Part I Knowledge Of Freedom
The question of freedom is one of the most important questions for life, religion, conduct and science.
Obviously we are not free if we do not know why we act.
What does it mean to really ‘know’ the reason of our action?
This requires that we investigate the origin and nature of thinking, because it is with thinking that we gain knowledge of anything.
The mental process splits the world into two halves: into things outside of me, and into images of these things within me.
When we have made the world-content into our thought-content we will again find the unity out of which we had separated ourselves.
We will find Nature outside us only when we have first learned to know her within us.
We must reach a point within where we can say to ourselves, "Here we are no longer merely 'I', here is something which is more than 'I'."
For everyone who has the ability to observe thinking -- every normal person has this ability -- it is the most important observation we can make.
It possible for us to know thinking more immediately and more intimately than any other process in the world.
I am not guided by any material processes in my brain. My observation shows me that in linking one thought with another there is nothing to guide me but the content of my thoughts.
What is impossible for us with regard to nature, namely, creating before knowing, we achieve in the case of thinking.
I ought never to say that my individual subject thinks, but much more that my individual subject lives by the grace of thinking.
In so far as we sense and feel (and also perceive), we are single beings; in so far as we think, we are the all-one being that pervades everything.
An observed object of the world remains unintelligible to us until we have within ourselves the corresponding intuition.
What appears to us in observation as separate parts becomes combined, bit by bit, through the coherent, unified world of our intuitions.
I really am the things; not "I" in so far as I perceive myself as subject, but "I" in so far as I am a part of the universal world process.
A true individuality will be the one who reaches up with his feelings to the farthest possible extent into the region of the ideal.
The deepening of knowledge depends on the powers of intuition which express themselves in thinking.
Thinking all too easily leaves us cold in recollection; it is as if the life of the soul had dried out.
But this is only the strongly marked shadow of thinking’s real nature — a reality which is warm, luminous, and penetrates deeply into the phenomena of the world.
The penetrating depth is brought about by a power flowing through the activity of thinking itself — the power of love in its spiritual form.
If we turn towards thinking in its essence, we find in it both feeling and will, and these in the depths of their reality.
Part II Reality Of Freedom
If one wishes to grasp the essence of the spiritual in the form which is most directly available to us, we need only look at the self-sustaining activity of thinking.
Intuition is the conscious experience -- in pure spirit -- of a purely spiritual content.
Our psychological-physical organization contributes nothing to the essential nature of thinking, but withdraws whenever the activity of thinking takes place.
Pure Thinking: When pure thinking is the driving force of action, the driving force is no longer something merely individual, but the ideal and thus universal content of my intuition.
Pure Intuition: The highest possible moral principle contains no reference to particular experiences, but springs from the source of pure intuition and only later seeks any reference to life.
A higher way sees a certain value in all moral principles and always asks whether in the given case this or that principle is the more important.
At the highest moral level an action is not stereotyped by rules nor an automatic reaction to circumstances, but is an action determined purely and simply by its own ideal content.
For me the standard can never be how all would act, but rather what I am to do in each individual case.
Ethical Individualism: Expressing our intuitive ideas in action is the highest driving force and highest motive for those who see that ultimately all moral principles unite in our intuitive content.
Only when I follow my love for my objective is it I myself who act.
The goal consists of the realization of moral aims grasped by pure intuition.
In truth, only an act of will that springs from intuition can be an individual one.
The blind instinct that drives someone to crime does not come from intuition, and does not belong to what is individual in a person.
Insofar as an action springs from the ideal part of my individual being it is felt to be free.
An moral misunderstanding, a clash, is impossible among human beings who are morally free.
To live in love of action, and to let live in understanding the will of the other, is the fundamental maxim of free human beings.
A free individual lives in confidence that he and any other free individual belong to one spiritual world, and that their intentions will harmonize.
In each of us there dwells a deeper being in which the free individuality finds expression.
We are human in the fullest sense only in so far as we are free.
Nature makes a person merely a natural being; society makes a law-abiding one; only the person can make themselves into a free being.
The social order is formed so that it may react favorably upon the individual.
Whoever is incapable of producing moral ideas through intuition must accept them from others. In so far as a man receives his moral principles from without, he is in fact unfree.
The moral laws which the metaphysician who works by mere inference must regard as issuing from a higher power, are, for the adherent of monism, thoughts of men.
