Re: [steiner] The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity Ch. 10
- Dr. Steiner in Ch. 10 writes:
<< The naive man who regards as real only what he can see with his eyes and
grasp with his hands, also needs to have motives for his moral life that are
perceptible to the senses. He needs someone who will impart these motives to
him in a way that he can understand by means of his senses. He will let them
be dictated to him as commands by a person whom he considers wiser and more
powerful than himself, or whom he acknowledges, for some other reason, to be
a power standing above him. In this way the moral principles already
mentioned come about through being prescribed by authority of family, state,
society, church, or the Divinity. An undeveloped person still trusts in the
authority of a single individual; a somewhat more advanced person lets his
moral conduct be dictated by a majority (state, society). But it is always
perceptible powers upon which he relies. When at last the conviction dawns
upon him that fundamentally all these are weak human beings just like
himself, then he will seek guidance from a higher power, from a divine Being,
whom, however, he endows with sense-perceptible qualities. He lets the
conceptual content of his moral life be dictated to him by this Being, again
in a perceptible way, for example when God appears in the burning bush, or
moves among men in bodily human form and in a manner perceptible to their
ears tells them what to do and what not to do.
The highest level of development of naive realism in the moral sphere is
reached when the moral command (moral idea) has been separated from every
foreign entity, and is hypothetically thought of as an absolute force in
one's own inner being. What at first is sensed as the external voice of God,
is now sensed as an independent power within man, and is spoken of in a way
that shows the inner power to be identified with the voice of conscience.
When this happens, the level of naive consciousness has been abandoned and we
enter the region where moral laws become independent rules. They no longer
have a bearer, but have become metaphysical entities, existing by themselves.
They are similar to the invisible-visible forces of the metaphysical realist
who does not look for the reality of things in the human soul's participation
in this reality through thinking, but who hypothetically imagines reality as
an addition to actual experience. Extra-human moral rules, therefore, always
accompany metaphysical realism. Metaphysical realism cannot do otherwise than
seek the origin of morality too in a sphere beyond human reach. And here
there are several possibilities. If the presupposed Being is thought of as in
itself unthinking, acting according to purely mechanical laws, as materialism
thinks of it, then out of itself it must also produce, by purely mechanical
necessity, the human individual and all that belongs to him. The
consciousness of freedom can then be only an illusion. For while I believe
myself to be the creator of my deeds, it is the material substances of which
I am composed, together with their processes, that are at work within me. I
believe myself to be free, whereas in reality all my actions are but results
of the material processes which are the foundation of my bodily and spiritual
organism. According to this point of view, it is simply because we do not
know the motives compelling us, that we have the feeling of freedom. "We must
emphasize that the feeling of freedom is due to the absence of external
compelling motives." "Our actions as well as our thinking are subject to
Another possibility is that the extra-human absolute is seen as a spiritual
Being behind the world of phenomena. Then the impulse to action will also be
sought in such a spiritual power. The moral principles to be found in man's
reason will be regarded as issuing from this Being-in-itself, which has its
own particular intentions with regard to man. Moral laws appear to such a
dualist as dictated by the Absolute, and through his reason, man simply has
to discover and carry out these decisions of the Absolute Being. The moral
world-order appears to the dualist as the perceptible reflection of a higher
order that stands behind it. Earthly morality is the manifestation of the
extra-human world order. It is not man that matters in this moral order, but
the Being-in-itself, the extra-human Being. Man ought to do what this Being
wills. Eduard von Hartmann, who sees the Being-in-itself as the Godhead whose
very existence is suffering, believes that this divine Being has created the
world in order that through the world he will be redeemed from his infinitely
great pain. This philosopher therefore regards the moral development of
mankind as a process which exists for the purpose of redeeming the Godhead.
"Only through the building up of a moral world-order by sensible, responsible
individuals can the aim of the world process be carried through...."
