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Re: The Fourth Dimension

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  • rickbobbs
    Dear Folks; Here is are a couple of quotes where Steiner clearly states his aversion to the concept of a fourth dimension . I ll post more as I can:
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 6, 2003
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      Dear Folks;
      Here is are a couple of quotes where Steiner clearly
      states his aversion to the concept of a 'fourth dimension'. I'll post
      more as I can:


      "...Anyone entering the spiritual world by the methods described
      above, having attained the power of touch, will know how to
      distinguish whether he merely imagined his experiences while
      exercising active thought, or whether he actually perceived by means
      of it. Even in ordinary life we can distinguish the difference
      between awkwardly burning our fingers in a flame, and picturing the
      event afterwards. There is a lively difference; the one experience
      really hurts while the other does not. In a higher domain the same
      difference exists between what we may imagine concerning the higher
      worlds, and what is really experienced therein.
      "Now the first thing a man experiences in this way is true
      knowledge.... Our past experiences, which can usually only be called
      into our consciousness in picture form, then present themselves as a
      tableau in which what is long since past, lives in the present. Just
      as persons who have had a shock through being in danger of death by
      drowning sometimes see - as admitted even by materialistically minded
      men - a psychic picture of their life on earth; such a picture
      appears to the soul of one who has rendered his thinking active. It
      begins from the time in his earth-life when he first began to think
      and continues to the present time. Time becomes space. That which was
      the past, becomes the present. A picture is before him; the
      characteristic of which is - I shall speak of this again in
      tomorrow's lecture, - that because it resembles a picture, he still
      has a sort of sensation of space; but this is only a feeling, for the
      space thus experienced lacks the third dimension. He no longer
      experiences a third dimension, only space in two dimensions; so that
      he perceives pictorially. That is the reason I call this cognition
      imaginative cognition for it works as does painting, in two
      dimensions only; it is a pictorial cognition, working in two
      dimensions.
      "You may wonder, if I stand there and experience two dimensions,
      what happens if I go on and once more experience in three dimensions?
      "There is no difference between them. The experience of the third
      dimension falls away altogether. I shall later on have occasion to
      speak of the fact that in our age, because we are no longer conscious
      of these things, people try to find the fourth dimension, thinking
      thereby to enter the realm of the spiritual. The truth is that when
      we advance from the physical into the spiritual, instead of
      discovering a fourth dimension, the third falls away.... -so it will
      represent an advance in the inner comprehension of the world when it
      becomes known that on entering the spiritual world we do not go from
      the first, second, and third dimension into the fourth, but turn back
      to the second and, indeed, as we shall see, even return to the first.
      That is a truth. According to the external conception of the world
      prevalent in our time, which reckons numerically in a quite external
      way, as there is a first, second and third dimension, there must
      necessarily be a fourth; but this is not the case here. One turns
      back to the second dimension and the third disappears; the student
      then gains a true imaginative cognition which at first appears in his
      own self as a life-tableau, so that he surveys, at the present moment
      as it were, in mighty pictures, all that he went through inwardly
      during his earth-life." (19 Aug. 1923,in: The Evolution of the World
      and of Humanity, 1989, pp.16-18)

      "To the Imaginative and Inspirational consciousness things come to
      light here which can perfectly well be understood by the normal
      healthy human reason, but which, in our present civilisation, are
      regarded with a very great deal of prejudice. Indeed it requires a
      certain freedom from prejudice to grasp the fact that everything in
      the physical world is three dimensional, and is fundamentally
      experienced in three dimensions, and that whatever is to be impressed
      in the etheric body must pass from the plastic into the pictorial
      form, from the three dimensional into the two dimensional. For as
      soon as we enter the imaginative world we have nothing more to do
      with three dimensions, and still less with four dimensions as is
      believed to-day by certain scientists who have deviated from the main
      track; we are there concerned with two dimensions only. The reason
      why it is so difficult to conceive of what is thus experienced lies
      in the fact that in our earthly experiences we are accustomed to deal
      only with three dimensions. We picture everything in three
      dimensions, and therefore when we are required to find a transition
      into two dimensions, we say: Well; but the two dimensions are
      included in the three; the two dimensions of a surface may be such
      that the third dimension is also there.
      "This cannot be the case when we enter the Imaginative world; for
      no matter what a surface may be, there can be no third dimension
      there, it is no longer taken into account the moment we enter the
      etheric, Imaginative world. Hence mathematicians must transform all
      the equations of ether, so that they do not refer to the three-
      dimensional but to the two-dimensional world. This is merely
      interpolated for mathematicians.
      "Now if we wish to enter the world accessible to Inspiration, that
      world in which we live as egos between going to sleep and waking, we
      find it to be a one dimensional world; we are concerned with a world
      on one dimension only. The transition into that world of a single
      dimension, which presupposes that the student shall have acquired the
      quality of Inspiration, of perceiving the Spiritual world in which we
      live between going to sleep and waking, the understanding of that
      world was in all ages possessed by the so-called science of
      Initiation." (26 Aug. 1923, in: The Evolution of the World and of
      Humanity, 1989, pp.188-189)
    • rickbobbs
      Dear Dr. Starman; From the dates you kindly posted, I take it that the book doesn t contain the 1923 quote I last posted, but I was wondering if the 1922
      Message 2 of 5 , Sep 9, 2003
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        Dear Dr. Starman;
        From the dates you kindly posted, I take it that
        the book doesn't contain the 1923 quote I last posted, but I was
        wondering if the 1922 extract was from the "Astronomy" course and if
        so, did it include the stated disinclination to use the concept
        fourth dimension, with the preference stated as to think in terms of
        a negative third dimension, because... well, if the book doesn't
        include this view, I'll post the text (it's at elib forum). Also,
        Steiner said some really crucial things about the qualities of the
        three dimensions, that in fact there is no 'abstract, equal' three
        dimensions except in mathematical fantasy, etc. I'm sure you know the
        point, and there's no doubt this has more real importance than
        saddling Steiner with a concept that he clearly disagreed with... at
        least, I'm waiting for as clear evidence of his support as I have for
        his disagreement!

