Argo Books, Norwich, VT – 1978
Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98


PROBLEM AND PREFACE: This essay raises the question and offers a solution to the most significant problem of our day – how to change without violent conflict.  His argument proceeds as follows:

a.We cannot survive without borders (boundaries). Reasoning, in general, is based on our ability to make distinctions, defining and characterizing, all of which means drawing boundaries; boundaries create inclusion and exclusion.  There are many types of  boundaries, political, between disciplines of knowledge, between peoples (friends/enemies,  social class, cultures, all types of groups, marriages, gender, social roles, wealth, law and outlaw).  Some of these are spacial such as between nations and residential neighborhoods, some of timespans, such as between generations and some separating groups of people..

b.It may be said that the major activity in the world is in the act of changing these borders.  THE GREAT PARADOX OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE is that we must have borders to realize our human potential. We do not progress unless there is stability, but change inherently creates instability. How, then can change be brought about with the least amount of disruption?

Up to now it has been an iron law of human behavior that change of borders never occurs except by war.  Not only shooting war, but also less violent, equally oppressive actions. For instance, war between the sexes, between academic disciplines, or between social classes.

c.But while this may have been an “iron law” in the past, is it to continue to be human nature?  If so, we are now doomed to extinction because technology, mostly the “bomb,” precludes the possibility of continued life?  A barrier to war is communication, and herein, ERH asserts,  lies the solution to our problem.

d.Work-service is proposed as the primary method by which we can learn to communicate with others and begin to understand them. We can only understand when we work and pray together, is the assumption.  Work service is the first step in a process to creating new boundaries in our thinking.

Introduction and Chapter 1

1.The chapter begins with an axiom, a request for a commitment, as compared to mere description of the world, a commitment to act. Science is the dominant language and method for solving all problems today, but it fails to teach us to change.

“Therefore they (scientists) know all about everything, and they know it very exactly.  But they know nothing about the direction which we men have to choose…that is, to know nothing about anything important.” (p.xvii)

2.  Religions are characterized by their type of sacrifice, as religion meansthe willingness to sacrifice;  “…the only religion which would be appropriate for all of mankind would require that we sacrifice a part of ourselves.” (p.xvi)

3.Our human destiny is a superior problem to that addressed by natural science, which describes (objects) only.  The first chapter proposes to find “The Tone” of our age.”

4.”What,”  ERH asks, “are the barriers to peaceful borders between peoples?”  War can no longer be the main method for change, there is no future for the human race if this condition persists.  What are to be the alternatives?  By inference, he seeks peace in the sense that progress can only be made during peace.  There is yet another paradox to seeking peace; it is that real wars seem to be our only method for distinguishing between serious issues and play.

Chapter 2. A World Without War?

ERH quotes William James, 1910:

Fie upon such a cattle yard of a planet if war is to disappear without an equivalent.  Men would sink to the level of tame cows and dogs. (p.5)

No progress without peace, no progress with war, would seem to be solved by defining the notion of war, as well as defining the changing of borders without war.  May we quote the cynic about love, “If it weren’t for the consequences, it would be a parlor game.” (p.6)   The Crucifixion of Jesus symbolizes sacrifice as a requirement to change borders.  It is crucial to make a distinction between war and peace, between seriousness and play.  War is just as essential as peace, but there must be an alternation between them

We must be aware of the fact that borders between peoples  (between religions, men, sexes, or generations), are serious only if they are final, if they can be changed only at the risk of life.  Otherwise it is a game.  Nothing is truly serious that can be changed in the course of a phone call, like an invitation to a party. (p.6)

5.A world that cannot change borders would be hateful. “What is missing is a powerful and enheartening means of changing borders without war.” (p.9)

6.Borders can also be in “time.”  There must be cooperation between generations, otherwise methods for the creation of peace may not be remembered.

7.The theme of unity, in this instance of time, is mentioned in this context.  “The true man reaches across the times from the dawn of creation to the furthest future.” (p.11)  [RF – I assume he means the term “true” to mean the man capable of regeneration]  failing to make the proper distinction  between war and peace, between serious change and games, is to insure that there will always be a shooting war. ERH cites Hitler, and the “thousand year Reich” as an example that would insure its very fall in the short term.

