Chapter 1 Second Draft after removing 1918 revisions

Submitted by John Ralph on Wed, 04/07/2010 - 4:18am.
JR Work in Progress 1894 text (WIP) @ 20100418
 
Chapter 1 Glossary

natural laws
uniformity of natural law [uniform continuity of natural law]
compatible
determinism
characterological disposition
[innate necessity of character/disposition of character/character traits]
scientific thinking
necessity
Gemüt:
the heart’s sensibility
motive
Vorstellung: mental impression/image/picture
mind
knowing doer: one who acts out of knowledge [
Do we act out of knowledge or consciousness of the motive? PoF definition of knowledge: to be conscious of something?   Is this terminology clear enough in the heading of 1.5? It needs to be explicitly linked to the chapter title. Chap1: Conscious – Chap2: Knowledge. ]
conditional causality
Intellect
Reason
Analogy
 
Note: could use a chapter glossary at beginning of chapter. This is a technical reading comprehension point.
[Instead of just a glossary, which is a good idea, how about inserting a descriptive overview or abstract on the facing page before each chapter that includes terminology explanations for reading support? Example: In this chapter absolute determinism of human thinking and action is questioned. Determinism means that…]
That would be nice though it may be difficult. [Let’s try!]
 
This draft includes Tom’s notes: [John’s notes] [undecided options in green] [preferred options]
 
 
[1894 Chapter 2] Chapter 1: Conscious Human Action
The Question of Freedom
[1] Is the human being free in thought and action, or inescapably controlled by natural laws
[absolute necessity]? Few questions have been the focus of so much ingenuity. The idea of freedomhas found both enthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents in abundance. Some, with a high moral tone, label as narrow-minded anyone who denies the obvious fact of freedom. Others who oppose them consider that it is the peak of unscientific thinking for anyone to believe that the uniform continuity of natural law is broken in the field of human action and thought. One and the same thing is proclaimed to be humanity's most precious possession as often as it is called its most harmful illusion. Endless insignificant distinctions have been used to explain how human freedom can be compatible with determinism in nature, because the human being is so clearly a part of nature. No less effort has been put into explaining how this delusion has arisen. It must be obvious to anyone whose character is not wholly superficial that we are dealing here with one of the most important questions of life, religion, conduct and science.
In chapter 3.0 Whether this activity of mine is really an expression of my own independent being, or whether modern physiologists are right in saying that we cannot think as we will, but rather have to think exactly as determined by the thoughts and thought-connections that happen to be present in our minds at any given moment, is a question that will be the subject of a later discussion.
[
Is the human being an essentially free individual in thought and action, or inescapably controlled by natural laws?
I have come to recognize the meaning of this sentence thus:
Is the human being able to direct his thinking and doing directly from his own spiritual I, emancipated from any other influences, or is he perpetually locked into the absolute laws of physics, chemistry, biology, human physiology and psychology?
This is not suitable for our translation as it employs terms that are not from Steiner’s book. However it serves me as a benchmark against which to evaluate the options.]
[Shall we drop the word ‘entirely’/absolute/nothing but? We would omit the German rein (adj. pure, unsullied, pristine, absolute). Is rein significant enough to attempt to keep it?
Older options for the opening sentence:
Is the human being free in thought and action, or inescapably controlled by entirely natural laws?
Are human beings free in their thinking and action, or inescapably controlled by entirely natural laws?
Is the human being in thought and action a free thinker, or inescapably controlled by natural laws?
Does the human being have any capacity for freedom in thinking and action, or are we inescapably controlled by entirely natural laws?
Is the human beinga free thinker and doer / free to think and act/ a free spirit/agent in thought and action, or inescapably controlled by entirely natural laws?]
Original opening to POF, which precedes chapter 1 begins:
I believe I am indicating correctly one of the fundamental characteristics of our age when I say that today all human interests tend to centre on human individuality. An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority. Nothing is accepted as valid unless it springs from the roots of individuality. Everything which hinders the individual in the full development of his or her powers is thrust aside.
1.1 Freedom of Indifferent Choice
A sad indication of the superficiality of contemporary thinking can be found in a book that aims to develop a ‘new faith’ from the results of recent scientific research, and which contains nothing on this question but these words:

“There is no need to go into the question of freedom of the human will. The supposed freedom of indifferent choice has been recognized as an empty illusion by every reputable philosophy. The determination of moral value in human conduct and character remains untouched by this question.”
(David Friedrich Strauss: Old and New Belief)

I do not quote from this book because I consider it to be particularly significant, but because I believe this passage expresses the only view most contemporary thinkers can reach on this question. Everyone who claims to have advanced beyond elementary science classes seems to know that freedom cannot consist of neutrally choosing, entirely at will, one or the other of two possible actions.  There is always, so we are told, a quite specific reason that explains why we carry out one particular action from among several possibilities.
[Freewill: the power of making free choices unconstrained by external agencies
Listening to Tom’s feedback, I can see the need for precision of terminology.
Do we want to revisit arbitrarily: for no reason? No, neutrally is better.]

