Wednesday 5 July 2023

This business of "thinking" - why such an emphasis here?

Over the past years I must have written hundreds of blog posts that are focused on "thinking"... but thinking of a particular kind, and in a particular context. 

It really is extraordinarily difficult to get across the centrality of this! - and I have rather floundered around with various nomenclatures - primary thinking, heart-thinking, direct knowing... these are some of them. 

The basic idea came from Rudolf Steiner, and I found it very difficult to grasp. The best source is his Philosophy of Freedom - written when Steiner was in his thirties, and before he became a Theosophist and 'cult leader'. 

But for me the penny didn't drop, until I after I had read (or rather listened-to, as an audiobook by Dale Brunsvold) Steiner's PhD thesis published as Truth and Knowledge, and also Otto Palmer's book of excerpts of Steiner's own comments on Philosophy of Freedom. I hoped that I would be able to provide readers of this blog with an easier and more direct route to understanding what Steiner meant - and free of the obscuring accretions that Theosophy brought. 

(As I have often said, my greatest strength as a 'philosopher' is that I know when I have not 'got' something; and therefore when I want to 'get' something, I know to keep on returning, and keep "banging away" at the problem - until either I do get it, or know that I can't. This was the case with Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom.)

Anyway; I have described what this thinking is like, as an experience; so that it can be recognized when/if it happens - how it can be distinguished from 'mundane' thinking (i.e. from the ordinary, everyday activity that most people think is all of thinking).

 Yet actually doing 'primary thinking' is only half of what is needed; and somebody might experience this frequently and yet get none of the positively transformative benefits it potentially contains. 

This is because we need to know the significance of primary thinking, know its importance in Man's destiny (especially "Western Man", and even more even-more especially those whose racial and cultural backgrounds are from the British Isles, Western and Central Europe, Scandinavia...).

And, for this, we need to know what is happening in primary thinking, where it comes-from (it's provenance) in terms of our-self (our real, divine, primary self - as-contrasted-with the externally-constructed, mortal, surface personality or persona).  

We need to know why primary thinking is valid (i.e. valid within the constraints of our mortal incarnation into this 'entropic' world). 

In other words, half of primary thinking is our explicit, conscious, and chosen knowledge of what it is; and the other half is actually doing it! 

Unless we are conscious of the situation; unless both understanding and practice are in-place, unless we are doing all this by choice and taking responsibility for the business... Then primary thinking is of not much help, or no help at all, to our situation in the world. 

It sounds hopelessly complicated! But the complications seem to arise from the problem of getting past established (mostly unconscious) assumptions and recognizing something very simple and clear which was "there all the time" but needed to become explicitly-known and chosen - at least that was my case. 

It's one of those things that is hard to "get", but when it is "got" then that is that. It is clear and obvious; and everything is changed by it. 


Michael Baron said...

BG 3.42: The senses are superior to the gross body, and superior to the senses is the mind. Beyond the mind is the intellect, and even beyond the intellect is the soul.

I have heard you dismiss Guenon's Traditional notions, but you grasp its essence, nevertheless. This thing you call "direct-knowing" is nothing less than the intellect, above the mind.

Michael Baron said...

I didn't have it on hand yesterday, but I wanted to furnish my previous comment with an appropriate quote from Guenon. In Crisis of the Modern World, he speaks of traditional sciences as opposed to modern, rational sciences and explains the intellect thus:

This leads us to repeat an essential point on which not the slightest ambiguity must be allowed to persist: intellectual intuition, by which alone metaphysical knowledge is to be obtained, has absolutely nothing in common with this other 'intuition' of which certain contemporary philosophers speak: the latter pertains to the sensible realm and in fact is sub-rational, whereas the former, which is pure intelligence, is on the contrary supra-rational. But the moderns, knowing nothing higher than reason in the order of intelligence, do not even conceive of the possibility of intellectual intuition, whereas the doctrines of the ancient world and of the Middle Ages, even when they were no more than philosophical in character, and therefore incapable of effectively calling this intuition into play, nevertheless explicitly recognized its existence and its supremacy over all the other faculties. This is why there was no rationalism before Descartes, for rationalism is a specifically modern phenomenon, one that is closely connected with individualism, being nothing other than the negation of any faculty of a supra-individual order. As long as Westerners persist in ignoring or denying intellectual intuition, they can have no tradition in the true sense of the word, nor can they reach any understanding with the authentic representatives of the Eastern civilizations, in which everything, so to speak, derives from this intuition, which is immutable and infallible in itself, and the only starting-point for any development in conformity with traditional norms.