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RE: [anthroposophy] Rép. : The SENS ES for Entendement/ untouched aspects...

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  • Maurice McCarthy
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 23, 2004
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      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.

      TA69 (Munévar)

      Commentary 17 (to C9 and C16, McCarthy)

      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
      must be

      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


      Maurice McCarthy
      e-mail <maurice.mccarthy@...>


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