Tom Last's Posts (401)

Sort by

Study Course Steps 3.1 To 3.12

8219057256?profile=RESIZE_930x

3. Thinking As A Means Of Forming A View Of The World
Emancipation Of Thinking

3.0 Reflect On The Content Of Observation
Advance from Watching Spectator TO Thinker Who Predicts

"Observation and thinking are the two points of departure for all human spiritual striving, insofar as one is consciously striving. Everyday common sense as well as the most complicated scientific research, rest on these two fundamental pillars of our mind." TPOF 3.0

3293860178?profile=original

Spectator Watches
Observation: 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 Predicts
Thinking: 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.

Observation And Thinking
Forming A View: Thought plays the leading role in forming a view of events.
Observation and thinking are the two points of departure for all human spiritual striving, insofar as one is consciously striving. Everyday common sense as well as the most complicated scientific research, rest on these two fundamental pillars of our mind: observation and thinking. Whatever principle we wish to establish, we must either prove we have observed it somewhere, or we must express it in the form of clear thought that can be rethought by others.

STEP 3.1
Advance from Everyday State TO Exceptional State
3293861016?profile=original

Everyday State (observation of world object)
Observation: The observation of a table or a tree occurs as soon as these objects enter the horizon of my experience. Yet I do not, at the same time, observe my thought about these things. I observe the table, and I carry on a process of thought about the table, but I do not at the same moment observe this thought-process.
Involuntary Thought-Chain
Free flowing thought-chains are involuntary memories and associations that may fill the mind in everyday life. They are not sought or consciously directed.

  

Exceptional State (observation of thought)
Thinking: While the observation of things and events, and thinking about them, is the everyday state that occupies my normal life, the observation of the thoughts themselves require entering an exceptional state..

Same Method Used To Study World And Thought
Forming A View: When observing our thought-process, we must be sure to apply the same method we use to study any other object in the world. But in the normal course of our study of other things, we do not usually reflect upon our thought-processes as well.

     
STEP 3.2
Advance from Passive Feeling TO Active Thinking
3293861951?profile=original

Passive Feeling
Observation: While observing an object, such as a rose, a feeling of pleasure is kindled. We remain passive as the feeling just happens to us. A feeling of pleasure is given in the same way as the observed event. When I know the feeling an event arouses in me, I learn about my personality.

 

Active Thinking
Thinking: 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 attentive thinking effort. By knowing the concepts that correspond to an event I learn about the event.
Involuntary Thought-Chain
Free flowing thought-chains are involuntary memories and associations that may fill the mind in everyday life. They are not sought or consciously directed. This is not thinking.

Learn About Event, Not Myself
Forming A View: When I am reflecting on an event, I am not concerned with how it affects me. I learn nothing about myself by knowing the concepts that correspond to an event. But I learn a great deal about my personality when I know the feeling that an event arouses in me.

     
STEP 3.3
Advance from Expression Of Personality TO Selfless Contemplation Of Object
3293861469?profile=original

Expression Of Personality
Observation: It is part of the unique nature of thinking that it is an activity directed solely on the observed object, and not on the personality who is engaged in the thinking. I am not interested in expressing my personal reaction to the object; how I feel about it or how I will act.

 

Selfless Contemplation
Thinking: Rather than drawing attention to myself, my selfless attention is fully directed on the object. The unique nature of thought is that the thinker forgets thinking when actually doing it. What occupies his attention is not thought, but rather the object he is observing while he is thinking. The first thing we notice about thought is that it is the unobserved element in our mental life.

Thinking Observation (thinking contemplation)
Forming A View: What I do not originate appears as something ‘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. While I am reflecting on the object, I am absorbed in it, my attention is focused on it. To focus the attention on the object is to contemplate it by thought. This is thinking contemplation.

     
STEP 3.4
Advance from Create Thought TO Contemplation Of Past Thought
3293861364?profile=original

Create Thought
Observation: We use the same method of selfless observation for the study of thought that we use for the study of objects in the world. The difference is that to study thought we must enter the exceptional state to confront our past thought. If I want to observe my present thought-process, I would have to split myself into two persons: one to think, and the other to observe this thinking. This I cannot do. I can only accomplish it in two separate acts.

 

Contemplation Of Past Thought
Thinking: I can never observe my present thinking while it is taking place. Only afterward can the past experience of my thought-process be made into the object of fresh thoughts. For fresh thinking to take place my full attention must remain on the object I am thinking about. So to think about thinking I must recall to mind what is now a past thought and place my full attention on it. 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.

Create, then contemplate
Forming A View: To think about our thinking requires two steps. First, I create a thought-process. Next, I become immersed in it with my full attention. There are two things that do not go together: productive activity and confronting this activity in contemplation. It is not possible to create and contemplate at the same time. This is why we cannot contemplate our current thinking while it is taking place. Thought must first be there before we can contemplate it.

     
STEP 3.5
Advance from Indirect Knowledge Of Natural Phenomena TO Direct Knowledge Of Thought
3293860846?profile=original

Indirect Knowledge Of Natural Phenomena
Observation: The reason why it is impossible to observe the thought-process while it is presently taking place is because producing thought is a creative activity.

 

Direct Knowledge Of Thought
Thinking: It is just because we produce the thought-process through our own creative activity, that we know the characteristic features of its course, and the details of how the process has taken place. What can be discovered only indirectly in all other fields of observation,— the factually corresponding context and the connection between the single objects—in the case of thought is known to us in an absolutely direct way.

Know Conceptual Connections
Forming A View: Without going beyond the observed phenomena, I cannot know why thunder follows lightning. But I know immediately, from the content of the two concepts, why my thought connects the concept of thunder with the concept of lightning. The point being made here does not depend on whether I have the correct concepts of lightning and thunder. The connection between those concepts that I do have is clear to me, and is so through the concepts themselves.

     
STEP 3.6
Advance from Physiological Basis Of Thought TO Pure Thinking Guided By Content Of Thought
3293859194?profile=original

Physiological Basis Of Thought
Observation: 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.

 

Pure Thinking
Thinking: Most people find it difficult to grasp the concept of pure thinking such as occurs in mathematics and philosophy. 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. I am not guided by physical processes in the brain.

Willingness To Enter The Exceptional State
Forming A View: Whoever is unable to enter the exceptional state I have described cannot transcend Materialism and become conscious of what in all other mental activity remains unconscious. If someone lacks the willingness to look at thought from this position, then one can no more discuss thought with him than one can discuss color with someone born blind.

     
STEP 3.7
Advance from Uncertainty Of Other Things TO Certainty Of Thought
3293860734?profile=original

Uncertainty Of Other Things
Observation: All other things, all other events, are there independent of me. I do not know whether they are truth, or illusion, or dream.

The observation of thought is different. 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. All other things, all other events, are there independent of me. I do not know whether they are truth, or illusion, or dream.

 

Certainty Of Thought
Thinking: There is only one thing I know with absolute certainty, for I myself bring it to its sure and undisputed existence: my thought. Perhaps it has another ultimate source. Perhaps it comes from God or from somewhere else, I cannot be sure. I am sure of one thing, it exists because I produced it myself. It is only in thinking that I grasp myself, standing within the world-whole, in the activity that is the most my own

Certainty Of Existence
Forming A View: 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?

     
STEP 3.8
Advance from Thought Mingles With Observation TO Remain Within Pure Thought
3293862173?profile=original

Thought Mingles With Observation
Observation: When we observe things in the world a process is overlooked. Two processes are involved in observing the world, the observation-process and the thinking-process. We may not notice it, but the thinking-process mingles with our observation of world-events and even intermixes with the observation process itself. 

It is different when we observe thought. Thought normally escapes our notice. When we observe thought we use the same method of observation that we use for other things. By observing thought we increase the number of observed objects, but not the number of methods.

  Remain Within Pure Thought
Thinking: But when I observe my thinking, there ceases to be an unnoticed element present. For what hovers in the background is, again, nothing but thought. The observed object is qualitatively the same as the activity directed upon it. We can remain within the same element; the realm of thought.

Remain Within Thinking About Thinking 
Forming A View: When I weave a web of thoughts around an object given independently of me, I go beyond my observation. Then the question becomes: How is it possible for my thought to be related to the object? The question vanishes when we think about thinking itself. We then add nothing unfamiliar to our thought, and so there is no need to justify such an addition.

     
STEP 3.9
Advance from Know Nature, Then Create Again TO Create Thought, Then Know
3293860321?profile=original

Know Nature, Then Create
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. We know Nature before we create it again.

  Create Thought, Then Know
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 reflecting on our new insight, gain knowledge of what it all means.

Start With Thinking
Forming A View: The reason why things seem so puzzling is because I am so uninvolved in their coming about. I simply find them before me. But with thought I know how it is brought about. This is why there can be no more fundamental starting-point for the study of any world-event than thinking.

     
STEP 3.10
Advance from Unconsciously Add Thought TO Conscious Analysis
3293860350?profile=original

Unconsciously Add Thought
Observation: When we observe an object or event, thought unconsciously connects our observations with one another by weaving them together with a network of concepts. These unconscious thoughts are not the same as the conscious thoughts our analysis later extracts from the observed objects after we study them. What we first unconsciously weave into things is something entirely different from what we then consciously draw back out.

 

Conscious Analysis
Thinking: I can imagine that a being with different sense organs and a differently functioning intelligence would have a very different idea of a horse than mine. We are not discussing how my thought appears to an intelligence other than mine, but how it appears to me. I can see no reason why I should consider my thought from any other point of view than my own.

Self-Supporting View
Forming A View: When Archimedes invented the lever, he thought he could use it to lift the whole cosmos out of its hinges, if he could only find a secure point of support to set his instrument. He needed something that was self-supporting, not dependent on anything else. In thought we have a principle of self-subsistence, it is composed by means of itself. From this principle we can attempt to understand the world. Thought can be grasped by thought. The only question is whether we can grasp anything else by means of thought.

     
STEP 3.11
Advance from Start With Observation TO Start With Principles Of Thinking
3293858928?profile=original

Start With Observation
Observation: 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 our thoughts will offer insight into things?

 

Start With Principles Of Thinking
Thinking: 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. Does our thinking contain preconceptions, cognitive bias and so on? There is no denying that thinking must be understood before anything else can be understood.

Last In Time, First In Theory
Forming A View: A philosophy will go nowhere as long as it is based on all kinds of principles, ism’s and ideology. It will remain suspended in the air. The starting-point must be what comes into existence last. And the absolutely last thing produced in the world-process is thought.

     
STEP 3.12
Advance from Is Thinking Right Or Wrong? TO Is Thought Rightly Applied?
3293859548?profile=original

Is Thinking Right Or Wrong?
Observation: 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 thought is the correct thought.

  Is Thought Rightly Applied?
Thinking: 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. 

Study Of The Philosophy Of Freedom
Forming A View: It is the task of The Philosophy Of Freedom to show us how far the application of thought to the world is a right application or a wrong one.

Next Chapter
In this chapter we learned how thought, as an object of observation, is different than all other activities of the mind and why it is a secure foundation for knowing the world. In the following chapters we will learn to what extent our application of thought to the world is right or wrong.

     

 

BOOK TEXT

3. THINKING AS A MEANS OF FORMING A VIEW OF THE WORLD

3.0 Reflective Thinking
[1] WHEN I observe how a billiard ball, when struck, transfers its motion to another ball, I remain completely without influence over the course of this observed event. The direction and velocity of the second ball is determined by the direction and velocity of the first. As long as I remain a mere spectator, I can say nothing about the motion of the second ball until after it has happened. The situation is different when I begin to reflect on the content of my observation. The purpose of my reflection is to establish the concepts of the event. I connect the concept of an elastic ball with other concepts of mechanics, and take into account the special circumstances of this event. I try, in other words, to add to the process that takes place without my participation, a second process that takes place in the conceptual sphere. The conceptual process depends on me. This is shown by the fact that I can remain content with the observation, and not make the effort to search for concepts if I have no need of them. But if the need is present, then I am not content until I have brought the concepts ball, elasticity, motion, impact, velocity, etc., into a certain connection with each other so they apply to the observed event. As certain as it is that the observed event takes place independently of me, it is just as certain that the conceptual process is dependent on my active involvement for it to take place.

[2] We will discuss later whether this thinking activity of mine really expresses my own independent being, or whether physiologists are right in saying I cannot think as I wish, but must think in the way determined by the thoughts and thought-connections that happen to be present in my mind at any given moment. (Theodor Ziehen, Principles of Physiological Psychology). At this point we only wish to establish the fact we constantly feel compelled to seek for concepts and connections of concepts that relate in a specific way to the objects and events given independently of us. Whether this thinking activity is really ours, or whether we carry it out according to an unalterable necessity, is a question we will leave aside for now. That it initially appears to be our activity is undeniable. We know for certain the corresponding concepts are not given at the same time and together with the objects. That I am myself the active one in the conceptual process may an illusion, but to immediate observation it appears so. The question is: "What do we gain by finding a conceptual counterpart to an event?"

[3] There is a far reaching difference in the way the details of an event relate to one another before, and after, the discovery of the corresponding concepts. Mere observation can follow the parts of a given event as they occur, but their connection remains obscure without the help of concepts. I see the first billiard ball move toward the second in a certain direction and with a certain velocity. What will happen after the impact I cannot tell in advance. I must wait to see what will happen, and can still now only follow it with my eyes. Suppose someone, at the moment of impact, obstructs my view of the field where the event is taking place. As a mere spectator, I will know nothing of what happens next. The situation is very different if, before my view is obstructed, I have already discovered the concepts corresponding to the details of the event. In that case I can predict what will happen, even when I am no longer able to observe it. There is nothing in a merely observed object or event that reveals anything about its connection to other objects and events. This connection only becomes evident when observation is combined with thought.

[4] Observation and thinking are the two points of departure for all human spiritual striving, insofar as one is consciously striving. Everyday common sense as well as the most complicated scientific research, rest on these two fundamental pillars of our mind. Philosophers have proceeded from various primary antitheses, such as the contrast between Idea and Reality, Subject and Object, Appearance and Thing-in-itself, Ego and Non-Ego, Idea and Will, Concept and Matter, Force and Substance, the Conscious and the Unconscious. However, it is easy to show that the contrast between observation and thought must precede all others, as the most important antithesis for the human being.

[5] Whatever principle we wish to establish, we must either prove we have observed it somewhere, or we must express it in the form of clear thought that can be rethought by others. Every philosopher setting out to explain his fundamental principles must express them in conceptual form, and so use thought. By doing so he indirectly admits his philosophical activity already presumes thought, which is taken for granted. Nothing is being said yet about whether thought or something else is the main factor in the development of the world. But it is clear from the start that, without thought, philosophers can gain no knowledge of this development. Thought may only play a supporting role in the occurrence of world-events, but it surely plays a leading role in forming a view of these events.

[6] As for observation, we need it because of the nature of our organization. Our thought about a horse and the object “horse” are two things that appear to us separate from each another. The object is accessible to us only through observation. As little as we can formulate a concept of a horse by merely staring at it, just as little can we magically conjure up the object horse by merely thinking of it.

3.1 Observation Of Thought
[7] In sequence of time, observation actually comes before thought. For even thought we must first learn to know by means of observation. It was essentially a description of an observation when, at the beginning of this chapter, we showed how thought is kindled by an objective process (billiard event) and goes beyond what is given, transcending the event. It is through observation that we first become aware of whatever enters the circle of our experience. The content of our sensations, perceptions, opinions, our feelings, acts of will, dreams and imaginations, memory images, concepts and Ideas, illusions and hallucinations, are all given to us through observation.

[8] As an object of observation thought differs essentially from all other things. The observation of a table or a tree occurs as soon as these objects enter the horizon of my experience. Yet I do not, at the same time, observe my thought about these things. I observe the table, and I carry on a process of thought about the table, but I do not at the same moment observe this thought-process. If I want to observe the table while at the same time observe my thoughts about it, I have to remain in a place outside any activity of my own.

While the observation of things and events, and thinking about them, is the everyday state that occupies my normal life, the observation of the thoughts themselves require entering an exceptional state. It is important to understand the exceptional state, because we are going to compare thought, as an object of observation, to all other observed things. When observing our thought-process, we must be sure to apply the same method we use to study any other object in the world. But in the normal course of our study of other things, we do not usually reflect upon our thought-processes as well.

3.2 Concept Formed Through My Activity
[9] Someone might object that what I have noted here about thinking is equally true of feeling and all other activities of the mind. For example, a feeling of pleasure is also kindled by the object and it is this object I observe, not the feeling of pleasure.

This objection does not hold, because a concept established by thinking is related to what is observed in a completely different way than a pleasure is. I am definitely aware that a concept of a thing is formed by my own activity, while pleasure just happens to me. Pleasure is aroused by an object in the same way as a change is caused in an object by a stone falling on it. To observation, a pleasure is given, in exactly the same way as the event that causes it. It is not the same with concepts. I can ask why an event arouses a feeling of pleasure in me. But I certainly cannot ask why an event calls up a certain set of concepts in me. The question would simply make no sense.

When I am reflecting about an event, I am not concerned with how it affects me. I learn nothing at all about myself by knowing the concepts corresponding to the observed change in a pane of glass caused by a stone thrown against it. But I learn a great deal about my personality when I know the feeling that an event arouses in me. If I say of an observed object, “This is a rose,” I say nothing about myself. But if I say of the rose, “It gives me a feeling of pleasure,” I characterize not only the rose, but also myself in my relationship to the rose.

3.3 Thinking Contemplation Of Object
[10] There can be no question, then, that thought and feeling are not on the same level when compared as objects of observation. The same could easily be shown for all other activities of the human mind. Unlike thought, they belong in the same category as other observed objects and events. It is part of the unique nature of thinking that it is an activity directed solely on the observed object, and not on the personality who is engaged in the thinking. This is evident even in the way we express our thoughts about an object, in contrast to the way we express our feelings or acts of will. If I see an object and recognize it as a table, I do not normally say, “I am thinking of a table”, but rather, “This is a table.” Yet I could certainly say “I am pleased with the table.” In the first case I am not interested in expressing my relationship with the table, but in the second case it is just this relationship that I am drawing attention to. If I say, “I am thinking of a table,” I have already entered into the exceptional state described above. From this position something always present in our mental activity is observed, although normally it is not noticed.

[11] The unique nature of thought is that the thinker forgets thinking when actually doing it. What occupies his attention is not thought, but rather the object he is observing while he is thinking.

[12] The first thing we notice about thought is that it is the unobserved element in our normal mental life.

[13] The reason why we do not notice the thinking that goes on in our everyday mental life is none other than this: thinking is our own activity. What I do not originate appears as something ‘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. While I am reflecting on the object, I am absorbed in it, my attention is focused on it. To focus the attention on the object is, in fact, to contemplate it by thought. This is thinking contemplation. My attention is not directed toward my activity, but rather toward the object of this activity. In other words, when I think, I do not see the thinking I am producing. I only see the object I am thinking about, which I did not produce. 

3.4 Thinking Contemplation Of Thought
[14] I am in exactly the same position when I enter the exceptional state and reflect on my own thinking. I can never observe my present thought. Only afterward can the past experience of my thought-process be made into the object of fresh thoughts.

If I want to observe my present thought-process, I would have to split myself into two persons: one to think, and the other to observe this thinking. This I cannot do. I can only accomplish it in two separate acts. The thought to be observed is never the current one actively being produced, but another one. For this purpose, it makes no difference whether I observe my own earlier thoughts, or follow the thought-process of another person or, as in the above example of the motion of billiard balls, set up an imaginary thought-process.

[15] There are two things that do not go together: productive activity and confronting this activity in contemplation. It is not possible to create and contemplate at the same time. This is recognized even in the First Book of Moses. In the first six days God is represented as creating the world, and only after the world is there is it possible to contemplation it: "And God saw everything that he had made and, behold, it was very good." The same applies to our thinking. It must first be there before we can observe it.

3.5 Know Thought Directly And Intimately
[16] There is a reason why it is impossible to observe the thought-process while it is presently taking place. It is the same reason that makes it possible for us to know it more directly, and more intimately than any other process in the world.

It is just because we produce the thought-process through our own creative activity, that we know the characteristic features of its course, and the details of how the process has taken place. What can be discovered only indirectly in all other fields of observation,— the factually corresponding context and the connection between the single objects—in the case of thought is known to us in an absolutely direct way.

Without going beyond the observed phenomena, I cannot know why thunder follows lightning. But I know immediately, from the content of the two concepts, why my thought connects the concept of thunder with the concept of lightning. The point being made here does not depend on whether I have the correct concepts of lightning and thunder. The connection between those concepts that I do have is clear to me, and is so through the concepts themselves.

3.6 Thinking Guided By Content Of Thought
[17] This transparent clarity of the thought-process is completely independent of our knowledge of the physiological basis of thought. I am speaking here of thought when we make our own mental activity the object of observation. For this purpose I am not concerned with how one physical process in my brain causes or influences another while I carry on a line of thought. What I observe in studying a thought-process is not what process in my brain connects the concept lightning with the concept thunder. I observe my reason for bringing these two concepts into a certain relationship. Introspection shows that in linking thought with thought I am guided by the content of my thoughts. I am not guided by physical processes in the brain.

In a less materialistic age this remark would of course be entirely unnecessary. But today—when there are people who believe that once we know what matter is, we will know how matter thinks—it is necessary to point out that we can discuss thought without entering the field of brain physiology. Most people find it difficult to grasp the concept of pure thinking. Anyone who counters the idea of thinking I have developed here with the assertion of Cabanis' that "the brain secretes thoughts as the liver does gall or the salivary ducts saliva . . .", simply does not know what I am talking about. Such a person is trying to find thought in the brain by the normal method of observation, in the same way we approach other objects in the world. But, as I have shown, thought cannot be found in this way because it eludes normal observation.

Whoever is unable to enter the exceptional state I have described cannot transcend Materialism and become conscious of what in all other mental activity remains unconscious. If someone lacks the willingness to look at thought from this position, then one can no more discuss thought with him than one can discuss color with someone born blind. But he should certainly not imagine that we consider physiological processes to be thinking. He fails to explain thought because he simply does not see it.

3.7 Know Thought With Absolute Certainty
[18] For everyone who has the ability to observe thought—and with the willingness, every normal person has this ability—this observation is the most important that can be made. What he observes is his own creation. He is not facing something that is, at first, unfamiliar to him. He faces his own activity. He knows how it comes about. He clearly sees into its conditions and relationships. He gains a secure point of reference from which he can seek, with a reasonable hope of success, the explanation for all other world phenomena.

[19] The feeling of having found such a firm foundation caused the founder of modern philosophy, Rene Descartes, to base the whole of human knowledge on the principle, "I think, therefore I am." All other things, all other events, are there independent of me. I do not know whether they are truth, or illusion, or dream. There is only one thing I know with absolute certainty, for I myself bring it to its sure and undisputed existence: my thought. Perhaps it has another ultimate source. Perhaps it comes from God or from somewhere else, I cannot be sure. I am sure of one thing, it exists because I produced it myself. Descartes had no justification for giving his principle any other meaning than this. All he had a right to assert was that it is only in thinking that I grasp myself, standing within the world-whole, in the activity that is the most my own.

What the added words "therefore I am" is intended to mean has often been debated. It only makes sense on one condition. The simplest statement I can make about a thing is that it is, that it exists. What kind of existence it has cannot be more closely defined at first sight, in the first moment it appears within the range of my experience. Each object must first be studied in its relationship to other things, before we can determine the way it exists. An experienced event may be a series of perceptions, but it could also be a dream, a hallucination, and so on. Within only a brief moment, I am unable to say in what way it exists. I cannot read the kind of existence from the event itself, but I can learn this when I consider the event in relation to other things. But even then, I learn nothing more than how it relates to these other things.

My search reaches firm ground only when I find an object, from which I can derive the reason of its existence from the object itself. This I am, as a thinker; for I give to my existence the defining, self-supporting content of my thought activity. From here I can go on to ask: "Do other things exist in the same, or in some other way?"

3.8 Remaining Within Realm Of Thought
[20] When we make thought an object of observation, we add something to the rest of the world's observed content that normally escapes our notice. But we do not change the method of observation, which is the same as we use for other things. We increase the number of observed objects, but not the number of methods.

A process is overlooked when we observe other things. This process mingles with world-events and intermixes with the observation process itself. Something is present that is different from every other kind of process, and is not taken into account. But when I observe my thinking, there ceases to be an unnoticed element present. For what hovers in the background is, again, nothing but thought. The observed object is qualitatively the same as the activity directed upon it. This is another special characteristic of thought. When we observe thought, we are not compelled to do so with the help of something qualitatively different. We can remain within the same element; the realm of thought.

[21] When I weave a web of thoughts around an object given independently of me, I go beyond my observation. Then the question becomes: What right do I have to do this? Why don’t I just passively let the object make its impression on me? How is it possible for my thought to be related to the object? These are questions everyone who reflects on his own thought-processes must ask. All these questions vanish when we think about thinking itself. We then add nothing unfamiliar to our thought, and so there is no need to justify such an addition.

3.9 Create Thought Before Knowing It
[22] Schelling says: "To know Nature is to create Nature." Anyone who takes these words of the daring Nature philosopher literally, must renounce forever all hope of gaining knowledge of Nature because, after all, Nature already exists. To re-create it over again, one must know the principles according to how it originated. From the Nature that already exists, one would have to copy the conditions of existence, and apply them to the Nature one wished to re-create. But this copying, which has to precede the re-creating, is to already have a knowledge of Nature, and remains this even if no re-creation follows. To create a Nature different from what already exists, one would have to create it without applying prior knowledge of existing Nature.

[23] What is impossible with Nature—creation prior to knowledge—we achieve in the act of thought. If we wait to think until we already know it, we would never think at all. We must resolutely dive straight into thinking and only afterward, by introspective analysis, gain knowledge of what we have done. We ourselves first create the thought-process, which we then make the object of observation. All other objects are there without any activity on our part.

[24] Someone could easily counter my contention that we must think before we can observe thought, with the claim of an equally valid contention, "We must digest before we can observe the process of digestion." A similar objection was made by Pascal to Descartes, claiming one could just as well say, "I walk, therefore I am." Certainly I must also go straight into digesting and not wait until I have studied the physiological process of digestion. But this could only be compared with the analysis of thought if, after digesting, I did not analyze it by thought, but were to eat and digest it. There is good reason for the fact that digestion cannot become the object of digestion, but thought can very well become the object of thought.

[25] There is then no doubt, that in thinking we consider world-events from a point that requires our presence if anything is to happen. And this is exactly what is important. The reason why things seem so puzzling is because I am so uninvolved in their coming about. I simply find them before me. But with thought I know how it is brought about. This is why there can be no more fundamental starting-point for the study of any world-event than thinking.

3.10 Thought Is Self-Supporting And Self-Subsisting
[26] Here I will mention a widespread error concerning thought. It is often said that, "We never experience thought as it truly is, in its real nature. Thought-processes connect our observations with one another, and weave them together with a network of concepts." But they say, "These thoughts are not at all the same as what our analysis later extracts from the objects we observe, and make into the object of study. What we first unconsciously weave into things", so we are told, "is something entirely different from what we then consciously draw back out."

[27] Those who hold this view do not realize it is impossible to escape from thought. I cannot get outside thought when I want to contemplate it. If one makes a distinction between thought before and after becoming conscious of it, one should not forget this distinction is purely external and irrelevant to our discussion. I do not in any way alter a thing by thinking about it. I can imagine that a being with different sense organs and a differently functioning intelligence would have a very different idea of a horse than mine. But I cannot imagine that my own thought becomes something else because I observe it. I myself observe what I myself produce. We are not discussing how my thought appears to an intelligence other than mine, but how it appears to me. In any case, the idea another mind forms of my thought cannot be truer than the one I form myself. If the thought-process is not my own, but instead the activity of a different being, my idea of this being's thought will occur in a certain way. But I could not know the real nature of what another being's thought was like in itself.

