The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity
GA 4

Translator's Appendix

The goal of this translation is to give the reader an experience as close as possible to that presented by the original book. Rudolf Steiner, in fact, made every possible effort to write his books “in such a way that they can be translated into other languages.” (January 5, 1922; GA 303) His writing is archetypal in its expression of living ideas and lends itself readily to English. I have therefore tried to keep to his own images, pace, and style, and to his own organization of the whole into chapters, paragraphs, and sentences. I have retained one form of punctuation no longer customary in English: the use of a dash after a period to indicate subparagraphs within paragraphs. Longer quotations are left as an integral part of the text, unindented, as in the original.

This book speaks to the direct experience of any reader willing to think actively about what he observes within and around himself. No specialized background is needed. I have therefore added no annotations that might draw the reader away from the primary activity of working with Rudolf Steiner's text itself. His quotations from the work of other thinkers are there mainly to embody particular ideas with which a free spirit must come to terms. His book Riddles of Philosophy, is recommended to anyone interested in the place these thinkers hold within the wider context of the history of ideas.

Something must still be said about the word Freiheit (literally, “freehood”). In a lecture in Dornach on January 5, 1922 (GA 303), Rudolf Steiner said of his book Die Philosophie der Freiheit that it should “never bear the title in English of ‘Philosophy of Freedom.’” In a lecture in Oxford on August 29, 1922 (GA 305), he again indicated that Freiheit has a different meaning than “freedom” does, and that in England one must speak of a “world view of spiritual activity (spirituelle Aktivität)” — a world view “of action, thinking, and feeling out of the spiritual individuality of man.” In the text, I have translated Freiheit as “inner freedom” (for Rudolf Steiner, Freiheit points more to man's inner being than “freedom” does); or as “freedom,” in the case of freedom of the will, for example.