Metamorphosis of thinking - II


21-06-2017 3 comments Print!

It can become a tragic experience in life to discover how passive we modern human beings are in our inner lives. The body can be passive too, but it is nothing compared to the passivity of the inner life. There is a joke that Rudolf Steiner told about this passivity; he told it to the young teachers of the Waldorf School.

From GA 217, p. 126 (translation on rs-archive, lecture VIII):
'Most people are only able to think passively, finding active thinking impossible. But active thinking has no room for sleepy nor for intellectual dreaming. One must keep in step with it and get one's thinking on the move. The moment thinking is set in motion one goes with it. Then what I should like to call modern clairvoyance ceases to be anything miraculous. That this clairvoyance should still appear as something particularly miraculous comes from people not wishing to develop the energy to bring activity into their thinking. It often drives one to despair. One often feels when demanding active thinking of anyone that his mood is illustrated by the following anecdote: Somebody was lying in a ditch without moving hand or foot, not even opening his eyes; he was asked by a passer-by: “Why are you so sad?” The man answered: “Because I don't want to do anything.” The questioner was astonished at this, for the man lying there was doing nothing and had apparently done nothing for a long time. But he wanted to do even more “doing nothings” Then the questioner said: “Well, you certainly are doing nothing,” and got the answer: “I have to revolve with the earth and even that I don't want to do “

This is how people appear who do not wish to bring activity into thinking, into what alone out of man's being can bring the soul back into connection with the divine-spiritual content of the world.'

So it is not only the passivity itself, it also is the refusal of wanting to become active; it is the refusal of insight into the necessity of becoming active in thinking. There is a strong force at work that seems to want to keep the human race in its passivity of thinking, so that all human beings will forget that there could be a free-ness in thinking - because otherwise there could be a will to think what the individual human being must see as true and right thoughts. Without being guided by all the thoughts that are being thought for us to think... Because in thinking itself lies truthfulness, there would be no danger at all, should people start to think actively. They would know exactly what they think and would therefore never sin against the spiritual Truth that is resident in active thinking. The misunderstanding that active thinking could be a thinking that is not guided by morality, because the thinker will think from egoistic purposes, represents the gravest failure to understand the human thinking faculty. True active thinking follows the 'laws' of truth. Not in a direct line, of course, with never a mistake - but in a sound development toward universal truth. In this way we could see the development of active thinking as a healing phenomenon, which, as a medical doctor, I like to symbolize in the following way:

Metamorphosis of thinking - II
Statue of Asclepius, exhibited in the Museum of Epidaurus Theatre,
in the city of Epidaurus (Greece)

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  • From klaus Kreuzer @
    Und das Wort ist in mir
    ich bin der Schöpfer
    meines Geistes
    Verstehe ich die Worte
    dann bewege ich das Leben.
    • From @
      Dank je Mieke. Heb dit krachtig op me in laten werken. Goed dat je er een medisch element aan verbindt. De desbetreffende voordracht uit GA 217 bestudeerde ik deze week in zijn geheel. Laat tevens mijn gedachten gaan naar de inhoud van de 4e voordracht van Steiners lezingenreeks Psychosofie (uit de cyclus Anthroposophie, Psychosophie, Pneumatosophie; GA 115), waarin Steiner onder andere wijst op een wezenlijke waarde van een zuivere wil, te onderscheiden van gemodificeerde, specifieke en objectgerichte begeerten, en noodzaak om natuurwetenschappelijke onderzoeksresultaten en benaderingswijzen tegenwoordig aan te vullen met occulte onderzoeksmethoden; antroposofisch geestonderzoek. (Forschung.) Actief zelf denken vervult bij één en ander natuurlijk een cruciale rol.

      Teven laat het onderwerp mijn gedachten gaan naar het basisthema van je boekwerk Het menselijke Mysterie (Uitgeverij Occident, 2014), een lezenswaardig en prikkelend studieboek;
      internetadres: https://www.occident.nl/nl/boeken/geesteswetenschap/het-menselijke-mysterie-9789075240405

      Kort heb ik, zoals ik dat momenteel beleef, een waarde van actief (en waarachtig) denken met twee aforismen, één van Nietzsche en één van mezelf, aan de orde gesteld in mijn blog Perceptie en oude windselen (Cahier, 26 juni 2017);
      internetadres: http://johnwervenbos.blogspot.nl/2017/06/perceptie-en-oude-windselen.html
  • From Greta Fields @
    People interested in the distinction between passive and active thinking may wish to investigate this topic further in Aristotle's Metaphysics. Aristotle made a distinction between active and passive mind, between potential and actual mind, between potential and actual use of reason. I understand Steiner's philosophy as directly descended not only from Goethe, but Aristotle. Interesting, Steiner had a teacher who wrote books about Aristotle: Peter Bamford mentions this in his introduction to Goethe's Theory of Knowledge, by R.S. I wish somebody who knows more about philosophy than me would write something about Steiner's debt to Aristotle. Steiner was not even included in readings in the philosophy department where I took a couple courses in philosophy. However, I read enough Aristotle to know that Steiner has done a brilliant followup to the Metaphysics.