's flexibility with words permits him to re-title the book Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path:
“By approaching Steiner through inadequate and changing English terms, we are the more likely to face the inadequacy of all terms, and leap to his meaning.” Michael Lipson, 1995 Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path, Translator's Introduction
The unedited Die Philosophie der Freiheit and Hoernlé's first English translation remain true to the individualistic mood of thought out of which the book was originally written. This is what makes the first edition of The Philosophy of Freedom distinct from others. It was written for everybody who is striving to live and let live as free human beings, including those who may not have an interest in Steiner's later spiritualistic writings.
“this book occupies a position completely independent of my writings on actual spiritual scientific matters... What I have said in this book may be acceptable even to some who, for reasons of their own, refuse to have anything to do with the results of my researches into the spiritual realm.” Rudolf Steiner, The Philosophy of Freedom, 1918 Preface to the Revised Edition
Submitted by Tom Last on Sat, 01/22/2011 - 10:30am.
The Philosophy of Freedom describes Rudolf Steiner's path to freedom. It contains the nonconformist ideals of his youth that result from his study of mathematics, science, and philosophy culminating in a philosophy of life founded upon individualistic truth and ethical individualism. Its a book for the science-minded free thinker written before Steiner converted to theosophy and began speaking of his clairvoyant research into spiritual realms.
This is the first English translation and the only one sanctioned by Rudolf Steiner himself. Prof. and Mrs. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé were selected as joint translators for their outstanding qualifications. First published in 1916, it is based on the original 1894 German Die Philosophie der Freiheit. Other translations have been based on the 1918 revised German edition. It includes inspiring passages about individualism that were removed from the book in 1918 and are missing in later translations: “We no longer believe that there is a norm to which we must all strive to conform. Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality. The saying 'Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Olympus' no longer holds for us. If only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development.”
Submitted by John Ralph on Wed, 01/05/2011 - 9:41am.
This was sent to me as a New Year's gift. "A seed is a very small thing." I have no idea who wrote it but it rings true.
A seed is a very small thing.
You plant it, and in that secret place under the earth, if feeds from the soil, it breaks, and then a shoot comes up from the ground.
This small shoot seeks the light as it grows, and in time, it turns into a large tree. If you had not been told, you would not believe this tree came from such a small thing that once was hidden in the depths.
We cannot see what happens under the soil, because it is hidden from our eyes. Only the seed is present when the change happens. But eventually we see a tree, which cannot be ignored.
We do not consider the strength that resides within the seed because it is such a small thing. But we cannot ignore the tree.
This is an illustration of a certain belief that we fall into very easily, because it makes sense when we first think about it. It is the idea that our private lives should not matter to anyone but ourselves.
We look at our private lives as hidden from view, and we think they add no meaning whatsoever to the lives we live in public.
We say things like "whatever a man does in his private life is nobody's business."
Even more so, whatever a man thinks in his own head, in the deepest recesses of his mind, has little or no influence on the way that he behaves in public.
The truth is that those things which we do in private, even our thought life, matter more than anything else we do in life.
Because our private thoughts are like seeds.
They are planted in our heads. During that time, no one but we are able to
Submitted by Tom Last on Tue, 01/04/2011 - 5:10pm.
The original introduction or preface to The Philosophy Of Freedom mentions "science" 17 times. It mentions "spirit" and "soul" 0 times. This was replaced by a new preface as part of the 1918 Steiner revisions. The new preface doesn't concern itself with science unless in the context of spirit: "Spiritual-scientific mentioned 3 times, spirit total of 9 times, and soul 10 times. Further evidence that Steiner revised The Philosophy Of Freedom for the benefit of theosophists. The original POF needs to be restored for the scientifically minded people of today.
from the original:
We only believe what appears to each of us within as truth.
Only truth can give us certainty in developing our individual powers.
It is no longer enough merely to believe, we want to know.
As individuals, we claim the right to start from the facts that we know, from our closest experiences, and from there ascend to a knowledge of the whole universe.
Rather than being crammed with facts of knowledge, we seek to develop capacities so that one wants to understand.
While the tendency today is to be stereotypical, individuality is the path to truth.
It is thinking that lifts us into the realm of concepts if one is to experience existence in all directions.
Science no longer requires pious exercises, but it does require withdrawing oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life and entering the world of pure thought.
Life is a unity, the more the sciences specialize in single fields the more they distance themselves from a holistic view of the world.