[28] I can see no reason why I should consider my thought from any other point of view than my own. I contemplate the rest of the world by means of thought. Why should I make an exception for the contemplation of my thought?

[29] With this, I think I have sufficiently justified making thought the starting-point in my approach to understanding the world. When Archimedes invented the lever, he thought he could use it to lift the whole cosmos out of its hinges, if he could only find a secure point of support to set his instrument. He needed something that was self-supporting, not dependent on anything else. In thought we have a principle of self-subsistence, it is composed by means of itself. From this principle let us attempt to understand the world. Thought can be grasped by thought. The only question is whether we can grasp anything else by means of thought.

3.11 Impartial Consideration Of Thinking
[30] So far I have spoken of thought without considering what conveys it; human consciousness. Most of today’s philosophers would object that there must be consciousness before there can be thought. According to them, “We should start from consciousness rather than thought. There would be no thought without consciousness.” To this I would reply that to understand the relationship between thought and consciousness, I must think about it. This requires I start with thought.

In response one can say, “When the philosopher wishes to understand consciousness, he makes use of thought, and to that extent thought comes first. But in the normal course of life thought arises within consciousness, so consciousness does precede thought.” If this answer were given to the creator of the world, when it was about to create thought, then it would no doubt be entirely justified. Of course thought cannot arise before there is consciousness. For the philosopher, however, it is not a question of creating the world, but of understanding it. He is in search of the starting-point, not for creating, but for understanding the world.

I find it odd that a philosopher is criticized for being concerned first and foremost with the correctness of his principles. They expect him to turn immediately to the objects he wishes to understand. The world-creator, before everything else, had to know how to find a vehicle for thought. But the philosopher has to find a secure foundation for understanding what already exists. What good does it do to start with consciousness and subject it to our thinking, without first knowing whether thoughtful contemplation can offer insight into things?

[31] We must first examine thinking in a completely impartial way, without reference to a thinking subject or a thought object. For in subject and object we already have concepts formed by thinking. There is no denying that thinking must be understood before anything else can be understood. Anyone who denies this overlooks the fact that he, as a human being, does not belong to the beginning of creation, but to its end. To explain the world by means of concepts, we cannot start from the earliest elements of existence. We must begin with the nearest element given to us, what is most intimately ours. We cannot, with a leap, take ourselves back to the beginning of the world, and begin our analysis there. Instead, we must start from the present moment and see whether we can advance from the later to the earlier.

As long as Geology spoke of catastrophe fables to explain the present condition of the earth, it groped in darkness. Only when it began to investigate those processes that are still active in the earth today, and from these reason backward to draw conclusions about the past, did it gain secure ground. Likewise, Philosophy will get nowhere as long as it is based on all kinds of principles such as atom, motion, matter, will, the unconscious, and so on. It will remain suspended in the air. The philosopher can reach his goal only when he takes the last thing in time as the first in theory. His starting-point must be what comes into existence last. And the absolutely last thing produced in the world-process is thought.

3.12 Rightness Of Thought
[32] There are people who say we cannot know for certain whether our thought is right or wrong. So our starting-point remains a doubtful one. This is as sensible as saying it is doubtful whether a tree in itself is right or wrong. 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. In the same way I can have doubts whether a certain tree will provide the right wood suitable for the intended purpose of a tool being made. It is the task of this book to show how far the application of thought to the world is a right application or a wrong one.

I can understand someone doubting whether we can know the world by means of thought. But I find it incomprehensible how anyone can doubt the rightness of thought, when it is considered by itself.

Addition (1918)
[1] The preceding discussion points to the importance of the significant difference between thinking and all other activities of mind. This difference reveals itself to unprejudiced observation. Anyone who does not strive to see the facts without preconception, will be tempted to raise objections. Such as: “When I think about a rose this only expresses a relationship between my ‘I’ and the rose. It is the same when I feel the beauty of the rose. A relationship exists between ‘I’ and object in thinking. And in exactly the same way, a relationship exists between ‘I’ and object in feeling, and in perceiving.”

This objection fails to take into account that only in the activity of thinking does the ‘I’, or Ego, know itself to be completely at one with the activity. The Ego stands within the activity of thinking right into all its branches and ramifications. With no other activity is this so completely the case. For example, when pleasure is felt it is easy for a careful observer to distinguish to what extent the Ego knows itself to be active, and to what extent it is passive. This observation of feeling shows that the Ego is passive. The feeling merely happens to the Ego. And this applies to all other activities of the mind. But we must not confuse “having thought-images” with working out ideas by means of thinking. Thought-images can arise in the mind in a dreamy way, or as vague intuitions. This is not thinking.

“True,” someone might say, “but if this is what you mean by thinking, then thinking contains willing. And in that case we are dealing not only with thinking, but also the will to think.” This, however, would simply justify us in saying: Genuine thinking must always be willed. This fact is taken for granted in our previous characterization of thinking. Though the true nature of thinking requires that it always be willed, there is a more important point. The point here is that everything willed appears before the Ego, as it takes place, as an activity completely its own and under its own supervision. Precisely because this is the essential nature of thinking as defined here, it shows itself to the observer as willed through and through. To make an objective appraisal of thinking requires one to master all the relevant facts. Then one will recognize that this mental activity has the unique character as described.

[2] A person highly valued as a thinker by the author of this book has raised an objection. He said one cannot speak of thinking as I have done here, because what we believe we observe as active thinking is only an appearance. In reality, one only observes the results of an unconscious activity underlying thinking. Only because this unconscious activity is not observed, does the illusion arise that the thinking we observe exists independently. In the same way, a rapid succession of electric sparks deceives us into believing we see motion.

This objection is also based on an inexact view of the facts. It overlooks that it is the Ego itself that, standing within thinking, observes its own activity. To be deceived, as we are by the rapid succession of electric sparks, the Ego would have to be outside thinking. Now we could say instead: “Anyone who makes such a comparison willfully deceives himself. It is like someone claiming that a light perceived to be in motion is lit by an unknown hand at every point where it appears.” —No, the plain facts are there if one looks. Thinking is an activity produced within the Ego and clearly supervised by the Ego. In order to invent a hypothetical activity as the basis of thinking, one must first blind himself to these facts.

If he does not willfully blind himself, he must recognize that all these "hypothetical additions" to thinking lead him away from its real nature. Unprejudiced observation shows that only what is found within thinking can be regarded as belonging to it. It is impossible to discover the cause of thinking by going outside the realm of thought.

Read more…

Study Course Steps 2.1 - 2.12

8212849092?profile=RESIZE_930x

Chapter 2 The Fundamental Desire For Knowledge
Striving For Knowledge



2.0 Desire For Knowledge
Advance from World-Content TO Thought-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 is a guide to the 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 the inner concept that corresponds to the outer world belongs not only to the Self, but also to the World. In their own way each one's inner truth can satisfy the desire for knowledge.

     
STEP 2.1 Materialism
Advance from Material World TO Materialistic Conception
3293861254?profile=original

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.

  

Materialistic Conception
Thought-Content: The Materialist 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
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 2.2 Spiritualism
Advance from Spiritual World TO Spiritualistic Theory
3293861396?profile=original

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.

 

Spiritualistic Theory
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
Knowledge: As long as the one-sided Spiritualist remains in spiritual theory, his mind does not produce knowledge of the world or knowledge of how to achieve in the world. The world is a closed book to the Spiritualist, unless he establishes a non-spiritual relation to it.

     
STEP 2.3 Realism
Advance from External World TO Experience Becomes Content Of Mind
3293858831?profile=original

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.

 

Experience Becomes Content Of Mind
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
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 2.4 Idealism
Advance from World Of Ideas TO Idealistic Thought-Picture Without Experience
3293859323?profile=original

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.

 

Idealistic Thought-Picture Without 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. 

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

     
STEP 2.5 Paradox Of Materialistic Idealism
Advance from accepting the Material World And World Of Ideas TO Paradox Of Materialistic Idealism
3293858936?profile=original

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. 

 

Paradox Of Materialistic Idealism
Thought-Content: Conversely, he also accepts the view that Matter and its processes are the product of thinking. Thus, everything we perceive—including the brain and its physical processes—is actually the product of thought.

The Paradox Of Materialistic-Idealism
Knowledge: This would mean our thinking is produced by material processes, and material processes are produced by our thinking. When translated into concepts, Lange’s philosophy is a conceptual paradox. This makes it an equivalent to the tale of the bold Baron Münchhausen, who holds himself up in the air by his own pigtail.

     
STEP 2.6 Two-Fold Manifestation
Advance from Indivisible Unity TO Two-Fold Manifestation
3293860748?profile=original

Indivisible Unity Of Matter And Mind
World-Content: The third form of Monism is the one that finds, even at the simple level of the atom, 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.

Problem Originates In Consciousness, Not The World
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 2.7 Macrocosm-Microcosm
Advance from Polarity Of Consciousness TO Macrocosm-Microcosm
8215591854?profile=RESIZE_930x

Polarity Of Consciousness
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. “Living in the midst of her (nature), yet are we strangers to her. Ceaselessly she speaks to us, yet betrays not her secrets.”

 

Macrocosm-Microcosm
Thought-Content: "But Goethe also knows the other side: “Human beings are all within her, and she in each of them.”

Macrocosm-Microcosm
Knowledge: Man is a whole world of its own, called microcosm for it displays a miniature pattern of all the parts of the universe.

     
STEP 2.8 Feeling Within Nature
Advance from Feeling Estranged From Nature TO Feeling Within Nature
3293857836?profile=original

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

  Feeling Within Nature
Thought-Content: We also feel we are within Nature. This feeling of belonging to Nature means a connection still exists. The outer working of Nature also lives in us.

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

     
STEP 2.9 Know Nature Within
Advance from Know Nature Outside TO Know Nature Within
8215669058?profile=RESIZE_930x

Know Nature Outside
World-Content: Dualism fails to find a connection with nature. It considers the human mind a spiritual entity entirely foreign to Nature and attempts somehow to attach it on to Nature. No wonder it cannot find the connecting link.

  Know Nature Within
Thought-Content: We can find nature outside us only if we first know her within us. While it is true we have torn ourselves away from Nature, we must have retained something of her in our own being. We must seek out this essence of Nature in us, and then we will discover our connection with her once more.

Path Of Inquiry
Knowledge: What corresponds to nature within us will be our guide. This marks out our path of inquiry. We will not speculate about how Nature and Mind interact. Instead, we will probe into the depths of our own being, to find there the elements we retained in our flight from Nature.

     
STEP 2.10 Something More Than "I"
Advance from Merely “I” TO Something More Than “I"
8215706665?profile=RESIZE_930x

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 2.11 Description Of Consciousness
Advance from Academic Definitions Of Psychology And Philosophy TO Descriptions Of Consciousness We All Experience
8215747882?profile=RESIZE_930x

Academic Definitions Of Psychology And Philosophy
World-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.

 

 

Description Of Consciousness We All Experience
Thought-Content: So far I have not been concerned with scientific results of any kind, but rather with simple descriptions of what we all experience in our own consciousness.

Guide To Study
Knowledge: The Philosophy Of Freedom is the foundation of a new branch of science—the science of freedom. Its method is philosophic based on psychological observation.

     
STEP 2.12 Facts Of Everyday Life
Advance from Scholar Distinctions TO Facts Of Everyday Life
8215771480?profile=RESIZE_930x
Scholar Distinctions Of Consciousness
World-Content: Ordinary consciousness does not know the sharp distinctions of scholarship. 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.
  Facts Of Everyday Life
Thought-Content: So far my purpose has been solely to record the facts of how we experience everyday life. 

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

   

Next Chapter

Corresponding Concept
While I am seeing nature outside of me it can only be something more of nature, the corresponding concept within me, that is itself pressing toward manifestation. By penetrating to the depth of our own being the corresponding concept is discovered which reveals itself to us as
belonging not only to the self but also to the world.

In the next chapter, “Thinking As An Instrument Of Knowledge”, we will look within and investigate the conceptual essence of Nature given to us as thought.

     

BOOK TEXT

2. THE FUNDAMENTAL DESIRE FOR KNOWLEDGE

Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust,
Die eine will sich von der andern trennen;
Die eine hält, in derber Liebeslust,
Sich an die Welt mit klammerden Organen;
Die andre hebt gewaltsam sich vom Dust
Zu den Gefilden hoher Ahnen.
FAUST, I, 1112—1117.

Two souls, alas! reside within my breast,
And each withdraws from, and repels, its brother.
One with tenacious organs holds in love
And clinging lust the world in its embraces;
The other strongly sweeps, this dust above,
Into the high ancestral spaces.
Faust, Part I, Scene 2.
(Bayard Taylor's translation)

2.0 Urge To Know
[1] IN these words Goethe expresses a trait which is deeply ingrained in human nature. Man is not a self-contained unity. He demands ever more than the world, of itself, offers him. Nature has endowed us with needs, but left their satisfaction to our own activity. However abundant the gifts which we have received, still more abundant are our desires. We seem born to dissatisfaction. And our desire for knowledge is but a special instance of this unsatisfied striving. Suppose we look twice at a tree. The first time we see its branches at rest, the second time in motion. We are not satisfied with this observation. Why, we ask, does the tree appear to us now at rest, then in motion? Every glance at nature evokes in us a multitude of questions. Every phenomenon we meet presents a new problem to be solved. Every experience is to us a riddle. We observe that from the egg there emerges a creature like the mother animal, and we ask for the reason of the likeness. We observe a living being grow and develop to a determinate degree of perfection, and we seek the conditions of this experience. Nowhere are we satisfied with the facts which nature spreads out before our senses. Everywhere we seek what we call the explanation of these facts.

[2] The something more which we seek in things, over and above what is immediately given to us in them, splits our whole being into two parts. We become conscious of our opposition to the world. We oppose ourselves to the world as independent beings. The universe has for us two opposite poles: Self and World.

[3] We erect this barrier between ourselves and the world as soon as consciousness is first kindled in us. But we never cease to feel that, in spite of all, we belong to the world, that there is a connecting link between it and us, and that we are beings within, and not without, the universe.

[4] This feeling makes us strive to bridge over this opposition, and ultimately the whole spiritual striving of mankind is nothing but the bridging of this opposition. The history of our spiritual life is a continuous seeking after union between ourselves and the world. Religion, Art, and Science follow, one and all, this goal. The religious man seeks in the revelation, which God grants him, the solution of the world problem, which his Self, dissatisfied with the world of mere phenomena, sets him as a task. The artist seeks to embody in his material the ideas which are his Self, that he may thus reconcile the spirit which lives within him and the outer world. He too, feels dissatisfied with the world of mere appearances, and seeks to mould into it that something more which his Self supplies and which transcends appearances. The thinker searches for the laws of phenomena. He strives to master by thought what he experiences by observation. Only when we have transformed the world-content into our thought-content do we recapture the connection which we had ourselves broken off. We shall see later that this goal can be reached only if we penetrate much more deeply than is often done into the nature of the scientist's problem. The whole situation, as I have here stated it, meets us, on the stage of history, in the conflict between the one-world theory, or Monism, and the two-world theory or Dualism. Dualism pays attention only to the separation between the Self and the World, which the consciousness of man has brought about. All its efforts consist in a vain struggle to reconcile these opposites, which it calls now Mind and Matter, now Subject and Object, now Thought and Appearance. The Dualist feels that there must be a bridge between the two worlds, but is not able to find it. Monism pays attention only to the unity and tries either to deny or to slur over the opposites, present though they are. Neither of these two points of view can satisfy us, for they do not do justice to the facts. The Dualist sees in Mind (Self) and Matter (World) two essentially different entities, and cannot therefore understand how they can interact with one another. How should Mind be aware of what goes on in Matter, seeing that the essential nature of Matter is quite alien to Mind? Or how in these circumstances should Mind act upon Matter, so as to translate its intentions into actions? The most absurd hypotheses have been propounded to answer these questions. However, up to the present the Monists are not in a much better position. They have tried three different ways of meeting the difficulty. Either they deny Mind and become Materialists; or they deny Matter in order to seek their salvation as Spiritualists; or they assert that, even in the simplest entities in the world, Mind and Matter are indissolubly bound together, so that there is no need to marvel at the appearance in man of these two modes of existence, seeing that they are never found apart.

2.1 Materialism
[5] Materialism can never offer a satisfactory explanation of the world. For every attempt at an explanation must begin with the formation of thoughts about the phenomena of the world. Materialism, thus, begins with the thought of Matter or material processes. But, in doing so, it is ipso facto confronted by two different sets of facts, viz., the material world and the thoughts about it. The Materialist seeks to make these latter intelligible by regarding them as purely material processes. He believes that thinking takes place in the brain, much in the same way that digestion takes place in the animal organs. Just as he ascribes mechanical, chemical, and organic processes to Nature, so he credits her in certain circumstances with the capacity to think. He overlooks that, in doing so, he is merely shifting the problem from one place to another. Instead of to himself he ascribes the power of thought to Matter. And thus he is back again at his starting-point. How does Matter come to think of its own nature? Why is it not simply satisfied with itself and content to accept its own existence? The Materialist has turned his attention away from the definite subject, his own self, and occupies himself with an indefinite shadowy somewhat. And here the old problem meets him again. The materialistic theory cannot solve the problem, it can only shift it to another place.

2.2 Spiritualism
[6] What of the Spiritualistic theory? The Spiritualist denies Matter (the World) and regards it merely as a product of Mind (the Self). He supposes the whole phenomenal world to be nothing more than a fabric woven by Mind out of itself. This conception of the world finds itself in difficulties as soon as it attempts to deduce from Mind any single concrete phenomenon. It cannot do so either in knowledge or in action.

2.3 Realism
If one would really know the external world, one must turn one's eye outwards and draw on the fund of experience. Without experience Mind can have no content. Similarly, when it comes to acting, we have to translate our purposes into realities with the help of material things and forces. We are, therefore, dependent on the outer world.

2.4 Idealism
The most extreme Spiritualist or, if you prefer it, Idealist, is Johann Gottlieb Fichte. He attempts to deduce the whole edifice of the world from the "Ego." What he has actually accomplished is a magnificent thought-picture of the world, without any empirical content. As little as it is possible for the Materialist to argue the Mind away, just as little is it possible for the Idealist to do without the outer world of Matter.

2.5 Materialistic Idealism
[7] A curious variant of Idealism is to be found in the theory which F. A. Lange has put forward in his widely read History of Materialism. He holds that the Materialists are quite right in declaring all phenomena, including our thought, to be the product of purely material processes, but, in turn, Matter and its processes are for him themselves the product of our thinking.

"The senses give us only the effects of things, not true copies, much less the things themselves. But among these mere effects we must include the senses themselves together with the brain and the molecular vibrations which we assume to go on there."

That is, our thinking is produced by the material processes, and these by our thinking. Lange's philosophy is thus nothing more than the philosophical analogon of the story of honest Baron Munchhausen, who holds himself up in the air by his own pigtail.

2.6 Indivisible Unity
[8] The third form of Monism is that which finds even in the simplest real (the atom) the union of both Matter and Mind. But nothing is gained by this either, except that the question, the origin of which is really in our consciousness, is shifted to another place. How comes it that the simple real manifests itself in a twofold manner, if it is an indivisible unity?

2.7 Polarity Of Consciousness
[9] Against all these theories we must urge the fact that we meet with the basal and fundamental opposition first in our own consciousness. It is we ourselves who break away from the bosom of Nature and contrast ourselves as Self with the World. Goethe has given classic expression to this in his essay Nature. "Living in the midst of her (Nature) we are strangers to her. Ceaselessly she speaks to us, yet betrays none of her secrets." But Goethe knows the reverse side too: "Mankind is all in her, and she in all mankind."

2.8 Feeling Impulse
[10] However true it may be that we have estranged ourselves from Nature, it is none the less true that we feel we are in her and belong to her. It can be only her own life which pulses also in us.

2.9 Knowing Nature Within
[11] We must find the way back to her again. A simple reflection may point this way out to us. We have, it is true, torn ourselves away from Nature, but we must none the less have carried away something of her in our own selves. This quality of Nature in us we must seek out, and then we shall discover our connection with her once more. Dualism neglects to do this. It considers the human mind as a spiritual entity utterly alien to Nature and attempts somehow to hitch it on to Nature. No wonder that it cannot find the coupling link. We can find Nature outside of us only if we have first learnt to know her within us. The Natural within us must be our guide to her. This marks out our path of inquiry. We shall attempt no speculations concerning the interaction of Mind and Matter. We shall rather probe into the depths of our own being, to find there those elements which we saved in our flight from Nature.

2.10 Something More Than "I"
[12] The examination of our own being must bring the solution of the problem. We must reach a point where we can say, "This is no longer merely ' I,' this is something which is more than ' I.' "

2.11 Description Of Consciousness
[13] I am well aware that many who have read thus far will not consider my discussion in keeping with "the present state of science." To such criticism I can reply only that I have so far not been concerned with any scientific results, but simply with the description of what every one of us experiences in his own consciousness. That a few phrases have slipped in about attempts to reconcile Mind and the World has been due solely to the desire to elucidate the actual facts. I have therefore made no attempt to give to the expressions "Self," "Mind," "World," "Nature," the precise meaning which they usually bear in Psychology and Philosophy.

2.12 Facts Without Interpretation
The ordinary consciousness ignores the sharp distinctions of the sciences, and so far my purpose has been solely to record the facts of everyday experience. To object that the above discussions have been unscientific would be like quarreling with the reciter of a poem for failing to accompany every line at once with aesthetic criticism. I am concerned, not with the way in which science, so far, has interpreted consciousness, but with the way in which we experience it in every moment of our lives.

Read more…

Study Course Steps 1.1 To 1.12

3293859605?profile=original

Chapter 1 Conscious Human Action
Striving For Freedom

1.0 Question Of Freedom
Advance from the Illusion Of Freedom TO recognizing Lawful Necessity

The traditional idea about ourselves is that we are free to decide what we want to do and then do it, at least some of the time. This naive belief in free will is not normally questioned, even though spiritual leaders, philosophers and scientists have warned us about the illusion of freedom.

"Is a human being free in thought and action, or compelled by the unyielding necessity of natural law?" TPOF 1.0

3293861124?profile=original

Human Freedom
Freedom: Moral zealots accuse anyone of stupidity who denies so obvious a fact as freedom. Moralists declare freedom an obvious fact, because without it there can be no moral responsibility.

  

Lawful Necessity
Necessity: Scientific thinkers oppose them. They say it is ignorant for anyone to believe the uniformity of natural law is broken in the field of human action and thought. Man, after all, is a part of nature.

Compatibilism
Endless distinctions are used to explain how freedom can be compatible with determinism in nature.

     
STEP 1.1 Freedom Of Indifferent Choice

Advance from Freedom Of Indifferent Choice TO recognizing the Necessity Of A Reason

3293850105?profile=original

Freedom Of Indifferent Choice
Freedom: Freedom of indifferent choice is to arbitrary choose, entirely at will, between two courses of action without preference. An indifferent choice is free of lawful necessity because it is made without being determined by any reason.

  

Necessity Of A Reason
Lawful Necessity: The freedom of indifferent choice is an illusion. We learn about cause and effect in elementary science. Research indicates there is always a cause, a specific reason  ―whether we are aware of it or not― why a person carries out one action from among several possibilities. Also, when the choice is ‘indifferent’, it is not a factor in determining the moral value of human conduct and character.

Conscious Action
If there is always a reason for why we act, the deeper question becomes what is this reason?
   
     
STEP 1.2 Freedom Of Choice

Advance from Freedom Of Choice TO recognizing the Necessity Of Desire

3293854600?profile=original

Freedom Of Choice
Freedom: Freedom of choice is not to be indifferent, but to choose according to your own preferences.

 

Necessity Of Desire
Lawful Necessity: The essential principle concealed in the dogma of free will is that our choices are determined by our desire. An analysis of consciousness shows we are not at liberty to desire or not to desire as we please. Therefore we are not free.

     
STEP 1.3 Free Necessity Of One's Nature

Advance from Free Necessity Of One's Nature TO recognizing the Necessity Of External Causes

3293858503?profile=original

Free Expression Of One’s Nature
Freedom: This view believes freedom is not located in free decision, but in the necessity to express yourself. If we know our self, and exist and act solely out of the necessity of our “own” nature, we are free, even though we exist in a necessary way. We must remain true to our nature.

  Necessity Of External Causes
Lawful Necessity: Everything is determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way. Human nature is both inherited and the result of environmental conditioning. We strive to the best of our ability convinced we are free, but what we express is merely our external conditioning. Because a person is only conscious of his action, he falsely looks upon himself as the free originator of it.

Conscious Action
A person is not just conscious of his action, he can also be conscious of the causes that guide his action. Human actions are not all the same. There is a profound difference between knowing and not knowing why I act. A motive of action fully known to me, compels in a different way than the urges of nature.

     
STEP 1.4 Conduct Of Character

Advance from Conduct Of Character TO recognizing the Necessity Of Characterological Disposition

8209108296?profile=RESIZE_930x

Conduct Of Character (free of external causes)
Freedom: People who are different act differently when they encounter a situation because willing depends on two main factors: motives and character. Before we act on an idea given to us from the outside, it must first meet the approval of our character so that the idea arouses in us a desire to act. In this way a person is motivated from within, by their character, and free of outside influences.

 

Necessity Of Characterological Disposition
Lawful Necessity: Even though we must first adopt an idea as a motive, this is not done arbitrarily. An idea is turned into a motive of action according to the necessity of the disposition of our character. We are anything but free.

Conscious Action
Here again, the difference between motives is ignored. There are ideas given from the outside that I accept only after I have consciously made them my own. There are other ideas I follow without a clear knowledge of them.

     
STEP 1.5 Action Resulting From Conscious Motive

Advance from Conscious Motive TO Knowledge Motive

8211644298?profile=RESIZE_930x

Conscious Motive
Freedom: The question of free will needs to be linked with the question of whether we are conscious of the motive. The conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently than one that springs from blind urge.

  Knowledge Motive
Lawful Necessity: People are normally split between knowers and doers. The knower may know what to do, but does not act. While the doer may not know what to do, but acts anyway. The one that matters most is the knowing doer, because he acts out of knowledge.

Conscious Action
A deeper investigation asks, What does it mean to have knowledge of the motives of one's actions?

     
STEP 1.6 Rational Decision

Advance from Rational Decision TO recognizing that the Decision Occurs With Rational Necessity

3293861645?profile=original

Rational Decision
Freedom: A person is free when their reason rather than animal cravings control their action. Or freedom means to determine one’s life and action according to purpose and deliberate decision.

 

Decision Occurs With Rational Necessity
Lawful Necessity: The real issue is whether reason, purpose, and decision exercise the same compulsion over a person as their animal cravings. If, without my involvement, a rational decision occurs in me with the same necessity as hunger or thirst, then I must obey it. My freedom is an illusion.

     
STEP 1.7 Ability To Do
Advance from Ability To Do What One Wishes TO recognizing the Necessity Of Strongest Motive
8211670072?profile=RESIZE_930x

The Ability To Do
Freedom: Freedom is not found in our will, since our will is always determined by motives. Instead, freedom occurs when one has the ability to do what one wishes. Freedom depends on having the right external circumstances and technical skill to successfully carry out our idea of action.