8.The beginning of true planetary peace will seem an insignificant event at the time; Teilhard de Chardin note:  “No one recognized the first Roman as such.” (p.13)  He points out, for instance, that the initiation of universal postal rates was a great revolution in thinking because it articulated a consciousness that the hithertofore described “world,” which implied endless space, was now recognized as a “planet” with limited space. This meant a recognition that the world had to be seen for what it was, a place where there had to be peace or the countries would tear each other apart by war.  Usually such a revolution is not recognized as such in the beginning.

9.In the context of erasing borders, he cites a number of examples to illustrate the principle that social time and social space can be eliminated, to our benefit in terms of creating peace.  Here he makes the distinction between “world,” which represents “other,” and “planet,” which connotes a community.  Social time and space elimination is represented by universal postal rates (same cost across town as across the country, illustrating the importance of cheap communication within a community to keep it together).  Also important is a basic wage, (same price for one hour as for a day). (p.17-19)

10.He admits the need for borders (limits).

They reveal all of the causes for which men have risked their lives.  National borders are not as contemptible as we like to make them nowadays. (p.19)

And in the words of Goethe.

We mortals feel the greatest reverence for things revealed to us so far, and all things revealed hitherto have led to the construction of borders.  Therefore, at this moment I want to warn myself against presenting borders only negatively.  No, they are venerable insofar as they allow us to hand on things entrusted to us.  You can revive your heritage only because borders exist.  (p.19)

Here also we draw a parallel to the term “problem.”  The problem sets the limits, the borders, indicating (in context) what is significant and what is not, what is to be included and excluded!

11.He goes on to say, paradoxically, that while we must strive to move borders, at the same time we must strive to eliminate them; but such elimination must be cooperative (both sides must agree). THEN MANKIND MUST BECOME ONE!

12.Finally, he points out a distinction between a noun and an adjective, regarding the breaking down of a border.  When a border is eliminated or changed the noun representing each side becomes a adjective, which describes only one aspect of the new unity.  Thus, to be Jewish is to speak of both origins and membership in the larger human community; to be a Jew means to belong to a distinctive group or association.  ERH is Jewish, but not a Jew.  He cites the example of Europeans: German and French are adjectives, while Frenchman/German are nouns. (p.23)

Chapter 3, Planet – World – Earth

1.The title, PLANET, WORLD, EARTH infers the necessity to make some distinctions about our concept of our concrete environment.  ERH suggests that these reflect attitudes essential to correct in modern times.  The discussion IS TO POINT OUT THAT, GIVEN MODERN TRANSPORTATION, RADIO AND THE LIKE, WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT WE NOW LIVE ON A PLANET, WHICH MEANS THE GLOBE IS OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

2.The implication is fundamental; what goes on in any part of the planet will effect people everywhere in one way or another. The terms “world” and “earth” suggest a we and they attitude.  We = our culture, nation, neighborhood, which we love and defend; and they = those we hate and fight.  No longer can we afford such an attitude because of our ability to destroy life on earth.  (pp. 24-28)

3.The number of examples ERH gives reflect the interaction between, and interdependence of, countries for trade, the flow of ideas, etc.  He also cites a number of persons who considered Europe a single culture in 1918, and who were willing to sacrifice themselves for the whole.  Albert Ballin and Walter Rathenau knew Germany at that time was wrong and that it must lose the WWI. (p.30,31)  He cites also Stauffenburg, who believed in the “old, Holy Germany” (p.32), and the fine, honorable things it stood for.   ERH cites that again in WW II von Moltke noted that Germany must lose the war because the paganism of Hitler  was no longer at attitude to create peace. (p.33)  (RF – I presume one could cite here also the metaphor of Abraham having been an instrument of freeing the Jews, but was not allowed into the Promised Land. – a reminder that a member of a movement may not personally reap the rewards.)  von Moltke was executed by Hitler.

4.These men, Stauffenburg, Ballin, von Moltke, Bonhoffer, and others, by naming the meaning of their time, allowed a future to be entered.  They all sacrificed themselves and therefore, and accordingly deserve a  right to be listened to. ERH also pointed out an important principle in citing von Moltke’s case, that he created a situation whereby the German people could be believed after the end of the war (WW II), by admitting guilt before defeat.