A philosophy of the sciences is needed to integrate the principles discovered in the separate sciences into a single living whole.
For real philosophers ideas are their artistic materials and scientific method their artistic technique.
Science has true value only when the results have importance for humanity.
Knowledge has value when it it contributes to the all-around development of the whole person.
Rather than bowing down and serving the ideas of science, take possession of them and use them for human aims that transcend those of mere science.
If we do not confront ideas as master, we will become their slave.
Submitted by Tom Last on Mon, 12/13/2010 - 11:35am.
Chairman of the Executive Council of the Anthroposophical Society Titles: Numerous books on anthroposophy.
Book: Anthroposophy and the Philosophy of Freedom Book back cover: In considering its multi-faceted 'cosmic-human dimension', the author discusses The Philosophy Of Freedom in relation to the Mystery of the Resurrection, the Working of the Hierarchies, the Being Anthroposophia, the Fifth Gospel, Steiner’s Path of Initiation, the Rosicrucian and Michaelic Impulses, the Life Between Death and Rebirth, the Foundation Stone, the Christian Mysteries of Karma, and the Science of the Grail.
Prokofieff's book is an example of the desire of Anthroposophists to connect The Philosophy Of Freedom with Steiner's later writings on theosophy. The Philosophy of Freedom stands independent of theosophy or any other system because it is a product of independent thinking. The books comprehensiveness of all views makes it possible to find connections to any other system, but his attempt to derive theosophical themes directly from the book is contradicted by reading the book and this quote from Steiner:
"It is certainly not possible to deduce what is described in the author's later books by logical inference from the contents of this one." 1918 Rudolf Steiner, addition to Consequences of Monism.
Prokofieff is a great intellectual and seeks an intellectual connection between anthroposophy and The Philosophy Of Freedom. The actual connection is found in the development of intuitive thinking.
"a living comprehension of what is meant in this book (POF) by intuitive thinking will lead quite naturally to a living entry into the world of spiritual perception." 1918 Rudolf Steiner, addition to Consequences of Monism.
"Once experienced, the world of spiritual perception cannot appear to man as something foreign to him, because in his intuitive thinking he already has an experience which is purely spiritual in character. Such a world of spiritual perception is discussed in a number of writings which I have published since this book first appeared. The Philosophy of Freedom forms the philosophical foundation for these later writings. For it tries to show that the experience of thinking, when rightly understood, is in fact an experience of spirit. Therefore it appears to the author that no one who can in all seriousness adopt the point of view of The Philosophy of Freedom will stop short before entering the world of spiritual perception. It is certainly not possible to deduce what is described in the author's later books by logical inference from the contents of this one. But a living comprehension of what is meant in this book by intuitive thinking will lead quite naturally to a living entry into the world of spiritual perception." -1918 Rudolf Steiner, addition to Consequences of Monism.
Obama's strength was facing the countries problems rationally. The limitation of rationality seems to now be his downfall.
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen circumstances, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."
Waldorf schools are based on the philosophy of a man named Rudolf Steiner. My kids go to the Denver Waldorf School. I figured it was time to read works that were written by the man whose philosophy our school was founded upon.
I’ve tried to read some of his books before, but I found them to be too difficult. It’s almost as if I had to read the same sentence twice and the paragraph more than that to get the gist of it.
POF 9-5 Kant's principle of morality -- Act so that the basis of your action may be valid for all men -- is the exact opposite of ours.
Following his surprising assertion that Kant's categorical imperative is the "antithesis" of moral activity, Steiner goes on to state that in performing authentic moral acts, we should not worry about what might hold true for "all men" but only what holds true for us.
How can it be that our actions can stem from motivations particular to ourselves yet also claim to be purely, objectively ideal actions? It's possible, Steiner says, when we consider the difference between motives to action, and the perceptible content of an action.
The ego is always looking at the perceptible content of an action, but does not have to be determined by it--accordingly there is a difference between the concept formed about an action (and its result) and the motive to action itself. When a person decides to do a positive act for the good of society or the world, he or she will think about it, forming a "cognitive concept" of the action and its outcomes.
The "moral concept" of the act is not something that the ego can take ownership of--it adheres to the morality of the act from an ideal standpoint. The actor seems to experience points of contact with the moral content of an act in two ways: 1) in intuiting the ideal moral quality of the act and 2) and in choosing the manner in which he or she carries out the act.
