Study Course Steps 11.1 - 11.12

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Chapter 11 World Purpose And Life Purpose (Human Destiny)

World Continuum

CHAPTER THEME: World Continuum - Human Purpose - This chapter clarifies the difference between human purpose and the natural laws at work in the world continuum. Only a human being can have purpose. Knowledge of the laws at work in the world continuum are needed to change the world with moral technique in chapter 12.

Theme: World Continuum - Human Purpose
topic 11.1: Perceptual Factor
topic 11.2: Conceptual Factor
topic 11.3: Human Purpose
topic 11.4 Invented Purpose
topic 11.5: Laws Of Nature
topic 11.6: Purposeful Life
topic 11.7: Human Destiny
topic 11.8 Human Purpose Actualized
topic 11.9: Formative Principle Of Nature
topic 11.10: Teleology (purposeful design)
topic 11.11: Harmony Within Whole
topic 11.12: Cosmic Purpose

11.0 Concept Of Purpose
From cause and effect To purposeful action

CHAPTER THEME: Purpose - This chapter clarifies the difference between human purpose and the natural laws at work in the world continuum. Only a human being can have purpose. Knowledge of the laws at work in the world continuum are needed to change the world with moral technique in chapter 12.

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Cause And Effect
Outer Truth: Among the various currents of thought pursued in the cultural life of humanity, there is one we must now trace that can be called the elimination of the concept of purpose in areas where it does not belong. A purposeful event has a certain kind of sequence of phenomena. Purposefulness is truly real only when, in contrast to the relationship between cause and effect where an earlier event determines a later one, the reverse is the case and a later event determines an earlier one.

  

Human Purposeful Action
Inner Truth: This sequence is possible only in the case of human action. The human being carries out a deed that he first depicts to himself in idea, and lets this idea determine his action. With the help of the idea, what comes later (the deed) influences the earlier (the doer). This detour of first depicting the action with an idea is always necessary for a chain of events to contain purpose.

 
STEP 11.1 Perceptual Factor
From percepts cause and effect To concepts cause and effect
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Percepts Cause And Effect
Outer Truth: In analyzing the process of cause and effect, we must distinguish percept from concept. The percept of the cause precedes the percept of the effect.

  

Concepts Cause And Effect
Inner Truth: Cause and effect would simply remain side by side in our consciousness, if we were not able to connect them through their corresponding concepts.

     

STEP 11.2 Conceptual Factor
From conceptual factor of effect To conceptual factor of plant

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Conceptual Factor
Outer Truth: The percept of the effect must always come after the percept of the cause. If the effect is to have a real influence on the cause, it can do so only by means of the conceptual factor. For the perceptual factor of the effect simply does not exist prior to the perceptual factor of the cause.

 

Conceptual Factor Of Flower
Inner Truth: Anyone who claims that the flower is the purpose of the root, that is to mean that the flower influences the root, can only say this about the factor in the flower that is revealed by thinking. The perceptual factor of the flower does not yet exist at the time when the root is formed.

     

STEP 11.3 Human Purpose
From lawful of effect To human action

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Law Of Effect
Outer Truth: In order for a connection to contain purpose it is necessary to have not only an ideal, lawful connection between the later and the earlier event, but the concept (law) of the effect must actually, by a perceptible process, influence the cause.

 

Human Action
Inner Truth: Such a perceptible influence of a concept on something else can only be observed in the case of human actions. Here alone, then, is the concept of purpose applicable.

STEP 11.4 Invented Purpose
From imperceptible forces To imaginary purpose

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Imperceptible Purpose
Outer Truth: The naive consciousness, which accepts as real only what is perceptible—as we have repeatedly pointed out—attempts to introduce perceptible factors where only ideal factors can actually be found. It looks for perceptible connections in perceptible events or, if it does not find them, imagines them to be there.

The concept of purpose, valid for subjective actions, is well suited for inventing such imaginary connections. The naive mind knows how he brings about an event, and concludes that Nature will do it in the same way. In the purely ideal connections of Nature he sees not only imperceptible forces but also imperceptible real purposes.

 

Invented Imaginary Purpose
Inner Truth: The human being make his tools to fit a purpose. So the Naive Realist has the Creator construct organisms on the same principle. This false concept of purpose is only gradually disappearing from the sciences.

