Module 1.12 Seeing The Good

Science Of Freedom Workbook
Text: "The Philosophy of Freedom" by Rudolf Steiner
Topic 1.12 Chapter 1 Conscious Human Action

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.

Worldview Of Sensationalism
"Our own sense-impressions are all we can rightly accept."
"He peels off from the phenomena everything which he thinks comes only from the understanding and the reason, and he allows validity only to sense-impressions, regarding them as some kind of message from reality."
"You may reflect as much as you like on what the senses tell us and bring forward ever so ingenious reasons for your view — and ingenious reasons can be given..."
Rudolf Steiner, Human And Cosmic Thought lectures

"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."

The concept of Sensationalism suggests that our sense-impressions are the only trustworthy messages from reality that we can accept. In light of this perspective, the first quote can be interpreted as emphasizing the importance of perception through the senses. It suggests that love, in itself, is a state that makes us focus on specific sense-impressions, in this case, the 'good qualities' of the individual. Essentially, love adjusts our lens, allowing validity only to certain sense-impressions that resonate with us.

"Many pass by these good qualities without noticing them. One, however, sees them, and just because he does, love awakens in his heart."

The second quote reaffirms the role of sense-impressions in shaping our emotional responses. In this case, love awakens because one's senses are tuned to notice what others ignore. The message here correlates well with Sensationalism's trust in sense-impressions as messages from reality; love emerges as a response to a particular set of sense-impressions.

"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."

Lastly, the third quote zeroes in on the idea that our sense-impressions create our perception of reality. This "perception-picture" consists of selected sense-impressions, and it's the absence or presence of such a picture that dictates whether love will or will not be experienced.

Each of these quotes, therefore, circles back to the central tenet of Sensationalism, which places primacy on sense-impressions as the only valid messages we can receive from the external world.

MODULE 1.12 Seeing The Good

□ STEP 1.12 From love opens our eyes to see good qualities, to formation of perception-picture of good qualities.

In module 1.12 Seeing The Good, we move from a naive perspective where love spontaneously 'opens our eyes to the good qualities of the loved one' to a more insightful understanding: that what we see and love in others isn't merely spontaneous, but shaped by our own "perception-picture." While the experience of love can indeed be like a beam of light that reveals the good in others, it can also act as a spotlight that hides everything outside its glow. This focused attention can create a host of challenges both for the individual and society.

When our "perception-picture" is formed unconsciously, there's the risk of idealization. We create a romanticized version of the person we love, and when reality inevitably intrudes, we're left not only with the crumbling of an illusion but also the emotional suffering that accompanies this fall from grace. Moreover, by zeroing in on a particular "perception-picture," we might unintentionally overlook or even negate qualities that should not be ignored. These could be red flags that signal the foundation of a potentially unhealthy or toxic relationship, posing long-term risks to our emotional well-being.

On a more unsettling note, the actions we undertake based on these unconsciously formed perceptions can make us vulnerable. What if you make life-altering decisions—like marriage or career shifts—based solely on an idealized version of someone? You are effectively gambling with your future, and the stakes are high.

When extrapolated to a societal level, these individual behaviors pattern into a complex tapestry of unstable relationships. Society itself can become a reflection of these illusions, with families breaking apart and communities fragmenting because their building blocks—individual relationships—are founded on shaky ground. This can lead to a cascade of social issues, from increased mental health struggles to community discord.

The societal implications go even deeper. There is a kind of collective stunting of growth, where the feedback loops created by cultural norms and social media can amplify these idealized "perception-pictures." This can pressure individuals to conform to these illusions, robbing them of the opportunity to seek genuine understanding and a more nuanced grasp of reality. Advancing to this new realm of freedom involves becoming critically aware of how our "perception-pictures" shape our feelings of love. With this awareness, both individuals and society can strive for relationships that are not only more emotionally sustainable but are also grounded in a nuanced understanding of reality.

