Chapter 2 Section 5 & 6

Submitted by Tom Last on Mon, 04/02/2007 - 12:37pm.

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2-5) MATHEMATISM (Gemini)
[8] A curious variant of idealism is to be found in the view which Friedrich Albert Lange has put forward in his widely read History of Materialism. He holds that the materialists are quite right in declaring all phenomena, including our thinking, to be the product of purely material processes, but, conversely, matter and its processes are for him themselves the product of our thinking.

“The senses give us only the effects of things, not true copies, much less the things themselves. But among these mere effects we must include the senses themselves together with the brain and the molecular vibrations which we assume to go on there."

That is, our thinking is produced by the material processes, and these by the thinking of our I. Lange's philosophy is thus nothing more than the story, in philosophical terms, of the intrepid Baron Münchhausen, who holds himself up in the air by his own pigtail.

Topic: Matter-Thinking Paradox
  • "The senses give us only effects of things, not accurate pictures. These effects include the senses themselves, along with the brain..."
  • Our thinking is produced by the material processes, and these are produced by the thinking of our I.
  • Lange's philosophy is nothing other than the Münchhausen pigtail story, translated into concepts.

Baron Münchhausen note:
The Baron's astounding feats included riding cannonballs, traveling to the Moon, and escaping from a swamp by pulling himself up by his own hair. His name is associated with absurdly exaggerated stories.

Friedrich Albert Lange note:
It is Lange's conviction that all scientific endeavor that does not limit itself to the evidence of the senses and the logical intellect that combines these elements of evidence must remain fruitless. That the senses and the intellect together, however, do not supply us with anything but a result of our own organization, he accepts as evidently following from his analysis of the origin of knowledge. The world is for him fundamentally a product of the fiction of our senses and of our intellects. Because of this opinion, he never asks the question of truth with regard to the ideas. A truth that could enlighten us about the essence of the world is not recognized by Lange. He believes he has obtained an open road for the ideas and ideals that are formed by the human mind and that he has accomplished this through the very fact that he no longer feels the need of attributing any truth to the knowledge of the senses and the intellect. Without hesitation he considered everything that went beyond sensual observation and rational combination to be mere fiction. No matter what the idealistic philosophers had thought concerning the nature of facts, for him it belonged to the realm of poetic fiction.
-Rudolf Steiner, Riddles of Philosophy, p. 326

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2-6) RATIONALISM (Taurus)
[9] The third form of monism is the one which finds even in the simplest entity (the atom) both matter and spirit (mind) already united. But nothing is gained by this either, except that the question, which really originates in our consciousness, is shifted to another place. How comes it that the simple entity manifests itself in a two-fold manner, if it is an indivisible unity?

Topic: Indivisible Unity
  • The third form of monism finds matter and spirit already united.
  • Nothing is gained by this view, the question which originates in our consciousness is shifted to another arena.
  • How does the simple entity manifests itself in a two-fold way, if it is an indivisible unity?
Match-up Quiz Section 5 & 6

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2-6.mp3190.95 KB