31 Jul 2012
Sig from Virginia
You have described real present day human poverty.
Creators of the drawing in the essay may not yet have developed very far from "food good, fire bad" but they are much more advanced in their universe than present day intellectuals who are all too often educated beyond their intelligence.
Thanks for writing this gem.
31 Jul 2012
Interestingly, people who care about spiritual matters are often more practical than those who would reduce humans to machines, or human relations to mere economics. There's nothing practical about Marxism.
And when people -- men, mainly -- ignore the spiritual side, claiming that everything is "hard-wired", by an amazing coincidence their desire to sleep with as many women as possible is vindicated. Reason not the need...
11 Aug 2012
This is an interesting article, but quite a mixture of things. "There is an innate goodness within human beings" - oh really? How do we know this? Where does this idea come from? ... You suggest that knowing God via reason is difficult; I would suggest that we only know of God because God has chosen to tell us of his existence [I know the militant atheists hold that "God" is just a human idea, a fabrication, I consider that quite false], and we only know things about God because God has chosen to tell us some things; reason only tells us things which follow on from that revelation (that, I think - hope - is the orthodox Christian (Judeo-Christian) view). Certainly you're correct in saying, in effect, that ongoing consciousness of God's presence/reality requires constant effort (again, orthodox stuff I think, but one's experience of reality (certainly mine!)).
22 Aug 2012
Thanks for this encouraging essay. I was feeling particularly discouraged today by the common antagonism toward or ignorance of the reality of the Spirit. They can really fog up your specs. It is sometimes hard to believe in the dark what you saw in the light. But an essay like this can remind us of what we know and what we choose to believe. Even the atheist chooses unbelief when he could have chosen otherwise.
26 Aug 2012
Perhaps linking our emotions and Spirit, is gratitude;sensing that something intervened or came into play, yielding -- benevolent concidence, good luck, unexpected strength, seemingly undeserved, unearned grace.
This gratitude's natural integration is a desire to maintain a loving obligation to serve others with kindness.
8 Sep 2012
Excellent, thought-provoking essay.
In thinking, we almost entirely adapt ideas to physical realities. This is somewhat like grinding up seed to feed livestock. In feeding the seed to animals, the seed's own inherent potentials are not permitted to unfold. Similarly, ideas used to grasp physical reality are not being used in such a way as to unfold their own inmost potentials. And just as seed, instead of being used to feed animals, can be planted and can sprout and grow into a tremendous life of its own a thousand times greater than the seed, so ideas can under certain circumstances unfold their own inmost potentials, their own life and being, rather than being used to grasp something material or sense-perceptible. When ideas unfold their own inner forces, spiritual reality can eventually emerge, not as an abstraction, but as an experience more vivid and persuasive than a forest, but in a non-physical mode, a mode that in a sense is nothing like, or is even opposite to, the physical world.
To get beyond spirit as a mere grey abstraction of dubious reality -- to get beyond the alleged unity -- or should I say uniformity -- that is often imagined as "spirit," we must become aware of the real spiritual <i>world</i> -- a world that is a unity, yes, but that is equally a multiplicity, full of such qualitative variety and intensity that, when we experience it, its reality is more powerful, alive, and self-evident with beings than is physical nature, and has a more varied and richer impact on our feeling and aesthetic life than does physical nature. Philosophers, as valuable and even essential to the spirit as their work often is, seem never to reach concrete experience of spirit, but only abstract "spirit" -- as in the classic case, Hegel's "phenomenology" of "spirit." Hegel was perhaps at the threshhold of the spiritual world, but was not in a position to enter.
Ideas can become much more than abstractions. They can become doorways to the experience of living non-physical beings, each new idea a doorway to a new kind of being. But for that one needs to allow the inmost being of ideas to unfold and grow, as the seed sprouts and grows organically into the plant. I would say that, whatever his flaws and mistakes, Rudolf Steiner was often a pioneer in this direction. I should also say that the analogy above, that ideas are to physical reality somewhat as seed is to livestock, comes from one of his books.
At his best, his work mediates a new, extremely concrete consciousness of the spirit, in the form of a real spiritual world. He mediates that world through a sort of systematic imagination, what Owen Barfield referred to as "Romanticism come of age." So Steiner's statements about the spiritual world are not intended by him in an absolutely literal way, but as approximations, a sort of cognitive, almost scientific, poetry of the spiritual world. This attitude becomes clearer in some of his later works, but it's implicit in his earlier works as well, underneath a rhetoric that can sometimes sound almost like crudely optimistic scientific positivism. But the latter rhetoric for Steiner is at most I think a kind of philosophical/scientific etiquette he adopted for the scholarly mileau of his time and place -- he nevertheless understood the flaws of positivism as well as anyone. Like Edmund Husserl, Steiner was an admiring student of Franz Brentano. Like Karl Jaspers, Steiner was a student of Wilhelm Dilthey. In his early, more purely philosophical work, Steiner sought to solve similar problems, problems of knowledge (as well as action). The problem was to move beyond the inadequate alternatives of subjective idealism, naive realism, and physiological reductionism in seeking to understand knowledge, i.e., the interaction between subject and object.
Perhaps the best place for a philosophically inclined person -- and perhaps also for a scientifically inclined person -- to start checking out Steiner is through a book by Owen Barfield, called <i>Worlds Apart</i>. Or perhaps the best intro for the scientifically minded would be <i>The Wholeness of Nature</i>, by physicist Henry Bortoft -- though Bortoft barely mentions Steiner in the book. Or if one prefers to go right to Steiner himself, the philosophically minded should consider starting with his doctoral thesis, <i>Truth and Knowledge</i> and his <i>Philosophy of Spiritual Activity</i>, and then perhaps it would be best to leap beyond philosophy and read <i>Study of Man</i>, one of the lecture series he gave to the first Waldorf school teachers. Then one might read Steiner's <i>Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment</i>, perhaps followed by Steiner's chief work on social order, <i>Toward Social Renewal</i>. If one is a doctor, one might look at the lecture courses Steiner gave to physicians. There are a lot of other doors into his work, so it's hard to make suggestions that are not arbitrary. <i>Anthroposophy and the Inner Life</i> might be a good place to get an intimate sense of how Steiner consciously seeks to employ creative imagination systematically as a way to achieve something approaching objective knowledge of the spiritual world.