In philosophy, even today, it still does a great deal of mischief. Philosophers still ask such questions as: What is the purpose of the world? What is the destination of humanity? (and consequently the purpose) and so forth.

     
STEP 11.5 Laws Of Nature
From non-human purposes To laws of nature
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Non-Human Purposes
Outer Truth: Monism rejects the concept of purpose in all areas, with the sole exception of human action.

 

Laws Of Nature
Inner Truth: It looks for laws of Nature, but not for purposes of Nature. Purposes in Nature are arbitrary assumptions just like imperceptible forces (Chapter 7).

     

STEP 11.6 Purposeful Life
From set life purposes To operative idea

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Set Life Purposes
Outer Truth: From the standpoint of monism, purposes of life not set by the human being himself are also unjustifiable assumptions. For something to be purposeful, a human being must first give it purpose.

 

Operative Idea
Inner Truth: Something done on purpose can only come about through an idea being realized. In a realistic sense, an idea can become operative only in human beings.

     

STEP 11.7 Human Destiny
From life task To chosen mission

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Life Task
Outer Truth: Therefore human life has no other purpose or destiny than the one that the human being gives it. To the question: What is a one's task in life? Monism can only answer: The task he sets himself.

 

Chosen Mission
Inner Truth: I have no predestined mission in the world; but is at every moment the one I choose. I do not set out on life's journey confined to a fixed route.

     

STEP 11.8 Human Purpose Actualized
From human purpose actualized To historical purpose is invalid

Human Purpose Actualized
Outer Truth: Ideas are realized purposefully only through human agents.

 

Historical Purpose Is Invalid
Inner Truth: Consequently, it is invalid to speak of the embodiment of ideas by history. Statements such as: "History is the evolution of humanity towards freedom," or “the realization of the moral world order” and so forth, are untenable from the Monistic point of view.

     
STEP 11.9 Formative Principle Of Nature
From order and unity in world To formative principle of nature
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Order And Unity In World
Outer Truth: Advocates of the concept of purpose believe that to give up purpose in the world, they would also have to give up all order and unity in the world. Here for example is Robert Hamerling:

"As long as there are instincts in Nature, it is foolish to deny purposes in it."

  Formative Principle Of Nature
Inner Truth: "Just as the structure of a limb of the human body is not determined and conditioned by an Idea of this limb floating in the air, but by its connection with the more inclusive whole—the body to which the limb belongs—so the structure of every natural being, whether plant, animal, or man, is not determined and conditioned by an Idea of it floating in the air, but by the formative principle of the more inclusive whole of nature which creates and organizes itself according to a purpose.”
     
STEP 11.10 Teleology - Purposeful Design
From adaptation in purpose To teleology (purposeful design)
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Adaptation To Purpose
Outer Truth: In the same volume:
"The theory of purpose (Teleology) only maintains that in spite of the thousand discomforts and sufferings of this natural life, there is a high degree of adaptation to purpose and plan unmistakably present in the forms and evolutions of Nature―a purpose and a plan, however, that is realized only within the limits of natural laws, and which does not tend to the production of some Utopia, where life faces no death, and growth no decay, with all the more or less unpleasant but unavoidable stages in between..."

 

Teleology (purposeful design)
Inner Truth: "When the critics of the concept of purpose (Teleology) bring a laboriously collected rubbish-heap of partial or complete, imaginary or real examples that appear to show no purpose, and place this against a miraculous world full of purpose such as can be seen in all of Nature's domains, then I just find that amusing.”

     

STEP 11.11 Harmony Within Whole
From inborn idea of nature To law of machine

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Inborn Idea Of Nature
Outer Truth: What is meant here by “purpose”? The harmony between the parts to form a perceptible whole. However, since there are laws (Ideas) underlying all percepts that we discover by means of thinking, the harmony found between the parts of a perceptible whole is in fact the ideal (logical) harmony of the Ideas that underlies this perceptible whole. To say that an animal or the human being is not determined by an Idea floating in the air is a misleading way of putting it. When expressed in the right way the criticized view ceases to be absurd. Certainly an animal is not determined by an Idea floating in the air; it is however, determined by an inborn Idea that makes up the law of its nature. It is just because the Idea is not outside of the being, but works within it as its nature, that one cannot speak of purpose. Those who deny that natural beings are determined from outside (whether by an Idea floating in the air or an Idea that exists outside the creature in the mind of a world creator is, in this context, irrelevant) should admit that these beings are not determined by purpose and plan from outside, but by cause and law from within.