Again, owing to circumstances in life, people differ in their capacities for moral intuition--the degree to which we allow an objectively real morality come to life in our activity, in spite of the multitude of choices available to us, is the degree to which we exercise "ethical individualism."
The first English translation of the Philosophy Of Freedom appeared in London in 1916, translated by Prof. and Mrs. R. F. Alfred Hoernle and edited by Harry Collison. This was based on the first German edition of 1894.
When the revised and enlarged German edition appeared in 1918, the same translators and editor brought out a second English translation of the work. This was published in London in 1921.
EDITOR'S NOTE TO THE FIRST TRANSLATED EDITION
THE following pages are a translation of Dr. Steiner's Philosophie der Freiheit, which was published in Germany some twenty years ago. The edition was soon exhausted, and has never been reprinted; copies are much sought after but very difficult to obtain.
The popularity of Dr. Steiner's later works upon ethics, mysticism and kindred subjects has caused people to forget his earlier work upon philosophy in spite of the fact that he makes frequent references to this book, and it contains the germs of which many of his present views are the logical outcome. For the above reasons, and with the author's sanction, I have decided to publish a translation.
I have had the good fortune to have been able to secure as joint translators Mrs. Hoernlé, who, after graduating in the University of the Cape of Good Hope, continued her studies in the Universities of Cambridge, Leipzig, Paris and Bonn, and her husband, Mr. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé, M.A., B.Sc. (Oxon), Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University, U.S.A., formerly Jenkyns Exhibitioner, Balliol College, Oxford, [ Now (1939) Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.] their thorough knowledge of philosophy and their complete command of the German and English languages enabling them to overcome the difficulty of finding adequate English equivalents for the terms of German Philosophy.
I am glad to seize this opportunity of acknowledging my indebtedness to these two, without whom this publication could not have been undertaken.
!916 announcement of the publication of the Hoernle translation of The Philosophy of Freedom. Note the titles of the other books published at that time.
"The Philosophy Of Freedom; a modern philosophy of life developed by scientific methods. By Rudolf Steiner. Trans, by Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Hoernle.309p.12rm> Put. $1,25n. Original, published twenty years ago in Germany, has been out of print for some time. It is the early statement of its author's well-known Monism."
The Publishers Weekly, Volume 90, Part 1
By R.R. Bowker Company
New York July 1, 1916
RTT News In 1977 Robert Plant nearly stepped away from Led Zeppelin to become a Rudolf Steiner school teacher. During a recent interview with the BBC, the legendary vocalist says that the death of his five-year-old son and drummer John Bonham forever changed his outlook on life.
"All of us had been thinking about what would happen next because the illusion had run its course. I'd already lost my boy and then you think, 'I really have to decide what to do,'" Plants says. "I applied to become a teacher in the Rudolf Steiner education system. I was accepted to go to teacher training college in 1978. I was really quite keen to just leave the band."
He continues on to say that it was largely Bonham who convinced him to stay with Led Zeppelin.
I have written many times before that we are witnessing and experiencing a period of “creative destruction” in the U.S. today. The same holds true, of course, in many other countries around the world that also are struggling with economic crises and existential challenges. Creative destruction, in this regard, presents both a “crisis” and an “opportunity.” The destruction of the old inevitably heralds the creative potential of the new.
To many people, unleashing the creative spirit is simply another way of animating one’s intuition. In this important respect, intuition cuts at the very core of our individuality and may actually be the final arbiter of how each of us manifests who we really are as living beings. Intuition represents the essence of our personal and collective identities and contains the spark of life energy that we often refer to as “spirit.”
Intuition as spirit is certainly not a new concept. On the contrary, it is deeply rooted in a variety of philosophical traditions, both Eastern and Western. For example, Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian-born scientific, literary and philosophical scholar, asserted that free spiritual activity, which he basically understood as the human ability to think intuitively, is the appropriate cognitive path for human beings to take in order to express fully their “freedom” as individuals. To Steiner, by experiencing and living intuitive thinking, that is, “the conscious experience of a purely spiritual content,” true freedom as a creative force for socially responsible action would become manifest. Intuition in this way can be viewed as a source of animation providing the energy that brings the cartoon characters we call humans “alive.”
Intuition then, is about being alive, wherever one may be. Is this really magic? Intuitive thinking, which Steiner has described as a “philosophy of freedom,” is indeed a magical journey.