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PoF study: mental pictures

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  • Lee Noonan
    Hello, Thank you Caryn and Starman for your replies and sorry I didn t reply sooner. It s been a busy week and I haven t had much time for study but here are
    Message 1 of 6 , Nov 15, 2006
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      Hello,

       

      Thank you Caryn and Starman for your replies and sorry I didn’t reply sooner.   It’s been a busy week and I haven’t had much time for study but here are some points.

       

      More questions on mental pictures and intuition.

       

      Point 1

       

      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 it’s characteristic RELATION to the same object, and thus we recognize the object again.”

       

      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 a 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.

       

      Which leads on to my next point about willed thinking.

       

       

      Point 2

       

      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.

       

      So is this willed thinking?

       

      Or is it possible to go that step further and re-experience the universal concept?

       

       

      Lee 

    • thepathofthesunflower
      Hi Lee Your contemplation is also mine! eish have to ponder further on this one. ... Caryn
      Message 2 of 6 , Nov 17, 2006
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        Hi Lee

        Your contemplation is also mine! eish have to ponder further on this
        one.

        :)
        Caryn
      • Durward Starman
        ... *******That s a question that has to be approached very carefully. As I said, the mental picture is the individualized concept. We very rarely think in
        Message 3 of 6 , Nov 17, 2006
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          >More questions on mental pictures and intuition.

          >
          >Point 1
          >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
          >object
          >again."
          >
          >
          >
          >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
          >a
          >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.


          *******That's a question that has to be approached very carefully. As I
          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.
          >
          >
          >Point 2
          >
          >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.
          >

          ********I'd say it definitely is the former, but not necessarily
          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.


          >
          >So is this willed thinking?

          ******** I'd say it is in both cases, just there's more will involved in the
          former.
          >
          >
          >Or is it possible to go that step further and re-experience the universal
          >concept?
          >
          >Lee


          ******* We do when we go from thinking "one" in the utilitarian way of 1+1
          makes two, to thinking of One in a sense of the pure concept, like Oneness
          ---- One in all its senses.

          starman

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        • Lee Noonan
          Hi Dr Starman Very interesting this discussion. I haven t closed ( or opened ?) the loop on my thinking on this but I need to write down what possibilities
          Message 4 of 6 , Nov 18, 2006
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            Hi Dr Starman

             

            Very interesting this discussion.   I haven’t closed ( or opened ?) the loop on my thinking on this but I need to write down what possibilities are springing to mind.

             

            Point 1:   how do multiple instances of an object link to my internal general concept of the object.

             

            If I have 2 trees in my garden and a several percepts related to each one.

             

            Tree1:   tree1percept1, tree1percept2, tree1percept3

             

            Tree2:   tree2percept1, tree2percept2, tree2percept3

             

             

            Now my thinking needs to connect these percepts to internal concepts in a way that I can have separate mental images of tree1 and tree 2.

             

            If could represent it like this

             

            Mental image 1  = internal-general-concept-of-tree + tree1percept1, tree1percept2, tree1percept3

            Mental image 2  = internal-general-concept-of-tree + tree2percept1, tree2percept2, tree2percept3

             

            But that wouldn’t be right because the percepts should be referenced from the concept and there should only be one internal-general-concept-of-tree

             

            So we could have a internal conceptual system with all the references to the percepts added in.

             

            Internal-general-concept-of-tree: reference-to-tree1percept1, reference-to-tree1percept2, reference-to-tree1percept3 , reference-to-tree2percept1, reference-to-tree2percept2, reference-to-tree2percept3

             

            but then when in thinking I traverse my internal conceptual system and arrive at my internal-general-concept-of-tree then I would see again the stored percepts of both trees.  

             

            If I wanted to focus on the mental image of just one of the trees how it that represented in my internal conceptual system.

             

            Do I create a sub concept for each instance of tree that I have percepts for?  eg

             

            internal-general-concept-of-tree:  sub-concept-tree1, sub-concept-tree2

             

            and the sub-concepts contain the references to the stored percepts eg

             

            sub-concept-tree1:  tree1percept1, tree1percept2, tree1percept3

              

            sub-concept-tree2:  tree2percept1, tree2percept2, tree2percept3

             

             

            This last model makes sense to me if I try and remember specific trees and the percepts that are related to them.    

