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Working Group: Restoration of Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom

By Tom Last
Created 08/08/2009 - 11:12am

Collaborative Translation

Collaborative work toward the restoration of Rudolf Steiner's original 1894 Philosophy of Freedom.

Newly translated text along with translation issues will be posted throughout the process. Your constructive questions, feedback and suggestions are all very much appreciated.




Translation Work in Progress
(Add your Comments)

Chapter 1 [0] Tom's Draft
Chapter 1 [0] Tom Draft
Chapter 1 [0] Tom's Latest (this is a keeper)
Chapter 2 [0] Tom's latest Draft
Chapter 3 [0] Tom's latest Draft (to be revised)

Chapter 0 [1] John
Chapter 1 [1] John's Second Draft with notes
Chapter 1 [1] John's Third Draft
Chapter 2 [1] John's Second Draft with notes
Chapter 2 [1] John's Third Draft
Chapter 3 [1] John






Online Research Tools
Side by side compare [2]  Compare different translations
World-Outlook table [3]  Indicates Steiner's POF shifts from one view to another
OneLook [4] dictionary search
Side by Side [5] with Wilson and Stebbing

Computer Translators
Google translator [6] Keeps improving and is now the best.
imtranslator [7]
Google translator of chapter: [8]  Select chapter, by holding the mouse to the text you can locate specific German sentences to examine further (this feature may only work with Chrome browser).
Babylon translator [9]  
SDL translator [10]
Leo translator [11]  
revers dict. [12] [13]

Edition Comparison
Compare 1894 original German with 1918 version after Steiner revisions.
1894 Original German Die Philosophie der Freiheit PDF [14]
1918 Steiner revised edition of Die Philosophie der Freiheit PDF [14]

  German Source Comparison 1894 and 1918 [14]







































English Translation History
Die Philosophie der Freiheit

Get downloads here [14].

Literal translation: translation of text almost “word for word” from German to English, lacks readability.
Liberal translation: emphasizes English readability (sounds correct) or targets a particular group of readers.
Collaborative translation: joint effort, open to public comment
Paraphrased translation: conveying the sense of the original, a restatement of a passage or text in somewhat different words so as to simplify or clarify.
Situational translation: choosing the appropriate translation method for each particular situation.

---1894 Rudolf Steiner publishes the original Die Philosophie der Freiheit---

1894  Die Philosophie der Freiheit
(original 1894 edition)
Rudolf Steiner's original German

1916 The Philosophy of Freedom  (original 1894 edition)
R. F. Alfred Hoernle (UK)
New Liberal translation - improve readability for English philosophers.
English translation sanctioned by Rudolf Steiner.
Hoernle looks for adequate English equivalents for the terms of German philosophy.

---1918 Rudolf Steiner makes revisions to Die Philosophie der Freiheit---

1918  Die Philosophie der Freiheit (revised 1918 edition)
Rudolf Steiner revisions and additions, improve readability for theosophists.

1922 The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (revised 1918 edition)
Hoernle (UK) updates his translation with Steiner 1918 revisions but misses several minor revisions.

---Begin theosophy translations---

1939 The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (revised 1918 edition)
Hermann Poppelbaum (Germany)
Liberal translation - improve readability for theosophists, use of theosophy terms according to Steiner's later anthroposophy.
Revision of 1922 Hoernle according to what he calls a "strictly Steiner point of view".
Adds theosophy terms such as replacing "mind" with "spirit".

1963 The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (revised 1918 edition)
Rita Stebbing (USA),
Looks like a minor revision of 1964 Wilson.

1964 The Philosophy of Freedom (revised 1918 edition)
Michael Wilson (UK)
Revision of 1939 Poppelbaum, replaces "representation" with "mental picture".

1986 The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (revised 1918 edition)
William Lindeman (USA)
New Literal translation - almost "word for word" from German to English.
Excellent as reference but poor readability.

1988 The Philosophy of Freedom (revised 1918 edition)
New Liberal translation, easy reading but not as accurate as other translations.
Rita Stebbing (USA),

1992 The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (revised 1918 edition)
Rita Stebbing (USA)
Revised her 1988 Stebbing making it conform to more traditional Wilson translation.

