Page 5 - The Philosophy of Freedom By Rudolf Steiner
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Meanwhile his work of editing had taken him away from his beloved Vienna to Weimar. Here Steiner 

wrestled with the task of presenting his ideas to the world. His observations of the spiritual had all the 

exactness of a science, and yet his experience of the reality of ideas was in some ways akin to the 

mystic's experience.

Mysticism presents the intensity of immediate knowledge with conviction, but deals only with 

subjective impressions; it fails to deal with the reality outside man. Science, on the other hand, 

consists of ideas about the world, even if the ideas are mainly materialistic. By starting from the 

spiritual nature of thinking, Steiner was able to form ideas that bear upon the spiritual world in the 

same way that the ideas of natural science bear upon the physical. Thus he could describe his 

philosophy as the result of "introspective observation following the methods of Natural Science." He 

first presented an outline of his ideas in his doctoral dissertation, Truth and Knowledge, which bore 

the sub-title "Prelude to a 'Philosophy of Freedom'."

In 1894 The Philosophy of Freedom was published, and the content which had formed the centre of 

his life's striving was placed before the world. Steiner was deeply disappointed at the lack of 
understanding it received. Hartmann's reaction was typical; instead of accepting the discovery that 

thinking can lead to the reality of the spirit in the world, he continued to think that "spirit" was merely 

a concept existing in the human mind, and freedom an illusion based on ignorance. Such was 

fundamentally the view of the age to which Steiner introduced his philosophy. But however it seemed 

to others, Steiner had in fact established a firm foundation for knowledge of the spirit, and now he felt 

able to pursue his researches in this field without restraint. The Philosophy of Freedom summed up the 

ideas he had formed to deal with the riddles of existence that had so far dominated his life. "The 

further way," he wrote, "could now be nothing else but a struggle to find the right form of ideas to 

express the spiritual world itself."

While still at Weimar, Steiner wrote two more books, Friedrich Nietzsche, Fighter for Freedom 

(1895), inspired by a visit to the aged philosopher, and Goethe's Conception of the World (1897), 

which completed his work in this field. He then moved to Berlin to take over the editing of a literary 

magazine; here he wrote Riddles of Philosophy (1901) and Mysticism and Modern Thought (1901). 

He also embarked on an ever-increasing activity of lecturing. But his real task lay in deepening his 

knowledge of the spiritual world until he could reach the point of publishing the results of this 


The rest of his life was devoted to building up a complete science of the spirit, to which he gave the 

name Anthroposophy. Foremost amongst his discoveries was his direct experience of the reality of the 

Christ, which soon took a central place in his whole teaching. The many books and lectures which he 

published set forth the magnificent scope of his vision. (see fn 2) From 1911 he turned also to the arts -- 

drama, painting, architecture, eurythmy -- showing the creative forming powers that can be drawn

from spiritual vision.

As a response to the disaster of the 1914-18 war, he showed how the social sphere could be given new 

life through an insight into the nature of man, his initiative bearing practical fruit in the fields of 

education, agriculture, therapy and medicine. After a few more years of intense activity, now as the 

leader of a world-wide movement, he died, leaving behind him an achievement that must allow his 

recognition as the first Initiate of the age of science. (see fn 3) Anthroposophy is itself a science,

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