Chapter 3 Section 5 & 6

Submitted by Tom Last on Mon, 05/14/2007 - 7:20pm.

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3-5) MATHEMATISM (Gemini)
[16] The reason why it is impossible to observe thinking in the actual moment of its occurrence, is the very one which makes it possible for us to know it more immediately and more intimately than any other process in the world. Just because it is our own creation do we know the characteristic features of its course, the manner in which the process takes place. What in all other spheres of observation can be found only indirectly, namely, the relevant context and the relationship between the individual objects, is, in the case of thinking, known to us in an absolutely direct way. I do not on the face of it know why, for my observation, thunder follows lightning; but I know directly, from the very content of the two concepts, why my thinking connects the concept of thunder with the concept of lightning. It does not matter in the least whether I have the right concepts of lightning and thunder. The connection between those concepts that I do have is clear to me, and this through the very concepts themselves.

Topic: Content Of Concept
  • Know thinking immediately and intimately.
  • Know the characteristic features of its course, and how it occurs.
  • Know directly the relevant context and the interrelationship between the single objects.
  • Connection between concepts is clear through the concepts themselves.
Match-up Quiz

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3-6) RATIONALISM (Taurus)
[17] This transparent clearness concerning our thinking process is quite independent of our knowledge of the physiological basis of thinking. Here I am speaking of thinking in so far as we know it from the observation of our own spiritual activity. How one material process in my brain causes or influences another while I am carrying out a thinking operation, is quite irrelevant.

What I observe about thinking is not what process in my brain connects the concept lightning with the concept thunder but what causes me to bring the two concepts into a particular relationship. My observation shows me that in linking one thought with another there is nothing to guide me but the content of my thoughts; I am not guided by any material processes in my brain. In a less materialistic age than our own, this remark would of course be entirely superfluous. Today, however, when there are people who believe that once we know what matter is we shall also know how it thinks, we do have to insist that one may talk about thinking without trespassing on the domain of brain physiology.

Many people today find it difficult to grasp the concept of thinking in its purity. Anyone who challenges the description of thinking which I have given here by quoting Cabanis' statement that "the brain secretes thoughts as the liver does gall or the spittle-glands spittle . . .", simply does not know what I am talking about. He tries to find thinking by a process of mere observation in the same way that we proceed in the case of other objects that make up the world. But he cannot find it in this way because, as I have shown, it eludes just this ordinary observation. Whoever cannot transcend materialism lacks the ability to bring about the exceptional condition I have described, in which he becomes conscious of what in all other spiritual activity remains unconscious. If someone is not willing to take this standpoint, then one can no more discuss thinking with him than one can discuss color with a blind man. But in any case he must not imagine that we regard physiological processes as thinking. He fails to explain thinking because he simply does not see it.

Topic: Content Of Thoughts
  • How one material process in my brain causes or influences another while carrying out a process of thinking, is irrelevant.
  • I observe what motivates me to bring the two concepts into a particular relationship.
  • Observation shows that in linking one thought with another there is nothing to guide me but the content of my thoughts; I am not guided by any material processes in my brain.
  • Many people today find it difficult to grasp the concept of thinking in its purity.
  • Whoever cannot overcome materialism lacks the ability to bring about the exceptional condition I have described.
Match-up Quiz

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