Thursday 21 September 2017

Modern nihilism and its overcoming

We live in what Rudolf Steiner (and, from him, Owen Barfield) calls the Consciousness Soul era - i.e. a time in which we not only cannot see (or otherwise perceive) spirits, but we have also learned to distrust perceptions that (until the modern age of science) were simply taken for granted.

And to distrust reason. To distrust all positive statement, in fact. (After all, we might be insane, but not realise it.)

So science was supposed to be derived only from objective (universally shared) perceptual information, but then science subverted perceptual information (especially with quantum theory) - leaving us with... nothing. (i.e. nihilism.)

The scientific metaphysic (materialism, positivism, empiricism, evidence-based thinking... variously-named) thereby consumes itself, is self-destroying. We doubt even our own thinking.

Once IN this state for any length of time, it is difficult to escape - but most people who do try to get-out (rather than simply obliterating their consciousness with distractions, drugs, sex &c) usually try to return to a previous naivety. However, simple, child-like ignorance cannot be recovered - when we have known, we cannot make it as if we hadn't known (obliteration is not the same as innocence).

Yet the state of nihilism is itself incoherent, when positively-stated. One cannot argue for nihilism; there can be no evidence for it, no reason to support it... perhaps nihilism can best be described as rooted in a state of existential fear - fear that nihilism may be true; and inability to find reassurance that it is not true.

What Steiner and Barfield offer is a way-through nihilism, and forward. The state of nihilism is something which must, indeed, be got-through - it is a necessary phase in the attainment of freedom.

As I understand it, the only way out from nihilism is by metaphysical examination - and by the decision to rely upon intuition.

That is: We expose and examine our primary assumptions about reality; and then we make the assumption that we will base our future metaphysics upon the primal personal act of intuition that intuition is valid.

That becomes the base for everything else - but such an intuition cannot be given by anybody or anything; but each must know it for himself or herself - by convincing experience; and that can only happen by active thinking.

(I mean; this transcendence of nihilism doesn't just come-upon a person passively to-be-accepted; it must be sought by active thinking. Which is why going-through and overcoming nihilism is so rare.)

No comments: