A conversation about Heilkunst (part 3 of 4)

The following conversation occurred by email with a reader of these blog posts, Steven Ings. I asked for Steven’s permission to publish these conversations, as they include many questions and illuminations of the principles I’ve been discussing in my recent series on the Genotypes and Phenotypes. In order to create an actual conversation-like flow, I’ve cut and paste the sequences to be more natural to the conversation we would have had in person, if we weren’t going back and forth on different points in our email sequence. I’ve retained Steven’s text in a plain font, and put all of my responses in italics, in order to differentiate who is the speaker at any given point. Due to the total length, I’ve broken the conversation up into four pieces to be published on four subsequent days. This is part 3:

I admit that one of my favorite subjects involves your question, “To what degree is the human being capable of knowing rather than believing?”

Many years ago while looking at The American Heritage dic·tion·ar·y I noticed that the word “belie” immediately precedes the word “belief.”  Notice the word “lie” in both words.  The significance of that discovery did not ripen until our son was born.  As he grew older, I noticed occasions when I was speaking with and acting toward Adam in the same way that my Dad had spoken with and acted toward me.  Then, one day when he was four years old, Adam said to his friend Jason, “It’s true.  My Dad said so.”

Authority is always a necessary, interim stop-gap measure in the case of ignorance.

Adam believed, unconditionally, the things which I had said.  Even when I was making up a story, Adam believed.  Why?  Trust and truth.  Both words are derived from the same ProtoIndoEuropean etymological root word, dru-.  Adam trusted me, therefore, he believed me.

Wow!  That realization was like a jack-hammer.  I began to examine and question the ideas that I accepted as true, including the “sciences” upon which my degrees were based.  I came to realize that many of my “truths” required acceptance of and trust in Professor X or Doctor Y or Guru Z.  “It’s true.  Doctor Y said so.”

That can be powerfully enticing, when one is disconnected from their own capacity for knowing. 

I also thought about the connection between plagiarism and belief.  A plagiarist copies another’s work, and pretends that it is her or his own work.  A believer accepts another’s ideas and opinions, and repeats them as though the ideas and opinions are her or his own.

To what degree is the human being capable of knowing rather than believing?

This question gets to the heart of every scientific method!

6 thoughts on “A conversation about Heilkunst (part 3 of 4)

  1. In the pedagogy offered by Rudolf Steiner, he observed the natural tendency/need of children roughly seven to fourteen years of age to bestow authority on the adults in their environment, and this stage of development reflects a former stage in the evolution of human consciousness. It is common to all children in that particular seven-year period of development and completely appropriate.

    Personally, I don’t think knowing can be acheived solely through intellectual activity, that we must be able to think with our emotional capacities as well. Didn’t somebody famous say: “to know all is to forgive all”?

  2. Thanks, Mary Anne – yes, it is very important to keep the stages of development in mind when discussing cognitive capacities.

    I’ve never heard that quote, “to know all is to forgive all”, but I like it’s implication about linking knowledge with the force of love to repair the split.

  3. Jeff,
    There are at least two sources for the quote, “to know all is to forgive all.”
    One is a poem written by Nixon Waterman, “To Know All Is To Forgive All.”

    “If I knew you and you knew me –
    If both of us could clearly see,?
    And with an inner sight divine?
    The meaning of your heart and mine –
    ?I’m sure that we would differ less?
    And clasp our hands in friendliness;?
    Our thoughts would pleasantly agree
    ?If I knew you and you knew me.
    If I knew you and you knew me,?
    As each one knows his own self, we?
    Could look each other in the face?
    And see therein a truer grace.
    Life has so many hidden woes,?
    So many thorns for every rose;?
    The ‘why’ of things our hearts would see,?
    If I knew you and you knew me.”

    The original source is a novel, Corinne III, written in the early 1800s by Germaine de Staël.

    Steven

  4. Mary Anne, Jeff,

    In “Waking Up: Overcoming the Obstacles to Human Potential” Charles Tart discusses “consensus trance.” He proposes that “normal waking consciousness” is a “consensus trance” induced by parents, then reinforced by peers, priests, professors, and pundits. He suggests that families and societies agree on perceptions (hence, consensus), then we train each other to see the world in that way and only in that way (hence trance).

    As newborns, infants, and children we were dependent upon our hypnotists (parents), and they initiated us into the family rules according to the instructions that had been impressed upon them by their own parents.

    “It is a fundamental mistake of man’s to think that he is alive, when he has merely fallen asleep in life’s waiting room.” Idries Shah, “Seeker After Truth: A Handbook,” p. 33

    Steven

  5. For some reason, the “submit comment” function butchered the poem by Nixon Waterman. Here it is again:

    If I knew you and you knew me–
    If both of us could clearly see,
    And with an inner sight divine
    The meaning of your heart and mine–
    I’m sure that we would differ less
    And clasp our hands in friendliness;
    Our thoughts would pleasantly agree
    If I knew you and you knew me.

    If I knew you and you knew me,
    As each one knows his own self, we
    Could look each other in the face
    And see therein a truer grace.

    Life has so many hidden woes,
    So many thorns for every rose;
    The “why” of things our hearts would see,
    If I knew you and you knew me.

  6. Wow — the reference to Charles Tart takes me back a number of years to university. Hahnemann actually speaks to this point that Tart makes, when he refers to the “highest diseases”, and talks about the degrees and progression through morals, superstitions, and so on.

    The key is whether we one build on the method which is ultimately capable of rooting back into the core layer of knowing beyond all the beliefs, or whether we fall into the usual assumption of relativism, and that truth is absolutely unattainable by the human mind.

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