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Intuitive Thinking As a Spiritual Path : A Philosophy of Freedom

Rudolf Steiner

Buy this book at Amazon.com or try Amazon.co.uk in England, Amazon.ca in Canada, Amazon.de in Germany, Amazon.fr in France, Amazon.it in Italy, Amazon.es in Spain. ASIN=088010385X, Category: Philosophy, Language: E, cover: PB, pages: 288, year: 1995.

Review © (2007) by interesting-books-selector.com

In this book "A Philosophy of Freedom" (PoF) first published in 1894 Rudolf Steiner outlines the thought and recognition process by analysing and dismissing I. Kant, Rousseau, Descartes et al. (As a side note, he equaled democracy with what it is: dictatorship of the majority.)

Available free online "The Philosophy of Freedom - The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity".

Steiner wrote in chapter 3 of PoF about the six days and the seventh in Moses' first book when he explains the particularities of the thought process which is the only human sense which can perceive itself through its own activity, i.e. becoming aware of a spiritual entity, the Self. The seven days life cycle is mentioned because we are not able to think about an object and observing the thinking process at the same time, while we are spiritually active we can not contemplate about the thought process; we need the seventh day to find our Self.

This English translation of "Die Philosophie der Freiheit, revised 1918" ("PdF"), first entitled "The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity" was helped by Steiner himself, because he knew it would be very important.

Some German researchers of anthroposophy use the English translation of PdF to find hints about the exact semantics of certain words Steiner employed like Wahrnehmung, Beobachtung, intellektuelle Betrachtung, intuitives Denken, etc..

Wahrnehmung is probably one example which illustrates the difficulties of translation in other languages; etymologically "Wahrnehmung" stems from Germanic waro (Aufmerksamkeit zuordnen, aufnehmen), i.e., Das Wahrgenommene ist etwas, das wir mit Aufmerksamkeit aufnehmen oder belegen, while a very similar German word "Fürwahr nehmen" suggest a relation to truth; it means (my interpretative translation) "to perceive something which is about to become the truth". Steiner differenciates between sensual and spiritual "Wahrnehmung".
Without humankind, truth doesn't exist.
Truth is added to the cosmos as spiritual content by man through his spiritual activity of pure (passion- and instinctless, intuitive) thinking.

Would truth exist if there were no human to perceive it and to produce it?
To the famouse question: does the falling tree make a noise if nobody is around to hear it?
I'd like to add another: did the tree fall if nobody was there watching?
Not that it mattered if a tree fell down, if nobody is around; but if it fell, would the truth that it fell exist? if yes, who produced this truth?


Here is another translation related quote:

"Each one of us has it in him to be a free spirit, just as every rose bud has in it a rose."
--RS (in the German orignal: "Jeder von uns ist berufen zum freien Geiste, wie jeder Rosenkeim berufen ist, Rose zu werden.")

Tarjei Straume simplified this sentence to:
"Each one of us is destined to be a free spirit, just like every rosebud is destined to be a rose."
-- See more from PoF-excerpts annotated by Tarjei Straume in his "WHY 'PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM' BY RUDOLF STEINER IS THE ANARCHIST BIBLE"

"Of all forms of power, what is being striven for by social democracy, is the worst."
-- Quote Rudolf Steiner from "Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte 1887-1901, GA 31", see also "ANTHROPOS ANARCHOS" by Tarjei Straume)

See also wikipedia on "Philosophy of Freedom" and Crisis of Western Philosophy: Against Positivism by Vladimir Solovyov.


The Philosophical Review, edited by J. G. Schurman and J. E. Creighton, Boston, New York, Chicago, September 1895, S. 573t.

(No further details are known about the reviewer David Irons. Also unknown is how this review found its way into this reputated American bimonthly philosophical publication. Please note, the following review refers to the first edition of the book. Steiner amended it in the second edition to address the concerns expressed mainly by Eduard von Hartmann to whom he had dedicated this book.)

Die Philosophie der Freiheit. Von Dr. Rudolf Steiner. Berlin, Emil Felber, 1894. - pp. 242.

Freedom, the author asserts, is a fact that Stares us in the face, and those who deny it do so through misunderstanding. It is obvious that an action is not free if the agent does not know why he does it, but how does the matter stand with reference to an action which is performed after the reasons for and against it have been considered? This involves an inquiry into the nature of Thought, for only when we know what Thought is can we teil what part it plays in human action. Thought is principle which exists for itself, and from it arise Notions which are applied to the given element of experience. The latter dement is the necessary consequence of individuality, and the function of Thought is to restore the unity of the Ego with the world which particularity has broken. Freedom can be understood by means of this analysis. In action, as in knowledge, there is a given element to which the mind adds conceptions of its own. Only, in this case, the given does not determine in any way the conceptions which the mind applies, and, as these conceptions constitute our motives to action, this means that our motives are not determined.
Monism is the doctrine that the world is given as a duality of subject and object, but becomes a unity through knowledge. Thought unites what Sensation has separated. The distinction between subject and object is therefore not absolute and there is no thing-in-itself. Further, Monism means that experience cannot be transcended at all, and it therefore excludes the notions of End, World-Ruler, etc. All that exists is a multitude of particular persons and things forming somehow a unity. It is not made very clear why «Monism» should involve this, and no attempt is made to show how one can get at the notion of a multitude of individuals, if one is to keep entirely to experience on its phenomenal side. Yet the views thus assurned determine to a large extent the author's results. Since Monism excludes everything beyond experience, man's being is not dependent on any first principle or ground of all existence. He is therefore thrown upon himself; makes his own ends; and determines his own actions. «Monism», in short, necessarly involves freedom.
It is diffcult to find out exactly what Dr. Steiner understands by «freedom». He defines it differently in different places, and involves hirnseif in contradictions in attempting to answer objections. The best part of the book is the chapter on «The Worth of Life», which contains a thorough and suggestive criticism of Pessimism. It is a remarkable piece of writing, and Hartmann refers to it in his noteworthy article in the "Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik" (Band 106, Heft 1). In other parts of the work there are passages of value, but the book is too uncritical and dogmatic to be satisfactory as a whole. There is throughout a lack of throughness and cohension.

-- David Irons