Crossing the Creepy Line

In my last post, which dealt with the drive towards the merging of humankind with machines, I quoted Rudolf Steiner to the effect that this was something that could not and should not be stopped but was bound to happen:

“These things will not fail to appear; they will come. What we are concerned with is whether, in the course of world history, they are entrusted to people who are familiar in a selfless way with the great aims of earthly evolution and who structure these things for the health of human beings or whether they are enacted by groups of human beings who exploit these things in an egotistical or in a group-egotistical sense. That is what matters”.

(from Lecture 12 of the series The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric, 1910)

So the real issue with artificial intelligence (AI) and the mechanisation of human beings is not whether this should happen, (because it inevitably will) but whether it can be done in a way that will be of benefit to humanity without being exploitative or dangerous. It is fundamentally a question of morality. In a lecture given in 1923, Steiner said:

“(…) we can be sure that no moral impulse intervenes in the mechanism of a machine. There is no direct connection between the moral world order and machines. Consequently, when the human organism is presented as a kind of machine, as happens more and more often in the modern scientific outlook, the same then applies to us, and moral impulses are only an illusion. At best, we can hope that some being, made known to us through revelation, will intervene in the moral world order, reward the good, and punish the evil people. But we cannot see a connection between moral impulses and physical processes inherent in the order of the world”.

(from Earthly Knowledge and Heavenly Wisdom, 9 lectures given in Dornach in February 1923, GA221)

If there is no connection between moral impulses and physical processes inherent in the order of the world, then it is clear that, if we are to ensure that AI does not become a disaster for humankind, then human morality becomes of overwhelming importance. But as we know, in situations where there is money to be made and power to be exercised, then morality can become the first casualty.

In a famous interview in 2010, Eric Schmidt, who up until this year was Google’s chairman, said in relation to AI that Google’s policy is to get right up to the “creepy line” but not to cross it. His view at the time was that to implant electrodes in somebody’s brain would be to cross that creepy line, “at least until the technology gets better”.

In an earlier post, I quoted the tech showman and entrepreneur extraordinaire Elon Musk’s warning that AI is more dangerous than the threat posed by dictator Kim Jong-un’s regime in North Korea. Mr Musk took to Twitter to say: “If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea.” He posted the comment along with an image of the anti-gambling addiction poster with the slogan: “In the end the machines will win.” Mr Musk added: “Nobody likes being regulated, but everything (cars, planes, food, drugs, etc) that’s a danger to the public is regulated. AI should be too”. Mr Musk has warned in the past that AI should be better regulated since it poses an “existential threat” to human civilisation. He has also compared developers creating AI to people summoning demons they cannot control.

2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter

Elon Musk (photo via Fortune)

Elon Musk knows whereof he speaks, because as well as running Tesla (electric cars) and SpaceX (putting satellites for 5G into space and working towards the ultimate aim of building a self-sustaining city on Mars), he is also the founder of Neuralink, a company whose aim is to facilitate direct communications between people and machines. Naturally, as with all these companies, the claim is that they are doing this to help people with severely damaged brains or nervous systems. But in a glitzy presentation in San Francisco earlier this month, Mr Musk spoke of more futuristic plans that can give humans “the option of merging with artificial intelligence” by exchanging thoughts with a computer, so as to augment the mental capacity of healthy people.

There are literally hundreds of companies and academic labs working in the expanding field of neurotechnology. They are all seeking to develop different types of interface between brains and computers for medical and recreational purposes. Neuralink, however, is the only one that aims for “symbiosis with AI” as a business goal. Its researchers have issued a 12-page scientific paper with details of a prototype device which has been implanted in the brains of rats and it seems likely from hints dropped at the San Francisco presentation that tests are already being carried out on monkeys. The company is hoping to get permission from the US Food and Drug Administration to begin a clinical trial in patients with brain damage next year.

Neuralink’s first experiments inserted 3,000 electrodes into the brains of rats but it plans to raise this to 10,000 in an early clinical version. The company has devised a surgical robot to insert the electrodes through small holes in the skull and then weave them through the brain in flexible threads, each thinner than a human hair. The robot has a vision system designed to avoid blood vessels and place the electrodes in specific brain regions. The version for humans will exchange neuronal data between the electrodes and an external computer via a processor with a wireless transmitter implanted behind the ear. Eric Schmidt’s “creepy line” is now being crossed.

Where Elon Musk seeks to score over competitors is by providing large numbers of electrodes in the brain, so that there can be a fast flow of information between the brain and the computer. “The thing that will ultimately constrain our ability to be symbiotic with AI is bandwidth”, he says. Mr Musk added that: “after solving a bunch of brain-related diseases, (the point is) mitigating the existential threat of AI”.

