Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Owen Barfield is good for your health!

Owen Barfield's master work is probably Saving the Appearances (1957). It is beautifully written, but not an easy read - not easy to understand in its implications. 

Yet if it can be grasped in its properly Christian implications, and if this understanding can be brought into everyday living; StA can be an instantly and lastingly, positively-life-transforming book!

Perhaps its core message is that we are co-creators of the world as we know it. 

This means that - as wee look around us, that tree, cloud, river, or office block - are all knowable as such only by our personal contribution. 

Whatever raw-reality is purely 'out there' has no meaning, it is a mere chaos - and it is Man's consciousness that (in context of the primary reality of divine creation - a creation in which we necessarily share as children of God) makes it possible to perceive one thing as different from another; to recognize, to know. 

This can be an inspiring way of living! 

If we are confronted by some beautiful landscape or work of art, then we should realize that we have been a necessary part of making it so. Beauty is not just out-there, but also in-here

This is an immensely encouraging fact to bring to mind - and certainly good for one's mental health!

On the flipside, because modern Man has a very high degree of agency, and is cut-off from spontaneous immersion in divine creation; this 'making of the world' has become for us (substantially) an active and conscious choice. 

We participate in ugliness, in immortality, in lies - much as we participate in the highest and best values.  

We are personally responsible for co-creating evil, as we are for participating in the reality of good. 

Yet, by Barfield's account; this does not leave us helplessly torn between good and evil; but able to choose between them. 

We - each and personally - choose whether to make our commitment, our affiliation - to the one... or to the other. 

Indeed (here and now, at this phase in our development), if we are to affiliate to good, this must be a conscious choice; whereas if we refuse to make a choice, then we are doomed passively to absorb whatever evil The World happens to be pushing upon us. 

(We could think about this in terms of the concepts by which we understand the facts of the world. Either we choose to understand the world in terms of the concepts of divine creation; or else we will by-default understand the world by the concepts which dominate public discourse - via the mass media, state bureaucracy, corporations; the arts, educational and research systems etc.)

Thus Barfield provides both a conceptual framework by which we can - in our actual lived experience - know that we are essential co-creators - in part - of the world around us; so we know ourselves to be involved in the world: in that landscape, makers of that painting, creators of that insight... 

And also Barfield provides the basis for understanding that we are free - we deserve credit exactly because we deserve blameresponsibility is another word for freedom. 

Our conscious choices do not just affect the world; they make the world

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Our memories of paradise...

The paradise-imago - or myth, or story - is the symbol par excellence

I imagine that is why it is so universal and why it has so many ramifying significances. 

Paradise is the symbol of symbols; because it symbolizes, not so much any single non-physical archetype, but non-physical existence in general - non-physical existence as such

You will never understand symbols until you have grasped that pre-historic man in his unconscious goes back - not to the animal kingdom, as the nineteenth century fondly imagined - but to a paradisal state where there was no death; because there was no matter.

Edited from page 124 of Worlds Apart by Owen Barfield (1963)

This passage, put into the mouth of "Sanderson", describes a key assumption of Owen Barfield's metaphysics - which he derived from Rudolf Steiner and which I learned from him; which is an inversion of the usual assumption that matter precedes spirit. Barfield instead regards matter as 'condensing' from spirit; as a 'concentrated' form of spirit. 

And Barfield also assumes that we (and all physical Beings) all existed as spirit, before we incarnated - before we transformed into bodies. This is part of Mormon theology (thus preceding Steiner). 

In this mortal incarnation; bodies bring death - and indeed this physical world is a world of death (of entropy). 

But we have memories of having lived in a past world without death - a world of spirit: we have memories of 'paradise', and these are widely manifested in many symbols, myths, and nostalgia for a Golden Age. 

And Christians have faith in the hope of living in a future world without death; which is a world of resurrection. A world where we (and other Beings) are incarnated in bodies that do Not die: bodies and physical forms that are everlasting, immortal, eternal.  

On what grounds do people choose their ultimate (metaphysical) assumptions about Reality?

I am slowly and carefully re-reading Owen Barfield's Worlds Apart (1963) - one of his best books - which is a profound 'Platonic dialogue' between characters representing different philosophical and scientific viewpoints. 

I have just worked through sections in which Linguistic Philosophy, and then Freudian Psychoanalysis, are expounded: firstly in all their irrefutable nature, as if each 'must be' true; and then revealed to be wholly a product of assumptions that have been chosen.  

This is how it is - at least in our era: we choose our reality by choosing our fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality (i.e. metaphysics; which is that philosophy which is concerned with the deepest assumptions of the nature of reality). 

Choosing and accepting different sets of assumptions leads to different world views - each of which is irrefutable once entered. If you have ever talked with a Marxist, Freudian, or SJW - you will know that there is no possible evidence that does or could refute their system - once the assumptions of that system are accepted; and, indeed, exactly the same applies to a Christian of any denomination, or to adherents to other religions. 

The conclusion is that our relationship with the world is rooted in metaphysical assumptions, and these assumptions are chosen... Thus we choose our reality

So what determines our choice of assumptions? Why does somebody choose one reality rather than another? In particular - why do so many people choose assumptions about reality that lead to a miserable, futile, meaningless, demotivated life? 

To be specific, and to take a mostly-past example, why did so many people (especially Americans) choose to believe Freudian Psychoanalysis was the truth about reality; when that reality was so utterly nihilistic? 

Those who chose the metaphysics of psychoanalysis could, in principle, have chosen assumptions that sustained purpose in life, life beyond death, and a meaning in life that included real and eternal relations with other Men, Nature and God... Yet all this was rejected in favour of embracing psychoanalysis...

As an up-to-date example we have the dominating, hegemonic, political attitude of 'leftism' (including All mainstream political groupings and parties) - which again is rooted in metaphysical assumptions that see human life as purposeless, meaningless, and oppositional (rather than creative) in its ultimate nature. 

Why would anybody - so many hundreds of millions of people - choose to believe assumptions that lead to such a pointless and worthless concept of their own (and everybody else's) life?

I think we can see the answer in terms of a basically perverse attitude, that regards anything bleak and depressing as thereby true. 

There is a prior, and unconscious/ unarticulated, assumption that anything true, beautiful and virtuous is a fake. 

This is the idea that has, for the past century, sustained high-status art and literature which is overwhelmingly (and deliberately) hope-less and hope-destroying, disgusting... Which assumes that life is futile and seeks to reveal the selfishness, hedonism, manipulation that lies beneath all apparent 'good'. 

In other words; people in The West overwhelmingly choose to choose a reality in which evil is true, and Good (and God) are fakes. And they regard anything else as childish, ignorant, deluded - or some kind of fraud. 

Where does this attitude come from? I believe that it is rooted in the pre-mortal nature of those people who are incarnated in the modern era; amplified by evil-choices un-repented, and reinforced by the society which these people have built. 

In other words, the ultimate cause is the innate nature of Men; but Men are free agents; and their disposition does not dictate their choices. Yet men have, overwhelmingly, chosen to make choices to disbelieve in God, the soul, the spiritual world; and more recently to reject God and favour the side of the devil. 

Men are not naturally Christian, but have chosen actively to reject Christianity, including the promise of eternal resurrected life - and to regard it as an evil which should be eradicated. 

Thus Men who were born with a greater disposition to evil, and a lesser spontaneous knowledge and experience of the divine, have amplified (rather than repented and worked against) these traits; which is why Men (in the West, primarily) have overwhelmingly and increasingly chosen to believe nihilistic metaphysical assumptions. 

My conclusion is that people actually choose the reality they live-by (whether consciously, or mostly unconsciously); and most people in The West have apparently made the choice to believe ultimate assumptions about reality that lead to the conviction that life is futile and without coherence, and is extinguished at death.

This, in turn, leads to a conviction that there is nothing to be learned from life, that the short-term is the only dependable reality, and that our personal state of happiness/ pleasure (or misery/ pain) is the only reality that really matters. 

There is no long-term (especially not eternal) purpose; so there is no long-term or strong motivation. 

There is no reason to remember experience (because our reality is not permanent in value), and no possibility of valuable learning (because here-and-now is the only dependable truth) - therefore people try (as best they may) to live in the present, and to live in accordance with... whatever incentives are most dominant in the present.  

So far it seems that our dispositions tend to dictate our choice of assumptions; but of course we are (by our nature) free agents and able to choose differently. 

But we can choose differently only if we are consciously aware of the fact of our choosing

If we are unaware that there are metaphysical assumptions, and that we have in fact chosen to believe some assumptions rather than others - then we are trapped; because the assumptions dictate what counts as evidence. 

Freudianism (or Marxism, or Scientism, of Christianity...) explains all possible 'evidence'; therefore only when the Freudian realizes that he has chosen to believe this and this as his assumptions concerning the nature of reality, is he then able to choose differently

What might be his motivations for choosing differently? 

