The Philosophy Of Freedom
Chapter 3 Thinking As A Means Of Forming A View Of The World
HOW DOES THINKING PRODUCE INNER TRUTH?
Compare Observing With Thinking
Observer: As a spectator, I remain completely without influence over the course of an observed event. The event takes place independent of me. As long as I remain a mere spectator, I cannot tell in advance what will happen. I must wait to see what will happen, and can only follow it with my eyes.
Thinker: The situation is different when I begin to reflect on my observation. The purpose of my reflection is to establish concepts of the event. The conceptual process depends on me. It requires my active involvement for it to take place. After I discover the concepts that correspond to the event, I can predict what will happen.
Inner Truth: Our desire for inner truth, compels us to seek for concepts that relate to the events we observe.
Observer: In the everyday state, we observe a tree and think about it. While we are looking at something, our thoughts, opinions, and views are stirred up in the background. I remain passive in the everyday state. My thought activity happens without any participation on my part.
Thinker: If I want to directly observe my thought, I must become active and enter the exceptional state by directing my attention within. By means of introspective observation, I am able to observe my thoughts and examine them. While we study many things in the world, we do not normally study our thoughts.
Inner Truth: When we enter the exceptional state and observe inner truth, we find that it is different than all other things.
Feeling Passively Happens
Observer: While observing an object, such as a rose, a feeling of pleasure is kindled. We remain passive as the feeling just happens to us. When I know the feeling an event arouses in me, I learn about my personality.
Concept Actively Formed
Thinker: To form thoughts about the table, I must be active. I am definitely aware that forming concepts requires my activity. Concepts and ideas are brought forth by our thinking effort. By knowing the concepts that correspond to an event, I learn about the event.
Inner Truth: We must be actively involved in the thinking process, if we are to produce inner truth.
Observer: The object appears before me, as something that is ‘objectively there’ in my field of observation. I see myself before something that is not of my doing. I confront it. I must accept it before I begin my thinking process.
Thinker: While I am reflecting on an object, I am absorbed in it. My full attention is immersed in the object. This is thinking contemplation. What is peculiar about thinking is that I forget my thoughts while I am thinking about the object. When I think, I do not look at the thinking I am producing, because I am focused on the object I am thinking about.
Inner Truth: We immerse ourselves in thinking contemplation to produce inner truth.
Observer: To confront thought we must enter the exceptional state by directing our attention within. As we have discussed, we cannot observe our present thinking while it is taking place. Because for thinking to take place, my full attention must remain on the object I am thinking about. So to reflect on my thoughts, I must recall to mind what is now a past thought. It is the same whether I observe my own earlier thoughts, or follow the thought-process of another person, or set up an imaginary thought-process in the conceptual sphere.
Thinker: We use thinking contemplation to study thought, just as we use it to study objects in the world. To think about our thinking requires two steps. First, I have to create a thought-process. Next, I become immersed in it with my full attention. The reason it requires two steps is because it is not possible to create, and contemplate what we have created, at the same time.
Inner Truth: We must create inner truth, before we can contemplate it.
Observed Event Unknown
Observer: When we outwardly observe an event in the world, we do not know the surrounding context and the connections between the parts of the event. Without going beyond the observed phenomena, we cannot know why thunder follows lightning.
Thinker: When I observe a thought-process, I observe something I create out of my own activity. This is why I know it more directly, and more intimately than any other process in the world. I know the characteristic features of its course, and the details of how it takes place. And I know immediately, from the content of the two concepts, why my thought connects the concept of thunder with the concept of lightning. This does not necessarily mean I have the correct concepts of thunder and lightning, but I do know why I connect them.
Inner Truth: Because I create inner truth, I known it more directly and more intimately than anything else in the world.
Observer: The transparent clarity of thinking becomes known to us by observing our thought. It does not require any knowledge of the physiological basis of thought. How one physical process in my brain causes or influences another while I am carrying on a thought-process is irrelevant. In our Materialistic age, it is necessary to point out that we can discuss thinking without entering the field of brain physiology.
Thinker: Most people find it difficult to grasp the concept of pure thinking, such as occurs in mathematics. What I observe in studying a thought-process is not what process in my brain connects the concept lightning with the concept thunder. What I observe is my "reason" for bringing these two concepts into a certain relationship. Observation shows that in linking thought with thought, I am guided by the content of my thoughts.
Inner Truth: When thinking produces inner truth, the linking of thoughts is guided by the content of my thoughts.