There is no doubt that Neuralink’s research into brain/computer interfaces will offer hope for restoring neurologic function for people with spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury or other diseases or injuries of the nervous system. But as Mr Musk has implied, AI can also offer more offensive, anti-life possibilities. As artificial intelligence puts its best public face forward in terms of helping those with brain or nervous system disorders, governments around the world are increasingly investing in another of its applications: autonomous weapons systems. Many are already developing programmes and technologies that they hope will give them an edge over their adversaries, creating mounting pressure for others to follow suit.

lethal via Leading Edge

Lethal Autonomous Weapons (photo via Leading Edge)

It’s clear that we are now in the early stages of an AI arms race. Much like the nuclear arms race of the 20th century, this type of military escalation poses a threat to all humanity and is ultimately unwinnable. It incentivises speed over safety and ethics in the development of new technologies, and as these technologies proliferate they offer no long-term advantage to any one player. You might think that governments would have learned these lessons from past mistakes but this is apparently not so; the utter futility and immorality of these programmes makes one despair. The United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, and South Korea are all known to be developing AI for military purposes. Further information can be found at  State of AI: Artificial intelligence, the military, and increasingly autonomous weapons, a report by Pax.

Is all this as scary as it sounds? In his new book Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence, the veteran scientist James Lovelock reflects on the future of life on Earth and the prospect of superintelligent machines. Lovelock made his name with his “Gaia hypothesis,” the idea that the Earth can be understood as a single, complex, self-regulating system, much like an organism. Now in his 100th year, Lovelock says that the machines of the future “will have designed and built themselves from the AI systems we have already constructed. These will soon become thousands, then millions of times more intelligent than us”. But Lovelock gives two reasons why he does not think that we should see this as the apocalypse.

Lovelock via Wikipedia

James Lovelock (photo via Wikipedia)

The first reason is that the machines will need us, because they too will be threatened by global warming: “by remarkable chance, it happens that the upper temperature for both organic and electronic life on the ocean planet Earth are almost identical and close to 50C”. Therefore both machines and humans have an interest in ensuring a cool planet and the machines will join us in finding new ways to undo the damage we have done and re-engineer the planet back to climate equilibrium. (Though why the machines will need human beings rather than trees to do this is less clear.)

The second reason is Lovelock’s view that understanding the universe is the real purpose of life. The Earth gave rise to humans as the first stage of this process but it will be our hyperintelligent machines “that will lead the cosmos to self-knowledge”. My own view of Lovelock’s planetary perspective that the rise of machines is an evolutionary inevitability is somewhat coloured by his support for nuclear power; he regards as “auto-genocide” our reluctance to embrace nuclear power in order to stop fossil-fuel-induced global warming. There is, nevertheless, some reason to believe that Lovelock’s thinking and in particular his Gaia hypothesis, has been influenced by Rudolf Steiner, whose work was brought to Lovelock’s attention by his friend, William Golding, the novelist and author of Lord of the Flies. There is a fascinating account of this in an article by Michael Ruse, published online in the Southern Cross Review.

Rudolf Steiner, who a century ago foresaw the present drive towards merging humankind with machines, was also the person who told us what would need to happen if this was not to end in disaster for the human race. Here are two quotations on this theme:

“A driving force which can only be moral, that is the idea of the future; a most important force, with which culture must be inoculated, if it is not to fall back on itself. The mechanical and the moral must interpenetrate each other, because the mechanical is nothing without the moral. Today we stand hard on this frontier. In the future, machines will be driven not only by water and steam but by spiritual force, by spiritual morality. This power is symbolized by the Tau sign and was indeed poetically symbolized by the image of the Holy Grail.”

(from The Temple Legend, The Royal Art in a New Form, Berlin, Lecture 20, January 2, 1906)

“Humanity must learn to deal with nature as the gods themselves have done: not building machines in an indifferent way, but doing everything as an act of divine service and bringing the sacramental into everything. The real demons have to be really driven out by treating the handling of machinery as something sacred.”

(from The Karma of Vocation, Dornach, April 27, 1916)

 

31 Comments

Filed under Artificial Intelligence, Merging of Humans and Machines, Neuralink

31 responses to “Crossing the Creepy Line

  1. Sebastian Lorenz

    I am preparing a lecture for Transhumanismus 2 on Oct 17 in Dornach Goetheanum and will be using exactly the source materials you assembled here.
    Would be interesting to compare notes, ahead of the event (will be in German).

