Where is the limit to knowledge?
3 March, 2018
For a humanity that thought that the Earth was flat and had edges that one could get to and fall off, this created a limit to what they would contemplate and take on. This is a limit to knowledge as people simply did not go to certain places in their thinking. We can find many such examples in ourselves as individuals. For example, if we don’t understand organic versus conventional food, we might choose the cheaper. However, the point of this article is to find the big limiter to knowledge, know where it is and what it is hiding us from. The article will take us through the basics of the concept of knowledge, how we get real knowledge and then to the modern problem of the big limiter to knowledge.
We have to start from a point. This point is that we accept that we are born to live a life as we do on this earth, we are healthy and that we slowly open our eyes and consciousness to what is already here. This is our starting point. We are now at the point where we are a young adult at least having been to school and had some experience in the employment market. We now get into the detail. We discover a paperclip on our desk. We might answer yes if the question was put to us ‘do you know how a paperclip works?’ Well, many of us would be wrong. Let’s check this. The paperclip is what we will call a percept. It is something that we found here on earth and it exists. It is perceivable. We use our sense organs to familiarise ourselves with the paperclip. The next process is that our thinking takes over as we ponder the paperclip and our thinking searches for the concepts or truths that exist within the exact percept that we have before us, the paperclip. So, let’s do this. We see metal and know some of the concepts related to metals from both physics and chemistry. We can add in some of the concepts of extrusion, cutting and friction, coating, tensile, malleable, levers and so on. These all relate to the paperclip. If, through our thinking we tried to allocate concepts like smell, pendulum motion or spontaneous combustion to the paperclip, we would know that these concepts do not fit to the paperclip. They do not lead to an understanding of the paperclip itself. Torsion as a concept is often the one that we miss out when contemplating a paperclip. Torsion is what one finds in springs. When one pushes down on a spring, the reason that it wants to come back to its original shape is because of the forces of torsion. In torsion, one is trying to twist the length of a steel rod rather than bend it. The circular shaping of a steel rod in a spring achieves this. Bending a steel rod is much easier than twisting it. Paperclips have three bends in them. The middle one, the one that does not slide over the paper that it is clipping, is being torsioned by the levers on either side of it. Each of these levers culminates in a bend also but these bends are just for making it easier to slide the levers over the paper. The relative length of the levers to the thickness of wire in the curve that is being torsioned by them is the crux of why a paperclip has so much sustainable force to apply to keeping pieces of paper together. Do you understand how a paperclip works now?
The process was, I take in the percept, I link relevant concepts – all relevant ones – to the percept through my thinking, and I then can get to a point where I understand the percept. As a result of this process I have come to a correct and clear understanding of a paperclip. If I don’t have all the concepts at hand, I will not be able to understand a paperclip. I will live my life never understanding a paperclip. While this may not be a tragedy in itself, the principle demonstrated here is that if I want to understand things, I have to link all the right concepts to percepts through my thinking. To add to the importance of this, if I understand, then I live in reality as per Dr Steiner. One can experience this quite clearly oneself even with this example.
All of us go through life never understanding many of the simple things because we have no interest, are in haste, don’t have the skills and experience, cannot be clear and objective, and more. We employ people and expect them to participate in the business processes but we ourselves do not understand where knowledge comes from and certainly don’t take steps to help people, all of whom have sense organs and can think to some degree, to connect the right concepts to the exact percept being contemplated. As a consequence, these people are withheld in a way from experiencing knowledge and hence reality. There are limits to knowledge for them. In the same way, humanity is continuing to pursue an understanding of life without the big concept. So what is it?
I am going to give this missing concept and then add it to the concepts that we would apply to the paperclip and see what it does to our understanding. What I am suggesting is that, just like missing the concept of torsion in a paperclip would result in a significantly reduced understanding of the paperclip, so too would the missing concept that I am wanting to add, lead to a significant increase in understanding of the paperclip and expand our previous limit to knowledge by a margin of magnitude. (I need to say at this point again but very clearly that if one applies an incorrect concept to a percept, no matter how important one is or how convincing one is, it would lead to illusion as opposed to understanding.)
The missing body of knowledge is that there is a real world of spirit. This is a massive body of knowledge in itself and a concept that is difficult for humanity today to be open to. Connected to this concept of spirit as reality is that human beings are body, soul and spirit. Our physical existence we understand today. Our life of ‘mind’ and the lower elements of passions and feelings we are aware of and can even go as far as to say that these are part of a possible soul. The higher elements of the soul and our spirit are difficult for us to incorporate in our conscious lives as real concepts. We are as unsighted and deaf to the concepts of the reality of our soul-spirit nature during our conscious lives as we are to our physical reality while we are asleep. This is how it is right now. However, we can become aware of the reality of the existence and workings of the spirit quite simply. (It is beyond such a short article, and reality, to take convincing further.) There are a few examples that if contemplated with openness can at least give one a sense of the reality of spirit. Here some are.
If I recognise that the contents of my fridge is an expression of what lives in me as motive or value system, I acknowledge that something spiritual, not physical, drives the selection, movement and ordering of the content of my fridge. In the same way, if I accept that it is not the car that is driving considerately, but the driver operating the car that is the source of this car behaving this way, then I recognise the spiritual influence over the movement of the car, and that this comes from the person. Two identical cars will move differently and this is as a consequence of the inner or spiritual nature of the different drivers. In yet another example, I see a field of a farm planted with sunflowers, I know that this was the intention of the farmer, an idea that has become expressed in the material world. The field next to it is planted with maize and is also the consequence of another idea. In both cases, nature simply cradles the idea in her womb. In all three examples given above, the route to change the material manifestation is via the spiritual nature of the people involved. To change a considerate person to an inconsiderate one is not easy. No spanner will work. The same applies to the content of that person’s fridge. The route to change what it contains is not where they shop but what their concepts are about nutrition. This is not an easy thing for any one of us to change. No material restructuring of our physical body will be the direct cause of the change from processed food to organic food. Our spiritual nature needs discovering and harnessing.
If I have the concept, and it is real for me, that I am a spiritual being as hinted to above, I will look at the paperclip, and in addition to the understanding already gained without the added concept of spirit as a reality, I could ask myself how the soul of the inventor managed to incorporate all those concepts into such a simple but practical item that provides a great solution for the needs of humanity and why his neighbour could not? I could ask myself, when was it ‘invented’ and why not sooner? What possibilities for paperclip development exists going forward as human beings get more awareness of what drives them in certain ways to fill their fridges as they do? Could they make it more efficiently? Here our questions can embrace a much bigger search for knowledge than without the concepts related to the world of spirit.
Moving on from the paperclip, one could ask ‘will human beings get more control of their souls and spirits going forward?’ ‘How will this lead to the way societies are structured or will they always stock their fridges the same way and use the same farming methods, this, knowing that neither of the above have stayed the same?’ ‘Can I have an impact on what is to be thought and valued in future?’ ‘Could it not be more significant and relevant to discover what motivation lives in people by looking at their fridge and the way their cars move before one lends them money?’ ‘Understanding financial statements is surely only understanding the past intentions and motivations and has limited bearing on credit worthiness going forward?’
Without the concept of the reality of the spirit, in us in our soul-spirit nature, there are significant limits to knowledge.