Phenomenology as an Act of Will

“Philosophizing consists of inverting the usual direction of the work of thought.” – HENRI BERGSON

  1. Preface
  2. Primacy of low whole numbers
  3. Why numbers manifest living planets
  4. Numbers, Constants and Phenomenology
  5. Phenomenology as an Act of Will

Please enjoy the text below which is ©2023 Richard Heath: all rights reserved.

Contemporary beings see the world in ever more functional and descriptive ways, where a form of words, or a mathematization of the world, overlays the actual sensory experience of it. This has made our task, of interpreting previous Ages, and their big ideas, prone to errors, pitfalls and presumptions. And the notion of there being a Universal Will of some sort seems, since the medieval period, highly optimistic: for why should humans be able to know more than our scientific instruments can tell us or be able to know the universe as a single whole, still connected to Everything. For myself, applying the phenomena of numbers found within the counted periodicities of celestial motions seem to give the key to an alternative world, hidden from modern science.

The European schools of Phenomenology, ably summarized by the late Henri Bortoft in his Taking Appearances Seriously (2012), pushed back against the reductionist functionalism of the modern descriptive mind (which Gurdjieff called man’s formatory apparatus) by returning attention to what is actually present in the sensory world, internalizing it in a way developed by Goethe, through using our inherent and still-operational powers of imagination: a serious type of day-dreaming.

Normally, several things (or parts of something) are aggregated into a whole generic average, as with the names for the parts of a plant: pistil, stamen, petals, vegetative leaves. Bortoft tells us that, in the late 18th Century, Goethe was able to see that each part of a plant was created by a common cell to be found in vegetative leaves and differentiated from there. His proposal prefigured the modern discovery of the stem cell, revealed only recently due to DNA research. But Goethe’s method showed us another approach to understanding, that the wholeness of a plant’s organization of its parts could be grasped through non-instrumental observation, in a process he termed “exact sensorial fantasy”. In a sense, the action of the plant was being assimilated into the psyche, rather than facts and evidence being placed in the linguistic mind.

Henri Bortoft describes how, when struggling to explain the situation, he was standing on a bridge near Sherbourne, worrying how to explain Phenomenology. He saw the verbal-descriptive world was like a river, seen from the bridge upon which he was standing flowing downhill, representing the descriptive path based upon an existing way-of-seeing. He turned around to look upstream.

Such an experience seems esoteric unless experienced for oneself, the structure of the situation reveals how close meaning may lie within phenomena.

Another example, for the history of science, is given where Galileo viewed the Moon using an early telescope. He initially saw (like his contemporaries with such telescopes) that there were many circles upon the Moon’s face. But one day, these circles were suddenly transformed into a landscape, as one might find upon the Earth, a landscape of craters. His new way-of-seeing the Moon was as a planet like our own having a landscape. Galileo had needed to keep looking and struggling to see beyond the circles, until he looked as if at a landscpe on earth which changed his organising idea to the moon as a planet; something no-one had yet done, despite having telescopes.

However Galileo’s discoveries (and subsequently those of Newton), fell back into the ancient Greek atomistic ideas, due in large part to a recently re-discovered Greek text on Atomism, an organizing idea which led to the new type of view, that nature was inherently mathematical. This way-of-seeing we now call Physics. It can now describe the whole physical universe (within the limits of modern instruments and mathematical mappings of world laws such as gravitation), and only rarely do the normal senses “accidentally notice” the appearance of something in a new way.

Therefore, in turning around Henri Bortoft saw that if one turns away from the path of description (verbal or mathematical), one can see with fresh eyes the wholeness and connectedness of phenomena outside of reductionist descriptive environment. The first looks into phenomena to find its meaning as an appearance of meaning within the the direct appearance of the phenomenon, and not assuming that we know what is there. This is surely to be recommended as the birth right of a human being, to understand the world directly and not through mathematics or hearsay. And it is very possible that the conceptual-mathematical way-of-seeing itself developed, from discoveries made in ancient times through the phenomenological approach, because it is visibly true that, in time, the planets are numerically encoded one to another, in a simple way.

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