Re: [anthroposophy] spirit/matter and ontology of being(s)
I'll try to give some answers so far as I've worked on these questions myself.
On Wed, Nov 09, 2005 at 01:37:31PM -0800 or thereabouts, Seth Miller wrote:
> I have two questions I am pondering - they are a bit philosophical in nature and I can't recall off the top of my head from my limited anthroposophical reading how the issues are approached from within spiritual science, and wondered if I could gather some insights from this group. The issues are these:
> I recall reading in various places statements to the effect of: where there is matter there is spirit, and where there is spirit there is matter. That is, spirit and matter are coexistent and coevolutionary in some sense.
The spirit, or spiritual consciousness, is at once the light (knowledge) and substance of all things. It is the meaning and reality of all. Matter has no meaning in itself. If you look at the dead body of someone you knew then you will see this at once. Matter is like a hole in meaning and so materialism leads to understanding human life as ultimately meaningless and epiphenomenal.
The only way of creating this 'hole' is to oppose two or more spirits in their intentions. The resulting balance is matter, the evacuation of meaning. Since both spirits shed light then matter is woven light. With this we begin to find the concepts to unite physical and spiritual science. But that is as far as I've got. Light is inner warmth externalised. It is created first at the Sun incarnation simultaneously with Wisdom.
It follows that everywhere in space there is matter then it is the outer sign of spiritual beings. There are 'Men' on the Moon.
> I also recall that spiritual science is fairly open about itself as a spiritual monism, i.e. ontologically all is spirit, and matter is in some way an expression of or derivative of spirit.
The ulitimate ground of all things is the Love of the Father. This is the metaphysical One. All differentiation and multiplicity result from how this Love divides itself. It kills itself and through this all beings have life.
> I feel like these two statements may be able to peacefully coexist when the overall context is explicated and some assumptions are made and clarified. But I would like to hear from any of you out there - if the universe in its entirety is ontologically tracable back to spirit, then to what does our naieve concept of 'matter' actually refer? It must refer to some aspect of the spiritual (by definition) - and what does 'the spiritual' refer to except spiritul beings? In other words, is it not the case that from the perspective of spiritual science, the ultimate ontological ground is that of spiritual beings in relation?
Traceability turns on the Theory of Knowledge as in the Philosophy of Freedom and other early works. The essential point is that thinking is the Son. Thinking cannot be subjective nor objective but beyond both. It defines both the latter and therefore is beyond them. Thinking is the Living Christ in each of us. How we think is coloured according to individual souls but thinking itself, The Light of the World, is utterly indefinable (NB not undefined but /indefinable/ by its nature).
> And this leads me to my next question:
> If the above is assumed, then how can we lawfully think (recognizing the limits of our thoughts, but trying to use them to their best effect regardless) of the situation with respect to the initial spiritual observation of ontologically _distinct_ spiritual beings? That is, I have an existential and experiential knowledge of the existence of my own being as a being of spirit, but then the experience that there are also _other_ spiritual beings besides myself which are distinct from me in a peculiar way: I do not experience the interiority (subjectivity) of those other beings, although I do not initially have knowledge of whether other beings can experience my own subjectivity.
You've hit the isolation of the human consciousness which is Steiner's point of departure. Our experience of the estrangement of the I from the World, including other human beings, is the result of our present spiritual organisation. Our senses only perceive outwards and therefore we feel isolated inwardly. It has not always been like this and will not always continue to be so.
> Given this experience (which I think is a low-level spiritual experience, even a naieve one), the question arises: how can we think about the ontology of beings (assuming that is ALL there is) with respect to the one/many problem? Are there ontologically multiple, distinct spiritual beings? Is the perception of the distinction between beings somehow false, and in actuality there is only ONE being? Or is it more of a both/and situation, where there may ultimately only be ONE being, but that one being relates to itself lawfully in complex ways, giving rise (to parts of itself) to the experience that multiple beings exist (in which case the reduction of perspective from the whole to the part necessitates a view of the universe in a corresponding way: as parts)? Or is it something else entirely? In other words, from the perspective of spiritual science, what is the _ultimate_ ontological status of what I may (in my naieve experience) know as my own 'Self'?
The overall pattern:
Love, the One => Spirits, the Many => the return, the One
These are the divisions of nature. Man only rises to spiritual consciousness in the 4th incarnation of the planet, the Earth. Therefore we have our part to play in the remaining 3 incarnations to complete the return. Our isolation now in our present Earthly lives is but a snapshot in the Whole.
Hope this is some help
- Hi Sunny,
Welcome to the list and I hope this is a good place for you. As you'll see there is not much traffic lately.
On Mon, Dec 12, 2005 at 06:14:37AM -0000 or thereabouts, sunmoonchild wrote:
> Hello all,
> I am brand new here, and relatively new to Rudolph Steiner. ...
> I'll be looking forward to learning more about why I was drawn here.
> And looking forward to finding out why all I've heard of
> Anthroposophy so far just seems to resonate for me.