Chapter 2 Section 3 & 4

Submitted by Tom Last on Mon, 03/26/2007 - 9:35pm.

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2-3) Realism (Libra)
Similarly, when it comes to action, we have to translate our purposes into realities with the help of material things and forces. We are, therefore, referred back to the outer world. The most extreme spiritualist -- or rather, the thinker who through his absolute idealism appears as extreme spiritualist -- is Johann Gottlieb Fichte. He attempts to derive the whole edifice* of the world from the "I". What he has actually accomplished is a magnificent thought-picture of the world, without any content of experience. As little as it is possible for the materialist to argue the spirit (mind) away, just as little is it possible for the spiritualist to argue away the outer world of matter.

Topic: Absolute Idealism
  • Fichte attempts to derive the whole edifice of the world out of the "I".
  • What he has actually accomplished is a magnificent thought-picture of the world, without any content of experience.

*Edifice
1.
A large building, especially a splendid one.
2.
An elaborate conceptual, abstract structure: observations that provided the foundation for the edifice of evolutionary theory.

But he had only to forget the artificial train of reasoning, and to turn from life itself to what had satisfied him while thinking in accordance with the fixed definitions, and all this artificial edifice fell to pieces at once like a house of cards, and it became clear that the edifice had been built up out of those transposed words, apart from anything in life more important than reason.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Note on Fichte:
For Fichte, the external world lost its independent existence in this way: It has an existence that is only ascribed to it by the ego, projected by the ego's imagination. In his endeavor to give to his own “self” the highest possible independence, Fichte deprived the outer world of all self-dependence. Now, where such an independent external world is not supposed to exist, it is also quite understandable if the interest in a knowledge concerning this external world ceases. Thereby, the interest in what is properly called knowledge is altogether extinguished, for the ego learns nothing through its knowledge but what it produces for itself. In all such knowledge the human ego holds soliloquies, as it were, with itself.
-Rudolf Steiner, Riddles of Philosophy, P.126

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2-4) IDEALISM (Aries)
[7] When man reflects upon the "I", he perceives in the first instance the work of this "I" in the conceptual elaboration of the world of ideas. Hence a world-conception that inclines towards spiritualism may feel tempted, in looking at man's own essential nature, to acknowledge nothing of spirit except this world of ideas. In this way spiritualism becomes one-sided idealism. Instead of going on to penetrate through the world of ideas to the spiritual world, idealism identifies the spiritual world with the world of ideas itself. As a result, it is compelled to remain fixed with its world-outlook in the circle of activity of the Ego, as if bewitched.

Topic: One-sided Idealism
  • When we reflect upon the "I", we perceive the activity of the "I" in the conceptual elaboration of the world of ideas.
  • By acknowledging nothing of spirit except the world of ideas, spiritualism becomes one-sided idealism.
  • Instead of seeking a spiritual world through the world of ideas, idealism identifies the spiritual world with the world of ideas itself.
Question:

Match-up Quiz
Section 3 & 4

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