The Philosophy of Freedom
The Philosophy of Freedom as Rudolf Steiner's "Work of Youth“
The Philosophy of Freedom is Rudolf Steiner's "work of youth". He developed it between the ages of 22 and 32 in his engagement with the thoughts of his times at the end of the 19th century. In many ways this age is still formative for the way we think, the way we look at the world scientifically and the way we shape it socially.
The Philosophy of Freedom is thereby more than a philosophical argument: It is an exercise book and a training path of thinking and freedom. It concerns our individuality, our actions and their sources. Am I determined by social norms and inherited characteristics? By material processes? By my egoism? What is my relationship to the world and how do I shape it? How can I act individually, out of my very own impulses, and what does that mean for the world? These and other questions are core concerns of The Philosophy of Freedom, which not only want to be "thought", but also "practiced" in thinking. That which we powerfully develop in our thinking is a part of the world and will find its way into the world.
A Training of Thinking
In our school days and often also in our studies, a lot of emphasis is placed on imparting knowledge and reproducing what we have learned. The feeling can arise of being insufficiently trained in one's own thinking. While one practices a musical instrument daily and possibly for several hours, this is not a matter of course for our thinking. Our thinking is also an instrument. And much more – as we will discover in the course of the Annual Training. Thus, The Philosophy of Freedom is also a training of thinking.
A Philosophy of Spiritual Activity
The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity was Rudolf Steiner's recommended title for an English translation of The Philosophy of Freedom. It is not structured as a mere philosophical treatise. It leads into a mental activity that transforms into a spiritual one. In the Pedagogical Youth Course, GA 217, Rudolf Steiner puts it this way:
"But try active thinking for once, and you will see how in the process the heart becomes engaged. Man of our epoch comes most intensively into the spiritual world when he succeeds in developing active thinking. For it is through active thinking that we come to have in our thoughts, in turn, heartful powers."
Standards of action and instructions, algorithms, laws and rules, norms and trends shape our everyday and professional lives. In all of this, Kant's imperative still lives: "Act in such a way that the principles of your actions can apply to all people." The Philosophy of Freedom responds with a decidedly individualistic approach:
"It is not how all men would act that can be decisive for me, but what is to be done by me in each individual situation."
Hannah Arendt once put it this way: "Morality is about the individuality of one‘s uniqueness. The criterion of right and wrong, the answer to the question: „What should I do?“, depends in the last instance neither on habits and customs that I share with other living people around me, nor on a command of divine or human origin, but on what I decide with regard to myself. In other words, I cannot do certain things because I would not be able to live with myself afterwards." (from: Elisabeth Young-Bruehl: Hannah Arendt, Leben, Werk, Zeit, 5th edition, Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 2018).
In our time, freedom and individuality are often equated with egoism. The Philosophy of Freedom leads to a completely different worldview and places love alongside individual action out of freedom:
"Only when I follow my love for the object, then it is I myself who act."
Rudolf Steiner, The Philosophy of Freedom
You can order the current paperback edition via the following link:
Audiobook "Philosophy of Freedom" (In German)
Read by Michael Mentzel. www.steiner-hoeren.de/Philosophie-der-Freiheit.67.0.html
What Participants Say About the Annual Training....
"For me it was an incredibly beautiful, always joyful, surprise to approach this material in such a way. I just found it so living and so modern that my heart rose. So, I am so grateful to you that you are putting this work into the world in this way, and I also experience that you are always looking at how to continue, what does the world need today? How can this be done? I think that's just great."
"I find it so lovingly and wonderfully designed by you that it was not a problem at all, not an issue anymore for me not to read this work so intensively. Every week, it was kind of clear, and it gave me such an inner wakefulness and such a great support..."
"I am someone who most loves to read. You showed me with your cards that one can go much deeper and livingly with such cards than just reading page after page. The cards were a real hit for me, you could focus exactly on one thought, you could take a card with you instead of needing to look it up again in the book. It‘s a really great idea. I'm going to adopt that for myself. Thank you so much for this."
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