Ethical individualism

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Ethical individualism, the philosophical foundations of which Rudolf Steiner already discussed in detail in his main philosophical work, the «Philosophy of Freedom», published in 1894[1], is intended to gradually expand ethics based on merely traditionally handed-down value concepts and moral duties through a truly free morality to moral autonomy and later to replace it completely. Ethical individualism is based on man's individual ability to grasp spiritual-moral content and values autonomously through moral intuition in a given situation, freely and independently of traditional moral principles, or to bring them forth anew creatively.

„The mere concept of duty excludes freedom because it does not want to recognise the individual, but demands subjection of the latter to a general norm. Freedom of action is only conceivable from the standpoint of ethical individualism.“ (Lit.:GA 4, p. 165)

„When Kant says of duty: "Duty! thou sublime, great name, which hast nothing popular in itself, which leads to ingratiation, but demands submission", which "lays down a law... before which all inclinations fall silent, even if in secret they oppose it", man replies from the consciousness of the free spirit: "Freedom! thou friendly, human name, who graspest in thyself all that is morally beloved, which most dignifies my humanity, and makest me nobody's servant, who dost not merely lay down a law, but waits what my moral love will itself recognise as a law, because it feels itself unfree towards every law that is only enforced."

This is the opposition of merely lawful and free morality.“ (Lit.:GA 4, p. 170f)



Supplementary remarks on the «Philosophy of Freedom»

References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: URL:
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.


  1. The "Philosophy of Freedom" was completed already at Michaelmas 1893.