Well, at one superficial level he might want to choose the beliefs that sustain the 'happiest' possible life, in which there was present those motivations that are subjectively most satisfying. But in practice, that does not seem to work - modern men are pre-immunized against this; by the assumptions that such happiness-seeking people are mindless, gullible fools; or else cunning manipulators.  

We cannot, of course, make an appeal to 'the truth' because that is begging the question: The Truth is precisely what needs to be established by choice of assumptions. Once someone has already made a choice of assumptions (and this applies to all post-adolescents), then 'the truth' of whatever he has chosen is confirmed by all subsequent experience. 

I think the only possible motivator to change assumptions is intuition, that deepest and most ineradicable of evaluative inner convictions. 

If the Freudian can get to the point of recognizing and becoming aware of his own primary assumptions and the fact that he has chosen to believe them rather than other assumptions; then intuition can (and will) get to work on them.

All assumptions are chosen in modernity - yet intuition recognizes some as arbitrary while others 'ring true'; some assumptions are dead, inactive, unsustaining - while others awaken motivation, creativity - and Love. 

Perhaps Love is The most important thing. Anyone who is capable of Love and values Love; will find his intuition working on his own core assumptions, evaluating them in terms of Love. 

And it is Love that leads a Man to reject the assumptions of Psychoanalysis, Linguistic Analysis, Scientism, Leftism etc... (i.e. recognizing them as love-denying, love-less and love-destroying assumptions) and which begins to move his choices towards Christianity...

And - by Love - within Christianity; his chosen assumptions will move towards that true Christianity that was exemplified and taught by Jesus Christ - rather than the errors and perversions of Men.

Explicit and chosen belief in Jesus is vital now, in a way that was not the case in ancient times

By my understanding, God has not withdrawn his presence from Modern Man - but Modern Man's minds is now closed from spontaneous and unconscious knowledge of God - in a way that was not the case in ancient times - nor in our own early childhood. 

In other words - as a typical Modern Man reaches adolescence. he enters a state where his consciousness is cut-off from that spontaneous and unconscious knowledge of God (the state of Original Participation, as Owen Barfield termed it); which is what gave ancient people (and still gives children) underlying confidence in the reality and goodness of creation, and hope for their own future beyond death. 

This confidence and hope transcended the official contents of their religions - even when (for example) those religions branded mortal life as suffering merely, and denied life beyond mortal life. 

Yet Modern Man is bereft of those natural supports of the past; and therefore is prone to regard life as futile and despair as realistic. 

The only alternative to such nihilism is that Modern Man makes a conscious choice from his situation of cut-off-ness: the choice to regard Jesus Christ as truly divine, his promise of resurrected Heavenly life eternal as desired, and to 'believe-on' and 'follow' Jesus to this goal. 

Modern Man is on-his-own as never before, because of the nature of his walled-off consciousness; but God is still there - just a choice away; within the soul and all around; ready to commence contact instantly, as soon as our free consciousness wipes the window, opens the door. 

But even a wholly-Good God, and the knowledge that we are members of God's family, does not suffice to justify this mortal life unless it is also understood as a preparation for Heaven. 

Because in this mortal world; entropy rules, all that is Good changes and corrupts with time, and death is the inevitable terminus. 

If the mortal life were everything - in a context of eternity even the 'best' mortal life would be a futile waste of time...

Confidence in a benign creator God is vitally necessary but not enough for Modern Man, in his alienation and isolation. Therefore, unless we are to be drawn to the embrace death, nothingness and hope-less-ness - we must also choose Jesus.  

When, in the past, would you like to have lived? (Being who you now are)... Understanding the evolutionary-development of Mankind

I expect that we have all day-dreamed about living in the past - and when the present is acutely miserable, or when we cannot seriously imagine a good future; then such dreams are more insistent.  

If you are like me; then these pleasant day-dreams are almost like 'snapshots' - holiday photos in reverse - whereby some particularly appealing scene is conjured and entered-into. 

For example, just before I went to sleep at night, I would sometimes imagine myself on a sultry summer's afternoon beside the Concord River or Walden Pond in the 'transcendentalist' era of Ralph Waldo Emerson. I could feel - physically - an idealized sense of repose against an implicit background of close-knit friends and associates, who shared an opening-out of ideas and possibilities.   

After becoming a Christian; I had a mental picture of Constantinople under a crystalline-blue sky; the city and its streets gleaming white, and with bright and rich colour; the music, painting, statuary, mosaics; and dignified ritual of divine liturgy under the vast dome of Hagia Sophia. 

Behind such pictures lay an imagined sense of what it was like to live, immersively, in a society where Christianity permeated the whole of life - a medium into which one was born, and through which one swam. 

This idea of 'immersion' in life; of life as unselfconscious - of living in the world as given and joyfully embraced - was at the back of most of these pleasant, yearning, day-dreams. 

This bears a more-than-coincidental relationship to similar day-dreams of early childhood; where I can remember some of what it was like to be a happy child in a happy family, in the years before I was five. For instance; Christmas day aged three or four was a total and immersive experience of being swept along in colour, warmth, joy and unfolding excitement. My life in early childhood - when it was good - was good without comparison; it was living in the best possible world. 

When, from the late 1990s, I began to read accounts of the life of 'simple', nomadic, foraging, hunter-gatherer societies; it was impossible to miss the similarity with childhood - which was indeed often pointed-out by anthropologists (before the cancer of leftism utterly destroyed their capacity to experience and think). 

Yet, although there was intense nostalgia for states of being; I could seldom whole-heartedly take the inward step of wanting actually to live in any previous state of society - in the sense that I could not imagine me-as-I-am-now, finding life better in any past society as-it-was-then. 

For the daydream to work properly, I would have to be a different person from the modern Man I had become

The problem was 'consciousness' - the problem was my modern self-awareness, my modern knowledge of possibilities and comparisons - and of what happened next. For any fantasy of the imagined past to "work" - I would need to leave-behind a lot of myself-in-the-present. 

This leads onto the next question concerning what I would need to leave-behind. Some of the 'modern' stuff about 'the way I think' that would need to be left-behind is evil - and I would be much better rid of it... not just in order to live in the past, but anyway. I have been corrupted by the evils of modernity - and, like any evil, this needs to be recognized and repented.

But... even when I could imagine being cleansed of characteristically modern corruptions of consciousness; there was a residue of 'me-here-now' compared with people of the past that was different in nature - but not evil; and this made it difficult to want to live in the past except by wanting to be a different person: a fundamentally different person. 

To live 'idyllically' as a simple hunter-gatherer in my fantasy past - or even in Byzantium, or in New England circa 1835 - I had to imagine myself as somebody-else; which really does not make sense, if you think about it...

Indeed; this wishing has the same incoherence as transhumanism - which aims to cure the ills consequent on being a human by abolishing humans!

Or, it resembles the Western oneness spiritualities - which offer a cure of the ills of Modern self-consciousness in the abolition of consciousness of the self.  

Or, it resembles the 'spiritual' strategy of intoxication - whereby consciousness is (pathologically) obliterated by (usually temporary) self-poisoning. A person escapes the miseries of self-consciousness by deliberately causing cerebral dysfunction; such that (e.g.) alertness, self-awareness and memory are rendered physically inoperative. When a drug has euphoriant properties, there may also be a state of pleasure or at least painlessness. 

In a sense; such intoxication - with its obliteration of that which causes and enables angst - implicitly aims at a simulation of earlier (or child-like) consciousness in terms of the experience of here-and-now immersion in the here-and-now. Insofar as it can be achieved, such simulation of unselfconscious immersion is necessarily achieved at the cost of significant dysfunction

It was such insights that prepared my mind for understanding the insights of Owen Barfield concerning what he terms 'the evolution of consciousness' - evolution being used in a pre-natural-selection sense of purposive change; much like the psychological aspects of development of a human from baby, through childhood and adolescence to sexual maturity (the purpose ultimately coming from God).  

To regard human history as including a change in the nature of Man's thinking, and relationship with the world - a change analogous to (and sharing similar purposes with)  that of the development of a single Man - is to find meaning in the mental differences between myself and the hunter-gatherer or resident of Constantinople in the middle hundreds AD. 

It is to recognize that for me to live in the past in the same spirit as people did then, would require fundamental changes in my consciousness; but to regard at least some of these changes as on the one hand impossible - in the same sense that an adult cannot really, in essence, become a child again; and also undesirable - in the sense that development is not meant to be reversed. 

This is to assume that when a person develops through adolescence to sexual maturity; this is what God wants - and the 'job' of the adult is to deal with the situation - not to try and reverse it. This is our divinely-appointed task - it is our destiny. 

Likewise; when God has enabled his creation of Mankind to develop from hunter gatherer, through agrarian societies into the industrial revolution - in some broad yet essential sense this is what God wants; and our job is to deal with it - starting from where we are; and not trying to reverse the fundamentals of the later situation in search of recreating the earlier situation. 

