Artificial Intelligence in the Light of uniting Hermetic Science with Spiritual Science.
It was recently announced on the Anthroposophy Facebook page that Andrew Linnell was going to give a presentation on “Artificial Intelligence” and the meaning of this phenomena for the future. Certainly a worthy task, but I am not sure how close to the “truth” his thinking will be. Why ask such a seemingly impudent question?
The Facebook page, where Andrew is an administrator, begins with a falsehood: “Anthroposophy was formed by Rudolf Steiner to be a Spiritual Science to nurture the soul.” I have tried more than once to have that assertion reconsidered, and not only is there no dialogue about this comment of mine, nothing changes.
Anthroposophy is a name given to a kind of potential inner activity, whereby we as individuals call forth the new thinking out of our own will. Steiner did not “form” this spiritual fact … the Mystery created the potential, and others have found it (Emerson and S.T. Coleridge, for example). What Steiner did was cast the process of making this known to ourselves, by using the principles of Natural Science, which he describes as the modern Way of Knowledge.
To equate the meaning of the word Anthroposophy (a method of awake thinking), with the content produced by that act, which he named Spiritual Science, confuses the act the actor (the message with the messenger). The Society – in general, not understanding the Idea of the true meaning of the act, which Steiner practiced, lost its own logos-natured center, the heart’s mind, by granting authority there to Steiner-sez, at the expense of their own thinking.
In my early years as an “anthroposophist”, I was told that for Spiritual Science to be a science, requires that the results be repeatable. Alas the riddle, … where were those who managed to “replicate” this activity. Tomberg was offered, but within the Society this was rejected.
As I thought about this question over the years, I came to the conclusion that what made spiritual science a science was in fact the method. He had placed his studies of this Way to knowledge, in the realms of philosophy of his time. First phrase, first leading thought, “Anthroposophy is a path … “ In GA-1 to GA-4, he describes one result of making such a journey, by first dealing with the riddle of how do we know that we know what we know (epistemology).
In essence, the first science – in the modern sense – was addressed to this problem of thinking and thought, and their relationship to knowing. What he discovered empirically was the foundational science, the Science of Knowing. Thinking, aware of itself, was the road to certainty.
A recent riddle arose during the Plague, which was whether or not there was such a thing as “settled science”. Is a Spiritual Science settled if we say Steiner said it?
As a scientist of the spirit (one of my main fields of interest is high energy physics), I also can “think” about AI. So, with the above context I will share my “thinking” about AI.
To my cognitive activity, AI presents a type of conceptual problem, as did Steiner when he pointed out that our “idea” of “the atom” is the problem. Preconceptions and assumptions obscure the phenomenological truth.
When humanity started to examine Nature, as a matter-only based reality, science began by taking “things” apart. One of the products of this is the Table of Elements, which are called molecules, with the idea that stuff is made out of these parts. The first observational mistake was to not notice that Nature nowhere gives us pure “elements”. Even gold and crystals were combinations of the elements. We call the impurity in a diamonds, for example, by reference to color and opaqueness. Allegedly pure gold has to be “refined”, but never quite gets rid of all the unwanted aspects, which were companions in a living natural process.
The world is not made of molecules, but combinations of “elemental” characteristics of matter. Still, searching for the imaginary fundamental part ended up with us being able to “break” the molecule into parts called “atoms”, which are a kind of debris, that arises after refinement. Then we break the atom, and get into the deeps of particle physics, which are debris of debris.
Eventually physics wanders away from matter, and notices “fields”. A field is a phenomena where there is no matter, yet still powerful dynamic process: aka: the four fundamental forces, and or transformations, electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. I wrote a long article on the ancients’ observations of four fundamental aspects of reality: fire/will; air/intellect; water/feeling, and earth/consciousness, and their relationship with materialistic physics. (1)
Now, AI is first and foremost an idea: aka: “Artificial Intelligence”. It is clear to observation that the thinking that hatched that idea did not understand at all the true nature of human consciousness, given that the science of parts-only felt the material brain was the seat of what is clearly – to experience – an immaterial state of being … self-reflecting consciousness. This quality was denied existence, aka: the spirit of the anti-Christ inhabited modern science, and denied both Father and Son (see first two letters of John). The debris of that confusion lives in the idea there is no self, and we are not free.
