Steiner's anarchism

Any topics primarily focused on metaphysics can be discussed here, in a generally casual way, where conversations may take unexpected turns.

Moderator: Soul_of_Shu

User avatar
Cleric K
Posts: 1053
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:40 pm

Re: Steiner's anarchism

Post by Cleric K »

JustinG wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:35 am Thanks for the further comments Ashvin. I thought I made it clear that I don't think Tucker's pamphlet exhausted everything Steiner thinks about advancing spiritual freedom. I was also using intuitively determined action in the sense that Steiner uses it, and disagree that PoF states that higher cognition is necessary for free action. It's good to see that you are now acknowledging that Steiner was an anarchist in the true sense of the word.

Anyway, I have some other things to do, and also hope to try and find some time to reread the latter sections of PoF, so I am going to bow out of this discussion for the time being. Of course, others are more than welcome to continue the discussion in this thread.
Probably the bolded part is one of the sources of confusion here. It is true that Steiner never says (neither in PoF, nor anywhere else in his later work) that higher cognition is necessary for free actions. But this fact usually causes one to imagine that the two underlined parts above can be taken to be completely independent of each other. This is simply not the case.

First, I think it should be beyond doubt that Steiner very explicitly speaks of a shared spiritual world in PoF:
AshvinP wrote: Tue Jan 11, 2022 2:57 am
Steiner, PoF, Chapter 9 wrote:The difference between me and my fellowman does not lie at all in our living in two completely different spiritual worlds, but rather in the fact that he receives other intuitions than I do out of the world of ideas common to us both. He wants to live out his intuitions, I mine. If we both really draw from the idea, and follow no outer (physical or spiritual) impulses, then we can only meet each other in the same striving, in the same intentions.
Unless the above is grasped, we'll always snap back to our materialistic conceptions, where we see every form of thinking as completely local to a brain and correlatable with other local minds only through externally agreed upon protocol.

We can approach this through an analogy. The shared ideal/moral structure of the Cosmos can be pictured as our shared physical world. Currently, we can develop 'tactile' perception of the ideal world by 'touching' its structure with our thinking. Not to think about an imagined ideal world but to realize that the very dynamics of our thinking, the way it is constrained and shaped (which we can investigate only through living observation of the thinking process), implicitly inform us of the higher order, similarly to the way the movement of a planet informs us of the curved spacetime geometry.

Intuitively determined action proceeds from thinking which livingly feels the curvature of meaning of the ideal order. It is like we're blindfolded but we can nevertheless touch the world with our fingers and gradually build a picture of it. This is key. Intuitively determined doesn't mean to chose actions which feel sympathetic or desirable without having any idea why we do that. We know very well that the impure heart wishes for many things which only lead to trouble. It's the role of intuitive thinking, to probe the invisible order such that even impure desires can be corrected if needed.

Higher cognition perceives the same world that intuitive thinking probes. This is the most critical realization. We attain to higher cognition when our thinking no longer probes the ideal landscape through mineral-like concepts but when our spirit begins to flow with the higher order geometry of the same that landscape. This spiritual activity is so meaningfully dense that we can fully justifiably say that it can be compared to seeing, while intuitive thinking corresponds to blindfolded touching (language holds something of this when we understand something and say "I see"). This is also the reason why thinking is perfectly capable of understanding everything derived from higher seeing. The reason is that when we think livingly through the images, we touch the very same geometry which the seer has grasped in a more holistic manner and communicated in pictures.

So it is true that Steiner doesn't speak explicitly above higher cognition in PoF. But we must be perfectly clear that intuitive thinking (moral intuition), moral imagination, moral technique (all of which part of PoF) are the means of drawing the impulses for our T, F, W life from the same invisible and shared ideal landscape, which is also explored in a more encompassing way through the methods of higher order cognition.

