Human and Cosmic Thought

Correlation Between The Philosophy of Freedom and Human and Cosmic Thought
I have found the World-Outlook Diagram presented by Rudolf Steiner in Human and Cosmic Thought to be the underlying structure of the Philosophy of Freedom. The diagram depicts a correlation between the world-views possible for the mind and what is found in the outer world in the 12 signs of the Zodiac and

the 7 planets.



Key to The Philosophy of Freedom
Penetrating into the truth of something requires one to have the broadmindedness to recognize the validity of 12 world-outlooks and know how to apply them. Rudolf Steiner, in his Human and Cosmic Thought lectures, describes the 12 world-outlooks possible for the human mind. This system is represented in the world-outlook diagram. In Rudolf Steiner’s thorough study of the human cognitive process in his Philosophy of Freedom it was necessary to present all of these views to arrive at the truth. The views presented follow the sequence and form of the world-outlook diagram.

Most books will hold a narrow view of something and fill the pages with evidence that supports that view. If you know the author’s core point of view you have the key to understanding the book. It is common to hold a single world-view and try to apply it to all situations. But each view only has a particular domain of existence where it will be valid. As an example, the view of Materialism is appropriate in understanding the domain of the material world but may be of little value in explaining the spiritual nature of the human being. Here one would apply the view of Spiritism. As The Philosophy of Freedom contains views expressed out of all the outlooks the world-outlook diagram becomes the key to deeper insights into the book. Each section of POF expresses a particular outlook. By knowing the outlook being expressed you know the fundamental perspective of the section. The POF sections are given with their outlook on the study page of this web site.

How does one train oneself to be able to apply the proper outlook to the various situations in life? The Philosophy of Freedom is a way to develop these abilities by studying each section from the perspective of it’s outlook.

For anyone who is not concerned to weld together into a single system all that he has been in a position to observe and reflect upon in a certain limited domain, and then sets out to seek proofs for it, but who wants to penetrate into the truth of the world, it is important to realize that broadmindedness is necessary because twelve typical varieties of world-outlook are actually possible for the mind of man. (For the moment we need not go into the transitional ones.) If one wants to come really to the truth, then one must try clearly to understand the significance of these twelve typical varieties, must endeavor to recognize for what domain of existence one or other variety holds the best key.
Rudolf Steiner in Human and Cosmic Thought. P. 41

Range of Standpoints Presented

Each of the seven chapters in Part I of The Philosophy of Freedom begin with an introduction written in one of the seven world-outlook-moods of Occultism as Moon, Transcendentalism as Mercury, Mysticism as Venus, Empiricism as Sun, Voluntarism as Mars, Logicism as Jupiter, and Gnosticism as Saturn. This sets the proper mood to receive the knowledge that follows. The seven chapters in Part II follow a reverse order beginning with Gnosticism. The theme introduced at the beginning of each chapter is followed by 12 world-views. Each of the 12 views addresses the chapter topic according to it’s unique perspective. They are Materialism as Cancer, Spiritism as Capricorn, Realism as Libra, Idealism as Aries, Mathematism as Gemini, Psychism as Pisces, Pneumatism as Aquarius, Monadism as Sagittarius, Dynamism as Scorpio, Phenomenalism as Virgo, and Sensationalism as Leo. For a beginner, it will be easiest to recognize the first four views of Materialism, Spiritism, Realism, and Idealism within the POF text. They are commonly experienced and easiest to observe. They form the four corners of the circle with the remaining views being transitions between these main views.


In 1894 I made the attempt with my Philosophy of Freedom to provide just such a philosophic basis on which to approach spiritual science. It presents the wide range of human standpoints, often masquerading under such strange philosophical names, in a way that leaves the reader free of attachment to any particular approach and able to let the various concepts speak for themselves, as though each were a photograph of one and the same object taken from many different angles.
Rudolf Steiner on his book the Philosophy of Freedom P. 97

Method of Presentation
I have sectioned the Philosophy of Freedom according to each world-outlook that is being presented. The first number in the section code stands for the chapter. The second number is the view. So section 5-6 is chapter 5, the sixth view or Rationalism. (see section links) In order to accurately write out of each world-outlook Steiner acquired intuitive insight by suppressing his own sympathies and antipathies and surrendering with perfect objectivity to the outlook. So each view is written in an authentic way. The proper study of POF is a training in how to enter the variety of world-outlooks by spiritual intuition.

My method of presentation of the various world conceptions has its origin in my orientation toward a spiritual intuition. It would not be necessary to have actually entered into the materialistic mode of thinking merely to theorize about the spirit. For that purpose it is sufficient simply to show all justifiable reasons against materialism and to present this mode of thought by revealing its unjustified aspects. But to effect spiritual intuition one cannot proceed in this manner. One must be capable of thinking idealistically with the idealist and materialistically with the materialist. For only thus will the faculty of the soul be awakened that can become active in spiritual' intuition.
The Riddles of Philosophy, Preface to the
1923 Edition

Thought Organization
The reader of POF who strives to emerse themselves in the thoughts and the sequence of thoughts will have experiences described in various ways by Steiner in Rudolf Steiner on his book the Philosophy of Freedom as:

· P43 “Now what kind of reader approach did The Philosophy of Freedom count on? It had to assume a special way of reading. It expected the reader, as they read, to undergo the sort of inner experience that, in an external sense, is really like waking up out of sleep in the morning.”

· P23 “Within this book thinking is experienced in a way that makes it impossible for a person involved in it to have any other impression, when he is living in thought, he is living in the cosmos. This relatedness to cosmic mysteries is the red thread running through the book.”

· P82 “The primary purpose of my book is to serve as thought training, training in the sense that the special way of both thinking and entertaining these thoughts is such as to bring the soul life of the reader into motion in somewhat the way that gymnastics exercise their limbs.”