  Necessity Of Strongest Motive
Lawful Necessity: Our motives vary in strength, with some being stronger than others. The will is determined by the ‘strongest’ motive from among the others, so it is not free. And if I am forced by the motive to do something I find unreasonable, I will even be glad if I am unable to do it.

Conscious Action
The question is not whether I can carry out a decision once made, but how the decision comes about within me.

     
STEP 1.8 Spontaneous Will

Advance from Spontaneous Unconditioned Will TO recognizing the Invisible Cause

3293860062?profile=original

Spontaneous Unconditioned Will
Freedom: Just as spirited horses run free across open plains, the spontaneous human will is free. The cause of the horse running, with no sense of restraint, is the unconditioned will; it is an absolute beginning. It is the same for spontaneous human action.

  Necessity Of Invisible Cause
Lawful Necessity: Spontaneous unconditioned will is an illusion. The causes that determine the horse’s acts of will are internal and invisible. The horse is not free and neither are we. We do not perceive the determining cause, and so believe it does not exist.

Conscious Of The Reason To Act
Conscious Action: Here too, human actions in which there is consciousness of the reasons is ignored. There are actions, not of the horse but of the human being, where between us and the deed lies the motive that has become conscious.

What distinguishes humans from all other living things is rational thinking. Activity we have in common with other creatures. Seeking analogies for human action in the animal kingdom does not help to clarify the concept of freedom.

     
STEP 1.9 Known Reason

Advance from Known Reason TO recognizing the Origin Of Reason

8212234461?profile=RESIZE_930x

Known Reason
Freedom: Obviously, an action cannot be free if the doer carries it out without knowing why. An action is free when the reasons are known.

  Origin Of Reason
Lawful Necessity: What is the origin of our reason to act? This leads us to the question: What is the origin of our thoughts and what does it mean to think? For without knowledge of the thinking activity of the mind, it is impossible to form a concept of knowledge, of what it means to know something, including what it means to know the reason for an action.

Conscious Action
When we have a general understanding of what it means to think, it will be easy to see clearly the role thinking plays in human action.

     

STEP 1.10 Heart
Advance from Driving Force Of Heart TO recognizing the Thought That Arouses Compassion

8212276892?profile=RESIZE_930x

Driving Force Of Heart
Freedom: All our actions do not proceed from the calm deliberations of our reason. Love, compassion, and patriotism are driving forces for deeds that cannot be explained away with cold intellectual concepts. In this case the driving force of the heart prevails.

 

Thought Arouses Compassion
Lawful Necessity: Compassion appears in my heart after the thought of a person has been formed that arouses compassion and that compassionate picture appears in my mind. The heart does not create the motives of action. Motives are present prior to being received into the heart's domain. The heart responds to already existing motives. Our motives are always shaped by thoughts.

Conscious Action
The way to the heart is through the head.

     
STEP 1.11 Love

Advance from Act Out Of Love TO recognizing the Thoughts That Idealize The Loved One

3293861037?profile=original

Act Of Love
Freedom: We are free when our action is an expression of love. We act out of love for someone or something.

  Idealized Thought
Lawful Necessity: Whenever love is not merely the expression of the sexual drive, it depends on the thoughts we form of the beloved. The more idealistic these thoughts are, the more blissful is our love.

Conscious Action
Thought is the father of feeling.

     
STEP 1.12 Seeing Good

Advance from Seeing The Good TO recognizing the Perception-Picture Formed Of Good Qualities

3293853427?profile=original

Seeing The Good
Freedom: It is said that love makes us blind to the flaws of the loved one. But we can turn this around and say love opens our eyes to the good qualities. Many pass by these good qualities without noticing them. One, however, sees them, and just because he does, love awakens in his heart.

  Form Perception-Picture Of Good Qualities
Lawful Necessity: The reason we see the good is because we form a perception-picture of the person that includes the good qualities that others have ignored. Others do not experience love because they lack the perception-picture.
     

Next Question: What Is The Origin Of Our Thoughts?
The motives that direct human action are shaped by thoughts so before we can answer the question of whether we are freely self-determined or not we must investigate the origin of our thoughts. The discussion will turn to this in the next chapter, The Desire For Knowledge..

     

BOOK TEXT

1. CONSCIOUS HUMAN ACTION

1.0 Question Of Freedom
[1] Is a human being free in thought and action, or compelled by the unyielding necessity of natural law? Few questions have been the focus of so much ingenuity. The Idea of freedom has many enthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents. Moral zealots accuse anyone of stupidity who denies so obvious a fact as freedom. Scientific thinkers oppose them. They say it is ignorant for anyone to believe the uniformity of natural law is broken in the field of human action and thought. The same thing is as often called humanity's most precious possession as its worst illusion. Endless distinctions are used to explain how freedom can be compatible with determinism in nature. Man, after all, is a part of nature. No less effort has gone into explaining how this delusion could arise. The importance of the question of freedom for life, religion, conduct, and science is felt by anyone with any depth of character.

1.1 Freedom Of Indifferent Choice
One sad sign of the superficiality of today's thought is David Friedrich Strauss's book (The New and the Old Belief). It intends to construct a “new faith” from the results of scientific research, yet has only this to say on the question of freedom:

"We are not concerned with the question of free will. The supposedly 'indifferent' freedom of choice has always been recognized as an empty illusion by every reputable philosophy. An indifferent choice is not a factor in determining the moral value of human conduct and character."

I do not consider the book important. I quote this passage because it expresses the only opinion our thinking contemporaries seem able to reach on this question. Everyone who has grown beyond elementary science is certain of one thing about freedom. It cannot consist in choosing, entirely at will, between two courses of action. There is always, so we are told, a specific reason why a person carries out one action from among several possibilities.

1.2 Freedom Of Choice
[2] This seems obvious. Yet opponents of freedom still direct their main attacks against freedom of choice. Herbert Spencer, whose doctrines are growing in popularity, says,

"That everyone is at liberty to desire or not to desire, as he pleases, is the essential principle concealed in the dogma of free will. This freedom is refuted by the analysis of consciousness, as well as by the contents of the preceding chapter [on psychology]."

1.3 Free Necessity Of One's Nature
Others begin from the same point when attacking the concept of free will. The essence of all the relevant arguments can be found as early as Spinoza. His clear and simple argument against the Idea of freedom has been repeated countless times. Though it is usually enclosed in complicated theoretical doctrines that make it difficult to recognize the simple line of thought, which is all that matters. Spinoza writes in a letter of October or November 1674,

"I call free all that exists and acts out of the necessity of its nature. I call it unfree, if its existence and activity are determined in an exact and fixed way by something else. For example, God is free, even though he exists in a necessary way, because he exists solely out of the necessity of his own nature. Similarly, God knows himself and all other things freely, because it follows solely from the necessity of his nature to know all. I locate freedom, not in free decision, but in free necessity.

[3] "Let us come down to created things, which are all determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way. To see this more clearly, let us imagine a very simple case. A stone, for example, receives a certain momentum from the impact of an external cause. Of necessity, the stone continues to move after the impact. The continued motion of the stone is compelled, for it is due to the external impact, and not to the necessity of the stone's own nature. What applies here to the stone, applies to everything else, no matter how complex and many-sided. Everything is determined by external causes with the necessity to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way.

[4] "Now please assume the stone, while in motion, thinks and knows it is striving to the best of its ability to continue in motion. The stone is only conscious of its striving and by no means indifferent. It will be convinced it is free and continues in motion, not because of an external cause, but because it wills to do so. This is just the human freedom everyone claims to have. The reason it appears to be freedom is because human beings are conscious of their desires, but do not know the causes that determine those desires. Thus the child believes it freely desires milk, the angry boy freely demands revenge, and the coward flight. The drunken man believes he says things of his own free will that, when sober again, he will wish he had not said. Since this bias is inborn in everybody, it is difficult to free oneself from it. Experience teaches us often enough that people are least able to moderate their desires. When torn by conflicting passions they see the better and pursue the worse. Yet they still regard themselves as free, because they desire some things less intensely. And some desires can be easily inhibited by recalling a familiar memory that often preoccupies one's mind."

[5] Because this opinion is clearly and directly expressed, it is easy to detect the basic error. Of necessity, the stone continues to move after an impact. With the same necessity, a human being is supposed to carry out an action when driven by any reason. Because he is only conscious of his action, he looks upon himself as the free originator of it. However, he overlooks the causes driving him that he must obey unconditionally.

The error in this line of argument is easy to find. Spinoza, and all who think like him, overlook the fact that a human being is not just conscious of his action. He can also become conscious of the causes that guide his action. Anyone can see a child is not free when it desires milk, as is the drunk who says things he later regrets. Both know nothing of the causes working deep within their organism that exercise irresistible control over them. Is it right to group such actions together with those of a human being who is not only conscious of his actions, but also of the reasons that motivate him?

Are human actions really all of one kind? Should the deeds of a soldier on the battlefield, a scientist in the laboratory, or a diplomat involved in complex negotiations be ranked in the same scientific category as those of a child craving milk? It is true the best way of seeking the solution to a problem is where the conditions are simplest. But the inability to see distinctions causes endless confusion. There is a profound difference between knowing and not knowing why I act. This is an obvious truth. Yet the opponents of freedom never ask whether a motive of action known to me in full transparency, compels me in the same way an organic process causes a child to cry for milk.

1.4 Conduct Of Character
[6] Eduard von Hartmann, in his Phenomenology of Moral Consciousness, says that human willing depends on two main factors: motives and character. If we look at human beings as all alike, then their will appears determined from outside, by the situations they encounter. But people are different. A human being will adopt an idea as the motive of his conduct, only if his character is such that this idea arouses a desire in him to act. If we keep in mind people are different then their will appears determined from within and not from outside.

Now, the human being believes he is free, independent of outside motivation, because he must first make the idea imposed on him from outside into a motive, according to his character. But according to Eduard von Hartmann, the truth is that he is not free,

"Even though we first adopt an idea as a motive, this is not done arbitrarily. An idea is turned into a motive according to the necessity of our characterological disposition. We are anything but free."

Here again, the difference between motives is ignored. There are motives I allow to influence me only after I have consciously made them my own, and others I follow without a clear knowledge of them.

1.5 Action Resulting From Conscious Motive
[7] This leads straight to the standpoint from which the subject will be considered here. Should the question of free will be posed narrowly by itself, in a one-sided way? And if not, with what other question must it necessarily be linked?

[8] If there is a difference between a conscious and an unconscious motive of action, then the conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently from one that springs from blind urge. Our first question will concern this difference. The position we must take on freedom itself will depend on the result of this investigation.

[9] What does it mean to have knowledge of the motives of one's actions? Too little attention has been given to this question because we always split in two what is an inseparable whole: the human being. The doer is set apart from the knower, but the one that matters most is lost sight of —the knowing doer, the one who acts out of knowledge.

1.6 Controlled By Reason
[10] It is said that man is free when his reason rather than his animal cravings control his action. Or freedom means to determine one’s life and action according to purpose and deliberate decision.

[11] Nothing is gained by assertions of this kind. For the real issue is whether reason, purpose, and decision exercise the same compulsion over a human being as his animal cravings. If, without my involvement, a rational decision occurs in me with the same necessity as hunger or thirst, then I must obey it. My freedom is an illusion.

1.7 Ability To Do What One Wishes
[12] Another argument puts it this way: To be free does not mean being able to will what one wishes, but being able to do what one wishes. The philosopher-poet Robert Hamerling has given very clear-cut expression to this thought in his Atomistik des Willens:

“The human being can certainly do what he wishes, but he cannot will as he wishes, because his will is determined by motives! — He cannot will as he wishes? Let us look at these words more closely. Do they make any sense? Is free will to mean the ability to will something without reason, without motive? But what else does willing mean, other than having a reason for doing or striving for this rather than that? To will something for no reason and with no motive would mean to will it without wanting it. The concept of motive is inseparably linked to the concept of willing. Without a determining motive the will is an empty capacity: only through the motive does it become active and real. It is, therefore, correct to say the human will is 'unfree' to the extent that its direction is always determined by the strongest motive. But it is absurd to contrast this 'unfreedom' with a possible 'freedom of will' that amounts to being able to will what one does not want.”

[13] Here again only motives in general are discussed, without taking into account the difference between conscious and unconscious motivations. If a motive affects me, and I am compelled to act because it proves to be the "strongest" from among other motives, then the thought of freedom ceases to have any meaning. Why should it matter to me whether I can do something or not, if I am forced by the motive to do it? The primary question is not whether I can or cannot do something once the motive has influenced me, but whether all motives work with inescapable necessity. If I am forced to will something, then I may be completely indifferent as to whether I can also do it. And if, because of my character and the circumstances prevailing in my environment, a motive is forced on me that I find unreasonable, then I would be glad if I am unable to do it.

[14] The question is not whether I can carry out a decision once made, but how the decision comes about within me.

1.8 Spontaneous Unconditioned Will
[15] What distinguishes humans from all other living things is rational thinking. Activity we have in common with other creatures. Seeking analogies for human action in the animal kingdom does not help to clarify the concept of freedom. Modern science loves such analogies. When scientists succeed in finding among animals something similar to human behavior, they believe this has something to do with the most important question of the science of man. To what misunderstandings this view leads is seen, for example, in Paul Rée’s book, The Illusion of Free Will. Rée says the following on the subject of freedom:

"It is easy to explain why it appears to us the movement of a stone is by necessity, while the will of the donkey is not. The causes that set the stone in motion are external and visible. But the causes that determine the donkey's acts of will are internal and invisible. Between us and the place where they occur is the donkey’s skull... We cannot see the determining cause, and so believe it does not exist. The will, they tell us, is indeed the cause of the donkey’s turning around, but is itself unconditioned; it is an absolute beginning.”

Here too, human actions in which there is consciousness of the reasons is ignored. Rée explains: “between us and the place where they occur is the donkey’s skull.” As these words show it has not dawned on Rée that there are actions, not of the donkey but of the human being, where between us and the deed lies the motive that has become conscious. A few pages later Rée demonstrates the same blindness when he says: “We do not perceive the causes that determine our will and so believe it is not causally determined at all.”

[16] But enough of examples proving many argue against freedom without knowing what freedom really is.

1.9 Known Reason
[17] Obviously, an action cannot be free if the doer carries it out without knowing why. But what are we to say of the freedom of an action when the reasons are known? This leads us to the question: What is the origin of our thoughts and what does it mean to think? For without knowledge of the thinking activity of the mind, it is impossible to form a concept of knowledge, of what it means to know something, including what it means to know the reason for an action. When we have a general understanding of what it means to think, it will be easy to see clearly the role thinking plays in human action. As Hegel rightly says,

"It is thinking that turns the soul, common to us and animals, into spirit."

And this is why it is thinking that gives to human action its characteristic stamp.

1.10 Driving Force Of The Heart
[18] By no means should it be said that all our actions proceed only from the calm deliberations of our reason. I am not suggesting that only actions resulting from abstract judgment alone, are human in the highest sense. But the moment our conduct rises above the satisfying of purely animal desires, our motives are always shaped by thoughts. Love, compassion, and patriotism are driving forces for deeds that cannot be explained away with cold intellectual concepts. It is said that here the heart prevails. No doubt. But the heart does not create the motives of action. Motives are present prior to being received into the heart's domain. Compassion appears in my heart after the thought of a person who arouses compassion has appeared in my mind. The way to the heart is through the head.

1.11 Act Out Of Love
Love is no exception. Whenever love is not merely the expression of the sexual drive, it depends on the thoughts we form of the beloved. The more idealistic these thoughts are, the more blissful is our love. Here, too, thought is the father of feeling.

1.12 Seeing The Good
It is said that love makes us blind to the flaws of the loved one. But we can turn this around and say love opens our eyes to the good qualities of the loved one. Many pass by these good qualities without noticing them. One, however, sees them, and just because he does, love awakens in his heart. What he has done is form a perception-picture that includes the good qualities that others have ignored. Others do not experience love because they lack the perception-picture.

[19] From whatever point we approach this subject, one thing becomes more and more clear. An investigation into the origin of our thoughts must come before we can answer the question concerning the nature of human action. So I will turn to this next.

Read more…

Study Course Steps 0.1 To 0.12

8073457270?profile=RESIZE_930x

0. Introduction: The Goal Of Knowledge
Part 2 Striving For Inner Truth

0.0 Path To Truth
Advance from Outer Truth to Inner Truth

As with individual life, truth will be sought in our age only in the depths of human nature. Of the following two well-known paths described by Schiller, it is the second that will today be found most useful:

We both seek truth; you in outer life,
I in the heart within. Each of us are sure to find it.
The healthy eye can track the Creator in the outer world;
The healthy heart reflects the world within. TPOF 0.1

8073597872?profile=RESIZE_930x

Outer Truth
The observer seeks truth in outer life. Observation is a source of knowledge that can find truth in the outer world.

  

Inner Truth
The thinker seeks truth within. In our age truth is sought in the depths of human nature. This is the path most useful today.

 
STEP 0.1 Conviction Of Inner Truth
Advance from Uncertainty Of Outer Truth TO Conviction Of Inner Truth
3293853646?profile=original

Uncertainty Of Outer Truth
Outer Truth: Truth that comes to us from the outside always brings with it uncertainty.

  

Conviction Of Inner Truth
Inner Truth: We are only convinced by what appears to each of us inwardly as truth.

     

STEP 0.2 Empowered By Truth
Advance from Weakened By Doubt TO Empowered By Truth

3293861535?profile=original

Weakened By Doubt
Outer Truth: Whoever is tormented by doubts finds his powers weakened. If baffled by a world full of riddles he can not find a goal for his creative activity.

 

Empowered By Truth
Inner Truth: Only truth can give us assurance in developing our individual powers.

     

STEP 0.3 Inner Knowing
Advance from Belief To Inner Knowing

3293848385?profile=original

Belief
Outer Truth: Belief demands the acceptance of truths without having the insight to wholly comprehend. What is not clearly understood goes against our individuality that wants to experience everything in the depths of its inner core.

 

Inner Knowing
Inner Truth: We no longer want to believe; we want to know. The only knowing that satisfies us is the kind that submits to no external norm, but springs from the inner life of the personality.

     

STEP 0.4 Experienced Knowledge
Advance from Academic Knowledge TO Experienced Knowledge

3293858944?profile=original

Academic Knowledge
Outer Truth: Nor do we want the kind of knowledge that has been encased in rigid academic rules, and stored away as valid for all time.

 

Experienced Knowledge
Inner Truth: Each of us claims the right to start from the facts we know, from our own direct experience, and from there advance to knowledge of the whole universe. We strive for certainty in knowledge, but each in his own way.

     
STEP 0.5 Recognition Of Truth
Advance from Compelled To Understand TO Recognition Of Truth
3293858677?profile=original

Compelled To Understand
Outer Truth: Nor should the teachings of science be presented in a way to imply that its acceptance is compulsory. Today, no one should be compelled to understand. We do not want to cram facts of knowledge into even an immature person, a child.

  Recognition Of Truth
Inner Truth: We expect neither recognition or agreement from anyone unless through his own insight he recognizes the truth of what is proposed. We try to develop the child's capacities in such a way that his understanding arises from within and compulsion becomes unnecessary.
     

STEP 0.6 Application Of Freedom Principles
Advance from Flaunt Cultural Trends TO Application Of Freedom Principles

3293858488?profile=original

Flaunt Cultural Trends
Outer Truth: I have no illusions as to the characteristics of the present time. I know how much a stereotypical attitude, lacking all individuality, is prevalent everywhere. Many flaunt a way of life that follows only the current cultural trends.

  Application Of Freedom Principles
Inner Truth: But I also know that many of my contemporaries strive to conduct their lives in the direction of the principles I have suggested. To them I dedicate this book. It does not claim to offer the only possible way to truth, but is meant to describe the path taken by one for whom truth is central.
     

STEP 0.7 Practice Pure Thinking
Advance from Piety Training TO Practice Pure Thinking

3293860647?profile=original

Piety Training
Outer Truth: The oriental sage requires his disciples to live a life of resignation and asceticism for years before he shares with them his knowledge. The West no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic practices to attain knowledge.

  Practice Pure Thinking
Inner Truth: I am fully convinced that to experience life in all its aspects, one must soar into the realm of concepts. Whoever is limited to the pleasures of the senses misses the sweetest joys of life. Preparation for science does require a sincere willingness to prepare for science by withdrawing oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life, and entering the realm of pure thought.
     

STEP 0.8 All-Inclusive Science
Advance from Separate Sciences To All-Inclusive Science

3293858890?profile=original

Separate Sciences
Outer Truth: There are many regions of life. A specific field of science develops for each one. But life itself is a unity, and the more the sciences immerse themselves in separate fields, the more they move away from seeing the world as a living whole.

  All-Inclusive Science
Inner Truth: It is essential to have a supreme science that seeks in the separate sciences the principles for leading man back to the fullness of life. The aim of the scientific specialist's research is to become aware of the world and gain insight into how it works. The aim of this book is philosophical: science itself is to become a living whole. The various branches of science are preparatory stages on the way to the all-inclusive science intended here.
     
STEP 0.9 Science Of Freedom
Advance from Philosophy Of Freedom TO Science Of Freedom
3293858940?profile=original

Philosophy Of Freedom
Outer Truth: The main theme of my book concerns these questions: How philosophy, as an art, relates to freedom; what freedom is; and whether we do, or can, participate in it.

  Science Of Freedom
Inner Truth: Scientific explanations are included because in the end they provide clarification about those questions that are, in my opinion, most important to people. These pages offer a 'Philosophy of Freedom.'
     
STEP 0.10 Knowledge Of Human Development
Advance from Science Of Idle Curiosity TO Knowledge Of Human Development
3293856997?profile=original

Idle Curiosity
Outer Truth: All science would be nothing but the satisfaction of idle curiosity if it did not elevate the existential value of human personality.

 

Knowledge Of Human Development
Inner Truth: The true value of the sciences is seen only when we are shown the importance of their results for humanity. The ultimate aim of the individuality cannot be the cultivation of only a single capacity. Rather, it must be the development of all the potential that slumbers within us. Knowledge has value only by contributing to the all-around development of the whole of human nature.

     

STEP 0.11 Ideas Serve Human Goals
Advance from Human Serves Ideas TO Ideas Serve Human Goals

3293859490?profile=original

Human Serves Ideas
Outer Truth: This book does not regard the relationship of science to life in such a way that the human being must bow down before the world of Ideas and devote his powers to its service.

  Ideas Serve Human Goals
Inner Truth: On the contrary, it shows that he should take possession of the world of Ideas to use them for his human goals. These extend beyond those of mere science.
     
STEP 0.12 Master Of Ideas 

Advance from Slave Of Ideas TO Master Of Ideas

3293859715?profile=original

Slave Of Ideas
Outer Truth: One must confront an Idea as master, or else become its slave.

  Master Of Ideas
Inner Truth: One must confront an Idea as master, or else become its slave.

Next Chapter Conscious Human Action
Do we confront our ideas as master or do unconscious ideas control us by compelling our behavior? This leads us into the next chapter entitled, Conscious Human Action, where we compare free action with the necessity of compelled action.

     

 

BOOK TEXT

0. THE GOAL OF KNOWLEDGE

0.0 Cult Of Individuality
[1] I believe I am right in pointing out one of the fundamental characteristics of our age when I say that, at the present day, all human interests tend to center in the cult of individuality.
Shake Off Authority
An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority.
Inner Validation
Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality.
Self-Development
Everything that hinders the individual from fully developing his powers is thrust aside.
Leaderless Striving
The saying “Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Mount Olympus” no longer holds true for us.
Select Ideals
We allow no ideals to be forced upon us.
All Are Worthy
We are convinced that in each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development.
Nonconformity
We no longer believe there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform.
Perfection Of Each
We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual.
Unique Contribution
We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something that, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer.
Free Creative Expression
Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each one asserts the right to express in the creations of his art what is unique in him, just as there are playwrights who write in dialect rather than conform to the standard diction grammar demands
Striving For Freedom
[2] No better expression for these phenomena can be found than this, they result from the individual’s striving for freedom, developed to its highest pitch.
Independent
We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.

0.1 Path Of Inner Truth
[3] Truth, too, will be sought in our age only in the depths of human nature. Of the following two well-known paths described by Schiller, it is the second that will today be found most useful:

We both seek truth; you in outer life,
I in the heart within. Each of us are sure to find it.
The healthy eye can track the Creator in the outer world;
The healthy heart mirrors the world within.

Truth that comes to us from the outside always brings with it uncertainty. We are only convinced by what appears to each of us inwardly as truth.

0.2 Empowered By Truth
[4] Only truth can give us assurance in developing our individual powers. Whoever is tormented by doubts finds his powers weakened. If baffled by a world full of riddles he can not find a goal for his creative activity.

0.3 Inner Knowing
[5] We no longer want to believe; we want to know. Belief demands the acceptance of truths without having the insight to wholly comprehend. What is not clearly understood goes against our individuality that wants to experience everything in the depths of its inner core. The only knowing that satisfies us is the kind that submits to no external norm, but springs from the inner life of the personality.

0.4 Experienced Knowledge
[6] Nor do we want the kind of knowledge that has been encased in rigid academic rules, and stored away as valid for all time. Each of us claims the right to start from the facts we know, from our own direct experience, and from there advance to knowledge of the whole universe. We strive for certainty in knowledge, but each in his own way.

0.5 Recognition Of Truth
[7] Nor should the teachings of science be presented in a way to imply that its acceptance is compulsory. None of us would give a scientific work a title like Fichte once did: “A Crystal Clear Report to the General Public on the Actual Nature of the Latest Philosophy, An Attempt to Compel the Reader to Understand.” Today, no one should be compelled to understand. We expect neither recognition or agreement from anyone unless through his own insight he recognizes the truth of what is proposed. We do not want to cram facts of knowledge into even an immature person, a child. We try to develop the child's capacities in such a way that his understanding arises from within and compulsion becomes unnecessary.

0.6 Application Of Freedom Principles
[8] I have no illusions as to the characteristics of the present time. I know how much a stereotypical attitude, lacking all individuality, is prevalent everywhere. Many flaunt a way of life that follows only the current cultural trends. But I also know that many of my contemporaries strive to conduct their lives in the direction of the principles I have suggested. To them I dedicate this book. It does not claim to offer the only possible way to truth, but is meant to describe the path taken by one for whom truth is central.

0.7 Practice Pure Thinking
[9] At first the reader is lead into abstract regions, where thought must draw sharp outlines to reach clearly defined positions. But the reader is also led from arid concepts into concrete life. I am fully convinced that to experience life in all its aspects, one must soar into the realm of concepts. Whoever is limited to the pleasures of the senses misses the sweetest joys of life.

The oriental sage requires his disciples to live a life of resignation and asceticism for years before he shares with them his knowledge. The West no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic practices to attain knowledge. It does require, however, a sincere willingness to prepare for science by withdrawing oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life, and entering the realm of pure thought.

0.8 All-Inclusive Science
[10] There are many regions of life. A specific field of science develops for each one. But life itself is a unity, and the more the sciences immerse themselves in separate fields, the more they move away from seeing the world as a living whole. It is essential to have a supreme science that seeks in the separate sciences the principles for leading man back to the fullness of life. The aim of the scientific specialist's research is to become aware of the world and gain insight into how it works. The aim of this book is philosophical: science itself is to become a living whole. The various branches of science are preparatory stages on the way to the all-inclusive science intended here.

A similar relationship governs the arts. A composer works on the basis of the theory of composition. This theory is an accumulation of principles of what one needs to know in order to compose music. In composing, the rules of theory serve life, that is, theory serves actual reality.

