Storm's Journal

--| Spinoza's Poured Out God |--- 

Three Kinds of Knowledge

Spinoza makes a distinction between three kinds of knowledge. The first kind is that in which upon hearing or reading certain words we recall certain things and form certain mental pictures of these things which are similar to the pictures by which we represent the things to ourselves pictorally. The second kind of knowledge is that in which, out of sufficient mental pictures of the characteristics of things, we form general concepts for ourselves. The third kind of knowledge, however, is that in which we advance from an adequate picture of the real being of certain attributes of God to an adequate knowledge in beholding. This last, the highest kind of knowledge, is that for which Goethe strove.

Poured Out

One must above all be clear about what Spinoza meant by this: The things are to be known in such a way that we recognize within their being certain attributes of God. Spinoza's God is the idea-content of the world, the driving principle that supports and carries everything. Now one can piture this either in such a way that one takes this principle to be an independent being -- existing by itself, separated off from finite beings -- that has these finite things outside itself, governs them, and causes them to interact. Or, on the other hand, one can picture this being as having merged into finite things in such a way that it is no longer over and outside them, but rather now exists only within them. This [later] view in no way denies that primal principle; it acknowledges it entirely; only, it regards this principle as having been poured out into the world. The first view regarsd the finite world as a manifestation of the infinite, but this infinite remains with its own being intact; it relinquishes nothing of itself. It does not go out of itself; it remains what it was before it manifested itself. The second view also regards the finite wworld as a manifestation of the infinite, only it assumes that this infinite, in becoming manifest, has gone entirely out of itself, has laid itself, its own being and life, into its creation in such a way that it now exists only with this creation.

The Activity of Knowing

Now since our activity of knowing is obviously a becoming aware of the essential being of things, and since this being can after all consist only in the involvement a finite being has in the primal principle of things, our activity of knowing must then mean a becoming aware of that infinite within the things. (Goethean Science, Chapter IV, GA-1) -- find: xref to opening paragraphs in Theosophy.

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SUBMIT AN ARTICLE posted: September 23, 2003