Of Course we Modern Men must recognize and repent sin; and insofar (and it is very far) that Modern Man is corrupt, and Modern society not only encourages but increasingly enforces such corruption, we are right to desire that this be changed. 

But the consciousness of Modern Man is unprecedented - and cannot lead-to, nor function-in, any previous type of society

Just as the adolescent's consciousness is unprecedented in his own experience - and the only way out is forward; no matter how corrupt an individual he has become, the same applies to Modern Society: that the only way out is forward. 

The only way out is forward; because we cannot find solutions to our unprecedented situation in our past. 

Part of this is due to an increase in sin; but part of it is also due to a change in the nature of Men through time - so that even if past social forms could be re-created, Modern men would not function in them, and they could not be sustained in the same way as they once were - they would be unsustainable, and they would not lead to Good. 

We cannot become unselfconsciously immersed in society again; and even if we could, it would be in defiance of God's expressed creative will - and would therefore lead to demonic outcomes. 

Thus, an understanding and acceptance of the development of human consciousness can make a fundamental difference in how we intend and hope to deal with the evils of modern society. 

These evils are seen, to a significant and crucial degree, as due to a failure to deal-with the development of Man's consciousness

An analogy might be when the (common) corruptions of adolescence are seen as a failure to deal with the unfolding inner changes in consciousness. That unfolding was itself a necessary, and a good (God-given) thing. 

But development leads to unavoidable challenges and choices - and if the challenges are avoided and the choices are wrong - then there is a turn towards evil that needs repentance.  

We, here, now are living at the end of innumerable failures to acknowledge challenges, and innumerable bad choices by vast numbers of people - an accumulated legacy of evil which is unrecognized and unrepented.   

But behind all this was a development of consciousness, a growing-up of Mankind, which was divinely-intended; and is irreversible. 

Therefore, although we are not supposed to leave history behind (just as we ought to remember, honour and cherish all which was good in our childhoods); nonetheless, but we ought not to seek to recreate our childhood, nor seek childrens' solutions to adolescent problems: they will not work, and they will do harm - even when well-intended. 

Instead; we must seek solutions appropriate to where we are and what we have become; and the right answers will be unprecedented in fundamental ways.

This quest will almost certainly entail trials and errors; so we need both faith and hope, together with a willingness to discern and repent when things do not work-out. 

But we each have divine guidance (of several kinds) to lead us through the maze of options and alternatives, successes and failures. 

That is the nature of our task.   

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Re-reading What Coleridge Thought

I am currently re-reading various Owen Barfield works, including What Coleridge Thought (1971); which had a massive impact when I last read it in 2016. This reading led eventually to my still current metaphysical system (based on the eternal existence of Beings). 

Both in 2016 and now, I gave the fullest and most active attention to my reading; which for me entails reading, in a cafe, at the 'best time of day' for me - which is before 11.00 am. I sit wit the book on one side and a notebook on the other; and read a bit but keep breaking-off to  write comments in the notebook about as much as I read. And I take as long as it takes to work through the book in this way. 

When I first read this book, I was mainly trying to understand 'what Coleridge thought'; but this time I am comparing this with the ways in which I have extended or modified my own philosophy - in which I was triggered by the ways in which I regarded Coleridge as 'dead right' and the ways in which I felt he was still captive to the philosophy he had learned as a younger man. 

In particular, Coleridge (and indeed Barfield) seem to me to suffer - to a relatively worse degree than I do myself - from what Barfield termed Residual Unresolved Positivism. Coleridge was a great genius pioneer, and was making a trail for the first time; such that things were made easier for those who followed.

(Including that Coleridge had, by his work, permanently affected and added-to the world of divine creation - which we can now discover intuitively for ourselves - if we are able to ask the right questions.)

Thus, Coleridge's extremely abstract and difficult exposition of 'polarity' or 'polar logic' and of his schemata for describing human mental activity, can be simplified greatly (I believe) by the simple assumption of having the metaphysical assumption that the 'basic unit' of reality are Beings, which have properties such as life, consciousness and purpose - and who are 'defined' as existing through-time - which means that we should eschew discussing them without reference to time and transformation. 

I have found this to be (so far) extremely powerful and satisfying - partly because it is an explicit elaboration of how I recall seeing the world as a young child; and it chimes with my understanding of the 'animism' of hunter-gatherer tribal people. 

So, this time of reading, I am fitting Barfield's understanding of Coleridge into my own understanding - which is, in a sense, the opposite of what I did first-time-through.

Saturday, 11 December 2021

My special gratitude to Owen Barfield

When I encounter a special author, I will initially hurl myself into trying to understand him - read many books, think a lot, take notes (in a meditative fashion); and often talk and write about these experiences. 

After a while, when I have become surer of what they mean and have a fairly sold grasp on it; I find that what I have learned amounts to some particular things; but I then need to detach these specifics from the whole of the writer's assertions - because I have never found any writer whose views I can endorse or believe fully.

Eventually, I get to a point where I have (more or less) obtained 'what I needed' from a writer; and may (more or less) cease to re-read or explore actively that author's works. 

I have, at this point, built-into my own philosophy of life, some elements from the special author; and from then onwards, these ideas may undergo further development and refinement - and may indeed end-up by being very different from how they are in that author's own work. 

So, the end result is that I retain a special gratitude to the author for insights that I needed; but I have ceased actively to engage with that author, and am then often more aware of my points of disagreement with him, rather than agreement. 

Yet the core debt remains - I have been changed, and for the better, by the encounter. 

I have almost reached this stage with Owen Barfield. I do continue to engage with his writings; in a cyclical fashion - but his importance to me has by-now been fed-into my own philosophy-of-life, and they have interacted with other ideas from elsewhere; have been modified; and have developed in (sometimes) different directions. 

Looking back; what I got from Owen Barfield - in a general sense - was a positive and hopeful attitude to life, deriving from his articulation of Final Participation

Until I encountered Final Participation, I could not see any positive direction for human life - here and now. I saw life as a binary choice between the present and the past; a present which was alienated and increasingly evil - and a past which seemed both irrecoverable and harmful to try and recover. 

It was as if an adolescent hated being an adolescent, and yearned for childhood - but knew that childhood could not be recovered - so that this mortal life had no real hope within itself: no real positive purpose. 

But through his concept of Final Participation; Barfield made me realize that there was a third possibility. Barfield terms the 'childhood' state Original Participation and the adolescent state Consciousness Soul; and he analyses how the one derived from the other through a process of unfolding development of consciousness, that stretched across different generations and historical eras. 

The 'original' participation was an immersive, passive, unconscious sense of being part of the world and knowing the spiritual; while the consciousness soul was that active, self-conscious way of thinking that finds itself cut-off - alienated - from the spiritual, and indeed from the world. 

I personally have found (since adolescence) this cut-offness, this being an 'observer' of life, trapped inside one's head - locked into one's thinking; to be appalling. It removed depth and meaning from experience, it dissolved all sense of purpose. 

This was a demotivating and depressing situation - which recurred daily, almost hourly, and needed always to be fought; but where the fighting seemed to provide no more then a subjective and ephemeral amelioration. 

For me alienation was The Problem of my adult life - and I was always seeking solutions; but never found any that were convincing, effective, strategic. 

Barfield convinced me that this development pointed forward to Final Participation which was an active, chosen, conscious state of being part-of the world; and of contributing creatively to the world. 

I realized that many of my best and most hopeful experiences in life could be seen as glimpses of this Final Participation state, but without Barfield's insights I could not make sense of them - could not learn the lessons they had to teach...

Instead I merely treasured these 'moments' (epiphanies', 'peak experiences'. moments of 'joy'); held onto them, and tried to seek them out - but with small and dwindling success... And the treasuring of these moments was itself alienating - given their temporary and very partial nature.     

But now, with Barfield's analysis to help; these moments could be seen in terms of a developmental process, a growing towards a future and better state - and this future and better state could be recognized as resurrected eternal life in Heaven. 

Having been given certain analytic tools and deep insights by Barfield; I was then starting to use them in a Christian context that I had already in-place, but which was deficient in exactly the areas that Barfield supplied. I began to see - more and more clearly - my path to the Romantic Christianity that I had always implicitly wanted but had not been able to articulate. 

That is; a Christianity that supplied the Romanticism which could cure my alienation, cut-offness, trapped-in-the-headness which had been left almost untouched (or even exacerbated) by mainstream Christianity.  

I found (I find, now) that I was was going beyond Barfield, and into areas where he would very probably not have followed; but I could not have done so without Barfield's help. 

So, now I find myself having integrated Barfield into my own thinking; having changed some of his core ideas in the process - yet I know the Barfieldian provenance of my situation; and that he ranks as one of a handful of vital sources in my own deepest convictions. 

