The Conversation II


27-09-2017 2 comments Print!
Last week I received a question to contemplate the part that the feelings, the emotions play in a conversation.

It is clear that they play the main role in forming the opinions. One could say - with a certain right - that our opinions are feelings that have crystallized to thoughts. Not fully of course, because the content of the opinions is taken from a more universal world of thought. But the composition of the opinion is to a great extent guided by emotions. Only there, where wisdom is the form of the feeling soul, there can originate pure, healthy, true opinions.

We know that our emotions are much more intermixed with the ego than thoughts are. In thinking there is always still a grain of universality. In feeling mostly there is only personality. Still, we would not be human, if there were only universal thoughts in our mind, and no feelings, no emotions.

In philosophy, great thinkers have broken their minds about the question: How can we find an education of emotional life, of the feeling soul, without stimulating the ego, but also without letting the cold intellect prevail?

I think our master in this subject - apart from Rudolf Steiner - should be Friedrich Schiller, in his Letters on the aesthetic education of man. The problem with these texts is that they were written for people who want to think with engagement. In fact they are not so difficult at all, if we grasp the intuition that was conceived by Schiller and which he worked out so precisely and comprehensively. Schiller found - while observing the human mind in all its facilities - that a human soul is placed between two extremes: on one hand the reality, which is given to him by the senses, is always in motion and ever changing, and is related to the will, to the passions that are difficult to govern; and, on the other, the world of 'form',which is universal, eternal, everlastingly the same, the reigning principle in itself and in this sense free - but apart from reality. In the world of the senses there is no freedom to be found because of the natural force; in the world of form there is a kind of freedom, but it cannot be brought into reality and thus there is no freedom at all. In the world of senses we are entangled in the force of the stream; in the world of the form the severity of principle reigns us.

Schiller saw the glimmer of freedom between both, there, where the form becomes reality and where reality takes on the shape of form. This is the point of freedom for the human soul, the area where we are true feeling beings, but where the feeling has become an objective form and appears in reality. This area he called 'Spieltrieb' between 'Formtrieb' and' Stofftrieb', i.e. In English these are called: Instinct of play, impulse of form/formal impulsion,and impulse of the senses/sensual impulsion. The instinct of play lives in the area of the soul that makes an artist out of us. True art is the impregnation of the one extreme with the other and vice versa. I will Quote Schiller here and hope that the intuition makes the text good to read.

Friedrich Schiller:
'But if there were cases in which he could have at once this twofold experience in which he would have the consciousness of his freedom and the feeling of his existence together, in which he would simultaneously feel as matter and know himself as spirit, in such cases, and in such only, would he have a complete intuition of his humanity, and the object that would procure him this intuition would be a symbol of his accomplished destiny, and consequently serve to express the infinite to him—since this destination can only be fulfilled in the fullness of time.
Presuming that cases of this kind could present themselves in experience, they would awake in him a new impulsion, which, precisely because the two other impulsions would co-operate in it, would be opposed to each of them taken in isolation, and might, with good grounds, be taken for a new impulsion. The sensuous impulsion requires that there should be change, that time should have contents; the formal impulsion requires that time should be suppressed, that there should be no change. Consequently, the impulsion in which both of the others act in concert—allow me to call it the instinct of play, till I explain the term—the instinct of play would have as its object to suppress time in time to conciliate the state of transition or becoming with the absolute being, change with identity.
The sensuous instinct wishes to be determined, it wishes to receive an object; the formal instinct wishes to determine itself, it wishes to produce an object. Therefore the instinct of play will endeavor to receive as it would itself have produced, and to produce as it aspires to receive.

The sensuous impulsion excludes from its subject all autonomy and freedom; the formal impulsion excludes all dependence and passivity. But the exclusion of freedom is physical necessity; the exclusion of passivity is moral necessity. Thus the two impulsions subdue the mind: the former to the laws of nature, the latter to the laws of reason. It results from this that the instinct of play, which unites the double action of the two other instincts, will content the mind at once morally and physically. Hence, as it suppresses all that is contingent, it will also suppress all coercion, and will set man free physically and morally. When we welcome with effusion someone who deserves our contempt, we feel painfully that nature is constrained. When we have a hostile feeling against a person who commands our esteem, we feel painfully the constraint of reason. But if this person inspires us with interest, and also wins our esteem, the constraint of feeling vanishes together with the constraint of reason, and we begin to love him, that is to say, to play, to take recreation, at once with our inclination and our esteem.
Moreover, as the sensuous impulsion controls us physically, and the formal impulsion morally, the former makes our formal constitution contingent, and the latter makes our material constitution contingent, that is to say, there is contingence in the agreement of our happiness with our perfection, and reciprocally. The instinct of play, in which both act in concert, will render both our formal and our material constitution contingent; accordingly, our perfection and our happiness in like manner. And on the other hand, exactly because it makes both of them contingent, and because the contingent disappears with necessity, it will suppress this contingence in both, and will thus give form to matter and reality to form. In proportion that it will lessen the dynamic influence of feeling and passion, it will place them in harmony with rational ideas, and by taking from the laws of reason their moral constraint, it will reconcile them with the interest of the senses.' (From the fourteenth letter, The Harvard Classics, 1909 - 1914).

Could we learn to play a conversation as a concert?

Mieke Mosmuller
Greek statue: Apollo of Olympia, where form and matter appear in harmony.

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  • From Wij Velmans @
    Het is mooi dat je de tip geef om met intuitie te lezen.De ene keer lukt dat wel en de andere keer verdwaal ik de woorden. Ik heb wel de tekst uitgedraaid om te lezen,dat geeft met rust en de neiging om een deel te herhalen is groter dan van het scherm.Ik denk wel eens was om schrijft Schiller zo moeilijk, maar kan het anders ? Zo'n ontdekking onder woorden brengen, hij werd erg geplaagd voor vooroordelen van tijdgenoten en macht van heersers dat hij een tussenweg een uitweg zocht. Ik moet er toch iets voor doen om in dat gebied te komen wat je eigenlijk zoekt, het speel moment van het leven steeds weer te realiseren.Schiller een miskend genie?Fijn dat hij er weer even was.
  • From Gerard Hotho @
    Dank je wel voor het antwoord op mijn vraag. Het is een mooie tekst van Schiller. Ik had de idee al gelezen in Steiner's Raetsel der Philosophie. Ik heb daarna ook al geprobeerd bij conflicten tussen de wil, begeerten en de Rede het middengebied op te zoeken, hetgeen wel soelaas heeft geboden. Blijkbaar kun je dat zo doen dat je daarbij meer objectiviteit in het gevoel krijgt. Die weg moet ik nog vinden. Ik bedenk nu wel dat je in het spel jezelf vergeet.