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The Philosophy Of Freedom Study Guide


This is a link to the Study Guide with page descriptions added.


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Chapter 4 Condensed Philosophy Of Freedom

Experiment with condensed edition organized as the world as percept, world experience, and intuitive experience.

Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy Of Freedom Condensed

The World As Perception
Chapter 4
(perception bias)
“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.”

4.0 Concepts Added To Observation
4.1 Conceptualize Relationships
4.2 Thinking Reference
4.3 Conceptual Relationships
4.4 World-Picture Corrections
4.5 Perception-Picture Dependent On My Organization
4.6 Know Only My Percepts
4.7 Speak Of Ideas
4.8 Know Only My Ideas
4.9 Psyche Forms Idea
4.10 External Object Creation Of Psyche
4.11 Confuse External With Internal Observations
4.12 Content Of Percept Before Perception

4.0 Concepts Added To Observation
1. World As Percept: Reactive Thinking
2. World Experience: Concepts Built Up From Experience
3. Intuitive Experience: Concepts Added To Observation

Reactive Thinking
[1] 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.

Concepts Built Up From Experience
The wider the range of our experience, the larger the number of our concepts. Concepts combine to form an ordered and systematic whole. 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.

Concepts Added To Observation
[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 Conceptualize Relationships
1. World As Perception: Remain Within Observed Content
2. World Experience: Generalize Relationships
3. Intuitive Experience: Conceptualize Relationships

[3] Herbert Spencer describes the mental process that takes place in response to observation as follows:

Remain Within Observed Content
[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.”

Generalize Relationships
Spencer’s explanation is 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".

Conceptualize Relationships
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. Whoever does not reflect on the event simply hears the noise and is content to leave it at that. 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 Thinking Reference
1. World As Perception: Human Consciousness
2. World Experience: Thinking Consciousness
3. Intuitive Experience: Thinking Reference

[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
Human consciousness is the place where concept and observation meet, and are connected to each other. It mediates between thought and observation.

Thinking Consciousness
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.

Thinking Reference
[7] Thinking should never be regarded as a merely subjective activity. 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. 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.

4.3 Conceptual Relationships
1. World As Perception: Thought Pervades Field Of Observation
2. World Experience: Thought-Free Observation
3. Intuitive Experience: Conceptual Relationships

[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?

Thought Pervades Field Of Observation
[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.

Thought-Free Observation
[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.

Conceptual Relationships
Facing it stands thought, ready to begin its activity as soon as it can find a point of engagement. 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.

4.4 World-Picture Corrections
1. World As Perception: The Term “Percept”
2. World Experience: World-Picture Contradictions
3. Intuitive Experience: World-Picture Corrections

[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.

The Term “Percept”
[14] 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] 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.

World-Picture Contradictions
[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.

World-Picture Corrections
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.

4.5 Perception-Picture Dependent On My Organization
1. World As Perception: World-Picture Corrections
2. World Experience: Picture Dependent On Place Of Observation
3. Intuitive Experience: Perception-Picture Dependent On My Organization

[17] Why are we forced to make continual corrections to our observations?

Picture Dependent On Place Of Observation
[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.

Perception-Picture Dependent On My Organization
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."

4.6 Know Only My Percepts
1. World As Perception: Perception-Picture Is Subjective
2. World Experience: Percept Exists During The Act Of Perceiving
3. Intuitive Experience: Know Only My Percepts

Perception-Picture Is Subjective
[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.

Percept Only Exists During The Act Of Perceiving
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:

“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.

Know Only My Percepts
[20] 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.

4.7 Speak Of Ideas
1. World As Perception: Aware Of Myself As The Observer
2. World Experience: After-Effect Of Observation: An Idea-Image
3. Intuitive Experience: Speak Of Ideas

[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.

Aware Of Myself As The Observer
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.

After-Effect Of Observation: An Idea-Image
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.

Speak Of Ideas
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 Know Only My Ideas
1. World As Perception: Outer World And Inner World
2. World Experience: Perceive Only My Ideas
3. Intuitive Experience: Know Only My Ideas

Outer World And Inner World
[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.