    Did you see Perlas’s “Last Stand”-book?

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    • Dear Sebastian,

      Thank you for your comment – it sounds as though we are both touching into a theme that is becoming of increasing concern! I don’t speak German, unfortunately, but would be happy to compare notes with you. Yes, I’ve read “Humanity’s Last Stand” by Nicanor Perlas.

      Best wishes,

      Jeremy

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  2. Thank you for sharing this!

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  3. Ton Majoor

    Also, the other, luciferic side of evil would be present in the future as ‘Artificial Sensation’. Musk mentions addiction, food and drugs. It prevents man’s power of free sense perception and imagination:

    “This Luciferian influence tried to preserve ancient forms of pictorial conception of the world in a wrong way. Thus it tried to prevent man from understanding with Intellectuality and entering with fullness of life into the physical existence of the World.” (CW 26, Leading Thoughts nr. 125)

    “In ideation man lives not in Being, but in Picture-being — in a realm of Non-being — with his conscious Spiritual Soul. Thus is he freed from living and experiencing with the Cosmos. Pictures do not compel; Being alone has power to compel.” (CW 26, Leading Thoughts nr. 162

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  4. Jeremy quotes and paraphrases Musk claiming that humans can merg[e] with artificial intelligence ‘by exchanging thoughts with a computer’.
    There appears to be what Gilbert Ryle would have called a ‘category mistake’ here. A computer does not have thoughts, or even memory. We are speaking metaphorically when we talk about computer memory.
    There is no ‘Ghost in the Machine’. The computer stores and computes binary sequences which can be translated into language that a thinking being, a human, can interpret.

    I know that it is possible to make a computer that responds to the electrical activity of the cerebral cortex, but this electrical activity is not ‘thought’. It may appear to mirror thinking because the human in question may be thinking before they initiate an action. So I may lift my bionic arm because I want to drink my tea, or I can ‘go to Google’ on my computer because I have learnt how to focus my attention in order to achieve this.
    I wonder if Steiner was actually referring to this linking of brain and computer when he spoke about the merging of humans and machines or if it was something else.
    Nick Thomas, a man whose judgement I trusted, told me that on occasion he had been able to affect the functioning of electrical machinery remotely, with no physical contact with the machine in question at all.
    He needed to be able to see the machine and movement he took control of. It was more a question of creating a resonance between the action of the machine and himself inwardly.
    This seems more plausible to me than the idea that computers have thoughts.

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    • Hello Tom,

      I think that Musk is not claiming that computers have thoughts but that through the computer-human interface, humans will no longer have to search for answers via Google, but will just have to think of something and then get the answer straight in their head from the internet. This would augment everyone’s intelligence. Musk wants this and he believes that this would prevent information from being monopolised by corporations and governments.He also adds that fusing people with super intelligence could be used to treat spinal cord injuries and improve the human memory, helping people avoid dementia. He sees a time quite soon when, as technology improves, the digital intelligence will exceed biological intelligence. And yes, I do think this was a part of what Steiner was foreseeing but it is only a small part of what will come.

      I too heard Nick Thomas talking of how he had experimented with influencing machines through the power of thought, and specifically he mentioned being on a bus in Turkey and making the windscreen wipers change their pattern of wiping through concentrating hard on willing such a change – but this was actually a magical process, which he quickly stopped as soon as it began to have its effect.

      Best wishes,

      Jeremy

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  5. Steve Hale

    I am reading again Steiner’s lectures on the Apocalypse of St. John, and found a reference which could be one of the very early places where he spoke about this impending situation of involvement in the so-called “man-god complex”. He indicates that it exists now as a driving force to the “War of All Against All”, which will end the seventh cultural epoch.

    “Towards the end of the Atlantean epoch the etheric body united with the physical; its forces drew into the physical head and thereby man received his present human countenance, in which the spirit of God is reflected. Let us suppose that he were to deny that it was the spirit which has given him the human countenance; then he would not use the body as an opportunity to attain the “I”-consciousness and again spiritualize himself; but he would grow together with the body and love it so much that he would only feel himself at home in it. He would remain united with the body and go down into the abyss. And because of not having used the power of the spirit, the external shape would again come to resemble the previous form. The man who descends into the abyss would become animal-like. Thus humanity will realize what we have already indicated. Those who use the life in the body merely as an opportunity to gain the “I”-consciousness will descend into the abyss and form the evil race. They have turned away from the impulse of Christ Jesus, and from the ugliness of their souls they will again create the animal form man possessed in former times. The evil race, with their savage impulses, will dwell in animal form in the abyss. And when up above those who have spiritualized themselves, who have received the Christ principle, announce what they have to say regarding their union with the name, Christ Jesus — here below in the abyss will sound forth names of blasphemy and of hatred of that which brings about the spiritual transformation.”
    https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA104/English/APC1958/19080624p01.html

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  6. Ton Majoor

    Steiner (1924) has interpreted the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet in Revelation 11 as the end of the 20th century (CW 346), and the ‘mark on their right hands or on their foreheads’ in Revelation 13 as the War of All against All, good against evil (CW 104).

