Scott E. Hicks and the unique nature of intuition in the field of human thinking

Scott Hicks is a close friend and colleague whose work deserves attention. He has published three full length books – a novel The Shattering Light of Stars, a presentation of 20th Century ScottFrench philosophy and its relevance for spiritual work seen through the work of Rudolf Steiner´s Anthroposophy titled The Resurrection of Thinking, and the last one published in November last year Earthly Transcendental and Spiritual Logic. In his book on Earthly Transcendental and Spiritual Logic Scott goes back to his first philosophical work with Edmund Husserl. Husserl´s phenomenological project is understood and seen in light of the further transformations of consciousness that anthroposophy can provide. This gives a completely original take on Husserl which should be of interest to people coming from philosophical as well as anthroposophical background. which primarily looks at the relation between Husserl, phenomenology and Anthroposophy.

All of Hicks´ philosophical and spiritual work clearly gives expression to the endeavor to penetrate into the living source of anthroposophy. Apart from Rudolf Steiner, Yeshayahu Ben-Aharon is the major influence. Ben-Aharon´s ground-breaking spiritual research – which actually brought us (and many others) together in the first place – shows the living continuation of the spiritual becoming of Anthroposophy, and Hicks´ work should be seen as part of this stream of original renewal and continuous rebirth, something he also makes explicit in his own writings.

One of the things that characterize Scott´s work for me is that the philosophical and phenomenological concepts are always referred back to factual experience by means of a very high degree of imaginative capacity for seeing, of inner intuitive seeing and differentiation. In the first chapter of the Logic book he states that in both of his philosophical books he is “concerned with clarifying, explaining, demonstrating, and teaching in a variety of different ways the unique nature of intuition in the field of human thinking.” (P. 29) Now such clarifications must of course begin in conceptual determination and differentiation, explaining and showing behaviour and life of thinking when it weaves together concepts. But a spiritual development of thinking cannot stop there, and in Scott´s books we can find many interesting, invigorating and helpful indications for what lies beyond the life in the dead concept:

When thinking exits the head, there arises in its place a new soft attentiveness on all sides, at a ‘distance’ from the body. Or rather a new function arises to take over the previous function of mere linguistic and image linking, but now in a different space, filled with living concept constellations. This new soft inwardness, elastic animation, vividly intensifying on all sides, is less a linguistic, propositional, dialectical thinking, and more of an arising of solidities of thinking; an intensification of various points or vortices on a globe that reaches far away. (The Resurrection of Thinking)

I am always intrigued to go back to my own experience and see if I can discover new elements when I read things like this. For example, the soft inwardness which is here described “at all sides, at a ´distance´ from the body” is the “arising of new solidities of thinking” and points or vortices of intensity. I find this to be a very fine description of how thinking gradually awakens and morph into a field of living substance in which consciousness and the objectities observed are immanent to each other. Inwardness is conjoined with externality in a totally new concept of experience, beyond the normal distinction of inwardness and external world, and this concept also has a living form and behaviour which can be researched: it intensifies and expands as a globe with centres of intensity that can also appear as vortices. Thus, one can take up descriptions and explore one´s own expansions and living sensations of thinking when it becomes continuous movement and self-perceptive self-initiating activity, and see if one can enter the place where Scott´s text is coming from.

The development of intuitive thinking is used on the one hand with regard to philosophical concepts and phenomenological operations of major 20th Century thinkers. On the other, these experiences of modes of thinking and imagining are presented in relation to the transformation of the human consciousness and being in anthroposophy, which requires that the whole human being be taken into account, and where the cognitive capacities must be understood as part of a moral field. In this perspective, each cognitive act is immediately also a morally creative or destructive act. Because human consciousness is essentially tied to the forces of death, individuated consciousness must take in the moral responsibility of always already having killed a part of the world in order to emerge as itself. This moral debt lives in the ground of the cognitive, but remains unconscious for the most part. I experience Scott´s work to be penetrated by the creative urge to unearth and encounter this debt, to individualize it (and its whole economy) and create new life out of it.

One example from The Resurrection of Thinking which shows this is takes from Levinas, and brings out the forgetfulness of language and speaking as a living moral bond to the Other:

In Otherwise than Being, Levinas pivots between two aspects of language that are essentially active in the relationship between me and the other person: the ‘saying’ and the ‘said.’  The wounding exposure of moral responsibility to the other in my deepest becoming is connected to a ‘saying’ that precedes the ideal, orderly, and rational structures of the said.  In my normal subjective consciousness, couched in nothing but word shadows, the liquid cement has already hardened and there is no doubt that it dries so quickly that I am usually not aware that I am enclosed in a shell of concrete ideas. If you imagine that your co-worker, your husband, or your enemy is only utilizing language to show his or her own inner intentions and trying to communicate his or her inner feelings to you through language, then it is already too late. You missed the saying and are lost in the said. (The Resurrection of Thinking)

Scott´s books are composed in an idiosyncratic manner and requires flexibility on the part of the reader to follow and connect the various voices, ideas and images. If you want to have a first taste of his work, I highly recommend this video presentation of imaginative variation which for me is one of his great strengths that I can learn a lot from: Living thinking. Key 4. Imaginative Variation in Husserl and Steiner