Experiencing the world as an interior – Part 3

An interview with Prof. Wolfgang Schad (Witten, Germany), for LOGON: Gunter Friedrich - How cognition arises. Understanding can be an act of healing.

Experiencing the world as an interior – Part 3

To part 2


G.F.: Is there a possibility to enter into conscious contact with the true I? Can this original, true I, my true identity, reveal itself to me in my current consciousness?

How cognition arisis

W.S: Let’s try to bring the closeness to scientific thinking into this question, so that we don’t just get stuck in assumptions and blind expectations. It is an interesting field how fruitful, problem-solving cognition and understanding occur. How does this process happen? We need an epistemology that provides more precise information about how cognition is gained. The educationalist Friedrich Copei wrote a book in the 1930s entitled The Fruitful Moment in the Educational Process. In it he asks: What is the fruitful moment in religious experience? What is the fertile moment in art experience, in creative art? What is the fruitful moment in scientific research? I am now referring to the latter.

Copei compiles a series of self-descriptions of researchers about how significant discoveries were made. One of the greatest mathematicians of the 19th century was Friedrich Gauss. He for example fundamentally researched the theory of equations. Gauss once described how his decisive discoveries came to him. It starts with working out the problem as well as possible. Then he sits at his desk and tries to use all the means of solution that he has used so far in his mathematical art. However, he does not get far with it since it is a completely new problem. Gauss then describes that when he has struggled intensively at his desk for maybe three weeks to find solutions to the problem and has slept on them again and again and still not made any progress, he has set everything aside and taken his walking stick and wandered across the fields. When the weather was nice and he let the blue sky take effect on him, the white clouds and the greening seeds of the fields and the gentle wind – then in an instant the solution was easily there.

So it is clear that he did not invent something, but was given something. The discoverer experiences great discoveries as gifts from a – Plato would say – world of ideas. However, since Plato’s world of ideas is still deterministic, I do not want to refer specifically to Plato, but there is the gift from a world that consists of the interconnections between the contents of the worlds. To think is to gain insight into the interconnections. And similar things can be said about other scientists. Heisenberg described a similar experience, which enabled him to solve a problem that he had worked on for months. On the island of Helgoland, after working through the night, he came up with a decisive innovation for the first calculation of the simplest atom using a mathematical method he had newly discovered. Every time it is the world that – after you have struggled with a problem – speaks in you and not you any longer. That is the spiritual experience in recognising.

G.F.: You can apply that to quite a lot of things. You go on a quest and you reach a limit and you don’t get any further and then unexpectedly something comes towards you. It is, so to speak, an encounter that takes place that suddenly establishes a new level in your consciousness. You can also illustrate this in relation to encounters with people. You make an effort to reach another level in your work together or in being together and suddenly this level comes towards you. And you can experience it in relation to yourself. The I that we are right now can in a certain way encounter this spiritual, intangible I that “we” also are, or more precisely, be seized by it, be lifted by it beyond the boundary. This happens through the inner search for the dissolution of separation, for the dissolution of duality. It is always this great event of an encounter from the realm of the world that is unknown to us. And my idea is that through such an effort the world as a whole is transformed. The prerequisite is to be ready to be transformed yourself. This opens up the possibility for us to solve the problems that we have brought about all over the world on a higher level by awakening this higher level as the future within us.

Understanding as an act of healing

W.S.: What we are talking about or trying to talk about is found in Hegel in an optimal formulation. [He gets a book] I will quote the sentences: “From this it follows that by and through the fact that an object is comprehended, something is not done to it that does not concern it, but something happens to it which it is designed for and which belongs to it as something indispensable to its perfection.”

That is to say, by understanding an object of the world, I perform an act of healing on the object itself, because the separation between the object and me is not only dissolved from the perspective of the object, but also from me towards the object. That is, the thinking of the human being suddenly becomes therapeutic-creative for the contents of the world. That is what is in this Hegelian quotation. And that is an excellent indication of the interplay between world and human being. When this interplay takes place in the right way, it cancels out the contrast and the human being becomes the content of the world and the world becomes the content of the human being.

The word world is so strongly generalised in this context that everything of the manifold which I encounter fits it. I can even apply this to my body, because I can also make the body the object of my cognition. It is also “world” in that sense and not “I”.

So if you talk hastily about the unity of spirit, soul and body, you are stirring things together in one pot, which prevents the understanding of the world.

G.F.: In the future, humanity will have to relate in a new way to everything that can be found on earth. And in doing so, not only the intellect must have an effect, but it must be supplemented by an openness of heart. It can establish new spaces of relationship into which the deep inner source that lies within us can work. This presupposes that the human being has to work on himself. Then he or she can make a loving, open and also understanding contribution to the world. That seems to me to be one of the important results of a good inner, spiritual path.

Idea and Reason

W.S.: We even have a help for this in the German language, namely the difference between Verstand (intellect) and Vernunft (reason), which Kant also described very well. The Verstand/intellect deals with concepts, Vernunft/reason with ideas. Concepts are definable, ideas are subject to growth. This makes reason something with which I can grasp the world not only as being but also as becoming, because here thinking can grow along with the world. The German word Vernunft comes from perceiving. This means that I do not project myself onto the object with my models of thought, but I have the ability to hear what the object can tell me mentally. And there’s nothing that can’t be a gift for me. So the reversal of the direction of action is wonderfully contained in the word vernehmen/Vernunft: I am open, I listen, I am a listener to the world. That is why the concept of reason is so much more beautiful than when I remain in the Verstand/intellect, because Verstand is related to the word standing. In the intellect I only stand, as if rooted on the spot, in reason, however, I become mentally perceptive for a context.

G.F.: The poet Rainer Maria Rilke has expressed in many poems: things want to be perceived, things want to be taken in by man, and in his Ninth Elegy he writes that they trust man to have a saving quality. In other words, they trust us to actually lift them up within us to a new level of reality that goes beyond the present one.

(to be continued in part 4 )

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Date: December 30, 2020
Author: Gunter Friedrich (Germany)
Photo: sherpa auf Pixabay CCO

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