Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Symbolic World and the Conspiracy of Colour Theory

Continuing on the them of colour

 Introducing Johnathan Pageau 

Rudolf Steiner on Christianity, Platonism, and Goethe

So we live in abstractions, and these abstractions block us from Final Participation.

In this reading of Steiner's opening chapters of Goethe's Worldview Steiner investigates the question as to how the Idea relates to Nature independent of man's being. He shows this question to be an abstraction, an "artificial concept". He traces the development of this concept through Western thought from Plato through Christianity to modern philosophy, and designates Goethe as someone who instinctively avoided falling into this abstraction. 

Owen Barfield claims that "we will never save souls unless we also save the appearances". I believe Steiner here provides the meat behind this statement of Barfield's

Apologies for my mispronunciation of "Zenophanes". Also, that "impenetrable" sentence at 13 mins should read: "Of them alone [i.e. the ideal forms], therefore, is there ACTUAL knowledge, since only THAT can be the object of such knowledge which always and in every respect IS, NOT THAT [i.e. the instantiations of the forms] which is, but then again is not, depending on how one looks at it." (Thank you Tom Bayley for this interpretation) 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ubiquitus Abstractions

How fast can VW build a car? 

VW makes 26000 new cars every day. I calculate that as 36 cars per minute, or 1.6 seconds to make a single car.

But the reality is of course not the case at all. It is impossible to make a car in 1.6 seconds. Just think of the drying time needed between coats of paint. 

But 26000 cars a day is apparently a fact. 

So on one level, it is true that it takes 1.6 seconds for VW to make a new car. 

On the other hand, if you decided one day to visit VW to watch a car being made in 1.6 seconds, you would be confronted with nothing of the sort. In fact, if you visited a VW factory, you might be forgiven for doubting if they made anything at all. For the plant is so massive, and the division of labour and the many thousands of processes that have to all take place simultaneously so vast, that it would be physically impossible to watch a single car being made, let alone time it with a stopwatch. In any case, where would you even start the clock, at the moment the iron ore is mined from the earth? 

What then is the truth of the matter? 

The answer is that "VW" is an abstraction. How fast "VW" can build a car is only an interesting question so long as one remains blind to the fact that the entire premise is a fantasy. Unfortunately, public discourse is filled with such delusional questions and abstractions and governments and institutions all over the world hold themselves accountable to these abstractions as though they were reality. 

The facts about the production of cars is something completely different, which anyone can immediately rocognise if they gave it a moments thought. Car manufacturing is a culminating process that draws on the lives of millions of people all over the world who are doing deeds and actions that for the most part don't resemble making a car in the slightest. The idea that all these unrelated people doing all these separate deeds is somehow "VW" is so manifestly wrong that it is interesting how such a delusion can persist. Yet persist it does, for we never stop to think out properly what we are used to ingesting as mental habit. 


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Intuitive Thinking vs Non-duality

 A viewer by the name of "Shabaduba" recently posted the following question on my video about "authentic individuality". 

He/she writes:

"Can you explain why or in what sense is Thought eternal and universal? Is not a thought or a concept limited? I have a feeling that how Steiner talks about thought or thinking, is very similiar to what Non-dual (Advaita-vedanta) teaching says about Consciousness. Non-dual perspective would say here very similiar thing to compare what you have said. That is: "Usually, "I", Awareness am aware of objects. So I am aware of things, events, perceptions, feelings, thoughts, sensations etc. But when I become aware of awareness, that means Consciousness is conscious of itself, or Awareness is being aware of itself, thats something Universal and eternal."

This is a stumbling block that comes up all the time on my Steiner videos. My response runs something as follows:

If one declares that the concepts that thinking grasps are merely limited with no real reality to them, and that thinking itself is also limited in this way, then in this very assertion you are appealing to an intuition.

Ultimately, consciousness of consciousness is the fruit of intuitive thinking that represents this knowledge in the form of concepts. If these concepts were unable to grasp the reality of consciousness, then everything we are saying about consciousness is sheer gibberish, and there is no difference between Thought and Non-duality because to differentiate is to already employ conceptualisation, and THAT requires thinking.

To illustrate the point another way I can respond to the question with another question:

By what means do you compare a "limited concept" against "universal consciousness" if not by the grace of intuitive thinking?

In essence, as soon as you recognise that it is nothing but intuitive thinking behind all instances of awareness of awareness, you are forced to re-assess the standing of thought in the grand scheme of things.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Here is an animated extract from a chapter in Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Rabbit in the Moon. Or is it a Face?

 As a child my "figuration" (as Owen Barfield calls it) saw a rabbit in the moon. 

I still see a rabbit in the moon, but having been told about the smiling face, and working hard to see it instead of a rabbit, I can now see both at will.

After 10 years of studying Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield, something similar has happened with my basic metaphysical assumptions. Before this shift, I truly found it an impossible riddle how mind could be connected to matter - I was obsessed with the "hard problem" as its called. Now I find the whole question banal and spurious. And it is thanks to my basic metaphysical "figuration" having now fully changed.

My next task is to flip causality itself. As a materialist, I assume that behind my life events are base, material causes that are blind and purposeless. I am now using prayer to change this default setting of my "figuration" so that instead of my unconscious assumptions being of life unfolding according to blind chance, I truly see that behind my life are purposive intentions that originate in God's love. This means flipping the hierarchy of spirit and matter - from matter being the primal cause to spirit being the primal cause. 

This is no small task. Sure, it is easy to declare that spirit is primal, but harder to really believe it, especially if you have grown up in the West, as I have. And that is what prayer is for; to change the habits of fundamental belief, ie, to change my metaphysical assumptions at the level of figuration. At the end of the day, nothing is compelling me to do this exercise, just as nothing compelled me to try to see the smiling face in the Moon instead of the rabbit. And like the face, I must wait until the shift has actually happened before I can really "see" it. And for this reason I also require faith that I eventually will see it.

So there we have it, a summery of my religious practice, I suppose.

"You will own nothing, and you will be happy"

A person who is in touch with spiritual truth knows that already they own nothing - for life is a gift from God that is returned at death and the concept of "ownership" only makes sense at the level of earthly, mortal existence.

A person in touch with spiritual truth also knows that "being happy" is a gift from God as well, and that as soon as happiness is made into a life-goal it becomes very scarce, very quickly. 

And so when anther person, who, for example, is more wealthy and powerful than most people can dream is possible tells me that soon "I will own nothing" and "I will be happy" I can't help but respond with a degree of trepidation as to what they could possibly have in mind. 

The Archetype of all Ideas

  Our capacity to think about nature objectively is at the same time natures capacity to express itself as IDEA. Our capacity to then think...