Monday 22 January 2018

The apparent implausibility of thinking as Man's spiritual destiny

I think is is probably usual to regard it as implausible that thinking is crucial to the next (and final) step in Man's divinely-ordained destiny... Thinking seems such a feeble, narrow and unsatisfying thing!

We are used to regarding actions and/ or feelings as the most powerful and important things in life - with thinking as a useful but secondary matter; merely reflecting on, analysing or planning what is the 'real' business of living.

Certainly, ordinary, everyday thinking as it currently is for almost everybody is very-obviously useless as the basis of Life! Our ordinary, everyday thinking is typically shallow, narrow, often false, and labile - we know, also, that our thinking is easy to mislead: by our own wishful thinking, and by the many (and often invisible) manipulations of propaganda and marketing...

But Rudolf Steiner, and following him Owen Barfield, have responded to these reservations with many clarifications of what is meant by thinking (i.e. that thinking I have termed primary) and how it both can and should be developed to become exactly what we most need.

From their work it can be seen that ordinary everyday thinking is deficient in two different but related ways: firstly that it is not our real selves that are doing the thinking, but instead only our superficial and artificial personalities. Secondly, that the thinking itself is narrowly literalistic, hence lacking in both scope and power.

Thus, our thinking is feeble partly because it is unreal and partly because it is artificial - and the combination means that our thinking is a feeble thing when compared with acting and feeling.

Because our thinking is unreal and artificial it is  unfree. Thinking that is free would need to be thinking that arises from that within us which is free; and that could only be our deepest selves.