             

             

            And then the question arises:   were these subconcepts of tree 1 and tree 2 received by intuition from the universal conceptual world?

             

             

            Point 2:   how do I recognize a guitar shape?

             

            This seems a bit magical to me.

             

            What is the first principle that enables us to build up a conceptual system in the first place?

             

            Subject and object?

             

            I am separate from other objects?

             

            And then

             

            This object creates this percept in me?

             

            This other object creates a different percept in me so it can’t be the same type as the first object?

             

            Later we add names to the concepts and add and modify new percepts.  And connect concepts.

             

            OK skip forward a bit in my conceptual development.

             

            I have a percept of the Goetheanum from overhead.

             

            Does my thinking begin traversing all my concepts and comparing the percepts referenced from each of the concepts, with the percept of the Goetheanum?

             

             

             

            Point 3: strange new musical instruments that haven’t been dreamt of before

             

            If in my thinking I imagine some object at random that I’m sure doesn’t exist yet.   Let’s say a 1200 string guitar with a specific design and construction and I think it out in every detail.   

             

            And then I make one.    

             

            Did my concept of this strange guitar come from the universal world of ideas?

             

            If you then behold this 1200 string guitar that I’ve made, do you add to your percept the same concept that I thought of at random?

             

            If so this would lead to the conclusion that all possible concepts already exist or that we are able to create new ones or modify existing ones.

             

             

             

            Point 4: randomish kaleidoscope of percept rich crystal clear mental images before sleep    

             

            At times when I close my eyes but before I sleep I can experience a very detailed kaleidoscope of images, sounds, warmth, mood , that I can passively watch but which the images do seem to merge at times into one another based on the patterns present in each scene.    In the past, when this experience has been most intense, it has lead to an out of body experience.   How does this fit in with mental images or is this more dream like?  

             

             

            Lee

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

               

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

          • Durward Starman
            ... ******* I find it s more helpful to take a less abstract approach at first. When you learn music, you first learn to sing particular songs, or play a
            Message 5 of 6 , Nov 19, 2006
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              >From: "Lee Noonan" <leeanoonan@...>
              >Reply-To: steiner@yahoogroups.com
              >To: <steiner@yahoogroups.com>
              >Subject: RE: [steiner] PoF study: mental pictures
              >Date: Sat, 18 Nov 2006 23:57:48 -0000
              >
              >Hi Dr Starman
              >
              >Very interesting this discussion. I haven't closed ( or opened ?) the
              >loop
              >on my thinking on this but I need to write down what possibilities are
              >springing to mind.
              >
              >
              >Point 1: how do multiple instances of an object link to my internal
              >general concept of the object.
              >
              >If I have 2 trees in my garden and a several percepts related to each one.
              >
              >
              >Tree1: tree1percept1, tree1percept2, tree1percept3
              >
              >Tree2: tree2percept1, tree2percept2, tree2percept3
              >
              >
              >Now my thinking needs to connect these percepts to internal concepts in a
              >way that I can have separate mental images of tree1 and tree 2.
              >
              >If could represent it like this
              >
              >Mental image 1 = internal-general-concept-of-tree + tree1percept1,
              >tree1percept2, tree1percept3
              >
              >Mental image 2 = internal-general-concept-of-tree + tree2percept1,
              >tree2percept2, tree2percept3
              >
              >
              >
              >But that wouldn't be right because the percepts should be referenced from
              >the concept and there should only be one internal-general-concept-of-tree
              >
              >So we could have a internal conceptual system with all the references to
              >the
              >percepts added in.
              >
              >
              >Internal-general-concept-of-tree: reference-to-tree1percept1,
              >reference-to-tree1percept2, reference-to-tree1percept3 ,
              >reference-to-tree2percept1, reference-to-tree2percept2,
              >reference-to-tree2percept3
              >
              >
              >but then when in thinking I traverse my internal conceptual system and
              >arrive at my internal-general-concept-of-tree then I would see again the
              >stored percepts of both trees.
              >
              >If I wanted to focus on the mental image of just one of the trees how it
              >that represented in my internal conceptual system.
              >
              >
              >Do I create a sub concept for each instance of tree that I have percepts
              >for? eg
              >
              >internal-general-concept-of-tree: sub-concept-tree1, sub-concept-tree2
              >
              >and the sub-concepts contain the references to the stored percepts eg
              >
              >sub-concept-tree1: tree1percept1, tree1percept2, tree1percept3
              >
              >sub-concept-tree2: tree2percept1, tree2percept2, tree2percept3
              >
              >
              >This last model makes sense to me if I try and remember specific trees and
              >the percepts that are related to them.
              >
              >
              >And then the question arises: were these subconcepts of tree 1 and tree 2
              >received by intuition from the universal conceptual world?

