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Freedom of Thought and Societal Forces: Implementing the Demands of Modern Society (New)
by Steiner, Rudolf
Publisher: Steiner Books
Book ID: 9780880105972, 0880105976
Usually available in 1-2 weeks
Freedom of Thought and Societal Forces provides a broad, accessible overview of Rudolf Steiner's thinking during the first period of his activism on behalf of "Social Threefolding." Readers will be surprised at the freshness of his thought and his radical ability to face issues. He acknowledged that the demand for social change derived, most of all, from the working class, who, as a result of industrialization, had been forced into a virtually indentured life dominated exclusively by economic activity. But, from Steiner's point of view the underlying issue was not only economic, it was also spiritual or cultural. Culture and the cultured classes had become estranged from "real life." What was needed was a culture that included all classes -- a free cultural life. At the same time, labor should be shifted to the sphere of rights, the only place where the freedom that workers seek was to be found. Capital, too, should be liberated from egotism and allowed -- like goods -- simply to circulate. Above all, Steiner understood that social realities could not be separated from the spiritual realities of human existence.
From this point of view, we lack knowledge of ourselves as spiritual beings. Thinking has become abstract. To remedy this, we must first admit it and develop modesty and humility. Second, we must increase our capacity to love one another and the world. Approaching this reality from another side, we see that what ordinary individual thinking also afflicts culture in general, which is also removed from reality. Culture, like thinking, must become alive and universally human. This is impossible, however, unless we develop what Steiner calls “freedom of thought.” Authentic freedom of thought is always ethical and overcomes egotism. Indeed, a more general exercise of freedom in thought, as Steiner conceives it, provides a way through the twin dangers of materialism and abstraction, which together threaten society both in the narrower sense of “national” life and in the more global, geopolitical sense.
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