    ”In the course of thousands of years the external physiognomy changes and after the great War of All against All man will have quite a different form. … Upon the forehead and in the whole physiognomy it will be written whether the person is good or evil. … on their faces and … in their gestures and the movements of their hands. Etc.“ (GA0104/19080621)

    Mechanization of the Spirit will go hand in hand with the Vegetalization of the Soul and the Animalization of the body (CW 193).

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    • Steve Hale

      I think it is correct to say that chapter 11 of Revelations represents the pivot point, and wherein beginning with chapter 12 we can adduce the War in Heaven conducted from 1841 to 1879. Thus, this becomes our first modern historical parameter. This would make the 20th century the bearer of the Apocalypse in terms of physical substance.

      Steiner in 1908 was less informed than he was in 1924, when he gave his very last lectures to the priests on the Apocalypse of St, John, ref. GA346. By then, he knew that the so-called ‘apocalypse’ was upon us like a plague. In GA104, it is all about what happens after the War of All Against All, which ends the seventh cultural epoch, and sees the earth becoming astralized substance. This is when the Apocalypse unfolds.

      Yet, the Apocalypse first unfolds in physical matter, and this can be shown to occur in the 20th century, after the War in Heaven, and Michael’s victory, which causes the “Event of 1879”. This event forms the catalyst of the outcomes of the twentieth century.

      Interestingly, Steiner spoke here in the last lecture of GA104 about a subject that he was very reticent in speaking about, i.e., the ABC’s of black magic. What he says, though, proves that he knew back then that the Apocalypse would first play out in the physical world of human beings living the dynamics of good and evil:

      “Only when a man begins to practise the ABC of black magic is he on the dangerous path to the abyss. The ABC consists in the pupil of a black magician being taught to destroy life quite consciously, and in doing so to cause as much pain as possible and to feel a certain satisfaction in it. When the purpose is to stab or to cut into a living being with the intention of feeling pleasure in that being’s pain, that is the ABC of the black arts. We cannot touch upon the further stages, but you will find it horrible enough when you are told that the beginning in black magic is to cut and stab into living flesh, not like the vivisector cuts — this is already had enough, but the principle of vivisection finds its overthrow in the vivisector himself, because in kamaloca he will himself have to feel the pain he has caused his victims, and for this reason will leave vivisection alone in the future. But he who systematically cuts into flesh, and feels satisfaction in it begins to follow the precipitous path of black magic, and this draws him closer and closer to the being described as the two-horned beast. This seducing being is of quite is different nature from man. It originates from other world periods; it has acquired the tendencies of other world periods and will feel deep satisfaction when it meets with beings such as those evil ones who have refused to take up inwardly the good which can flow from the earth.” GA104, 30 June 1908.

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  7. Steve Hale

    It is interesting to consider how much of James Lovelock’s “Gaia Hypothesis” is actually owed to the work of Rudolf Steiner. Steiner spoke in several places about Gaia and Urania as early as 1904:
    https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/search=mode?query=gaia&mode=context

    As well, in his final lecture-course in England at Torquay in 1924, he spoke about the “Goddess Natura” here in lectures four and five:
    https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA243/English/RSP1985/TrFa85_index.html

    Yet, maybe the most significant place that Steiner spoke about the earth as a living organism is here in the 9th lecture of GA104. Here he speaks of “Mother Earth”.