"Existence in its reality is the incarnation of the Godhead-the world process
is the Passion of the God becoming flesh, and at the same time the path of
redemption of Him who was crucified in the flesh; and morality is the co-opera
tion in the shortening of this path of suffering and redemption."
Here man does not act because he wills, but he ought to act because it is
God's will to be redeemed. Just as the materialistic dualist makes man into
an automaton whose conduct is merely the result of purely mechanical laws, so
the spiritualistic dualist (that is, he who sees the Absolute, the
Being-in-itself, as a spiritual entity in which man has no conscious share)
makes him into a slave of the will of the Absolute. Freedom is out of the
question in materialism as well as in one-sided spiritualism, in fact in any
kind of metaphysical realism which does not experience, but infers something
extra-human as the true reality.
Naive as well as metaphysical realism, in order to be consistent, must deny
freedom for one and the same reason, since they regard man as being simply
the agent or executor of principles which are forced upon him by necessity.
Naive realism kills freedom through subjection to the authority either of a
perceptible being or of an entity thought of as similar to a perceptible
being, or else through submission to the authority of the abstract inner
voice which is interpreted as "conscience;" the metaphysical realist, who
merely infers something extra-human, cannot acknowledge freedom because he
lets man be determined, mechanically or morally, by a "Being-in-itself."
Monism must acknowledge the partial justification of naive realism because it
acknowledges the justification of the world of perceptions. Someone who is
incapable of bringing forth moral ideas through intuition, will have to
receive them from others. Insofar as a man receives his moral principles from
outside, he is positively unfree. But monism ascribes equal significance to
the idea compared with perception. And the idea can come to manifestation in
the human individual. Insofar as man follows the impulses coming from this
side, he feels free. But monism denies all justification to a metaphysics
which merely draws inferences, and consequently also to impulses of action
stemming from a so-called "Being-in-itself." According to the monistic view,
man's action is unfree when he obeys some perceptible external compulsion; it
is free when he obeys himself. Monism cannot acknowledge any kind of
unconscious compulsion hidden behind perception and concept. When someone
maintains that a fellow man was not free when he performed an action, it must
be possible to prove the existence within the perceptible world of the thing,
the person, or the institution that made the man act; but if an appeal is
made to causes for the action lying outside the sphere of physical and
spiritual reality, then monism cannot enter the discussion.
According to monism, in his activity man is partly unfree, partly free. He is
unfree in the world of perceptions, but brings the free spirit to realization
in himself. >>
*******So it's just as Steiner says in Christianity As Mystical Fact:
religions were given out to those undeveloped enough to have direct moral
intuition. The exoteric form of religions, the external moral codes, are for
people as they develop up to the point of seeing where the moral ideas
originate for themselves: then they no longer follow either the outer
compulsion of a code nor the inner compulsion of a "voice of conscience", but
seek through thinking to penetrate to the source of both. We lived under the
Law of Moses once; but then Mankind graduated to freedom. Christ freed us
from the Law. But all too often it's as Pete Townshend wrote in the song "I'm
Free" from Tommy: "No one had the guts to leave the temple."
- I'll chime in here on today's chapter in a few
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- In a message dated 1/3/2002 9:42:23 PM, softabyss@... writes:
<< I'll chime in here on today's chapter in a few
Nothing to be sorry about---you've been doing plenty!
Aren't there any others here who would like to take a shot at one?
- Dr. Starman, I hope you are still online because I've got an
In the first paragraph of Chap 11 what does Steiner mean when
he says, "One performs an action of which one has previously
made a mental picture, and one allows this mental picture to
determine one's action. Thusthe later (the deed) influences
the earlier (the doer) with the help of the mental picture."
If I form a mental picture of running around the room and
then do it, is he saying that my running around the room
generated the metal picture which I used as my motive? Don't
think so, but hard to read it another way...
--- DRStarman2001@... wrote:
> In a message dated 1/3/2002 9:42:23 PM, softabyss@...
> << I'll chime in here on today's chapter in a few
> carol >>
> Nothing to be sorry about---you've been doing plenty!
