The Real 20th Century, Part 1

     Bruce Charlton has written about a prophecy of Rudolf Steiner from a lecture, "The work of the angels in man's astral body"  wherein Steiner predicted certain features of the modern world.  One of the things that struck me most about this prophecy was the following: 

"So the crucial point lies ahead when either the path to the right can be taken — but that demands wakefulness — or the path to the left, which permits of sleep. But in that case instincts come on the scene — instincts of a fearful kind.

And what do you suppose the scientific experts will say when such instincts come into evidence? They will say that it is a natural and inevitable development in the evolution of humanity. Light cannot be shed on such matters by natural science, for whether men become angels or devils would be equally capable of explanation by scientific reasoning. Science will say the same in both cases: the later is the outcome of the earlier ... so grand and wise is the interpretation of nature in terms of causality!"

    The idea is that if there are supernatural causes which operate in a subtle manner and lie outside the purview of science, then science cannot explain the outcomes of these causes.  Science can only describe the events that are happening.  An example is, if someone is healed from a disease miraculously, the physiological processes inside the body would most likely be indistinguishable from ordinary processes.  But a description of the processes is not the same as identifying the true cause if indeed the true cause is beyond the physical.  

    But it doesn't just apply to the supernatural.  Any time something subtle either comes into play or goes away, people who do not understand will describe events rather than identifying their true causes.  And they will substitute explaining how the later came from the earlier rather than going deeper and saying, "why."  It would be like getting into a taxi, asking to go somewhere, being taken somewhere entirely different and when asking why the driver took you to the wrong place, being give a long-winded explanation of how each street led to the next street and so on.  It completely misses the point, which is that the driver chose to go somewhere else.  

    This idea is of course very old, going back to the metaphor about fish not noticing the water in which they swim and is also discussed in Bruce Charlton and Edward Dutton's Genius Famine book.  In this book, it is mentioned that when geniuses go away, people who can't recognize the real creativity of genius just redefine genius as whatever they happen to like personally.  So, in a similar way, something subtle has gone away and people who do not recognize the true cause cannot understand the changes that have taken place. 

    to be continued ...


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