    “If you could observe man before his body became physical, that is to say, when he was still invisible to physical eyes, when he first descended from the etheric, so to speak, by becoming first an airy, watery structure, then a cartilaginous structure — if you could follow him thus you would see that our earth was also quite different. In the time before the descent of man there was really no mineral kingdom. The earth only possessed the heritage of the Moon. The lowest kingdom was the vegetable kingdom, and the earth was much softer. The distribution of the watery and gaseous substances was quite different. If you had looked at the earth before man had descended from the surrounding atmosphere to the solid ground it would not have appeared to you as the abstract product described in modern geology, etc.; one might say that our earth as a whole was at that time more like an organism. It was permeated with all kinds of ordered currents, and was more like a living being than it is now. And man, who existed in that ancient time more as a spiritual etheric being, was not born as he is to-day, but he was, so to say, brought forth out of mother earth herself. It was mother earth herself that produced man, that still spiritually

    etheric being. Before man separated front the whole earth, he was a being who was really bound up with the whole earth. imagine a body which is soft, and in it hardened parts appear; this will give you a picture of how men were at that time born from mother earth. They were connected with the earth by all kinds of currents, and remained connected with it. Hence man had an entirely different life; for example, the circulation of the blood, which is now confined within the limits of its skin, extended everywhere into the surrounding earth — it existed in the form of natural forces. If we wished to draw a picture of what it was like at that time we should have to say: there arose within the earth — not perceptible to physical eyes, but to spiritual vision — a part which was raised and could be distinguished from the rest of the environment; but the forces in it were connected by innumerable threads with the rest of the whole earth. That was the beginning of a physical human being. There was a time when the human beings were connected in this way by threads with the rest of the earth.

    As we have said, we are now touching upon an important and deep mystery, the last traces of which may be seen in the fact that when man is born at the present time, the connection with the maternal organism made by the umbilical cord is severed. This connection with the organism of the mother is the last remains of the connection man had with mother earth. And just as to-day man is a son of man, born from man, he was once a son of earth, born from the earth, when the earth was still a living being. He became independent through the umbilical cord — by which he was connected with the whole earth — being severed, so to speak; he thereby became a being born from his like. We must clearly understand that the paths of the blood now existing in man are nothing more than continuations of currents which in the ancient condition of the earth permeated the whole earth, it is the same with the nerves. All the nerves extended into mother earth. These are now sundered, as it were, from that which streamed through the whole earth as nerves. And the other parts of the human being in the same way. Man is born out of mother earth. That which is now enclosed within the skin has been drawn into him from the whole earth. The being of man is taken from the earth, the forces of the whole earth are in him. Before he became a son of man, he was a son of earth. The name Adam really means son of earth. All these ancient names point to important secrets. But when we are aware of this we shall understand that before the visible man appeared on the earth, the latter already contained within it all the forces of this visible man. Before man became a human being the earth was the bearer of all the human forces. Thus the earth is the mother of the human race. Just as little as you can imagine that man could ever grow out of the present stony earth, just as little could he spring forth from the earth, unless it were a living being. What we have just briefly indicated took place in the Lemurian epoch.”
    https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA104/English/APC1958/19080626p01.html

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  8. Ottmar

    A great continuation of a great essay, Jeremy. The English speaking people do have a natural talent to write concise, understandable summaries and popular science books.

    Sure, morality is needed, always and everywhere, also and especially in AI. And you were decent enough not to question Elon Musk s morality directly. But of course, there is the same double agenda in his endeavours as there is in American politics and elsewhere: a big egoistic interested, covered up by a „good cause“.
    Morality is always needed of course. But are there specific responsabilities, is morality at some places more important than at others? The principal, the technician, the secretary? The customer, the PR manager? Who can make it into Ahriman s Hall of Fame? Only guys like Musk and Kurzweil or is this more democratic?
    In the case of the holocaust the circle of persons responsible was widened in the course of time, legally from the direct murderers to „helpers“, morally to all who „knew“ or didnt ask.

    By the way, Elon Musk will turn the earth into a microwave oven with 10 000 satellites (plus 2 000 by Airbus project OneWeb). CO2 is in the news every day; very little is known about the exoteric and occult effects of electromagnetic radiation.
    Ottmar

    Please Jeremy, give a notification as to why you dont publish some contributions. I hope this contribution fits into your anthropopper.

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    • Stephen Hale

      Ottmar, you wrote:

      “Please Jeremy, give a notification as to why you dont publish some contributions. I hope this contribution fits into your anthropopper.”

      Well, I think it did because it was published, and that is a good thing. Jeremy has gotten into the idea that every topic he writes about has to be precisely related. In earlier times, he saw a kind of natural expansion, and this got expressed. Now, he seems to have gone quite conservative in his manner of allowance. For example, Hans van Willensward, would write to implore his comments to come through, and Jeremy would relent. You see, he will do this if he sees an honest soul. I think that is what he is looking for.

