Written in 1894 (CW 4)
Are we free, whether we know it or not? Is any notion of individual freedom merely an illusion?
Steiner tackles these age-old questions in a new and unique way. He shows that, by considering our own activity of thinking, we can realize the reasons for everything we do. And if these reasons are taken from the realm of our ideals, our actions are free, because only we determine them.
The question of freedom cannot be settled by philosophical argument. Nor is it simply granted to us. If we want to be free, we must work through our own inner activity to overcome unconscious urges and habitual thinking. To accomplish this, we must reach a point of view that recognizes no limits to knowledge, sees through all illusions, and opens the door to an experience of the reality of the spiritual world. Then we can achieve the highest level of evolution—we will recognize ourselves as free spirits.
This volume is a translation of Die Philosophie der Freiheit (GA 4) from German by Michael Wilson.
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.
Michael Henry Wilson (1901–1985) was born in Birmingham, UK, into a Quaker family. His mother, Theodora Wilson, met Rudolf Steiner and visited the first Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. For several years he was a professional violinist and conductor. A meeting with the German curative educator, Fried Geuter, in 1929 led him to leave his successful musical career and to study at the Goetheanum and become fluent in German. Later he was a founder and director of the first curative home in the UK. He translated several of Rudolf Steiner’s works, including his highly acclaimed edition of The Philosophy of Freedom, and researched and lectured on Goethe's theory of color. Michael Wilson lectured at Emerson College for many years after its move to Forest Row and remained connected with it until his death. He was devoted to his wife Betty and their three children, Diana, Robin, and Christopher.