A Guide for the Perplexed Book Summary/Notes

There is nothing that compares to contemplating and seeking truth in life.

Humans seek for something higher than what we can understand and reason with in our lives, to rise above “the whole state of the present life”.

Levels of being, the four elements

Mineral – m (matter)
Plant – m + x (life)
Animal – m + x + y (consciousness)
Man – m + x + y + z (self awareness)

Self awareness is being able to not just think but also being able to be aware of his thinking. consciousness/intelligence open up unlimited possibilities for learning and accumulating knowledge.

M is visible, x y and z are invisible.

“While the higher comprises and there in a sense understands the lower, no being can understand anything higher than itself.”

A human can expand its understanding by striving towards a higher level of growth.

“Once a human potentiality is realized, it exists.” – Werner Jaeger

The higher level of being not only possesses power additional to/exceeding the lower, but also has power over the lower, the ability to use it to their benefit.

“Are there powers that are higher than self awareness? Are there levels of being above the human?”

Minerals/matter is passive, plants are mostly passive, they are objects.

Animals are active, humans are active, they are subjects.

“No matter how weighed down and enslaved by circumstances a person may be, there always exists the possibility of self-assertion and rising above circumstances. Man can achieve a measure of control over his environment and thereby his life, utilizing things around him for his own purposes.”

Humans have a lot of passivity in them, and remains an object in many cases due to circumstance and dependency. They use imagination/intuition to get past this, and in return become “beings”.

Physical cause – stimulus – motive – will

Capax universi – capable of bringing the whole universe into his experience

The present is broader for humans as we have the ability to make the past present through memory and the future made present through foresight, allowing us to embrace it more, of which is simply past and future for lower levels of being.

“Self awareness is a power of unlimited potential, that not only makes man human but gives him the possibility, even the need, to become superhuman.”

In order to truly view reality for what it is one must have a certain level of adequacy (adaequatio) or grade of significance, backed by knowledge and not by what he has acquired through society.

One must become aware of his thoughts and presuppositions and how they tie into ones perception. In order to find truth one must be open to everything without any prejudice.

If one lives through the lense of society, in set and limited ways, he will remain at a lower “level of being at which the search for knowledge and understanding is to aim.” There is potential to learn more and find truth but it’s prevented due to narrow mindedness.

“We must shut the eyes of sense, and open that brighter eye of our understandings, that other eye of the soul, which indeed all have, but few make use of it.”

Bodily senses help us decipher outer differences.
Ideas produce insight and understanding/meaning and is found within.

Science in modern times is manipulated and served to purpose economic and political efforts for power, versus to help man understand and find truth and be liberated. This leads to unhappiness and unfulfilling lives despite our high standards of living.

Self awareness is the power of directing attention vs being captured by outside or inner forces. Directing is living, captured is being lived.

It’s our objective to achieve a state of awareness/mindfulness that is continuous and controllable, or else we are like machines.

The development of this is an increase in intensity and quality of attention, a clear and single mindedness of what’s happening to us and in us, without judgment or reaction, taking note of and then releasing.

In order to find truth, we need to see it, not think it. Our thoughts need to be pushed to the side, our ego must dissolve. Our reason must first be supplied with genuine and absolute material before we can begin reasoning. Detachment from self interest, when the striving for power has entirely ceased.

When you have control over the body (postures, gestures, breathing) you can then work on gaining control over the mind and it’s thinking function.

Theory from William James that the emotion we feel is nothing but the feeling of some bodily changes. We cry therefore we feel sad or sorry.

There is a bridge connecting inner feelings (invisible) and bodily expression (visibility).

“External considering” putting yourself in another persons shoes so that you can see yourself from another’s perspective.

Uncritical self observation is the goal, having objective pictures of what’s really happening, not pictures retouched by our current opinions of right or wrong.

Instructional and description science. Instructional is restricted and focused on only parts of the truth to deem as proof. Description is observable through the senses or seen as signs through consciousness/self awareness and deemed as acts of faith since they can never be proven.