Posts Tagged ‘reason’

Experience and Authority

May 12, 2009 5 comments

There is, in alchemy, a very pronounced tension between the need for and value of authority —whether embodied in texts or in the person of a guide— and the need for and value of first-hand experience and discernment. Either one without the other creates imbalance.

Count Michael Maier provides the balancing perspective:

If anyone will not acknowledge the force of reason, he must needs have recourse to authority.

The phrase ‘force of reason’, as Maier is using it, refers to the power of the rational soul to ‘remember’ (in the Platonic sense of anamnesis) true reality when exposed to it. The purpose of authority should be to awaken the ‘memory’ and ‘taste’ for the experience of reality in the soul of the disciple so that his/her practice is founded upon accurate theory, in order that theory may then be confirmed and further informed by accurate practice.

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