We can develop our freedom of spiritual activity without working on higher cognition ourselves. In fact, in our age the former should be the primary concern. Higher cognition should come only as a natural continuation of that process if we feel ourselves called upon that task. But everyone should understand that what PoF explores through pure thinking, spiritual science explores further with other modes of consciousness. Yet the ideal order is one and the same. If this is not understood, certain abnormalities in development are bound to occur. An artificial divide is created. If we say "I'm only interested in intuitive thinking, I don't care about deeper facts", it's like saying "I care only about the chemical composition of man, I don't care that he's a living being, breathing, eating, feeling, thinking, moving". And in certain sense that's OK. We can certainly narrow down the scope of our research. But if we act as if the chemicals we investigate have nothing to do with living, breathing and thinking beings, we're creating an artificial divide of which much of our contemporary sciences suffer. Even if we chose to restrict ourselves in studying chemicals, we still need to be aware that they exist in very complicated holistic context.

In the same way, imagining that we can be free by drawing intuitions which concern only our physical life (governed by politics and economics) without at least being aware that this life is only the shadow of a higher order reality (just like the chemicals are only the mineral shadow of thinking, feeling and willing beings), is bound to turn into another form of materialism.
User avatar
AshvinP
Posts: 3912
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 5:00 am
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Steiner's anarchism

Post by AshvinP »

JustinG wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:35 am Thanks for the further comments Ashvin. I thought I made it clear that I don't think Tucker's pamphlet exhausted everything Steiner thinks about advancing spiritual freedom. I was also using intuitively determined action in the sense that Steiner uses it, and disagree that PoF states that higher cognition is necessary for free action. It's good to see that you are now acknowledging that Steiner was an anarchist in the true sense of the word.

Anyway, I have some other things to do, and also hope to try and find some time to reread the latter sections of PoF, so I am going to bow out of this discussion for the time being. Of course, others are more than welcome to continue the discussion in this thread.
Justin,

My mistake, I see your response did say Tucker's pamphlet was not "exhaustive interpretive guide" to Steiner's PoF thought. Nevertheless, my criticism still remains. The next point - "Tucker’s pamphlet makes no mention of ‘higher cognition’ being a necessary prerequisite for advancing freedom" - must assume the pamphlet is exhaustive of Steiner's "pre-Theosophical" thought, if it is to provide any support for your argument that Steiner never claimed higher cognition is necessary for advancing freedom. Notice I am making an argument strictly based on the internal logical coherence of your argument. I have not yet made any argument for whether Steiner does or does not claim higher cognition is necessary for advancing freedom, which I will elaborate on now.

Cleric makes good points in his post above. We should probably distinguish between "advancing freedom" and remaining on a path to spiritual freedom. As an analogy, one could say we have "advanced freedom" when recognizing we are, in fact, residing in a prison cell (of our W-F-T activities), and that the cell door is unlocked and, further, three more doors within the prison are also unlocked (three higher modes of cognition), leading to the outside world of freed spiritual activity with other beings (highest spiritual realms). When we enter livingly into our own logically reasoned thinking - what Steiner calls "practical reason" - we have perceived we are in the cell and the door is unlocked, and therefore we have advanced our freedom in that regard.

Steiner, Chapter 9 wrote:The highest level of individual life is that of conceptual thinking without regard to any definite perceptual content. We determine the content of a concept through pure intuition from out of the ideal sphere. Such a concept contains, at first, no reference to any definite percepts. If we enter upon an act of will under the influence of a concept which refers to a percept, that is, under the influence of a mental picture, then it is this percept which determines our action indirectly by way of the conceptual thinking. But if we act under the influence of intuitions, the driving force of our action is pure thinking. As it is the custom in philosophy to call the faculty of pure thinking “reason”, we may well be justified in giving the name of practical reason to the moral driving force characteristic of this level of life.

Nevertheless, if we refuse to develop higher Imaginative cognition even if we perceive its availability, we are choosing to continue roaming the hallways right outside the cell door, happy in our intellectual knowledge that we are no longer in the cell and that we know the other doors have been unlocked for us as well. Eventually, the natural currents of cognitive evolution will make this choice an 'untimely good', i.e. it will become positively counter-productive to remaining on a path to spiritual freedom. Absent any clarification, I think you indirectly suggest this as well - "which is not meant to imply that Steiner in 1898 did not believe that deeper levels of freedom, knowledge and insight could be obtained through higher cognition."

