Written in 1894 (CW 4)
Of all of his works, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity is the one that Steiner himself believed would have the longest life and the greatest spiritual and cultural consequences. It was written as a phenomenological account of the “results of observing the human soul according to the methods of natural science.
This seminal work asserts that free spiritual activity—understood as the human ability to think and act independently of physical nature—is the suitable path for human beings today to gain true knowledge of themselves and of the universe. This is not merely a philosophical volume, but rather a warm, heart-oriented guide to the practice and experience of living thinking.
Readers will not find abstract philosophy here, but a step-by-step account of how a person may come to experience living, intuitive thinking—“the conscious experience of a purely spiritual content.”
During the past hundred years since it was written, many have tried to discover this “new thinking” that could help us understand the various spiritual, ecological, social, political, and philosophical issues facing us. But only Rudolf Steiner laid out a path that leads from ordinary thinking to the level of pure spiritual activity—intuitive thinking—in which we become co-creators and co-redeemers of the world.
This volume is arguably the most essential of Steiner’s works. The thoughts in this book establish the foundation for all of Anthroposophy.
C O N T E N T S:
Preface by Rudolf Steiner
Science of Spiritual Activity (Freiheit)
1. Conscious Human Action
2. The Fundamental Desire for Knowledge
3. Thinking in the Service of Apprehending the World
4. The World as Perception
5. The Activity of Knowing the World
6. The Human Individuality
7. Are There Limits to Knowing?
The Reality of Spiritual Activity (Freiheit)
8. The Factors of Life
9. The Idea of Spiritual Activity (Freiheit)
10. Philosophy of Spiritual Activity and Monism
11. World Purpose and Life Purpose (the Vocation of Man)
12. Moral Imagination (Darwinism and Morality)
13. The Value of Life (Pessimism and Optimism)
14. Individuality and Genus
The Consequenses of Monism
The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity is a translation from German of Die Philosophie der Freiheit (GA 4).
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.