In the same way philosophy is an art. All genuine philosophers have been artists in the conceptual realm. For them human Ideas become their artistic material and the method of science becomes their artistic technique. Abstract thinking takes on an individual life of its own. Ideas become powerful forces in life. We no longer  merely know about things, but have made knowing into a real self-governing organism, ruled by its own laws. Our actual working consciousness has lifted itself above a mere passive reception of truths.

0.9 Science Of Freedom
[11] The main theme of my book concerns these questions: How philosophy, as an art, relates to freedom; what freedom is; and whether we do, or can, participate in it. Scientific explanations are included because in the end they provide clarification about those questions that are, in my opinion, most important to people. These pages offer a 'Philosophy of Freedom.'

0.10 Knowledge Of Human Development
[12] All science would be nothing but the satisfaction of idle curiosity if it did not elevate the existential value of human personality. The true value of the sciences is seen only when we are shown the importance of their results for humanity. The ultimate aim of the individuality cannot be the cultivation of only a single capacity. Rather, it must be the development of all the potential that slumbers within us. Knowledge has value only by contributing to the all-around development of the whole of human nature.

0.11 Ideas Serve Human Goals
[13] This book does not regard the relationship of science to life in such a way that the human being must bow down before the world of Ideas and devote his powers to its service. On the contrary, it shows that he should take possession of the world of Ideas to use them for his human goals. These extend beyond those of mere science.

0.12 Master Of Ideas
[14] One must confront an Idea as master, or else become its slave.

Read more…

SC Steps .01 - .12

8051970658?profile=RESIZE_930x

0. Introduction: The Goal Of Knowledge
Part 1 Striving For Individuality

 "I believe one of the fundamental characteristics of our age is that human interest centers in the cult of individuality." TPOF 0.0

What is the Cult Of Individuality?

Advance from Collectivism to Individualism

8199514884?profile=RESIZE_930x

     

STEP .1 Shake Off Authority
Advance from Submission To Authority TO Shake Off Authority

“An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority.”

8199652287?profile=RESIZE_930x
     

STEP .2 Inner Validation
Advance from Expert Validation TO Inner Validation

“Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality.”

8201786283?profile=RESIZE_930x
     
STEP .3 Self-Development
Advance from Distracted By World TO Commitment To Self-Development

“Everything that hinders the individual in the full development of his powers is thrust aside.”

8201789681?profile=RESIZE_930x
     
STEP .4 Leaderless Striving
Advance from Follow Your Hero TO Follow Yourself

“The saying ‘Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Mount Olympus’ no longer holds true for us.”

8201791052?profile=RESIZE_930x
     
STEP .5 Select Ideals
Advance from Forced Ideals TO Select Your Ideals

“We allow no ideals to be forced upon us.”

8201794288?profile=RESIZE_930x
     
STEP .6 Inner Worthiness Of Each
Advance from Some Are Worthy TO Inner Worthiness Of Each

“We are convinced that in each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development.”

8201794890?profile=RESIZE_930x
     
STEP .7 Nonconformity
Advance from Strive To Conform TO Strive To Be Yourself

“We no longer believe there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform.”

8201798863?profile=RESIZE_930x
     
STEP .8 Perfection Of Each
Advance from Perfection Of The Group TO Unique Perfection Of Each

“We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual.”

8201799263?profile=RESIZE_930x
     
STEP .9 Unique Contribution
 Advance from Collective Action TO Unique Individual Contribution

“We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something that, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer.”

8201800271?profile=RESIZE_930x
     
STEP .10 Free Creative Expression
Advance from Rules Of Expression TO Free Creative Expression

“Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each one asserts the right to express in the creations of his art what is unique in him, just as there are playwrights who write in dialect rather than conform to the standard diction grammar demands.”

8201801080?profile=RESIZE_930x
     
STEP .11 Striving For Freedom
Advance from Striving For Collective Bondage TO Striving For Freedom

“No better expression for these phenomena can be found than this, they result from the individual’s striving for freedom, developed to its highest pitch.”

8201802059?profile=RESIZE_930x
     

Step .12 Independent
Advance from Dependent On Others TO Independent Of Others
“We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.”

8201802852?profile=RESIZE_930x
BOOK TEXT
Chapter 0. THE GOAL OF KNOWLEDGE
Part One 
0.0 Striving For Individuality

[1] I BELIEVE one of the fundamental characteristics of our age is that human interest centers in the cult of individuality. An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority. Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality. Everything that hinders the individual from fully developing his powers is thrust aside. The saying “Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Mount Olympus” no longer holds true for us. We allow no ideals to be forced upon us. We are convinced that in each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development. We no longer believe there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform. We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual. We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something that, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer. Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each one asserts the right to express, in the creations of his art, what is unique in him. Just as there are playwrights who write in slang rather than conform to the standard diction grammar demands.

[2] No better expression for these phenomena can be found than this, they result from the individual’s striving towards freedom, developed to its highest pitch. We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.

Read more…

Rudolf Steiner Quotes

Peace Based On Freedom, Not Justice
"Freedom is the only word which has a ring of immediate truth today… If, instead of such slogans as peace founded on justice, or peace imposed by force, people would only speak of peace based on freedom, then this word would echo round the world and kindle in the hearts of all a sense of security." Rudolf Steiner 
From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI: Brief Reflections on the Publication of the New Edition of 'The Philosophy of Freedom' Link

Marxist Education
"Popular socialism is prone to this mistake of arranging education on the basis of everyday life. This is how the current Marxist socialism would like to establish the education of the future. In Russia, this has already happened. In the Lunatscharsky school reform there is something terrible. It is the death of all culture. Many dreadful things have come out of Bolshevism but the most dreadful of all is the Bolshevist method of education, which would entirely eradicate all that former ages have contributed to human culture. This will not be achieved in the first generation but will certainly be attained in following generations, with the result that all culture will soon vanish from the face of the earth. People must see this. You have heard in this very room people singing a song of praise to Bolshevism who have not the faintest idea that through it the devil has entered socialism. We must take great care that there are men who know that progress in the social sphere demands and depends upon more intimate understanding of the human being in the sphere of education. Hence, it must be known that the educator and the teacher of the future must understand the innermost being of man, must live with this inner being and that the ordinary intercourse which takes place between adults cannot be applied to education. What do the ordinary Marxists want? They want to run the schools socialistically; they want to do away with all authority and let the children educate themselves. Something dreadful would come out of this!"
Rudolf Steiner, Study of Man, Lecture 4 Page 67, (Near the end of the lecture)

Politics Not Task OF Anthroposophy
"The Anthroposophical Society is averse to any kind of sectarian tendency. Politics it does not consider to be among its tasks."
Rudolf Steiner. The Life, Nature and Cultivation of Anthroposophy.
Life/Anthroposophy GA 26: Letters to Members January 13, 1924 LINK

Real Children Make Real Men
Francis Edmunds, a great Waldorf teacher from England, wrote in 1986:  The whole trend of today is towards over-intellectualization, furthered by the mass media misapplied.  Do we not see the effects in our large scale social problems?  It has been said that the child is father of the man; but we may add that it needs real children to make real men, and that to weaken the forces of childhood is to produce insecure adults.  How else should whole populations succumb so easily to distatorship or centralist rule in one form or another?  Why should so many be ready to adopt state ruled moral codes for individual morality, state control for self-directed will?  Yet these trends are everywhere.  When the state begins to form men instead of men forming themselves, is not this evidence of impotence.  How many are there today all the world over who feel they fall short of themselves in coping with the trials of life?  But who will trace these conditions back to the years of earliest childhood?  Hence it is that Rudolf Steiner so strongly advocated delaying reading and writing rather than hurrying them forward.  Yet most parents get worried that their children are not learning fast enough.   

Read more…

Study Course Steps #61- #72

3293854271?profile=original

4. The World As Perception

TOPIC
Advance from Thinking Reacts To Observation TO Concepts Added To Observation

"When someone sees a tree, his thinking reacts to his observation. An ideal element is added to the object, and the observer regards the object and Ideal complement as belonging together. When the object disappears from his field of observation, only the Ideal counterpart remains. This is the concept of the object." TPOF 4.0

3293862902?profile=original

Concepts Added To Observation
Concepts cannot be drawn from observation. This is evident from the fact the growing human being only slowly and gradually builds up the concepts that correspond to the objects in his environment. Concepts are added to observation.

Concept

Concepts and Ideas are formed by thinking. What a concept is cannot be expressed in words. Words can only draw our attention to the fact we have concepts. When someone sees a tree, his thinking reacts to his observation. An ideal element is added to the object, and the observer regards the object and Ideal complement as belonging together. When the object disappears from his field of observation, only the Ideal counterpart remains. This is the concept of the object.

Idea
The wider the range of our experience, the larger the number of our concepts. Concepts are never found in isolation. They combine to form an ordered and systematic whole. For example, the concept “organism”  links up with others such as "development according to law" and "growth." Other concepts, formed from single objects, merge together into a unity. All concepts I form of particular lions merge in the universal concept "lion." In this way, all the single concepts unite to form an enclosed, conceptual system in which each has its special place. Ideas are not qualitatively different from concepts. They are filled with more content, are more complex and more comprehensive concepts.

Thinking
I must emphasize here that my starting-point is thinking, not concepts and Ideas, which must first be gained by thinking. Thinking precedes concepts and Ideas. Consequently, what I have said about the nature of thought, that it is self-supporting and determined by nothing but itself, cannot simply be transferred and applied to concepts.

 

STEP #61 (4.1)
Advance from Generalize Relationships TO Conceptualize Relationships
3293861028?profile=original

Phenomena
While wandering through fields in September you hear a rustle a few steps ahead, and see the grass moving by the side of the ditch. You will probably approach the spot to learn what caused the noise and the movement. As you approach, a partridge flutters in the ditch. Seeing this, your curiosity is satisfied; you have what we call an explanation of the phenomena.

Generalize Relationships
Observation: Throughout life you have learned through countless experiences that a disturbance among small stationary bodies, is accompanied by the movement of other bodies among them. Because of having generalized the relationship between disturbances and movements, you consider this particular disturbance explained as soon as you find it to be an example of just such a relationship.

  

Conceptualize Relationships
Ideal Element: A closer analysis leads to a very different description. When I hear a noise the first thing I do is search for the concept that fits this observation. My thought makes it clear that the noise is an effect of something. Only when I connect the concept of effect with the perception of the noise am I inclined to go beyond the single observation and look for its cause. The concept “effect” calls up the concept “cause.” My next step is to look for the object that acts as the cause. I can never gain the concepts “cause” and “effect” by mere observation, no matter how many cases I observe.

3293860937?profile=original

Strictly Objective Science
Representation Of World: If one demands a “strictly objective science” that draws its content from observation alone, then one must also demand that it renounce all thinking. Because thought, by its very nature, goes beyond what is observed..

     
STEP #62 (4.2)
Advance from Thinking Consciousness TO Thinking Reference
3293861675?profile=original

Thinking Consciousness
Observation: When thought is directed to the observed world we have consciousness of objects; when thought is directed to itself we have self-consciousness. Human consciousness must of necessity be also self-consciousness, because it is a thinking consciousness.

 

Thinking Reference
Ideal Element: When I, as thinking subject, refer a concept to an object, we must not regard this referring as a purely subjective activity. It is not the subject, but thought, that makes the reference.

Embrace And Contrast Self With World
Representation Of World: The basis for the dual nature of the human being is that he thinks. His thought embraces himself along with the rest of the world. But also, by means of thought, he defines himself as an individual in contrast with the objective world.

     
STEP #63 (4.3)
Advance from Thought Free Observation TO Establish Conceptual Relationships
3293862928?profile=original

Pure Observation
External Object: All we would be aware of before our thought became active is the pure content of observation. The world would appear as a chaotic aggregate of disconnected sense-data: colors, sounds, touch, warmth, taste and smell; followed by feelings of pleasure and pain. This aggregate is the content of pure, thought-free observation.

 

Establish Conceptual Relationship
Ideal Element: Thought is able to draw connecting threads from one sense-datum to another. It unites specific concepts with these elements, and in this way establishes a relationship between them.

Conceptual Relationships Not Merely Subjective
Representation Of World: We will not be tempted to believe the relationships between observations established by thought only have subjective validity, if we recall that in no circumstance can the activity of thought be considered merely subjective.

     
STEP #64 (4.4)
Advance from World-Picture Contradictions TO World-Picture Corrections
3293859393?profile=original

World-Picture Contradictions
External Object: The unreflective, naive person regards his percepts, as they first appear, to have an existence completely independent of him. When he sees a tree, he believes right away that it is standing there on the spot where his look is directed having the shape, color and details just as he sees it. He believes phenomena exists and occurs just as he observes it. He clings to this belief until further perceptions contradict the earlier ones.

Definition Of Percept
The term “percept” is the immediate conscious apprehension of objects through observation. This includes sense-data, feelings and also thought as it first appears to our consciousness. It is the observed object, not the process of observing.

 

World-Picture Corrections
Ideal Element: Every widening of the circle of my perceptions makes me correct my picture of the world. We see this in everyday life, as well as in the intellectual development of humanity. The picture which the ancients made of the relation of the earth to the sun and other celestial bodies, had to be changed by Copernicus, because the ancient picture did not agree with new, previously unknown perceptions.

Continuous Corrections
Representation Of World: The picture we form of the world needs to be continually corrected with each new perception.

     
STEP #65 (4.5)
Advance from Mathematical Perception-Picture TO Qualitative Determination Of Perception-Picture
3293859301?profile=original

Perception-Picture Dependent On Place Of Observation
External Object: If I stand at one end of a tree-lined avenue, the trees at the far end appear smaller and closer together than those where I am standing. My perception-picture is dependent on my place of observation and changes when I change my place of observation.

 

Perception-Picture Dependent On Bodily And Mental Organization
Ideal Element: My perception-picture is dependent on my bodily and mental organization. We only perceive vibrations as sound if we have normally constructed ears. The perception-picture of the color blind only has shades of light and dark. The fact that a red surface appears to me red depends on the structure of my eye.

Mathematical And Qualitative Determination Of Perception-Picture
Representation Of World: We are forced to make continual corrections to our observations. The dependency of my perception-picture on my place of observation is "mathematical," and its dependency on my organization is "qualitative." The first determines the relative sizes of my percepts and distances between them, the second their quality. The fact that a red surface appears to me red—this qualitative determination—depends on the structure of my eye.

     
STEP #66 (4.6)
Advance from Subjective Perception-Picture TO Something Exists Independently Of Our Consciousness
3293859316?profile=original

Percept Only Exists While Being Perceived
External Object: "The whole choir of heaven and all things of the earth—in a word, all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world—have no subsistence outside the mind." From this point of view, nothing remains of the percept if we consider it apart from being perceived. There is no color when none is seen, no sound when none is heard. Outside the act of perception, categories such as extension, form, and motion exist just as little as color and sound.

 

Object Exists As Collection Of Percepts
Ideal Element: An object is nothing but a collection of percepts connected in a certain way. If I strip a table of its figure, extension, color, etc.—in other words everything that is only my percept—then nothing is left.

The objection can be made that, even if figure, color, sound, and so forth do not existence outside the act of perception, there must still be something else there. Something must exist independently of our consciousness and be similar to our conscious perception-pictures.

Percept Partly Determined By Subject’s Organization
Representation Of World: No objection is made as long as it is only meant as a general fact that the percept is partly determined by the organization of the perceiving subject.

     
STEP #67 (4.7)
Advance from Myself As Observer TO After-Effect Idea Image
3293859456?profile=original

Myself As Observer
External Object: When I am absorbed in the perception of a given object I am, for the moment, aware only of this object. The awareness of myself can be added to this. I am then not only conscious of the object, but also of my own personality standing over against the object and observing it. I not only see a tree; I know it is I seeing it.

 

My Idea-Image
Ideal Element: When the tree disappears from my field of vision, an aftereffect of this process remains: an image of the tree. This image has become associated with my Self during my observation. My Self has become enriched; a new element has been added to its content. I call this element my idea (Vorstellung) of the tree.

Idea Within Me
Representation Of World: I would never be in a position to speak of ideas if I did not experience them by being aware of my Self. Percepts would come and go; I would simply let them pass by. By noticing the connection between the observation of the object and the changes that occur in me, I then speak of having an idea.

     
STEP #68 (4.8)
Advance from Idea Inserts Itself Before Object TO Object (thing-in-itself) Is Unknowable
3293861033?profile=original

Idea Inserts Itself Before Object
External Object: The failure to recognize the relationship between idea and object has led to the greatest misunderstandings. The perception of a change in me, the modification my Self undergoes, is thrust into the foreground, while the object causing this modification is completely lost sight of. As a consequence it is said: We do not perceive the objects, but only our ideas.

 

Only Ideas Exist
Ideal Element (Berkeley): Knowledge of the world is limited to my ideas because there are no objects other than ideas. What I see as a table no longer exists, according to Berkeley, when I cease to look at it.

Object (thing-in-itself) Is Unknowable
Ideal Element (Kant): Kant also limits our knowledge of the world to our ideas. But it does not do so because of a conviction that nothing other than ideas exist. Rather, the Kantian view believes we are organized in a way that we can learn only of the changes undergone by our own Self, not the things-in-themselves that cause them.

Knowledge Of The World Limited To Mental Representations
Representation Of World: Our ideas are the only things we experience directly and learn to know directly. At the very beginning of all philosophy, it is necessary to state explicitly that all knowledge that goes beyond ideas is open to doubt. --Kantian view

     
STEP #69 (4.9)
Idea Formed By Physics And Physiology TO Idea Formed By Psyche
3293861149?profile=original

Object Is Motion In External World
External Object: Physics
Outside our organism we find vibrations of physical bodies and of the air perceived by us as sound. What we call sound is nothing more than a subjective reaction of our organism to these motions in the external world. The same external stimulus applied to different senses evokes different sensations. Our sense-organs can transmit only what occurs within them, and transmit nothing from the external world.

  External Object Lost On Way To Psyche
Ideal Element: Physiology And Psychology
The external process undergoes a series of transformations through the nerves to the brain. What the subject perceives are always only modifications of his own psychical states and nothing else. The psyche constructs things out of the various sensations transmitted to it by the brain. The final stage of the process, the representational idea of the object, is the very first thing to enter my consciousness. The external object has been completely lost on the way to the brain and through the brain to the human psyche.
    3293863782?profile=original

Our Organization Determines What We Perceive
Representation Of World: Physics, physiology and psychology teach us that for perception to take place our organization is necessary. Consequently, we cannot know anything about external objects other than what our organization transmits to us.

     
STEP #70 (4.10)
Advance from External World Is A Projection Of My Psyche TO Percept Creation Of Psyche
3293861694?profile=original

External Object Is Colorless
External Object: The theory begins with what is given in naive consciousness, the thing as perceived. Then it shows that none of the qualities found in it would exist for us if we had no sense organs. The object, then, is colorless.

 

Color Projected Onto Object
Ideal Element: Color is produced in our psychical nature by the brain process. But even here I am still not conscious of it. It is first projected outwards by our psyche onto a spatial body in the external world. Here, finally, I see the color, as a quality of this body.

Perceived World Created By Psyche
Representation Of World: The theory leads me to believe that what the naive person thinks is existing outside him in space, is really a creation of my own psyche.

     
STEP #71 (4.11)
Advance from External Percept Is My Idea TO Web Of Ideas Cannot Act On Each Other
3293861183?profile=original

The External Percept Is My Idea
External Object: As a naive person, I had an entirely false view of it. I thought the percept, just as I perceive it, had objective existence. Now I realize it disappears as I represent it to myself in the act of perceiving. The external percept is no more than a modification of my mental condition. Previously I believed the table had an effect on me, and brought about an idea of itself in me. From now on I must treat the table as itself an idea.

3293861446?profile=original

 

Web Of Ideas Cannot Act On Each Other
Ideal Element: If I go through each step of the act of cognition once again, the cognitive act described reveals itself as a web of ideas that, as such, cannot possibly act on each other. The full impossibility of the described line of thought reveals itself. I cannot say: My idea of the object acts on my idea of the eye, and the result of this interaction is my idea of color.

Confuses External And Internal Observations
Representation Of World: There is a gap between external and internal observations. The method of external observation ends with the process in the brain. The method of internal observation, or introspection, begins with the sensations, and continues up to the construction of things out of the material of sensation.

3293859452?profile=original

     
STEP #72 (4.12)
Advance from The World Is My Idea TO World Is Product Of Real Sense Process (bodily organism has objective existence)
3293862495?profile=original

Objective Reality
External Object: Naive Realism accepts that one's own organism has objective existence. To be consistent, the theory that “The world is my idea” would mean our organism would be a mere complex of ideas. This removes the possibility that the content of the perceived world is solely a product of our mental organization. For only my real eye and my real hand could have the ideas of sun and earth as their modifications—my ideas “eye” and “hand” could not.

  Subjective Reality
Ideal Element: The Critical Idealism says the world is my idea. "This truth applies to every cognizing being. The world around me is present only as an idea. It is there only in relation to something else, to the one who depicts it, namely, myself. My eye that sees the sun, and my hand that feels the earth, are my ideas just like the sun and the earth."

Collapse Of “The world is my idea” Theory
Representation Of World: Critical idealism can only refute Naive Realism if it accepts, in naive-realistic fashion, that one's own organism has objective existence. As soon as the Idealist realizes the percepts of his own organism are exactly the same kind as those Naive Realism assumes to have objective existence, his theory can no longer use those percepts as a secure foundation for his theory.

Next Chapter
Critical Idealism is unable to gain insight into the relationship between percepts and ideas. It cannot find what must already be present in the object before it is perceived. To do this, we must find another way to approach this question.

     

 

BOOK TEXT

4. THE WORLD AS PERCEPTION

4.0 Reactive Thinking
[1] Concepts and Ideas are formed by thinking. What a concept is cannot be expressed in words. Words can only draw our attention to the fact we have concepts. When someone sees a tree, his thinking reacts to his observation. An ideal element is added to the object, and the observer regards the object and Ideal complement as belonging together. When the object disappears from his field of observation, only the Ideal counterpart remains. This is the concept of the object.

The wider the range of our experience, the larger the number of our concepts. Concepts are never found in isolation. They combine to form an ordered and systematic whole. For example, the concept “organism”  links up with others such as "development according to law" and "growth." Other concepts, formed from single objects, merge together into a unity. All concepts I form of particular lions merge in the universal concept "lion." In this way, all the single concepts unite to form an enclosed, conceptual system in which each has its special place. Ideas are not qualitatively different from concepts. They are filled with more content, are more complex and more comprehensive concepts.

I must emphasize here that my starting-point is thinking, not concepts and Ideas, which must first be gained by thinking. Thinking precedes concepts and Ideas. Consequently, what I have said about the nature of thought, that it is self-supporting and determined by nothing but itself, cannot simply be transferred and applied to concepts. (I make special mention of this here, as this is where I differ with Hegel, who regards the concept as the primary and original element.)

[2] Concepts cannot be drawn from observation. This is evident from the fact the growing human being only slowly and gradually builds up the concepts that correspond to the objects in his environment. Concepts are added to observation.

4.1 The Response Of The Mental Process To Observation
[3] A popular contemporary philosopher, Herbert Spencer, describes the mental process that takes place in response to observation as follows:

[4] “While wandering through fields in September you hear a rustle a few steps ahead, and see the grass moving by the side of the ditch. You will probably approach the spot to learn what caused the noise and the movement. As you approach, a partridge flutters in the ditch. Seeing this, your curiosity is satisfied; you have what we call an explanation of the phenomena.

The explanation, please notice, amounts to this: Throughout life you have learned through countless experiences that a disturbance among small stationary bodies, is accompanied by the movement of other bodies among them. Because of having generalized the relationship between disturbances and movements, you consider this particular disturbance explained as soon as you find it to be an example of just such a relationship" (First Principles, Part I, par. 23).

A closer analysis leads to a very different description from what Spencer gives. When I hear a noise the first thing I do is search for the concept that fits this observation. Only when I have this concept am I led beyond the noise itself. Whoever does not reflect on the event simply hears the noise and is content to leave it at that. But my thought makes it clear to me that a sound must be the effect of something. Only when I connect the concept of effect with the perception of the noise am I inclined to go beyond the single observation and look for its cause. The concept “effect” calls up the concept “cause.”

My next step is to look for the object that acts as the cause, which I find to be a partridge. But I can never gain the concepts “cause” and “effect” by mere observation, no matter how many cases I observe. Observation calls up thought, and thought shows me how to link separate experiences together.

[5] If one demands a “strictly objective science” that draws its content from observation alone, then one must also demand that it renounce all thinking. Because thought, by its very nature, goes beyond what is observed.

4.2 The Thinker
[6] We must now pass from thought to the being who thinks. For it is through the thinker that thought is combined with observation. Human consciousness is the place where concept and observation meet, and are connected to each other. This is, in fact, what characterizes human consciousness. It mediates between thought and observation.

In observation the object appears as given, in thought the mind experiences itself as active. It regards the thing as the object and itself as the thinking subject. When thought is directed to the observed world we have consciousness of objects; when thought is directed to itself we have self-consciousness. Human consciousness must of necessity be also self-consciousness, because it is a thinking consciousness. For when thought contemplates its own activity, the subject makes its own essential nature an object of study. Subject and object are here one and the same.

[7] It is important to note here that it is only by means of thinking that I am able to define myself as subject and contrast myself with objects. For this reason, thinking should never be regarded as a merely subjective activity. Thinking is above the distinction of subject and object. It produces these two concepts just as it produces all others. When I, as thinking subject, refer a concept to an object, we must not regard this referring as a purely subjective activity. It is not the subject, but thought, that makes the reference.

The subject does not think because it is a subject; rather, it appears to itself as subject because it can think. The activity of thinking consciousness, exercised by a human being as a thinker, is therefore not merely subjective. In fact, it is an activity that is neither subjective nor objective; it transcends both concepts. I should never say that I, as an individual subject, think. The truth is that I, as subject, exist only by the grace of thought. Thought takes me out of myself and relates me to objects. But it also separates me from the objects by setting me over against them, to face them as subject.

[8] The basis for the dual nature of the human being is that he thinks. His thought embraces himself along with the rest of the world. But also, by means of thought, he defines himself as an individual in contrast with the objective world.

4.3 The Observed Object
[9] Next, we must ask ourselves: How does the other element—which we have so far simply called the ‘observed object’—enter our consciousness where it comes into contact with thought?

[10] To answer this question, we must remove from our field of observation all thought that has already been brought into it. For at any moment the content of our consciousness is always pervaded with concepts in a variety of ways.

[11] Let us imagine a being with fully developed human intelligence originates out of nothing and has the world in front of him. All this being would be aware of, before its thought became active, is the pure content of observation. The world would appear to this being as a chaotic aggregate of disconnected sense-data: colors, sounds, touch, warmth, taste and smell; followed by feelings of pleasure and pain. This aggregate is the content of pure, thought-free observation.

Facing it stands thought, ready to begin its activity as soon as it can find a point of engagement. Experience shows that it soon does. Thought is able to draw connecting threads from one sense-datum to another. It unites specific concepts with these elements, and in this way establishes a relationship between them. We have already seen how a noise we encounter is brought into relationship with another observation by characterizing the first as an effect of the second.

[12] We will not be tempted to believe these relationships established by thought only have subjective validity, if we recall that in no circumstance can the activity of thought be considered merely subjective.

4.4 The Conscious Subject
[13] Our next task is to discover, by thoughtful reflection, how the immediately given sense-data—the pure, relationless aggregate of sensory objects—is related to our conscious subject.

