A Cosmic Initiation: Practicus
In THE TRUE AND INVISIBLE ROSICRUCIAN ORDER Case specifies that what is aimed for in the Practicus grade is "the formation of new habits of thought. Nobody ever truly realizes that his personality is a vehicle for universal life unless he affirms and reaffirms the idea and exercises all the ingenuity he can muster to find new ways of reminding himself that this is true."
Now at the outset of this Practicus exercise, we have to try to determine (to our satisfaction) there is indeed a "universal mode of knowledge." To begin, I will start with Immanuel Kant's view of human knowledge--or at least my interpretation of what Kant is trying to convey. :)
Kant begins by posing the question as to whether there is any knowledge other than empirical knowledge. He claims that sensual experience gives us no true universality. Are there, however, universal modes of knowledge, knowledge absolutely independent of experience, which at the same time "possess the character of inner necessity?" Kant's quest is to stalk after the possibility of knowledge *a priori.*
He examines aspects of human knowledge: sensibility and understanding. He entitles as sensibility that capacity which humans have for receiving representations of external objects that affect us. Kant notes that while "the matter of all appearance is given to us *a posteriori* only, its form must lie ready for the sensations *a priori* in the mind."
Kant speculates that it is intuition which is the carrier of the empirical object: intuitions "are thought through the understanding, and from the understanding arise concepts." His investigation leads him to the discovery that there are two pure forms of sensible intuitions which serve as principles of *a priori* knowledge: space and time.
Space is the condition that makes appearances (or objects) possible. And yet space is a pure intuition. The concept of space is not derived from outer experience. *A priori* intuition (pure, not empirical) underlies all concepts of space. Therefore space, "is an *a priori* representation which necessairly underlies outer appearances" according to Kant.
Neither is time an empirical concept. Like space, time is a subjective condition which underlies outer intuition. Time is an *a priori* "given" which allows our outer representations succession. Kant notes that "time and space are, therefore, two sources of knowledge from which bodies of *a priori* synthetic knowledge (synthesis of concepts) can be derived."
Concepts, arising out of understanding, unify various representations of the sensible under one common representation, and concepts are present in every human judgement. Kant exclaims that "now we can reduce all acts of the understanding to judgement, and the understanding may therefore be represented as a faculty of judgement." *A priori* concepts lead to *a priori* judgements which, in turn, lead to *a priori* knowledge.
The next step refers to reason--how we comprehend concepts, analytically through identity. According to Kant, "reason is the faculty which supplies the principles of *a priori* knowledge." In other words, pure reason is that knowledge (like mathematics) which we know absolutely not to be mixed with anything extraneous; nothing sensate is intermingled with it; and it is therefore completely *a priori.* This leads to Kant's principle of pure apperception.
To make it possible for a human to have reason, to make judgements about concepts which synthesize representations, there has to be a subject to the object. If there is no ego self, there would be no human thought. If there is no self, conscious as self, the Universe could not be perceived--could not be represented.
The carrier of representations, intuition, has a necessary relation to a conscious "I think" in the same subject. This conscious self is rock-bottom--it is foundational. As Kant puts it, "self-consciousness which, while generating the representation 'I think' cannot itself be accompanied by any further representation."
It is possible for a human person to identify as an ego-self; he knows that he is a conscious self out of which *a priori* knowledge arises. This knowledge of ego-self *a priori,* this spontaneity--this sense of being present to one's self, is that which Kant calls pure apperception. And for Kant, the principle of apperception "is the highest principle in the whole sphere of human knowledge."
Now Kant presumes *a priori* knowledge--but he suggests that this resource, from which we tap, is separate and perhaps a different dimension of reality. Hegel responds to this as follows: Another mistake common to empiricism and rationalism is to think that knowledge requires a correspondence between a person's beliefs and reality. The search for such correspondence is logically absurd since every such search ends with some belief about whether the correspondence holds or not, and thus one has not advanced beyond belief. Kant's distinction between the thing-in-itself and the phenomenon of consciousness is an instance of this absurdity. To make the distinction is to have the object in itself in consciousness and hence not in itself."
For Hegel, Reason exists in degrees! From his PHENOMENOLOGY OF SPIRIT, he proceeds: "Perception, on the other hand, takes what is present to it as a universal. Just as universality is its principle in general, the immediately self-differentiating moments within perception are universal...'I' is a universal and the object is a universal. "
Now--let us return to Paul Foster Case and his THE TRUE AND INVISIBLE ROSICRUCIAN ORDER. What does Case have to say of all the above? "The personal man is *never* the thinker, the speaker, nor the actor. Any thought, any word, any deed is the operation of the sum total of cosmic forces and laws, taking particular form in time and space, through the instrumentality of a human being (or other vehicles of the Cosmic Life.)"
Well--our recent Practicus session has examined Kant's foray into general truths to be ascertained, into the discovery of certain *foundational* principles. Now I would like to recapitulate in this segment Kan'ts epistemology--in encapsulated form. :-) This is important, however, so as to get a better grip upon what I am beginning to understand is the FOUNDATION upon which Hegel builds his ediface.
Kant begins by posing the question to us --as to whether there is any knowledge other than empirical knowledge. He claims that sensual experience gives us no true universality; and he stalks after knowledge *a priori* (transcendental). Kant notes that while the matter of all appearance is given to us *a posteriori* only, its form must lie ready for the sensations *a priori* in the mind.
We can never imagine a single object except that it be imagined in a specific space and time. Space and time are absolutely necessary for any and all ideas whatsoever that any future human being can ever have.
Kant's pure apperception is the self. Kant notes that to make it possible for a human to have reason, to make judgements about concepts which synthesize representations, there has to be a subject to an object. If there is no ego self (consciousness), there would be no human thought. The Universe out there could not be represented.
As for Kant's theme of "unity"--Objects unify under space and time and Everything unifies under the self. We have a self which is ONE, and a world which is composed of a MULTITUDE (manifold) of things. We experience life as a synthesis joining the manifold under the unity.
Space, time, the unity of apperception and the manifold of things-in-themselves are the basic parameters of human imagination. This tells us that one basic principle of Transcendental Logic will be a "Multiplicity within Unity." In essence, we are born with a human physiology which is organized as a single self, which perceives the world as a multiplicity of things and events in space and time.
Unification is the synthesis of data, and Kant presents what he considers the limits of the human mind, namely space, time, self, world, and four classes of categories: quantity, quality, relation, and mode.
Foremost among Kant's dictums is "The Thing-in-Itself (Being in Itself) is Unknowable." Now--Hegel agreed mostly with Kant, EXCEPT FOR THIS ABOVE POINT.
Hegel would *not* accept Kant's conclusion that we are imprisoned in our own physiology, in space and time, cannot conceive anything beyond space and time, and thus cannot know if real things exist in space and time.
Hegel declares that "Kant rediscovered this triadic form by instinct, but in his work it was still lifeless and uncomprehended..." For Hegel, "thinking is the self-moving and self-differentiating thought, it is its own inwardness, it is the pure Notion [Spirit]. Thus common understanding...is a becoming, and, as this becoming, it is *reasonableness.*"
Basically, "consciousness now has two objects: one is the first *in-itself,* the second is the *being-for-consciousness of this [Spirit] in-itself." And, "finally when consciousness itself grasps this its own essence, IT WILL SIGNIFY THE NATURE OF ABSOLUTE KNOWLEDGE ITSELF."
Speaking once again to the Practicus grade, Case repeats that the initiate has to formulate new habits of thought, that the initiate can personally only become a vehicle for the Universal Life by exercising "all the ingenuity he can to find new ways" of thinking about what thought actually is.
Hegel tries to show a new way of thinking, coming to realize that we are thinking as vehicles of the Universal Knowing. And from what I can discern by his efforts into such consciousness, he surmises that Universal Knowing is Dynamic, always in a flow of Movement, evolving and grasping itself as Subject and Object, synthesizing itself into a great Unity through the exercise of an emerging Reason via the avenues of Knowledge, Will, Courage, Calm, Creativity. Hence "knowing" is not just coming to understand who we are or about our particular existence--rather "knowing truly" is dependent upon employing the knowledge of Universal Law into Greater Being.
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