RE: [anthroposophy] Rép. : The SENS ES for Entendement/ untouched aspects...
- Hi Danny
Thought you might like to see this. I've interleaved the beginnings of a
response to Herbert who raised some objections to the anthroposophical point
of view. I've never called it that but made no secret of my study of
Steiner. I feel I have to defend the outlook as my own. Which it is.
KARL JASPERS FORUM
Commentary 17 (to C9 and C16, McCarthy)
REALITY AND REFERENTS
by Herbert FJ Müller
31 March 2004, posted 24 April 2004
In C9 <2> Maurice McCarthy states (as Ernst von
Glasersfeld noted in C10) that 0-D shows that
"knowledge does not have to be the knowledge of a
subject". This conclusion I find puzzling, because it
contradicts the basic idea of 0-D, implying
something like a person-free knowledge-in-itself.
0-D is reality structuring within ongoing subjective
(individual and/or collective) experience, that is to
say that subjective experience is the start point and
always remains the matrix for concepts
(knowledge). It can not be eliminated from the
Consider the following three statements: if there is knowledge then there
1. a content to be known,
2. an activity to know it and
3. a closure or "bridge" between the two.
None of these makes any mention of subject or object or subjectivity or
objectivity. Every possibility for the fulfillment of knowledge is left
open. A fourth constraint that knowledge must be subjective is unnecessary
it may yet turn out that person-free knowledge-in-itself is found to be
coherent, or it may not.
MM's statement appears to be an instance of MIR-
relapse. Because in 0-D one can treat the objects
as-if they were mind-independent, it is easy to
extrapolate the existence of an MIR-world, simply
by neglecting the "as-if" ("the thing would exist
even if no one knew it", C9 <2>, instead of "it
could be treated as-if it existed even if no one knew
of it"). This omission results in traditional MIR-
belief, as implied in metaphysical views like
naturalism or materialism (see TA67).
I agree that "the assertion of independent existence
is ... a subjective opinion just as much as its
converse is" <2>. But then MM writes <3> that "if
abstraction is made from all qualifications then
existents are only distinguished by their
separation". This seems to be the relapse step (the
neglect of as-if), the "abstraction" implies a primary
or ontological split between mental structures and
subjective experience. From there on it is only
metaphysical "location in space", "whatness", etc.,
though with a subdivision into objective spatial
location and subjective temporal support. But the
latter is not plausible because space is not MIR-
objective any more than time.
Let an existent be defined as a subjective agent. In this case there is no
relapse to MIR. It is an anti-materialism because matter has no subjectivity
and no agent properties, therefore matter is non-existence. Reality to an
anti-materialist is the relations between subjective agents, their
agreements and disagreements. It might be called communicationism (in honour
of TA68). A communicationist would consider every experienced phenomenon to
be the "speech" of another being. That the sky is blue would be the
appearance of the speech act of a god, for example. Such a person's reality
might comprise a pantheon of gods, people, animals, nymphs, dryads and other
elemental beings or fairy folk. Plants would have a poor sort of existence
but objects such as mud or the dirt under your feet would find the utmost
prejudice against being called existents at all. Communicationism is a
worldview which has served many societies.
The "antithesis between man and nature" <4> can
also only appear after a split has been structured,
the split does not pre-exist. "Man has added
science" : indeed, but then MIR-belief is one of its
complications, which is due to an erroneous
assumption of a primary subject-object split. I
suggest that this can be counteracted by the 0-D
view of structuring : 0-D happens within
In C16, MM defends his opinion further. Referring
to TA1 he says <1> that knowledge cannot start
with a clear definition because that "would entail
the possibility of error". This statement may be
somewhat misleading. The structures, including
definitions, are created within experience, and
before structuring not only viable structures but
even errors (i.e., non-viable structures) are
If this is saying what I think is intended: that the origin of knowledge
should be placed at a point just before knowledge itself so that there
cannot be any error in it (because no structuring has yet been performed)
then I completely agree.
And (C16<2>) "a beginning must be made by
constraint. There must be, firstly, something to be
known, an unstructured or undefined experience.
Secondly an activity to produce knowledge ...
[which is] beyond all subjectivity and objectivity
because it structures or creates both ... Something
makes distinctions but that something does not
have to be an individual subject." But MM does not
say what else it could be, thus the question is left
open; does he mean a supra-individual experience-
in-itself (see above) ?
I think therefore there is thinking. There is thinking whether or not I
exist. Yet I experience that I think therefore I am an individual subject
who is a universal. Is it possible to be mistaken about your own thought
content, your own conscious structuring? If I do not exist then thinking,
which does exist, is a world functional cause, a universal, beyond all other
existents. But alone of functional causes I experience it as my own act
through and through. Can I here use the "as-if" clause? I think as-if I was
thinking makes no sense to me. (This is the contradiction of the
In the 0-D view, as I understand it, both subjective
and objective structures (i.e., both subject and
object) are created within the experience, and even
the subject-object split is secondary (i.e.,
pragmatic). The insistence on an experiencer
(C16<3>) means that no structuring can occur
outside experience, it does not imply a subject as a
pre-fabricated product. On the other hand, in
objective terms only organisms like people or
animals can have experiences, and that is so even
before construction of a human functioning self.
In C16<4> MM writes that knowledge cannot occur
"unless there is a qualitative kinship between the
undefinable activity and something in the undefined
content. Therefore the activity must categorize the
content of knowledge to begin. To date no one has
ever challenged this ..." Here he is again back to
Platonic meta-physical referents, i.e., beliefs in
unreachable outside entities. And even though he
characterizes both subject and object as
undefinable, a primary (ontological) subject-object
split is already implied as defined in his statement.
The undefinable activity is thinking. It is not unreachable, nor is it
subjective. That which creates the structure "subjective" cannot itself be
subjective. Such is the force of our experience as human beings that even
subjectivists have difficulty overcoming their own subjectivity to penetrate
to the realisation of the eternity of thinking.
But 0-D does indeed challenge this primary split.
One builds structures ("content", including "self")
within given unstructured experience and tries them
out. If they are successful (viable) they are kept
(and for instance, called real, or better as-if-real).
After having been structured they can be
categorized, but not before. This view does not
pre-suppose a correspondence principle of the type
MM implies; instead all structures (including reality
as a general feature, and the subject-object split)
are working tools.
The correspondence of structured content and consciousness is a result and
not a pre-supposition. It is the result of the structuring activity. A
subject is a structure created by thinking. Therefore the structured content
before this subject necessarily proceeds from the structured subjectivity.
Therefore reality and consciousness correspond, always.
Reality is Truth and Percept.
The percept is subjective and therefore the verifier of reality to a
subject. Truth is universal because it is a structure created by universal
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