Friday, 26 November 2021

Confusing selection-replacement with transformative developmental-evolution... The covertly suicidal impulse in Artificial Intelligence, Transhumanism, and Oneness spiritualities

There is a very prevalent logical error that pervades our culture; so thoroughly pervades it that it is all-but invisible, and difficult to understand. 

The error is to confuse annihilation and replacement, with transformational development

This error was made clear to me only in recent years and through reading Owen Barfield; but until that point (around 2014) I too was in thrall to the mistake. 

We have a deep, ancient and primary understanding of 'evolution' as a process akin to the development of an acorn to an oak tree, and egg to a chicken, a newborn baby to an adult. 

That is, we understand evolution to be a transformation of the self - while retaining the identity of the self. 

This could be called developmental-transformative evolution

In this primary understanding of evolution; the Being remains itself - but changes form. 

Thus, if we (as Christians) imagine our future spiritual evolution from this mortal life to resurrected eternal life; this is a 'process' during which we remain our-self but undergo developmental or transformative changes in both body and mind. 

The result is that our resurrected eternal self is the same person as he was during mortal life. And in Heaven we can 'recognize' others whom we knew in mortal life: they are still themselves.

But from the time that evolution by natural selection became a dominant social paradigm (during the late 1900s) there has emerged a qualitatively different conception of 'evolution'

This could be called selection-reproductive evolution

The key to this concept is selection acting on reproduction. Evolution of this sort 'happens' after reproduction, and is defined in terms of changed offspring. Therefore it is Not about transformation of the same-self; but replacement of the original parent by following generations. 

With selection-reproductive evolution; a variety of different types - different selves - compete; some reproduce differentially more than others; and evolution has occurred when either one or just-some of the original selves continue to reproduce. 

Meanwhile the other selves have Not reproduced, and their continuity has been annihilated. 

So this concept is based on Darwinian ideas of natural selection; and entails not transformation but replacement. After such selectional evolution, what persists is Not the previous self - but a different self: a different Being; because offspring are different Beings than their parents.  

In a brief phrase: natural selection is reproductive replacement. It is all-about replacing one thing with some other thing

Some survive and others do not; and those which survive replace those which do not. 

Because if the identity of the organism is being defined in terms of its genetic composition; then any genetic change is itself a kind of replacement. 

Following Barfield; I believe that many people are often deeply confused between these two concepts of evolution. The seem to believe emotionally that they are proposing a developmental-transformative evolution; when in fact they are advocating replacement of one thing by another. 

For instance; when people are keen on a future based upon Artificial Intelligence, or the Transhumanist changing of Man (by means of drugs, genetic engineering, inorganic implants, links to computers or the internet etc); they seem to suppose that this is an transformational enhancement of Men

But in fact such aspirations are simply the annihilation of Men and their replacement. Replacement of Men with... something else. 

In spiritual terms; AI and Transhumanism are therefore advocating covert suicide: suicide, because they themselves (and all other Men) will cease to exist; covert, because this desire for self-destruction is hidden by an irrelevant focus on what might replace us. 

This is closely analogous to a plan to solve the problems of this Earth by exploding the planet - and then calling Mars 'the new and better Earth'. Maybe Mars is better (fewer problems), maybe not - but better or worse, Mars is Not an evolved Earth; it is some-thing different. 

So much is fairly obvious; but the 'afterlife' proposed and yearned-for by many people shares this fundamentally suicidal impulse; because it hopes for the total destruction of the body, the self, the ego and all that is individual - by its absorption into the impersonal and discarnate divine.  

I am talking about the Oneness spiritual movement - which is so much a feature of the New Age in The West. This talks constantly about how all things truly are one, and how separation into persons is an illusion (Maya), and a 'sin'; and separation of Man from God is an illusion and a sin. 

According to Oneness; in reality there are no persons, no Men - only one God; and that God is not a person - because the divine encompasses everything, so there can be no definition or description of God. 

Nothing specific can be said about the divine except for an infinite series of denials of all less-than-total claims of God's nature: i.e. a negative theology of what God is not.

To hope for the 'evolution' of my-self, and Mankind, into One; is therefore to hope-for one's own annihilation and replacement. 

There would be - could be -  no continuity between me-now, and now living Men - and the aimed for annihilation of separateness into divine unity.

Oneness spirituality is not to solve any of the problems of the world; but to destroy the world - to destroy every-thing... and replace it with something else. 

It is solving the problem of misery and suffering in life, by ending all life - by killing everything. 

In other words; Oneness offers exactly the same kind of 'solution' to the problem of Man's mortal life as does Artificial Intelligence and Transhumanism

Oneness is just as much a covert advocacy of suicide, as are the schemes of technological replacement of Man by... 'something better'. 

And the reason why this is not immediately obvious; is that our culture has become deeply confused by the two concepts of evolution.

And has erroneously carried-over the spiritual aspirations of evolution understood as transformative-development, into the annihilation-seeking mechanisms of transformative-replacement.

Owen Barfield's epistemological terminology of 'consciousness', contrasted with Rudolf Steiner's epistemology of 'thinking'

Owen Barfield regarded himself as a disciple of Rudolf Steiner - in a not-altogether healthy way; because it exerted a constraining effect on his potential and caused Barfield to leave out - unexplained - considerable aspects of his world view. 

Instead Barfield, at a certain point, would merely recommend his audience to 'read Steiner'; which is, for most people, way too much to ask; since locating and extracting the undoubtedly gold insights from Steiner's voluminous dross of error and nonsense is the work of several years hard labour...

I speak as one of not-many of Barfield's great admirers who actually have put-in these years of work. Having done so; I was rather surprised to find that Barfield makes a very noticeable change to Steiner's terminology from The Philosophy of Freedom (insights from-which form an essential basis to Barfield's schema as expressed in (for example) Saving the Appearances, Unancestral Voice, Speaker's Meaning and History, Guilt and Habit.

How do we attain knowledge of reality, and is such knowledge indeed possible? This question forms the basis of that branch of 'modern' (post-medieval) philosophy called epistemology

However, the modern attempt to make epistemology fundamental (as does so much 19th and 20th century philosophy) is actually an error, and has gone nowhere. 

Nowhere; because epistemology takes-for-granted the primary level of philosophy, which is metaphysics: that discourse which tries to describe our most fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality

Thus, both Steiner and Barfield fail to describe their primary assumptions about reality before they embark describing their model of knowledge - which has the effect of giving these models a rather arbitrary, take-it-or-leave it quality. 

(For instance, both Steiner and Barfield ought to describe what they assume about God before they describe what they believe about knowledge; since for them both the possibility of knowledge depends on a personal creator God who has certain attitudes towards Men.) 

Nonetheless, since I share broadly the same metaphysical assumptions as Steiner and Barfield, I regard their models of knowledge as very useful - which is all that can reasonably be asked of any simple model of reality; especially one that aims at a time-less hence 'static', cross-sectional description of reality. 

The following is a comparison of the terminological equivalents of the epistemological models of Steiner and Barfield: 

Rudolf Steiner

Percept + Concept = Thinking

Owen Barfield

Perception + Thinking = Consciousness

The potential confusion when reading these authors is that they use thinking to mean different things: Steiner's thinking is the end result of our perceptions of the world being understood and interpreted by concepts. 

But for Barfield, thinking is (more or less) what Steiner means by concepts': the processes by which we understand and interpret perceptions  - or 'images' in the case of ancient Man, whose perceptions came packaged with meanings. 

Steiner thus talks a lot about 'thinking' of a particular kind (e.g. 'pure' thinking, or 'heart-thinking') as being the main aim of modern Man; the destined path ahead. This thinking (says Steiner) can be cultivated by meditative exercises which are intended to (but actually do not!) promote the desired kind of thinking. The desired kind of thinking is itself True Knowledge - and this is therefore Steiner's epistemology.

By contrast; Barfield talks about the destined and desirable future state of Consciousness; which is self-aware, active and chosen (rather than unconscious, passive and automatic): he calls this Final Participation; and for Barfield this is True Knowledge - as well as the proper aim of created Man (because Final Participation is to join with God in the work of creation).

After struggling to 'get' this for a few years; I think the above equivalence is broadly correct; and might be helpful to those who wish to read both Steiner and Barfield.   

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Owen Barfield and the incoherence of modernity

Yesterday I was re-reading Owen Barfield's Saving the Appearances; which was published in 1957, more than 60 years ago. This book is not an easy read (and most readers seem not to have understood it - including most Barfield scholars), but it is tremendously rigorous and incisive to the point of being life-changing. 

Barfield reaches the conclusion - which I cannot fault - that the way of thinking and reasoning, the mainstream philosophy and ideology, of the 'modern world' of the 1950s, is utterly incoherent. In his analysis, I think Barfield goes deeper than almost anyone else I have encountered. 