[The more I live with this section, the more I find myself questioning whether indifferent really implies that there is no reason (arbitrary or neutral choice) or no consciousness of the reason (blind or ignorant choice).]
1.2 Freedom of Choice
[2] This seems obvious. Yet the main attacks of today’s opponents of freedom are only directed against freedom of choice. Even Herbert Spencer, whose opinions gain ever wider acceptance, says:

“That everyone is at liberty to desire or not to desire, as they will, which is the real proposition involved in the dogma of free will, is refuted by everyone's own introspective observation as much as by the contents of the preceding chapters.” [*] (The Principles of Psychology, 1855)
[* Herbert’s original: That every one is at liberty to desire or not to desire, which is the real proposition involved in the dogma of free-will, is negatived as much by the internal perception of every one as by the contents of the preceding chapters.”]
Revisions from an original English text must remain visible. I suggest the original is included as a footnote. Herbert’s original language dates it in the reader’s experience. No bad thing to counter the outdated comment of Steiner: “whose opinions are gaining ever wider acceptance”.]
1.3 Free Necessity of One's Own Nature
Others who refute the concept of free will start from the same standpoint. The seeds of all such arguments can be found as early as Spinoza. What he brought forward against the idea of freedom so clearly and simply has since been repeated countless times, usually cloaked in such hair-splitting and theoretical doctrines that it is hard to recognize his plain line of thought, which is all that matters. Spinoza writes:
Tom: We are in Realism (external world) so you find words like combat/fighting
[Refuting means to overthrow or overturn the argument of another. It is totally combative.]
“I call free that which exists and acts out of the pure necessity of its nature; I call compelled that existence and activity determined in an exact and fixed way by something else. For example, God is free, although with necessity, because He exists solely out of the necessity of His own nature. In the same way God knows Himself and everything else freely, because it follows solely out of the necessity of His nature that He knows everything. So you see that I locate freedom, not in a free decision, but in a free necessity.

[3] “But let us come down to created things, which are all determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way. To see this more clearly, let us imagine a very simple case. A stone, for example, receives a certain momentum from an external cause that makes contact with it so that, after the impact of the external cause has ceased, the stone necessarily continues to move. The continued motion of the stone is compelled by the external impact and not by any necessity within the stone’s own nature, because [the continuing motion] has to be defined by the thrust of an external cause. What is true here for the stone is true for everything else, no matter how complex and multifaceted it may be. Everything is determined with necessity by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way.

[4] “Now please assume that the stone, while in motion, thinks and knows that it is striving to the best of its ability to continue moving. This stone is conscious only of its own striving, to which it is not at all indifferent, and it will believe that it is absolutely free to continue moving for no other reason than its own will to continue. Yet this is the human freedom that everybody claims to possess, and it consists entirely of the fact that people are conscious only of their desires and ignorant of the causes that determine them. Thus the child believes it freely desires milk; the angry boy believes he freely demands revenge; and the coward believes he freely chooses to run away. A drunk believes he says things of his own free will that, when sober again, he will wish he had not said; and since this bias is inborn in everybody, it is difficult to free oneself from it. Even though experience teaches us often enough that people can moderate their desires least of all, and that when moved by two opposing passions they see the better and pursue the worse; yet they still consider themselves free because they desire some things less intensely, and there are some desires that can be easily inhibited by becoming preoccupied with memories of something else.” (Letter of October or November, 1674)

[5] Because this view is so clearly and precisely expressed, it is easy to uncover its fundamental error. Human beings are supposedly compelled to carry out an action when driven to it by any cause with the same necessity as a stone that carries out a specific movement after an impact. It is only because human beings are conscious of their action that they regard themselves as the free originator of it. But in so doing they overlook the causes driving them, which they must obey unconditionally. The error in this line of thought is soon discovered. Spinoza and all who think like him overlook the fact that human beings can be conscious, not only of their actions, but also of the causes that guide them. Anyone can see that a child is not free when it desires milk and that a drunk is not free who says things he later regrets. Neither knows anything of the causes working deep within their organism that exercise an irresistible control over them. But is it right to lump such actions together with those of human beings who are conscious, not only of their actions, but also of the causes of their actions? Are the actions of human beings really all of one kind? Should the actions of a warrior on the battlefield, a research scientist in the laboratory or a diplomat involved in complex negotiations be placedin the same scientific category as those of a child who desires milk? It is no doubt best to seek the solution of a problem where the conditions are simplest. But the inability to see distinctions has often caused endless confusion. There is certainly a profound difference between knowing and not knowing why I act. At first sight this seems to be an entirely obvious truth. Yet the opponents of freedom never ask themselves whether a motive of action that I recognize and understand is to be designated as a compulsion for me in the same sense as the organic process which causes a child to cry for milk.
1.4 Free from External Influences
[6] Eduard von Hartmann asserts in his Phenomenology of Moral Consciousness that the human will depends on two main factors: motives and character. If we see people as all alike, or at least having negligible differences, then their will appears to be determined from outside by the circumstances that come to meet them. But if take into consideration that different people adopt an idea [a mental impression] as a motive of action only if their characteris such that a particular idea arouses a desire in them, then the human being appears to be determined from within and not from outside. But, because an idea given to us from outside must first be adopted as a motive according to our character, we believe that we are free and independent of external influences. However, according to Eduard von Hartmann the truth is that,

