Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path: A Philosophy of Freedom, Written in 1894 (CW 4)by Rudolf Steiner, Gertrude Reif Hughes
Of all of his works, Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path is the one that Steiner himself believed would have the longest life and the greatest spiritual and cultural consequences. It was written as a phenomenological account of the "results of observing the human soul according to the methods of natural science. This seminal work asserts that free spiritual activity - understood as the human ability to think and act independently of physical nature - is the suitable path for human beings today to gain true knowledge of themselves and of the universe. This is not merely a philosophical volume, but rather a warm, heart-oriented guide to the practice and experience of living thinking. Readers will not find abstract philosophy here, but a step-by-step account of how a person may come to experience living, intuitive thinking - "the conscious experience of a purely spiritual content." During the past hundred years since it was written, many have tried to discover this "new thinking" that could help us understand the various spiritual, ecological, social, political, and philosophical issues facing us. But only Rudolf Steiner laid out a path that leads from ordinary thinking to the level of pure spiritual activity - intuitive thinking - in which we become co-creators and co-redeemers of the world.
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This may be the most important book of this new century even though it has not been fully recognized in the past century. This edition is a new translation with a very fine introduction by Gertrude Reif Hughes. I preferred the two older titles 'Philosophy of Freedom' and 'Philosophy of Spiritual Activity' because they hold greater meaning for the purpose of the book. This great work can not be read in the normal sense because it requires you to think about your own thinking, an extremely difficult task. It is well worth it because by doing this you will discover your spiritual self, the 'I' that does not die with your body. This is a real self-discovery, not because Steiner says it is so. Most people, however, prefer to stay asleep to this experience or to join a religion, cult or have a guru tell them whatever. For the real seeker, this is THE BOOK.
This is a smooth translation of a text which, given the rapid evolution of the English language, is not an easy accomplishment. The introductions by Gertrude Reif Hughes and the translator Michael Lipson are excellent. I would however, have given the chosen title "Intuitive thinking as a Spiritual path" to the Reif Hughes introduction and stuck with "The Philosophy of Freedom" as the best title. There are a few small issues in the translation. Much of the difficulty that I had--this is the fifth translation which I have read--is to do with the current fashion, which avoids the word "man" and all forms of the pronoun "he". This is a book which describes, ethical individualism, and the point is somewhat muted by the constant recourse to the plural "they", especially in the closing sentence. I am grateful for the work that has been done, but for my own ongoing work will stick with the Maichael Milson translation.