Page 13 - The Philosophy of Freedom By Rudolf Steiner
P. 13

Intuition is the conscious experience -- in pure spirit -- of a purely spiritual content. Only through an 

intuition can the essence of thinking be grasped.

From this it is not difficult to see how again, in later writings, Steiner could describe a stage of 

perception still higher than that called "Imagination", the stage of "Intuition" in which one 

immediately apprehends the reality of other spiritual beings. Although this book deals only with the 

spiritual content of pure thinking, intuition at this level is also a step towards a higher level of 

perceiving reality.


Experience has two meanings, which correspond to different words in German. "Actual observation of 

facts or events" corresponds to the German Erlebnis and to the verb erleben, while "the knowledge 

resulting from this observation" corresponds to Erfahrung, Thus the accumulation of knowledge can 

be described as "past experience" or "total sum of experience", if the single word is ambiguous (see, 

for instance, Chapter 6). When speaking of human behavior that is based on past experience, Steiner 

calls it praktische Erfahrung, which is rendered as "practical experience" (see Chapter 9).

On the other hand, having direct experience as an activity of observation is expressed by the verb 

erleben, which means literally "to live through". Thus, in the latter part of the book, particularly in 

those passages which were added in 1918 (see Chapter 7 and Consequences of Monism), Steiner 

speaks repeatedly of the "thinking which can be experienced". This experience is to be understood as 

every bit as real and concrete as the "actual observation of facts and events" described above.

Motive And Driving Force

Motive And Driving Force are two elements in any act of will that have to be recognized as distinct 

(see Chapter 9). They correspond to the German words Motiv and Triebfeder, respectively.

"Motive", as used by Steiner, corresponds exactly to the common English usage, meaning the reason 

that a person has for his action. It has to be a conscious motive, in the form of a concept or mental 

picture, or else we cannot speak of an act of will, let alone a moral deed. An "unconscious motive" is 

really a contradiction in terms, and should properly be described as a driving force -- it implies that 

some other person has been able to grasp the concept which was the reason for the action, though the 

person acting was not himself aware of it; he acted as an automaton, or, as we properly say, "without 


Nevertheless, modern psychology has contrived to define the "motive " as something no different from 

the driving force, which precludes the recognition of a motive grasped out of pure intuition, and 

therefore of the essential difference between a moral deed where a man knows why he acts and an 

amoral one where his knowledge is a matter of indifference. By making the distinction between 

motive and driving force, Steiner has been able to characterize all possible levels of action from the 

purely instinctive to the completely free deed.

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