Page 20 - The Philosophy of Freedom By Rudolf Steiner
P. 20

Compel the Readers to Understand." Today nobody should be compelled to understand.

From anyone who is not driven to a certain view by his own individual needs, we demand no 

acknowledgment or agreement. Even with the immature human being, the child, we do not nowadays 

cram knowledge into it, but we try to develop its capacities so that it will no longer need to be 

compelled to understand, but will want to understand.

I am under no illusion about these characteristics of my time. I know how much the tendency prevails 

to make things impersonal and stereotyped. But I know equally well that many of my contemporaries 

try to order their lives in the kind of way I have indicated. To them I would dedicate this book. It is 

not meant to give "the only possible" path to the truth, but is meant to describe the path taken by one 

for whom truth is the main concern.

The book leads at first into somewhat abstract regions, where thought must draw sharp outlines if it is 

to reach clearly defined positions. But the reader will also be led out of these arid concepts into 

concrete life. I am indeed fully convinced that one must raise oneself into the ethereal realm of 

concepts if one would experience every aspect of existence.

Whoever appreciates only the pleasures of the senses is unacquainted with life's sweetest savors. The 

oriental sages make their disciples live a life of renunciation and asceticism for years before they 

impart to them their own wisdom. The western world no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic 

habits as a preparation for science, but it does require the willingness to withdraw oneself awhile from 

the immediate impressions of life, and to betake oneself into the realm of pure thought.

The realms of life are many. For each one, special sciences develop. But life itself is a unity, and the 

more deeply the sciences try to penetrate into their separate realms, the more they withdraw 

themselves from the vision of the world as a living whole. There must be a knowledge which seeks in 

the separate sciences the elements for leading man back once more to the fullness of life. The 

scientific specialist seeks through his findings to develop awareness of the world and its workings; in 

this book the aim is a philosophical one -- that knowledge itself shall become organically alive.

The separate sciences are stages on the way to that knowledge we are here trying to achieve. A similar 

relationship exists in the arts. The composer works on the basis of the theory of composition. This 

theory is a collection of rules which one has to know in order to compose. In composing, the rules of 

the theory become the servants of life itself, of reality. In exactly the same sense, philosophy is an art. 

All real philosophers have been artists in the realm of concepts.

For them, human ideas were their artists' materials and scientific method their artistic technique. 

Abstract thinking thus takes on concrete individual life. The ideas become powerful forces in life. 

Then we do not merely have knowledge about things, but have made knowledge into a real self- 

governing organism; our actual working consciousness has risen beyond a mere passive reception of 


How philosophy as an art is related to human freedom, what freedom is, and whether we do, or can, 

participate in it -- this is the main theme of my book. All other scientific discussions are included only

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