  Law Of Machine
Inner Truth: I construct a machine purposefully, according to purpose, when I connect its parts together in a way that is not given in nature. The purpose contained in the arrangement consists in my having set how the machine will operate, as its Idea, into the machine itself. This makes the machine an object of perception with a corresponding Idea. Creatures of Nature are beings of this kind. Whoever calls a thing purposeful if it is formed according to a plan or law might just as well apply the same label to beings of nature. But this kind of lawfulness must not be confused with the purpose underlying subjective human action. In order to have a purpose it is absolutely necessary that the effective cause is a concept—in fact, the concept of the effect. But nowhere in nature can we find evidence that concepts are causes. The concept always proves to be merely the conceptual link between a cause and an effect. In nature, causes are always something perceptible.
     
STEP 11.12 Cosmic Purpose

From cosmic purpose To rejection of absolute cosmic being

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Cosmic Purpose
Outer Truth: A Dualist can talk of cosmic purposes and nature purposes. Where we see an example of a systematic linking of cause and effect according to law, a Dualist is free to assume that what we are seeing is only a faint copy of a relationship within which the Absolute Cosmic Being has realized his purpose.

 

Rejection Of Absolute Cosmic Being
Inner Truth: For the Monist, any reason for assuming purpose in the World or Nature falls away with the rejection of an Absolute Cosmic Being.

 

 BOOK TEXT

11. WORLD PURPOSE AND LIFE PURPOSE
(Human Destiny)

11.0 Concept Of Purpose
[1] Among the various currents of thought pursued in the cultural life of humanity, there is one we must now trace that can be called the elimination of the concept of purpose in areas where it does not belong. A purposeful event has a certain kind of sequence of phenomena. Purposefulness is truly real only when, in contrast to the relationship between cause and effect where an earlier event determines a later one, the reverse is the case and a later event determines an earlier one. This sequence is possible only in the case of human action. The human being carries out a deed that he first depicts to himself in idea, and lets this idea determine his action. With the help of the idea, what comes later (the deed) influences the earlier (the doer). This detour of first depicting the action with an idea is always necessary for a chain of events to contain purpose.

11.1 Perceptual Factor
[2] In analyzing the process of cause and effect, we must distinguish percept from concept. The percept of the cause precedes the percept of the effect. Cause and effect would simply remain side by side in our consciousness, if we were not able to connect them through their corresponding concepts.

11.2 Conceptual Factor
The percept of the effect must always come after the percept of the cause. If the effect is to have a real influence on the cause, it can do so only by means of the conceptual factor. For the perceptual factor of the effect simply does not exist prior to the perceptual factor of the cause. Anyone who claims that the flower is the purpose of the root, that is to mean that the flower influences the root, can only say this about the factor in the flower that is revealed by thinking. The perceptual factor of the flower does not yet exist at the time when the root is formed.

11.3 Human Purpose
In order for a connection to contain purpose it is necessary to have not only an ideal, lawful connection between the later and the earlier event, but the concept (law) of the effect must actually, by a perceptible process, influence the cause. Such a perceptible influence of a concept on something else can only be observed in the case of human actions. Here alone, then, is the concept of purpose applicable.

11.4 Invented Purpose
The naive consciousness, which accepts as real only what is perceptible—as we have repeatedly pointed out—attempts to introduce perceptible factors where only ideal factors can actually be found. It looks for perceptible connections in perceptible events or, if it does not find them, imagines them to be there. The concept of purpose, valid for subjective actions, is well suited for inventing such imaginary connections. The naive mind knows how he brings about an event, and concludes that Nature will do it in the same way. In the purely ideal connections of Nature he sees not only imperceptible forces but also imperceptible real purposes. The human being make his tools to fit a purpose. So the Naive Realist has the Creator construct organisms on the same principle. This false concept of purpose is only gradually disappearing from the sciences. In philosophy, even today, it still does a great deal of mischief. Philosophers still ask such questions as: What is the purpose of the world? What is the destination of humanity? (and consequently the purpose) and so forth.

11.5 Laws Of Nature
[3] Monism rejects the concept of purpose in all areas, with the sole exception of human action. It looks for laws of Nature, but not for purposes of Nature. Purposes in Nature are arbitrary assumptions just like imperceptible forces (Chapter 7).