1995 Intuitive Thinking As A Spiritual Path (revised 1918 edition)
Michael Lipson (USA)
Suceeded in making book gender neutral. Based on1986 Lindeman, but replaces many of Lindeman's English selection of key words in a sentence with a secondary option in order to be different.

---End theosophy translations---

---Begin new English translations of the original unedited 1894  Die Philosophie der Freiheit---





























































































































Why A New Translation?

"You will find nothing at all in The Philosophy of Freedom that is derived from clairvoyant communications of spiritual science. It is written for the express purpose of disciplining thinking without any mention of theosophy." 1906 Rudolf Steiner

The reason why The Philosophy Of Freedom must not be dominated by any one-sided views such as theosophy is mentioned by Steiner in the 1918 Preface,

"What is said in this book can also be acceptable to those who, for reasons of their own, will have nothing to do with the results of my research into the spiritual realm."

The thought-structure of The Philosophy of Freedom is based on the world-outlook diagram [14] presented by Steiner in his Human and Cosmic Thought lectures. The chapters begin with one of seven world-outlook moods followed by twelve views of the chapter topic. A translator needs to be aware of these views and shift points in order to be true to the original intentions of the author.




Rudolf Steiner (science period 1861-1900)
Anthroposophical Society: Not formed yet. 1897 Steiner writes article [14] indicating dislike of non-scientific theosophists and spiritualists.
"It also proves advantageous to the Theosophists that they are able to stay on good terms with the Spiritualists and other off-beat, like-minded seekers of the spirit. But they are not above walking hand in hand with the Spiritualists when they deem such an alliance to help them wage war on the unfettered science, the straightforward science of the modern era, which is solely supported by reason and observation."

Interest: Mathematics, science and philosophy. This was his path to freedom culminating in the publishing of the Philosophy of Freedom in 1894.

The objective of the author of The Philosophy Of Freedom: Results of the observation of the mind by the scientific method.





R. F. Alfred Hoernle  (1880-1943)
Translation: 1916 Philosophy Of Freedom
Anthroposophical Society: No evidence of membership.
Interest: Philosophy,  more [14] history on Hoernle and his translation
Philosophy titles: Image (1907), Idea and Meaning, Studies in Contemporary Metaphysics (1920), Matter, life, mind, and God (1923), Idealism as a Philosophy (1930).

The first English translation of The Philosophy Of Freedom was published in 1916 by a philosophy professor who graduated from Oxford and taught at Harvard and his wife, Prof. and Mrs. R. F. Alfred Hoernle and edited by Harry Collison. This was based on the original German edition of 1894 and was not influenced by theosophy/anthroposophy. This is the only translation sanctioned by Rudolf Steiner himself.

Editor H. Collison writes: I have had the good fortune to have been able to secure as joint translators Mrs. Hoernlé, who, after graduating in the University of the Cape of Good Hope, continued her studies in the Universities of Cambridge, Leipzig, Paris, and Bonn, and her husband, Mr. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé, M.A., B.Sc. (Oxford), Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University, U.S.A., formerly Jenkyns Exhibitioner, Balliol College, Oxford.

Review of Hoernlé book Studies in Contemporary Metaphysics:
Mr. Hoernlé sets out with very great advantages for the task he has undertaken in this book. Trained at Oxford, he has also had consider experience in the teaching of philosophy in other universities in Great Britain, and he wrote this book in Harvard after some years teaching there. He has had quite exceptional opportunities, therefore, for seeing contemporary philosophies in the making and for understanding, from personal experience, how far a set of philosophical opinions can bear transplanting from one country to another.

The use which Mr. Hoernlé has made of these opportunities is most instructive. In changing skies he has kept his faith and remains a very staunch believer in the truth of the philosphical tradition which he finds expressed “at its best” in the works of Dr. Bosanquet. On the other hand, his flexible and assimilative mind has enabled him to incorporate much of the spirit of transatlantic philosophy.

Translator's Objective:
Collison writes about the Hoernle's, "their thorough knowledge of philosophy and their complete command of the German and English languages enabling them to overcome the difficulty of finding adequate English equivalents for the terms of German Philosophy."