Seeing the Good: This term refers to the ability to recognize and appreciate positive traits, behaviors, or qualities in someone or some thing.

Perception-Picture of Good Qualities: This phrase describes the picture of the world that an individual constructs in the perception process which encapsulates the good qualities they perceive. This picture significantly influences how one feels and behaves in a situation.

The "perception-picture" in topic 1.12 refers to the immediate, in-the-moment perception of another person's positive traits. This means that as you encounter someone, your senses and cognitive processes work together to form a mental image or snapshot that captures the good qualities you see in them right at that time. This immediate perception then serves as the basis for feelings, such as love, and subsequent actions.

Known Action
Acting out of love based on 'seeing the good' is often a product of a perception-picture we've formed that includes these positive traits. In essence, our actions aren't just spontaneous emotional responses but are guided by our mental frameworks. Understanding that this snapshot-like perception influences your actions is crucial for 'known action'—action that is consciously guided rather than impulsively driven. This realization helps us make more informed, thoughtful decisions, thereby contributing to a sense of freedom and agency in our relationships.

2. Life Examples
Scenario: Balloon Artist
Stage 1 - Seeing The Good: A parent watches a balloon artist create elaborate sculptures for kids at a park. She notices the happiness he brings to children's faces, it feels magical.
Stage 2 - Formation of Perception-Picture: While others see just a simple entertainer, the parent observes the dexterity, imagination, and kindness involved in each balloon creation. The parent's perception-picture transforms the balloon artist from a mere amusement into a bringer of joy and a creator of ephemeral art.

Scenario: Night Janitor
Stage 1 - Seeing The Good: An office worker doing late hours notices that the floors are always impeccably clean, appreciating the care taken by the night janitor to keep the office spotless.
Stage 2 - Formation of Perception-Picture: Most of the office workers never even see the janitor, or if they do, barely acknowledge him. But this late-night worker starts to notice the precision, dedication, and invisible effort that go into keeping their workspace clean. The office worker perceives the janitor not just a cleaner, but as an integral part of the team that makes everyone else's job easier.

Scenario: Elderly Resident
Stage 1 - Seeing The Good: In a nursing home filled with elderly residents, one particular elderly man spends most of his time alone in his room. One visitor, however, notices that this man tends to his small window garden with great care, making sure each plant gets just the right amount of water and light.
Stage 2 - Formation of Perception-Picture: While most dismiss him as a grumpy loner, this visitor forms a perception-picture that highlights the elderly man's attention to detail, his love for nurturing life, and his solitary but meaningful engagement with his environment. The visitor perceives the elderly man with qualities that indicate inward richness and complexity that others have overlooked.

Scenario: Antique Clock
Stage 1 - Seeing The Good: A shopper spots an old, dusty clock at the back of a thrift shop. Despite its age and worn appearance, the intricate carvings catch the eye.
Stage 2 - Formation of Perception-Picture: While others see a relic of another time, this shopper sees the craftsmanship that went into creating those intricate designs. For this shopper the clock isn't just an old timekeeping device, he perceives it as a piece of history, a snapshot of an era where every carving was made by hand.

Scenario: Abandoned Garden
Stage 1 - Seeing The Good: A passerby notices an overgrown garden outside an abandoned home. Amidst the weeds, some of the original plants still bloom, showing splashes of color.
Stage 2 - Formation of Perception-Picture: While most people pass by without a second thought, this individual sees the resilience of nature reclaiming the land. The garden isn't merely neglected; it's a symbol of life's persistence and untamed beauty.

Scenario: Old Piano
Stage 1 - Seeing The Good: A community member encounters an old, slightly out-of-tune piano in the corner of the local community hall. Despite its wear, a few chords reveal a warm, vintage timbre.
Stage 2 - Formation of Perception-Picture: Others might walk past, dismissing the piano as outdated or in disrepair. However, this individual sees an instrument full of character and history. Their picture of the piano respects its age as an aspect of its unique sound.