Perceive Only My Ideas
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.

Know Only My Ideas
The Kantian view 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. 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.

Kantians believe their view expresses something absolutely certain, something 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. 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.

4.9 Psyche Forms Idea
1. World As Perception: Know Only My Ideas
2. World Experience: Organization Transmits External Object
3. Intuitive Experience: Psyche Forms Idea

Know Only My Ideas
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.

Organization Transmits External Object
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. 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.

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. 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.

[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.

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 are 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. This is why Hartmann says, "What the subject perceives are always only modifications of his own psychical states and nothing else."

Psyche Forms Idea
When I have sensations they are still far from being grouped into what I perceive as "things." 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 External Object Creation Of Psyche
1. World As Perception: Projection Of Psyche
2. World Experience: Conscious Of Object
3. Intuitive Experience: External Object Creation Of 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.

Projection Of Psyche
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. 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. 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.

Conscious Of Object
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.

External Object Creation Of Psyche
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 Confuse External With Internal Observations
1. World As Perception: External Percept Is My Idea
2. World Experience: Web Of Ideas
3. Intuitive Experience: Confuse External With Internal Observations

[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.

External Percept Is My Idea
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.

Web Of Ideas
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 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. 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.

Confuse External With Internal Observations
[28] There is a gap in the whole chain of reasoning. I can follow the processes in my organism up to those in my brain. 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. At the point of transition from brain process to sensation, there is a break in the method of observation.

[29] The Critical Idealist 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 Content Of Percept Before Perception
1. World As Perception: Percept Product Of Our Organism
2. World Experience: Ideas Based On Senses
3. Intuitive Experience: Content Of Percept Before Perception

Percept Product Of Our Organism
[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.

[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.

Ideas Based On Senses
[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. The world around him is present only as an idea.”

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.

Content Of Percept Before Perception
[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.

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Condensed Philosophy Of Freedom?

  I am thinking about producing a condensed version of The Philosophy Of Freedom so a reader could get the main ideas in a short readable edition. Here is an example of two chapters.


What is individual life?
The Characteristics Of Individualist Life

0.0 Age Of Individuality
[1] One of the fundamental characteristics of our age is the interest in individuality. The characteristics of an individualistic life are:

• Makes an energetic effort to shake off every kind of authority.
• Accepts nothing as valid unless it springs from the roots of individuality.
• Thrusts aside everything that hinders the full development of his powers.
• Choosing a hero and following their footsteps up to Mount Olympus is no longer true for him.
• Allows no ideals to be forced upon him.
• Convinced that deep in the heart of each person there dwells something noble, something worthy of development.
• No longer believes in conforming to a generally accepted norm.
• Regards the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual.
• Does not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, he contributes to the development of the world what he alone can offer due to the uniqueness of his nature.
• The artist is not concerned with conforming to the rules and norms in art.
• Asserts the right to creatively express what is unique in him.
• The writer is not concerned with conforming to the standard diction grammar demands.

[2] The expression of these individual characteristics are the result of his intense striving towards freedom. The individualist does not want to be dependent in any way. Where dependence is necessary it is only tolerated on the condition it serves a vital interest of his individuality.

What is individual truth?
The Characteristics Of Individualist Truth

The characteristics of individualistic truth are:

• The Path Of Inner Truth
• Empowered By Truth
• Truth That Is Understood
• Advancing In Knowledge Starts With Facts We Know
• Respecting The Individual Need To Understand
• Living The Principles Of Individualism
• Entering The Inner Realm Of Pure Thought
• Theory Serves Life
• Concerned With Freedom
• Knowledge Contributes To Human Development
• Ideas Serve Human Aims
• Master Of Ideas

0.1 The Path Of Inner Truth
[3] In the age of individuality truth is sought in the depths of human nature. Schiller described two well known paths to truth; the pursuit of truth in the outer world and the pursuit of truth within. It is inner truth 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.