Heidegger observed "we are not yet Thinking", but did not really show any concrete way to start Thinking. Steiner provides the foundation of that concrete way in PoF and elaborates the next concrete steps in great detail throughout post-PoF writings. He observed, because we are not yet Thinking, we are also not yet Free. Even if we develop practical reason as described above, our spiritual freedom is not assured in any lasting way.

Steiner, Chapter 10 wrote:Monism, then, in the sphere of true moral action, is a freedom philosophy. Since it is a philosophy of reality, it rejects the metaphysical, unreal restrictions of the free spirit as completely as it accepts the physical and historical (naïvely real) restrictions of the naïve man. Since it does not consider man as a finished product, disclosing his full nature in every moment of his life, it regards the dispute as to whether man as such is free or not, to be of no consequence. It sees in man a developing being, and asks whether, in the course of this development, the stage of the free spirit can be reached.

Monism knows that Nature does not send man forth from her arms ready made as a free spirit, but that she leads him up to a certain stage from which he continues to develop still as an unfree being until he comes to the point where he finds his own self.
"People think that they sell oil, but in fact they are becoming oil.
lorenzop
Posts: 176
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2021 5:29 pm

Re: Steiner's anarchism

Post by lorenzop »

Cleric K wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 11:14 am
First, I think it should be beyond doubt that Steiner very explicitly speaks of a shared spiritual world in PoF:
According to Steiner, what would be the difference(s) between a shared material world, a shared 'subtle' material world, and a shared spiritual world. In the above I use the word 'subtle' to refer to the subtlest of material, far subtler than anything physics has yet discovered.
Put another way, if one believed in a soul and or angels, what is the consequence of suggesting these are made of subtle material or of spiritual?
User avatar
AshvinP
Posts: 3912
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 5:00 am
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Steiner's anarchism

Post by AshvinP »

lorenzop wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:01 pm
Cleric K wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 11:14 am
First, I think it should be beyond doubt that Steiner very explicitly speaks of a shared spiritual world in PoF:
According to Steiner, what would be the difference(s) between a shared material world, a shared 'subtle' material world, and a shared spiritual world. In the above I use the word 'subtle' to refer to the subtlest of material, far subtler than anything physics has yet discovered.
Put another way, if one believed in a soul and or angels, what is the consequence of suggesting these are made of subtle material or of spiritual?
Lorenzo,

One consideration here is what we already know from metaphysical idealist understanding - the essential (spiritual) world is non-spatial. In the spatial (material) world, two bodies cannot occupy the same place at the same time. Not so in the shared spiritual world (because there are no 'bodies' fixed in space-time like we experience with intellectual cognition here). Of course that also means Time-consciousness is quite different as well. Imagination reflects a threshold state between the material and the spiritual, which I think is the "subtle material" you are referring to. Cleric has written extensively about the concrete experience of Imaginative cognition, so I would reference those if he doesn't respond here with many more detailed insights, but I have a feeling he will!
"People think that they sell oil, but in fact they are becoming oil.
User avatar
Cleric K
Posts: 1053
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:40 pm

Re: Steiner's anarchism

Post by Cleric K »

lorenzop wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:01 pm According to Steiner, what would be the difference(s) between a shared material world, a shared 'subtle' material world, and a shared spiritual world. In the above I use the word 'subtle' to refer to the subtlest of material, far subtler than anything physics has yet discovered.
Put another way, if one believed in a soul and or angels, what is the consequence of suggesting these are made of subtle material or of spiritual?
To answer that we must examine our starting point first. What is it that we call 'material world' (subtle or gross) in the first place? It is really a concept that we associate with perceptions. We don't perceive material world per se, we perceive spiritual phenomena colors, sounds, smells, etc. This is easy enough to reckon when we consider that we perceive pretty much the same things also while dreaming. So can we speak of 'material world' in dreams?

The consequence that you ask about is that when we look to simply refine more and more our perceptions, the mode of consciousness remains pretty much the same. If we seek reality as subtle material, this implies that we're seeking more and more subtler perceptions. For example, we expect to perceive not only the physical form of a man but also subtler aura where the soul states of the person become visible. But all this doesn't really change in some fundamental way how we experience ourselves as a conscious being.