11.6 Purposeful Life
From the standpoint of monism, purposes of life not set by the human being himself are also unjustifiable assumptions.
For something to be purposeful, a human being must first give it purpose. Something done on purpose can only come about through an idea being realized. In a realistic sense, an idea can become operative only in human beings.

11.7 Human Destiny
Therefore human life has no other purpose or destiny than the one that the human being gives it. To the question: What is a one's task in life? Monism can only answer: The task he sets himself. I have no predestined mission in the world; but is at every moment the one I choose. I do not set out on life's journey confined to a fixed route.

11.8 Human Purpose Actualized
[4] Ideas are realized purposefully only through human agents. Consequently, it is invalid to speak of the embodiment of ideas by history. Statements such as: "History is the evolution of humanity towards freedom," or “the realization of the moral world order” and so forth, are untenable from the Monistic point of view.

11.9 Formative Principle Of Nature
[5] Advocates of the concept of purpose believe that to give up purpose in the world, they would also have to give up all order and unity in the world. Here for example is Robert Hamerling:

"As long as there are instincts in Nature, it is foolish to deny purposes in it."

[6] "Just as the structure of a limb of the human body is not determined and conditioned by an Idea of this limb floating in the air, but by its connection with the more inclusive whole—the body to which the limb belongs—so the structure of every natural being, whether plant, animal, or man, is not determined and conditioned by an Idea of it floating in the air, but by the formative principle of the more inclusive whole of nature which creates and organizes itself according to a purpose.”

11.10 Teleology - Purposeful Design
And in the same volume:
"The theory of purpose (Teleology) only maintains that in spite of the thousand discomforts and sufferings of this natural life, there is a high degree of adaptation to purpose and plan unmistakably present in the forms and evolutions of Nature―a purpose and a plan, however, that is realized only within the limits of natural laws, and which does not tend to the production of some Utopia, where life faces no death, and growth no decay, with all the more or less unpleasant but unavoidable stages in between...

[7] When the critics of the concept of purpose (Teleology) bring a laboriously collected rubbish-heap of partial or complete, imaginary or real examples that appear to show no purpose, and place this against a miraculous world full of purpose such as can be seen in all of Nature's domains, then I just find that amusing.”

11.11 Harmony Within Whole
[8] What is meant here by “purpose”? The harmony between the parts to form a perceptible whole. However, since there are laws (Ideas) underlying all percepts that we discover by means of thinking, the harmony found between the parts of a perceptible whole is in fact the ideal (logical) harmony of the Ideas that underlies this perceptible whole. To say that an animal or the human being is not determined by an Idea floating in the air is a misleading way of putting it. When expressed in the right way the criticized view ceases to be absurd. Certainly an animal is not determined by an Idea floating in the air; it is however, determined by an inborn Idea that makes up the law of its nature. It is just because the Idea is not outside of the being, but works within it as its nature, that one cannot speak of purpose. Those who deny that natural beings are determined from outside (whether by an Idea floating in the air or an Idea that exists outside the creature in the mind of a world creator is, in this context, irrelevant) should admit that these beings are not determined by purpose and plan from outside, but by cause and law from within.

I construct a machine purposefully, according to purpose, when I connect its parts together in a way that is not given in nature. The purpose contained in the arrangement consists in my having set how the machine will operate, as its Idea, into the machine itself. This makes the machine an object of perception with a corresponding Idea. Creatures of Nature are beings of this kind. Whoever calls a thing purposeful if it is formed according to a plan or law might just as well apply the same label to beings of nature. But this kind of lawfulness must not be confused with the purpose underlying subjective human action. In order to have a purpose it is absolutely necessary that the effective cause is a concept—in fact, the concept of the effect. But nowhere in nature can we find evidence that concepts are causes. The concept always proves to be merely the conceptual link between a cause and an effect. In nature, causes are always something perceptible.

11.12 Cosmic Purpose
[9] A Dualist can talk of cosmic purposes and nature purposes. Where we see an example of a systematic linking of cause and effect according to law, a Dualist is free to assume that what we are seeing is only a faint copy of a relationship within which the Absolute Cosmic Being has realized his purpose. For the Monist, any reason for assuming purpose in the World or Nature falls away with the rejection of an Absolute Cosmic Being.