The above questions are posed in an article from the website Untold Universe posted on October 10, 2017 under the title “Quantum Consciousness: The Universe May Be One Entity and Aware of Itself” and features an interview with Sir Roger Penrose, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Oxford University in England. The article itself summarizes the two main accepted theories attempting to explain “How and why does consciousness exist and what is the ultimate cause of consciousness?”, namely that consciousness is generated by matter and secondly the mind-body theory. It then introduces a third option making headway in some scientific circles, “panpsychism”, a proto-consciousness system based theory according to which “the entire universe is occupied by consciousness.”  In the article, the late physicist and philosopher John Archibald Wheeler is mentioned, in whose opinion “every part of matter comprises a bit of consciousness, which it rivets from this proto-consciousness [or quantum] field.” Calling this theory “a participatory anthropic principle” it posits  that “a human observer is key to the process.” The article also quotes neuroscientist Christoph Koch of the Allen Institute of Brain Research, another supporter of panpsychism, who says, “The only theory we have to date about consciousness is, it’s a level of awareness about one’s self and the world.”

If this last statement were indeed true, we i.e. the scientific or more generally the human community on earth, would have indeed not much to go on as far as real advances in this sphere of consciousness research is concerned. Fortunately however, it is not true, and only seems to be the case, for hitherto largely overlooked or ignored is the major contribution Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) has made to this field already more than 100 years ago with his development of anthroposophy or science of the spirit, for which his epistemic works “Truth and Science” (1892), a prelude to his “The Philosophy of Freedom” (1894) (also translated as “The Philosophy of Spiritual  Activity”) he has laid the groundwork. 


One of his most astute and profound interpreters more recently is the late German philosopher/anthroposophist and poet Herbert Witzenmann (1905-1988), who studied in Heidelberg with Karl Jaspers, (but who could not finish his doctorate in philosophy through a dissertation on the concept of labor in the work of Hegel and Nietzsche, because of Jaspers’ dismissal from the university through the purge of the Nazi’s). With the exception of "The Virtues - Seasons of the Soul" and "Beppe Assenza - Introduction and Aphorisms", his major works, such as "Die Voraussetzungslosigkeit der Anhroposoophie" (The Unbiasedness of Anthroposophy), "Goethe's universal-ästhetischer Impuls - Die Vereinigung der platonischen und aristotelischen Geistesströmung" (The Universal Aesthetic Impulse of Goethe - The Unification of the Platonic and Aristotelian Spiritual Currents) and his last book "Sinn und Sein - Der gemeinsame Ursprung von Gestalt und Bewegung" (Meaning and Being - The Common Origin of Shape and Motion) have hitherto not been made available in English. 

With the translation in progress of his “Philosophy of Freedom as a Basis For Artistic Creation” (Die Philosophie der Freiheit als Grundlage künstlerischen Schaffens, 2nd ed. Dornach, 1987) this is now changing.  This work, in which art, science and religion are reunited,  is a congenial commentary on what Rudolf Steiner has described as his most important work that would outlast him for a 1000 years. In it, Herbert Witzenmann, by practicing the method which Rudolf Steiner in the subtitle of his “Philosophy of Freedom” has called “Psychical Observation According to the Methods of Natural Science”, has indeed obtained results which show some formal similarity to panpsychism in the sense that it views "the human observer as key to the process". But contentually these results of psychical bservation go indeed far beyond the above statement made by Christoph Koch on the meagre advancements in the theory of consciousness. 


With the posting today of Chapter VI “REVIEW AND OUTLOOK - The Basic Character Of The Work, Its Demand On The Reader And The Riches It Has In Store For Him/ The Third Main Part” of "The Philosophy of Freedom as a Basis for Artistic Creation" the reader is cordially invited to decide for him- or herself whether this somewhat provocative statement is true (see link below). Thereby it should be borne in mind that this is a only draft version of a translation in progress of a work that presents extra-ordinary challenges to a translator. Originally, as noted in the translator’s preface, the late American poetess Daisy Aldan felt that it was actually altogether impossible to cast this book into English. Nonetheless, it is being attempted. Please, if possible, let me know if you think it is succeeding and where perhaps it is lacking. Feel free to disseminate this pre-announcement.

P.S. For those interested in my "Report to a Homefront", i.e. the LA Library and the Branch  where I fist encountered Rudolf Steiner and his anthroposophy in the early seventies, informing them of some of my anthroposophical activities over last 40 odd years and a take on the so-called book question,  please click here.

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

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

Join The Philosophy Of Freedom

© Tom Last 2017