Charles Weems

Honors 391AH Philosophy of Freedom

In 1893, the Austrian philosopher and scientist, Rudolf Steiner, published a book exploring the basis for free will. His analysis of consciousness found thinking to be the root of the human psyche. In Steiner's view, intuitive thinking, the kind of reflective thinking through which we acquire new concepts, is a fundamental activity of the human spirit. Because such thinking can be sense-free and self-aware, it provides the basis for true freedom of choice if we learn to exercise it. Steiner founded numerous movements that are still active, including Waldorf Education, Camphill communities serving people with developmental disabilities, biodynamic agriculture, a branch of holistic medicine, and schools of art, movement, architecture, and speech. Although he published many books, he always urged people to read this one, to truly enrich their lives. In this course we carefully follow Steiner's detailed logic, to develop an understanding of intuitive thinking and free will. In preparation for our discussions, each week's homework will involve reading and summarizing a chapter, by condensing each paragraph to a sentence, which is essential to grasping his intense chain of reasoning. We will also explore a series of contemplative and meditative exercises that he recommended for developing deeper capacities for intuitive thinking.

Syllabus with reading schedule is here