page contents


2. The Fundamental Desire For Knowledge

2. The Fundamental Desire For Knowledge

Thought-Content with World-Content  

 "Only when we have made the world-content into our thought-content, do we find again the unity from which we have separated ourselves. We will see later this goal can only be reached when the task of scientific research is understood on a deeper level than is usually the case." TPOF 2.0

Wall Of Separation
As children we felt ourselves to be One with Nature. But as soon as we begin to have thoughts, we question the world and desire answers. The mental process then splits our world into two parts: the outer perceived-world and our inner thought-world. In the building up of our thought-content we erect a wall of separation between ourselves and the world. The universe appears to us as two opposing sides, Self and World. Our childhood unity is lost and we confront the world as separate individuals.

Feeling Harmony And Unity
But we never lose the feeling that we belong to the world, that the universe is a unity embracing both Self and World. This feeling for harmony makes us strive to bridge the separation and guides our return by expressing satisfaction or dissatisfaction with our attempts to reconcile the two sides. While I am seeing Nature outside of me, I feel something more of Nature within me. This feeling precedes the appearance of inner truth that is pressing toward manifestation.

Bond Of Connection
While it is “thought” that separates us from the world, it will be “thought” that reconnects us with it. Our life is a continuing search for the unity between ourselves and the world. Religion, art and science all pursue this same goal. Only when we have made the world-content into our thought-content, do we restore our lost childhood bond of connection —on a higher level. Inner truth resolves the separation between Self and World because inner truth belongs not only to the Self, but also to the World. Only inner truth can satisfy our desire for knowledge.

STEP #37 (2.1)
Compare Material World with Materialism

Material World
World-Content: The attention of the Materialist is on the physical world. He forms thoughts about the phenomena of the world in terms of Matter and physical processes. This gives him two different kinds of facts: the material (physical) world and the thoughts about it.


Thought-Content: The Materialist attempts to explain the world with thoughts about matter and physical processes. He attributes the power of thinking to Matter, rather than to himself. He tries to understand thought by regarding it as a purely physical process. He credits mechanical, chemical, and organic processes with the ability to think.

Shift Problem Away From Self
Desire For Knowledge: One-sided Materialism can never provide a satisfactory explanation of the world. The Materialist shifts the problem away from himself. He sees no need to reflect on his own nature, so the same problem—feeling separate from the world—keeps coming back.

STEP #38 (2.2)
Compare Spiritual World with Spiritualism

Spiritual World
World-Content: The Spiritualist’s attention is on the Spiritual World. The Spiritualist denies Matter (the World) any independent existence and conceives it as merely a product of Mind (the Self). He considers the whole phenomenal world to be nothing more than a fabric woven by Mind out of itself.

Thought-Content: The Spiritualist has no interest in the Material World and its laws. Matter, they say, is only the manifestation of the underlying spiritual. The physical world is never found in all the spiritual theory he achieves by his own spiritual effort.

World Is A Closed Book
Desire For Knowledge: As long as the one-sided Spiritualist remains in spiritual theory, his mind does not produce knowledge of the world or action in the world. The world is a closed book to the Spiritualist, unless he establishes a non-spiritual relation to it.

STEP #39 (2.3)
Compare External World with Realism

External World
World-Content: The attention of the Realist is on the external world that surrounds him. To know the external world, one must turn one's eye outwards and acquire experience. Without experience the Mind can have no practical content.

Thought-Content: Experience gained in the external world provides the mind with practical knowledge needed to successfully carry out action. With this experience we are able to realize our intentions with the help of physical things and forces.

Ideals Lacking
Desire For Knowledge: We are dependent on the external world to get things done. But the one-sided Realist may lack the ideals needed to satisfy our need to accomplish meaningful things.

STEP #40 (2.4)
Compare World Of Ideas with Idealism

World Of Ideas
World-Content: The attention of the Idealist is on the world of ideas and ideals. He attempts to connect with the world by constructing a system of ideas out of himself, without regard to practical experience.

Thought-Content: A one-sided Idealist attempts to derive the whole edifice of the world from the “Ego.” What he accomplishes is a magnificent thought-structure of the world without any content of actual experience. A purely Material World has no meaning. The Idealist looks for a progressive tendency within the external world. 

Cannot Do Away With External World
Desire For Knowledge: The one-sided Idealist cannot do away with the external world just as the Materialist cannot do away with the Mind.

STEP #41 (2.5)
Compare Material World And World Of Ideas
 with Materialistic-Idealism

Material World And World Of Ideas
World-Content: This next view, Materialistic-Idealism, accepts both Materialism and Idealism. It’s attention is on the Material World and the World of Ideals. By accepting the view of Materialism it denies the Mind by declaring all phenomena in the world—including our thought—to be the product of physical-processes. 

Thought-Content: By also accepting a view that is a variation of Idealism, it denies the external world by saying sense-perception only gives us sense-effects, not true copies of the world. These sense-effects given to us in perception include the thoughts we project into the world. Thus, everything we perceive—including the brain and its physical processes—is actually the product of thought.

The Paradox Of Materialistic-Idealism
Desire For Knowledge: Materialistic-Idealism accepts both Materialism and Idealism. In doing so, it denies both the Mind and the external world, and finds itself within the contradiction of a dissatisfying paradox. Thought is produced by physical processes, and the physical processes (as perceived) are produced by thought.

