3918RE: [steiner] PoF study: mental pictures
- Nov 17, 2006
>More questions on mental pictures and intuition.*******That's a question that has to be approached very carefully. As I
>In chapter 6 , and other places, Steiner says:
>". In this individualized form, which carries the REFERENCE to the percept
>as a characteristic feature, the concept lives on in us and constitutes the
>mental picture of the thing in question. .. if we come across the same
>thing a second time , we find in our conceptual system, not merely a
>corresponding concept, but the individualized concept with its
>characteristic RELATION to the same object, and thus we recognize the
>I read this as meaning that the REFERENCE in my conceptual system ( as
>apposed to the universal conceptual system ) is a reference to an IMAGE of
>percept that I have stored away, and not a reference to the actual object.
>For example, the guitar that is sitting in the corner of my room I
>recognize as the same one that was there yesterday because it looks the
>same, but actually it could be a different one that just looks the same.
>So the question that I need to reflect on here is when in thinking do I
>access my internal conceptual system and when the universal one.
said, the mental picture is the individualized concept. We very rarely think
in pure concepts, but rather most of the time in mental pictures. To take
your example of the guitar, what is the concept of the guitar? You could
put it into words by saying, an instrument of wood with a large empty space
for resonance and strings stretched across this space. That concept embraces
more than our modern instrument which descends from the Greek "kithara",
since it includes the zither and similar instruments. If you ever saw a
zither or the ancient Greek kithara, and you were already familiar with the
pure concept of a guitar, you would know immediately that they must be
related. That would be thinking in concepts. If, however, you did not rise
to the concept of the guitar, you might not see the relation.
If, instead of the pure concept, you were thinking only in mental pictures,
and your picture of a guitar was something like a standard Yamaha acoustic
guitar, you might see only the differences between the picture of a zither
and your mental picture "guitar" and say they were NOT related.
One doesn't typically think "instrument of wood with a large empty space
for resonance and strings stretched across this space" but instead has a
mental picture or image of a guitar which you have satisfied yourself fits
that concept and so you use it as a shorthand, a symbol. It's neither a
percept stored away nor a pure concept. When you first meet up with an
electric guitar, it might match neither, because it looks different and also
because it does not use a large empty space to amplify the sound, so you
would have to adjust your conceptual world to include that also under the
concept "guitar". You would have to draw a new concept from the conceptual
world by intuition. And many electric guitars look quite different than the
mental image you have of the guitar if you think only of the ones you've
seen Crosby, Stills and Nash play, so you also have to expand your mental
image of guitar -- or at least be conscious that it is only an image and not
the only way to picture one.
If you see a percept which has a guitar shape---- like for instance the
original Goetheanum did from overhead ---- judging only from perception
you'd say they're similar. Anything with a mere appearance of the guitar
would be judged likewise -- -- -- a photograph, a small model of one, all
would call forth a connection with the mental image. But you don't recognize
the guitar in your room is the same one as the one you saw yesterday merely
by judging this way. It's not just perception. Your mental image of YOUR
guitar is not the same as the general one. The one that is your possession
is also connected with the concept of self, of ownership. You have quite a
different mental image of it than of guitars in general, even if the concept
is the same.
Which leads on to my next point about willed thinking.
>********I'd say it definitely is the former, but not necessarily
>When we were at school we all grasped the concept of multiplication and
>modified our self with the individualized concept.
>Now if I ask you to perform to mental arithmetic, lets say 17 multiplied by
>19, then it appears to me that you really need to concentrate to come up
>with the correct answer (or even the wrong answer for that matter).
>Now in the process of mental arithmetic I guess that I will be accessing my
>internal conceptual system and not the universal one.
disqualified from being the latter. When a person thinks in numbers is he
thinking the pure concept of the number or merely the symbol or image for
it? The former is quite different from the latter.
>******** I'd say it is in both cases, just there's more will involved in the
>So is this willed thinking?
>******* We do when we go from thinking "one" in the utilitarian way of 1+1
>Or is it possible to go that step further and re-experience the universal
makes two, to thinking of One in a sense of the pure concept, like Oneness
---- One in all its senses.
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