Study Group Chapter 3 Section 0 Introduction

Submitted by Tom Last on Sun, 04/22/2007 - 12:22am.

Thinking In The Service Of Knowledge
Chapter 3
" target="_blank">Audio

3-0) MOOD OF MYSTICISM (Venus)
[1] When I observe how a billiard ball, when struck, communicates its motion to another, I remain entirely without influence on the course of this observed process. The direction of motion and the velocity of the second ball are determined by the direction and velocity of the first. As long as I remain a mere spectator, I can only say anything about the movement of the second ball when it has taken place. It is quite different when I begin to reflect on the content of my observation. The purpose of my reflection is to form concepts of the occurrence. I connect the concept of an elastic ball with certain other concepts of mechanics, and take into consideration the special circumstances which obtain in the instance in question. I try, in other words, to add to the occurrence which takes place without my assistance a second process which takes place in the conceptual sphere. This latter one is dependent on me. This is shown by the fact that I can rest content with the observation, and renounce all search for concepts if I have no need of them. If however, this need is present, then I am not satisfied until I have brought the concepts Ball, Elasticity, Motion, Impact, Velocity, etc., into a certain connection, to which the observed process is related in a definite way. As surely as the occurrence goes on independently of me, so surely is the conceptual process unable to take place without my assistance.

[2] We shall have to consider later whether this activity of mine really proceeds from my own independent being, or whether those modern physiologists are right who say that we cannot think as we will, but that we must think just as those thoughts and thought-connections determine that happen to be present in our consciousness. For the present we wish merely to establish the fact that we constantly feel obliged to seek for concepts and connections of concepts, which stand in a certain relation to the objects and events which are given independently of us. Whether this activity is really ours or whether we perform it according to an unalterable necessity, is a question we need not decide at present. That it appears in the first instance to be ours is beyond question. We know for certain that we are not given the concepts together with the objects. That I am myself the agent in the conceptual process may be an illusion, but to immediate observation it certainly appears to be so. The question is, therefore: What do we gain by supplementing an event with a conceptual counterpart?

[3] There is a profound difference between the ways in which, for me, the parts of an event are related to one another before, and after, the discovery of the corresponding concepts. Mere observation can trace the parts of a given event as they occur, but their connection remains obscure without the help of concepts. I see the first billiard ball move towards the second in a certain direction and with a certain velocity. What will happen after the impact I must await, and again I can only follow it with my eyes. Suppose someone, at the moment of impact, obstructs my view of the field where the event is taking place, then, as mere spectator, I remain ignorant of what happens afterwards. The situation is different if prior to the obstruction of my view I have discovered the concepts corresponding to the pattern (nexus) of events. In that case I can say what will happen even when I am no longer able to observe. An event or an object which is merely observed, does not of itself reveal anything about its connection with other events or objects. This connection becomes evident only when observation is combined with thinking.

[4] Observation and thinking are the two points of departure for all the spiritual striving of man, in so far as he is conscious of such striving. The workings of common sense, as well as the most complicated scientific researches, rest on these two fundamental pillars of our spirit. Philosophers have started from various primary antitheses: idea and reality, subject and object, appearance and thing-in-itself, "I" and "Not-I", idea and will, concept and matter, force and substance, the conscious and the unconscious. It is easy to show, however, that all these antitheses must be preceded by that of observation and thinking, this being for man the most important one.

[5] Whatever principle we choose to lay down, we must either prove that somewhere we have observed it, or we must enunciate it in the form of a clear thought which can be re-thought by any other thinker. Every philosopher who sets out to discuss his fundamental principles must express them in conceptual form and thus use thinking. He therefore indirectly admits that his activity presupposes thinking. Whether thinking or something else is the chief factor in the evolution of the world will not be decided at this point. But that without thinking, the philosopher can gain no knowledge of such evolution, is clear from the start. In the occurrence of the world phenomena, thinking may play a minor part; but in the forming of a view about them, there can be no doubt that, its part is a leading one.

[6] As regards observation, our need of it is due to the way we are constituted. Our thinking about a horse and the object "horse" are two things which for us emerge apart from each other. This object is accessible to us only by means of observation. As little as we can form a concept of a horse by merely staring at the animal, just as little are we able by mere thinking to produce a corresponding object.

Topic: Observation - Thinking

  1. A billiard ball is struck.
    When I observe how a billiard ball, when struck, transfers its movement to another, I remain completely without influence over the course of this process.
    • Observe
      1. As long as I remain a mere observer, I can say something about the movement of the second ball only after it has taken place.
      2. I can rest content with the observation, and renounce all search for concepts.
    • Reflect
      1. The purpose of my reflection is to form concepts about the occurrence.
      2. This is dependent on me.
      3. We feel constantly compelled to seek for concepts and conceptual connections, that stand in a certain relationship to the objects and events which are given independently of us.

  2. What do we gain by finding the conceptual counterpart to an event?
    • Mere observation can follow the parts of a given event as they occur, but their connection remains obscure without the help of concepts.
    • Let us suppose, at the moment of billiard ball impact, my view is obstructed. As mere observer, I am ignorant of what happens next.
    • The situation is different if, before the obstruction of my view, I have discovered the concepts corresponding to the constellation of relationships. I can then say what will happen, even if I can no longer observe it.

  3. Observation and thinking
    The workings of common sense and the most complicated scientific research, rest on these two basic pillars of our spirit (mind). Whatever principle we wish to establish, we must show that we have observed it, or we must express it in the form of a clear thought that anyone can rethink.
    • Thinking
      1. Every philosopher who speaks of their basic principles must express them in conceptual form, and thereby use thinking.
      2. Thinking may play a secondary part in the origin of world phenomena, but in the origin of a view about them, it surely plays a major role.
    • Observation
      1. As for observation, we need it because of the way we are organized. Our thinking about a horse and the object "horse" are two things which for us emerge separately.
      2. Merely staring at a horse does not enable us to produce the concept "horse", and neither will mere thinking bring forth the corresponding object.
Match-up Quiz A
Match-up Quiz B
Match-up Quiz C

Practical Training In Thought
Thinking Exercise #3
Right Idea At The Right Time (concentration)

AttachmentSize
3-0.mp32.81 MB
Observation and Thinking by Tim Bourke
Mercury and Alchemy by Tim Bourke
Mysticism by Jay Harms
If Wishes Were Horses by Lori Perry