The Boundaries of (Natural) Science

Rudolf Steiner divides opinion but his thinking is undoubtedly valuable. Think Anthroposophy/Theosophy and Steiner/Waldorf Schools, whether as intended by Steiner or interpreted ideologically by his disciples ever since, but the value in what he actually said and wrote remains. [Feels a bit like Jordan Peterson for a 21st C example – undoubtedly guilty of association with outrageous assertions (for rhetorical effect?), but undoubtedly heart-felt and sincere “authentic” thoughts behind them.]

[Post Note / Aside: also conscious of Steiner again recently thanks to this Matt Segall (@ThouArtThat / Footnotes2Plato) sharing this talk about Steiner’s “Philosophy of Freedom”. And: Thanks to @ChrisPapavassiliou sharing this full text Steiner Library version of TBoNS  below – from which I’ll be able to extract quotes much more simply than the highlight and snip from Kindle labours so far. Update one day?]

Prompted by this reference to “TBoNS” (1983 Translation) I recalled I had an unread Kindle copy of a later republication as “TBoS” (2017) complete with the Bellow preface and a Barfield review essay. (Barfield is the common ground here, and the source of the Twitter connection, though I have read lots of Bellow too, without noting any connections.) So, I’m reading it.

Anyway as the Tweet suggests it’s a series of 8 lectures from Sept/Oct 1920 by the Austrian/Croatian, in Switzerland, in German. I hadn’t really twigged until remarked explicitly by Bellow that, like all the Vienna Circle and “modern” science machinations, the context is Germany & Europe & The West generally in crisis post WW1. Souls searching for a better way. [Ditto cybernetics post WW2. Whereas, on the contrary in 2023, the awful buzzwords PolyCrisis and PermaCrisis are already being used by some as if distress-marketing an inevitable state of crisis instead of  a cool-headed recognition that what we’re dealing with is complexity and that it has been well understood by many for many generations and is simply excluded by the narrower received wisdom of rational management. I sincerely hope “Critical Systems Thinking” is not going to make the connection to “Crises” – because marketing!]

[Goethe and Schelling influences !
Total convergence again, nothing new under the sun.]

From Barfield’s review:

The Cognitional Mode – I shall start using that.

And right from the off, it’s that fundamental inescapable question – what do we mean by reality, to exist, to really exist, in this, the real world? (And does science even have anything to say about that, and is it therefore inevitably inadequate?)

From Bellow’s preface:

And to be clear, from Steiner, later:

And rather incongruously by Bellow early on:

I say incongruously, because we are right at the start of a book more generally about science, and that other (ultimately) inescapable “hard problem” question is already on the table (even if his conclusion is not quite the one I’d make now. “We shall never know” IFF we stick with our Cognitional Mode.)

And as I noted “IFF” above:

And again, on the metaphysical questions:

[Aside – can’t see any note about this, but publication of the 1983 translation was the occasion for the Barfield review essay, but that essay in the 2017 publication I’m reading has (additional?) notes with 21st Century sources, including Wikipedia?]

Anyway, so far I’ve only read the Bellow and Barfield contributions. So many sources shared with McGilchrist at al. More later maybe.

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