Theosophy Enters The Philosophy Of Freedom











Rudolf Steiner (theosophy period 1900-1925)
Theosophical Society: 1902 General Secretary of the German Theosophic Society.
Anthoposophical Society:
1913 Founded Anthroposophical Society with a group of theosophists.
Interest: Mysticism
25 years later after its first publication Steiner revises The Philosophy Of Freedom:
1918 Revises The Philosophy Of Freedom adding some theosophy terminology.
1922 Recommends new English title, The Philosophy Of 'Spiritual Activity'.

After 1900 Steiner chose to join the Theosophical Society to lecture on his clairvoyant experiences happening to him since childhood. Before that, Steiner seemed willing to speak to any group, but after 1899 he started to give talks regularly to the members of the Theosophical Society. From then on he spoke in the language of theosophy that was in vogue at that time in Germany.

Even after immersing himself in theosophy, Steiner continued to point to the importance of the Philosophy Of Freedom, saying it was his only work that would endure over time. Theosophists shrugged their shoulders at science preferring the Eastern paths to truth. In order to help them relate to the book Steiner made some revisions. In 1922 he recommended "spiritual activity" replace "freedom" in the title and in 1918 he added some theosophy phrasing.

For example, the original Philosophy of Freedom begins with the question, “Is man in his thinking and action free...”

In 1918 he revised this sentence by replacing the word “free” with “spiritually free being”, a phrasing more suitable to theosophy.

The opening sentence now begins with a preconception of the existence of a "spiritual being": “Is man in his thinking and action a spiritually free being...”

Another example; the original introduction or preface [14] to The Philosophy Of Freedom mentions "science" 17 times. It mentions "spirit" and "soul" 0 times. This was replaced by a new preface as part of the 1918 Steiner revisions. The new preface doesn't concern itself with science unless in the context of spirit: "Spiritual-scientific mentioned 3 times, spirit total of 9 times, and soul 10 times. Further evidence that Steiner revised The Philosophy Of Freedom for the benefit of theosophists.














Hermann Poppelbaum (1891–1979)
Translation: 1939 The Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity.
Anthroposophical Society: Chairman of the Executive Council of the Anthroposophical Society
Interest: Natural Science according to anthroposophy
Titles: He graduated in the natural sciences with an experimental thesis on Studies in androginomórficas butterflies.

Translator's Objective:
His stated objective for revising the Hoernlé translation was to check certain words and phrases from the,

"strictly Steiner point of view".

Steiner had passed away 14 years earlier. Now Hermann Poppelbaum and the Anthroposophical Society would be the authority to define 'the strictly Steiner point of view” often referred to today as Steinerism [14].

Poppelbaum went to work by expunging every use of the word Mind and replacing it with the word Spirit. Here is an example:

Chapter 2 Hoernlé translation:
The Dualist sees in Mind and Matter two essentially different entities, and cannot, therefore understand how they can interact with one another. How should Mind be aware of what goes on in Matter, seeing that the essential nature of Matter is quite alien to Mind? Or how in these circumstances should Mind act upon Matter, so as to translate its intentions into actions?

Poppelbaum revision:
The Dualist sees in Spirit and Matter two essentially different entities, and cannot, therefore understand how they can interact with one another. How should Spirit be aware of what goes on in Matter, seeing that the essential nature of Matter is quite alien to Spirit? Or how in these circumstances should Spirit act upon Matter, so as to translate its intentions into actions?

Michael Wilson (1901-1985)
Translation: 1964 The Philosophy Of Freedom
Anthroposophical Society: Co-Founder of the Science Group of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain
Interest: Curative Education, Goethe's color theory
Titles: Goethe's Colour Experiments

Translator's Objective:

“Any work describing Steiner's point of view in terms of English philosophy would have to deal with the mind as a central theme, but here our task is to introduce readers to Steiner's concepts of spirit and soul.”













Michael Lipson
Translation: 1995 Intuitive Thinking As A Spiritual Path
Anthroposophical Society: Lipson was selected by the Anthroposophic Press to produce a new official centennial translation of the book. The Goetheanum website now refers to this new title.
Interest: WAMC Radio Psychologist who teaches Buddhist meditation
Titles: Group Meditation

Translator's Objective:
In Lipson's translator notes: "By approaching Steiner through inadequate and changing English terms, we are more likely to face the inadequacy of all terms, and leap to his meaning."