“Even though we must first adopt an idea as a motive ourselves, we do not do this arbitrarily, but rather according to our inherent character traits; which means that we are anything but free.”

Here again, the difference is completely ignored between motives that I allow to influence me only after I have consciously made them my own, and motives that I follow without any clear knowledge of them.
characterological disposition describes the entity that controls us as a "necessity".
[I remain skeptical about the obscure word characterological – it has a dictionary meaning that is not compatible with its use here. Replaced that term with inherent character traits.]
I wonder if we can get away with using the word idea rather than "mental picture" in section 1.4. The same Vorstellung will need to be mental picture later.
[I find it blurs the connection from this quote to the later text in 1.10.]
1.5 Action Resulting from Conscious Motive
[7] This leads straight to the standpoint from which the subject will be considered here. Can the question of freedom be directed only one-sidedly towards the will? And if not, what other question needs to be linked to it?
[8] If there is a difference between a conscious and an unconscious motive of action, then the conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently to one resulting from blind impulse. Our first question will consider this difference. This inquiry will then determine the approach we need to take toward the question of freedom itself.

[9] What does it mean to have knowledge of the motives of one's actions? Too little attention has been given to this question because unfortunately the indivisible whole that is the human being has always been torn in two. The doer has been separated from the knower, while the one who matters the most has been overlooked: the knowing doer who acts out of knowledge.
1.6 Free When Controlled by Reason
[10] It is claimed that human beings are free when they are controlled only by their reason and not by animal passions. In other words, freedom means being able to determine one’s life and actions according to purposeful aims and deliberate decisions.

[11] Nothing is gained by such assertions. For the question is whether reason, purpose and decisions merely exercise the same kind of control over a person as animal passions. If, without any effort on my part, a rational decision emerges in me with the same urgent need as the onset of hunger and thirst, then I must obey it and my freedom is an illusion.
1.7 Free to Do as One Wants
[12] Another claim is made that freedom does not mean being able to determine what one wants, but being able to do what one wants. This thought has been sharply articulated by poet and philosopher Robert Hamerling in his Atomistics of the Will.

“The human being can certainly do what he wants, but he cannot determine what he wants, because his will is determined by motives! He cannot determine what he wants? Let us look at these words more closely. Do they make any sense? Is free will, then, being able to want something without having grounds, without a motive? But what does wanting mean other than having reasons for doing or trying to do this rather than that? To want something without a reason, without a motive, would be to want something without wanting it. The concept of wanting is inseparable from the concept of motive. Without a determining motive the will is an empty faculty; only through the motive does it become active and real. Therefore, it is entirely correct that the human will is not ‘free’ to the extent that its direction is always determined by the strongest motive. But, in contrast to this ‘unfreedom’, it is absurd to speak of a possible ‘freedom’ of the will that amounts to having the ability to want what one does not want.”
[13] Here too, only motives in general are discussed without considering the difference between unconscious and conscious motives. If a motive affects me and I am compelled to act on it because it proves to be the ‘strongest’ of its kind, then the idea of freedom ceases to have any meaning. Why should it matter to me whether I can do something or not if I am forced by the motive to do it? The primary question is not whether I can or cannot do something after a motive has influenced me, but whether any motives exist other than those that control me with absolute necessity. If I must want something, then I may be completely indifferent as to whether I can also do it. If a motive that I think is unreasonable is forced upon me because of my character or the circumstances prevailing in my environment, then I will have to be glad if I cannot do what I want.