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    • Thanks for your kind words, Ottmar, but I’m puzzled by your question at the end about why some contributions don’t get published. Are there comments you have sent to me that have not appeared? There are actually very few comments I receive that don’t get posted; when this happens it is usually because the comment appears to be way off topic, or is abusive in some way, or is from a troll. There is a link to this blog’s comments and moderation policy at the top of the page. Occasionally there have been problems with Word Press that people have reported to me, e.g. their comments do not seem to have been accepted into the Word Press system because of some kind of technical glitch. In those cases, people then email me to let me know about it and we can usually find a way around the problem.

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      • Ottmar

        Well, it was a comment on the essay Do you believe in afterlife? I mentioned some ideas on the question who or what is an atheist? So it was not most important, other comments were more interesting.
        When I sent it there was the usual sentence …awaits moderation or something like this. This showed for 1 day, then it disappeared.
        Yes, I was a bit disappointed by it but not much really. I take things as they come. It would be stupid to poison one s soul and blood, wouldnt it?
        Ottmar

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        • I’m upset to have discovered that there were around 2 dozen comments awaiting moderation during recent months but which had not been notified to me by WordPress. I found them (including 2 of yours, Ottmar) when I went into what WordPress calls the Dashboard – something I hardly ever look at, because I’m used to getting an email from WordPress whenever someone leaves a comment. I’ve now approved many of these comments and can only apologise to those of you who have been affected by this. The lesson I take from this is that I need to look at the Dashboard every day as well as my email Inbox, because there is clearly some kind of a glitch at present in the WordPress system.

          With apologies and best wishes,

          Jeremy

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  9. Ottmar

    On morality – Some questions

    The 10 commandements seem to give a clear line on what morality demands of us. But today things are more difficult.

    Do the criteria for morality change in the course of time?

    Our ecological footprint (CO2, plastic..): is that a matter of morality or of indivudual character?
    Someone who only drives premium cars but who never buys organic food because it s more expensive: a question of morality or just thoughtlessness?
    It seems that it is a question of morality where we put our money. (Does anybody know where Rudolf Steiner expressed his misgivings about holding shares of companies that produce weapons and then even pass on that karmic burden when we bequeath these shares?) Big funds disinvest in carbon, weapons, drugs, prostitution. So is it a question of morality to sell Airbus, Boeing, etc?
    What about our work? At what point does morality come in so that we must say: I cant do this kind of work anymore. Or that s so bad that I have to become a whistleblower. Where s the line between compromise and sacrifice for the sake of morality?

    Are there differences concerning morality for „students on the path of initiation“ and „normal decent citizens“?

    I looked for what Rudolf Steiner said on morality and of course I found dozens of hints, here is a beautiful lecture on the 4 cardinal virtues wisdom, strength of heart, temperance, justice https://wn.rsarchive.org/GA/GA0170/19160806p01.html The total of morality is comprised in these 4 virtues. The 2nd virtue here RS called Herzhaftigkeit, a word which he created here for this purpose, but he explains this or his word with synonyms.
    Ottmar

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    • Steve Hale

      Here is another fine lecture on the Four Great Virtues of Wisdom, Courage, Moderation, and Justice:
      https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GreVir_index.html

      Rudolf Steiner often expressed his misgivings about the state of materialism and where it would lead.

      “At the present time, spirit has descended completely into a materialistic civilization. Tremendous spiritual forces have had to be employed by men in the great discoveries and inventions of the new age, that is, of the nineteenth century. Just think, for instance, how much spiritual force exists in the telephone, in the telegraph, in the railroads, etc.! How much spiritual force has been materialized, crystallized in the commercial relationships of the earth! How much spiritual energy it requires to cause a sum of money to be paid, let us say in Tokyo, by means of a piece of paper, a cheque written here in this place! Thus one may ask: Does the use of this spiritual force mean spiritual progress? Whoever faces the fact must acknowledge the following: You build railroads indeed, but they carry, practically, only what you need for your stomachs; and when you yourself travel, you do so only because of something that has to do with your physical needs. Does it make any difference from the standpoint of Spiritual Science whether we grind our own corn with a few stones or obtain it from a distance by means of the telegraph, ships, etc.? A tremendous spiritual force is employed, but it is used in an entirely personal sense. What then will be the meaning of what men thus negotiate? Apparently not Anthroposophy, in other words, not spiritual realities. When the telegraph and steamships are used, it is in the first place a question of how much cotton will be ordered to be sent from America to Europe, etc.; in other words it is a question of something that has to do with personal needs. Mankind has descended to the profoundest depths of personal necessity, of physical personality. But just such an egotistic, utilitarian principle had to come sometime, because through it, the ascending course of all human evolution will be facilitated.”
      GA103, lecture VIII, 27 May 1908

      People today have the idea that freedom is based on what is most efficient based on comfort and convenience. And, the stomach is still the driving force. Yet, the stomach is a bodily mechanism that is entirely given to nature necessity, and there can be no freedom within the iron-glad laws of nature. So, where does the possibility of freedom arise? From the Moral World Order which God governs from Devachan.

