Page 12 - The Philosophy of Freedom By Rudolf Steiner
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Chapter 4) and another as an "individualized concept" (see Chapter 6), and it is this intermediate 

position between percept and concept that gives the mental picture its importance in the process of 


Another advantage of the term "mental picture" is that the verb "to picture" corresponds well with the 

German vorstellen, implying a mental creation of a scene rather than a physical representation with 

pencil, paints or camera, which would be "to depict". Of course the visual term "picture" must be 

understood to cover also the content of other senses, for instance, a remembered tune or a recollection 

of tranquillity, but this broadening of meaning through analogy is inherent in English usage.

Although mental pictures are commonly regarded as a special class of ideas, here the term "idea" is 

used only for the German Idee, without ambiguity. Ideas are not individualized, but are "fuller, more 

saturated, more comprehensive concepts" (see Chapter 4). In the later part of the book, when 

discussing the nature of a conscious motive, Steiner uses the word to include all concepts in the most 

general way, individualized or not, which comes very close to the English use of the word "idea".


Imagination means the faculty and process of creating mental pictures. The word is the same as the 

German Imagination, but I have also used it for the German Phantasie, because the word "fantasy" 

suggests something altogether too far from reality, whereas "imagination" can mean something not 

only the product of our own consciousness, but also a step towards the realization of something new. 

Thus the title given to Chapter 12, Moral Imagination (for Moralische Phantasie), seemed to me to be 

correct, and I have kept it. It describes the process of taking an abstract idea, or concept, and creating a 

vivid mental picture of how it can be applied in a particular circumstance, so that it may become the 

motive for a moral deed.

In later writings Steiner describes how this ordinary faculty of imagining, or making mental pictures, 

can be developed to the point where it becomes the faculty of actually perceiving the creative ideas 

behind the phenomena of nature. In these later writings "Imagination" becomes a special term to 

indicate this level of perception, but in this book the meaning remains near to the ordinary usage. 

However, the gateway to such higher levels of perception is opened through the path of experience 

here set forth.


Intuition is again the same as the German word, and means the faculty and process of grasping 

concepts, in particular the immediate apprehension of a thought without reasoning. This is the normal 

English usage, though Steiner uses the term in an exact way, as follows (see Chapter 5):

In contrast to the content of the percept which is given to us from without, the content of thinking 

appears inwardly. The form in which this first makes its appearance we will call intuition. Intuition is 

for thinking what observation is for the percept.

Later in the book he gives another definition (see Chapter 9):

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