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Re: how to think like an anthroposophist

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  • carynlouise24
    ... As to my required studies, which in the midst of these philosophical interests had naturally to be cramped for time, it was fortunate for me that I had
    Message 1 of 58 , Sep 29 1:08 PM
      --- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, Peter Staudenmaier <pstaud@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      > Diana wrote to Dennis:
      >
      >
      > > It came from me. What part of the sentence don't you understand? "Sense
      > > free" is bullshit. You're not ever going to be sense-free until you're
      > > dead. When you have your various experiences, whether those you call
      > > "spiritual" or something else, you are using your senses, if you're
      > > human. Sorry.
      >
      >
      > This is bound to be effectively unintelligible to many esoteric readers, as it directly conflicts with their own epistemological assumptions. Steiner taught that sense-free thinking was the antidote to 'materialism' and the path to knowledge of the Higher Worlds. In Steiner's words:
      >
      > "As long as the esoteric
      > pupil depends on concepts whose material is derived from the sense
      > world, he cannot reach truth about the higher worlds. He must attempt
      > to acquire sense-free concepts. Of all four rules this is the most
      > difficult, especially under the conditions of life in our age.
      > Materialistic thinking has deprived man to a high degree of the
      > ability to think in sense-free concepts." (Rudolf Steiner, Esoteric Development, chapter 6)
      >
      > For those interested in what Steiner meant by "sense-free thinking," and what his latter-day admirers find so appealing about this notion, here are a variety of explanations from Steiner's theosophical and anthroposophical works:
      >
      >
      > "In my writings
      > and lectures at that time I always expressed myself in such a way as
      > to make the human mind appear as a true reality in the creation of a
      > thought, which it does not form out of the sense world but unfolds in
      > an activity above the region of sense perception. This sense-free
      > thinking I conceived as that which places the soul within the
      > spiritual being of the world. But I also emphasized strongly the fact
      > that, while man lives within this sense-free thinking, he really finds
      > himself consciously in the spiritual foundations of existence. All
      > talk about limits of knowledge had for me no meaning. Knowing meant to
      > me the rediscovery within the perceptual world of the spiritual
      > content experienced in the soul."
      >
      > "In
      > sense-perception man faces a world of illusion. But when from within
      > man sense-free thought comes forth to meet the sense-perception, then
      > illusion is permeated with reality and ceases to be illusion. Then the human spirit, living its own life within, meets the spirit of
      > the world which is now no longer concealed from man behind the
      > sense-world, but weaves and breathes within the sense-world. I now saw that the finding of the spirit within the sense-world is not
      > a question of logical inferences or of projection of sense perception,
      > but something which comes to pass when man continues his evolution
      > from perception to the experience of sense-free thinking."
      >
      >
      >
      > (Steiner, The Story of my Life, chapter 10)
      >
      >
      > "One can speak of thinking about thinking in a metaphorical sense at
      > best. One does attain something else, however: what one attains is an
      > actual viewing of thinking, but to arrive at this
      > "viewing of thinking," it is necessary first to have acquired
      > a concrete notion of the nature of sense-free thinking. One must have
      > progressed so far in the inner work of thinking that one attains a state
      > of consciousness in which one recognizes one's thinking to be sense-free
      > merely by grasping that thinking, by "viewing" it as such."
      >
      > "I had pointed to the experience of pure
      > thinking, in the presence of which one realizes: you are now living in
      > an element that no longer contains any sense impressions and nevertheless
      > reveals itself in its inner activity as a reality. Of this thinking
      > I had to say that it is here we find the true spiritual communion of
      > humanity and Union with reality. It is as though we have grabbed the
      > coat-tails of universal being and can feel how we are related to it
      > as souls."
      >
      > "By grasping freedom within sense-free thinking,
      > by understanding that this comprehension occurs only within the realm
      > of spirit, we experience that while performing this we are indeed within
      > the spirit. We experience a mode of cognition that manifests itself
      > simultaneously as an inner activity. It is an inner activity that can
      > become a deed in the external world, something entirely capable of flowing
      > over into the social life. At that time I sought to make two points
      > absolutely clear, but at that time they were hardly understood. I tried
      > above all to make clear that the most important thing about following
      > such a cognitional path is the inner "schooling"
      > that we undertake. Yes, to have attained sense-free thinking is no small
      > thing. One must undergo many inner trials. One must overcome obstacles
      > of which otherwise one has hardly any idea. By overcoming these obstacles;
      > by finally attaining an inner experience that can hardly be retained
      > because it escapes normal human powers so easily; by immersing oneself
      > in this essence, one does not proceed in a nebulous, mystical way, but
      > rather one descends into a luminous clarity, one immerses oneself in
      > spirit. One comes to know the spirit."
      >
      >
      > (Steiner, The Boundaries of Natural Science, chapter 4)
      >
      >
      > "The
      > ideas we form about theosophical teachings — for our thinking
      > about them is also meditation — will at first not be entirely
      > sense-free. For instance, if one says that Saturn is a warmth sphere,
      > and that the harmony of the spheres resounds in Devachan, one will
      > imagine this in sensory pictures at first — as the heat in our
      > blood, a beautiful symphony, and the like. But if the thought is
      > repeated, the sensory element that is still attached to it falls away
      > by itself and the supersensible part remains."
      >
      > "Another
      > way to develop sense-free thinking is to let processes run in the
      > reverse direction, for instance, by saying the Lord's Prayer
      > backwards or by looking backwards through our meditation.
      > That's the only way that a man can improve his memory.
      > Man's memory has gotten much worse in the last four to five
      > centuries, and this will be the case even more if they don't
      > avail themselves of the opportunities that are now being offered. The
      > time for these opportunities is particularly favorable now, and later
      > on they'll simply not be there anymore. Memory will no longer
      > be a mere waiting to see whether things want to emerge from a dark
      > ground. It'll be like a groping towards the past or like a
      > sending out of feelers that'll grasp for the past like towards
      > some thing that's real. Our time is particularly favorable for
      > this development and for esoteric development in general."
      >
      >
      > (Steiner, From the Contents of the Esoteric School, chapter 7)
      >
      >
      > "The inner excellence of the stage of imaginative cognition is attained
      > through the fact that the soul meditations described are supported by
      > what we may call familiarizing oneself with sense-free thinking. If
      > one forms a thought based upon observation in the physical sense
      > world, this thought is not sense-free. It is, however, not a fact that
      > man is able to form only such thoughts. Human thought does not need to
      > become empty and without content when it refuses to be filled with the
      > results of sense-observations. The safest and most evident way for the
      > student of the spiritual to acquire such sense-free thinking is to
      > make his own, in thinking, the facts of the higher world that are
      > communicated to him by spiritual science. It is not possible to
      > observe these facts by means of the physical senses. Nevertheless, the
      > student will notice that they can be grasped mentally if he has
      > sufficient patience and persistence."
      >
      > "By making what spiritual
      > research offers increasingly one's own, one accustoms oneself to a
      > mode of thinking that does not derive its content from
      > sense-observations. We learn to recognize how, in the inner reaches of
      > the soul, thought weaves into thought, how thought seeks thought,
      > although the thought associations are not effected by the power of
      > sense-observation. The essential in this is the fact that one becomes
      > aware of how the thought world has an inner life, of how one, by
      > really thinking, finds oneself already in the region of a living
      > supersensible world."
      >
      > "The observer who has surrendered
      > himself to sense-free thought feels the spiritual reality announcing
      > itself as though it existed within him, he feels himself one with it."
      >
      > (Steiner, An Outline of Occult Science, chapter 5)
      >
      >
      >
      > Lots of further statements are available at the online Rudolf Steiner Archive. Greetings to all,
      >
      >
      > Peter S.
      >

