I see that Jim’s patience with Greg (Social Credit Discussion Group) has finally worn… not just thin… but out!
It was Greg’s reference to Owen Barfield’s “Saving the Appearances” that sent me scurrying to the book’s Index in anticipation of what Barfield may have had to say about ‘abstraction’ in the hope that his explanation might have shown Greg that social crediters’ references to money as an abstraction could have been of help for him to see ‘the light’.
Greg referred to Barfield’s book so I thought it worth pursuing the matter. But it is what Barfield had to say on “The Mystery of the Kingdom” Chapter XXV that summed up what is a problem not just for Greg but many another when they first approach the body of knowledge known as Social Credit.
I have read that Douglas was once asked “What is moral?” To which he replied “That which works best!” And I would venture to say that this is Greg’s problem. The whole idea of ‘something for nothing’ (other than the Grace of God in theological terms) just goes against his grain (his underlying theology and philosophy).
I attach portions of two books that I found helpful. Both books could be read with benefit.
“Saving the Appearances” backcover:
Saving the Appearances” is about the world as we see it and the world as it is, it is about God, human nature and consciousness. It draws on sources from mythology, philosophy, history, literature, theology, and science to chronicle the evolution of human thought. Barfield urges his readers to do away with the assumption that the relationship between people and their environment is static…
“Splintered Light” backcover:
Verlyn Fleiger’s study is of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasies and his use of Owen Barfield’s concept of the fragmentation of meaning, showing how his central image of primary light splintered and refracted acts as a metaphor for the languages, peoples, and history of Middle-earth.
I would suggest these two books be obtained and studied.
A section from Barfield’s “Saving the Appearances” Chapter XXV
THE MYSTERY THE KINGDOM
It was pointed out in Chapter XXIII that the attainment by humanity of a new moral standpoint may mean doing violence to moral judgments. Some violence is inevitable when men are called on, in any sphere, not to correct their previous ideas by removing some error, but actually to move forward to a new plane that includes, rather than replaces, the old. In the moral sphere, what was until now simply ‘good’, is seen for the first time no longer as an absolute, but also as the enemy of a better - and yet it has still also to be grasped as good. This ‘tragedy of progress’, as I called it, is the source of most of the ‘hard sayings’ in the Gospels. Consider for instance the parables of the labourers in the vineyard, and of the prodigal son. Our deep-rooted feeling for the goodness of justice and equity has to be outraged, because we are being beckoned towards a position directionally opposite to the usual one; because we are invited to see the earth, for a moment at all events, rather as it must look from the sun; to experience the world of man as the object of a huge, positive outpouring of love, in the flood of whose radiance such trifles as merit and recompense are mere irrelevancies.
Now there are no harder sayings to be found in The Gospels than the group which deal with the use and purpose of parabolic utterance. Take for instance the verses which follow immediately after the parable of the sower in the 13th Chapter of St. Matthew (vv, 9-13):
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given.
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away, even that he hath.
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand.
Pausing there for a moment, it must be admitted that if we try to accept all this just as it stands, and without any context or key to its meaning, then, to say that it ‘does violence’ to moral judgments is an understatement. The surface-meaning is not just severe, it is brutal. Nor is there any substantial difference in that respect between the passage quoted and the parallel passages in St. Mark iv, 9-12 and St. Luke viii, 9-I0.
If we want to understand what was really in the mind of the Speaker, we have to go deeper. And first of all, we notice how it all leads up to a phrase which contains a marked echo of certain passages in the Old Testament:
Because they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand.
Such echoes are frequent in the reported sayings of Jesus and I take the Gospels as they stand, treating them (whenever they may have been written) as valid records left by wise and deeply responsible men. A good many of the arguments which have been advanced) in favour of dissecting them will, I believe, disappear with the idolatry (as I have here ventured to call it) which now obstructs our penetration of their deeper meaning.
Meanwhile, those who may still prefer to follow Julicher, C. H. Dodd, Jeremias and others, in writing off Matthew 13, 9- I 3 and the parallels in Mark and Luke as later interpretations added by the primitive church, may also care to ponder whether the primitive church is likely to have understood rather more, or rather less, than the twentieth-century commentator of the actual content of this and other parables…
It is also clear from the passages already quoted that it was this secondary view of idols which was conceived as likely to be transferred to the subjective state of the idolator:
They that make them are like unto them; and so is every one that trusteth in them.
This subjective emptiness—which was perhaps also the ‘wilderness’ or ‘lonely place’ in which the Baptist is described as calling for ‘repentance’-—seems to be the psychic condition which is brought about when the elimination of participation has deprived the outer ‘kingdom’--the outer world of images, whether artificial or natural—of all spiritual substance, while the new kingdom within has not yet begun to be realized. It is, as it were, the null point between original and final participation…
The particular parable which Jesus related in this way to idolatry was the parable of the Sower, but we are given to understand that what he said applied to all parables, and indeed that the ability to ‘know’ this parable was a sort of pre-condition for the understanding, or knowing, of any other.
