All Posts (285)

Pure Thinking In Everyday Life?

Normally pure thinking is recognized in fields such as mathematics and philosophy. Michael Muschalle makes the point in his "Goethe, Kant and Intuitive Thinking in Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Spiritual Activity" that we use pure thinking in every single act of knowledge on a daily basis. Pure thinking is thinking in universal concepts. So the concept "door" that does not refer to a specific door but to all doors in a universal concept.

I examined a recent experience in thinking wondering how I had arrived at a practical idea. I entered a room and a child was seated at a table with crayons who had started a crayon drawing, but the child's attention was being diverted to a pile of small plastic eyes used for gluing onto craft projects. I felt a discomfort as I wanted the child to continue with the art project and not have their attention split between two things.

My attention focused on the drawing and the pile of eyes next to it. My thinking had in mind the pure concept "drawing" next to the pure concept "eyes". Thinking intuition then discovered a relationship between the two, a common element between them which was the pure concept "animal". Animal relates to the drawing because you can draw an animal. Animal relates to eyes because an animal has eyes. This universal link found on the level of pure concepts was particularized in the concrete imagination-picture of drawing an animal and then using glue to attach the plastic eyes to the drawn animal. In this way the child could combine the two separate activities into one craft project.

After making this suggestion a person in the room said, "What a good idea!" By learning about how we get ideas through the study of The Philosophy Of Freedom and observing our thought processes we can experience more useful practical ideas in our everyday life. The ideas may not be that profound but they can improve a day.

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Not My Will, But Thy Will Be Done - Really?

Not My Will, But Thy Will Be Done?

Throughout the religious world, including anthroposophy, you hear the words, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” The religious leaders encourage us to submit our own will to obey a higher authority. Many people accept this as sensible considering we all make many bad decisions and the general desire to avoid taking responsibility for choices. After having difficulty reaching the “Divine will”, most then look to some wise human to bestow the Divine wisdom upon them.

POF 10.0 Eventually the conviction dawns on you that your authorities are, at bottom, human beings just as weak as yourself.

Of course the key factor is the “thy will” that should guide us, who or what is it? Anthroposophy will explain it with lofty spiritual theory that will confuse you until you fall back to your innocent childhood faith in higher authority or you won't bother trying to understand it but just accept that it confirms your childhood faith.

How can we mature enough to make our own decisions and take full responsibility for our choices? This begins with clear thinking so we can do our best to act out of our own highest knowing, which is our own highest authority.

The Philosophy Of Freedom has no need for the comfort food of religion, but just describes what it is to be a fully mature human being. Beginning with our particular life situation, we can discover the universal principles at work in it, and then reach our thinking and feeling into the realm of universal ideas to reflect. At this level intuitive insight works better. Its not about obeying “voices” as the lunatic, or gut feelings originating in pizza, but comprehending our insights. These new ideas become ideals when it motivates our action. We take what we have learned in our unbiased refection and imaginatively translate these ideals into specific action.

Because they are "our" insights we will be empowered. If we follow the ideas of another authority (Divine or human) we will lack power and will have to continually fall limply to our knees whining for help. 

When you are ready to remove the extra fluff, you find everything right here, as a responsible human being, what The Philosophy Of Freedom calls an ethical individualist. That's just my opinion.

POF 10.8 The moral laws which the Metaphysician is bound to regard as issuing from a higher power have, according to the upholder of Monism, been conceived by men themselves.

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How an action is born?

(Chapter Nine - The Idea of Freedom)

I'm preoccupied by the 3 concepts used by Rudolf Steiner to explain action:

1.Mobile (or driving force - permanent determining factor of the individual)

2.Motive (or the temporary determinant of will)

3.Characterological disposition

1. Those can be the driving force of an action: lusts or desires /feelings / representations/ concepts/ pure concepts.

One question about the driving force is why are they the permanent determining factor of the individual? Is it because one lives for a long period of time (sometimes maybe a lifetime) with the same desires/lusts, he has the same feelings in certain situations and he always reacts in the same way to them, and the measure of one's experience is limited so one can have just a limited amount of representations of "what to do" in different situations - so he does just those actions about which he has a representations?

2. Motives, says Rudolf Steiner, can be either representations or thoughts. A representation or a thought is a motive, only if it made a human being make an action, otherwise is just a candidate for a motive.

The example in the book is: the representation of going for a walk in the next half an hour. This is the candidate for being the motive of an action.

Now, the characterological disposition (c.d.) enters the scene. From what I read, I understood that the c.d. is a group of mental objects of different types: representations, concepts, mental pictures and feelings. (Representation being a individualized notion or a mental picture).


So when the candidate for being a motive enters one's consciousness,  objects from one's c.d. come to validate or invalidate the candidate. 

In the example from the book those objects that come to validate the candidate are: one's idea about the utility of walking, the value of one's health and in the end the feeling generated in me by the representation of taking a walk in the next half of hour.

*One thing that I forgot to say about c.d. is that is more or less permanent.

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thinking is living in spiritual content

Intuition, says R.S, is living in spiritual content and is what defines thinking. If you come to accept this, says R.S, you come to realize that the human organization (I read this as: the human brain) doesn't influence thinking, contrary to the common sense opinion. For example in the contemporary philosophy of mind, the reductionist would give this kind of explanations to sensations: the sensation of pain is the excitation of the c-fibers from the brain - and I suppose they had a similar conception on what thinking is.

Steiner says that thinking takes as a point of start the human organization, but then it makes it stop what it does and is occupying its space. Is maybe hard to imagine what  is happening in the head when you think. But when I think most intensely sometimes I feel as I'm above my head and there's this flow of energy pouring in to me from above, and sometimes I start even to hear some non physical sounds that sound more like a wind blowing through a hole. The usual counter-image of thinking (as R.S calls it and which he describes as lifeless) stops its activity and makes place for real thinking! 

Another phenomenological observation that I made is that when I read the  brain is making thinking (the common opinion) something in me was quite satisfied with that thought. And most of my life, my double was very satisfied with the materialism-conception. I do wonder why :)

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The Crossroads Film

I found the transcript for the Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview. It is located here. The video calls for a new worldview to solve the many world problems. I want to examine their solution and relate it to the solution presented in the Philosophy Of Freedom. The film maker wants to start a conversation and is even suggesting remixing of this video to produce your own video.

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© Tom Last 2017