[I will not engage in the futile attempt to 'summarize' StP - the 'point' of the book is to work-though the argument. But, anyway, the purpose here is simply to accept the main thrust of the book's reasoning and conclusions, and consider the implications.]

This is my first point: that by the 1950s it was already clear to any thoughtful person that mainstream and ruling ideas in the major areas of culture did not make sense. Barfield analyzed this fundamental incoherence better than anyone perhaps; but the insight was pretty general. 

At any rate, I am sure he was correct - and he was correct that the set of ideas that are foundational to the whole functioning of the modern world as it was in the 1950s was so absolutely, fundamentally, self-contradictory that... Well what? 

In 1957 Barfield assumed that such a degree and depth of incoherence could not possibly survive, and that therefore it must change. Barfield, at points, warned what kind of consequences there must be if the world view did Not change; but he clearly assumed that things would change - and that the prevailing philosophy-ideology would move decisively in the direction of recognizing the primary of the spiritual over (and before, in terms of existence in time) the material; the guideingness of 'evolution' of consciousness in the history of reality; the way that reality is necessarily co-created and shaped by the presence and interpreting consciousness... and so forth. 

But it did not happen. Although there have been intermittent recognitions of the unsatisfactory nature of mainstream 'reality', these have taken the form of attempts to return to the instinctive and unconscious; as with the 1960s counter-culture, or the 1980s New Age - both of which have remained culturally-active; in private subjectivity and in mass culture. Or else less influential attempts to return the world to the lesser, but still fundamental, incoherences of 'the past'. 

[Barfield, following Steiner, was guilty of this; insofar as both attempted to fight the incoherences of system with alternative - somewhat less-incoherent - systems; a venture that began with Goethe's attempt to make biology into a differently-systematic science incorporating a systematized version of imagination. Steiner's ideas for agriculture, education, medicine, threefold societies etc, and Barfield's advocacy (in StA) of a new 'system of imagination', are both examples of laying this false trail. Imagination just is Not systematic, and a new world view based on intuitive direct-knowing or heart-thinking cannot be systematized. Cannot means can not.)   

The incoherent world-view of public discourse did Not change; but, necessarily, continued to worsen since it developed from the same incoherent assumptions.

What happened was that instead of becoming coherent; over the past decades more-and-more cultural ways evolved (and were successfully imposed) to make that incoherence not-apparent, or to deny its significance. 

Until we reach The World Now - where incoherence is extreme, global and mandatory - but is almost completely occult; hidden by the universality of bureaucracy, micro-specialization and dishonesty - fueled by mass emotional manipulation via the mass/ social media. 

We now experience a world of astonishingly vast and increasing chaos of incoherence; in which the monolithic nature of global totalitarianism is itself regarded as The Objective Reality (objective because there is nothing else in official public discourse, and only this reality is 'shared'); and where any individuals who recognize its incoherence and strategic evil are already and increasingly labelled as merely isolated instances of cut-off (insane, idiotic and/or wicked) pure-subjectivity.

[The official consensus of world experts versus... just your personal opinion.] 

Steiner and Barfield did indeed foresee these consequences - and wrote prophetically of the nature of our current world 'if' we failed to awaken to their insights. A Steiner lecture of 1918 and remarks by Barfield in StA and his (1984 published) novella Night Operation, are instances. 

But neither Steiner nor Barfield emphasized such 'if not, then...' prophecies; because both expected that culture would correct itself - because the problems were so obvious, and were getting worse.  

I think the actual state of the world now was (and is) missed, because modern people focus upon abstract and specialized matters such as politics, science and philosophy - and the impulses which drives these; whereas the dominant impulse throughout has been purposive evil - the agenda of the devil/ Satan and the demonic spirits. Steiner and Barfield were both guilty of this - seldom discussing God and never (I think) framing their arguments in terms of God and his creative aims. 

When we are up-against supernatural evil; no amount of reform within the domains of politics/ science/ philosophy - nor any other social system such as law, education, medicine, the military or churches - can effectively oppose it. Any local improvement in a specific area of discourse is quickly outflanked by continued degeneration in many or most others. 

It is akin to trying to correct the dishonesty of the global establishment. If an official statement or line-of-argument is revealed as a gross and deliberate lie (that is a lie-rooted discourse such as the birdemic-peck, climate change, antiracism, feminism or the trans-agenda - or any of the multiple sublies within these discourses); then the lie is still operating and indeed accelerating in all the other social systems - media, corporate, legal and so forth. 

The societal assumption is that any number of proven Establishment lies are specific and encapsulated; while the validity of the total system is unchallenged because assumed. 

In other words, the actual root and motivation of that expanding incoherence which Steiner and Barfield exposed was undying evil spirits operating across many human generations; whose agenda is the destruction of God, the good and divine creation. 

The problem of incoherence was Not based in philosophical error, nor the limitations of science; nor the aims of politicians, bureaucrats or judges. 

We have - all along - been dealing-with the war between, on the one hand, God and Jesus Christ - with their aim of saving mortal Men to a resurrected life of growing more divine; and on the other hand, the many-fold powers of evil that oppose all this.

Evil is not trying to sustain any particular alternative evil reality; but to oppose The Good by whatever means seem to be effective at any particular time or place. Hence evil is protean, mutating, and cannot positively be defined in terms of what it 'wants'. 

For evil, incoherence is a feature, not a bug; and the more that actually-existing incoherence is accepted, embraced, and defended as real, true, necessary and Good - the greater is the triumph of evil. 

So here we are Now! The most extreme adverse prophecies of Steiner and Barfield have come true; evil is globally officially endorsed and imposed - and yet so extreme and pervasive is Man's corruption that he (mostly) does not even notice (and strenuously denies) that ruling-evil, and its explicit and implicit tendency.

And/but insofar as Modern Man can perceive evils - he sees No Alternative. 

After so many decades; Modern Man has incoherence baked-into his world view - which is a measure of his evil nature; and therefore sustains the only 'unity' and possibility of public that he can believe-in - which is that ever-shifting consensus of demonically-controlled, monolithic global totalitarianism.


Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Truth-seeking and truth-speaking... Why does anybody ever do it?

The theme and conclusion of my 2012 book Not Even Trying was that real science (which is almost extinct now) was 'simply' the dedication of a group of people to seek the truth about some-thing, and to communicate honestly about it. 

That is all that can be said - as a generalization - about so-called 'scientific method'. 

But even to say this is to say a great deal - and to describe a situation that has been extremely rare in world history - and is extremely rare now. It was really only from approximately the middle 1600s to the middle 1900s in Britain and some parts of Europe (and their diaspora) that this situation prevailed to a significant degree. 

The thing it; to be a 'truthful' person is extremely rare; and to be a truthful person who is sufficiently interested in some particular 'thing' that one will work, over a significant period of time, to discover the reality of it - is much rarer still. And to have a society that values such an activity is so rare that - as I said - it perhaps only grew and survived in one place for a few hundred years. 

Anyone who is really concerned by the truth of a particular thing will rapidly realize that hardly anybody else is interested enough to make their opinion of any value. Furthermore, he will realize that few people are interested in truth at all

Truth is, at best, a low-ranked priority for most people, most of the time. Most people are orientated towards other people (whether real people, or nowadays virtual). 

Most people believe that 'truth' is just something rhetorical; something manufactured (expediently, for short term use) to support their current views of how inter-human affairs ought to proceed - or simply to support what they themselves happen to want to do. 

If you are a real scientist; you soon realize not only that extremely few other real scientists share your dedication to the truth of your particular thing; but also that few people care about truth at all

One of the most striking aspects of the leftist (political correctness) witch hunts that have been such a feature of the West since the late 1960s (and I have personally been involved in several of these; both as subject and an active participant) is the complete indifference to truth of almost everybody involved. Nobody cares what is true; only what effect a belief might have (and they always claim to be able to predict what effect a belief will have). 

Indeed, indifference is not accurate - there is a hostility to truth, and even more than this a hostility to the idea of truth. The idea that there is a true and real reality is what is the cause of such venom on the left. The left regards reality as relativistic, and something created by consensus (including 'peer review') and imposed by power.  

Yet, it must be acknowledged that there is something valid in the leftist critique - because the traditional idea of a single objective truth 'out there' waiting to be discovered, is also wrong. Science is necessarily a human activity, and real scientific truth does depend on the evaluations and judgments of people - albeit of truth-seeking and truth-seeking people. 

But then 'who decides' - and on what grounds - which people are the real scientists - especially in a world of professional science.

You cannot get away from people, from human minds, form personal judgments... Except by dishonestly disguising these with committees, votes, protocols etc - which themselves are merely either arbitrary or derived from human minds/ judgements etc as to 'what counts as' true...

At first it seems like we have a choice of just two wrong ideas. One is the idea that scientific truth does not depend on people, the other that it depends only on people. 