      Every initiate learns what it means to take responsibility as the first requirement in leading a conscious life, and it comes from God, Who governs this Moral World Order. The first two lectures of the course, “Man-Hieroglyph of the Universe” covers the subject of ‘Nature Necessity vs. the Moral World Order’.

      What binds the world today to its lower instincts is largely based on ignorance, and a kind of self-satisfaction in having an ego consciousness that thinks it can do whatever it likes, and bears its own consequences. This is the harbinger of the “man-god complex”, which is getting a steady stream of popular belief because we are so immersed in technology that we can no longer see the forest for the trees.
      Steve

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  10. Kathleen Finnegan

    Jeremy, thank you for discovering the problem with finding some of the contributions. I was afraid my response to the afterlife topic was unacceptable because it was too personal. Since that’s not a problem, let me take what I said a step farther into the “Creepy” topic.

    The fleeting experiences I’ve had over the years leave me with an operational awareness. Nothing in the three dimensional world (be it mechanical, electronic, etc) is what it appears to be. Everything is held in form and function by conscious spiritual beings – both living and inanimate things. For example, my desk, my cup, etc. are conscious. They “know” me. My part is to know they know and be grateful for what they mean to me – for what they give me. And then, eventually, to “release” them to a higher development. What’s “creepy” is what can happen to the things around us when they are unappreciated and unloved – we hand them over, unloved, to evil. And then they can (just as people do) become deeply sad and dangerous.

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    • Steve Hale

      Hi Kathy,

      I too wrote a post on the “afterlife” thread which got very personal, and felt maybe that was why it was not posted at the time. I went and looked at yours, which is now posted, and found it remarkable to a high degree. Mine concerned personal evidence that bodily sickness can, indeed, lead to the rejection of God. Yet, my father also felt that Jesus was a nice man who had a simple idea that could have worked, but failed. I remember he spoke of it, and yet would berate my mother that there was no God. His atheism was his platform, and yet the simple man of Nazareth was an ideology he could have accepted if he perceived it. Quite a paradox.
      https://anthropopper.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/do-you-believe-in-an-afterlife/#comment-20737

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      • Kathleen Finnegan

        Hi, Steve,
        “Could have worked but failed”, huh? That smarts. Sort of like democracy and reason right now? I feel almost as though we are all setting the stage for a drama about to open I never thought I’d live (in this incarnation) to see. And sometimes I dare to believe the world’s chaos is just opening night jitters before we carry out the true roles we are all here to play. Oh, how I long to believe in the “Hundredth Monkey” hypothesis!

        What date is your retrieved post? I’d like to read it..

        Like

        • Steve Hale

          My post was written on June 13, 2019, and this is the comment:
          https://anthropopper.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/do-you-believe-in-an-afterlife/#comment-20737

          It is likely that our true roles won’t become really perceived until our next incarnation on earth. That means that this apparent decline into the abyss in the post-modern era of today is simply one of lack of gnosis. I say that conveniently in order to separate those of us who incorporate spiritual science, and those that remain hide-bound to only outer-external distinctions. As such, we are hugely in the minority.

          But, if this blog allows a continued contribution from those who experience the angst of the present world condition, then this voice needs to be heard. Thanks, Kathy. I like your very effective and dramatic tone. I also feel these jitters, and why this blog is a kind of therapy for me. I think there is a huge audience out there wanting to hear its thoughts and feelings.

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  11. Kathleen Finnegan

    Is there still something going on with the posts? I just replied to Steve and it didn’t show up as “awaiting moderation. Also, my address is underlined in red now.

    Like

    • Steve Hale

      I would love to read this reply but it hasn’t appeared yet. So, I thought to proceed with my next message concerning “the jitters” you experience. I would also write to you, Kathy, if this is an invitation in red underline of your email address, but Jeremy does not publish e-mail addresses.

      I suspect that Jeremy has a new topic policy which needs to be adhered to, and why Hans’ recent attempt has not gone through to us. Personally, I love to hear everything, and consider any topic expansion to be very organic in nature and coming from the human mind enthused by the subject matter.