Certain Of Thought
Observer: Every normal person, if they are willing, has the ability to observe thought. This observation is the most important that can be made. What I observe is my own creation. All other things and events are there independent of me and are, at first, unfamiliar. With thought I know how it comes about and clearly see its conditions and relationships. My thought is the only thing I know with absolute certainty, for I myself bring it into existence. This firm point gives us reasonable hope that we can successfully understand the world.
Certain Of Existence
Thinker: It is only in thinking that I grasp myself, standing within the world-whole. As a thinker, I define my reason for existence with the self-supporting content of my thought activity. From this firm point of knowing why I exist, I can ask: "Do other things exist in the same, or in some other way?
Inner Truth: I know inner truth with absolute certainty. This establishes a firm point to know myself, to know the world, and to know my reason for existence.
Remain Within Observation
Observer: To experience pure observation, we try to remain passive while the object makes an impression on us. But what goes unnoticed is that our thoughts mingle with what we see, and even intermix with the observation process itself. When I weave a web of thoughts around an object, I go beyond the observation. This raises the question, "What right do I have to do this?” “Do my thoughts relate to my observation?”
Remain Within Thought
Thinker: When we observe our thought, we do not have this problem of relating our thought to the outer world. Even though thoughts hover in the background while we observe thought, we add nothing unfamiliar. The relationships between thoughts are clear. When we think about our thoughts, we remain within the transparency of pure thinking.
Inner Truth: When we think about inner truth, we remain within the same familiar element, the realm of thought.
Know Nature, Then Create Nature
Observer: Nature already exists. If we want to create it again, we first have to know the principles of Nature. We have to observe the Nature that already exists to gain the knowledge needed to create it a second time. We copy the conditions of Nature’s existence in order to produce it again.
Create Thought, Then Know Thought
Thinker: What is impossible with nature—creating before knowing—we achieve with an act of thinking. We first create thought, then gain knowledge of it. If we wait to think until we already have knowledge, we would never think at all. We must resolutely dive straight into thinking and only afterward, by observing our new insight, gain knowledge of what we have done.
Inner Truth: We first create inner truth, then we gain knowledge of it.
Observer: When we perceive an object or event, the observation-process unconsciously weaves our thoughts into it. When the dependent thinker thinks about the event, he merely extracts the thoughts he has already projected into it. His thinking produces nothing new. The dependent thinker must depend on others for ideas. He looks to others to explain his view of the world.
Thinker: An independent thinker is not dependent on others. He originates his own view of the world. Others are not able to explain his views in a truer way than he can. While thoughts are, at first, unconsciously projected into what we observe causing perception bias, the independent thinker consciously analyzes the object to produce different thoughts. In thought, we also have a principle of self-subsistence. When we observe a horse, the idea we form alters it, because we all have differently functioning senses and intelligence. But when we observe our own thought, it is not altered. The independent thinker is able to form a self-supporting and self-subsisting worldview. Thought can be grasped by thought. The only question is whether we can grasp anything else by means of thought.
Inner Truth: Inner truth is self-supporting and self-subsisting, it is not dependent on anything else.
Start With Observation
Observer: The researcher turns immediately to the objects he wishes to understand. Certainly we need to consciously observe the object of our study before thoughts about it arise. But what good does it do to start with the object and subject it to our thinking, without first knowing whether thoughtful contemplation can offer insight into things?
Start With Thinking
Thinker: What is the starting-point for understanding the world? We must first examine thinking in a completely impartial way, without reference to a thinking subject or a thought object. There is no denying that we must understand what it means to think, and what it means to know, before anything else can be understood.
Inner Truth: The starting point for a human being to understand the world, is to understand the meaning of inner truth.
Correctness Of Thought
Observer: Some say the problem with knowing the world by means of thinking is that we cannot be sure whether our thought is right or wrong. They argue over what is the correct thought.
Application Of Thought
Thinker: It is understandable that some will have doubts whether we can know the world by means of thought. But it does not make sense to doubt the rightness of thought, when the thought is considered by itself. Thought is a fact and it is meaningless to speak of a fact as being right or wrong. At most I can have doubts about whether thought is rightly applied. It is the task of The Philosophy Of Freedom to show how far the application of thought to the world is a right application or a wrong one.
Inner Truth: When considered by itself, inner truth is a certain fact. But we can have doubts about whether it is correctly applied to the world.