8435Re: [anthroposophy] Re: Threefold Website
- May 2, 2003Hi Joel,
If you are suggesting that the process that Steiner followed in getting
ideas is perfect and infallible, then I think you are wrong. Although
the process that he followed is very good, it is not perfect, and
Steiner himself told us that even after we get ideas we must still keep
our minds open to further alternatives and possible new understanding.
If we remain open-minded our thoughts will improve over time, and at any
moment in time our thoughts might be the best that is possible at that
stage, but we should never be tempted to consider our ideas as perfect.
With regards to the triangle, remember that there are two types of
thinking - the one is to describe something that exists and the other is
to create a new idea. In the book Theosophy Steiner describes what
already exists, while Threefold Social Order is a creative work. In
reading these two books it is very clear that Steiner followed entirely
different processes with each book.
The concept of a triangle already exists because the Higher Being who
was responsible for creating the first triangular shape in the universe
has created the idea of a triangle. Every subsequent Creator or thinker
has simply "tuned in" to that idea.
With regards to social and political thought we are dealing with new
ideas that need to be created. And in the process of creativity Steiner
could have either invented his ideas as something completely new or he
could have expanded and improved on the best ideas that he could find. I
don't know which path he followed, but both are good.
I am convinced that with social and political thinking it is a creative
process that is necessary. You won't find the perfect idea for a social
order hanging around in the spiritual world somewhere waiting for
someone like Steiner to pick it like an apple. Someone needs to create
the idea first and that is what Steiner did. Thereafter, the idea for
threefolding would exist and others could tune into it and describe it.
But, just because Steiner created the idea and it is now available in
the spiritual world doesn't mean it is perfect.
Just because you are directly tuning into ideas that exist in the
spiritual world, doesn't mean that you are tuning into the right idea.
For example, assume that the answer to the social question was a shape -
it could be a triangle or a circle or a pentagon or whatever. The ideas
for these shapes all already exist, so just because you are tuning into
some existing idea, doesn't mean you are tuning into the right idea. It
requires thinking and creativity to try to create or find the best
answer. It is a fallible process and the margin of error can be reduced
by the instructions that Steiner gave, but not eliminated.
But, the solution to the social question is not a clean geometric shape
like a triangle or a circle. It is likely to be a more organic shape,
like the shape of an animal. And we know that there isn't a perfect
shape for an animal - all animals look different but they are all OK.
The best shape for any animal is the best shape for its circumstances.
And so too, as the circumstances of human social life changes, so the
solutions to the social question must also be evolved.
In terms of Threefolding I want to stress that Steiner's ideas on the
subject are just the beginning - it is not a completed work. He showed
us how to think about social issues but he hasn't done all the thinking
and creativity for us. We need to learn from the thinking process that
he followed and continue with it, expand on it, and even correct it
where necessary. I am sure that Steiner would have been the first to
tell us that his writings on Threefolding should not be regarded as the
ultimate final answer, but that the ideas should be continually reworked
and improved upon. We need to continue the creative work that Steiner
started - and we don't have to wait until we are initiated before we can
do it, we just need to follow the guidelines on thinking that Steiner
gave us. We won't find the perfect solution, but we don't have to, as
long as we remain open to better ideas.
On Fri, 2003-05-02 at 21:40, Joel Wendt wrote:
> On Fri, 2003-05-02 at 13:45, Adam wrote:
> > Even though Steiner is able to form his threefolding ideas from whole
> > cloth, he starts with von Humboldt's Limits of State Action, and
> > perhaps Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality, but I've only come across
> > a couple titles that deal with the intellectual history of Steiner's
> > political ideas, and how von Humboldt's ideas should develop further
> > through Steiner.
> > (Many modern political thinkers take von Humboldt and Rousseau as
> > their starting point as well, so it is very interesting how many of
> > them use or subvert these works to espouse their views.)
> Dear Adam,
> I'm not sure your observations are accurate if you mean to suggest that
> Steiner took in and then worked from the ideas of others, as is the
> assumption of the conventional view of "intellectual history". This
> view seems to assume that ideas move from one mind to another in a
> social horizontal way, through reading or listening.
> Steiner certainly worked in a quite different way, one more vertical in
> orientation, where Ideas are meet in their own realm, and the fact that
> one mind in one place and time draws forth something similar to what
> another mind does in a different time and place does not mean the
> latter's thinking is derivative of the former.
> In my own work I find all manner of Ideas where they exist in
> themselves, that I on prior (or later) occasions have found expressed by
> others. But in no way are my "thoughts" derived, although in some cases
> I have arrived in the World of Ideas at a "territory" pointed at by
> another thinker.
> This is quite similar to the problem pointed out by Steiner in his "A
> Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception", where
> Steiner suggests there is only one Idea of a triangle, that is
> apprehended by different minds through their independent processes of
> cognition. I find the same true with regard to political and social
> thought - what is true has an independent existence of the perceiving
> I hope I have been able to express myself adequately here, and that I
> did not mistake what you said for something else. If I did mistake your
> meaning, I apologize.
> warm regards,
> List owner: email@example.com
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