Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Freedom in Thinking: the essence of Final Participation (and the destiny of modern Man)

Continued from:

Final Participation is simple to summarise in its essence - it is Freedom in Thinking.

This is why Rudolf Steiner's most important book was entitled The Philosophy of Freedom - but of course Freedom here is of an ultimate and existential nature: it is, indeed, the Freedom in Thinking with agency, from the Self.

Freedom, by this account, was in general not possible to Men at any time in the past - such freedom is the destiny of the future; but as yet Man has not embraced but rather denied and rejected this freedom (from wickedness, ignorance and wrong ideas).

Freedom of thinking is possible because Man is a child of God, hence has the divine creative capacity to originate - to be an uncaused cause.

In early Men, and in childhood; the self was not autonomous - and thinking was a consequence of immersion in other causes.

With the evolution of consciousness, Man's thinking became incrementally cut-off from the environment (for example, in very different ways; the abstract philosophy of the Ancient Greeks, the detachment from immersion in God and nature and forbidding of representations of God and nature of the Ancient Hebrews).

Man became in a sense more free - less influenced by externals; but at the cost of this freedom being cut-off from participation in reality. The end point was modern alienation, meaninglessness, purposelessness. The self cut-off even from its own thinking...

The future is for Man to be free in thinking: thinking that is primary and uncaused, thinking from the real self (not any social construct), thinking of unbounded scope - thinking which encompasses and integrates all. This is Final Participation - in Owen Barfield's term - 'final' because it is the divine mode of thinking.

Naturally, Man's divine thinking would be partial and distorted compared with God's thinking (which is whole and true); nonetheless it is the next and necessary step.

So, when confronted with a modern world of isolated, meaningless, purposeless, incoherent 'dots'; and experiencing the need to 'join' these dots and attain wholeness and understanding - this is Not a matter of actually taking these dots as they currently-are and joining them. These existing dots are partial, distorted, dishonest... the task is near infinite in scope - overwhelming in complexity...

Rather, the task is much simpler. It is first to attain real, true, thinking and then confront all of reality (sensations, perceptions, feelings, memories, intuitions... everything) - on the basis that everything is significant - and to think them.

Suppose yourself to be looking at the night sky. With Final Participation what we do Not do is to think about the stars as a scientist might; we do not and cannot be un-self-consciously immersed in the experience as our ancestors might; neither do we think concepts of the meaning of stars as a philosopher or theologian might...

With Final Participation we think the stars, we think with the stars. The stars are real, objective and universally-accessible things that are included-in the stream of thinking along with... whatever might be other foci of attention such as the garden, the trees, our memories, our intuitions and imaginations... All are part of thinking, and this thinking is free because it originates in the self, and the self is agent and uncaused.

Such thinking is primary, all-encompassing; and we are not detached from anything that may be thought-about, because we think with it; but we rather participate-in anything, in this thinking.

This is what we need to do, we need to practise doing it until it is voluntary and habitual. This is metaphysics - first philosophy - and we should not be distracted from it, at least not initially, by second-order and 'epistemological' questions about the validity of the various bits and pieces of thinking.

(Naturally, even if our thinking is pure and uncontaminated by external causes, or by wrong motivations - and much thinking will, sooner or later, be so contaminated; our personal thinking will be partial and incomplete as compared with God's thinking. But to demand to know exactly how our own thinking matches up to God's - exactly where it is true and where it is not - is in fact to demand to know as much as God! Epistemology is therefore a fool's errand, a snare and a pitfall. Leave it alone!)

Insofar as we attain to this concept of Freedom in Thinking we are doing what is most important for us to do - that is for us to do, here and now. It is the essential next step in the primary purpose of the saved Christian - which is theosis, to become more divine, to become more like to Jesus Christ.