My answer is that the possibility of real science depends on Christian assumptions concerning the fundamental nature of reality. These include that there is a God who is creator of reality, and who loves Men - who are God's  children and made 'in God's image'.  

These assumptions must be in place for a scientist to seek and speak truth in a particular domain, for a human endeavor to seek truth to be possibly successful; and common enough that he can find other whose interest is the same. 

The assumptions can survive the loss of Christian faith in a person - for a while; or may occur in an individual of another religion (e.g. Judaism) who has absorbed, assimilated and endorsed sufficient of these assumptions from a Christian society. 

But the assumptions necessary for science cannot survive the comprehensive replacement of Christianity in a society's ways of thinking and behaving. Such a society has no reason to seek truth; and (consequently) insufficient desire to do so. 

This framework sees the scientific search for truth as being an impulse to know the reality of God's creation. The scientific impulse in Men shares in the divine creative impulse - therefore it is Good.

But to know the reality of creation (i.e. to seek and speak truth) entails aligning oneself with God's creative purposes. 

From this perspective, we can see that science is a potentially creative activity (one of many; including, but not restricted to; the arts, music, literature, philosophy, scholarship) in which Men may lend their minds and efforts to understanding the divine creative project in one particular area, and with the hope of participating in God's creation. 

The above model explains why science (as a social activity) once existed; and why science has not existed in most times and places. 

Leftist relativistic anti-science (which nw rules the world of public discourse) functions to oppose God and creation; and instead to assert that reality (ie. divine creation) does not exist/ does not matter - and that we have no obligation to seek or live-by creation.

And instead to take a this-worldly attitude of life - as being only about inter-human relationships of (for example) power and pleasure; to which considerations of truth and reality ought to be subordinated. For instance; such (common, officially-endorsed) ideas as that 'science' properly exists to increase human happiness, to alleviate suffering, to sustain a world of social justice, or to preserve the environment. 

Yet when 'science' serves such goals - instead of being truth-seeking/ speaking, then it simply becomes a part of the Establishment System, as now; and un-truthful and dishonest from top to bottom; in great and in small matters.  

Thus real science (which has always been rare, and is now all-but extinct) is a creative act of some Men which - if it is Good - will be aligned with God's plans. Real science cannot exist in a genuinely atheistic and materialistic society, where Christian beliefs have been displaced by The System. 

Monday, 26 July 2021

Imagination has become social reality

We tend to assume - following decades of mass media propaganda - that 'imagination' is always a good thing. Probably, that was the case in the past, when imagination was used to 'to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature' - that is, to imagine variants based-upon the natural

But since the Romantic era, imagination has extended beyond nature, and from the early 20th century has become autonomous. From the early 20th century, with modernism, surrealism, Dadaism etc - imagination became often a parody, subversion or inversion of the natural. 

Furthermore, as modern Man became alienated from the divine and spiritual (that is; at first able to ignore, then unable to perceive, the divine and spiritual realms) this cut-off imagination became reality.

So that in the modern, official and mass media, legal and corporate world - un-real, aspirational, asserted and enforced ideas very rapidly become normalized, accepted and then (to all intents and purposes) 'real'. 

In other words, humans now - as a matter of mundane everyday practice - imagine and make their own reality. The world is convulsed and organized according to these imagined and made realities such as the birdemic, antiracism, climate emergency and the trans-agenda. 

Apparently any-thing - any statement, any morality, any imperative, can be made-real now, and generally accepted as real - with little or no strain or sense of dissonance - even when it is a complete fabrication or an inversion of the natural. 

Indeed; that official-reality is a total invention or an inversion of natural-reality is generally taken to indicate its moral superiority (consequently; to privilege the natural is termed 'fascism'; and is demonized and suppressed). 

From this we may see that modern Men are so constituted that they will believe what they imagine; and they can be induced to imagine almost anything - especially by means of the mass media with its combination of fake-news, gossip and ideologically-shaped entertainments. 

And people do not distinguish between sources of imaginations and assertions - and seldom recall or discern-between the provenance of 'knowledge' - so that beliefs are as likely to be shaped by overt fictions (a movie) as by supposed facts (taught at school).

(Although, with institutional convergence - all sources of imagination/ fact are being forcibly harmonized to the leftist, materialist, anti-Christian ideology.)

People are psychologically-made such as to privilege this media world as objective and primary, because it is widely-shared and enforced by the powerful - and they subordinate and ignore their own conscience, observations and reasoning, because these are (merely) private.

In sum - Modern Man imagines his reality; and his imagination is fed to him by the mass media; so, for modern Man; reality is whatever assumptions the mass media is currently operating on

(And by 'currently' I mean 'the last few days' - and today's mass media assumptions may be the opposite of last week's, or the assumptions may imply the opposite of the media interpretation - but none of this matters: today's assumptions rule whatever.) 

This is why the media can report as reality un-natural phenomena such as the imagined birdemic plague or climate catastrophe, can invert racial and sexual realities, can state that men and women are flexibly- and wholly-interconvertible - and will be believed; to an unrestricted degree... To the extent of structuring and administering the whole world policy and human micro-interactions alike. 

Life is made, and re-made, on the basis of these (and any other potential, equally arbitrary) imaginations.  

The capacity to make imagination into reality is thus a double-edged sword which pushes the world towards extremes of good or evil. Good imaginations can be made real - but so can evil imaginations; and indeed imagination can abolish or invert the distinction between good and evil. 

Armed with this power; Man is called-upon, each as an individual, to imagine the good - and to eschew the evil; to imagine the beautiful and true and coherent... 

But in practice, the opposite has happened. 

Man has refused to acknowledge or exercise his power to imagine God, good and divine creation; has refused to imagine a living and conscious universe in which each of us has an unique contribution to make...

And therefore has opened himself to become a passive conduit for the imaginations of the evil powers who have taken-over the public world .

And this remains un-recognized because of Man's capacity to imagine evil as Good; and undiscerned because of Man's willed self-subordination to external, evil-aligned, values. 

See Owen Barfield's book - Saving the Appearances (1957) for a source of the above ideas. 

Residual Unresolved Leftism

It is a feature of the spiritual war nowadays that The Enemy (i.e. those on the side of Satan, against God) are dispersed in many places, deny any self-definition; and indeed are just part of normal, mainstream 'public opinion' as revealed in officialdom, institutions and the media, 

It is sometimes said that this makes evil difficult to discern - on the assumption that the evil is hidden among the good, in many and changing forms, under many and changing names and deceptive rhetoric...

But the truth is that evil is very easy to discern nowadays; indeed evil has never been easier to discern IF the line dividing good from evil is drawn in the right place. 

The problem that many people have in discerning evil is that they are retaining too much evil in their own assumptions, in their own world view. 

They are (in effect) trying to use a line between good and evil, when that line has been positioned such as to include evil; therefore they find the discernment to be difficult and unsure. 

This is seen, for example, in what Owen Barfield termed RUP - Residual Unresolved Positivism - something to which everyone brought up in The West is prone. 

RUP is a matter of retaining 'materialist', 'scientistic', 'reductionistic' assumptions that were unconsciously absorbed in childhood and adolescence, are invisible to normal introspection, and which have become habitual framers of thinking. 

This happens when we consciously oppose positivism, wish for a fully-spiritual life, yet keep un-consciously falling back into positivistic ways of regarding the world; therefore we sometimes fail to detect (and may end-up supporting) positivism when it is being deployed by the powers of evil. 

Another - just as common and related - problem is RUL - Residual Unresolved Leftism

The assumptions of Leftism (e.g. Leftist concepts of equality, social justice, diversity, environmentalism, antiracism, feminism, sexual revolution, the mainstream hedonic utilitarian morality etc) is pervasive in public discourse as background assumptions. 

Very few people in The West are altogether free of these false, tendentious, evil-tending ideas - and Christians, as much as most, often cherish such ideals - or try to do so. 

RUL therefore confuses our discernment of evil; since Leftism has been a major (probably The major) strategy of evil in the modern world. 

Thus there is evil at work in the world and impinging upon our personal lives, yet because some evil in our-selves matches that external evil, we fail to recognize its true nature. 

With RUL, the line has been drawn wrongly; too close to evil - not including all of evil; with some evils left-over on the side of good; so discernment begins to seem difficult, complex... 

We become confused, disorientated, unsure of what to do and what to reject. 

But the difficulties and complexities are an artefact of the line being drawn in the wrong place - due to Residual Unresolved Leftism. If we can identify and repent all of our Leftist assumptions, the task of discernment is revealed as simple - indeed it has probably never been simpler than Now! 

But another difficulty is that when the line between good and evil has been drawn correctly, and discernment is swift and decisive - it will be found that most of the world, and pretty much all of officialdom, major institutions, and the mass media - are on the side of evil

It will also be found, more disturbingly, that most people are on the side of evil; which means that most individual persons we encounter will support the side of evil - will be cooperating-with and probably defending/ advocating/ working-for the powers of evil. 