              ******* I find it's more helpful to take a less abstract approach at first.
              When you learn music, you first learn to sing particular songs, or play a
              particular musical instrument, usually for quite some time before you reach
              the point of being able to think about the "interval of the fifth" or"
              melodic line" or "syncopated rhythm" in the abstract. So it is with other
              things.

              Take something that's more like what you actually did in learning to
              identify things as you were growing up. As Steiner pointed out, the baby
              grasps for the moon because it can't tell that what it sees isn't close. As
              small children, we experience pure perception -- -- -- colors, forms, things
              larger and smaller, hot and cold, and so forth. It's only by experience that
              we connect the perception of "red" and the experience of touching something
              hard, and organize our perceptions of a red table into the mental picture
              "table". We wouldn't be able to do it at all without the concept of the
              table. ( By the way, I'll just mention here that this is a problem that has
              been tackled by legions of philosophers, what's usually called the " problem
              of universals": out of my experience of a multitude of trees, where do I get
              the concept "tree"? Many philosophers, like the nominalists, concluded that
              it's just a general name for a bunch of similar things we observe with the
              senses, that has no reality apart from our minds. The problem is that, the
              oak trees we see today disappear in time, but the reality " oak tree"
              persists forever, so it has a higher degree of reality.)

              So there is no percept "tree". If you are looking at it close up, you
              might perceive green, a flat leaf surface of a certain shape, or many such
              surfaces connected to a line shaped branch which is not green, a hard, woody
              trunk which is a still darker color, and you would only be able to perceive
              the very beginning of the roots. At first a small child would not even be
              able to connect all the percept together and realize they were a single
              object. What enables us to do so? That we can draw from the universal world
              of concepts the various concepts connected with the plant kingdom.
              "Tree" is a subset of all those concepts of the plant world, which include
              shrubs, plants, mushrooms and so on. A young child might call a mushroom a
              small tree. In the case of a bonsai tree, he'd be right. A botanist would
              know the entire conceptual world of the plant kingdom and be able to tell
              you if you are calling a thing by the right name, because often our use of
              the names are in error -- -- -- as we call everything in the sea a fish:
              e.g., Starfish, jellyfish, etc., when actually they are not truly "fish".

              So we could approximate the forming of the mental image "tree" by saying
              that we gradually decide that any object with an upright trunk and branches
              and leaves we will call by that name we know as a part of the plant kingdom.
              Thus, there really is not a percept "tree". It is a mental image embracing
              several percepts, different ones for the trunk, the leaves, etc.

              So in your first example of two trees in the garden, you have three
              percepts connected together into one tree, and three other percepts
              connected into another tree. Let's be more specific and say what the
              percepts are. Let's say tree number-one is a deciduous tree like an oak: the
              specific percepts would be the peculiar look of the trunk, the immediately
              recognizable shape of the leaves, the fact that right now (if you were here
              in the northern hemisphere) the leaves are changing from green to red and
              brown and it will have no leaves all winter. Let's say the second tree is a
              pine tree, a coniferous tree or "evergreen", and the specific percepts would
              be its very different trunk, its large, waxy green leaves with quite a
              different shape from the oak and which are not changing color, and the large
              pine cones all about the branches filled with resin.

              So you have two very different mental images of these trees, although you
              know they both are a tree. "Tree" is the concept, and you have connected it
              to two very different sets of percepts because you have learned they both
              fit under this concept even though to perception they are very different.