· P83 “Catharsis is an ancient term for the purification of the astral body by means of meditation and concentration exercises. If a reader takes this book as it was meant and relates to it in the way a virtuoso playing a composition on the piano relates to its composer, reproducing the whole piece out of himself, the books organically evolved thought sequence will bring about a high degree of catharsis.”

· P84 “The book is a living organism, and to work one’s way through the thoughts it contains is to undergo an inner training. A person to who this has not happened as a result of study need not conclude what I am saying is incorrect, but rather he has not read it correctly or worked hard and thoroughly enough.”

For in the case of a book like this, the important thing is so to organize the thoughts it contains that they take effect. With many other books it doesn’t make a great deal of difference if one shifts the sequence, putting this thing first and that later. But in the case of POF that is impossible. It would be just as unthinkable to put page 150 fifty pages earlier as it would be to put a dog’s hind legs where the front ones belong.
Rudolf Steiner on his book the Philosophy of Freedom P83

Evolution of Thought
POF is written so that each thought arises as a result of the previous thought. Here is an example. In chapter 1 we are examining the question of freedom; can we be free? Spinoza is opposed to freedom concluding we are determined by external causes.

1-3 “What is true here for the stone is true also for every other particular thing, however complicated and many-sided it may be, namely, that everything is necessarily determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and definite manner.”

Seeking freedom, the natural next question is whether we can free ourselves from these external determining causes? The next section presents the view that we can become free of external impulses.

1-4 Now because, in accordance with his character, he must first adopt as a motive a mental picture given to him from without, a man believes he is free, that is, independent of external impulses.

But section 1-4 continues by challenging this freedom because our characterological disposition adopts a mental picture as a motive according to it’s own pre-determined necessity. How do we free ourselves from this? The thoughts evolve in this way as a person’s self-awareness and depth of thinking deepen. With each solution a new problem arises. Each solution requires another step deepening self-awareness and intuition. In this way the book is a path of freedom development describing the step by step evolution of insights and experience describing the journey to freedom of Rudolf Steiner.

A person desirous of entering the higher worlds must accustom himself to the kind of thinking in which each next thought grows out of the preceding one. This is the thinking in my POF and Truth and Science. These books are not written in a way that allows arbitrary placement of thought. They developed as an organism grows, one thought evolving from another.
Rudolf Steiner on his book the Philosophy of Freedom P. 87

Understanding Outlooks
Rather than dispute world-views, it can be more beneficial to understand WHY someone holds the view they do. A view is held not because the view is more correct than another, but rather because of the outlook disposition of the person. The Philosophy of Freedom has descriptions of the various world-outlook experience. From this we can gain insights as to why someone holds a particular view. Chapter 3 of POF, Thinking as the Instrument of Knowledge, is of the Mood of Mysticism. Mysticism seeks in the inner realm the secrets of the world that cannot be experienced externally. Chapter 3 is a study of the reflection process. This is a search for concepts which are related to an observed event. By examining the first 4 views we can learn about how a person's perspective will affect their thinking. The first view of Materialism describes everyday thinking that is passively “carried out” without awareness of the thinking itself. The Spiritist is conscious of the concept formation through their activity. They seek the underlying spiritual which comes to them through their own inner activity. The Realist recognizes the external world. Their thinking experience is contemplation of the object. The Idealist is interested in their ideas so they contemplate the thinking produced. To be convinced of something each must discover it in accordance with their outlook disposition. If all 4 views are put into motion moving from one view to the next a process is revealed.

3-1 Materialism
The observation of a table, or a tree, occurs in me as soon as these objects appear upon the horizon of my experience. Yet I do not, at the same time, observe my thinking about these things. I observe the table, and I carry out the thinking about the table, but I do not at the same moment observe this.

3-2 Spiritism
I am conscious, in the most positive way, that the concept of a thing is formed through my activity; whereas pleasure is produced in me by an object in the same way as, for instance, a change is caused in an object by a stone which falls on it.

3-3 Realism
While I am reflecting upon the object, I am absorbed with it, my attention is focused upon it. To be thus absorbed is precisely to contemplate by thinking. I attend, not to my activity, but to the object of this activity. In other words, while I am thinking I pay no heed to my thinking, which is of my own making, but only to the object of my thinking, which is not of my making.

3-4 Idealism
I am, moreover, in the same position when I enter into the exceptional state and reflect on my own thinking. I can never observe my present thinking; I can only subsequently take my experiences of my thinking process as the object of fresh thinking.

Thus in the twelve mental-zodiacal-signs we have something that can lead us to a deep insight into the way in which human world-outlooks arise, and can help us to see far into the reasons why, on the one hand, men dispute about world-outlooks, and why, on the other hand, they ought not to dispute but would do much better to understand why it happens that people have different world-outlooks.
Human and Cosmic Thought P42

Way To Peace
Rudolf Steiner wanted his Philosophy of Freedom to be a clarion call to counter the social conditions of his time brought about by perverse human instincts. With the rise of fundamentalism and militarism in the United States and elsewhere the clarion call needs to be made again in our time. Bringing the Philosophy of Freedom together with Human and Cosmic Thought presents a way to peace through overcoming the one-sided view.

And now try, from what has been explained, to enter into the task confronting Spiritual Science: the task of acting as peacemaker among the various world-outlooks. The way to peace is to realize that the world-outlooks conjointly, in their reciprocal action on one another, can be in a certain sense explained, but that they cannot lead into the inner nature of truth if they remain one-sided. One must experience in oneself the truth-value of the different world-outlooks, in order — if one may say so — to be in agreement with truth.
Rudolf Steiner, Human and Cosmic Thought P. 54
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