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Re: [anthroposophy] Midsummer Thoughts from Britain

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  • Maurice McCarthy
    Thanks for this post Jan, which clued me up at a most opportune moment with its reference to the Baptist. Plato referred to the great Parmenides in his
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 26, 2003
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      Thanks for this post Jan, which clued me up at a most opportune moment with
      its reference to the Baptist.

      Plato referred to the "great Parmenides" in his dialogue of the same name
      and RS said of him, I forget where, that he had such a fine feel for
      philosophy that he could state the extreme "All is One" in all courage, or
      similar words. There is a man alive today who is to me the Parmenides of our
      time, Ernst von Glasersfeld, the radical constructivist. His mighty, aged
      frame supports a countenance which beams compassion, humility and kindness
      over all mankind. "All is subjective. There is no objectivity save by
      agreement and the world is nothing but a meaningless chaos which we
      pragmatically structure into a viability." (These words are mine not his but
      they carry the full import of what he says.) I disagree entirely and I love
      him to bits. 35 years ago subjectivity was still a pejorative when mentioned
      in connection with scientific knowledge and his gentle persistent arguments
      have done much to cure this. Born in Austria 1918, if I remember rightly,
      his family moved to a farm in Co. Kerry, Ireland in the mid-1930's where he
      spent 20 years as a farmer. He is said to still like to return occasionally
      for a glass of Guinness, the dark Irish porter (beer). The next 20 were in
      Italy where his ideas formed in the study of linguistics (my memory is
      unsure here). The next 20 in New York where he still lives.

      His Zeno is Herbert Müller who prolonged his own life by correctly guessing
      he had a brain tumour. Müller calls the chaos from which all knowledge must
      begin the zero derivation state or 0-D. It is the epistemological equivalent
      of the wilderness of the Baptist and is described in Truth and Knowledge
      with long quotes from Volkelt which lead the way to seeing experience as an
      atomistic, qualitative manifold. Müller compared it to Nirvana and wrote of
      a certain disappointment he had in the Holy See:

      "The Dalai Lama, as you may be aware, recently gave a speech at an
      ecumenical conference in Berlin, in which he encouraged the unification
      efforts of Protestants and Catholics - which I think illustrates the
      encompassing aspect of his view. The meeting was also attended by
      representatives of other Christian churches, and of Judaism and Islam as
      well - a promising development. It was on the other hand criticized
      and shunned by those on all sides who felt they had to conserve positive
      doctrines and institutions against doubt or change (including for instance
      the Vatican). "

      Great exception to this has been taken by a certain cleric who has combined
      it with a pointed attack on the notion of 0-D, equated with Nirvana, as
      being anti-Revelational. In support he quotes from Karl Jaspers and also

      In Tibet "even the old methods of magic became buddhist methods, the
      monastic community became an organized church with secular rule (presenting
      so many analogies with the Catholic Church that amazed Christians saw it as
      a work of the devil, a grotesquely distorted imitation of Christianity)."
      (p. 48, Great Philosophers, A Helen and Kurt Wolf Book, Harcourt, Brace &
      World, NY)

      Perhaps he can be persuaded that he is not under attack with the help of the

      Maurice McCarthy


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