I tried to illustrate that several times with the following pictures:

Image

This symbolizes the general mood of the popular quest for enlightenment. It is imagined that our consciousness is already the top-level observer of reality and it is all about learning not to be dragged around by conscious phenomena. When we step 'out of the movie', we feel as the eye at the periphery. Of course we're aware that we don't perceive everything there is (the greyed area) but we expect that eventually it will be revealed as additional (possibly subtler) conscious phenomena.

Almost in every post I try to warn about the serious fallacy in this implicit soul mood. Just because we attain to relative stability of 'experiencing', we decide that we're already at the periphery and whatever else there might be, is expected to manifest before our peripheral eye at some future time. In this way we completely blind ourselves for the fact that the structure of the eye may in itself be quite specific and that our 'experiencing' is fully shaped by it. I tried to illustrate this:

Image

In a sense, it's not simply about adding subtler perceptions to our field of consciousness, but these subtler perceptions manifest when we step back and become consciously active within strata of being that are behind our eye (even if we have considered it to be the top-level eye).

I've said elsewhere that I'm not the greatest fan of Alex Grey but some of his paintings make good metaphors.

Image

To put your question in another perspective, the subtle material would be that the human figure above begins to sense the substance of the living Cosmos as subtler imaginative perception.

Image

Above is another similar painting which probably resonates well with those who're used to think of alters as vortices in universal consciousness.

The great question is what is the relation between the eyes of alters (not physical eyes but the eye of consciousness) and the eyes of the environment. These eyes are recurring element in AG's art. They symbolize that the environment is living, conscious, creative. These are the eyes of the World Spirit, which is non-local as Ashvin noted above.

Of course, these paintings simplify things because it's not really a two-tier system - the sea of the spirit eyes and the alters modulated as waves over them. It would be much more appropriate to think of hierarchy of eyes-layers, which gradually, in fractal-like manner, transition from the universal to the particular. This of course becomes a real challenge to put in an art form.

In any case, the spiritual (from your question) is the development of consciousness such that we can follow how the Spirit flows into our form through the depth gradient. This is not something we can become conscious of by detaching and observing conscious phenomena (even if they happen to be very very subtle). We simply blind ourselves for the depth-structure of our alter-eye and assume that we're pure consciousness observing from the apex of existence.

All efforts here have been to point attention to this vertical/depth dimension of the spirit. The only way to approach it is by becoming more and more conscious of our thinking because this is where we find the spirit in our Earthly consciousness. It's worth mentioning that in physical sense the eye is a fully receptive organ but in spiritual sense it is both perception and activity. Such is the case with our thinking. For this reason, when we begin to recognize our inner gestures which manifest as thoughts, we begin to gain consciousness along the depth axis. There's great difference between simply detaching from thoughts and observing them as subtler conscious phenomena belonging to the world and feeling them as the subtle forms in which our deeper spiritual activity clothes itself. The only way to become conscious of the deeper spiritual activity is to experience it from the first-person perspective. In the same way, the only way we can become conscious of thinking (not thoughts!) is by engaging in self-conscious thinking activity. The more we learn to be conscious of this spiritual gradient, the more we begin to perceive reality from the perspective of the eyes of the spirit.
Ben Iscatus
Posts: 450
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2021 6:15 pm

Re: Steiner's anarchism

Post by Ben Iscatus »

There are a lot of insights here about what is called "higher cognition". I'd have said that a lot of people express this at times (when inspired to do so). Is there anyone who expresses higher cognition most of the time and with clear benefit to the world? Can anyone name names? If we can agree on good role models, I think that would be helpful to the discussion, which otherwise tends to be rather impersonal.
User avatar
AshvinP
Posts: 3912
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 5:00 am
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Steiner's anarchism

Post by AshvinP »

Ben Iscatus wrote: Sat Jan 15, 2022 11:13 am There are a lot of insights here about what is called "higher cognition". I'd have said that a lot of people express this at times (when inspired to do so). Is there anyone who expresses higher cognition most of the time and with clear benefit to the world? Can anyone name names? If we can agree on good role models, I think that would be helpful to the discussion, which otherwise tends to be rather impersonal.
Ben,