The moral world order is neither the imprint of a purely mechanical natural order, nor that of an extra-human world order, but through and through the free creation of men.
What appears as the common goal of a whole group of people is usually the will of a few outstanding ones who, as their authorities, are followed by the others.
Each one of us is called upon to be a free spirit, just as every rose seed is called upon to be a rose.
Nature does not send man forth from her arms ready made as a free spirit, but that she leads him up to a certain stage, from which he continues to develop still as an unfree being, until he comes to the point where he finds his own self.
Instinctive responses and obedient behavior are necessary preparatory stages of morality, but both these preliminary stages can be overcome by the free spirit.
Morality is a specifically human quality, and spiritual freedom the human way of being moral.
My mission in the world is not predetermined, but is at every moment the one I choose for myself. I do not set out upon my journey through life with fixed marching orders.
A free spirit acts according to intuitions selected from the totality of his world of ideas by thinking. An unfree spirit acts according to his past experiences.
He makes a completely first-hand decision. What others have done in such a case worries him as little as what they have decreed. He has purely ideal reasons which lead him to select from the sum of his concepts just one in particular, and then to translate it into action.
what the free spirit needs in order to realize his ideas, in order to be effective, is moral imagination. This is the source of the free spirit's action.
Moral Intuition: The capacity to intuitively experience the particular moral principle for each single situation.
Moral Imagination: The ability of imagination to translate a general moral principle into a concrete mental picture of the action to be carried out.
Moral Technique: The ability to transform the world according to moral imaginations without violating the natural laws by which things are connected.
If a man finds that an action is the image of such an ideal intuition, then he feels it to be free. In this characteristic of an action lies its freedom.
To be free means to be able, of one's own accord, to determine by moral imagination those mental pictures (motives) which underlie the action.
A free being is one who can want what he himself considers right. Whoever does anything other than what he wants must be impelled to it by motives which do not lie within him. Such a man is unfree in his action.
External powers may prevent me from doing as I will. Then they simply condemn me to do nothing or to be unfree. Not until they would enslave my spirit, drive my motives out of my head, and put their own motives in the place of mine, do they really aim at making me unfree.
The right to call an act of will free arises from the experience that an ideal intuition comes to realization in the act of will.
Ethical behavior is not based upon the eradication of all striving for pleasure, but rather a strong will sustained by ideal intuitions, that reaches its goal even if the path is thorny.
Our highest pleasure is the realization of our intuitions, the driving force of which our spirit harnesses.
They are his intuitions, the driving forces which his spirit harnesses; he wants them, because their realization is his highest pleasure.
Those who strive toward great ideals do so because such ideals are the content of their being, and to realize them brings a joy compared with which the gratification of commonplace pleasures is trivial.
He will strive for moral ideals if his moral imagination is sufficiently active to provide him with intuitions that give his will the strength to make its way against all the obstacles inherent in his constitution, including the pain that is necessarily involved.
If a man strives for sublimely great ideals, it is because they are the content of his own being, and their realization will bring him a joy compared to which the pleasure that a limited outlook gets from the gratification of commonplace desires is a mere triviality.
Those who hold that moral ideals are attainable only if the human being destroys his own personal will, are not aware that these ideals are wanted just as we want satisfaction of the so-called animal drives.
Mature human beings give themselves their own worth. They do not strive for pleasure, which comes to them as a gift of grace; they determine the value of life by measuring achievements against aims.
He acts as he wants to act, that is, in accordance with the standard of his ethical intuitions; and he finds in the achievement of what he wants the true enjoyment of life. He determines the value of life by measuring achievements against aims.
The individual who knows himself through and through, is his own master and his own assessor.
If freedom is to be realized, the will in human nature must be sustained by intuitive thinking;
The generic features of the human race, when rightly understood, do not restrict man's freedom, and should not artificially be made to do so.
Common group characteristics serve only as a medium through which we express our own individual being.
The conceptual content of ones thinking cannot be fixed once and for all and handed down in finished form once and for all to humanity.
To understand the individual we must find our way into their own particular being and not stop short of typical characteristics.
We can only know an individual if they tell us their way of viewing the world and by observing the intentions in their acts of will.
A man develops qualities and activities of his own, and the basis for these we can seek only in the man himself. What is generic in him serves only as a medium in which to express his own individual being.
If we are to understand a free individuality we must take over into our own spirit those concepts by which he determines himself, in their pure form (without mixing our own conceptual content with them).