for the publication of this article by Johannes Kreyenbuehl are the
indications made by Rudolf Steiner in his
Theory of Knowledge
and in his
Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.
In addition, the increasing
interest by many in Kreyenbuehl's work also prompted us to make at least
something of his work available in the English language. We feel that
the present publication ought not just to be of interest to philosophers
but to everyone who is concerned with the deeper issues of morality.
As we struggle through this rather difficult paper, we are permitted
to witness and participate in the struggle of a great thinker. This
was a struggle which later in his life led Kreyenbuehl to concern himself
with the Mystery of Golgatha.
Johannes Kreyenbuehl? An obituary written about Johannes Kreyenbuehl,
who was born November 3, 1846, and died October 24, 1929, will give
a brief description of this memorable person's life:
the ripe age of 83 Dr. Johannes Kreyenbuehl was called to eternity.
A quiet scholar, an indefatigable investigator, a passionate seeker
for the truth has concluded his earthly journey. His heritage and talents
would have permitted him a comfortable life in a dignified profession
in his hometown Luzerne. Since however, in an unliberal era, as professor
at the Lyzeum Plato, which he revered for the duration of his life,
he offended the church fathers, he had to leave his teaching post and
eke out his existence as simple schoolmaster in the desolate town of
Zurzach. A sensitive, musically very talented wife, faithfully supported
him. As teacher in Zurzach he received his doctorate summa cum laude
on the basis of his earlier, much noted investigations of Plato's
Thaetus at the University of Basel. The oral exam consisted of a
brief friendly discussion with Professor Wackernagel. Out of the depressing
conditions of Zurzach he found his way back to Zurich, where he was active
as journalist, author, and lecturer for platonic philosophy for many
years. Here he also published his most significant work, the
Evangelium der Wahrheit
(The Gospel of Truth),
which received high praise
and recognition. A well know historian of religion said the following
about that work: ‘With this great work the solution to the question
concerning the origin and the significance of the so-called
Gospel of St. John
has come another great step forward.’ The Englishman Chaymes
spontaneously congratulated the author for his ‘epochal’ work
and suggested that he also write a comprehensive work about Gnosis.
He thought however that such a task exceeded the strength of one person
and instead turned to the solution of the much debated question concerning
Jesus, to which he devoted the rest of his life. He was busy with that
problem right to the end. With critical view and relentless vigor in
numerous smaller publications, he grappled with the extant fashionable
views and scientific investigations.
he was a contributor to this paper for many years of articles concerning
his specialty. In other papers he was active as art and theater critic.
one of those innately scholarly individuals, easily recognizable even
outwardly, who still had the inclination and the leisure to devote himself
to spiritual matters. The departed has left us a heritage with which
science will occupy itself as the investigations of an independent and
courageous and free spirit.”
(Neue Zuricher Zeitung, Oct. 29, 1929).
spiritual battles — not considering the accompanying worldly
battles with authorities and colleagues — are somewhat indicated
in the following list of some of his publications, none of which are
available in English:
- 1868: The Influence of Kantian Philosophy on Schiller.
He received a first prize for this essay at the age of 22.
- 1870: Materialism in Connection with the Empirical State of
- 1873: About Plato's Thaetus.
- 1874: Newer Investigations about Plato's Thaetus. About Plato's
- 1876: The Philosopher of the Unconscious alld Christianity.
The Uniity of Consciousness.
- 1877: Religion and Christianity. Critical-exegetic Contributions
to Plato's Symposium.
- 1879: Teleology as World View.
- 1881: Pessimism and Joy.
- 1882: Ethical-spiritual Activity in Kant.
- 1883: Philosophy's Significance for the Empirical Sciences.
(To be published by Mercury Press in the near future.)
- 1886: Pestalozzi as Sociologist.
- 1894: Freedom of Thought 100 Years Ago.
- 1895: Contributions to a Philosophy of History.
- 1899: Contributions to a Philosophy of Nature.
- 1900: The Gospel of Truth — Vol. I. — A New
Solution of the Johannine Question.
- 1902: The Place of Jesus' Judgement.
- 1905: The Gospel of Truth — Vol. II.
- 1921: Credo of a Disillusiollist.
writes in his
Philosophy of Freedom, Chapter 9,
about the article here published:
“... The clearest
account of this spring of action (of practical reason, ed.)
has been given by Kreyenbuehl. In my opinion his article
on this subject is one of the most important contributions to present-day
philosophy, more especially to Ethics. Kreyenbuehl calls the spring of
action, of which we are speaking, the practical a priori, i.e., an
impulse to action emanating directly from my intuition.”
that Rudolf Steiner repeats his indications in the
Theory of Knowledge, Chapter 19:
The World-Fundament has poured itself out completely into the
world; it has not drawn back from the world in order to control it from
without, but impels it from within; it has not withheld itself from
the world. The highest form in which it emerges within the reality of
ordinary life is that of thought and, with this, human personality.
If, then, the World-Fundament has goals, these are identical with the
goals which man sets up for himself as he manifests his own being. Man
is not behaving in accordance with the purposes of the Guiding Power
of the world when he investigates one or another of His commandments,
but when he behaves in accordance with his own insight. For in him the
Guiding Power of the world manifests Himself. He does not live as Will
somewhere outside of man; he has renounced his own will in order that
all might depend upon the will of man. If man is to be enabled to become
his own lawgiver, all thought about world-determinations outside of
man must be abandoned.
take this opportunity to call attention to the very excellent treatment
of the subject by Kreyenbuehl in
(Vol. 18, No.3). This paper correctly explains how the maxims of our
conduct result directly from the determination of our individuality;
how everything which is ethically great is not given through the power
of the moral law but is performed on the basis of the direct impulse
of an individual idea.”
by Harold Jurgens is very faithful to the German and maintains the flavor
of Kreyenbuehl's unique style. The German title of the essay is
Die ethische Freiheit bei Kant;
the choice was made to translate “Freiheit” as
“spiritual activity.” This is in agreement with Rudolf
Steiner's indications that the meaning of “Freiheit” is not
“freedom”. He discusses this problem in lecture 14 of
Soul Economy and Waldolf Education,
in which he points out that the ending “-heit” refers to
a quality of man's inner nature, to something which is mobile in a
person. The ending “-tum” (-dom), however, refers to
something which expresses a definite fact, something which happens
only once. It thus seems more in accordance with the true meaning of
“Freiheit” to translate it with “spiritual
activity,” and what “spiritual activity” is will become
evident in the article itself.