supposedly, this is the one place I can type without getting censored, so I'll figure out a system to have interesting conversations right here!
Woudn't it be nice if our personal journals carried a nice photo of the author at the top, although I do not like all the impossibly tiny images of responders in so many internet forums. I doubt that this is a simple element to program into the site so let us make the most of what is possible here.
Best to you Jeff!
Thanks, John....Unfortunately Tom is deleting the messages I'm sending you about translating the word science. I find it an amazing conversation and hope to continue it right here soon.
"every percept gives us only a part of the reality concealed within it"
Does anybody think that this quote from Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom can be reconsiled with the notion that thinking actually stands apart from a blooming, buzzing chaotic environment and then swooops into this chaos and begins making "links"...
My guess is that nobody really believes this. But the nature of the Steiner Cult is that it gets people mad to even consider it. Let me say for the record. I agree with the above quote WHICH IS FROM STEINER. In fact, I claim that Steiner's observation has, so far, never been challenged. I disagree with the PoF cult that says he is wrong and tries to use his own words to argue against him.
Just because Steiner said his early epistemology was flawed in expression does nothing to argue against his fundamental insight in PoF, which is expressed in the above quote. I invite any PoF cultist to argue against Steiner's quote.
Prediction: the only arguement they will make is to throw up the few quotes Steiner made about a world of pure-percept. Or they won't talk at all. I've heard they get headaches when forced to read the above quote.
And yes, S.R. , Steiner was a HUGE fan of irony. :)
I'm completely indifferent on this issue. It doesn't fit anywhere into my personal philosophy. I am just trying not to misrepresent Steiner according to his first 4 books.
While it's true that you and I have vastly different opinions on censorship, I do want to say that THIS is what I really respect about you, Tom. For you to freely admit that you are "completely indifferent" on an issue that Steiner marks as primary in his epistemology is why I can never throw you into the PURE deadened anthroposophical box that most of his eager students occupy.
And, yes, it shocks me somewhat. Only because you have said in the past that you agree with Steiner. So, I'm surprised whenever you suddenly disagree with Steiner (as in regards to your comments concerning your claim that "unconscious passive thinking" is what connects the buzzing chaos of perception with so-called concepts) or when, like now, you state that a fundamental aspect of PoF is of no concern to you.
Steiner claimed it was essential to believe him. You and I don't agree. I think the reason you and I don't agree with his claim is because we take his second edition at face value. I know that you don't consciously say that yet, but it might be why his early demands don't bother you.
The reason i so confidently (and with irony, of course) claim that nobody will offer evidence to the contrary, is because there is no evidence to be offered. Even though you stand out as a student of Steiner willing to distance yourself from his younger demands that "we must" start from this picture, so so so sooooooooooooo many simply get a fuzzy look in their eyes when you ask them to talk about this supposed "space' that younger Steiner insisted was the starting point. While I am in deep love with the second edition of PoF and I'll always wonder why he was so sloppy in his "unification" of the two editions, I am kind of glad he left this open to future students of his epistemology. There is no hope for the future of PoF if it follows the path of the Anthroposophical society. I'm not so sure it will continue in that form. But there are so many inspiring signs that Steiner's vision is intact and powerfully alive in the field on epistemology. Wittgenstein went a long way in carrying forward some key aspect of PoF without dogmatically recapitulating the early parts of PoF that Steiner later never continued.
Most supposed experts at PoF (I would never claim nor wish to be included in this group) claim that concepts are added to percepts.
ask one of these experts to imagine the following:
a bird is spotted flying over a canyon. you occasionally glance away from the bird while talking to your friend about politics. However, each time you look away from the bird you make sure to glance back up and track its effortless flight.
If you want to hear the sound of silence, ask the PoF expert if they have to continuously reattach the so-called concept to the supposed "percept" or if it "sticks" once attached.
you see, by dogmatically accepting the notion that something called "thinking" has the function of mediating between supposed "percepts" and supposed "concepts", these supposed experts are forced to ignore the intricate and moment to moment functioning of thinking's self-sustaining activity.
If anybody is reading this who has actually observed his or her own experience and has an opinion about what is happening with the damn bird, please feel free to share.
Prediction: anybody who has studied PoF will either desperately attempt to explain a way in which a thinking is doing some sort of attaching/linking/connecting OR he will bring up another subject.
why is it that students of PoF insist on the notion that thinking attaches concepts to percepts when none of them really believe this when you ask them to attend to their ongoing experience?
(clue: study the way in which super string theory evolved in physics)
there are many "unconscious" students of PoF who know exactly why the notion of "attaching" so-called concepts to so-called percepts is irrelevant to the phenomena of perception.
Steiner expressed great respect for his teacher Brentano. You can read Brentano via Husserl via Merleau Ponty via Gendlin if you want to really understand why Steiner chose to characterize perception the way he did in the second edition of PoF and then, with more detail, in FRAGMENT.
