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Truth and Science
GA 3


Present5t/n Known also as Truth and Knowledge day philosophy suffers from an unhealthy belief 6t/n Glauben. Belief, of Anglo-Saxon derivation, suggests intellectual assent, whereas faith, of PIE derivation, (Vertrauen in German), involves trust in a direct perception of truth, and is not used here. . in Kant. This work is intended to be a contribution toward overcoming this. It would be wrong to belittle this man's lasting contributions to the development of German scholarship. But the time has come to recognize that the foundation for a truly satisfying view of the world and of life can be laid only by adopting a position which contrasts strongly with Kant's. What did he achieve? He showed that the foundation of things lying beyond the world of our senses and our reason, and which his predecessors sought to find by means of stereotyped concepts, cannot be known, is inaccessible. From this he concluded that our scientific efforts must be limited to what is within reach of experience, and that we cannot attain knowledge of any supersensible primal grounds, of the “thing-in-itself”. But suppose the “thing-in-itself” and something’s transcendental primeval grounds are nothing but illusions! It is easy to see that this is the case. It is an instinctive urge, inseparable from human nature, to search for the deep nature of things and their primal principles. This is the basis of all scientific activity. There is, however, not the slightest reason for seeking these primal grounds outside the given physical and spiritual world, so long as a comprehensive investigation of this world does not lead to the discovery of elements within it that clearly point to an influence coming from beyond it.

Our discussion therefore seeks to show that everything necessary to explain and account for the world is within the reach of our thinking. The adoption of principles lying outside of our world shows merely the prejudiced preconception of a dead philosophy living in ingeniously contrived dogmatic illusions. Kant himself would have come to this conclusion had he really investigated the powers inherent in our thinking. Instead of this, he shows in the most complicated way that we cannot reach the ultimate principles existing beyond our direct experience, because of the way our knowing faculties are set up. There is, however, no reason for transferring these principles into another world. Kant did indeed refute “dogmatic” philosophy, but he put nothing in its place. This is why Kant was opposed by the German philosophers who followed. Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel did not worry in the least about the limits to knowing erected by Kant, but sought the ultimate principles within the world accessible to human common sense and reason (Vernunft). Though he maintained as eternal and irrefutable the truths Kant concluded in his critique of sense and reason, even Schopenhauer found himself compelled to search for primal world causes along paths very different from those of his master. The mistake of these thinkers was in seeking an inner familiarity with the highest truths without having first laid a groundwork by investigating the nature of knowing itself. Therefore, the proud thought-structures of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel stand without a foundation, the lack of which had a damaging effect on their thought-process. Without familiarity with how the pure world of ideas is connected to the realm of sensory perception, they built error on error, bias upon bias. It is no wonder that their all too daring systems could not withstand the fierce opposition of an epoch so ill-disposed toward philosophy, so that much of good quality was swept away with the pitiful bad.

The aim of the following inquiry is to remedy the lack described above. Unlike Kant, the purpose here is not to show what our faculty of knowing cannot do, but rather to show what it can do.

The outcome of this investigation into what is generally taken as truth is not merely an ideal reflection of something real, but rather is a free production of the human spirit, in that nothing at all can exist unless brought forth by ourselves. The object of knowing is not to repeat in conceptual form something which already exists, but rather to create a completely new arena, which when combined with the world given by our senses constitutes complete reality. Engaging in this spiritual creativity is a person’s most noble activity, and is organically connected to general world happenings. Without this activity, world events could not be thought of as a self-contained whole. Concerning the course of world events, a person is not a passive onlooker, merely replicating pictures within his spirit of what takes place in the cosmos without his own activity, but rather is the active co-producer of world processes, and inner knowing is the consummate arm within the organism of the universe.

For the laws of our actions, for our moral ideals, this viewpoint has the important consequence that these also cannot be viewed as the image of something external to us, but rather as something that only exists within us. A powerful entity, whose commandments we must regard as our moral laws, is in this way also rejected. We do not know any “categorical imperative”,7 t/n Categorical imperatives for Kant are actions that are imperative due to their belonging to a category of actions that we ought to hold as universal law due to their nature. which similarly is a voice external to us, that stipulates what we are to do, or what we are to allow to happen. Our moral ideals are our own free creations. We must carry out only what we ourselves lay down as our standard of conduct. The viewpoint of truth grounded on free activity is therefore also a moral teaching, whose foundation is the completely free personality.

Of course, these sentences only apply to that part of our actions whose laws we infuse with idealism in complete consciousness. So long as motives are still innate, conceptually unclear, or unconscious, someone of a higher spiritual level can probably recognize to what extent these laws of our actions are founded merely on individuality and circumstance, even though we ourselves perceive them to be affecting us from outside, compelling us. Every time we succeed in infusing our motives with clarity, with conscious awareness, we make a conquest in the field of freedom..

How our outlook is related to the most significant philosophical work of the present, for instance the world-view of Eduard von Hartmann, the reader will learn in detail in our discussion, insofar as the problem of knowing 8 t/n Erkenntnisproblem, AKA epistomology comes into consideration. It is a philosophy of freedom, made as a prologue to a more detailed work soon to follow.9t/n The Philosophy of Freedom, originally known in English as The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.

Increasing the fullness of existence-awareness of human beings is clearly the real goal of science (Wissenschaft). Anyone who does not pursue this intentionally is only following the work of whomever his master is; he is “researching” just by chance. He can never be called “an independent thinker”.

What gives the development of science its true value is the philosophical presentation of the meaning and value of its results for humankind. It is my aim to contribute to this. But perhaps modern science does not ask for justification! If so, two things are certain. First, that I shall have written a superfluous work, and second, that modern scholars are striving in vain, and do not know their own aims.

In concluding this preface, I cannot omit a personal remark. Until now, I have always presented my philosophical views in connection with Goethe's world-view. I was first introduced to this by my honored teacher Karl Julius Schröer,10t/n Schröer was Steiner’s professor at the Technical College of Vienna, a German language professor, who lectured on Goethe, Schiller, and Walther von der Vogelweide, and who recommended Steiner to be the editor of Goethe’s natural scientific writings. who in my view reached the heights as a Goethe-scholar because he always looked beyond the particular to the idea.

In this work, however, I hope to have shown that the whole structure of my thought rests on its own foundation, and need not be derived from Goethe's world-view. My thoughts set forth here, and further amplified in my forthcoming book Philosophy of Freedom, have been developed over many years. And it is with a feeling of deep gratitude that I here acknowledge how the friendliness of the Specht family in Vienna, while I was engaged in the education of their children,11 t/n From July 1884 to September 1890, Rudolf Steiner tutored the 4 Specht sons. This was reviewed in Steiner’s autobiography. provided me with an ideal environment for developing these ideas. To this should be added that I owe the final shape of many thoughts now found in my Philosophy of Freedom to some stimulating talks with my deeply appreciated friend, Rosa Mayreder 12t/n Rosa Mayreder 1858–1938, an author, painter, musician, and feminist, circled in a plethora of artists, writers, and philosophers, including Rudolf Steiner. Her husband became rector of the Technical University of Vienna where Steiner was a student. in Vienna. Her own literary works, which spring from a sensitive noble artistic nature, presumably will soon be published.

Written in Vienna in the beginning of December 1891.
Dr. Rudolf Steiner