Page 6 - The Philosophy of Freedom By Rudolf Steiner
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firmly based on the results of observation, and open to investigation by anyone who is prepared to 

follow the path of development he pioneered -- a path that takes its start from the struggle for inner 

freedom set forth in this book.


The Philosophy of Freedom can be seen as the crowning achievement of nineteenth-century 

philosophy. It answers all the problems of knowledge and morality that philosophers had raised, 

argued over, and eventually left unsolved with the conclusion that "we can never know ". Yet this 

great achievement received no recognition, and only when Steiner had acquired a large following of 

people thankful for all that he had given them of his spiritual revelation, did there arise the desire to 

read also his earlier work, upon which he always insisted his whole research was firmly based.

Perhaps if Steiner had spent the rest of his life expounding his philosophy, he would today be 

recognized throughout the world as a major philosopher; yet his achievement in going forward himself 

to develop the science of the spirit is much the greater, and this will surely be recognized in time. 

Indeed, philosophy has got itself a bad name, perhaps from its too-frequent negative results, and it 

might even be better to consider the Philosophy of Freedom not just as a chapter of philosophy, but as 

the key to a whole way of life.

Considered just as a piece of philosophy, it might in any case be thought out of date, having only 

historical interest. For instance, a modern scientist may well believe that any philosopher who spoke 

up against atomism has been proved wrong by the success of atomic physics. But this would be to 

misunderstand the nature of philosophy. Steiner deals in turn with each possible point of view, 

illustrating each one with an example from the literature, and then showing the fallacies or 

shortcomings that have to be overcome. Atomism is justified only so long as it is taken as an aid to the 

intellect in dealing with the forces of nature; it is wrong if it postulates qualities of a kind that belong 

to perceived phenomena, but attributes them to a realm that by definition can never be perceived.

This mistaken view of the atom may have been abandoned by science, but it still persists in many 

quarters. Similarly, many of the old philosophical points of view, dating back to Kant, survive among 

scientists who are very advanced in the experimental or theoretical fields, so that Steiner's treatment of 

the problem of knowledge is still relevant. Confusion concerning the nature of perception is 

widespread, because of the reluctance to consider the central part played by thinking. Thinking is all 

too often dismissed as "subjective" and hence unreliable, without any realization that it is thinking 

itself that has made this decision.

The belief that science can deal only with the "objective" world has led to the position where many 

scientists are quite unable to say whether the real world is the familiar world of their surroundings, as 

experienced through the senses and pictured in the imagination, or the theoretical world of spinning 

particles, imperceptible forces and statistical probabilities that is inferred from their experimental 

results. (see fn 4) Here Steiner's path of knowledge can give a firmer basis for natural science than it 

has ever had before, as well as providing a sure foundation for the development of spiritual science.

Although there are many people who find all that they need in contemplating the wonders of the

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