And this applies even in Christian churches and among the leadership of Christian churches; because being on the side of evil is not about one's majority or average beliefs. 

Even one Leftist belief or assumption suffices to corrupt; because (as of 2020) the tendency of institutions and their choice between good and evil sides may be dictated by a single Leftist belief (such as the Litmus Tests). 

This may be disturbing, unfamiliar, and often demoralizing. 

Yet we should remember that with normal Christianity; any single unrepented sin - no matter how 'small' - is sufficient to cause damnation; because we only truly desire Heaven when we are prepared to give-up all sin for it. Heaven is a place without sin; and nobody can enter it who has not repudiated sin. 

Here on earth, something analogous applies to the sins of Leftism. To be on the side of God, persons and institutions must reject the devil and all his works. 

This does not mean any kind of impossibly perfect standard of behaviour - but repentance - which is the correct detection and identification of sin as sin -and the 'in principle' willingness to discard it. 

Perfection of thoughts and values is impossible in this mortal earthly life; but repentance is always and everywhere open to any person or institution. 

Residual Unresolved Leftism is a serious problem because sin is unrecognized, is indeed defended and advocated; and the consequence is that perception of discernment as difficult and uncertain - in a world where in fact evil is more naked and extreme than ever before. 

So, if you are confused, and find evil difficult to discern; look within for those unrepented sins which are probably the source of the problem. 

One great and immediate advantage of eliminating Residual Unresolved Leftism is that we attain clarity about the spiritual war of this world; and can set-to on the task of fighting that war instead of being enmeshed in confusion. 

Such clarity of discernment is liberating, exciting, and motivating! Which is just what most-people most-need in a world such as this. 

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Consciously overcoming the division of sleep from consciousness

It is interesting to consider how the relationship between sleeping states - deep sleep and dreaming sleep - and the awake state may have changed through the evolutionary development of Men. 

If we start with the historical (and early childhood) conscious state termed Original Participation by Owen Barfield; then it was a striking idea of Rudolf Steiner that this is characterized by what we would consider a less complete difference between sleep and waking. The awake person was not so fully awake is the case now; and aspects of deep and dreaming sleep remained active throughout the daytime. 

This would be a more passive and unconscious form of waking; whereby we were involuntarily influenced by the sleeping states; immersed-in them. In Original Participation Man's consciousness was integrated, but dominated by sleep.  

A suggestion is that the sleep states are (in some fashion) in communication with the divine and spiritual world; and therefore in Original Participation awake Man has direct experiential knowledge of the gods and spiritual reality. This may be why all early Men and all young children assume the reality of gods and the spiritual realm - because the experience and know it; not just when asleep but all of the time.

The idea is that, as Man's consciousness evolved through history, the division between sleeping and waking states became more distinct; until with modern Man it was complete (the phase called the Consciousness Soul). We are not aware of our sleeping and dreaming consciousness while awake (although they continue); and indeed we almost never remember anything from deep sleep, and even dream memories tend to be absent, partial or uncertain.   

It struck me that presumably the same applies in the opposite direction: that waking consciousness has probably lost access to deep and dreaming sleep. Perhaps in earlier phases, waking consciousness could affect dreaming sleep, and even deep sleep; and therefore in original Participation these sleeping states were more conscious, more subject to waking motivations, and probably more memorable. 

Whereas nowadays (for many people) dreams are characterized by their own crazy illogic and irrelevance; perhaps for early Men they were coherent, useful, memorable - by the waking Man. And maybe something analogous applied even with the slower, simpler, 'tidal' consciousness-world of deep sleep. 

(Steiner suggests that in dreaming sleep, ancient Man - and children - are in communion with the lower angelic powers; and in deep sleep, the higher angels - or, I would guess, perhaps even the simple and basic aspects of the knowledge of God, Jesus Christ and/or the Holy Ghost.) 

So, modern Man's consciousness states are not integrated; but instead divided, alienated, encapsulated. 

And what of the goal of Final Participation? We might assume that the division between sleeping and waking would again become crossable, 'permeable' - but this time dominated by waking consciousness and by its capacity for free agency, for conscious choice. 

Thus we may be able to choose to bring our waking consciousness and cross into dreaming, and even deep sleep; there to both gain conscious control of these states, and to remember better what happens in them. 

So we may again become integrated in our consciousness; but this time with awakeness dominating. 

However, this state is voluntary - not automatic; conscious not unconscious; and is subject to the constraints of Final Participation - which is, after all, an attainment of divine consciousness (albeit usually partial and always temporary) even when we are mortal on earth. 

Therefore, we might be able to choose to bring awake consciousness into dreaming and deep sleep; but only insofar as we our-selves are aligned with God's purposes, meanings and mode of thinking. 

If a person has chosen the side of Satan against God, then Final Participation is not (at that time) possible. 

Furthermore sin interferes with Final Participation. Un-repented sin blocks FP in the long term (because we are not aligned with the divine); while currently-active sin in thinking will curtail FP for its duration; which is surely one reason, albeit not the only reason, why Final Participation is always temporary - indeed usually very brief.  

Nonetheless, even with all these provisos, this gives an idea of what to aim for in Final Participation how to go about it; and how to know when it has happened. That is, we can aim towards more frequent and fuller integration of the waking and sleep states; do so consciously; and within a Christian context.  

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Father Christmas and Final Participation

I have previously written - a couple of times - about Father Christmas being real: more exactly of how this is true, what it means that Father Christmas is indeed real. I think this is actually a very exact explanation of the main purpose of this our mortal life - between our pre-mortal spirit life in Heaven, and the resurrected life in Heaven to come.

We came from a primal paradise as spirits, as spiritual children; and chose to become incarnated as mortals here on earth. We can sometimes recall what this life was life from that residual memory that survives into early childhood. The rest of our mortal life is about our wish to return to this (dimply recalled) Heavenly existence - but in a different and new way.

How can we get back to that?

We can't as a final and solid state in mortal life - because mortal life is change, decay and eventually death. So all states of mortal life are intrinsically temporary - by design. But we can sometimes and briefly be there - be in Heaven again.

We get there, we are there, and we lose it; but that again is part of the design. We can - and should - aim to return there; again and again. And each time we overcome a different challenge to get there. And thereby we learn.

That is the main reason for this mortal life. To learn how to overcome the constraints of mortality to return, again and again, to Heaven.

This learning is temporary, so far as this mortal life is concerned (we may forget, eventually we will forget); but the point is that we learn in mortality to benefit in eternity.

That's what it is about; we are learning in mortal life where all is temporary; but the benefits of this learning will be in our coming life everlasting.

Our major challenge is therefore to overcome The World - repeatedly, on a daily, hourly, basis. 

Our task of learning is therefore to rise-back-up to that Heavenly world we once inhabited; not to sink-back-into it.

To be a parent is (potentially) to rise-back-up into childhood.

To know Father Christmas as real, as a parent, is an instance.

It is a higher state to know Father Christmas is real as an adult than as a child; because we must participate consciously in the reality of Father Christmas. We must do this by choice, and actively; freely, knowing that we do it. This is Final Participation.

By contrast, the child knows Father Christmas is real simply by unconscious, passive absorption in a social world where Father Christmas is real - this is Original Participation.

The child immersed-in that Christmas reality; but our task in this mortal life is to rise to embrace that reality; to co-create that reality, in harmony with God.


Thursday, 26 March 2020

Why didn't God 'communicate' by direct knowing in past ages?

I have deliberately asked this question in the opposite way than usual.

The usual question is along the lines of wondering why the supernatural has receded, why people disbelieve in deity, why God does not communicate with modern Men using visions, dreams, voices and by the 'channelling' of scriptures and other revelations?

Of course, one answer is that God still does all of these things - because some people do continue to experience them. However, plenty of people do not, and cannot, have such experiences; furthermore, those who do have such experiences do not seem to be transformed by them in the way they were in the past. Modern supernatural experience sometimes seems more like a lifestyle choice, hobby, or a way of making a living.

However, what is less often remarked is that these are all 'communications' - I mean, these are indirect means by which God may transmit knowledge to people. All require the use of perceptual, sensory information - which may be defective. Furthermore, these sensory inputs must be interpreted in order to be understood.

Whereas now - it seems - God communicates by directly implanting understanding into the mind, into the stream of thinking. This cuts-out the need for potenitally faulty, errorful perceptions; and cuts-past the problems of misunderstanding.

When God makes himself known by direct means, he goes straight to the limit of capability of that individual. However, this isn't 'perfect' because each person's capability is limited and also distinctively biased. Plus there are the same (usual) problems about communications between people.

Nonetheless, it might reasonably be assumed that direct knowing is superior to the older modes of 'communication'.

If so, why then did God 'bother' with what seems like a worse method? Why did he persist with it for so long?