[14] The question is not whether I am able to carry out a decision once it is made, but how the decision comes about within me.
1.8 Unconditioned Will
[15] Rational thinking fundamentally distinguishes human beings from all other living beings. Our capacity for activity is common to other organisms. Nothing is gained by hunting for analogies in the animal kingdom to clarify a concept of freedom that applies to the actions of human beings. Modern natural science loves such analogies. When scientists have successfully identified something similar to human behaviour among animals, they believe they have touched on the most significant question of human science.
This conviction leads to misunderstandings such as the example in Paul Rée’s book The Illusion of Free Will, which says the following about freedom:
“It is easy to explain why the movement of a stone appears to come about by necessity, while the will of a donkey does not. The causes that set a stone in motion are external and visible, while the causes that determine a donkey's will are internal and invisible. Between us and the place of their activity is the skull of the donkey… The conditional causality is not seen, so it is thought to be nonexistent. Then an explanation is given that the will, which is the cause of the donkey’s turning around, is itself unconditioned; it is an absolute beginning [(a first cause and not a link in a chain of events).  But a presumption of this kind is contradicted by experience and the universal validity of the law of causality.]”
Note: I looked up this quote and added [one] more of Rée's sentences because the freedom involved was unclear.
Here too human actions in which there is consciousness of the motives are simply ignored for Rée declares that “Between us and the place of their activity is the skull of the donkey.” These words show that Rée has no clue that there are actions -- not a donkey's actions, to be sure, but human actions -- where a motive that has become conscious lies between us and the action. Rée demonstrates his blindness again, a few pages later:   

“We do not perceive the causes that determine our will, and so we believe it is not causally determined at all.”

[16]
Enough now of examples to prove that many who fight againstfreedom know absolutely nothing of what freedom is. [Enough is enough of examples showing that many of those who dispute the existence of freedom know absolutely nothing of what freedom really is.]
1.9 Knowledge of The Motive
[17] It is obvious that an action cannot be free if the doer carries it out without knowing why. But what about the freedom of an action when its motives have been considered? This leads us to the question of the origin and significance of thinking. Once we know what thinking in general means, it will be easy to see clearly the role thinking plays in human action. Hegel is right when he says that “only thinking turns the soul, which animals also possess, into spirit.” It will also be thinking that gives human action its distinguishing features.
[This statement about thinking is a turn-around of paragraph [16]. The premise in [17] is that knowledge (recognition/discovery in thought!) precedes clear perception (unsatisfying perception urges us towards knowledge: Chapter 2). The principle that is being established here is that only the thoughtful knower can perceive satisfactorily, an example of the knowing doer. We will meet thought as the starting point of all investigation in the next 2 chapters, and at the end of this one.]
A study of chapter 3 should be enough to understand what thinking "in general" means without "fully" understanding.
POF is a complete structure of thought (a product independent thinking) so we should find its word definitions within itself. Referring to Steiner's later mission work for others needs to be done very cautiously as skeptics rather than followers.

[I wholeheartedly agree. It would be missing PoF’s point not to define PoF in its own terms.]
1.10 Action Springs from the Heart
[18] I certainly do not intend to imply that all our actions flow only from calmly reasoned deliberation. Abstract judgment is not the only source of action that I would call, in its highest sense, human. But the moment our conduct lifts itself above the satisfaction of purely animal desires, our motives are always shaped by thoughts. Love, compassion, and patriotism/loyalty are driving forces for actions that refuse to be dissipated into unemotional conceptual reasoning. It is said that this is where heart-felt sensibility prevails. No doubt. But the heart and its sensibility do not create the motives of action. Motives are established earlier. Compassion only enters my heart after the mental impression of a person arousing compassion appears in my consciousness/mind. The way to the heart is through the head.
The meaning to aim for: Love, compassion, and patriotism are driving forces for actions that are not capable of being rationalized or understood through reductionist thinking.
1.11 Formation of Mental Impressions/Depictions/Images/Pictures
Love is no exception to this. If it is not merely the expression of the raw sexual drive, then it depends on the mental impressions/images/pictures we form of the loved one. The more idealistic are these mental impressions/pictures/images, the more blissful is our love. Even here, thought is the father of feeling.
[Vorstellung is going to give us a run for the entirety of the book.
I suggest that no English term accurately reflects what Steiner establishes later in this book as a meaningful concept indicated with this word. So, to lay to rest the bleating ghosts and ingrained assumptions raised by other translations, I suggest a novel term: mental impression. Let’s continue to keep the options open.]
1.12 Seeing Good Qualities
It is said that love makes us blind to the flaws of the loved one. But we can turn this around and say that love opens our eyes to the good qualities/merits of the loved one. Many pass by without noticing these good qualities. One person sees them and, just because of this, love awakens within. What has this person done other than produce a mental impression/image/picture of something that hundreds of others have failed to see? Others do not love because they lack that mental impression.

[19] We can approach this subject from whatever point we like, yet it becomes ever clearer that an investigation into the origin of thought is required before inquiring into the nature of human action. So now I will turn to this [primary] question.
[‘...from whatever point we like’ is a subtle joke on those who do not believe we have the liberty to want as we like.]
 
======== end of Chapter 1 =========
 
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