[14] Because of the various ways of using words, it seems necessary for me to come to an agreement with the reader on the meaning of a word that I will use from now on. The word is percept. I will use the word “percept” to refer to “the immediate objects of sensation” mentioned above, insofar as the conscious subject becomes aware of them through observation. It is the observed object, not the process of observing, that I call “percept.”

[15] I do not choose the term “sensation,” because sensation has a specific meaning in Physiology narrower than my concept of “percept.” I can call an inner feeling a percept, but not a sensation in the physiological use of the term. When I become aware of a feeling it becomes a percept for me, and I can then gain knowledge of it. And the way we gain knowledge of our thought-processes, through observation, is to first notice thought. Then thought too, may be called a percept.

[16] The unreflective, naive person regards his percepts, as they first appear, to have an existence completely independent of him. When he sees a tree, he believes right away that it is standing there on the spot where his look is directed having the shape, color and details just as he sees it. From this naive standpoint, if a person sees the sun appear in the morning as a disc on the horizon, and then follows the course of this disc, he believes the phenomenon exists and occurs just as he observes it. He clings to this belief until further perceptions contradict the earlier ones. A child, with no experience of distance, reaches for the moon, and does not correct its first impression until it conflicts with later ones.

Every widening of the circle of my perceptions makes me correct my picture of the world. We see this in everyday life, as well as in the intellectual development of humanity. The picture which the ancients made of the relation of the earth to the sun and other celestial bodies, had to be changed by Copernicus, because the ancient picture did not agree with new, previously unknown perceptions. A man who had been born blind said, after an operation performed by Dr Franz, that the picture he had formed of the size of objects before his operation was a very different one. It was formed on the basis of a blind man’s perceptions of touch. He had to correct his touch percepts with his new visual percepts.

4.5 The Perception-Picture
[17] Why are we forced to make continual corrections to our observations?

[18] A simple reflection provides the answer to this question. If I stand at one end of a tree-lined avenue, the trees at the far end appear smaller and closer together than those where I am standing. My perception-picture changes when I change my place of observation. Therefore, the way things appear to me is determined by a factor that has to do, not with the object, but with myself as the observer. It is all the same to the avenue where I stand. But the picture I have of it depends to a great extent on my standpoint. In the same way, it makes no difference to the sun and solar system that human beings happen to observe them from the earth. But the perception-picture human beings have of the sun and solar system is determined by their living on the earth.

This dependence of the perception-picture on our place of observation is the easiest to understand. It becomes more difficult when we learn how our perceptual world is dependent on our bodily and mental organization. The physicist teaches us that in the space where we hear a sound, there are vibrations of the air. And in the body where the sound is emitted there are vibrations of its parts. But we only perceive these vibrations as sound if we have normally constructed ears. Without them the whole world would remain forever silent.

The physiologist teaches us there are people who perceive nothing of the wonderful display of colors surrounding us. Their perception-picture only has shades of light and dark. Others fail to perceive just one particular color, such as red. Their picture of the world lacks this color hue, and is different from the average person. I would like to call the dependency of my perception-picture on my place of observation "mathematical," and its dependency on my organization "qualitative." The first determines the relative sizes of my percepts and distances between them, the second their quality. The fact that a red surface appears to me red—this qualitative determination—depends on the structure of my eye.

4.6 The Subjective Perception-Picture
[19] My perception-pictures, then, are at first subjective. The recognition of the subjective character of our percepts can easily lead us to doubt whether anything objective underlies them at all. We know that a percept, for example the color red or a certain musical tone, is only possible thanks to a specific structure of our organism. From this we can easily be led to believe that the percept, apart from our subjective organization, ceases to be. If not for our act of perceiving it as an object, it has no existence at all.

This view found its classic expression in George Berkeley, who was convinced that when we realize how significant the human subject is for the percept, we can no longer believe in a world that exists apart from a conscious mind. He says:

"Some truths are so near and so obvious to the mind man need only open his eyes to see them. One such truth is this important one: The whole choir of heaven and all things of the earth—in a word, all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world—have no subsistence outside the mind. Their sole existence is being perceived or known. Consequently, as long as they are not actually perceived by me, or exist in my mind or in that of some other created spirit, they either have no existence or subsist in the mind of some Eternal Spirit." (Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge, Part I, Section 6.)

From this point of view, nothing remains of the percept if we consider it apart from being perceived. There is no color when none is seen, no sound when none is heard. Outside the act of perception, categories such as extension, form, and motion exist just as little as color and sound. Nowhere do we see extension and form alone. They are always bound up with color or other qualitative elements unquestionably dependent on our subjectivity. If these disappear when we cease to perceive them, then extension and form, which are bound up with them, must disappear also. 

[20] The objection can be made that, even if figure, color, sound, and so forth do not existence outside the act of perception, there must still be something else there. Something must exist independently of our consciousness and be similar to our conscious perception-pictures. The Berkeleyan response would be to say: A color can only resemble a color and a figure can only resemble a figure. Our percepts can only resemble our percepts, and nothing else.

Even what we call an object is nothing but a collection of percepts connected in a certain way. If I strip a table of its figure, extension, color, etc.—in other words everything that is only my percept—then nothing is left. Carried to its logical conclusion, this view leads to the assertion: The objects of my perception are there through me, and only insofar and as long as I am perceiving them. They disappear with the perceiving and have no meaning without it. Other than my percepts, I know of no objects and cannot know of any.

[21] To the claim that we can know only our percepts, no objection is made as long as it is only meant as a general fact that the percept is partly determined by the organization of the perceiving subject. It would be very different if we were able to determine the exact role our perceiving plays in bringing about a percept. We would then know what happens to the percept during the act of perception. And we could also determine what properties it has before it is perceived.

4.7 Self-Perception
[22] This leads us to turn our attention from the perceived object to the perceiving subject. I do not only perceive other things; I also perceive myself.

Self-perception first reveals that I am the enduring element in a continuous coming and going of perception-pictures. The awareness of myself can come up in my consciousness at any time, while I am having other perceptions. However, when I am absorbed in the perception of a given object I am, for the moment, aware only of this object. The awareness of myself can be added to this. I am then not only conscious of the object, but also of my own personality, standing over against the object and observing it. I not only see a tree; I know it is I seeing it.

I also know something goes on in me while I am observing the tree. When the tree disappears from my field of vision, an after-effect of this process remains: an image of the tree. This image has become associated with my Self during my observation. My Self has become enriched; a new element has been added to its content. I call this element my idea (Vorstellung) of the tree.

I would never be in a position to speak of ideas if I did not experience them by being aware of my Self. Percepts would come and go; I would simply let them pass by. It is only because I perceive my Self that I notice that with each perception the content of my Self, too, is changed. By noticing the connection between the observation of the object and the changes that occur in me, I then speak of having an idea. 

4.8 Perception Of Ideas
[23] I perceive ideas in my Self in the same way I perceive colors, sounds, etc. in other objects. From this point of view, I can now make the further distinction of calling these other objects that confront me the outer world, while the content of my Self-observation I call my inner world.

The failure to recognize the relationship between idea and object has led to the greatest misunderstandings in modern philosophy. The perception of a change in me, the modification my Self undergoes, is thrust into the foreground, while the object causing this modification is completely lost sight of. As a consequence it is said: We do not perceive the objects, but only our ideas. I know nothing, so it is claimed, of the object of my observation; the table itself. I know only of the change that is going on within me while I am perceiving the table.

This view should not be confused with the Berkeleyan view mentioned previously. Berkeley upholds the subjective nature of my perceptual content, but he does not say I can know only my own ideas. He limits my knowledge to my ideas because, in his view, there are no objects other than ideas. What I see as a table no longer exists, according to Berkeley, when I cease to look at it. This is why for Berkeley my percepts are created directly by the power of God. I see a table because God calls forth this percept in me. For Berkeley nothing is real except God and human spirits. What we call the "world" is present only within spirits. What the naive person calls the outer world, or physical nature, does not exist according to Berkeley.

Berkeley’s view stands in contrast to the currently prevailing Kantian view. This also limits our knowledge of the world to our ideas. But it does not do so because of a conviction that nothing other than ideas exist. Rather, the Kantian view believes we are organized in a way that we can learn only of the changes undergone by our own Self, not the things-in-themselves that cause them. This view draws a conclusion on the fact I can know only my ideas. According to the Kantian view, the reason we know only our ideas is not that no reality exists independent of these ideas. It is because the human subject cannot receive such a reality into itself directly. The mind can only through "the medium of its subjective thoughts imagine it, think it, cognize it, or perhaps fail to cognize it" (O. Liebmann, Analysis of Reality, p. 28). Kantians believe their view expresses something absolutely certain, something immediately evident without any need of proof.

“The first fundamental principle the philosopher must clearly grasp is the recognition that our knowledge does not initially go beyond our ideas. Our ideas are the only things we experience directly and learn to know directly. The fact that we experience ideas directly means not even the most radical doubt can rob us of our knowledge of them. On the other hand, all knowledge that does go beyond my ideas—taking ideas here in the widest sense to include all psychical processes—is open to doubt. At the very beginning of all philosophy, it is necessary to state explicitly that all knowledge that goes beyond ideas is open to doubt.”

4.9 Our Organization
Volkelt's book on Immanuel Kant’s Theory of Knowledge begins with the statement given above. What is presented here as if it were an immediate and obvious truth, is really the result of the following thought process. "Naive common sense believes that things, just as we perceive them, also exist outside our minds. Physics, physiology and psychology, however, teach us that for perception to take place our organization is necessary. Consequently, we cannot know anything about external objects other than what our organization transmits to us. What we perceive as objects are modifications that occur in our organization, not the things themselves." This line of reasoning has been characterized by Eduard von Hartmann as leading inevitably to the conviction that we can have direct knowledge only of our ideas (see Hartmann’s “Basic Problem of Theory of Knowledge”, p.16-40).

Physics
Because outside our organism we find vibrations of physical bodies and of the air perceived by us as sound. This view reasons that what we call sound is nothing more than a subjective reaction of our organism to these motions in the external world. In the same way color and warmth are only modifications of our organism. Our percepts of warmth and color are the effects of processes in the external world. These external processes are entirely different from what we experience as warmth and color. When these processes stimulate the nerves in my skin, I perceive warmth. When they stimulate the optic nerve, I perceive light and color. Light, color, and warmth, then, are the way the nerves of my sense organs react to outside stimuli. Even the sense of touch does not transmit to me the objects of the outer world, but only conditions in myself.

The physicist thinks of bodies as consisting of infinitely small parts called molecules. These molecules are not in direct contact with each other, but have certain distances separating them. Between them is empty space. Across this space they act on each other by forces of attraction and repulsion. When I place my hand on an object, the molecules of my hand never touch the molecules of the object. There always remains a certain distance between object and hand. What I feel as the resistance of the object, is nothing other than the effect of the force of repulsion its molecules exert on my hand. I remain completely external to the object. All I perceive is its effect on my organism.

[24] An extension of this idea is the Specific Nerve Energies theory, proposed by J. Müller (1801- 1858). According to this theory, each sense-organ has the peculiar quality of reacting to all external stimuli in only one specific way. Stimulation of the optic nerve results in perception of light. It does not matter whether the nerve stimulation is due to what we call light, or to mechanical pressure, or to an electric current. Conversely, the same external stimulus applied to different senses evokes different sensations. This seems to indicate that our sense-organs can transmit only what occurs within them, and transmit nothing from the outer world. The senses determine the percepts, each according to its own nature.

Physiology
[25] Physiology further shows there can be no direct knowledge even of the effects objects have within our sense-organs. When the physiologist follows the processes that take place in the body, he finds the effects of external motion already transformed within the sense organs in a variety of ways. We see this most clearly in the eye and the ear. Both are very complicated organs that alter the external stimulus considerably, before conveying it to the corresponding nerve. From the peripheral nerve-ending, the already changed stimulus is transmitted further to the brain, and here the central organ is stimulated. From this, it is concluded that the external process undergoes a series of transformations before it enters consciousness.

What finally takes place in the brain is connected to the external stimuli by so many intermediate processes, any similarity between the two is out of the question. What the brain finally transmits to the human psyche is neither external processes, nor processes in the sense-organs, but only processes inside the brain. Yet even these are not perceived directly by our inner being. What we finally have in consciousness are not brain-processes at all, but sensations. My sensation of red has absolutely no similarity to the process taking place in the brain when I sense red. The redness that occurs in the mind is an effect, and the brain process is its cause. This is why Hartmann says (The Basic Problem of Epistemology), "What the subject perceives are always only modifications of his own psychical states and nothing else."

Psychology
When I have sensations, however, they are still far from being grouped into what I perceive as "things." After all, only single sensations can be transmitted to me by the brain. Sensations of “hard” and “soft” are transmitted to me by the sense of touch; color and light by the sense of sight. Yet all these are found united in one object. This unification, then, can only be brought about by our psychical nature. The psyche constructs things out of the various sensations transmitted to it by the brain. My brain conveys to me the single sensations of sight, touch and hearing by entirely different pathways. The psyche then combines the sensations to form the idea “trumpet.” This final stage of the process (the idea of the trumpet) is the very first thing to enter my consciousness. In this result nothing can any longer be found of what exists outside me and made the original impression on my senses. The external object has been completely lost on the way to the brain and through the brain to the human psyche.

4.10 The External World Is A Projection Of My Psyche
[26] It would be hard to find in the history of human intellectual life an edifice of thought built up with greater ingenuity, and yet, on closer analysis, collapses into nothing. Let us look more closely at the way it has been constructed. The theory begins with what is given in naive consciousness, the thing as perceived. Then it shows that none of the qualities found in it would exist for us if we had no sense organs. No eye—no color. So color is not yet present in what affects the eye. The color first arises through the interaction of the eye with the object. The object, then, is colorless. But the color is not present in the eye either. In the eye there is a chemical or physical process that is conducted by the nerve to the brain, where it sets off another process. The process in the brain is not yet the color. The color is produced in our psychical nature by the brain process. But even here I am still not conscious of it. It is first projected outwards by our psyche onto a spatial body in the external world. Here, finally, I see the color, as a quality of this body.

We have come full circle. We have become conscious of a colored object. That comes first. Now the thought-operation begins. If I had no eyes, the object would be colorless for me. So I cannot attribute the color to the object. I go looking for it. I look for it in the eye,—in vain; in the nerve,—also in vain; in the brain,—again in vain.

Finally, I look for it in the psyche. Here I find it, but unconnected with the spatial body. I only find the colored object again—there, at the place where I started. The circle is closed. The theory leads me to believe that what the naive person thinks is existing outside him in space, is really a creation of my own psyche.

4.11 The External Percept Is My Idea
[27] As long as one stops here, everything seems to fit perfectly. But we must go over it again from the beginning. Up to now I have been dealing with an object—the external percept. As a naive person, I had an an entirely false view of it. I thought the percept, just as I perceive it, had objective existence. Now I realize it disappears as I represent it to myself in the act of perceiving. The external percept is no more than a modification of my mental condition.

Do I still have the right to take it as a starting point for my reflections? Can I say it has an effect on my psyche? Previously I believed the table had an effect on me, and brought about an idea of itself in me. From now on I must treat the table as itself an idea. But then to be logically consistent, my sense organs and the processes going on in them must also be only subjective manifestations. I have no right to speak of a real eye, only of my idea of the eye. The same would apply to the nerve paths and the brain process. And even to the process that occurs within the psyche itself, by which things are supposedly constructed out of the chaos of various sensations.

If I go through each step of the act of cognition once again, assuming the correctness of the first circular line of thought, the cognitive act described reveals itself as a web of ideas that, as such, cannot possibly act on each other. I cannot say: My idea of the object acts on my idea of the eye, and the result of this interaction is my idea of color. But I do not need to. For as soon as it is clear to me that my sense organs and their activity, and my nerve and psychic processes, are also known to me only through perception, then the full impossibility of the described line of thought reveals itself. It is true to say: For me there is no percept without the corresponding sense organ. But it is just as true to say: There is no sense-organ without a percept of it.

From the percept of a table I can pass to the eye that sees it, to the nerves of the hand that touch it. But what takes place within these I can learn, once again, only through perception. Then I soon notice there is no trace of similarity between the process taking place in the eye and what I perceive as color. I cannot deny my color percept just because I can point out the process taking place in the eye during this perception. Nor can I find the color in the nerve and brain-processes. All I do is connect new percepts located within my organism to the first percept, which the naive person locates outside his organism. I simply pass from one percept to the next.

[28] In addition, there is a gap in the whole chain of reasoning. I can follow the processes in my organism up to those in my brain. My assumptions, though, become more and more hypothetical the closer I come to the central processes in the brain. The method of external observation ends with the process in the brain. More precisely, it ends with what I would observe if I examine the brain using the instruments and methods of Physics and Chemistry. The method of internal observation, or introspection, begins with the sensations, and continues up to the construction of things out of the material of sensation. At the point of transition from brain process to sensation, there is a break in the method of observation.

[29] The way of thinking just described, known as Critical Idealism, stands in contrast to the position of naive common sense, known as Naive Realism. The Critical Idealist makes the error of characterizing one kind of percept as an idea, while accepting the other kind in exactly the same way as the Naive Realist, whom he claims to have refuted. He sets out to prove that our percepts are representational ideas, while naively accepting the percepts belonging to his own body as objectively valid facts. What is more, he fails to see he is confusing two fields of observation, between which he can find no connecting link.

4.12 The Bodily Organism Has Objective Existence
[30] Critical idealism can only refute Naive Realism if it accepts, in naive-realistic fashion, that one's own organism has objective existence. As soon as the Idealist realizes the percepts of his own organism are exactly the same kind as those Naive Realism assumes to have objective existence, he can no longer use those percepts as a secure foundation for his theory. He would, to be consistent, have to regard his own organism also as a mere complex of ideas. But this removes the possibility of thinking that the content of the perceived world is a product of our mental organization. One would have to accept that the idea "color" was only a modification of the idea "eye." So-called Critical Idealism cannot be proved without borrowing the assumptions of Naive Realism. The apparent refutation of Naive Realism is achieved only by uncritically accepting its basic assumptions as valid in another area.

[31] This much, then, is certain: Investigation of the field of perception cannot prove the correctness of Critical Idealism, and, consequently, cannot strip percepts of their objective character.

[32] But even less can the principle, "The perceived world is my idea" be claimed as obvious in need of no proof. Schopenhauer begins his main work, The World as Will and Idea, with the words:

"The world is my idea—this truth applies to every living and cognizing being, although the human being alone can bring it into reflective, abstract consciousness. And when he really does this, he will have attained to philosophical self-knowledge. It then becomes clear and certain to him that he knows no sun and no earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, and a hand that feels the earth. The world around him is present only as an idea. It is there only in relation to something else, to the one who depicts it, namely, himself. If ever a truth could be declared a priori, it is this one; for it expresses the most general form of all possible and thinkable experience. A form that is more universal than all others, than time, space, or causality, for all these presuppose it …” (The World as Will and Idea, Book I, par. I.)

This whole theory, based on the principle “The world is my idea” collapses in the face of the fact, noted above, that the eye and hand are percepts just as much as the sun and the earth. In Schopenhauer’s terms, and using his style of expression, one could respond: My eye that sees the sun, and my hand that feels the earth, are my ideas just like the sun and the earth. Put in this way, it is immediately clear Schopenhauer’s proposition cancels itself out. For only my real eye and my real hand could have the ideas of sun and earth as their modifications—my ideas “eye” and “hand” could not. Yet it is only in terms of these ideas that Critical Idealism is entitled to speak.

[33] Critical Idealism is completely unable to gain insight into the relationship between percepts and ideas. It cannot begin to make the distinction we indicated earlier, between what happens to the percept during the act of perception, and what must already be present in it before it is perceived. To do this, we must find another way to approach this question.

Read more…

Study Course Steps #49 - #60

3293859605?profile=original

3. Thinking As A Means Of Forming A View Of The World
Striving To Think

TOPIC
Advance from Watching Spectator TO Thinker Who Predicts

"Observation and thinking are the two points of departure for all human spiritual striving, insofar as one is consciously striving. Everyday common sense as well as the most complicated scientific research, rest on these two fundamental pillars of our mind." TPOF 3.0

3293860178?profile=original

Spectator Watches
Observation: 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 Predicts
Thinking: 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.

Observation And Thinking
Forming A View: Thought plays the leading role in forming a view of events.
Observation and thinking are the two points of departure for all human spiritual striving, insofar as one is consciously striving. Everyday common sense as well as the most complicated scientific research, rest on these two fundamental pillars of our mind: observation and thinking. Whatever principle we wish to establish, we must either prove we have observed it somewhere, or we must express it in the form of clear thought that can be rethought by others.

STEP #49 (3.1)
Advance from Everyday State TO Exceptional State
3293861016?profile=original

Everyday State (observation of world object)
Observation: The observation of a table or a tree occurs as soon as these objects enter the horizon of my experience. Yet I do not, at the same time, observe my thought about these things. I observe the table, and I carry on a process of thought about the table, but I do not at the same moment observe this thought-process.
Involuntary Thought-Chain
Free flowing thought-chains are involuntary memories and associations that may fill the mind in everyday life. They are not sought or consciously directed.

  

Exceptional State (observation of thought)
Thinking: While the observation of things and events, and thinking about them, is the everyday state that occupies my normal life, the observation of the thoughts themselves require entering an exceptional state..

Same Method Used To Study World And Thought
Forming A View: When observing our thought-process, we must be sure to apply the same method we use to study any other object in the world. But in the normal course of our study of other things, we do not usually reflect upon our thought-processes as well.

     
STEP #50 (3.2)
Advance from Passive Feeling TO Active Thinking
3293861951?profile=original

Passive Feeling
Observation: While observing an object, such as a rose, a feeling of pleasure is kindled. We remain passive as the feeling just happens to us. A feeling of pleasure is given in the same way as the observed event. When I know the feeling an event arouses in me, I learn about my personality.

 

Active Thinking
Thinking: 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 attentive thinking effort. By knowing the concepts that correspond to an event I learn about the event.
Involuntary Thought-Chain
Free flowing thought-chains are involuntary memories and associations that may fill the mind in everyday life. They are not sought or consciously directed. This is not thinking.

Learn About Event, Not Myself
Forming A View: When I am reflecting on an event, I am not concerned with how it affects me. I learn nothing about myself by knowing the concepts that correspond to an event. But I learn a great deal about my personality when I know the feeling that an event arouses in me.

     
STEP #51 (3.3)
Advance from Personal Reaction TO Selfless Thinking Observation Of Object
3293861469?profile=original

Personal Reaction To Event
Observation: It is part of the unique nature of thinking that it is an activity directed solely on the observed object, and not on the personality who is engaged in the thinking. I am not interested in expressing my personal reaction to the object; how I feel about it or how I will act.

 

Selfless Observation
Thinking: Rather than drawing attention to myself, my selfless attention is fully directed on the object. The unique nature of thought is that the thinker forgets thinking when actually doing it. What occupies his attention is not thought, but rather the object he is observing while he is thinking. The first thing we notice about thought is that it is the unobserved element in our mental life.

Thinking Observation (thinking contemplation)
Forming A View: What I do not originate appears as something ‘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. While I am reflecting on the object, I am absorbed in it, my attention is focused on it. To focus the attention on the object is to contemplate it by thought. This is thinking contemplation.

     
STEP #52 (3.4)
Advance from Observation Of Present Thought TO Thinking Observation Of Past Thought
3293861364?profile=original

Confront 'Past' Thought
Observation: We use the same method of selfless observation for the study of thought that we use for the study of objects in the world. The difference is that to study thought we must enter the exceptional state to confront our past thought. If I want to observe my present thought-process, I would have to split myself into two persons: one to think, and the other to observe this thinking. This I cannot do. I can only accomplish it in two separate acts.

 

Think About Thought
Thinking: I can never observe my present thinking while it is taking place. Only afterward can the past experience of my thought-process be made into the object of fresh thoughts. For fresh thinking to take place my full attention must remain on the object I am thinking about. So to think about thinking I must recall to mind what is now a past thought and place my full attention on it. 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.

Create, then contemplate
Forming A View: To think about our thinking requires two steps. First, I create a thought-process. Next, I become immersed in it with my full attention. There are two things that do not go together: productive activity and confronting this activity in contemplation. It is not possible to create and contemplate at the same time. This is why we cannot contemplate our current thinking while it is taking place. Thought must first be there before we can contemplate it.

     
STEP #53 (3.5)
Advance from Observation Of Phenomena TO Knowing Content Of Concept
3293860846?profile=original

Observation Of Present Thought-Process
Observation: The reason why it is impossible to observe the thought-process while it is presently taking place is because producing thought is a creative activity.

 

Known Thought-Process
Thinking: It is just because we produce the thought-process through our own creative activity, that we know the characteristic features of its course, and the details of how the process has taken place. What can be discovered only indirectly in all other fields of observation,— the factually corresponding context and the connection between the single objects—in the case of thought is known to us in an absolutely direct way.

Know Conceptual Connections
Forming A View: Without going beyond the observed phenomena, I cannot know why thunder follows lightning. But I know immediately, from the content of the two concepts, why my thought connects the concept of thunder with the concept of lightning. The point being made here does not depend on whether I have the correct concepts of lightning and thunder. The connection between those concepts that I do have is clear to me, and is so through the concepts themselves.

     
STEP #54 (3.6)
Advance from Brain Physiology TO Pure Thinking Guided By Content Of Thought
3293859194?profile=original

Brain Physiology
Observation: 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.

 

Pure Thinking - Pure Reason
Thinking: Most people find it difficult to grasp the concept of pure thinking such as occurs in mathematics and philosophy. 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. I am not guided by physical processes in the brain.

Willingness To Enter The Exceptional State
Forming A View: Whoever is unable to enter the exceptional state I have described cannot transcend Materialism and become conscious of what in all other mental activity remains unconscious. If someone lacks the willingness to look at thought from this position, then one can no more discuss thought with him than one can discuss color with someone born blind.

     
STEP #55 (3.7)
Advance from Uncertainty Of Other Things TO Certainty Of Thought
3293860734?profile=original

Uncertainty Of Observation
Observation: All other things, all other events, are there independent of me. I do not know whether they are truth, or illusion, or dream.

The observation of thought is different. 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. All other things, all other events, are there independent of me. I do not know whether they are truth, or illusion, or dream.

 

Certainty Of Thought
Thinking: There is only one thing I know with absolute certainty, for I myself bring it to its sure and undisputed existence: my thought. Perhaps it has another ultimate source. Perhaps it comes from God or from somewhere else, I cannot be sure. I am sure of one thing, it exists because I produced it myself. It is only in thinking that I grasp myself, standing within the world-whole, in the activity that is the most my own

Certainty Of Existence
Forming A View: 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?

     
STEP #56 (3.8)
Advance from Thought Mingles With Observation TO Remain Within Pure Thought
3293862173?profile=original

Remain Within Observation
Observation: When we observe things in the world a process is overlooked. Two processes are involved in observing the world, the observation-process and the thinking-process. We may not notice it, but the thinking-process mingles with our observation of world-events and even intermixes with the observation process itself. 

It is different when we observe thought. Thought normally escapes our notice. When we observe thought we use the same method of observation that we use for other things. By observing thought we increase the number of observed objects, but not the number of methods.

  Remain Within Thought
Thinking: But when I observe my thinking, there ceases to be an unnoticed element present. For what hovers in the background is, again, nothing but thought. The observed object is qualitatively the same as the activity directed upon it. We can remain within the same element; the realm of thought.

