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Chapter 3 Thought As The Basis For Understanding the World

Revised 04/03/2010
Copyright © Tom Last 2009-10

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Chapter 07 [0]   reality-based thinking
ego  Chapter 08 [0]   ethics of self-knowledge  
 Chapter 06 [0]   independent thinking  
 mental picture 
 Chapter 09 [0]   ethical individualism
 Chapter 05 [0]   critical thinking concept  Chapter 10 [0]   ethics of authority
 Chapter 04 [0]   reactive thinking perception  Chapter 11 [0]   ethical naturalism
 Chapter 03   reflective thinking 
thought  Chapter 12 [0]   ethical norms
 Chapter 02 [0]   one-sided thinking desire  Chapter 13 [0]   ethics of self-gratification 
 Chapter 01 [0]   compelled thinking action  Chapter 14 [0]   group ethics

The Philosophy of Freedom

Chapter 3
Thought As The Basis For Understanding the World

Rita Stebbing [0]
Summary 1 [0]
Summary 2 [0]
Self-Observation: Reflective Thinking [0]
Textbook [0]
Author's Addition [0]

Chapter 3 Video Summary [0]

A5 Pure Thinking [0]

Steiner and others on "pure thinking":
The reader of The Philosophy of Freedom should be able to say to oneself: “Now I know, through this effort of my mind in thinking, what pure thinking really is.” Then what I should like to call modern clairvoyance ceases to be anything miraculous. That this clairvoyance should still appear as something particularly miraculous comes from people not wishing to develop the energy to bring activity into their thinking.

Today’s materialism seeks to reduce us to totally unfree creatures completely determined by heredity and other influences. The experience of pure thinking is the only possible way of refuting materialism and is attainable by anyone with the “goodwill” to undertake this path.

What I called pure thinking in my Philosophy of Freedom was certainly not well named when judged by outer cultural conditions. For Eduard von Hartmann said to me:
“There is no such thing, one can only think with the aid of external observation.”
And all I could say in reply was:
“It has only to be tried and people will soon learn to be able to make it a reality.”

When is an action free? Only when it has its origin in pure thinking.

The Philosophy of Freedom is a path, a method leading to the actual experience of a thinking detached from the body-soul make-up.

Out of pure thinking there can flow powerful impulses to moral action that are no longer determined by anything but pure spirit.

Rudolf Steiner declares, “The intention in my Philosophy of Freedom is that the reader must lay hold --with his own thinking activity-- page by page, that the book itself is only a sort of musical score, and that one must read this score through inner thinking activity in order to progress continually, out of his own resources, from thought to thought.  Who does not sense that he was in a manner been lifted above his ordinary way of thinking into a thinking free of the sense perceptible and that he moves altogether in this, so that he feels that he has become ‘free’ in his thinking from the limitations of the corporeal nature, ---such a person has not really read in the true sense of the word this Philosophy of Freedom.

Question: How does thought, as an object of observation, differ essentially from all other things.

Thought Training Exercise:
PTIT exercise #3 Right Idea At The Right Time [0]

Comments - Questions:
Chapter 3 Discussion Forum [0]

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[0]3.0 [0] Reflective Thinking
The purpose of my reflection is to form concepts of the event. I try to add to the occurrence that runs its course without my participation a second process which takes place in the conceptual sphere. This conceptual process depends on me.

3.1 [0] Observation Of Thought
Thought, as an object of observation, differs essentially from all other objects. I observe the table, and I carry on my thinking about the table, but I do not at the same moment observe this thought. While the observation of things and events, and thinking about them, are everyday occurrences filling my ongoing life, observation of the thought itself is a kind of exceptional state.We must be clear that when we observe thought the same method is applied to it that we normally use for the study of all other objects in the world.

3.2 [0] Formation Of Concept
I am definitely aware that the concept of a thing is formed by my activity, while the feeling of pleasure is produced in me by an object in the same way as, for example, a change is caused in an object by a stone that falls on it.

3.3 [0] Contemplation Of Object
While I am reflecting on the object, I am absorbed in it; my attention is turned to it. To become absorbed in the object is to contemplate by thought.

3.4 [0] Contemplation Of Thought
I can never observe the present thought in which I am actually engaged; only afterward can I make the past experience of my thought process into the object of my present thinking.

3.5 [0] Know Content Of Concept
It is possible to know thought more immediately and more intimately than any other process in the world. Because we produce it ourselves we know the characteristic features of its course and the details of how the process takes place. What can be discovered only indirectly in all other fields of observation, --the relevant context and the relationships between the individual objects-- is known to us directly in the case of thought. The connection between concepts is clear to me, and is so through the concepts themselves.

3.6 [0] Guided By Content Of Thought
What I observe in studying a thought process is not which process in my brain connects the concept lightning with the concept thunder, but my reason for bringing these two concepts into a specific relationship. Introspection shows that in linking thought with thought I am guided by the content of my thoughts; I am not guided by any physical processes in my brain.

3.7 [0] I Exist As Content Of Thought Activity
My investigation reaches firm ground only when I find an object from that I can derive the meaning of its existence from the object itself. This I am, as a thinker; for I give to my existence the definite, self-determined content of my thought-activity. From here I can go on to ask whether other things exist in the same or in some other way.

3.8 [0] Remain Within Thought
When I observe my own thinking what hovers in the background is nothing but thought, I can remain within the realm of thought.

3.9 [0] Creation Before Knowing
What is impossible with Nature ---creation before knowing--- we achieve with thinking. If we refrain from thinking until we have first gained knowledge of it, then we would never think at all. We must resolutely think straight ahead and only afterward by introspective analysis gain knowledge of what we have done. We ourselves first create the object that we are to observe.

3.10 [0] Principle Of Self-Subsistence
Thought is self-supporting, not dependent on anything else. In thought we have the principle of self-subsistence. Thought can be grasped by thought itself.

3.11 [0]
Impartial Consideration Of Thinking
We must first consider thinking in an impartial way, without reference to either a thinking subject or conceived object. Before anything else can be understood, thought must be understood.

3.12 [0] Thought Is A Fact
Thought is a fact, and it is meaningless to speak of the correctness or falsehood of a fact. At most I can have doubts about whether thought is correctly used, just as I can doubt whether a certain tree supplies wood suitable for the making of this or that useful object. To show to what extent the application of thought to the world is right or wrong is precisely the task of this writing.

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