Page 17 - The Philosophy of Freedom By Rudolf Steiner
P. 17

Author's Prefaces

1. Preface to the revised edition of 1918

There are two fundamental questions in the life of the human soul towards which everything to be 

discussed in this book is directed, One is: Is it possible to find a view of the essential nature of man 

such as will give us a foundation for everything else that comes to meet us -- whether through life 

experience or through science -- which we feel is otherwise not self-supporting and therefore liable to 

be driven by doubt and criticism into the realm of uncertainty? The other question is this: Is man 

entitled to claim for himself freedom of will, or is freedom a mere illusion begotten of his inability to 

recognize the threads of necessity on which his will, like any natural event, depends? It is no artificial 

tissue of theories that provokes this question.

In a certain mood it presents itself quite naturally to the human soul. And one may well feel that if the 

soul has not at some time found itself faced in utmost seriousness by the problem of free will or 

necessity it will not have reached its full stature. This book is intended to show that the experiences 

which the second problem causes man's soul to undergo depend upon the position he is able to take up 

towards the first problem, An attempt is made to prove that there is a view of the nature of man's 

being which can support the rest of knowledge; and further, that this view completely justifies the idea 

of free will, provided only that we have first discovered that region of the soul in which free will can 

unfold itself.

The view to which we here refer is one which, once gained, is capable of becoming part and parcel of 

the very life of the soul itself. The answer given to the two problems will not be of the purely 

theoretical sort which, once mastered, may be carried about as a conviction preserved by memory. 

Such an answer would, for the whole manner of thinking on which this book is based, be no real 

answer at all. The book will not give a ready-made self-contained answer of this sort, but will point to 

a field of experience in which man's inner soul activity supplies a living answer to these questions at 

every moment that he needs one.

Whoever has once discovered the region of the soul where these questions unfold, will find that the 

very contemplation of this region gives him all that he needs for the solution of the two problems. 

With the knowledge thus acquired, he may then, as desire or destiny impels him, adventure further 

into the breadths and depths of this enigmatical life of ours. Thus it would appear that a kind of 

knowledge which proves its justification and validity by its own inner life as well as by the kinship of 

its own life with the whole life of the human soul, does in fact exist.

This is how I thought about the content of this book when I first wrote it down twenty-five years ago. 

Today, once again, I have to set down similar sentences if I am to characterize the main ideas of the 

book. At the original writing I limited myself to saying no more than was in the strictest sense 

connected with the two fundamental questions which I have outlined. If anyone should be astonished 

at not finding in this book any reference to that region of the world of spiritual experience described in 

my later writings, I would ask him to bear in mind that it was not my purpose at that time to set down 

the results of spiritual research, but first to lay the foundations on which such results can rest.

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