We are uncertain of the truth that comes from the outside. We are only convinced when truth appears within.

0.2 Empowered By Truth
Only truth can give us the certainty necessary to develop our individual powers. These powers are weakened in anyone tormented by doubts. If confused by a world full of riddles he can not come up with an aim for his creative activity.

0.3 Truth That Is Understood
[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 springs from the inner life of the personality.

0.4 Advancing In Knowledge Begins With Personal Experience
[6] We do not want the kind of knowledge that has been formulated in rigid academic rules and stored away as valid for all time. As individuals, we claim the right to start from the facts we know, from our personal 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 Respecting The Individual Need To Understand
[7] No one should be compelled to understand. We expect neither acceptance or agreement from anyone who is not moved to a certain view by his own particular, individual need. We do not want to cram facts of knowledge into even an immature person. 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 Living The Principles Of Individualism
[8] I know how much a stereotypical attitude, lacking all individuality, is prevalent everywhere. But I also know that many strive to conduct their lives in the direction of the principles of individuality I have suggested. To them I dedicate this book. It describes the path taken by one whose heart is set upon truth.

0.7 Entering The inner Realm Of Pure Thought
[9] The reader is 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. The West no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic practices to attain knowledge. Science does require withdrawing oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life, and entering the realm of pure thought.

0.8 Theory Serves Life
[10] Life itself is a unity. 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 the all-inclusive science intended here. A similar relationship governs the arts. A composer works on the basis of the theory of composition. In composing, the rules of theory serve life, theory serves actual reality. All genuine philosophers have been artists in the conceptual realm. Abstract thinking takes on an individual life of its own. Ideas become powerful forces in life.

0.9 Concerned With Freedom
[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 that will throw light on these questions. In my view, the question of freedom is the most intimate concern of the human being.

0.10 Knowledge That Contributes To Human Development
[11] 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. Knowledge has value only by contributing to the all-around development of the whole of human nature.

0.11 Ideas Serve Human Aims
[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.

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


What does it mean to know the world?
The Characteristics Of Knowing The World

(overcoming perception bias)
Featuring The “Concept”

• The Awakened State Of Thinking
• Thought That Applies To The World
• The World Causes Thoughts In The Mind
• Process Of Becoming
• Concept Indivisibly Bound Up With Object
• Isolate And Grasp Single Concepts
• Self Definition Through Thinking
• In Thinking We Are The All-One Being
• World Unity Found In Ideal Content
• The Conceptual Intuition Arises From Within
• Conceptual Connections Between Perceptions
• Formation Of A Memory-Image

5.1 The Awakened State Of Thinking
[8] If the things of our experience were only "ideas," then everyday life would be like a dream, and knowledge of the true situation would be like waking.

In contrast to the dreaming state we experience while asleep, there is the daytime waking state. The waking state enables us to see through the dreams and relate them to real events, the physiological and psychological processes that caused them.

Dreaming State --- Waking State

Within waking consciousness there is also a dreaming and waking state; perception and thinking. Thinking enables us to see through our perception bias to the real situation.

Perceiving (dreaming) --- Thinking (waking)

5.2 Thought That Applies To The World
[9] If I wish to say anything about what I perceive, I can do so only with the help of thought. What I express is the result of a thought-process. If my thought does not apply to the world, then my result is false. Between a perception and every kind of judgment about it there intervenes thinking.

5.3 The World Causes Thoughts In The Mind
[10] The naive mind treats thought as something that has nothing to do with things. Thinking stands completely apart from things and makes its theories about them. The theory that the thinker draws from the phenomena of the world is not considered as something integral to the things, but as something that exists only in the human head.

The world is not complete without thought. The world cause thoughts in human minds with the same necessity as it causes blossoms on plants. Plant a seed in the soil. It puts forth root and stem. It unfolds into leaves and blossoms. Place the plant before you. It connects itself to a specific concept in your mind. The concept of a plant only arises when a thinking person approaches the plant.