> Aren't there any others here who would like to take a shot
> at one?
Do You Yahoo!?
Send your FREE holiday greetings online!
- Oh wait....am I a chapter ahead???????
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- In a message dated 1/3/2002 1:44:56 AM, softabyss@... writes:
<< I would really like to read somebodies
understanding of the first section of the author's
additions...It seems pretty important.
*******What Carol's referring to is this:
<<First Addition to the Revised Edition, 1918. Difficulty in judging what is
presented in the two preceding chapters may arise because one believes
oneself to be confronted by a contradiction. On the one hand, the experience
of thinking is spoken of as having a general significance of equal value for
every human consciousness; on the other hand, it is shown that though the
ideas realized in moral life are of the same kind as those worked out by
thinking, they come to expression in each human consciousness in an
individual way. If one cannot overcome seeing a "contradiction," in this, and
cannot recognize that it is just in a living experience of this actually
present contrast that a glimpse into man's true being is revealed, then it is
also impossible to see either the idea of knowledge or the idea of freedom in
their true light. For those who think of concepts as merely drawn
(abstracted) from the sense-world, and who do not give full recognition to
intuitions, the thought presented here as the reality must seem a "mere
contradiction." For an insight that recognizes how ideas are intuitively
experienced as a self-sustaining reality, it is clear that in the sphere of
the world of ideas man penetrates in cognition into something which is
universal for all men, but when he derives from that same idea world the
intuitions for his acts of will, then he individualizes a member of this idea
world by means of the same activity which, as a general human one, he unfolds
in the spiritual ideal process of cognition. For this reason what appears as
a logical contradiction, namely the universal character of cognitive ideas
and the individual character of moral ideas, when experienced in its true
reality, becomes a living concept. A characteristic feature of human nature
consists in the fact that what can be intuitively grasped oscillates in man
like a living pendulum between knowledge which is universally valid, and the
individual experience of this universal element. For the man who cannot
recognize one swing of the pendulum in its reality, thinking will remain
merely a subjective human activity; for the one who cannot recognize the
other swing, all individual life appears to cease in man's activity of
thinking. To the first person, cognition is unintelligible, to the second,
moral life is unintelligible. Both will call in all sorts of representations
in order to explain the one or the other, all of which miss the point,
because both persons, fundamentally, either do not recognize that thinking
can be experienced, or take it to be an activity which merely abstracts. >>>
********Because many do not recognize that thinking is universal---i.e., the
concept "triangle" thought by you is the same as every other thinker---they
think all thought is mere opinion, individual. Scientists who do recognize
the universality of ideas often regard all moral ideas the same way, as mere
opinion. Steiner is saying we grasp the universal reality in thinking, but
when we make it into a moral intuition of what to do we make it individual.
Gandhi, for instance, tuned in to the same ancient truth of 'ahimsa' or
non-violence as the Rishis---but then made it into a motive for action
against the lovely British in his time and place.
>>>As for the second part- I'm a big fan of this articulationbecause I so often read thinkers who would reject the label
of materialist, yet who can only think in thoughts which are
tied to sense observations and analytic thought processes...
*******Yes, and what Steiner is saying there....
<<<One who says: "Our conduct, like our thinking, is necessitated," expresses
a concept applicable only to material processes, but applicable neither to
actions nor to existence; and if he thinks his concepts through, he will have
to think materialistically. That he does not do this is only the outcome of
that inconsistency which is so often the result of a thinking not carried
through..... it is often not noticed that no other ideas are available than
those which can be applied only to something material. This veils present day
materialism, whereas in the second half of the nineteenth century it was
plain for all to see. And present day veiled materialism is no less
intolerant of a view that grasps the world spiritually than was the
openly-admitted materialism of the last century.">>>
.... is that anyone who thinks we're forced to be as our bodies make us be is
thinking materialistically. Why? Because the Spirit is the sphere of thinking
and acting out of that is doing free deeds--- and all such anti-freedom
thought patterns do not recognize the spiritual.