After studying POF you find that the relationship between concept and percept has many aspects. You can't really universalize one aspect such as your view of the relationship between concept and percept. The point is to try and understand the various relationships and try to fit them into the context of a whole theory of cognition.
Each page of POF is describing the relationship between concept and percept in a different way.
Actually, my view doesn't universalize one aspect of concept and percept, Tom. It demonstrates the categorical error (among others) of trying to carve the fundamental nature of human experience into such theoretical concepts. And rather than staying in the land of abstraction (no matter how "real" or good it feels), it presents the nature of ongoing and readily verifiable human experiencing.
For those who reject Steiner's second edition, my view seems as pointless as his additional comments in chapter 5. There is a reason why you hardly ever see Steiner's concepts on so-called percepts quoted in that context.
Could you tell me the difference between Steiner's first and second addition of POF, in a nutshell, with perhaps a reference of the difference to make your point? You have referred to this difference several times.
Tom, I've come to think that for whatever reason you simply can't see it. It's not due to intelligence but I think it is a defense mechanism for you. I'm on the road today so I can't take time to pull in all the quotes as I've done before, but in a nutshell:
There is nothing in the original edition of PoF that counters his early claims that we can observe that thinking stands perched outside of the realm of buzzing chaos and then waits until it can find purchase in that realm to begin weaving together concepts and percepts. There is nothing in the first edition that counters his early and repeated insistence that an epistemology must begin by imagining such a realm and then framing the imagination as an actual reality. The first edition establishes this imagination and then often refers to the imagined substructure of chaos.
You have said that this question has no importance to you. I applaud your honesty on that matter, but I disagree. In fact, to me it is one of the core foundations of Steiner's epistemology and it isn't a surprise to me that in the second edition we find his reformulation of the starting point. I believe it is because he didn't explicate this as a reformulation that most people treat it as simply more words. However, if you can't wait for me to get back home, please simply see his comments on the "hiding" role of the percept in Chapter 5. I've quoted over 34 times here, but I simply don't have time right now to grab it. So long!
You are confusing the 1918 additions added to some chapters with a difference in POF. The main text is the same on this issue in both editions of POF as far as I know. Steiner has made many comments about POF found in many sources but this is different than implying he changed the text.
the edition put out in 1918 includes the additions at the end of chapters as well as other additional content. There is no confusion about that.
Tom, he did change the text. That is not argued by anybody on this planet. Changing the text isn't a bad thing. He did this to his lectures. The additions are changes. You have stated that yourself. The original text did not have the 1918 addition to chapter five, for instance. Anybody who reads what he wrote there from outside the cult of Steiner, will see that his exact words exactly contrast with the exact words he wrote in that chapter. This is what I mean by cultish. I'm not throwing up smoke. You can read chapter four and five and it's all there. However, if one is emotionally compelled to not see, it will never be seen. In the addtions of chapter five we see an older Steiner speaking about the nature of so-called percepts with the widsdom he gained over the years. That is why he dropped his insistence in the Imagination Separation.
You have stated openly and honestly that this question is of no significance to you. That might be one of the reasons why what I say seems so odd. You always say that each person reads PoF from their specific vantage point. You also have said that this particular issue is not significant to you. That could be why the differences I point out don't make sense to you. But believe me, there are people of whose material you often post who I have real world relationships with and they also see the differences that the changes bring. You yourself have often said that you don't like the changes. So you agree there are changes. You also say there are no changes. That's fine, but please just know that the changes I am pointing to are some of the very ones that you have quite comfortably called changes yourself. At some level it might be ok to just stay with your honest comment that the questions regarding the nature of perception are not significant to your particular way of understanding and working with PoF. I'm not bragging, but the nice thing about my view of PoF is that it makes no judgement whatsoever about your stance on that topic. I
You are doing a translation and I'll be interested to see how you represent perception in your translation considering the way in which Steiner's future editions redefine its very roots.
I want it to be clear that these comments are taking place in my journal and that Tom has made clear that journals serve a distinct function from other places on this website.
In the past, Tom has taken my observation that Steiner additions contain significant changes as an attack on Steiner. I do not share this opinion. I actually believe the opposite. I believe that Steiner's ability to articulate PoF grew over the years and that this can be tracked by reading his comments through the years. I respect Tom's opinion that the 1918 additions subtract from the book. It is no big deal that I simply strongly disagree.
So, no matter if one agrees with me that Steiner's future comments on the nature of percepts are genius, please know that it is my personal opinion that PoF as represented in its post 1900 editions is a book that is fully consistent with Steiner's words in the 1918 addition.
This is said in the context of my own journal in which I do not claim to be representing anybody else's opinion.
I don't see any changes in the text that relate to the issue of pure observation. I find the chapter additions very helpful, but don't find that these discuss pure observation either.