5.4 Process Of Becoming
[11] It is entirely arbitrary to regard the sum of what we experience of a thing through perception alone, as a totality, a complete whole, while regarding what results from thoughtful contemplation as something incidental, that has nothing to do with the thing itself.

If I am given a rosebud today, the picture that is there for my perception is finished, complete, but only for the present moment. If I put the bud in water, tomorrow I will get a very different picture of the object. And if I watch the rosebud without interruption, I will see today's state gradually change into tomorrow's through countless intermediate stages. The picture presented to me at any one moment is only a chance section taken from an object that is in a continuous process of becoming.

[12] To declare the appearance of a thing revealed at a chance moment; "this is the thing" would be a biased judgment that clings to external features.

5.5 Concept Indivisibly Bound Up With Object
[13] It is not justifiable to declare the sum of a thing's perceptual appearances to be its full reality. The concept is indivisibly bound up with the object.

If I throw a stone horizontally through the air, I see it at different points, one after the other. I connect these points to form a line. If I analyze the conditions under which the thrown stone moves, I find that the line of its flight is identical with the line I know as a parabola. The form of the parabola belongs to the whole of the phenomenon, just as much as any of its other features. The parabolic trajectory can only be added by thinking about the phenomenon.

5.6 Isolate And Grasp Single Concepts
[17] Man is a limited being. Due to our limitations things appear to us as separate objects, when in fact they are not separate at all. For example, the individual quality of red never exists in isolation. It is surrounded on all sides by other qualities to which it belongs, and without which it could not exist.

For us, however, it is necessary to isolate certain sections of the world, and to consider them on their own. Our eye can grasp only single colors one by one out of a multicolored whole. Our mind can grasp only single concepts out of an interconnected conceptual system.

5.7 Self Definition Through Thinking
[18] We define the relation of ourselves, as things, to all other things. This defining must be distinguished from merely becoming aware of our self. For self-awareness is based on perception, just like our awareness of any other thing.

The perception of myself shows me a number of qualities that I bring together into the whole of my personality. In the same way I bring together the qualities yellow, metallic shine, hard, etc. into the unity “gold.” Self-perception does not take me beyond the region of what belongs to my self. So self-perception must be distinguished from self-definition by means of thinking.

By means of thinking, I integrate the perceptions I have of my self into the order of the world-process. Self-perception confines me within certain limits, but my thought is not concerned with these limits. In this sense I am a two-sided being. I am enclosed within the sphere that I perceive as my own personality, but as a thinker I define my finite existence from a higher sphere.

5.8 In Thinking We Are The All-One Being
[20] In thought, we have the element that integrates our particular individuality into a unity with the whole of the cosmos. When we sense and feel (perceive) we are isolated individuals; when we think, we are the All-One Being that pervades everything. We become conscious of a purely absolute principle revealing itself within us, a principle that is universal. Thought is the universal cosmic principle manifesting itself in our minds.

[21] Those without thought do not have a desire to strive for knowledge. Whenever they encounter things, they have no questions. In the case of thinkers, the concept leaps up in response to the external thing. The concept is the part of a thing that we receive, not from outside, but from within ourselves. To match up, to unite the two elements, inner and outer, gives us knowledge.

[22] The perception is not something finished and complete. It is one side of the total reality. The other side is the concept. The act of cognition is the synthesis of the perception and the concept. Only the perception and concept together make up the whole thing.

5.9 World Unity Found In Ideal Content
[23] It is futile to seek for any common element in the separate things of the world other than the ideal content provided by thinking. All attempts to find world-unity must fail, other than this coherent ideal content which we gain by the conceptual analysis of what we perceive.

Neither a personal God, nor force, nor matter, nor the blind, idealess will (Schopenhauer), can be accepted by us as the universal world-unity. All these principles belong only to a limited field of our observation. Personality we perceive only in ourselves, force and matter only in external things. As for the will, it can only be seen as the active expression of our own limited personality.

