John's Third Draft of Chapter 2 [3]

Submitted by John Ralph on Thu, 10/28/2010 - 4:41pm.

Chapter 2 [3] third draft [1894 text] JR Work in Progress @ 20110104

Steiner’s emphasis in italics
undecided options in green
John’s latest changes in purple
 
All men by nature desire to know. – Aristotle
 
Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody. – Benjamin Franklin


1918 Chapter 2 [1894 Chapter 3]
The Fundamental Imperative for Rational Knowledge
The Deeply-Felt Imperative for Rational Knowledge
The Fundamental Drive towards Science
The Basic Urgency for Science
 
Two souls, alas, are in my breast;
They pull apart at every turn.
One clasps with pleasure-filled embrace
[reference to German: lust in the next chapter]
The world, for which its organs yearn;
The other, from gloom, arises chaste             
To a heritage of higher concern.         loftier

(Goethe, Faust I, 1112-1117)
[For further understanding of these poetic lines, see the next chapter : observation with its sensory organs and thinking that can only perceive itself by looking back into the past. I think that this substantial reference vindicates my rendering, as thunder vindicates lightning.]
[I have reverted to the plural instead of picking through the non-sexist minefield of trying to balance him with her. Whatever the weaknesses of this decision with regard to the expression of individuality, after a year of review I can see that this option is vastly preferable to the irrelevant distraction that the single-sex option can create in the reader’s mind.]

2.0 The Urge to Know
[1] With these words Goethe characterizes a trait that is deeply established in human nature. The human constitution is not undivided.We always demand more than the world offers.Nature has given us basic needs, and left to us the task of satisfying some of them. Our share of nature's bounty is plentiful, but our desires are even more abundant. It seems that we are born to be dissatisfied. A particular instance of this dissatisfaction is our craving for knowledge.
We look at a tree on two occasions. At first we see its branches motionless, and next time they are moving. These observations do not satisfy us. Why is the tree motionless at one moment and in motion at another? We want to know why. Every glance at nature evokes a number of questions in us. Every phenomenon we encounter presents us with a task. Every experience is a mystery. When we observe a creature emerging from an egg, we want to know why it resembles its mother. When we observe a growing organism develop a degree of perfection, we look into the factors that determine this experience. Nowhere are we satisfied with what nature spreads out before our senses. Everywhere we search for what we call an explanation of the facts.
2.1 I Confront the World
[John notes: omitting a heading here is to miss a turning point in the argument of the book. ]
[2] What we add to our observation splits our whole being in two; we become conscious that we stand apart fromthe world. As an independent being we confront the outer world. The universe seems to be divided into two: I and the world.
 [3] We set up this division between ourselves and the world as soon as consciousness dawns within us. But we never lose the certainty of feeling that we belong to the world to which we are connected by an enduring bond; we are not outsiders, we are within the universe.
[4] This feeling arouses the drive to bridge the separation between us and the world. The entire  mental striving of humanity is basically an attempt to bridge this division. The history of spiritual life is a continuing search for this reconciliation. Religion, art and science all pursue a similar goal. Religious believers search within the revelation from God for the solution to the mysteries of the world presentedby their individual dissatisfaction with the world of mere phenomena. Artists seek to express their individual ideas in a physical medium in order to reconcile what lives within them with the outer world. They also feel dissatisfied with the world as it appears, and seek to imprint into it whatever lives within their individuality that transcends the world of phenomena. Thinkers seek for the laws of the phenomena and endeavours to penetrate their observations with thinking.
Only when we have made the world content into our individual thought content will we rediscover the unity from which we have separated ourselves. We will see later why this goal can only be reached from a more profound understanding of scientific research than is usual.
We meet all that I have described as the separation of the I and the world in the history of the conflict between theundivided one-world outlook of Monism, and thetwo-world theory of Dualism. Dualism concentrates exclusively on the separation brought about by human consciousness between the I and the world. All its efforts are poured into an ineffectual struggle to reconcile these separated sides, which it may call mind and matter, or subject and object, or thought and phenomenon. The Dualist feels that there must be a bridge between the two worlds, but is incapable of finding it. The Monist concentrates exclusively on the unity and tries to deny or blur the real differences. Both points of view are unsatisfying because neither does justice to the facts. Dualism sees mind (I) and matter (world) as essentially exclusive, so it cannot understand how they interact. How can mind know what is going on in matter if the essential nature of matter is entirely alien to mind? Under these mutually exclusive conditions, how can mind affect matter in such a way that its intentions manifest as deeds? The most absurd hypotheses have been proposed to resolve these questions.
Monism has not yet achieved a better position. Three different solutions to this problem have been tried: some Monists deny mind and become Materialists; others deny matter and seek for deliverance in Spiritualism; yet others declare that mind and matter are indivisibly united, even within the simplest substance, so the appearance of both mind and matter within the human being is not surprising because they are nowhere to be found separately.
2.2 Materialism
[Who understands the term physicalism? Those who will read this translation? If it were to be successfully introduced here physicalism would need to come instead of materialism throughout. I don’t think this works.]
[5] Materialism can never provide a satisfactory explanation of the world. This is because every attempt to explain must begin by forming thoughts about the world’s phenomena. So Materialism starts with thoughts about physical objects or processes. But in doing so it is already dealing with two different sets of facts: the physical world and the thoughts about it. Materialists try to understand thoughts by treating them as purely physical processes. They believe that thinking happens in the brain much like the digestive process in the organs of animals. Just as mechanical, chemical and organic processes are attributed to the physical world, under certain physical conditions they also credit matter with the capacity to think. But what they do not notice is that all that they have done is to shift the problem to another place.
Materialists attribute thinking activity to matter instead of themselves. This brings them back to their starting point. How can matter reflect upon its own existence? Why is it not satisfied by simply accepting its own existence? Materialists have turned their attention away from the clearly defined subject of their own individuality, and have become occupied with vague and complex attributes of the physical brain instead. But the very same problem is rediscovered there. The materialistic view cannot solve the problem, but only shift it elsewhere.
2.3 Spiritualism
[6] What about Spiritualist theory? Essentially spiritualists deny that the physical world has any independent existence and regard matter as merely a product of the individual mind. They regard the whole phenomenal world as nothing more than a fabric that the mind weaves out of itself.The problem with this view of the world is foundas soon as it attempts to derive any single concrete phenomenon from the mind. It cannot derive either knowledge or action.
2.4 Realism
If we want to know the reality of the external world, we must look outwards and draw on our store of experiences. Without experiences our mind can derive no content. Similarly, when we go into action, we require the support of physical substances and forces to transform our intentions into realities. This means that we are dependent on the external world.
2.5 Idealism
The most extreme spiritualist is Johann Gottlieb Fichte who might be better called an Idealist. He attempts to derive the whole world structure from the ‘I’. What he has accomplished is actually a magnificent thought picture of the world without any content based on experience. Idealists can no more discard the outer physical world than materialists can argue away the mind.
2.6 Materialistic Idealism
[7] Friedrich Albert Lange presents a particular variant of Idealism is in his widely read ‘History of Materialism’. In his view materialists are right to declare that all phenomena, including our thoughts, are the product of purely physical processes, yet conversely, physical objects and their processes are themselves merely a product of our thinking mind:

“The sense organs only present to us… the effects of things, not even accurate copies, let alone the things themselves. But these mere effects also include the sense organs themselves, along with the brain and the molecules that are assumed to oscillate within it.”

In other words, thinking is produced by physical processes that are produced by thinking. Lange's philosophy is nothing more than a conceptual translation of the tale of the bold Baron von Münchhausen, who can hold himself up in mid air by his own pigtail.
2.7 Indivisible Unity
[8] The third form of Monism sees the indivisible unity of matter and mind in even the simplest physical substance. But nothing is achieved in this, for the question that actually originates in our consciousness is only shifted to yet another location. How can a simple substance manifest itself in two different ways if it is indivisible?

2.8 Polarity of/Division within Consciousness
[9] In considering all these points of view the basic fact must be emphasized, that we first encounter the original division/separateness in our own consciousness. We are the ones who separate ourselves from the mother soil of nature and face the world as ‘I’. Goethe has given a classic expression of this is in his essay ‘Nature’:

“Living in the midst of her (Nature) we are strangers to her.
She speaks to us unceasingly, yet of her secrets tells us nothing.”

And Goethe also knew the other side:

“All human beings are within her and she in all [human beings].”
2.9 Nature Within
[10] It is true that we have alienated ourselves from nature, but it is equally true that we feel we are within and belong to nature. This can only be due to the presence of nature that is also living within us.

2.10 Knowing Nature Within

[11] We must find the way back to nature again. A simple reflection can show us how. It is true that we have torn ourselves away from nature, but we must have kept something of nature within us. We must find nature within ourselves, and then we will also discover our connection with nature.
Dualism fails to do this. Starting from the conviction that the human mind is entirely non-physical and incompatible with nature, Dualism then attempts to stitch mind to nature. No wonder a connecting link cannot be found. We will only find nature outside ourselves after we have learned to recognize it within us. We will be guided by the uniformity of nature within us.
This sets out our path of inquiry. We will not speculate about the interaction between mind and matter. Instead we will probe the depths of our own being in order to find the elements of nature there that we have retained in our flight from nature.
2.11 Something More than ‘I’
[12] The examination of our own being must bring us the solution to the mystery. We must reach a point where we can say: Here we are no longer merely ‘I’; here is something that is more than ‘I’.

2.12 The Experience of Consciousness
[13] I am aware that some readers will not have found my discussion ‘scientific’ in its modern sense. I can only reply that, so far, I have not been attempting to draw scientific conclusions, but only to describe plainly what we all experience in our own consciousness. Even the statements attempting to reconcile mind with the world are only there to clarify actual facts. This is why I have not applied the customary psychological and philosophical precision to terms such as ‘I’, ‘mind’, ‘world’ or ‘nature’.

2.13 Facts without Interpretation
Everyday consciousness is not aware of the sharp distinctions made by the sciences, and up to this point it has only been a matter of recording the observable facts of daily experience. Any objection that the above discussions have been unscientific would be comparable to condemning someone who recites a poem for failing to follow every line immediately with aesthetic criticism. My concern here has not been to examine how far science has managed to interpret consciousness, but to describe our moment by moment experience.
 
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