Such matters of dangerous and false ideas, that flood our dying civilization, all takes place in a context. If we look to the future, with our non-material consciousness, we see many dangers to life and limb from these social tendencies. The macro-social clearly has properties of inertia and momentum.
Human beings have experienced a lot of awful over the millenia. If we practice a spiritual social science, we might observe that the World has an order, profound and beautiful. The locus of Love is the individual biography. Religions, sciences, arts … philosophy … pass away, yet each individual biography, by their operable relationship with the Mystery, is a temple. Our circumstances give us the ideas we individually need to navigate our unique life of mazes and labyrinths.
From a certain point of view, which I call: the Primal Paradox, to the Mystery the World is perfect, which includes the offerings of individuals to change it – we are the leading edge of evolution, and microcosmic luminous entities.
As an aspect of this macro-evolutionary process, present day social structures are falling apart, aka: The Dying and Becoming of “Western” Civilization. “Western” scientific materialism – all is matter, there is no spirit – is being rejected, a macro-social event that began with the ‘60’s, and is being deepened by the presence of a World Wide Rite, Steiner called “all of humanity is crossing the threshold”, which we know as the Plague.
The task faced by each individual biography is to face the chaos of the time, and by circumstance be thrown back on our own judgment as the primary seed of the good and the true. It is situational, there being no absolute truths or absolute facts.
The Artificial Intelligence is the presence of a device that cannot actually obtain consciousness, although it might perhaps imitate it. Advances in the sophistication of the device might seem to have no limit, and the search for “quantum computing” is the latest effort to … to what, exactly?
The Quantum world “idea” is a creature of modern physics. There actually is a there there, as it were, although we presently do not know the true conceptions and ideas – which are the right names for the phenomena.
Current thinking in quantum theory is that not even space and time matter. Einstein’s mathematics is weak in a sense, and quantum mechanics has been wrestling with the riddle of “quantum entanglement”, finding solutions that disagree with aspects of the theories of relativity. Modern particle physics asks: why can two particles be separated in space, but not in time. Spin one, its pair spins as well.
The process seems instantaneous as well. There is no gap for something to cross for connection. The connection is a fundamental state of “things”. Hermetic Science would see this as a manifestation of the primal principle of Unity.
Many of their questions would be answered if particle physicists were to study the works of George Adams. “Space and the Light of Creation”, an essay in mathematical physics published in 1933, has three chapters: 1) Radiation of Space; 2) Music of Number; and 3) Burden of the Earth and the Sacrifice of Warmth.
“Physical and Ethereal Spaces” is yoga for the imagination. “Think on it: how the point becomes a sphere and yet remains itself. Hast thou understood how the infinite sphere may be only a point, and then come again, for then the Infinite will shine forth for thee in the finite.” Rudolf Steiner. Also he said: we must learn to think the extensive intensively, and the intensive extensively. Yoga, yes?
Also there is Adams “Universal Forces in Mechanics”. It is the nature of matter to include an ethereal (non-physical aspect) presence. Moreover, this ethereal world is infinite, while the material world is finite.
My hope is that someday those Steiner folks interested in the Mysteries of Technology would become more familiar with the fundamental truth aspects of space and time, which include a non-material component.
Right now, Ahriman and Lucifer are winning the battle to define the nature of human existence, at the level of physics. Ahriman, by enabling our dependence on pure mathematics. Lucifer by making us believe there is a “real” potential state that precedes any manifestation.
The problem and riddle and enigma is even if real human consciousness can’t be replicated in a machine, there still will be spiritual entities created by our unconscious activity in developing this technology. In Hermetic Science these artificial astral beings are called elementaries. If we want to avoid making them unconsciously, knowledge of Hermetic Science is central. However, it is a Hermetic Science united with a Spiritual Science, that is needed (2). But where are those realms being studied or taught? In the occult brotherhoods, for sure.
Preview Of Coming Attractions: What does any of this to do with the legendary Eighth Sphere? One of the qualities Mother Nature teaches, is that growth and decay are aspects of all that lives. Is the Eighth Sphere any less holy than the rest of the Creation? (3) Is it possible that the heart’s mind, of the world’s girls becoming women, is the biting point of the sword of He who does not bring peace? (4).
Without doubt, the most serious problem is what happens to the mind/spirit when it turns over various activities to AI? We fail to develop a capacity we have surrendered to this faux intelligence. We lame our spirit and soul.