        Take care and give care, Rick
      • DRStarman2001@aol.com
        Dear Dr. Starman;                     From the dates you kindly posted, I take it that the book doesn t contain the 1923 quote I last posted, but I
        Message 3 of 5 , Sep 13, 2003
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          Dear Dr. Starman;
                              From the dates you kindly posted, I take it that
          the book doesn't contain the 1923 quote I last posted, but I was
          wondering if the 1922 extract was from the "Astronomy" course and if
          so, did it include the stated disinclination to use the concept
          fourth dimension, with the preference stated as to think in terms of
          a negative third dimension, because... well, if the book doesn't
          include this view, I'll post the text (it's at elib forum). Also,
          Steiner said some really crucial things about the qualities of the
          three dimensions, that in fact there is no 'abstract, equal' three
          dimensions except in mathematical fantasy, etc. I'm sure you know the
          point, and there's no doubt this has more real importance than
          saddling Steiner with a concept that he clearly disagreed with... at
          least, I'm waiting for as clear evidence of his support as I have for
          his disagreement!

          ******* Forgive me for taking so long to respond, but first, I've been rather busy, and second, the subject is a large one. In the last part of his life, Steiner's creations such as Eurythmy and the first Goetheanum show his practical usage of space in a new way. Besides the astronomy course, his lectures in the 1920s are filled with references to this new way of experiencing space. Eurythmy, of course, gives every individual the possibility of this experience. It's quite true that the three dimensions normal human beings experience in the present are qualitatively different from each other; in fact, even movement to the right is qualitatively different than movement to the left, although that is in the same dimension. Above and below, left and right, and backward and forward can all be experienced in a much more intense way than the abstract thinking of the mathematician, as many dancers know.

              But the early lectures Steiner gave were seeking to build upon the work that had been done by mathematicians and theosophists around the turn-of-the-century, for instance, Hinton and Claude Bragdon. There was very important work done about 1900 in non-Euclidean geometry, groundbreaking efforts to go beyond the "box" of three dimensions. The "Flatland" analogy made famous in the late 1800s was extended, for instance by Hinton in his "A New Era of Thought" which was later given a still fuller treatment by P.D. Ouspensky in his "Tertium Organum" (the book the Edgar Cayce readings recommended to understand higher dimensions, written before poor Ouspensky unfortunately came under the deleterious influence of Gurdjieff). A good treatment of the entire genre is "The Fourth Dimension And Non Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art" by Linda Henderson. These ideas generated the movement of Cubism, influenced men as widely diverse as Marcel Duchamp and Kandinsky, and even had much to do with how Einstein came up with his theory of relativity.

              What is the real tragedy is that all of this has been forgotten and/or distorted. The insight was not that there was a fourth dimension and that this dimension was time: that is a complete misinterpretation. What was worked out was that there was no reason to suppose that the number of dimensions did not go on infinitely; and, and as beings learned to sense each new dimension, all that had been perceived before  would change its character. What a being was unable to sense as a dimension of space was perceived as changes in the dimensions of space it was able to perceive, or in other words as change in time. Ouspensky, the building upon Hinton, gives thinking exercises by which this can be directly experienced.

             In reading Steiner's lectures about the fourth dimension, it would be helpful to know this background. I recommend the book mentioned above, along with Ouspensky's Tertium Organum. It's quite true that the fourth dimension as we are usually taught about it is not at all anything Steiner agreed with. Instead he said from his own experience that the fourth dimension was more like the second dimension again, in a sense. But this, as expected since the topic is geometry, is just a part of a very large study, and quoting one line from a lecture would be of little use.

          -Starman
          http://www.DrStarman.net
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