"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."

The quote offers two contrasting perspectives on love. One suggests that love blinds us to flaws, making us overly accepting or even ignorant of the shortcomings in the ones we love. In a friendship, for instance, this could mean overlooking a friend's tendency to cancel plans at the last minute, dismissing it as inconsequential because we are so enamored with their other qualities. This blind spot could eventually lead to a lopsided relationship where one person is continually let down.

On the flip side, the quote says love can open our eyes to the good qualities of the loved one. This isn't just about overlooking flaws; it's about a focused magnification on what's good. Imagine a teacher so captivated by a student's enthusiasm that they ignore the areas in which the student needs to improve. While it's good to encourage enthusiasm, this tunnel vision could mean the student doesn't get the rounded education they need.

One key problem with seeing only the good is that it can create an imbalanced view that might lead to complacency. If everything is seen as "very good," there may be less motivation to strive for better outcomes, greater performance, or more effective solutions. This could manifest in multiple ways: In a work environment, if a manager only sees the good in their team's performance and ignores the potential for improvement, the team could stagnate. In a personal relationship, if you're solely concentrated on what's already good, you may miss the opportunity to deepen emotional intimacy or address smaller issues before they grow into larger ones. Focusing only on the good can also encourage a form of confirmation bias. You may selectively gather or recall information that confirms your preexisting beliefs or values, leading you to miss out on opportunities for learning, growth, and change.

However, the most mature love acknowledges both good qualities and flaws but finds a balanced way to navigate both. In a romantic relationship, for example, this might mean being aware that your wife is terrible with finances but excellent at emotional support. You wouldn't ignore their bad spending habits, but you could decide that their emotional acumen is more valuable in the context of your relationship. You might handle the finances but lean on them for emotional strength. This balanced perspective allows room for a more authentic, adaptive, and resilient form of love.

By taking a nuanced approach, you're not blinded by love, nor are you rendered complacent by only focusing on the good. You're aware, adaptive, and can meet challenges head-on, contributing to a relationship that's not only aware but proactive in its love. This approach makes for more durable relationships and a more nuanced understanding of others, embodying a love that's grounded in reality yet optimistic in its outlook.

Objective: Experience the joy of soaring into the realm of concepts.
Love "opens our eyes to the good qualities." What are good qualities? Each of these quotes touch on various aspects like character, integrity, courage, and kindness, offering a starting point for deeper philosophical reflection.

  1. "Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking." - J.C. Watts
  2. "The best index to a person's character is how he treats people who can't do him any good, and how he treats people who can't fight back." - Abigail Van Buren
  3. "The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves." - Ray Kroc
  4. "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." - Ambrose Redmoon
  5. "Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." - Mark Twain
  6. "Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them." - Brené Brown
  7. "The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching." - John Wooden
  8. "To enjoy the things we ought, and to hate the things we ought, has the greatest bearing on excellence of character." - Aristotle
  9. "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." - Thomas Jefferson
  10. "The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them." - Ernest Hemingway

In a cozy but somber room adorned with wooden artifacts and old family portraits, an elderly woman sat beside the bed where her husband lay. His breaths were shallow, his skin almost translucent, revealing the roadmap of veins beneath. She looked into his eyes, and for a moment, she was transported back to another time—a time when those eyes held the sparkle of the Northern Lights, vivid and spectacular, promising forever.

The memory was crystal-clear: a younger version of her husband standing tall, battling a fierce winter storm to bring firewood inside their first home. He had faced the storm with an unwavering smile, embodying strength and wisdom, becoming the "true archetype of his spirit" that imprinted itself onto her soul. That picture had been her anchor throughout the seasons of their lives, a perception-picture so vivid that it seemed to possess its hues and warmth.

There were long stretches when he seemed clouded and far from the man she had married. Sickness took hold, and the weight of years bowed his once-strong back. But even during those moments, she clung to her internal picture of him, reminding herself, "The Spirit makes me strong. I remember the archetype. No illusion, no deception shall rob me of it."