The answer is apparently that this is related to the evolutionary-development of human consciousness. Men in the past quite naturally and spontaneously perceived God and the spiritual realm.

Then, as development proceeded through the ages, this spontaneous capacity diminished.

Why? Because the divine intention was that Man could be independent of the divine and spiritual - could become able to disbelieve and deny in order that he could freely choose to align with God's creation.

Thus, in his personal development, each Modern Man becomes detached from the spontaneous immersion in the spiritual and contact with the divine of young childhood; and then is able freely to choose to join with the divine plan, to become a divine friend of God - not only a child of God, but a grown-up child of God.

And then, but only then; Man can directly know, can (sometimes, but not in a sustained way) align his own thinking with God's thinking; have his thinking be also a part of the divine thinking.

Can potentially participate - consciously and by choice - in the creative work of God

Note: The above ideas are derived mainly from Owen Barfield, and to some degree from William Arkle - as I understand and have developed them.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Jesus as God and Man - Original and Final Participation

For metaphysical pluralists such as myself; Jesus as both God and Man entails that I have some idea of what (on the one hand) constitutes the divine and what (on the other) characterises a Man.

By saying Jesus was a Man we mean he was subject to mortality: to change, disease, decay and death. He was 'doomed to die' as Tolkien's One Ring said about 'mortal men'.

 And Jesus was divine for two reasons - one present from birth, the other from the Baptism by John (the final three years of his life, and the time of his ministry).

Jesus was chosen to incarnate as the Saviour because, in pre-mortal life, he uniquely attained harmony with God's divine purposes, his motivations were fully aligned-with Creation.

Thus he was born divine - but until age 30, apparently Jesus did not know he was the Saviour. That is, he was wholly- and always-immersed-in God's creation; and implicitly but not consciously working in total-harmony with God's purposes.

Therefore, the pre-ministry era of Jesus's life corresponds to Owen Barfield's definition of complete Original Participation - a total but passive and unconscious participation in the work of creation.

From the baptism by John; Jesus became conscious of his divine nature and destiny; and therefore attained the fullness of active freedom, of choice and agency: became a co-creator, shown in the miracles, where Jesus was working deliberately with God. This is Barfield's Final Participation.

So, the post-baptism Jesus was fully divine, and a mortal Man.

The life of Jesus illustrates the distinction between Original and Final Participation - and the nature of the destiny of modern Western Man - here and now; as we attempt, albeit partially and temporarily, to achieve was Jesus did, wholly and at-all-times.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

What happens to a human Being at incarnation and death? And resurrection. (Identity through time is by provenance.)

A Being exists through time, and undergoes transformations.

When a Man incarnates, the pre-existing spiritual Being transforms by a process including the organisation of 'solid matter', to incarnate as a zygote.

At death, the human Being leaves-behind solid matter and transforms to spirit.

With transformation of a being, the identity is maintained by provenance - i.e. by continued linear existence.

There is no retention of previous forms of organisation - so this is not a spirit getting matter added to it, or subtracted from it...

The reality is a continuously-existing-Being, transforming from a first spiritual entity into a solid entity (incarnation), then to a second and distinct spiritual entity.

It is the same Being throughout; because it has existed continuously, in unbroken continuity, through time.

Continuing from the schema above, the concept of transformation can also help us to understand what happens at resurrection.

Resurrection is a transformation of the spirit, when that spirit has been-through the prior transformation of mortal incarnation and death.

The human Being that is resurrected has, therefore, a lineage of transformations that include pre-mortal spirit, mortal incarnation, then post-mortal spirit.

The assumption is that only such a Being, with such a lineage, is able to be resurrected into an eternal divine incarnation.

(This is why Jesus needed to be born and to die, before he was resurrected.)

These descriptions can be regarded as a deeper explanation of my argument against computer AI.

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Steiner's autobiography

I have been exploring Rudolf Steiner over the past seven or so years - the amounts to a really large project of reading or listening-to scores of his works; tackling books and essays about his ideas; several biographies and memoirs... and reading online sources and watching videos of all kinds of people talking about Anthroposophy.

I did this initially because of Owen Barfield, who regarded Steiner as a thinker of world historical importance and who was an Anthroposophist from his middle twenties - one of the first in Britain. And then because I agreed with Barfield's estimate - but in an extremely qualified fashion.

I am gradually forming some kind of overview of the problem with Steiner; how it is that he can be so important - a major genius; and at the same time mostly, nearly always, productive of utter nonsense. How he can be so important, yet his legacy is mostly a series of essentially (i.e. in their essence) bogus initiatives in education, farming, politics, and medicine.

His writings on medicine, for example, are so terribly bad that I would not know where to begin in criticising them - they are wrong at almost every level - in their basic approach, their detail, the kind of mind set they encourage... they have nothing to do with medicine as I understand it.

But really this is nothing unusual for geniuses. When it comes to most geniuses, we are quite happy to take what we value and leave the rest behind. We value Isaac Newton for his mathematics and physics, and leave aside his theology and alchemy... and we do not find it hard to acknowledge that Newton was perhaps the greatest scientist ever and also a horrible man.

The deep problem with Steiner is that he insists over and again and with all the force he can muster - that his work is a wholly consistent and coherent whole which should be taken in toto. The Anthroposophical Society (in practice) regards Steiner in exactly this way - he is wholly well-motivated, wholly good, always right.

They really do regard Steiner as being as infallible as any human ever has been - and that is the way that his ourvre has been preserved and is presented to the world. It began during Steiner's life; and it has continued ever since. Any acknowledged faults are so minor and quibbling as merely to stress his overall and essential infallibility (rather like when job applicants admit to such 'faults' as perfectionism and working too hard).

But Steiner had flaws, including serious ones; and probably the worst was his defensive refusal ever to admit that he had changed his mind, said anything wrong or made a mistake. He was what Colin Wilson termed a Right Man - whose self-esteem depends on a brittle self-image that - ultimately, at root - he is always right, all the time, about everything.

If ever a Right Man is confronted with contradiction or incoherence - then he will explain (perhaps patiently, perhaps angrily) at endless length how this is not really contradiction or incoherence - at a deeper or higher level, everything fits together perfectly; and anyone who says otherwise is malign, foolish or incompetent.

The type is surely familiar to most people.

The problem for Steiner's self-image is that - at least at the level of obvious common sense; he changed a great deal, many times, throughout his life. And, being the massively productive genius that he was, the amount of information and assertion he generated was phenomenal - yet somehow all his life, and all his enormous body of work - had to be made into a unity, bound-together in a fully harmonious system...

This led Steiner into all kinds of tortuous assertion, selection, special pleading - and what would certainly be called dishonesty if it wasn't that he seemed to have been able to persuade himself; so I suppose it is a species of delusion.

In the last year of his life, Steiner wrote an autobiography The Story of My Life (published 1928) covering the first 2/3 of his life. It is very interesting, at times profound - I would recommend it. If you don't fancy reading; it is available free of charge and beautifully read by Dale Brunsvold in an audiobook format.

But it is a fiction of Steiner's life, not history. It isn't just that Steiner focuses (quite rightly) on spiritual aspects as contrasted with material one; it is that the picture painted is untrue: it is an old man looking back and making a unity of what was diverse, making coherent what was a sequence of U-turns and reversals. It is projecting the elderly Steiner back onto his childhood, youth and young adulthood.

The autobiography asserts that Steiner was secretly (on the inside) always exactly what he ended being - a magically insightful and charismatic figure of hypnotic presence; the dominant, confident leader of an international movement and but that this was necessarily hidden for various reasons, or people had misunderstood, or enemies had misrepresented, or whatever.

To the eye of common sense; Steiner was a very insecure young man, often lonely, dependent on being looked-after by others (including his first wife - that seems to have been almost the entirety of the relationship); apparently lacking direction and being rather passively led by offers and opportunities from others, rather than by any life strategy.  

Steiner was always extremely intelligent; but his personality underwent not one but many extreme transformations. The younger Steiner showed no signs of spirituality or clairvoyance; and was variously, explicitly, obviously at different times a Roman Catholic, Kantian, atheist, political radical, materialist, nihilist, Nietzchian, anti-Christian and much more.

Somehow this is all brought into a apparent coherence by a brilliant act of synthesis that has convinced Anthroposophists ever since. But the real story is much more interesting and remarkable. It is a story of one of the most extreme personal transformations in history; such that one can hardly recognise the older and younger Steiner as being the same person.

This is important to recognise because Steiner did himself a terrible disservice by his insistence on consistency, coherence, and system; he made it almost impossible for anyone but a disciple prepared to swallow everything uncritically to take him seriously.

By insisting on taking him in an all or nothing fashion, Steiner created a small minority of cult-followers who are intellectually servile and worshipping; and a barrier against the vast majority of people who are interested and impressed only by a small proportion of his output.

The best thing that could happen to Steiner would be if he came to be treated as just an ordinary genius.