The Zen Philosophy Of Freedom? The Eastern path of Zen Buddhism holds that to attach words to Zen is to defeat its whole meaning. Therefore, Zen provides  examples of a thought or experience that is linguistically inexplicable. "Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand?"

Lipson, a practicing Zen Buddhist, has a translation objective that is certainly not a Western scientific approach. Is it to confuse the reader so that they will understand? Steiner selects his words very carefully as any philosopher would. Lipson achieves his translation goal of changing terms by starting with the Lindeman translation and changing many of the words to an alternative word translation. The problem is that Lindeman got the first choice of words and Lipson gets the second choice.

A problem with all the translations is the inability to recognize the points when Steiner shifts to another viewpoint.

"Without indicating his shifts, he used such words now in the humblest, now in the most exalted sense."

Lipson's disregard for the meaning of words led him to replace Steiner's title with his own. Why not, words don't matter.

"By suggesting an alternative title in English, Steiner again proved himself flexible regarding terminology. We have taken this as permission to translate the title and we have called it, this time, Intuitive Thinking As A Spiritual Path."






Sergei Prokofieff
Anthroposophical Society: Chairman of the Executive Council of the Anthroposophical Society
Titles: Numerous books on anthroposophy.

Anthroposophy and the Philosophy of Freedom
Writer's Objective:
Book Review: In considering its multi-faceted 'cosmic-human dimension', the author discusses The Philosophy Of Freedom in relation to the Mystery of the Resurrection, the Working of the Hierarchies, the Being Anthroposophia, the Fifth Gospel, Steiner’s Path of Initiation, the Rosicrucian and Michaelic Impulses, the Life Between Death and Rebirth, the Foundation Stone, the Christian Mysteries of Karma, and the Science of the Grail.

Prokofieff's book is an example of the desire of Anthroposophists to connect The Philosophy Of Freedom with Steiner's later writings on theosophy. His attempt to intellectually derive theosophical themes from The Philosophy Of Freedom is contradicted by reading the book and this quote from Steiner:

"It is certainly not possible to deduce what is described in the author's later books by logical inference from the contents of this one." 1918 Rudolf Steiner, addition to Consequences of Monism.

Characterizing The Philosophy Of Freedom as just another Steiner theosophy book may draw the interest of theosophists, but it may also alienate the rest of humanity, who have no interest in theosophy, from ever reading the book.

Bibliography note
[15] at Rudolf Steiner Archive
typing [15] of Hoernle translation
past translation work [15]
Glossary [15]
translation chart [15]

Rudolf Steiner's Die Philosophie der Freiheit was first published by the Emil Felber Verlag,
Berlin. 1894 in a first edition of 1,000 copies.
The second edition, revised and enlarged by the author, appeared under the imprint of the
Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag, Berlin, 1918, and was followed by a third edition
later that same year.
The same publisher issued a fourth edition in 1921.
The fifth, sixth and seventh editions were published in Dornach, Switzerland by the
Philosophisch Anthroposophischer Verlag am Goetheanum in 1929, 1936 and 1939 respectively.
The eighth edition was published in Dresden in 1940.
The ninth, tenth and eleventh editions were published by the Verlag Freies Geistesleben, Stuttgart
in 1947, 1949 and 1955. The present translation has been made from the eleventh edition of 1955
In all, the eleven editions of Die Philosophie der Freiheit issued between 1894 and 1955 totaled
some 48,000 copies.
A twelfth edition was issued in Dornach in 1962 by the Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung.

The first English translation of the book appeared in London in 1916, translated by Prof. and
Mrs. R. F. Alfred Hoernle and edited by Harry Collison. This was based on the first German
edition of 1894.
When the revised and enlarged German edition appeared in 1918, the same translators and editor
brought out a second English translation of the work. This was published in London in 1921.
A revised and amended edition of the 1921 version with preface by Hermann Poppelbaum, Ph.D.
appeared in London, 1939 and again in 1949.
The present translation (1963 Rita Stebbing) is entirely new, having been undertaken especially for the Centennial
Edition of the Written Works of Rudolf Steiner.

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