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What does Knowing Mean? April 7, 2012

Posted by aldelsol in CONSCIOUSNESS.
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What does Knowing Mean? —

Non ridere,  non lugere, neque detestari, sed intelligere ! says Spinoza,  so simply and sublimely, as is his wont. Nevertheless, what else is this intelligere ultimately, but just the form in which the three other things become perceptible to us all at once? A result of the diverging and opposite impulses of desiring to deride, lament and execrate? Before knowledge is possible each of these impulses must first have brought forward its one-sided view of the object or event.

The struggle of these one-sided views occurs afterwards, and out of it there occasionally arises a compromise, a pacification, a recognition of rights on all three sides, a sort of justice and agreement: for in virtue of the justice and agreement all those impulses can maintain themselves in existence and retain their mutual rights.

We, to whose consciousness only the closing reconciliation scenes and final settling of accounts of these long processes manifest themselves, think on that account that intelligere is something conciliating, just and good, something essentially antithetical to the impulses; whereas it is only a certain relation of the impulses to one another. For a very long time conscious thinking was regarded as the only thinking: it is now only that the truth dawns upon us that the greater part of our intellectual activity goes on unconsciously and unfelt by us ; I believe, however, that the impulses which are here in mutual conflict understand rightly how to make themselves felt by one another, and how to cause pain :— the violent sudden exhaustion which overtakes all thinkers may have its origin here (it is the exhaustion of the battlefield).

Aye, perhaps in our struggling interior there is much concealed heroism, but certainly nothing divine, or eternally-reposing-in- itself, as Spinoza supposed. Conscious thinking and especially that of the philosopher, is the weakest and on that account also the relatively mildest and quietest mode of thinking: and thus it is precisely the philosopher who is most easily misled concerning the nature of knowledge.

GS-333

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