STEP #42 (2.6)
Compare Indivisible Unity with Two-Fold Manifestation

Indivisible Unity Of Matter And Mind
World-Content: Science has shown how Matter and Mind are already united. Things in the world are indivisibly united with the laws (thought) that govern it. Brain scans demonstrate that our brain-processes are indivisibly united with our thought-processes. Quantum physics shows that Mind is connected with Matter all the way down to the simplest level of subatomic particles.

Two-Fold Manifestation
Thought-Content: Even though Mind and Matter are found to be united in the world, the important question is, How does this unity come to manifest itself to us in a two-fold way? We become conscious of the world by looking outside. We become conscious of our thought by looking within. The world and our thoughts about it do not at first appear to us as an indivisible unity, but are divided into two separate parts. We have to unite our thought-content with the world-content.

Problem Originates In Consciousness, Not The World
Desire For Knowledge: Nothing is gained by seeing the world as an indivisible unity. This shifts the question away from the problem, which is our dissatisfaction with the split that originates in our consciousness between the world and our thoughts.

STEP #43 (2.7)
Compare Contrast Self with Mystery Of Nature

Contrast Self With World
World-Content: It is in our own consciousness that we first encounter the basic and primal polarity. As soon as we begin having thoughts about the world, we break away from the mother ground of Nature and contrast ourselves as “Self” in opposition to the “World.” We observe the world and form our own opinion about it that initially separates us from the truth and others.

Mystery Of Nature
Thought-Content: A poet expressed the human condition in this way: “We are surrounded by Nature, yet we are strangers to her. She constantly speaks to us, yet she does not reveal her secrets.” We are surrounded by a world that we can observe. But even though we can see the world, and have thoughts about it, it remains a mystery to us.

Nature Within
Desire For Knowledge: “Human beings are all within her, and she in each of them.” Nature expresses itself to us in observation and in thought. To make the world-content into our thought-content we must look deeper within ourselves to find the Nature (thought) within us that corresponds to the Nature (world) outside us.

STEP #44 (2.8)
Compare Feel Estranged with Feel Belong

Feel Estranged From Nature
World-Content: We live within the world of Nature yet feel estranged from her.

Feel We Belong To Nature
Thought-Content: We also feel that we belong to Nature. This feeling of belonging to Nature means a connection still exists. The outer working of Nature also lives in us.

Feel Nature Within
Desire For Knowledge: While I am seeing Nature outside of me, at the same time I feel something more of Nature within me. This feeling is the key to finding a connection with Nature once again.

STEP #45 (2.9)
Compare Nature Is Within with Knowing Nature Within

Nature Is Within
World-Content: What is the path back to Nature? It is true we tore ourselves away from Nature as soon as we became conscious of having thoughts, but a part of Nature remains deep within us. By seeking out the essence of Nature in us, we will discover our connection with her once more.

Know Nature Within
Thought-Content: We can find nature outside us only if we first know her within us. Spiritual dualism fails to do this. It considers the human mind a spiritual entity entirely foreign to Nature and attempts somehow to attach it on to Nature..

Path Of Inquiry
Desire For Knowledge: What corresponds to nature within us will be our guide. This marks out our path of inquiry. We will probe into the depths of our being, to find there the conceptual counterpart that corresponds to Nature.

STEP #46 (2.10)
Compare Merely ‘I’ with More Than ‘I’

Merely ‘I’
World-Content: The investigation of our own being must bring us the solution to the problem. It is not enough to say of our inner life: Here ‘I’ am merely ‘I’.

More Than ‘I’
Thought-Content: We must find a place within, where something new is added to our being. We must reach a place where we can say: Here is something more than ‘I’.

Unity Restored
Desire For Knowledge: By looking within an element is discovered that belongs not only to the Self, but also to the World. A concept that arises from within our inner nature is our own, but at the same time, it belongs to Nature. By linking the world-content with its corresponding thought-content, our childhood unity that was once felt, is restored on a higher level by means of thinking.

STEP #47 (2.11)
Compare Conscious Experience with Terms Representing Experience

Descriptions Of Consciousness
World-Content: This presentation is not meant to be academic or scholarly. We have been concerned with simple descriptions of what we all experience in our own consciousness.

Terms Represent Actual Experience
Thought-Content: The terms included such as 'Self', 'Mind', 'World', 'Nature' etc. are not being used according to their precisely defined academic definitions found in Psychology and Philosophy. Instead, they are being used to represent actual experience.

Guide To The Conscious Experience Of Cognition
Desire For Knowledge: One of the keys of study here is to use the descriptions given in the book as a step by step guide to become conscious of one’s own processes of cognition.

STEP #48 (2.12)
Compare Everyday Life with Life Without Interpretation

Description Of Everyday Life
World-Content: Ordinary consciousness does not know the sharp distinctions of scholarship. The purpose here has been solely to record the facts of how we experience everyday life.

Life Without Interpretation
Thought-Content: To object that the above discussions have not been scientific would be like quarreling with the reciter of a poem for failing to accompany every line at once with aesthetic criticism.

Experience Of Consciousness
Desire For Knowledge: I am not concerned with how scholarship has interpreted consciousness, but with how we experience it from moment to moment.

Next Chapter
In the next chapter, “Thinking As A Means Of Forming A View Of The World”, we will look within and investigate the essence of Nature given to us as thought. What is thinking and how is it done?

Email me when people comment –

You need to be a member of The Philosophy Of Freedom to add comments!

Join The Philosophy Of Freedom

© Tom Last 2017