But this is like asking a Christian how he came up with the idea that Jesus supports war. He will talk endlessly arguing his point but never be able to find the right words of Jesus that contradict Jesus's own pacifist teachings.
Your view is more than likely right, but that doesn't mean Steiner's view was ever wrong. Perhaps some day you can reconcile the contradiction.
In terms of your first sentence:
In the first edition Steiner spoke of a cognition that stands apart from a pure percept. In the second edition he says the opposite.
In terms of you saying that I might someday resolve the contradiction. I've already stated why it is not a contradiction. My theory is that your world view regarding this book is why you, so far, insist I see this as a sign that Steiner was utterly false in the first edition. I won't go into why it isn't a contradiction here, but I will say that my understanding of PoF resolves each issue related to how Steiner rearticulated his epistemology at each phase of his life. I think that a flat understanding of PoF (or none) would force a person to see it as a contradiction and leave it at that.
I also think that a basic understanding of PoF's core insight explains why young Steiner stated that he would have been crushed and utterly devastated if his friend said she didn't like his book. Some Steiner critics have said that Steiner's fragility related to his need for acceptence indicates a kind of contradiction, however I believe that Steiner continually grew into the experience he was attempting to describe (Steiner says he did as well) and eventually no longer needed to write the book with the particular venacular he was using as a young man in his attempts to influence a few main philosophers he looked up to at the time. We must remember that when he was a young man Steiner was shocked that Van Hartman didn't agree with PoF. Any intense student of PoF should find that very interesting. Well, any student who has read Steiner's words regarding how shocked he was that his book didn't change Van Hartman's mind regarding his (Van Hartman's) core epistemological stance. I know that for all sorts of reasons there are student's of PoF who don't know that Steiner thought his book would change VH's mind and that Steiner absolutely needed the approval of his girl friend (platonic, that is; we assume)
If you read anything by Van Hartman and then you read PoF, you can see right away why Van Hartman won't be able to reach behind the venacular Steiner used at the time. And, yes, Steiner stopped using almost all of those core terms less than a decade later. The book was living. It wasn't fixed into the form that the shocked Steiner wrote. That's why he saw "it" in the future. I know, some people beleive "it" was the book we hold in our hands today. Fair enough.
Well you can read this stuff, but only if you want to get a very bad headache. I wrote an essay about Scott Hick's essay* on this theme, and it was as hard a slog as trying to read Prokofieff on PoF. I had to take all kinds of notes and redefine all manner of ordinary words in order to acquire even a ghost of the meaning of what these guys are writing about. Steiner is far more clear and while Steiner gets to wax positively in The Riddles of Philosophy about these folks, I don't think much that they have to say will help you with the introspection that is need to get PoF.
Most PoF people don't deal much with the question of perception very well, except for Kuhlewind; and, most European writers which includes Brenatan, Husserl, Steiner and Kuhlewind are far too abstract and idealistic in how they approach this stuff. If you are an American, and want to get down and dirty about perception, maybe some Barfield (at least he is writing in English and is an empericist and a phenomenologist as well). Saving the Appearances has some interesting remarks about perception in it.
for some reason Tom's software doesn't want to make an active link of this, so anyone wanting to visit will have to cut and past the url to their browser
Something odd about the link, I don't know what.
I respectfully disagree. Although I do think that Barfield takes some very important steps when speaking about the history of collective consciousness. Strangely, he doesn't take the same step regarding individual. I think it is because that is precisely where the function of the egoic process has it's most salient grip. I think that the fantasy of a 'future' consciousness is what blocks anthroposophists from noticing what is happening moment to moment.
Kuhlewind is indeed wonderful at reconstituting, creating and articulating exercises related to perception. However, his articulation of the construct of "the given" contains the same seed-error that looks outside of the present functioning of cognition moment-to-moment. In a certain sense it hardly matters, if one simply wishes to school one's consciousness according to his exercises.
I read Hicks as well. Obviously, this is hardly the place to go into details, but I'm not sure that matters. Hicks represents yet another brilliant (like your work) instance of the space directly in the middle of the intellectual and consciousness souls (obviously those words would be exactly wrong when speaking to Wittgensteinians or Gendlinians). However, his work does almost nothing to demonstrate how the actual concrete functioning of cognition can be shown to explicate not only the terms his essay generates but also any other set of terms. He takes his most treasured mental pictures into the place of actual discovery and, therefore, we get an essay that will suit a very limited set of individuals. Nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, very significant from the point of view of any anthropop who can use Hicks to overcome the last centuries hang ups regarding PoF.
I place Hicks in the group of those working for the sake of that small subset of anthropops who are ready to correct a few necessary habits that got grandfathered in around 1902. Your work, Joel, can also work to demolish some of those habits. Barfield and Khulewind's as well.
More information about formatting options