Page 19 - The Philosophy of Freedom By Rudolf Steiner
P. 19

In the following is reproduced, in all essentials, what stood as a preface in the first edition of this 

book. Since it shows the mood of thought out of which I wrote this book twenty-five years ago, rather 

than having any direct bearing on its contents, I include it here as an appendix.

I do not want to omit it altogether, because the opinion keeps cropping up that I need to suppress some 

of my earlier writings on account of my later ones on spiritual science. Only the very first introductory 

sentences of this preface (in the first edition) have been altogether omitted here, because today they 

seem to me quite irrelevant. But the rest of what was said seems to me necessary even today, in spite 

of, indeed, just because of the natural scientific manner of thinking of our contemporaries.

Our age can only accept truth from the depths of human nature. Of Schiller's two well-known paths, it 

is the second that will mostly be chosen at the present time:

Truth seek we both

Thou in the life without thee and around; 

I in the heart within.

By both can Truth alike be found.

The healthy eye can through the world 

the great Creator track;

The healthy heart is

but the glass

which gives Creation back.

(Translation by E. Bulwer Lytton.)

A truth which comes to us from outside always bears the stamp of uncertainty. We can believe only 

what appears to each one of us in our own hearts as truth.

Only the truth can give us assurance in developing our individual powers. Whoever is tortured by 

doubts finds his powers lamed. In a world full of riddles, he can find no goal for his creative energies.

We no longer want merely to believe; we want to know. Belief demands the acceptance of truths 

which we do not fully comprehend. But things we do not fully comprehend are repugnant to the 

individual element in us, which wants to experience everything in the depths of its inner being. The 

only knowledge which satisfies us is one which is subject to no external standards but springs from 

the inner life of the personality.

Again, we do not want any knowledge of the kind that has become frozen once and for all into rigid 

academic rules, preserved in encyclopedias valid for all time. Each of us claims the right to start from 

the facts that lie nearest to hand, from his own immediate experiences, and thence to ascend to a 

knowledge of the whole universe. We strive after certainty in knowledge, but each in his own way.

Our scientific doctrines, too, should no longer be formulated as if we were unconditionally compelled 

to accept them. None of us would wish to give a scientific work a title like Fichte's "A Pellucid 

Account for the General Public concerning the Real Nature of the Newest Philosophy. An Attempt to

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