The more superficially one thinks, the easier it is to prove something

Nowadays one can, as some intelligent left-wing socialists do, prove without a doubt that Marxism is intrinsically true; one can, from another point of view, just as easily prove that Marxism is complete nonsense. It is possible these days to prove most things. We need to understand this.

These days, children are instilled with the notion that they ought to prove things. However, therein lies something incredibly tragic, this capability to prove things so readily, so rigorously and thereby be so easily convinced of a concept. Because of all the ways to become convinced of something, the easiest is the current method to prove matters. There is no easier means to acquire a conviction today than to prove a conviction to be the right one. Precisely by proving something in this way, people have lost their sensitivity, lost the ability to sense that beliefs in life must be fought for and acquired, that one needs to conquer a conviction if it should become an integral part of the soul.

Why is this so? Why are we so easily convinced of something? It happens because we have become accustomed to superficial thinking. These days people tend to stay on the surface with their thinking; they do not bother to penetrate deeply into things. Moreover, the more superficially one thinks, the easier it is to prove something. This is particularly important to understand. The thinner the concepts are – and on the surface of things all concepts are thin and abstract -, the better these concepts seem to provide arguments for what one wants to believe and assume from completely different substrates, from very unconscious subjective feelings, from arbitrary will impulses, subconscious beliefs and assumptions.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 191 – Soziales Verständnis aus geisteswissenschaftlicher Erkenntnis – Dornach, October 18, 1919 (page 147-148)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on September 19, 2019

Advertisement

The more superficially one thinks, the easier it is to prove something  

Nowadays one can, as some intelligent left-wing socialists do, prove without a doubt that Marxism is intrinsically true; one can, from another point of view, just as easily prove that Marxism is complete nonsense. It is possible these days to prove most things. We need to understand this.

These days, children are instilled with the notion that they ought to prove things. However, therein lies something incredibly tragic, this capability to prove things so readily, so rigorously and thereby be so easily convinced of a concept. Because of all the ways to become convinced of something, the easiest is the current method to prove matters. There is no easier means to acquire a conviction today than to prove a conviction to be the right one. Precisely by proving something in this way, people have lost their sensitivity, lost the ability to sense that beliefs in life must be fought for and acquired, that one needs to conquer a conviction if it should become an integral part of the soul.

 Why is this so? Why are we so easily convinced of something? It happens because we have become accustomed to superficial thinking. These days people tend to stay on the surface with their thinking; they do not bother to penetrate deeply into things. Moreover, the more superficially one thinks, the easier it is to prove something. This is particularly important to understand. The thinner the concepts are – and on the surface of things all concepts are thin and abstract -, the better these concepts seem to provide arguments for what one wants to believe and assume from completely different substrates, from very unconscious subjective feelings, from arbitrary will impulses, subconscious beliefs and assumptions.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 191 – Soziales Verständnis aus geisteswissenschaftlicher Erkenntnis – Dornach, October 18, 1919 (page 147-148)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

People will accept obvious nonsense

Today people are satisfied with many things because certain incorrect theories have made the illusions far greater than they really need be. I have often quoted a characteristic example. Children in their 12th, 13th, and 14th years are told that lightning comes from friction in the clouds and it is admitted at the same time that the clouds are wet. Of course they are; but then when it is a matter of producing the electric spark which is the earthly replica of the lightning, it is found necessary to keep the electrical apparatus and everything belonging to it perfectly dry in order that no water of any kind is present; so that it comes to this — the only thing that is present when the lightning originates, is removed and yet the lightning is the same phenomena as the electric spark! Children and grown up people are quite satisfied to be lulled to sleep with all kinds of hypotheses of this kind. There are innumerable examples of the same kind where people will accept obvious nonsense simply on authority and yet in our days there is much talk of the laying aside of all authority — people say that they are no longer credulous of’ authority. Yet as a matter of fact if they had been so credulous it would have been quite impossible for the Marxian-Socialistic world conception to arise in our epoch, for it is far more credulous of authority even than ancient Catholicism!

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 192 – The Necessity for New Ways of Spiritual Knowledge – Lecture 2 – Stuttgart, September 28, 1919

Previously posted on May 26, 2015