Intuition - The Josephine Porter Institute


As Kant wrote, "Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind." It was Rudolf Steiner's contention that indigenous humanity had a tendency to have something closer to pure intuition, but as civilization develops, more concepts become layered and things like technological development is possible. There has perhaps never been a time completely devoid of concepts, or human beings would exist in a sort of intuitional trance, drifting from thing to thing without capacity for planning. Such a case is likely rather rare in the scheme of things. 

This indigenous mode of clairvoyance was direct, immediate, and unprejudiced by the development of vast conceptual philosophies. It is harder to "see" when we think we already know. As Simone Weil puts it, "not knowing is most intimate." When we valued intimacy with the world more than power over the world, we were disinclined to systematize or objectify it. The distinction here feels like the distinction Martin Buber makes in his classic work I and Thou, namely, a distinction between the I-and-it relationship versus the I-and-thou relationship. When we encounter the world as not merely being filled with useful (or dangerous) objects, but rather presences rich with meaning, we encounter the world as a Thou as another who like ourselves. 

As Owen Barfield puts it, Anthroposophy (as he sees it) is the post-scientific revolution articulation of the perennial philosophy. 

Steiner's impulse is distinct. He is not advocating going "back" to a conception-free world, nor does he side on mere systematized conceptual thought. Instead, he urges us towards recovering intuition in the midst of scientific development and transforming the sciences so that they, once again, serve LIFE and not mere POWER. 

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