      Currently, I am reviewing how spiritual science can explain such phenomena as UFO’s, alien abductions, and crop circles, which all proceed from a fundamental event occurring in the spiritual world in 1879; Michael’s victory in the War in Heaven from 1841 to 1879, and the consequent “Event of 1879”. This caused the beginning of a spiritual communion of the Heavenly Host of Michael in which Vulcan Beings began to descend to earth in order to seek communion with human beings, and yet, materialism had advanced to such a degree that we humans could no longer perceive them directly. So, they took on other forms and shapes. Rudolf Steiner describes this in the fourteenth lecture of GA204, Materialism and the Task of Anthroposophy, which is readily available online.

      At any rate, I remember trying to talk to you, Kathy, about crop circles in your experience in southern Ohio when you went there earlier. I found your intuition about its coming on very intriguing. Good stuff, and why you should write more about it. You had a first-hand experience, and moving to a depressed location, you know what a true crop circle means. At least, these were my impressions.

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      • Kathy Finnegan

        Steve, the most disturbing thing about that time time of the two crop circles was that it opened my eyes to how much fear there is here. I remember one man told me something like – “I’ve been a farmer for …years and I know soybeans – and I know no human being did this. So it’s got to be the Devil.” When I got to where I could ask him (and others with the same thought) why couldn’t it be miraculous instead of evil – since the bible spoke of miracles and angels and Christ told his disciples they would do more than He did because He was going to the Father – his response (and that of others) was that miracles don’t happen anymore – those teachings were only for the disciples. What I realized was that the loss of the sense of the miraculous was related to misplaced fear of being tricked and lied to. And I saw this was denial at work. I say misplaced because these folks are indeed being tricked. The people here survive by growing tobacco and, more often now, corn and soybeans. They have to believe tobacco is not associated with cancer or lung disease, and two coal-burning power plants do not cause heavy metal poisoning and affect brain development and cause high rates of autism and severely oppositional-defiant children, and the GE jet engine-testing plant is not associated with higher rates of childhood cancers around its perimeter, and neonicotinoid pesticides aren’t decimating the bee population – etc. They think they have to trust Monsanto and Exxon Mobile and big Pharma etc.

        I’ve been trying to work with some of the farming community to address the effects of the climate crisis we are already experiencing. The rains this Spring delayed planting so most of the corn and soybeans are lost. And a number of folks got diarrhea and mild fevers that some have attributed to the excess rain. We have a small minority of folks who are working on alternatives. Some cultivate bees, some have raised, organic garden beds and some have solar panels. I have a dear friend who makes water purification devices with stainless steel pots, ceramic filters and a spigot. The county Farm Bureau and Water and Soil Conservation folks had their annual joint meeting and refused to create a committee to look at what’s unfolding here. Instead they are afraid the American worker is being replaced by invading foreigners. There’s not an Hispanic, Black or Muslim person within 60 miles, but that doesn’t pierce the denial. I am regarded, by some, as an hysterical woman and I’ve been warned: “You New Yorkers don’t know the trouble you can stir up around here.” (And I haven’t even yet said it’s computers and AI that are really invading and replacing us!)

        I turn to Steiner, my teacher, and wonder how can man “bring the sacramental into everything” when so many have, literally, been brain-damaged and lost the sense of the miraculous? And how can it be restored? I fear, if many of the folks I know saw signs of wonders in the sky, they’d jump off a cliff.

        Like

        • Steve Hale

          Hi Kathy,

          Steiner expressed a great deal here in this lecture in which he talked of how since 1880, spiritual beings have been coming down to earth in order to attempt to influence human beings. But because of all the materialism inherent in earth evolution by this time, we could not see or experience them directly. Therefore, they had to take on other shapes and forms in order to make themselves known. And yet, they simply wanted to commence a kind of spiritual communion. This communion is still taking place today, and has gone through certain historical iterations since 1880 in the following forms:
          1) UFO sightings
          2) Alien Abductions
          3) Crop Circles

          I know as well as you that the miraculous is working all around us. I lived in an environment with an arsenic and lead smelter here in Tacoma, Washington when I was a boy, i.e., ASARCO. It finally was banished and destroyed, but it left north Tacoma largely unable to grow a garden. I grew up there.

          Well, here is the lecture, and please pay close attention to Steiner talking about these Beings, coming in from Vulcan, and how ignoring them is only hurting ourselves due to the stubbornness of materialism, egoism, and pride.
          https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA204/English/AP1987/19210513p02.html

          Like

  12. Hans van Willenswaard

    Jeremy,
    I also tried to contribute comments which disappearef. Try this one to check.
    Hans

    Like

  13. Hans

    Thank you. Happy to be reconnected.

    Like

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