Schopenhauer considers himself justified to see in the body the “objectivity” of the will. He is convinced that in the actions of the body he has a direct experience of reality, the thing-in-itself in the concrete. Against this analysis, we must point out that the actions of our body only come to our awareness through self-observation. The perceptions we obtain of ourselves have no advantage over other perceptions. If we wish to know their real nature, we can do so only by means of thinking, by organizing them into the ideal system of our concepts and ideas.

5.10 The Conceptual Intuition Arises From Within
[24] Let us take a look at the world of perception by itself. It appears as a mere juxtaposition of elements in space and a sequence of changing elements in time, an aggregate of unconnected details. None of these things that come and go on the perceptual stage appears to have any connection with any other. Here, the world is a multiplicity of objects of equal value. None plays a more important part in the machinery of the world than any other.

If we are to recognize that this or that fact has greater significance than another, we must consult our thought. As long as we do not think, a rudimentary organ of an animal that has no significance for its survival, appears equal in value to the most important part of its body. The meaning of single facts, both in themselves and in their relation to other parts of the world, only becomes apparent when thought weaves its threads from one thing to another.

[25] Thinking contributes this content to the perception from the world of concepts and ideas. In contrast to the content of perception given to us from outside, the content of thought appears within our minds. The form in which thought first appears in consciousness we will call "intuition." Intuition is to thoughts what observation is to perceptions. Intuition and observation are the sources of our knowledge.

Anything we observe in the world remains unintelligible to us, until the corresponding intuition arises within us which adds that part of reality missing in the perception. Full reality remains closed off to anyone without the ability to supply the relevant intuitions corresponding to things.

[26] To explain a thing and make it understandable, means nothing other than to place it into the context from which it has been torn due to the nature of our organization. What appears to us in observation as separate details, become linked, item by item, through the coherent, unified system of our intuitions. By means of thought we fit together again into one whole all that perception has separated.

[27] The puzzling nature of an object is due to the separateness of its existence. However, this separation is brought about by us and can, within the conceptual world, be dispelled and returned to unity again.

5.11 Conceptual Connections Between Perceptions
[29] Let us suppose a certain perception—red, for example—appears in my consciousness. This perception is connected to other perceptions such as a specific shape, and to certain perceptions of temperature and touch. I call this combination of perceptions “an object in the sense-perceptible world.” I can go further and study the processes that take place on the way from the object to my sense-organs and the sense-organs to the brain. There I find processes that have nothing in common with the original perceptions. In each of these inquiries I gather new perceptions, but the connecting thread that weaves through all these perceptions and binds them into one whole—is thought.

Thought alone links all these perceptions to each other, and shows them in their mutual relationships. We cannot speak of the existence of anything beyond what is directly perceived, except what is recognized as the conceptual connections between perceptions. These connections are discovered by thinking.

5.12 Formation Of A Memory-Image
[30] What, then, is a perception? A perception always appears as a very specific, concrete content. This content is directly given and is completely contained in what is given. All that can be asked about this given content is: "What is it apart from perception—that is, what is it for thought?" The question concerning the "what" of a percept can only refer to the conceptual intuition that corresponds to it.

For us, then, something is "objective" when it is seen to be located outside myself as perceiving subject. The perception of myself as subject remains perceptible to me after the table now standing before me has disappeared from my field of observation. The observation of the table has caused a change in me that persists like myself. I preserve an image of the table which now forms part of my Self. I retain a lasting ability to reproduce an image of the table again, later. Psychology calls this image a “memory-image.”

It is the only thing that can properly be called my idea of the table. For it is the perceptible change in me caused by the table when it was in my field of vision. The idea is, then, a subjective perception, in contrast to the objective perception that occurs when the object is present in the field of one’s vision. Falsely identifying the subjective perception as the objective perception leads to the misunderstanding of Idealism that “the world is my idea.”

[31] Once we know what to make of the world, it will be an easy task to orient ourselves within it. We can act with our full strength and conviction only when we understand the things to which we direct our activity.

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The Feeling Mystic

The spiritualist looks to gain knowledge through feeling. The thinker gains knowledge by establishing concepts. How does this compare?

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© Tom Last 2017