Know ye not this parable? And how then will ye know all parables?
What is it then about this particular parable - of the Sower - which called for this particular comment? Let us listen, first of all, to the ringing cry with which the parable concludes:
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear!
That is not peculiar to this passage. It is even a phrase which was used by other Rabbis as well as Jesus. But if we take the trouble to examine all the occasions on which he used the words, we shall find them always in association with the teaching of ‘the Kingdom’ within, of the light, be it of candle or of sun, that shines now from within, of movement from within outward, as opposed to movement from without inward. 1 Mark iv, 13.
And so here: the disciples are first told, ‘Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,’
or, according to St. Mark,‘ ‘Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God; but for them that are without all things happen” in parables.’
Then follows the interpretation, beginning with the one brief, abrupt verse:
The sower soweth the word.
The parable, then, was about the sowing of the word, the Logos, in earthly soil. It was an attempt to awaken his hearers to the realization that this seed was within their own hearts and minds, and no longer in nature or anywhere without. We have seen something of the change in the nature of all imagery and representation, which takes place with the transition from original to final participation…
Through (Rudolf) Steiner, Barfield came to believe that that the universe was the product of design and was suffused with meaning and, moreover, that imagination can be used quite as well as logic and reason to gain a better understanding of that universe and to comprehend the phenomena of the world around us…
Poetic Diction, subtitled A Study in Meaning.
The focus had expanded from the changes in one word to the whole question of meaning and of the relation of perception to word and of word to concept.
It became, in Barfield's words, ”not merely a theory of poetic diction, but a theory of poetry: and not merely a theory of poetry, but a theory of knowledge" (PD 14). While the theory itself is simple and straightforward, it has profound implications for the development of language and perception and the interrelationship of phenomenon, word, and meaning. It does not lend itself to paraphrase. Barfield's argument is so seamlessly constructed that all parts are interdependent and of equal value in their support of the thesis. Nevertheless, some explanation is necessary in order to appreciate Tolkien’s ready acceptance of the theory and to grasp his use of it in his fiction.
Barfield's theory holds that myth, language, and humanity's perception of the world are interlocked and inseparable. The word myth in this context must be taken to mean that which describes humankind’s perception of its relationship to the natural and supernatural worlds.
Words are expressed myth, the embodiments of mythic concepts and a mythic worldview. Language in its beginnings made no distinction between the literal and the metaphoric meaning of a word, as it does today. Indeed, the very concept of metaphor, or one thing described in the terms of another, was nonexistent. All diction was literal, giving direct voice to the perception of phenomena and humanity's intuitive mythic participation in them.
The modern distinction between the literal and metaphoric uses of a word suggests a separation of the abstract from the concrete, an abstracting of qualities from one thing in order to bestow them on another. This, says Barfield, must surely have been a late development in the history of language. Humankind in its beginnings had a sense of the cosmos as a whole and of itself as a part of that whole, a sense that has long since been left behind. We now perceive the cosmos as particularized, fragmented, and entirely separate from ourselves. Our consciousness and the language with which we express that consciousness have changed and splintered.
In that earlier, primal worldview…Every Word would have had its own unity of meaning embodying what we now can understand only as a multiplicity of separate concepts, concepts for which we (no longer able to participate in the original worldview) must use many different words.
For example, says Barfield, the Greek word pneuma and the Latin word spiritus originally each expressed a concept in which “wind," "breath," and "spirit" were all perceived as one and the same phenomenon. He notes that in the King James translation of the third chapter of the Gospel According to Saint John, the word pneuma is rendered into English as spirit in verse five and as Wind in verse eight. Apparently, for John and his audience, pneuma had an undivided meaning that later perception could no longer grasp entirely and for which a later mentality must find different words to fit what by then it perceives as different meanings.
Barfield pushes this concept even further to postulate a kind of proto-meaning antedating even that undivided meaning we can only recognize as lost:
"We must, therefore, imagine a time when ‘spiritus' or [pneuma], or older words from which these had descended, meant neither breath, not wind, nor spirit, nor yet all three of these things, but when they simply had their own old peculiar meaning, which has since, in the course of the evolution of consciousness, crystallized into the three meanings specified - and no doubt into others also, for which separate words had already been found by Greek and Roman times” (PD 81).
The Gospel of Saint John provides yet another example. The opening sentence, ”In the beginning was the Word, " translated the Greek logos “word." To John and his audience, logos would have conveyed co-equally with Word, ”speech, ” ”reason, ” “organizing principle," and ”cosmic harmony." All of these now-discrete concepts would have been apprehended as the same phenomenon. To translate logos, as we are forced to do today, by selecting one from among these meanings, is arbitrarily to isolate that meaning and that concept from the entirety of meaning it must have originally expressed.
Word, percept, and concept have altered so that the former wholeness has, of necessity, been fragmented…
Fleiger again: While the theory itself is simple and straightforward, it has profound implications for the development of language and perception and the interrelationship of phenomenon, word, and meaning…