      As to my required studies, which in the midst of these philosophical interests had naturally to be cramped for time, it was fortunate for me that I had already occupied myself a great deal with differential and integral calculus and with analytical geometry. Because of this I could remain away from many lectures in mathematics without losing my connection. Mathematics was very important for me as the foundation under all my strivings after knowledge. In mathematics there is afforded a system of percepts and concepts which have been reached independently of any external sense impressions. And yet, said I to myself constantly at that time, one carries over these perceptions and concepts into sense-reality and discovers its laws. Through mathematics one learns to understand the world, and yet in order to do this one must first evoke mathematics out of the human mind.

      A decisive experience came to me just at that time from the side of mathematics. The conception of space gave me the greatest inner difficulty. As the illimitable, all-encompassing vacuity – the form in which it lay at the basis of the dominant theories of natural science – it could not be conceived in any definite manner. Through the more recent (synthetic) geometry, which I learned by means of lectures and in private study, there came into my mind the perception that a line which should be prolonged endlessly toward the right hand would return again from the left to its starting-point. The infinitely distant point on the right is the same as the point infinitely distant on the left.

      It came over me that by means of such conceptions of the newer geometry one might form a conception of space, which otherwise remained fixed in vacuity. The straight line returning upon itself like a circle seemed to be a revelation. I left the lecture at which this had first passed before my mind as if a great load had fallen from me. A feeling of liberation came over me. Again, as in my early boyhood, something satisfying had come to me out of geometry.

      Behind the riddle of space stood at that period of my life the riddle of time. Might a conception be possible here also which would contain within itself in idea a return out of the past by way of an advance into the infinitely distant future? My happiness over the space conception caused a profound unrest over that of time. But there was then visible no way out. All efforts of thought led only to the realization that I must beware especially of applying the clear conception of space to the problem of time. All clarification which the striving for understanding could bring was frustrated by the riddle of time. The stimulus which I had received from Zimmermann toward the study of aesthetics led me to read the writings of the famous specialist in aesthetics of that time, Friedrich Theodor Vischer. I found in a passage of his work a reference to the fact that more recent scientific thought rendered necessary a change in the conception of time. There was always a sense of joy aroused in me when I found in others the recognition of any cognitional need which I had conceived. In this case it was like a confirmation in my struggle toward a satisfying concept of time.

      Rudolf Steiner, The Story of My Life, 3
    • Diana Winters
      Sorry for that last post - sent by accident. I am trying to wrestle my new computer into submission, but so far it s winning. Just ignore me ... [Non-text
      Message 58 of 58 , Oct 3, 2011
        Sorry for that last post - sent by accident. I am trying to wrestle my new computer into submission, but so far it's winning.
        Just ignore me ...

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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