Remain Within Thinking About Thinking 
Forming A View: When I weave a web of thoughts around an object given independently of me, I go beyond my observation. Then the question becomes: How is it possible for my thought to be related to the object? The question vanishes when we think about thinking itself. We then add nothing unfamiliar to our thought, and so there is no need to justify such an addition.

     
STEP #57 (3.9)
Advance from Know Nature, Then Create Again TO Create Thought Before Knowing
3293860321?profile=original

Know Nature, Then Create
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. We know Nature before we create it again.

  Create Thought, Then Know
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 reflecting on our new insight, gain knowledge of what it all means.

Start With Thinking
Forming A View: The reason why things seem so puzzling is because I am so uninvolved in their coming about. I simply find them before me. But with thought I know how it is brought about. This is why there can be no more fundamental starting-point for the study of any world-event than thinking.

     
STEP #58 (3.10)
Advance from Unconsciously Add Thought TO Conscious Analysis
3293860350?profile=original

Unconscious Thought
Observation: When we observe an object or event, thought unconsciously connects our observations with one another by weaving them together with a network of concepts. These unconscious thoughts are not the same as the conscious thoughts our analysis later extracts from the observed objects after we study them. What we first unconsciously weave into things is something entirely different from what we then consciously draw back out.

 

Independent Thought
Thinking: I can imagine that a being with different sense organs and a differently functioning intelligence would have a very different idea of a horse than mine. We are not discussing how my thought appears to an intelligence other than mine, but how it appears to me. I can see no reason why I should consider my thought from any other point of view than my own.

Self-Supporting View
Forming A View: When Archimedes invented the lever, he thought he could use it to lift the whole cosmos out of its hinges, if he could only find a secure point of support to set his instrument. He needed something that was self-supporting, not dependent on anything else. In thought we have a principle of self-subsistence, it is composed by means of itself. From this principle we can attempt to understand the world. Thought can be grasped by thought. The only question is whether we can grasp anything else by means of thought.

     
STEP #59 (3.11)
Advance from Start With Observation TO Start With Impartial Consideration Of Thinking
3293858928?profile=original

Start With Observation
Observation: 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 our thoughts will offer insight into things?

 

Start With Thinking
Thinking: 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. Does our thinking contain preconceptions, cognitive bias and so on? There is no denying that thinking must be understood before anything else can be understood.

Last In Time, First In Theory
Forming A View: A philosophy will go nowhere as long as it is based on all kinds of principles, ism’s and ideology. It will remain suspended in the air. The starting-point must be what comes into existence last. And the absolutely last thing produced in the world-process is thought.

     
STEP #60 (3.12)
Advance from Is Thinking Right Or Wrong? TO Is Thought Rightly Applied?
3293859548?profile=original

Rightness Of Thought
Observation: 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 thought is the correct thought.

  Application Of Thought
Thinking: 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. 

Study Of The Philosophy Of Freedom
Forming A View: It is the task of The Philosophy Of Freedom to show us how far the application of thought to the world is a right application or a wrong one.

Next Chapter
In this chapter we learned how thought, as an object of observation, is different than all other activities of the mind and why it is a secure foundation for knowing the world. In the following chapters we will learn to what extent our application of thought to the world is right or wrong.

     

 

BOOK TEXT

3. THINKING AS A MEANS OF FORMING A VIEW OF THE WORLD

3.0 Reflective Thinking
[1] WHEN I observe how a billiard ball, when struck, transfers its motion to another ball, I remain completely without influence over the course of this observed event. The direction and velocity of the second ball is determined by the direction and velocity of the first. As long as I remain a mere spectator, I can say nothing about the motion of the second ball until after it has happened. The situation is different when I begin to reflect on the content of my observation. The purpose of my reflection is to establish the concepts of the event. I connect the concept of an elastic ball with other concepts of mechanics, and take into account the special circumstances of this event. I try, in other words, to add to the process that takes place without my participation, a second process that takes place in the conceptual sphere. The conceptual process depends on me. This is shown by the fact that I can remain content with the observation, and not make the effort to search for concepts if I have no need of them. But if the need is present, then I am not content until I have brought the concepts ball, elasticity, motion, impact, velocity, etc., into a certain connection with each other so they apply to the observed event. As certain as it is that the observed event takes place independently of me, it is just as certain that the conceptual process is dependent on my active involvement for it to take place.

[2] We will discuss later whether this thinking activity of mine really expresses my own independent being, or whether physiologists are right in saying I cannot think as I wish, but must think in the way determined by the thoughts and thought-connections that happen to be present in my mind at any given moment. (Theodor Ziehen, Principles of Physiological Psychology). At this point we only wish to establish the fact we constantly feel compelled to seek for concepts and connections of concepts that relate in a specific way to the objects and events given independently of us. Whether this thinking activity is really ours, or whether we carry it out according to an unalterable necessity, is a question we will leave aside for now. That it initially appears to be our activity is undeniable. We know for certain the corresponding concepts are not given at the same time and together with the objects. That I am myself the active one in the conceptual process may an illusion, but to immediate observation it appears so. The question is: "What do we gain by finding a conceptual counterpart to an event?"

[3] There is a far reaching difference in the way the details of an event relate to one another before, and after, the discovery of the corresponding concepts. Mere observation can follow the parts of a given event as they occur, but their connection remains obscure without the help of concepts. I see the first billiard ball move toward the second in a certain direction and with a certain velocity. What will happen after the impact I cannot tell in advance. I must wait to see what will happen, and can still now only follow it with my eyes. Suppose someone, at the moment of impact, obstructs my view of the field where the event is taking place. As a mere spectator, I will know nothing of what happens next. The situation is very different if, before my view is obstructed, I have already discovered the concepts corresponding to the details of the event. In that case I can predict what will happen, even when I am no longer able to observe it. There is nothing in a merely observed object or event that reveals anything about its connection to other objects and events. This connection only becomes evident when observation is combined with thought.

[4] Observation and thinking are the two points of departure for all human spiritual striving, insofar as one is consciously striving. Everyday common sense as well as the most complicated scientific research, rest on these two fundamental pillars of our mind. Philosophers have proceeded from various primary antitheses, such as the contrast between Idea and Reality, Subject and Object, Appearance and Thing-in-itself, Ego and Non-Ego, Idea and Will, Concept and Matter, Force and Substance, the Conscious and the Unconscious. However, it is easy to show that the contrast between observation and thought must precede all others, as the most important antithesis for the human being.

[5] Whatever principle we wish to establish, we must either prove we have observed it somewhere, or we must express it in the form of clear thought that can be rethought by others. Every philosopher setting out to explain his fundamental principles must express them in conceptual form, and so use thought. By doing so he indirectly admits his philosophical activity already presumes thought, which is taken for granted. Nothing is being said yet about whether thought or something else is the main factor in the development of the world. But it is clear from the start that, without thought, philosophers can gain no knowledge of this development. Thought may only play a supporting role in the occurrence of world-events, but it surely plays a leading role in forming a view of these events.

[6] As for observation, we need it because of the nature of our organization. Our thought about a horse and the object “horse” are two things that appear to us separate from each another. The object is accessible to us only through observation. As little as we can formulate a concept of a horse by merely staring at it, just as little can we magically conjure up the object horse by merely thinking of it.

3.1 Observation Of Thought
[7] In sequence of time, observation actually comes before thought. For even thought we must first learn to know by means of observation. It was essentially a description of an observation when, at the beginning of this chapter, we showed how thought is kindled by an objective process (billiard event) and goes beyond what is given, transcending the event. It is through observation that we first become aware of whatever enters the circle of our experience. The content of our sensations, perceptions, opinions, our feelings, acts of will, dreams and imaginations, memory images, concepts and Ideas, illusions and hallucinations, are all given to us through observation.

[8] As an object of observation thought differs essentially from all other things. The observation of a table or a tree occurs as soon as these objects enter the horizon of my experience. Yet I do not, at the same time, observe my thought about these things. I observe the table, and I carry on a process of thought about the table, but I do not at the same moment observe this thought-process. If I want to observe the table while at the same time observe my thoughts about it, I have to remain in a place outside any activity of my own.

While the observation of things and events, and thinking about them, is the everyday state that occupies my normal life, the observation of the thoughts themselves require entering an exceptional state. It is important to understand the exceptional state, because we are going to compare thought, as an object of observation, to all other observed things. When observing our thought-process, we must be sure to apply the same method we use to study any other object in the world. But in the normal course of our study of other things, we do not usually reflect upon our thought-processes as well.

3.2 Concept Formed Through My Activity
[9] Someone might object that what I have noted here about thinking is equally true of feeling and all other activities of the mind. For example, a feeling of pleasure is also kindled by the object and it is this object I observe, not the feeling of pleasure.

This objection does not hold, because a concept established by thinking is related to what is observed in a completely different way than a pleasure is. I am definitely aware that a concept of a thing is formed by my own activity, while pleasure just happens to me. Pleasure is aroused by an object in the same way as a change is caused in an object by a stone falling on it. To observation, a pleasure is given, in exactly the same way as the event that causes it. It is not the same with concepts. I can ask why an event arouses a feeling of pleasure in me. But I certainly cannot ask why an event calls up a certain set of concepts in me. The question would simply make no sense.

When I am reflecting about an event, I am not concerned with how it affects me. I learn nothing at all about myself by knowing the concepts corresponding to the observed change in a pane of glass caused by a stone thrown against it. But I learn a great deal about my personality when I know the feeling that an event arouses in me. If I say of an observed object, “This is a rose,” I say nothing about myself. But if I say of the rose, “It gives me a feeling of pleasure,” I characterize not only the rose, but also myself in my relationship to the rose.

3.3 Thinking Contemplation Of Object
[10] There can be no question, then, that thought and feeling are not on the same level when compared as objects of observation. The same could easily be shown for all other activities of the human mind. Unlike thought, they belong in the same category as other observed objects and events. It is part of the unique nature of thinking that it is an activity directed solely on the observed object, and not on the personality who is engaged in the thinking. This is evident even in the way we express our thoughts about an object, in contrast to the way we express our feelings or acts of will. If I see an object and recognize it as a table, I do not normally say, “I am thinking of a table”, but rather, “This is a table.” Yet I could certainly say “I am pleased with the table.” In the first case I am not interested in expressing my relationship with the table, but in the second case it is just this relationship that I am drawing attention to. If I say, “I am thinking of a table,” I have already entered into the exceptional state described above. From this position something always present in our mental activity is observed, although normally it is not noticed.

[11] The unique nature of thought is that the thinker forgets thinking when actually doing it. What occupies his attention is not thought, but rather the object he is observing while he is thinking.

[12] The first thing we notice about thought is that it is the unobserved element in our normal mental life.

[13] The reason why we do not notice the thinking that goes on in our everyday mental life is none other than this: thinking is our own activity. What I do not originate appears as something ‘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. While I am reflecting on the object, I am absorbed in it, my attention is focused on it. To focus the attention on the object is, in fact, to contemplate it by thought. This is thinking contemplation. My attention is not directed toward my activity, but rather toward the object of this activity. In other words, when I think, I do not see the thinking I am producing. I only see the object I am thinking about, which I did not produce. 

3.4 Thinking Contemplation Of Thought
[14] I am in exactly the same position when I enter the exceptional state and reflect on my own thinking. I can never observe my present thought. Only afterward can the past experience of my thought-process be made into the object of fresh thoughts.

If I want to observe my present thought-process, I would have to split myself into two persons: one to think, and the other to observe this thinking. This I cannot do. I can only accomplish it in two separate acts. The thought to be observed is never the current one actively being produced, but another one. For this purpose, it makes no difference whether I observe my own earlier thoughts, or follow the thought-process of another person or, as in the above example of the motion of billiard balls, set up an imaginary thought-process.

[15] There are two things that do not go together: productive activity and confronting this activity in contemplation. It is not possible to create and contemplate at the same time. This is recognized even in the First Book of Moses. In the first six days God is represented as creating the world, and only after the world is there is it possible to contemplation it: "And God saw everything that he had made and, behold, it was very good." The same applies to our thinking. It must first be there before we can observe it.

3.5 Know Thought Directly And Intimately
[16] There is a reason why it is impossible to observe the thought-process while it is presently taking place. It is the same reason that makes it possible for us to know it more directly, and more intimately than any other process in the world.

It is just because we produce the thought-process through our own creative activity, that we know the characteristic features of its course, and the details of how the process has taken place. What can be discovered only indirectly in all other fields of observation,— the factually corresponding context and the connection between the single objects—in the case of thought is known to us in an absolutely direct way.

Without going beyond the observed phenomena, I cannot know why thunder follows lightning. But I know immediately, from the content of the two concepts, why my thought connects the concept of thunder with the concept of lightning. The point being made here does not depend on whether I have the correct concepts of lightning and thunder. The connection between those concepts that I do have is clear to me, and is so through the concepts themselves.

3.6 Thinking Guided By Content Of Thought
[17] This transparent clarity of the thought-process is completely independent of our knowledge of the physiological basis of thought. I am speaking here of thought when we make our own mental activity the object of observation. For this purpose I am not concerned with how one physical process in my brain causes or influences another while I carry on a line of thought. What I observe in studying a thought-process is not what process in my brain connects the concept lightning with the concept thunder. I observe my reason for bringing these two concepts into a certain relationship. Introspection shows that in linking thought with thought I am guided by the content of my thoughts. I am not guided by physical processes in the brain.

In a less materialistic age this remark would of course be entirely unnecessary. But today—when there are people who believe that once we know what matter is, we will know how matter thinks—it is necessary to point out that we can discuss thought without entering the field of brain physiology. Most people find it difficult to grasp the concept of pure thinking. Anyone who counters the idea of thinking I have developed here with the assertion of Cabanis' that "the brain secretes thoughts as the liver does gall or the salivary ducts saliva . . .", simply does not know what I am talking about. Such a person is trying to find thought in the brain by the normal method of observation, in the same way we approach other objects in the world. But, as I have shown, thought cannot be found in this way because it eludes normal observation.

Whoever is unable to enter the exceptional state I have described cannot transcend Materialism and become conscious of what in all other mental activity remains unconscious. If someone lacks the willingness to look at thought from this position, then one can no more discuss thought with him than one can discuss color with someone born blind. But he should certainly not imagine that we consider physiological processes to be thinking. He fails to explain thought because he simply does not see it.

3.7 Know Thought With Absolute Certainty
[18] For everyone who has the ability to observe thought—and with the willingness, every normal person has this ability—this observation is the most important that can be made. What he observes is his own creation. He is not facing something that is, at first, unfamiliar to him. He faces his own activity. He knows how it comes about. He clearly sees into its conditions and relationships. He gains a secure point of reference from which he can seek, with a reasonable hope of success, the explanation for all other world phenomena.

[19] The feeling of having found such a firm foundation caused the founder of modern philosophy, Rene Descartes, to base the whole of human knowledge on the principle, "I think, therefore I am." All other things, all other events, are there independent of me. I do not know whether they are truth, or illusion, or dream. There is only one thing I know with absolute certainty, for I myself bring it to its sure and undisputed existence: my thought. Perhaps it has another ultimate source. Perhaps it comes from God or from somewhere else, I cannot be sure. I am sure of one thing, it exists because I produced it myself. Descartes had no justification for giving his principle any other meaning than this. All he had a right to assert was that it is only in thinking that I grasp myself, standing within the world-whole, in the activity that is the most my own.

What the added words "therefore I am" is intended to mean has often been debated. It only makes sense on one condition. The simplest statement I can make about a thing is that it is, that it exists. What kind of existence it has cannot be more closely defined at first sight, in the first moment it appears within the range of my experience. Each object must first be studied in its relationship to other things, before we can determine the way it exists. An experienced event may be a series of perceptions, but it could also be a dream, a hallucination, and so on. Within only a brief moment, I am unable to say in what way it exists. I cannot read the kind of existence from the event itself, but I can learn this when I consider the event in relation to other things. But even then, I learn nothing more than how it relates to these other things.

My search reaches firm ground only when I find an object, from which I can derive the reason of its existence from the object itself. This I am, as a thinker; for I give to my existence the defining, self-supporting content of my thought activity. From here I can go on to ask: "Do other things exist in the same, or in some other way?"

3.8 Remaining Within Realm Of Thought
[20] When we make thought an object of observation, we add something to the rest of the world's observed content that normally escapes our notice. But we do not change the method of observation, which is the same as we use for other things. We increase the number of observed objects, but not the number of methods.

A process is overlooked when we observe other things. This process mingles with world-events and intermixes with the observation process itself. Something is present that is different from every other kind of process, and is not taken into account. But when I observe my thinking, there ceases to be an unnoticed element present. For what hovers in the background is, again, nothing but thought. The observed object is qualitatively the same as the activity directed upon it. This is another special characteristic of thought. When we observe thought, we are not compelled to do so with the help of something qualitatively different. We can remain within the same element; the realm of thought.

[21] When I weave a web of thoughts around an object given independently of me, I go beyond my observation. Then the question becomes: What right do I have to do this? Why don’t I just passively let the object make its impression on me? How is it possible for my thought to be related to the object? These are questions everyone who reflects on his own thought-processes must ask. All these questions vanish when we think about thinking itself. We then add nothing unfamiliar to our thought, and so there is no need to justify such an addition.

3.9 Create Thought Before Knowing It
[22] Schelling says: "To know Nature is to create Nature." Anyone who takes these words of the daring Nature philosopher literally, must renounce forever all hope of gaining knowledge of Nature because, after all, Nature already exists. To re-create it over again, one must know the principles according to how it originated. From the Nature that already exists, one would have to copy the conditions of existence, and apply them to the Nature one wished to re-create. But this copying, which has to precede the re-creating, is to already have a knowledge of Nature, and remains this even if no re-creation follows. To create a Nature different from what already exists, one would have to create it without applying prior knowledge of existing Nature.

[23] What is impossible with Nature—creation prior to knowledge—we achieve in the act of thought. If we wait to think until we already know it, we would never think at all. We must resolutely dive straight into thinking and only afterward, by introspective analysis, gain knowledge of what we have done. We ourselves first create the thought-process, which we then make the object of observation. All other objects are there without any activity on our part.

[24] Someone could easily counter my contention that we must think before we can observe thought, with the claim of an equally valid contention, "We must digest before we can observe the process of digestion." A similar objection was made by Pascal to Descartes, claiming one could just as well say, "I walk, therefore I am." Certainly I must also go straight into digesting and not wait until I have studied the physiological process of digestion. But this could only be compared with the analysis of thought if, after digesting, I did not analyze it by thought, but were to eat and digest it. There is good reason for the fact that digestion cannot become the object of digestion, but thought can very well become the object of thought.

[25] There is then no doubt, that in thinking we consider world-events from a point that requires our presence if anything is to happen. And this is exactly what is important. The reason why things seem so puzzling is because I am so uninvolved in their coming about. I simply find them before me. But with thought I know how it is brought about. This is why there can be no more fundamental starting-point for the study of any world-event than thinking.

3.10 Thought Is Self-Supporting And Self-Subsisting
[26] Here I will mention a widespread error concerning thought. It is often said that, "We never experience thought as it truly is, in its real nature. Thought-processes connect our observations with one another, and weave them together with a network of concepts." But they say, "These thoughts are not at all the same as what our analysis later extracts from the objects we observe, and make into the object of study. What we first unconsciously weave into things", so we are told, "is something entirely different from what we then consciously draw back out."

[27] Those who hold this view do not realize it is impossible to escape from thought. I cannot get outside thought when I want to contemplate it. If one makes a distinction between thought before and after becoming conscious of it, one should not forget this distinction is purely external and irrelevant to our discussion. I do not in any way alter a thing by thinking about it. I can imagine that a being with different sense organs and a differently functioning intelligence would have a very different idea of a horse than mine. But I cannot imagine that my own thought becomes something else because I observe it. I myself observe what I myself produce. We are not discussing how my thought appears to an intelligence other than mine, but how it appears to me. In any case, the idea another mind forms of my thought cannot be truer than the one I form myself. If the thought-process is not my own, but instead the activity of a different being, my idea of this being's thought will occur in a certain way. But I could not know the real nature of what another being's thought was like in itself.

[28] I can see no reason why I should consider my thought from any other point of view than my own. I contemplate the rest of the world by means of thought. Why should I make an exception for the contemplation of my thought?

[29] With this, I think I have sufficiently justified making thought the starting-point in my approach to understanding the world. When Archimedes invented the lever, he thought he could use it to lift the whole cosmos out of its hinges, if he could only find a secure point of support to set his instrument. He needed something that was self-supporting, not dependent on anything else. In thought we have a principle of self-subsistence, it is composed by means of itself. From this principle let us attempt to understand the world. Thought can be grasped by thought. The only question is whether we can grasp anything else by means of thought.

3.11 Impartial Consideration Of Thinking
[30] So far I have spoken of thought without considering what conveys it; human consciousness. Most of today’s philosophers would object that there must be consciousness before there can be thought. According to them, “We should start from consciousness rather than thought. There would be no thought without consciousness.” To this I would reply that to understand the relationship between thought and consciousness, I must think about it. This requires I start with thought.

In response one can say, “When the philosopher wishes to understand consciousness, he makes use of thought, and to that extent thought comes first. But in the normal course of life thought arises within consciousness, so consciousness does precede thought.” If this answer were given to the creator of the world, when it was about to create thought, then it would no doubt be entirely justified. Of course thought cannot arise before there is consciousness. For the philosopher, however, it is not a question of creating the world, but of understanding it. He is in search of the starting-point, not for creating, but for understanding the world.

I find it odd that a philosopher is criticized for being concerned first and foremost with the correctness of his principles. They expect him to turn immediately to the objects he wishes to understand. The world-creator, before everything else, had to know how to find a vehicle for thought. But the philosopher has to find a secure foundation for understanding what already exists. What good does it do to start with consciousness and subject it to our thinking, without first knowing whether thoughtful contemplation can offer insight into things?

[31] We must first examine thinking in a completely impartial way, without reference to a thinking subject or a thought object. For in subject and object we already have concepts formed by thinking. There is no denying that thinking must be understood before anything else can be understood. Anyone who denies this overlooks the fact that he, as a human being, does not belong to the beginning of creation, but to its end. To explain the world by means of concepts, we cannot start from the earliest elements of existence. We must begin with the nearest element given to us, what is most intimately ours. We cannot, with a leap, take ourselves back to the beginning of the world, and begin our analysis there. Instead, we must start from the present moment and see whether we can advance from the later to the earlier.

As long as Geology spoke of catastrophe fables to explain the present condition of the earth, it groped in darkness. Only when it began to investigate those processes that are still active in the earth today, and from these reason backward to draw conclusions about the past, did it gain secure ground. Likewise, Philosophy will get nowhere as long as it is based on all kinds of principles such as atom, motion, matter, will, the unconscious, and so on. It will remain suspended in the air. The philosopher can reach his goal only when he takes the last thing in time as the first in theory. His starting-point must be what comes into existence last. And the absolutely last thing produced in the world-process is thought.

3.12 Rightness Of Thought
[32] There are people who say we cannot know for certain whether our thought is right or wrong. So our starting-point remains a doubtful one. This is as sensible as saying it is doubtful whether a tree in itself is right or wrong. 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. In the same way I can have doubts whether a certain tree will provide the right wood suitable for the intended purpose of a tool being made. It is the task of this book to show how far the application of thought to the world is a right application or a wrong one.

I can understand someone doubting whether we can know the world by means of thought. But I find it incomprehensible how anyone can doubt the rightness of thought, when it is considered by itself.

Addition (1918)
[1] The preceding discussion points to the importance of the significant difference between thinking and all other activities of mind. This difference reveals itself to unprejudiced observation. Anyone who does not strive to see the facts without preconception, will be tempted to raise objections. Such as: “When I think about a rose this only expresses a relationship between my ‘I’ and the rose. It is the same when I feel the beauty of the rose. A relationship exists between ‘I’ and object in thinking. And in exactly the same way, a relationship exists between ‘I’ and object in feeling, and in perceiving.”

This objection fails to take into account that only in the activity of thinking does the ‘I’, or Ego, know itself to be completely at one with the activity. The Ego stands within the activity of thinking right into all its branches and ramifications. With no other activity is this so completely the case. For example, when pleasure is felt it is easy for a careful observer to distinguish to what extent the Ego knows itself to be active, and to what extent it is passive. This observation of feeling shows that the Ego is passive. The feeling merely happens to the Ego. And this applies to all other activities of the mind. But we must not confuse “having thought-images” with working out ideas by means of thinking. Thought-images can arise in the mind in a dreamy way, or as vague intuitions. This is not thinking.

“True,” someone might say, “but if this is what you mean by thinking, then thinking contains willing. And in that case we are dealing not only with thinking, but also the will to think.” This, however, would simply justify us in saying: Genuine thinking must always be willed. This fact is taken for granted in our previous characterization of thinking. Though the true nature of thinking requires that it always be willed, there is a more important point. The point here is that everything willed appears before the Ego, as it takes place, as an activity completely its own and under its own supervision. Precisely because this is the essential nature of thinking as defined here, it shows itself to the observer as willed through and through. To make an objective appraisal of thinking requires one to master all the relevant facts. Then one will recognize that this mental activity has the unique character as described.

[2] A person highly valued as a thinker by the author of this book has raised an objection. He said one cannot speak of thinking as I have done here, because what we believe we observe as active thinking is only an appearance. In reality, one only observes the results of an unconscious activity underlying thinking. Only because this unconscious activity is not observed, does the illusion arise that the thinking we observe exists independently. In the same way, a rapid succession of electric sparks deceives us into believing we see motion.

This objection is also based on an inexact view of the facts. It overlooks that it is the Ego itself that, standing within thinking, observes its own activity. To be deceived, as we are by the rapid succession of electric sparks, the Ego would have to be outside thinking. Now we could say instead: “Anyone who makes such a comparison willfully deceives himself. It is like someone claiming that a light perceived to be in motion is lit by an unknown hand at every point where it appears.” —No, the plain facts are there if one looks. Thinking is an activity produced within the Ego and clearly supervised by the Ego. In order to invent a hypothetical activity as the basis of thinking, one must first blind himself to these facts.

If he does not willfully blind himself, he must recognize that all these "hypothetical additions" to thinking lead him away from its real nature. Unprejudiced observation shows that only what is found within thinking can be regarded as belonging to it. It is impossible to discover the cause of thinking by going outside the realm of thought.

Read more…

Study Course Steps #37- #48

3293859605?profile=original

2. The Fundamental Desire For Knowledge
Striving For Knowledge

TOPIC
Advance from World-Content TO Thought-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)

Advance from Material World TO Materialistic Conception

3293861254?profile=original

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.

  

Materialism
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)
Advance from Spiritual World TO Spiritualistic Theory
3293861396?profile=original

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.

 

Spiritualism
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)
Advance from External World TO Experience Of The World Becomes Content Of The Mind
3293858831?profile=original

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.

 

Realism
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)
Advance from World Of Ideas TO Idealistic Thought-Picture Of The World w/o Empirical Content
3293859323?profile=original

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.

 

Idealism
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)
Advance from accepting the Material World And World Of Ideas TO Materialistic Idealism
3293858936?profile=original

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. 

 

Materialistic-Idealism
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)
Advance from Matter and Mind TO Indivisible Unity
3293860748?profile=original

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)

Advance from World and Self TO Polarity Of Consciousness

3293861272?profile=original

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)
Advance from Feel Estranged From Nature TO Feel Belong To Nature
3293857836?profile=original

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)
Advance from Nature Outside Of Us TO Know Nature Within
3293863155?profile=original

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)
Advance from Merely “I” TO Something More Than “I"
3293859471?profile=original

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)
Advance from Academic Definitions Of Psychology And Philosophy TO Description Of Consciousness
3293861045?profile=original

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)
Advance from Scholar Interpretation Of Consciousness TO Record Experience Of Consciousness Without Interpretation
3293862932?profile=original

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?