              I hope this is a little help. It's an area that is just as difficult to
              think about as it is important. It's very easy to make mistakes, just as so
              many philosophers have done. For instance, you started by asking how you
              relate a concept to multiple instances of an "object". Well, "object" is
              already a concept, and before we start thinking conceptually we don't
              experience anything as objects. We don't separate a tree from the ground
              that it grows out of. Piaget in his child psychology research demonstrates
              that we as small children have no " object concept", no idea that things
              continue to exist when we no longer perceive them. This is why small
              children cry for Mommy when she leaves the room, because they have no idea
              she still exists anywhere. So it's a blind alley to start from the idea of
              objects. We begin with no such idea. We have pure perception, and we
              gradually organize our perceptions and group one set of them into those
              which match one concept or another. That is our mental life of
              "vorstellung", representations or mental pictures.

              Your first diagram would therefore be correct:

              >>>I could represent it like this
              >
              >Mental image 1 = internal-general-concept-of-tree + tree1percept1,
              >tree1percept2, tree1percept3
              >
              >Mental image 2 = internal-general-concept-of-tree + tree2percept1,
              >tree2percept2, tree2percept3



              *******You rejected this by saying the following:
              >
              >But that wouldn't be right because the percepts should be referenced from
              >the concept and there should only be one internal-general-concept-of-tree


              ******* I'm not sure what objection you're making. There IS only one general
              concept "tree". It is what is used in both cases. The mental image of an oak
              tree is made by connecting the specific series of percepts to the concept
              tree, and the mental image of a pine tree is made by connecting a different
              series of percepts to the same concept "tree". Yes, you could call
              "deciduous tree" or " coniferous tree" sub-concepts of the general concept
              "tree" , of course, and oak tree or pine tree as examples of that category.
              More accurately, "tree" is itself a concept for a specific section of the
              plant kingdom and deciduous and coniferous trees are subsections of that.

              The key thing to remember, I think, is that when we begin thinking we
              have no mental pictures. The mental picture is a pure concept -- which we
              can have without reference to any sense content -- RELATED TO a particular
              percept or group of percepts. Our mental activity early in life consists
              almost wholly into creating of mental images or pictures (representations or
              "vorstellungen"), which we create when we relate concepts to percepts.

              Later in life, our mental life may be almost entirely just relating one
              mental picture we've already created to another and therefore learning
              nothing new----- or looking at everything we experience and labeling it with
              a concept we already have, which does the same thing. We don't actually
              perceive an oak tree anymore, we just think "Oh, that's a tree, I know what
              that is." Steiner called this the "tyranny of the concept." Instead, in the
              Philosophy of Freedom, he tries to lead us back to experiencing what we
              actually do in thinking, namely making mental pictures by relating pure
              conception to pure perception.

              Starman

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            • Nina
              This is a wonderful example fr scholar McGinn s, The Growth of Mysticism . He shared this about Joachim of Fiore when he was trying to understand Rev 1:10:
              Message 6 of 6 , Nov 20, 2006
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                This is a wonderful example fr scholar McGinn's, "The Growth of
                Mysticism". He shared this about Joachim of Fiore when he was trying
                to understand Rev 1:10:
                'Stymied by the difficulties of the last book of the Bible, he had put
                down his pen for a year, when he experienced the visions he described
                in the following words:'After a year, the feast of Easter came around.
                Awakened from sleep about midnight, something happened to me as I was
                meditating on this book...About the middle of the night's silence, as
                I think, the hour when it is thought that our Lion of the tribe of
                Judah rose from the dead, as I was meditating, suddenly something of
                the fullness of this book and of the entire harmony of the Old and New
                Tastaments were perceived with clarity of understanding in my mind's
                eye. The revelation was made when I was not even mindful of the
                chapter, mentioned above (Apoc 1:10 which had blocked him)'. Joachim
                described as 'the key of things past,the knowledge of things to come,
                the opening of what is sealed, the uncovering of what is
                hidden'...This sudden understanding of scripture given by the risen
                Christ was later deepened by another vision...'In the meantime, when I
                had entered the church to pray to Almighty God before the holy altar,
                there came upon me an uncertainty concerning belief in the
                Trinity...When that happened I prayed with all my might. I was very
                frightened and I called upon the Holy Spirit whose feast day it was,
                to deign to show me the holy mystery of the Trinity... I repeated this
                and began to sing the psalms to complete the number I had intended. At
                this moment without delay, the shape of a ten-stringed psaltry
                appeared in my mind. The mystery of the Holy Trinity shone so brightly
                and clearly in it that I was at once compelled to cry out, "What God
                is as great as our God?' (Ps.76:14)" NINA
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