Chapter 2 Section 1 & 2

Submitted by Tom Last on Mon, 03/19/2007 - 1:04am.

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2-1) MATERIALISM (Cancer)
[5] Materialism can never offer a satisfactory explanation of the world. For every attempt at an explanation must begin with the formation of thoughts about the phenomena of the world. Materialism thus begins with the thought of matter or material processes. But, in doing so, it is already confronted by two different sets of facts: the material world, and the thoughts about it. The materialist seeks to make these latter intelligible by regarding them as purely material processes. He believes that thinking takes place in the brain, much in the same way that digestion takes place in the animal organs. Just as he attributes mechanical and organic effects to matter, so he credits matter in certain circumstances with the capacity to think. He overlooks that, in doing so, he is merely shifting the problem from one place to another. He ascribes the power of thinking to matter instead of to himself. And thus he is back again at his starting point. How does matter come to think about its own nature? Why is it not simply satisfied with itself and content just to exist? The materialist has turned his attention away from the definite subject, his own I, and has arrived at an image of something quite vague and indefinite. Here the old riddle meets him again. The materialistic conception cannot solve the problem; it can only shift it from one place to another.

Topic: Materialistic Conception
  • Materialism can never offer a satisfactory explanation of the world.
  • Materialism begins with the thought of matter or material processes. Thus it already has two different sets of facts: the material world and the thoughts about it.
  • Just as they attribute mechanical and organic effects to matter, so they credit matter in certain circumstances with the capacity to think.
  • The materialists have turned their attention away from the specific subject, their own I, and occupies themselves with an unspecific, hazy configuration: matter.
Question:

Match-up Quiz

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2-2) SPIRITISM (Capricorn)
[6] What of the spiritualistic theory? The genuine spiritualist denies to matter all independent existence and regards it merely as a product of spirit (mind). But when he tries to use this theory to solve the riddle of his own human nature, he finds himself driven into a corner. Over against the "I" or Ego, which can be ranged on the side of spirit (mind), there stands directly the world of the senses. No spiritual approach to it seems open. Only with the help of material processes can it be perceived and experienced by the "I". Such material processes the "I" does not discover in itself so long as it regards its own nature as exclusively spiritual. In what it achieves spiritually by its own effort, the sense-perceptible world is never to be found. It seems as if the "I" had to concede that the world would be a closed book to it unless it could establish a non-spiritual relation to the world.

Topic: Spiritualistic Theory
  • The pure spiritualist denies to matter all independent existence and regards it merely as a product of spirit (mind).
  • The sense world can be perceived and experienced by the "I" only with the help of material processes. Such material processes the "I" does not discover in itself so long as it regards its own nature as exclusively spiritual.
  • What the "I" works through for itself spiritually, the sense-perceptible world is never to be found.
  • It is as if the "I" would have to admit the world is a closed book to it, unless it could establish a non-spiritual relation to the world.
Question:

Match-up Quiz

Spirit-Mind: There is a translation issue with the words "spirit" and "mind" from German to English. In German there is no distinct equivalent for "mind". It is up to the translator to decide on using the word "spirit" or "mind" according to the particular usage at that place in the German text. To demonstrate this, below is the original Hoernle English translation of 1916 of section 2-2 before it was revised and expanded by Steiner in 1918 that can be compared to todays Wilson version above. Hoernle preferred the word "mind" rather than "spirit" in many cases throughout the book. The other popular translators have preferred using the word "spirit" for the most part.

The two versions demonstrate how different it reads in English depending on the translators use of words and Steiner's emphasis between "spirit" or "mind". We can consider both versions meaningful as Steiner said his revisions were not the result of him changing his position. The reader will need to understand that Steiner indicates a closer connection between mind and spirit than is commonly understood with the English definitions.

Hoernle 1916 translation of original POF before 1918 revisions.
2-2 What of the Spiritualistic theory? The Spiritualist denies Matter (the World) and regards it merely as a product of Mind (the Self). He supposes the whole phenomenal world to be nothing more than a fabric woven by Mind out of itself. This conception of the world finds itself in difficulties as soon as it attempts to deduce from Mind any single concrete phenomenon. It cannot do so either in knowledge or in action. If one would really know the external world, one must turn one's eye outwards and draw on the fund of experience. Without experience Mind can have no content.

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