I offer that Cleric is a clear example of someone expressing higher Imaginative cognition right here in his posts. We should really try to observe what is happening in them as impartially as possible. Have we ever come across these sort of illustrations of deep philosophical-spiritual ideas before? Can we imagine ourselves doing them in our current intellectual cognitive mode? The ability to take familiar phenomena of the sense-world, including entire conceptual systems like GR, QM, mathematical models, etc., and translate them into elaborate and detailed metaphors, analogies, etc. of spiritual reality is Imaginative cognition at work. Obviously we are not experiencing his first-person Imaginative mode by simply contemplating the illustrations, but we are penetrating to deeper layers of shared meaning. We are living with him and 'meeting' him in these deeper layers with our own spiritual Thinking activity. We should understand that spiritual meeting as concretely as possible, just as we do in the physical world. We are actually venturing together into more integrated layers of the 'frequency domain' (spiritual realms), expanding our Time-consciousness to encompass more of our own 'past' and 'future' states of being.
Last edited by AshvinP on Sat Jan 15, 2022 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"People think that they sell oil, but in fact they are becoming oil.
Ben Iscatus
Posts: 450
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2021 6:15 pm

Re: Steiner's anarchism

Post by Ben Iscatus »

Ashvin wrote:I offer that Cleric is a clear example of someone expressing higher Imaginative cognition right here in his posts... We are living with him and 'meeting' him in these deeper layers with our own Thinking activity. We should understand that spiritual meeting as concretely as possible, just as we do in the physical world.
:!: No wonder I didn't understand him.
User avatar
AshvinP
Posts: 3912
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 5:00 am
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Steiner's anarchism

Post by AshvinP »

Ben Iscatus wrote: Sat Jan 15, 2022 3:22 pm
Ashvin wrote:I offer that Cleric is a clear example of someone expressing higher Imaginative cognition right here in his posts... We are living with him and 'meeting' him in these deeper layers with our own Thinking activity. We should understand that spiritual meeting as concretely as possible, just as we do in the physical world.
:!: No wonder I didn't understand him.

Yes that is a great observation. When we don't understanding something, often times it is because we are not traveling 'deep' and 'high' enough with our Thinking-strides. Of course it's possible the person writing simply isn't making any sense, operating purely in phantom layer of abstract concepts, but I think we all know this is not the case with Cleric's illustrations, for ex.
"People think that they sell oil, but in fact they are becoming oil.
lorenzop
Posts: 176
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2021 5:29 pm

Re: Steiner's anarchism

Post by lorenzop »

Cleric K wrote: Sat Jan 15, 2022 9:30 am To answer that we must examine our starting point first. What is it that we call 'material world' (subtle or gross) in the first place? It is really a concept that we associate with perceptions. We don't perceive material world per se, we perceive spiritual phenomena colors, sounds, smells, etc. This is easy enough to reckon when we consider that we perceive pretty much the same things also while dreaming. So can we speak of 'material world' in dreams?

The consequence that you ask about is that when we look to simply refine more and more our perceptions, the mode of consciousness remains pretty much the same. If we seek reality as subtle material, this implies that we're seeking more and more subtler perceptions. For example, we expect to perceive not only the physical form of a man but also subtler aura where the soul states of the person become visible. But all this doesn't really change in some fundamental way how we experience ourselves as a conscious being.
thanks for this post - will take a while to unpack . . .

Most scriptures claim that we are spiritual beings, and that our duty is to realize or reclaim this spiritual heritage. This realization does not require refined perception of subtle material (ie subtle mass, frequency, etc.), nor does it require refined perception of spiritual world (ie refined color, smells, etc.).
If we used the simple model of 'aware of x', spiritual growth is the expansion of 'aware', not the refinement of 'x', and it does not matter if we refer to 'x ' as material or spiritual.
I agree your distinction between material and spiritual (as color, smells, etc.) is more accurate - but isn't it still a trap?
Post Reply