     

 

BOOK TEXT

2. THE FUNDAMENTAL DESIRE FOR KNOWLEDGE

Two souls, alas, dwell within my breast,
Each withdraws from and repels the other.
One is bound to earth with primal, passionate zest,
Clinging with every fiber of its being;
The other soars, spurning the dust,
Ever wings its voyage to lofty meadows of the blest.
(Faust I, lines 1112-1117)

2.0 Striving For Knowledge
[1] With these words Goethe expresses a characteristic deeply rooted in human nature. The human being is not a self-contained whole. He always demands more than what the world itself offers. Nature gives us needs, among them are some left to our own activity to satisfy. Abundant are the gifts we have received, yet more abundant are our desires. We seem born to be dissatisfied. A special case of this dissatisfaction is our desire to know.

We look twice at a tree. The first time we see its branches at rest, the second time in motion. We are not satisfied with this observation. Why, we ask, does the tree appear first at rest and then in motion? Every look at the natural world raises questions. Every phenomenon we meet is a new problem to be solved. Every experience is a riddle. We observe a creature similar to the mother animal emerging from the egg, and ask the reason for this similarity. We observe a living being grow and develop to a certain degree of perfection, and seek the underlying causes. Nowhere are we satisfied with what nature displays before our senses. We look everywhere for what we call an explanation of the facts.

[2] The something more we seek in things, exceeds what is given to us in immediate observation. What we add splits our entire existence into two parts. We become conscious of our opposition to the world. We place ourselves over against the world as an independent being. The universe appears to us as two opposing sides: Self and World.

[3] We erect this wall of separation between ourselves and the world as soon as consciousness lights up within us. But we never lose the feeling we belong to the world, that a bond connects us to it, and that we are beings whose place is not outside, but within the universe.

[4] This feeling makes us strive to bridge the opposition. And in the final analysis the entire spiritual striving of humankind consists in bridging this antithesis. The history of the spiritual life is a continuous quest for the unity between ourselves and the world. This aim is pursued equally by religion, art, and science. The religious believer is dissatisfied with the world of mere appearance. He seeks in the revelations granted him by God, the solution to the world problem which his Self sets before him. The artist seeks to embody into his material the Ideas of his Self, in order to reconcile the spirit that lives in him with the outer world. He, too, feels dissatisfied with the world of mere appearance and seeks to build into it that something more which his Self, transcending mere appearance, contains. The thinker seeks the laws at work in the world of phenomena. He strives to penetrate with thinking what he learns by observing. 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.

The whole of what I have described here is found historically in the contrast between the one-world view, or Monism, and the two-world view, or Dualism. Dualism pays attention only to the separation between Self and World brought about by human consciousness. Its whole effort is a futile struggle to reconcile these two sides, which it calls Mind and Matter, Subject and Object, or Thought and Appearance. The Dualist feels there must be a bridge between the two worlds, but is incapable of finding it.

Monism pays attention only to the unity and tries either to deny or to slur over the opposites, present though they are. Neither of these two points of view can satisfy us, for they do not do justice to the facts. The Dualist sees in Mind (Self) and Matter (World) two essentially different entities, and cannot therefore understand how they can interact with one another. How should Mind be aware of what goes on in Matter, seeing that the essential nature of Matter is quite alien to Mind? Or how in these circumstances should Mind act upon Matter, so as to translate its intentions into actions? The most absurd hypotheses have been propounded to answer these questions. 

The position of the Monists, so far, has not been much better. They have tried three different solutions. Either they deny Mind and become Materialists; or they deny Matter in order to seek their salvation as Spiritualists. Or else they claim Mind and Matter are inseparably united even in the world’s simplest entities, so it is not surprising to find these two forms of existence present in the human being, since after all, they are never found apart.

2.1 Materialism
[5] Materialism can never provide a satisfactory explanation of the world. For every attempt at an explanation must begin by forming thoughts about the phenomena of the world. So Materialism starts with thoughts about Matter and material processes. In doing so, it already has two different kinds of facts before it: the material (physical) world and the thoughts about it. The Materialist tries to understand thought by regarding it as a purely material process. He believes thinking takes place in the brain in much the same way digestion takes place in the animal organs. Just as he attributes mechanical, chemical, and organic processes to Matter, so he credits it in certain circumstances with the ability to think. He overlooks that all he has done is shift the problem to another place. The Materialist attributes the power of thinking to Matter, instead of to himself. And this brings him back to his starting point. How does Matter come to reflect upon its own nature? Why is it not perfectly content to be the way it is, and simply go on existing as it is? The Materialist has turned his attention away from the identifiable subject, from his own Self, and instead occupies himself with the nebulous and indeterminate nature of Matter. Here the same problem comes up again. The materialistic viewpoint cannot solve the problem, it can only shift it to another place.

2.2 Spiritualism
[6] What of the Spiritualistic view? 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. From all that it achieves by its own spiritual effort, the physical world is never found. This conception of the world finds itself in difficulties as soon as it attempts to produce from Mind any single concrete phenomenon. It cannot do this either in knowledge or in action, as long as it regards its own nature as exclusively spiritual. It seems as if the Ego had to concede that the world would be a closed book to it, unless it could establish a non-spiritual relation to the world.

2.3 Realism
If one would really know the external world, one must turn one's eye outwards and acquire experience. Without experience Mind can have no content. Similarly, when we carry out actions, we have to realize our intentions on the real, practical level with the help of material things and forces. In other words, we are dependent on the external world.

2.4 Idealism
The most extreme Spiritualist or, better said, Idealist, is Johann Gottlieb Fichte. He attempts to derive the whole edifice of the world from the “Ego.” What he accomplished is a magnificent thought-structure of the world without any content of actual experience. As little as it is possible for the Materialist to do away with the Mind, just as little is it possible for the Idealist to do away with the external world.

2.5 Paradox Of Materialistic Idealism
[7] A curious variant of Idealism is the view of F. A. Lange presented in his widely read “History of Materialism.” Lang accepts that the Materialists are right in declaring all phenomena in the world, including our thought, to be the product of purely material processes. Conversely, he also accepts that Matter and its processes are the product of thinking.

"The senses give us only sense-effects... the effects that things have on them, not true copies, and certainly not the things themselves. But among these mere effects we must include the senses themselves together with the brain and the molecular movements within it.”

This would mean our thinking is produced by material processes, and material processes are produced by our thinking. When translated into concepts, Lange’s philosophy is a conceptual paradox. This makes it an equivalent to the tale of the bold Baron Münchhausen, who holds himself up in the air by his own pigtail.

2.6 Indivisible Unity
[8] The third form of Monism is the one that finds, even at the simple level of the atom, Matter and Mind are already united. But nothing is gained by this either, for here again the question that actually originates in our consciousness is shifted to another place. How does the simple entity come to manifest itself in two different ways when it is an indivisible unity?

2.7 Polarity Of Consciousness
[9] Contrary to all these points of view is a fact that must be emphasized. It is in our own consciousness that we first encounter the basic and primal polarity. It is we, ourselves, who break away from the mother ground of Nature and contrast ourselves as “Self” in opposition to the “World.” Goethe has given classical expression to this in his essay “Nature”, even though his way of speaking may sound at first completely unscientific. “Living in the midst of her (nature), yet are we strangers to her. Ceaselessly she speaks to us, yet betrays not her secrets.” But Goethe also knows the other side: “Human beings are all within her, and she in each of them.”

2.8 Feeling Nature
[10] It is true we have estranged ourselves from Nature, yet at the same time we feel we are within Nature and belong to her. It can only be that the outer workings of Nature live in us too.

2.9 Knowing Nature Within
[11] We must find the way back to her. A simple reflection can show us the way. While it is true we have torn ourselves away from Nature, we must have retained something of her in our own being. We must seek out this essence of Nature in us, and then we will discover our connection with her once more. 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. No wonder it cannot find the connecting link. We can find nature outside us only if we first know her within us. What corresponds to nature within us will be our guide. This marks out our path of inquiry. We will not speculate about how Nature and Mind interact. Instead, we will probe into the depths of our own being, to find there the elements we retained in our flight from Nature.

2.10 Something More Than ‘I’
[12] The investigation of our own being must bring us the solution to the problem. We must reach a point where we can say, “Here we are no longer merely ‘I’, here is something more than ‘I’.

2.11 Description Of Conscious Experience
[13] I expect some who have read this far will not find my presentation to be in accordance with "the present standing of scholarship." I can only reply that so far I have not been concerned with scientific results of any kind, but rather with simple descriptions of what we all experience in our own consciousness. The inclusion of a few statements about attempts to reconcile Mind and the World have been used only to clarify the actual facts. For this reason, I have not found it necessary to use terms such as 'Self', 'Mind', 'World', 'Nature' etc. in the precise way that is usual in Psychology and Philosophy.

2.12 Facts Of Everyday Life Without Interpretation
Ordinary consciousness does not know the sharp distinctions of scholarship. So far my purpose has been solely to record the facts of how we experience everyday life. 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. I am not concerned with how scholarship has interpreted consciousness, but with how we experience it from moment to moment.

Read more…

Study Course Steps #25-#36

3293859605?profile=original

1. Conscious Human Action
Striving For Freedom

TOPIC
Advance from Illusion Of Freedom TO recognizing Lawful Necessity

The traditional idea about ourselves is that we are free to decide what we want to do and then do it, at least some of the time. This naive belief in free will is not normally questioned, even though spiritual leaders, philosophers and scientists have warned us about the illusion of freedom.

"Is a human being free in his thinking and action, or compelled by the unyielding necessity of natural law?" TPOF 1.0

3293861124?profile=original

Human Freedom
Freedom: Is a human being free in his thinking and acting? Moralists declare freedom an obvious fact, because without it there can be no moral responsibility.

  

Lawful Necessity
Necessity: The human being is compelled by the unyielding necessity of natural law. Science says we are a part of nature, so we too are subject to the universality of natural law just like the rest of nature.

Compatibilism
Many distinctions are made to explain how freedom can be compatible with determinism in nature.

     
STEP #25 Freedom Of Indifference (1.1)

Advance from Freedom Of Indifference TO recognizing the Necessity Of A Reason

3293850105?profile=original

Freedom Of Indifferent Choice
Freedom: To arbitrary choose, entirely at will, between two courses of action without preference. An indifferent choice is free of lawful necessity because it is made without being determined by any reason.

  

Determined By A Reason
Lawful Necessity: The freedom of indifferent choice is an illusion. We learn about cause and effect in elementary science. Research indicates there is always a cause, a specific reason  ―whether we are aware of it or not― why a person carries out one action from among several possibilities. Also, when the choice is ‘indifferent’, it is not a factor in determining the moral value of human conduct and character.

Conscious Action
The question of freedom requires much more than the superficial conclusion that there exists a reason for why we act. Deeper research is needed.
   
     
STEP #26 Freedom Of Choice (1.2)

Advance from Freedom Of Choice TO recognizing the Necessity Of Desire

3293854600?profile=original

Freedom Of Choice
Freedom: Freedom of choice is not to be indifferent, but to choose according to your own preferences.

 

Determined By Desire
Lawful Necessity: The essential principle concealed in the dogma of free will is that our choices are determined by our desire. An analysis of consciousness shows we are not at liberty to desire or not to desire as we please. Therefore we are not free.

Conscious Action
If there is always a reason for why we act, the deeper question becomes what is this reason?
   
     
STEP #27 Free Expression (1.3)

Advance from Free Expression Of One’s Nature TO recognizing the Necessity Of External Causes

3293858503?profile=original

Free Expression Of One’s Nature
Freedom: This view believes freedom is not located in free decision, but in the necessity to express yourself. If we know our self, and exist and act solely out of the necessity of our “own” nature, we are free, even though we exist in a necessary way. We must remain true to our nature.

  Determined By External Causes
Lawful Necessity: Everything is determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way. Human nature is both inherited and the result of environmental conditioning. We strive to the best of our ability convinced we are free, but what we express is merely our conditioning. Because a person is only conscious of his action, he falsely looks upon himself as the free originator of it.

Conscious Action
A person is not just conscious of his action, he can also be conscious of the causes that guide his action. Human actions are not all the same. There is a profound difference between knowing and not knowing why I act. A motive of action fully known to me, compels in a different way than the urges of nature.

     
STEP #28 Character (1.4)

Advance from Conduct Of Character TO recognizing the Necessity Of Characterological Disposition

3293850684?profile=original

Freedom Of Character (free of external causes)
Freedom: People who are different act differently when they encounter a situation because willing depends on two main factors: motives and character. Before we act on an idea given to us from the outside, it must first meet the approval of our character so that the idea arouses in us a desire to act. In this way a person is motivated from within, and free of outside influences.

 

Determined By Disposition Of Character
Lawful Necessity: Even though we must first adopt an idea as a motive, this is not done arbitrarily. An idea is turned into a motive of action according to the necessity of the disposition of our character. We are anything but free.

Conscious Action
Here again, the difference between motives is ignored. There are ideas given from the outside that I accept only after I have consciously made them my own. There are other ideas I follow without a clear knowledge of them.

     
STEP #29 Conscious Motive (1.5)

Advance from Action Resulting From Conscious Motive TO having Knowledge Of The Motive of action

3293850264?profile=original

The Knower
Freedom: The question of free will needs to be linked with the question of whether we are conscious of the motive. The conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently than one that springs from blind urge.

  The Doer
Lawful Necessity: If we are conscious of the motive we have a reason to act. But people are normally split between knowers and doers. The knower may know what to do, but does not act. While the doer may not know what to do, but acts anyway.

Conscious Action
A deeper investigation asks, What does it mean to have a knowledge that results in action? The one that matters most is the knowing doer, because he acts out of knowledge.

     
STEP #30 Rational Decision (1.6)

Advance from Rational Decision TO recognizing that the Decision Occurs With Rational Necessity

3293861645?profile=original

Rational Decision
Freedom: A person is free when their reason rather than animal cravings control their action. Or freedom means to determine one’s life and action according to purpose and deliberate decision.

 

Determined By Rational Necessity
Lawful Necessity: The real issue is whether reason, purpose, and decision exercise the same compulsion over a person as their animal cravings. If, without my involvement, a rational decision occurs in me with the same necessity as hunger or thirst, then I must obey it. My freedom is an illusion.

Conscious Action
Nothing is gained by assertions of this kind if we are not actually involved in the decision.
   
     
STEP #31 (1.7)
Advance from Ability To Do TO recognizing the Necessity Of Strongest Motive
3293861049?profile=original

The Ability To Do
Freedom: Freedom is not found in our will, since our will is always determined by motives. Instead, freedom occurs when one has the ability to do what one wishes. Freedom depends on having the right external circumstances and technical skill to successfully carry out our idea of action.

  Determined By Strongest Motive
Lawful Necessity: Our motives vary in strength, with some being stronger than others. The will is determined by the ‘strongest’ motive from among the others, so it is not free. And if I am forced by the motive to do something I find unreasonable, I will even be glad if I am unable to do it. This is not freedom.

Conscious Action
The question is not whether I can carry out a decision once made, but how the decision comes about within me.

     
STEP #32 (1.8)

Advance from Spontaneous Will TO recognizing the Invisible Cause

3293860062?profile=original

Spontaneous Will
Freedom: Just as spirited horses run free across open plains, the spontaneous human will is free. The cause of the horse running, with no sense of restraint, is the unconditioned will; it is an absolute beginning. It is the same for spontaneous human action.

  Determined By Invisible Cause
Lawful Necessity: The causes that determine the horse’s acts of will are internal and invisible. The horse is not free and neither are we. We do not perceive the determining cause, and so believe it does not exist.

Conscious Of The Reason To Act
Conscious Action: Here too, human actions in which there is consciousness of the reasons is ignored. There are actions, not of the horse but of the human being, where between us and the deed lies the motive that has become conscious.

What distinguishes humans from all other living things is rational thinking. Activity we have in common with other creatures. Seeking analogies for human action in the animal kingdom does not help to clarify the concept of freedom.

     
STEP #33 (1.9)

Advance from Know The Reason TO recognizing the Origin Of The Thought

3293850022?profile=original

Know The Thought
Freedom: Obviously, an action cannot be free if the doer carries it out without knowing why. An action is free when the reasons are known. The moment our conduct rises above the satisfying of purely animal desires, human motives are always shaped by thoughts.

  Know The Origin Of Thought
Lawful Necessity: This leads us to the question: What is the origin of our thoughts and what does it mean to think? When we have a general understanding of what it means to think, it will be easy to see clearly the role thinking plays in human action.

Conscious Action
It is thinking that turns what is common to us all into individual spirit. This is why it is thinking that gives to human action its characteristic stamp.

     

STEP #34 Heart (1.10)
Advance from Driving Force Of Heart TO recognizing the Thought That Arouses Compassion

3293849925?profile=original

Driving Force Of Heart
Freedom: All our our actions do not proceed from the calm deliberations of our reason. Love, compassion, and patriotism are driving forces for deeds that cannot be explained away with cold intellectual concepts. In this case the driving force of the heart prevails.

 

Empowered Thought Motive
Lawful Necessity: Even though distinctly human motives are always shaped by thoughts this does not mean that only actions resulting from abstract judgment alone are human in the highest sense. The heart does not create the motives of action. Motives are present prior to being received into the hearts domain. Compassion appears in my heart as a driving force to act after the thought of a person who arouses compassion has appeared in my mind.

Conscious Action
The mind and heart work together in the unity of motive and driving force. The way to the heart is through the head.

     
STEP #35 Love (1.11)

Advance from Act Of Love TO recognizing the Thoughts That Idealize The Loved One

3293861037?profile=original

Act Of Love
Freedom: We are free when our action is an expression of love. We act out of love for someone or something.

  Form Idealized Thought
Lawful Necessity: Here, again, it must be pointed out that the way to love is through the head. Love depends on the thoughts we form of the beloved. The more idealistic these thoughts are the more blissful is our love.

Conscious Action
Thought is the father of feeling.

     
STEP #36 Seeing Good (1.12)

Advance from Seeing The Good TO recognizing the Perception-Picture Formed Of Good Qualities

3293853427?profile=original

Seeing The Good
Freedom: It is said that love makes us blind to the flaws of the loved one. But we can turn this around and say love opens our eyes to the good qualities. Many pass by these good qualities without noticing them. One, however, sees them, and just because he does, love awakens in his heart.

  Form Perception-Picture Of Good Qualities
Lawful Necessity: The reason we see the good is because we form a perception-picture of the person filled with the good qualities that others have ignored.

Conscious Action
Others do not experience love because their perception-picture lacks the good qualities.

   
     

Next Question: What Is The Origin Of Our Thoughts?
The illusion of freedom occurs when we are conscious of our striving but unaware of the causes. By gaining knowledge of why we act motives compel us in a different way than if they remain hidden. The motives that direct human action are shaped by thoughts so before we can answer the question of whether we are freely self-determined or not we must investigate the origin of our thoughts. The discussion will turn to this in the next chapter, The Desire For Knowledge.

     

 

BOOK TEXT

1. CONSCIOUS HUMAN ACTION

1.0 The Question Of Freedom
[1] Is a human being free in his thinking and action, or compelled by the unyielding necessity of natural law? Few questions have been the focus of so much ingenuity. The Idea of freedom has many enthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents. Moral zealots accuse anyone of stupidity who denies so obvious a fact as freedom. Scientific thinkers oppose them. They say its just ignorance for anyone to believe the universality of natural law suspends itself in the field of human action and thought. The same thing is as often called humanity's most precious possession as its worst illusion. Endless distinctions are used to explain how freedom can be compatible with determinism in nature. Man, after all, is a part of nature. No less effort has gone into explaining how this delusion could arise. The importance of the question of freedom for life, religion, conduct, and science is felt by anyone with any depth of character.

1.1 Freedom Of Indifferent Choice
One sad sign of the superficiality of today's thought is David Friedrich Strauss's book (The New and the Old Belief). It intends to construct a “new faith” from the results of scientific research, yet has only this to say on the question of freedom:

"We are not concerned with the question of free will. The supposedly 'indifferent' freedom of choice has always been recognized as an empty illusion by every reputable philosophy. An indifferent choice is not a factor in determining the moral value of human conduct and character."

I do not consider the book important. I quote this passage because it expresses the only opinion our thinking contemporaries seem able to reach on this question. Everyone who has grown beyond elementary science is certain of one thing about freedom. It cannot consist in arbitrary choosing, entirely at will, between two courses of action. There is always, so we are told, a specific reason why a person carries out one action from among several possibilities.

1.2 Freedom Of Choice
[2] This seems obvious. Yet opponents of freedom still direct their main attacks against freedom of choice. Herbert Spencer, whose doctrines are growing in popularity, says,

"That everyone is at liberty to desire or not to desire, as he pleases, is the essential principle concealed in the dogma of free will. This freedom is refuted by the analysis of consciousness, as well as by the contents of the preceding chapter [on psychology]."

1.3 Free Necessity Of One's Nature
Others begin from the same point when attacking free will. The essence of all the relevant arguments can be found as early as Spinoza. His clear and simple argument against the Idea of freedom has been repeated countless times. Though it is usually enclosed in complicated theoretical doctrines that make it difficult to recognize the simple line of thought, which is all that matters. Spinoza writes in a letter of October or November 1674,

"I call free all that exists and acts out of the necessity of its nature. I call it unfree, if its existence and activity are determined in an exact and fixed way by something else. For example, God is free, even though he exists in a necessary way, because he exists solely out of the necessity of his own nature. Similarly, God knows himself and all other things freely, because it follows solely from the necessity of his nature to know all. I locate freedom, not in free decision, but in free necessity.

[3] "Let us come down to created things, which are all determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way. To see this more clearly, let us imagine a very simple case. A stone, for example, receives a certain momentum from the impact of an external cause. Of necessity, the stone continues to move after the impact. The continued motion of the stone is compelled, for it is due to the external impact, and not to the necessity of the stone's own nature. What applies here to the stone, applies to everything else, no matter how complex and many-sided. Everything is determined by external causes with the necessity to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way.

[4] "Now please assume the stone, while in motion, thinks and knows it is striving to the best of its ability to continue in motion. The stone is only conscious of its striving and by no means indifferent. It will be convinced it is free and continues in motion, not because of an external cause, but because it wills to do so. This is just the human freedom everyone claims to have. The reason it appears to be freedom is because human beings are conscious of their desires, but do not know the causes that determine those desires. Thus the child believes it freely desires milk, the angry boy freely demands revenge, and the coward flight. The drunken man believes he says things of his own free will that, when sober again, he will wish he had not said. Since this bias is inborn in everybody, it is difficult to free oneself from it. Experience teaches us often enough people are least able to moderate their desires. When torn by conflicting passions they see the better and pursue the worse. Yet they still regard themselves as free, because they desire some things less intensely. And some desires can be easily inhibited by recalling a familiar memory that often preoccupies one's mind."

[5] Because this opinion is clearly and directly expressed, its easy to detect the basic error. Of necessity, the stone continues to move after an impact. With the same necessity, a human being is supposed to carry out an action when driven by any reason. Because he is only conscious of his action, he looks upon himself as the free originator of it. However, he overlooks the causes driving him that he must obey unconditionally.

The error in this line of argument is easy to find. Spinoza, and all who think like him, overlook the fact that a human being is not just conscious of his action. He can also become conscious of the causes that guide his action. Anyone can see a child is not free when it desires milk, as is the drunk who says things he later regrets. Both know nothing of the causes working deep within their organism that exercise irresistible control over them. Is it right to group such actions together with those of a human being who is not only conscious of his actions, but also of the reasons that motivate him?

Are human actions really all of one kind? Should the deeds of a soldier on the battlefield, a scientist in the laboratory, or a diplomat involved in complex negotiations be ranked in the same scientific category as those of a child craving milk? It is true the best way of seeking the solution to a problem is where the conditions are simplest. But the inability to see distinctions causes endless confusion. There is a profound difference between knowing and not knowing why I act. This is an obvious truth. Yet the opponents of freedom never ask whether a motive of action known to me in full transparency, compels me in the same way an organic process causes a child to cry for milk.

1.4 Conduct According To Character
[6] Eduard von Hartmann, in his Phenomenology of Moral Consciousness, says that human willing depends on two main factors: motives and character. If we look at human beings as all alike, then their will appears determined from outside, by the situations they encounter. But people are different. A human being will adopt an idea as the motive of his conduct, only if his character is such that this idea arouses a desire in him to act. If we keep in mind people are different then their will appears determined from within and not from outside.

Now, the human being believes he is free, independent of outside motivation, because he must first make the idea imposed on him from outside into a motive, according to his character. But according to Eduard von Hartmann, the truth is he is not free,

"Even though we first adopt an idea as a motive, this is not done arbitrarily. An idea is turned into a motive according to the necessity of our characterological disposition. We are anything but free."

Here again, the difference between motives is ignored. There are motives I allow to influence me only after I have consciously made them my own, and others I follow without a clear knowledge of them.

1.5 Action Resulting From Conscious Motive
[7] This leads straight to the standpoint from which the subject will be considered here. Should the question of free will be posed narrowly by itself, in a one-sided way? And if not, what other question must it necessarily be linked?

[8] If there is a difference between a conscious and an unconscious motive of action, then the conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently than one that springs from blind urge. Our first question will concern this difference. The position we must take on freedom itself will depend on the result of this investigation.

[9] What is the significance of having knowledge of the motives of one's action? Too little attention has been given to this question because we always split in two what is an inseparable whole: the human being. The doer is set apart from the knower, but the one that matters most is lost sight of —the knowing doer, the one who acts out of knowledge.

1.6 Free When Controlled By Reason
[10] It is said that man is free when his reason rather than his animal cravings control his action. Or freedom means to determine one’s life and action according to purpose and deliberate decision.

[11] Nothing is gained by assertions of this kind. For the real issue is whether reason, purpose, and decision exercise the same compulsion over a human being as his animal cravings. If, without my involvement, a rational decision occurs in me with the same necessity as hunger or thirst, then I must obey it. My freedom is an illusion.

1.7 Freedom To Do What One Wishes
[12] Another argument puts it this way: To be free does not mean being able to will what one wishes, but being able to do what one wishes. The philosopher-poet Robert Hamerling has given very clear-cut expression to this thought in his Atomistik des Willens:

“The human being can certainly do what he wishes, but he cannot will as he wishes, because his will is determined by motives! — He cannot will as he wishes? Let us look at these words more closely. Do they make any sense? Is free will to mean the ability to will something without reason, without motive? But what else does willing mean, other than having a reason for doing or striving for this rather than that? To will something for no reason and with no motive would mean to will it without wanting it. The concept of willing is inseparable from that of motive. Without a determining motive the will is an empty capacity: only through the motive does it become active and real. It is, therefore, correct to say the human will is 'unfree' to the extent its direction is always determined by the strongest motive. But it is absurd to contrast this 'unfreedom' with a possible 'freedom of will' that amounts to being able to will what one does not want.”

[13] Here again only motives in general are discussed, without taking into account the difference between conscious and unconscious motivations. If a motive affects me, and I am compelled to act because it proves to be the "strongest" from among other motives, then the thought of freedom ceases to have any meaning. Why should it matter to me whether I can do something or not, if I am forced by the motive to do it? The primary question is not whether I can or cannot do something once the motive has influenced me, but whether all motives work with inescapable necessity. If I am forced to will something, then I may be completely indifferent as to whether I can also do it. And if, because of my character and the circumstances prevailing in my environment, a motive is forced on me that I find unreasonable, then I would be glad if I am unable to do it.

