New English Translation of The Philosophy of Freedom

Submitted by Tom Last on Tue, 07/29/2008 - 1:04pm.

The Philosophy of Freedom By Rudolf Steiner
New English Translation in progress
Copyright © Tom Last 2009-10

The Philosophy Of Freedom
Rudolf Steiner

Some results of introspective observation following the scientific method.
Topic Index

The Goal of Knowledge
Original preface to the first addition, 1894

PART I : THEORY
The Science of Freedom


1. Conscious Human Action   Textbook

2. The Drive To Science  Textbook 

3. Thinking As The Instrument Of Knowledge   Textbook

4. The World As Perception    Textbook

currently working on Chapter 4

5. The Act Of Knowing The World    Textbook

6. Human Individuality   Textbook

7. Are There Limits to Cognition?   Textbook
PART II : PRACTICE
The Reality of Freedom


8. The Factors of Life

9. The Idea of Freedom

10. Freedom-Philosophy and Monism

11. World Purpose and Life Purpose
(Human Destiny)

12. Moral Imagination
(Darwinism and Ethics)

13. The Value of Life
(Pessimism and Optimism)

14. Individuality and Genus

Translation Tools:
Original German book.
1922 Hoernle: $26.56 original English translation authorized by Steiner, best science translation.
1939 Poppelbaum: edited 1922 Hoernle translation to a more theosophical viewpoint, later translators copied him.
1963 Stebbing and 1964 Wilson: similar translations, less accurate to German but read well.
1986 Lindeman translation: most accurate to the German
1995 Lipson: gender neutral

Side by side compare
World-Outlook table

Google translator:  Select chapter, by holding the mouse to the text you will get the German to use in the other translators.
Babylon translator  
SDL translator
Leo translator  
dict.cc

Help update and restore the English translation of The Philosophy of Freedom by posting your suggestions to the newly translated pages.

In 1916 Harry Collison, editor, and R. F. Alfred Hoernlé, translator, published the first English translation of The Philosophy of Freedom, sanctioned by Rudolf Steiner himself.

In 1939, fourteen years after the passing of Rudolf Steiner, Hermann Poppelbaum revised this translation with the objective of checking certain words and phrases from the "strictly Steiner point of view" according to his opinion. Poppelbaum removed any reference to the mind by replacing the term "mind" with "spirit"; he replaced the words thought, thinking, and thinking-process with the single word "thinking". This blurred the distinctions helpful for introspective observation and moved the book toward a vague spiritism contrary to Steiner's science intentions.

Steiner: "It is written for the express purpose of disciplining thinking without any mention of theosophy."

All the translators that followed retained most of Poppelbaum's theosophy influenced revisions.

Later translators Lindeman and Lipson tried to duplicate the original German language text into English going as far as the actual sentence structure --which is helpful as reference material but difficult to read.

But much of the reading difficulty actually comes from not recognizing the shift points from one view to another. The book consists of many points of view; "It presents the wide range of human standpoints, often masquerading under such strange philosophical names" . The new translation will use headings in the text to indicate these shifts and alert readers to the topic.

This English translation project attempts to

  • restore the scientific nature of The Philosophy of Freedom by referring to the original 1916 translation
  • improve poor readability resulting from rigid adherence to the German language structure
  • indicate the previously unmarked shifts in view points with modern topic headings.

If you help edit by posting your comments on a regular basis you will be listed in the book. The new translation will be published free online and sold in hard copy. The profits, if any, will go to support this website. Post comments in the comments box below the page of the new translation.

Helpful comments:
Point out unclear wording
Improve accuracy to German
Improve modern English
English grammar corrections
Publishing or marketing suggestions
Book cover ideas

This blurred the by Anonymous