She cared for him with an unwavering commitment. When he could not eat, she fed him; when he could not move, she bathed him. The task was emotionally draining, but she derived her strength from the perception-picture she had carried all those years. Her hands may now tremble, but they are guided by the vivid memory of his past strength, past kindness, and past love.

As his condition worsened, the nights grew longer, but she remained steadfast. Her presence was a sanctuary, a heaven in the hell of his pain. She was his guardian, her faithfulness to his true spirit a forcefield surrounding them, akin to an "angel's power of protection."

Finally, the day came when his eyes, pale imitations of what they had once been, met hers one last time. In that moment, her perception-picture was not of an old, frail man but of the essence of all the good qualities she had ever seen in him. With a weak smile, he drew his final breath. She felt his spirit soar, but her love, her faithfulness, remained—indomitable and everlasting.

Days passed, turning into weeks and then months. Autumn leaves gave way to winter snow, but the warmth of her faithfulness kept her strong. She understood that her faithfulness was the most extraordinary gift she had ever given—both to him and to herself. It was an unbreakable testament to their love, a bond not even death could sever. And so she lived on, a living monument to a love so deep it had given her the strength of angels. In her heart, the perception-picture she had formed so many years ago remained, as vivid and as nourishing as the first day she saw it.

Objective: Adopt an individualistic attitude aligned with principles of freedom.

  • Good Traits or Flaws: As you engage with people or even objects, intentionally note whether you're focusing on good characteristics or are a critic of flaws. Why?
  • Seeing Through Your Eyes: Imagine that the person you're interacting with can see how you perceive them including the thoughts you interweave into the perception. Whether you're having a conversation, passing by someone, or simply observing someone from a distance, imagine the perceptions you form are visible to them.
  • Anti-Bias Exercise:
    1. Identify a Bias: Start by identifying a member of a group you may hold biases toward. The bias could be based on race, gender, age, nationality, or any other characteristic. Acknowledge any bias to yourself when it occurs.
    2. Question Your Perception-Picture: It's natural to favor your own group over the "other." Are the biases you hold about this group valid for this particular individual?
    3. New Perception-Picture: Each of us also have individual characteristics. Try to form a new perception-picture of this individual, one that is based on their good or flawed individual character. The exercise isn't necessarily about seeing only good qualities but about forming a more accurate, nuanced perception-picture.

In Module 1.12, "Seeing The Good," it becomes clear that known action—the idea of making deliberate choices based on understanding—includes our ability to see and perceive good qualities in others and the world around us. But this isn't a static process; it's an evolving one that begins with the freedom to perceive the good and must advance to a level where we question that very freedom.

Why is this advancement necessary? Initially, Seeing The Good is like a key that unlocks our capacity for love, empathy, and understanding. It acts as a starting point for positive interactions and constructive actions. But without an awareness of how we form perception-pictures, we can inadvertently box ourselves into limited and sometimes biased viewpoints. Understanding that our perception is partially constructed, not just natural or given, empowers us to question our biases and any preconceptions we might have unknowingly held.

For the individual, this is transformative. When you become aware of how you create perception-pictures, you essentially reclaim the power to reshape them, making your actions and relationships more aligned with a nuanced understanding of 'good.' You become more in tune with the realities and complexities of people and situations, rather than being guided by possibly skewed initial perceptions. Your actions, now better informed, can truly be known actions—chosen with awareness and therefore more likely to be effective and ethical.

The implications for society are equally profound. As more individuals take this journey from mere perception to critical understanding, the social mindset shifts. This self-awareness acts like a societal safeguard against prejudice and discrimination. People start to see the limitations of their individual perception-pictures, creating room for a diversity of experiences and viewpoints. Questioning and refining your perception-pictures contribute to building a society that knows better because it sees better.