[14] The question is not whether I can carry out a decision once made, but how the decision comes about within me.

1.8 Freedom Of A Spontaneous Unconditioned Will
[15] What distinguishes humans from all other living things is rational thinking. Activity we have in common with other creatures. Seeking analogies for human action in the animal kingdom does not help to clarify the concept of freedom. Modern science loves such analogies. When scientists succeed in finding among animals something similar to human behavior, they believe this has something to do with the most important question of the science of man. To what misunderstandings this view leads is seen, for example, in Paul Rée’s book, The Illusion of Free Will. Rée says the following on the subject of freedom:

"It is easy to explain why it appears to us the movement of a stone is by necessity, while the will of the donkey is not. The causes that set the stone in motion are external and visible. But the causes that determine the donkey's acts of will are internal and invisible. Between us and the place where they occur is the donkey’s skull... We cannot see the determining cause, and so believe it does not exist. The will, they tell us, is indeed the cause of the donkey’s turning around, but is itself unconditioned; it is an absolute beginning.”

Here too, human actions in which there is consciousness of the reasons is ignored. Rée explains: “between us and the place where they occur is the donkey’s skull.” As these words show it has not dawned on Rée that there are actions, not of the donkey but of the human being, where between us and the deed lies the motive that has become conscious. A few pages later Rée demonstrates the same blindness when he says: “We do not perceive the causes that determine our will and so believe it is not causally determined at all.”

[16] But enough of examples proving many argue against freedom without knowing what freedom really is.

1.9 Self-Determined Reason For Action
[17] Obviously, an action cannot be free if the doer carries it out without knowing why. But what are we to say of the freedom of an action when the reasons are known? This leads us to the question: What is the origin of our thoughts and what does it mean to think? For without knowledge of the thinking activity of the mind, it is impossible to form a concept of what it means to know something, including what it means to know the reason for an action. When we have a general understanding of what it means to think, it will be easy to see clearly the role thinking plays in human action. As Hegel rightly says,

"It is thinking that turns the soul, common to us and animals, into spirit."

And this is why it is thinking that gives to human action its characteristic stamp.

1.10 Driving Force Of The Heart
[18] By no means should it be said that all our actions proceed only from the calm deliberations of our reason. I am not suggesting that only actions resulting from abstract judgment alone, are human in the highest sense. But the moment our conduct rises above the satisfying of purely animal desires, our motives are always shaped by thoughts. Love, compassion, and patriotism are driving forces for deeds that cannot be explained away with cold intellectual concepts. It is said that here the heart prevails. No doubt. But the heart does not create the motives of action. Motives are present prior to being received into the hearts domain. Compassion appears in my heart after the thought of a person who arouses compassion occurs in my mind. The way to the heart is through the head.

1.11 Idealizing The Loved One
Love is no exception. Whenever love is not merely the expression of the sexual drive, it depends on the thoughts we form of the beloved. The more idealistic these thoughts are, the more blissful is our love. Here, too, thought is the father of feeling.

1.12 Seeing The Good
It is said that love makes us blind to the flaws of the loved one. But we can turn this around and say love opens our eyes to the good qualities of the loved one. Many pass by these good qualities without noticing them. One, however, sees them, and just because he does, love awakens in his heart. What he has done is form a perception-picture that includes the good qualities that others have ignored. Others do not experience love because they lack the perception-picture.

[19] From whatever point we approach this subject, one thing becomes more and more clear. An investigation into the origin of our thoughts must come before we can answer the question concerning the nature of human action. So I will turn to this next.

Read more…

Study Course Steps #13-#24

8073457270?profile=RESIZE_930x

0. Introduction: The Goal Of Knowledge
Part 2 Striving For Inner Truth

TOPIC
Compare Inner Truth with Outer Truth 
Advance from Outer Truth to Inner Truth

As with individual life, truth too will be sought in our age only in the depths of human nature. Of the two well-known paths, seeking truth in outer life and seeking truth within, it is the second that will today be found most useful:

We both seek truth; you in outer life,
I in the heart within. Each of us are sure to find it.
The healthy eye can track the Creator in the outer world;
The healthy heart reflects the world within. TPOF 0.1

8073597872?profile=RESIZE_930x

Outer Truth
The observer seeks truth in outer life. Observation is a source of knowledge that can find truth in the outer world.

  

Inner Truth
The thinker seeks truth within. In our age truth is sought in the depths of human nature. Truth is found by reflecting the world within. This is the path most useful today.

 
STEP #13 Certainty (0.1)
Advance from Uncertainty Of Outer Truth TO Conviction Of Inner Truth
3293853646?profile=original

Uncertainty Of Outer Truth
Outer Truth: Truth that comes to us from the outside always brings with it uncertainty.

  

Conviction Of Inner Truth
Inner Truth: We are only convinced by what appears to each of us inwardly as truth.

     

STEP #14 Confidence (0.2)
Advance from Weakened By Doubt TO Empowered By Truth

3293861535?profile=original

Doubt Weakens
Outer Truth: Whoever is tormented by doubts finds his powers weakened. If baffled by a world full of riddles, he can find no goal for his creative activity.

 

Truth Empowers
Inner Truth: Only truth can give us confidence in developing our individual powers.

     

STEP #15 Understanding (0.3)
Advance from Belief To Inner Knowing

3293848385?profile=original

Belief
Outer Truth: Belief demands the acceptance of truths that we do not wholly understand. What is not clearly understood goes against our individuality, that wants to experience everything in the depths of its inner core.

 

Knowing
Inner Truth: We no longer want to believe; we want to know. The only knowing that satisfies us is the kind that submits to no external norm, but springs from the inner life of the personality.

     

STEP #16 Kind Of Knowledge (0.4)
Advance from Academic Knowledge TO Experienced Knowledge

3293858944?profile=original

Academic Knowledge
Outer Truth: Academic knowledge is the kind that is encased in rigid academic rules and stored away as valid for all time.

 

Life Knowledge
Inner Truth: Each of us claims the right to start from the facts we know, from our own direct experience, and from there advance to knowledge of the whole universe. We strive for certainty in knowledge, but each in his own way.

     
STEP #17 Way Of Learning (0.5)
Advance from Compelled To Understand (indoctrination) TO Agreement With Proposed Truth (insight)
3293858677?profile=original

Compelled To Learn
Outer Truth: The teachings of science are presented in a way that implies its acceptance is compulsory. The student is compelled to understand. Knowledge is crammed into the student.

  Want To Learn
Inner Truth: We expect neither recognition nor agreement from anyone who is not driven to a certain view by his own particular, individual needs. The student’s capacity to learn is developed so he wants to understand.
     

STEP #18 Way Of Life (0.6)
Advance from Flaunt Cultural Trends TO Application Of Individualistic Principles

3293858488?profile=original

Trends Are Central
Outer Truth: A stereotypical attitude, lacking all individuality, is prevalent everywhere. Many flaunt a way of life that follows only the current cultural trends.

  Truth Is Central
Inner Truth: Many strive to conduct their lives in the direction of the individualistic principles I have suggested. To them I dedicate this book. It is not meant to offer the "only possible" way to Truth, but to describe the path taken by one for whom truth is central. -Rudolf Steiner
     

STEP #19 Preparation For Truth (0.7)
Advance from Piety Training TO Practice Pure Thinking

3293860647?profile=original

Preparation For Teacher
Outer Truth: The oriental sage requires his disciples to live a life of resignation and asceticism for years before he shares with them his knowledge. The West no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic practices to attain knowledge.

  Preparation For Science
Inner Truth: To experience life in all its aspects one must soar into the realm of concepts. Whoever is limited to the pleasures of the senses misses the sweetest joys of life. Preparation for science requires the willingness to withdraw oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life and enter the realm of pure thought.
     

STEP #20 Principles Of Science (0.8)
Advance from Separate Sciences To All-Inclusive Science

3293858890?profile=original

Scientific Specialization
Outer Truth: There are many regions of life. A specific field of science develops for each one. The aim of the scientific specialist's research is to gain knowledge of the world and how it works.

  Wholistic Science
Inner Truth: The more the sciences immerse themselves in separate fields, the more they move away from seeing the world as a living whole. It is essential to have a wholistic knowing that seeks in the separate sciences the principles for leading man back to the fullness of life. The various branches of science are preparatory stages on the way to a wholistic science.
     
STEP #21 Questions Of Science (0.9)
Advance from Philosophy Of Freedom TO Science Of Freedom
3293858940?profile=original

Concern For World
Outer Truth: Important questions of the world: How do we get more energy from the sun? Are we alone in the universe? Can computers keep getting faster?

  Concern For Humanity
Inner Truth: The most intimate questions that concern humanity: What is freedom? Are we free? If not can we be free? A science of freedom is needed to throw light on these questions.
     
STEP #22 Value Of Science (0.10)
Advance from Science Of Idle Curiosity TO Science Of Human Development
3293856997?profile=original

Idle Curiosity
Outer Truth: All science would be nothing but the satisfaction of idle curiosity, if it does not elevate the existential value of human personality.

 

Human Development
Inner Truth: The true value of the sciences is seen only when we are shown the importance of their results for humanity. An individuality wants to develop all of their potential. Knowledge has value only by contributing to the all-around development of the whole of human nature.

     

STEP #23 Ideas Of Science (0.11)
Advance from Human Serves Ideas TO Ideas Serve Human Goals

3293859490?profile=original

Serving Ideas
Outer Truth: We relate the ideas of science to life by devoting ourselves to finding ways to apply science in practical life.

  Using Ideas
Inner Truth: We take possession of the ideas of science and use them for our human aims which extend beyond those of mere science.
     
STEP #24 Human Ideas (0.12) 

Advance from Slave Of Ideas TO Master Of Ideas

3293859715?profile=original

Controlled By Ideas
Outer Truth: If we are aware only of the outer world we may be controlled by ideas implanted within us that compel our action.

  Master Of Ideas
Inner Truth: To avoid falling into the bondage of an idea one must confront it within and experience it.

Next Chapter Conscious Human Action
Do we confront our ideas as master or do unconscious ideas control us by compelling our behavior? This leads us into the next chapter entitled, Conscious Human Action, where we compare free action with the necessity of compelled action.

     

 

BOOK TEXT

0. THE GOAL OF KNOWLEDGE

0.0 Individual Life
[1] I BELIEVE one of the fundamental characteristics of our age is that human interest centers in the cultus of individuality. An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority. Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality. Everything that hinders the individual from fully developing his powers is thrust aside. The saying “Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Mount Olympus” no longer holds true for us. We allow no ideals to be forced upon us. We are convinced that in each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development. We no longer believe there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform. We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual. We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something that, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer. Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each one asserts the right to express, in the creations of his art, what is unique in him. Just as there are playwrights who write in slang rather than conform to the standard diction grammar demands.

[2] No better expression for these phenomena can be found than this, they result from the individual’s striving towards freedom, developed to its highest pitch. We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.

0.1 Certainty
[3] Truth, too, will be sought in our age only in the depths of human nature. Of the following two well-known paths described by Schiller, it is the second that will today be found most useful:

We both seek truth; you in outer life,
I in the heart within. Each of us are sure to find it.
The healthy eye can track the Creator in the outer world;
The healthy heart reflects the world within.

Truth that comes to us from outside always bears the stamp of uncertainty. We are only convinced by what appears to each of us inwardly as truth.

0.2 Confidence
[4] Only truth can give us confidence in developing our individual powers. Whoever is tormented by doubts finds his powers weakened. If baffled by a world full of riddles, he can find no goal for his creative activity.

0.3 Understooding
[5] We no longer want to believe; we want to know. Belief demands the acceptance of truths that we do not wholly understand. What is not clearly understood goes against our individuality, that wants to experience everything in the depths of its inner core. The only knowing that satisfies us is the kind that submits to no external norm, but springs from the inner life of the personality.

0.4 Kind Of Knowledge
[6] Nor do we want the kind of knowledge that has been encased in rigid academic rules, and stored away as valid for all time. Each of us claims the right to start from the facts we know, from our own direct experience, and from there advance to knowledge of the whole universe. We strive for certainty in knowledge, but each in his own way.

0.5 Way Of Learning
[7] Nor should the teachings of science be presented in a way that implies its acceptance is compulsory. None of us would give a scientific work a title like Fichte once did: “A Crystal Clear Report to the General Public on the Actual Nature of the Latest Philosophy. An Attempt to Compel the Reader to Understand.” Today, no one should be compelled to understand. We expect neither recognition nor agreement from anyone who is not driven to a certain view by his own particular, individual needs. We do not want to cram facts of knowledge into even an immature person, a child. We try to develop the child's capacities in such a way that he no longer needs to be compelled to understand, but wants to understand.

0.6 Way Of Life
[8] I have no illusions as to the characteristics of the present time. I know how much a stereotypical attitude, lacking all individuality, is prevalent everywhere. Many flaunt a way of life that follows only the current cultural trends. But I also know that many of my contemporaries strive to conduct their lives in the direction of the principles I have suggested. To them I dedicate this book. It is not meant to offer the "only possible" way to Truth, but to describe the path taken by one for whom truth is central.

0.7 Preparation For Truth
[9] At first the reader is lead into abstract regions, where thought must draw sharp outlines to reach clearly defined positions. But the reader is also led from arid concepts into concrete life. I am fully convinced that to experience life in all its aspects, one must soar into the realm of concepts. Whoever is limited to the pleasures of the senses misses the sweetest joys of life.

The oriental sage requires his disciples to live a life of resignation and asceticism for years before he shares with them his knowledge. The West no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic practices to attain knowledge. It does require, however, a sincere willingness to prepare for science by withdrawing oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life, and entering the realm of pure thought.

0.8 Preparation For Science
[10] There are many regions of life. A specific field of science develops for each one. But life itself is a unity, and the more the sciences immerse themselves in separate fields, the more they move away from seeing the world as a living whole. It is essential to have a wholistic knowing that seeks in the separate sciences the principles for leading man back to the fullness of life. The aim of the scientific specialist's research is to gain knowledge of the world and how it works. The aim of this book is philosophical: science itself is to become a living whole. The various branches of science are preparatory stages on the way to the wholistic science intended here.

A similar relationship governs the arts. A composer works on the basis of the theory of composition. This theory is an accumulation of principles of what one needs to know in order to compose music. In composing, the rules of theory serve life, that is, theory serves actual reality.

In the same way philosophy is an art. All genuine philosophers have been artists in the conceptual realm. For them, human Ideas become their artistic material and the wholistic method of science their artistic technique. Abstract thinking takes on an individual life of its own. Ideas become powerful forces in life. We no longer  merely know about things, but have made knowing into a real self-governing organism, ruled by its own laws. Our actual working consciousness has lifted itself above a mere passive reception of truths.

0.9 Questions Of Science
[10] The main theme of my book concerns these questions: How philosophy, as an art, relates to freedom; what freedom is; and whether we do, or can, participate in it. Scientific discussions are included because it is science, at long last, that will throw light on these questions which are the most intimate that concern humanity. These pages offer a "Philosophy of Freedom."

0.10 Value Of Science
[11] All science would be nothing but the satisfaction of idle curiosity, if it does not elevate the existential value of human personality. The true value of the sciences is seen only when we are shown the importance of their results for humanity. The ultimate aim of an individuality cannot be the cultivation of only a single capacity. Rather, it must be the development of all the potential that slumbers within us. Knowledge has value only by contributing to the all-around development of the whole of human nature.

0.11 Ideas Of Science
[12] This book does not regard the relationship of science to life in such a way that the human being must bow down before the world of Ideas and devote his powers to its service. On the contrary, it shows that he should take possession of the world of Ideas to use them for his human aims. These extend beyond those of mere science.

0.12 Awareness Of Ideas
[13] One must confront an Idea as master, experiencing it; otherwise one falls into its bondage.

Read more…

step 1-12

8051970658?profile=RESIZE_930x

0. Introduction: The Goal Of Knowledge
Part 1 Striving For Individuality

TOPIC
Cultivating The Attitude Of An Ethical Individualist
Advance from Collectivism to Ethical Individualism

8052349088?profile=RESIZE_930x

Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophy Of Freedom is a science of freedom. It is a step by step guide of psychological observations that will awaken free thinking and action. It is the hero's path of truth to reach our full potential as an ethical individualist, Steiner’s ideal human being.

One way to identify an ethical individualist is by their attitude. Ethical individualists carry an attitude of respect for the sovereignty of the individual. When they encounter disrespect for the sovereignty of the individual it is upsetting to them.

8052350884?profile=RESIZE_930x

The first 12 steps to becoming an ethical individualist is about cultivating a respectful attitude or mood for this sovereignty. The original edition of The Philosophy Of Freedom begins with a description of these 12 steps in the leading paragraph. In the opening sentence Steiner tells us why ethical individualism is best suited for our age.

 "I believe one of the fundamental characteristics of our age is that human interest centers in the cult of individuality." TPOF 0.0

In our age there is a strong fundamental urge for individuality. But the cult of individuality is fairly new in human history. Throughout most of history the collective determined the thought and action of the selfless person from the outside. It wasn’t until the development of clear thinking in the modern age that the autonomous individual ‘self’ arose capable of self-determination from within. Autonomous individual ‘selves’ are capable of thinking and acting independently of other selves.

8052366465?profile=RESIZE_930x

The group consciousness of “we” evolved into the “I” consciousness of the individual. Each individual then bears the responsibility to form their own independent judgments. Collectivists prefer more central authority because they do not trust individual judgment. This authoritarianism can stunt human development.

Advance from Ethnic Collectivism to the Hero's Journey

8052339254?profile=RESIZE_930x

Ethnic Collectivism
Ethnic collectivism centers around group identity. It values groupthink, collective goals and group achievement.

Collectivist cultures are the opposite of individualistic cultures. They favor the group over the individual. A proverb of a collectivist culture is "The Nail That Sticks Up Gets Hammered Down". This is in opposition to fundamental principles of The Philosophy Of Freedom such as "Live And Let Live" and "Be true To Yourself".

  

Hero's Journey
Overcoming the authoritarian oppression of collectivists is just one of the many challenges faced on the hero’s journey. It is each one’s destiny to leave the collective of ethnic identity and set out on the hero’s journey to be transformed, empowered and enlightened.

The United States is a great place to develop ethical individualism because it is the most individualistic country. American values support many of the principles of ethical individualism.

     

STEP #1 Authority
Advance from Submission To Authority TO Shake Off Authority

“An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority.”

8052316057?profile=RESIZE_930x

Submission To Authority
Collectivists have no problem submitting to authority. They conform to the group for security and guidance.

  

Shake Off Authority
To shake off authority is to remove it or get rid of it. Ethical individualists question every kind of authority, from an inner voice to an outer boss. One by one the strings of authority are cut to allow greater freedom.

     
STEP #2 Validation
Advance from Expert Validation TO Inner Validation

“Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality.”
8052316877?profile=RESIZE_930x

Expert Validation
Collectivists have no problem submitting to authority. They conform to the group for security and guidance.

 

Individual Validation
The individualist accepts nothing as valid, unless it springs from the inner source of individuality. He does his own research and thinking to verify truth.

     
STEP #3 Empowerment
Advance from Distracted By World TO Commitment To Self-Development

“Everything that hinders the individual in the full development of his powers is thrust aside.”

8052317684?profile=RESIZE_930x

Distracted From Self-Development
Collectivists view success as dependent on external factors such as the surrounding environment and culture, so self-development and personal responsibility is less important. What is important is to be a member of a powerful group that will force others to change in ways that will benefit the special interests of the collective.

  

Commitment To Self-Development
In contrast, Ethical Individualists depend on their own powers to achieve success so they are willing to set aside distractions and prioritize self-development. This is why it is important to reward merit. Rewarding excellence encourages self-development.

     
STEP #4 Hero
Advance from Follow Your Hero TO Follow Yourself

“The saying ‘Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Mount Olympus’ no longer holds true for us.”

8052318301?profile=RESIZE_930x

Follow Your Hero
The collectivist chooses a hero to follow. By obeying the leader they hope to become wise and powerful like the leader. Unfortunately they soon learn that the leader is just another weak human being like themselves.

 

Leaderless Striving
The hero’s journey up the mountain is a solo climb. Ethical Individualists must focus on reaching the top before they can helps others find their way.

     
STEP #5 Ideals
Advance from Forced Ideals TO Select Your Ideals

“We allow no ideals to be forced upon us.”

8052319260?profile=RESIZE_930x

Forced Ideals
Each member is required to accept the ideals and beliefs of the narrow-minded collective. Dissenting views are considered a threat as they could undermine group beliefs.

 

Select Ideals
Ethical individualists are broad-minded. They see a certain value in all ethical principles and viewpoints. Thought is given to each life situation to see whether one or another principle is more important.

     
STEP #6 Human Worth
Advance from Some Are Worthy TO Inner Worthiness Of Each

“We are convinced that in each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development.”

8052319866?profile=RESIZE_930x

Some Are Worthy
The collective believes that at the heart of every human being is something that is bad. Only if you are indoctrinated into the moral code and rules of the collective, can you be redeemed and become ‘good’. Those in the out-group, who have not awoken, are considered of less value.

 

All Are Worthy
A deeper look into the core of the human being reveals the ‘free spirit’ as the purest expression of human nature. It is this free spirit that is worthy of development and needs to be cultivated.

     
STEP #7 Social Norm
Advance from Strive To Conform TO Strive To Be Yourself

“We no longer believe there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform.”

8052320074?profile=RESIZE_930x

Strive To Conform
Wanting to fit in, collectivists strives to conform to the group. Members can gain status by signaling their virtue to each other without actually having to do anything by displaying moral outrage or by expressing the correct opinion.

 

Strive To Be Yourself
Ethical individualists are self-motivated without the need of approval from others so they can just be themselves.

     
STEP #8 Social Perfection
Advance from Perfection Of The Group TO Unique Perfection Of Each

“We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual.”

8052320678?profile=RESIZE_930x

Perfection Of The Group
In a collective each individual exists to serve the group. Each person is assigned a role as a cog in the machine in an effort to perfect the group.

  Perfection Of Each
But a system is most likely to fail at its weakest link. Ethical individualists are more concerned with the develop-mental needs of each person. The group only exists to serve the individual.
     
STEP #9 Contribution To Society
 Advance from Collective Action TO Unique Individual Contribution

“We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something that, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer.”

8052321698?profile=RESIZE_930x

Collective Action
To bring change collectives organize large groups of people to take common action. Members are encouraged to sacrifice their happiness for the sake of the community.

  Individual Action
Ethical individualists encourage the pursuit of happiness. The human beings greatest pleasure is to realize its highest ideals in life. Each of us has a unique talent and destiny. When individuals are encouraged to fulfill their unique destiny the whole of humanity benefits. The ones who are actually creating a better world are individuals who develop their special talents as artists, entrepreneurs, inventors and thought leaders.
     
STEP #10 Creativity
Advance from Rules Of Expression TO Free Creative Expression

“Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each one asserts the right to express in the creations of his art what is unique in him, just as there are playwrights who write in dialect rather than conform to the standard diction grammar demands.”

8052322461?profile=RESIZE_930x

Rules Of Expression
The creativity of the collectivist is limited to what is acceptable according to the established group rules and norms. It is important not to offend anyone as the harmony of the group is more important than creativity and diversity of thought. The collective mob demands censorship and cancellation of anyone expressing views outside the approved narrative.

  Free Expression
You will find ethical individualists standing up for free expression and diversity of viewpoints. Truth can only be reached by looking at things from all sides.
     
STEP #11 Freedom
Advance from Striving For Collective Bondage TO Striving For Freedom

“No better expression for these phenomena can be found than this, they result from the individual’s striving for freedom, developed to its highest pitch.”

8052322888?profile=RESIZE_930x

Striving For Bondage
Striving for the conformity of collectivism is actually striving for bondage. Collectivists live in bondage to the group leadership. A group doesn’t have ideas and intentions. The common goal of the group is set by a few leaders who the others follow. The leaders may even be unknown, hidden behind the money trails or ideology that is driving the group.

  Striving For Freedom
Striving for individuality is striving for freedom. Ethical individualists are self-motivated by the drive to be free. They are the ones that are fighting for the dignity of individual rights, equal opportunity, and rewarding excellence at every turn.
     

Step #12 Independence
Advance from Dependent On Others TO Independent Of Others
“We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.”

8052323260?profile=RESIZE_930x

Dependent On Others
All of us enter the world completely dependent on others. A collectivist who remains dependent is not making progress toward becoming a fully developed responsible human being.

  Independent Of Others

The collective will forever be dependent on ethical individualists to provide the new thinking and innovation needed for social progress. To censor and cancel free thinkers is to threaten the life of the collective itself.

Ethical individualists live within your midst. You will know them by their attitude on these issues.
BOOK TEXT
Chapter 0. THE GOAL OF KNOWLEDGE
Part One 
0.0 Striving For Individuality

[1] I BELIEVE one of the fundamental characteristics of our age is that human interest centers in the cult of individuality. An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority. Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality. Everything that hinders the individual from fully developing his powers is thrust aside. The saying “Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Mount Olympus” no longer holds true for us. We allow no ideals to be forced upon us. We are convinced that in each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development. We no longer believe there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform. We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual. We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something that, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer. Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each one asserts the right to express, in the creations of his art, what is unique in him. Just as there are playwrights who write in slang rather than conform to the standard diction grammar demands.

[2] No better expression for these phenomena can be found than this, they result from the individual’s striving towards freedom, developed to its highest pitch. We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.

Read more…

The Philosophy Of Freedom Study Guide

  THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM STUDY GUIDE

THE STUDY GUIDE WITH PAGE DESCRIPTIONS
This is a link to the Study Guide with page descriptions added.

  AUTHOR

THE CREED OF RUDOLF STEINER
WHO WAS RUDOLF STEINER?
SCHOLAR
ANARCHIST
HUMANIST
PUBLISHER Magazin für Literatur

  INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS FREEDOM?
1895 REVIEWS OF TPOF
RUDOLF STEINER'S PATH
BOOK INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER SUMMARY
PRINCIPLES

  THOUGHT-STRUCTURE

12 WORLD VIEWS
TOPIC HEADINGS

  READING

THE MISSING CHAPTER
WHY READ THE UNREVISED PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM?
HOERNLE EDITION
ILLUSTRATED EDITION
NEW READABLE EDITION
ALL TRANSLATIONS

  STUDY

HOW TO STUDY
PROJECT BASED STUDY
START A STUDY GROUP
GROUP CONVERSATION
FREE COMMUNITIES

  SELF-STUDY COURSE

ASK RUDOLF STEINER
STEPS TO FREEDOM
12 VIEWS STUDY
BRIAN GRAY LECTURES
COMIC BOOKS
LET'S PLAY JEOPARDY!

  INTROSPECTION

OBSERVATION OF THOUGHT EXERCISES

  ETHICS

THE HUMAN IDEAL
ETHICAL INDIVIDUALISM
ETHICAL ACTIVISM

  SOCIAL AND POLITICAL

SOCIETY AND POLITICS
CENSORSHIP
COGNITIVE RIGHTS

  VIDEOS

VIDEO PLAYER
SUBSCRIBE TO YOUTUBE FOR NEW VIDEOS

  REFERENCE

DOWNLOAD THE FOUR BASIC BOOKS
BASIC BOOKS REFERENCE QUOTES
LEXICON
RELATED ARTICLES

  RENEWAL OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM

JORDAN PETERSON - THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM
JORDAN PETERSON - THE SOCIAL JUSTICE THREAT TO FREEDOM

Read more…