They (these German martyrs) are the legitimate embodiment of their time.  For out of mere  occurrences they made “events” for which they are personally responsible and for which they have suffered.  Thus the time is set right, because their voices will determine its meaning. (p.34)

[RF – It is perhaps useful to pause for a moment and speak to the reader who may not be familiar with other essays of Rosenstock-Huessy. One must be mindful of the fact that original thinkers who have a world view, as does Rosenstock-Huessy, are difficult to comprehend at times when one is not in possession of the broader context in which certain statements assume.  For example, in making the point (4) above, in speaking of the importance of naming the times, of the need to sacrifice, of giving meaning to events when they are so named, he writes:

World and soul join one another, that is they must join in order to provide meaning.  For the world is meaningless.  The world would just be uncreated chaos were it not for those who stood up with their lives to provide meaning: every time anew it would become an uncreated chaos in which speech decayed and every border became insurmountable.  Chaos does not precede God’s creation.  No, chaos occurs when we little devils abolish God’s word.  (p.35)

I take this to mean, naming eliminates chaos; to name is risky; naming gives meaning; not to give meaning to problems renders them insurmountable, sooner or later causing cultural degeneration.  Insurmountable borders robs us of the opportunity for peace and, chaos follows eventually. Naming categorizes, limits, creates boundaries.  The term “borders” means boundaries.]

5.However, boundaries are a two edged sword. They not only help identify problems, in another way they are barriers to communication.  Abolishing borders can therefore also mean speaking to one another, “…as though we had no secrets from one another.” (p.35)  At this point ERH goes in another direction, examining  the meaning of speech. In sum, the chapter seems to provide examples as to how people in recent times in Europe have understood that we are now a global village, a planet.  All of this clears the ground for a united Europe.

Chapter 4  Nipped in the Bud

1.Summarizing his three points so far in the book:

a)The meanings of war and peace have been jumbled.  War means changing borders, and is serious business; border changing is the source of “…the carrier of life.” The obvious paradox is that to survive we must define and name, creating borders (boundaries).  But also to survive we must grow, which is to say change.  And to change means changing definitions, taboos, alliances,  boundaries.  There are many types of boundaries and heretofore changing boundaries has been accomplished by war. But,  since shooting war is no longer possible, how are we to maintain  change in the future?

b)Home and the world, once friend and enemy, can no longer be so easily distinguished, because we are forced together; we must see ourselves as a single planet, and the planet is now really “home.”

c)Obviously borders are other than geographical; they divide labor and management, Jew from Moslem, Aborigine from cosmopolitan, rich from poor, idealist from realist, etc.

2.The notion of work service began roughly in 1910 (p.39), and since has appeared in many western countries, Germany, Switzerland, U.S. (The Friends Service Committee and Unitarian Universal Service Committee for instance).

a)Work service must be serious and a full time commitment for a specified time (1 or 2 years), and run parallel to a military camp.

b)The weakness of those past attempts were that they were summer, part-time efforts and run by pacifists.

Conditions of serious work service:

3.Such work service must erase rank, i.e. eliminate barriers of class so that there is equality and competence arising unfettered. (p.41,42)

a)It must be serious, and therefore last long enough to allow contemplation, suffering, or  sacrifice.

b)Work groups cannot represent one class only. This criterion is crucial. ERH cites the bunching together of unemployed whereby, their misery was increased by meeting only with their own kind.  ALL DIFFERENT GROUPS IN SOCIETY MUST BE MIXED TOGETHER SO THAT THEY LEARN TO COMMUNICATE, TO UNDERSTAND  EACH OTHER, AND TO RESPECT EACH OTHER’S PROBLEMS.  (p.43)    Unemployed and employed are enemies because one poses as competition to the other.

…industrialization must take two things into account: (1) Unemployed people must “belong” and be able to make friends in spite of the fact that they are out of work. (2) Employed people have to stick their noses beyond the borders of their jobs, physicians as well as lathe operators, ministers as well as alpine farmers.  (p.46)

In general ERH describes these early efforts at work-service, their mistakes, the misunderstanding about them, the world forces that opposed them (Hitler and Pearl Harbor, Capitol and Labor).  But he also says that these brave attempts produced many good ideas, and that they must be  re-invented and tried again to fit the times; “…a cause may become legitimate only when it has once failed…….Misuse (ala Hitler taking over the youth camps) never disproves the proper use.” (pp.48,49)

Chapter 5,  It Can’t Go Slowly Enough

1.ERH’s point here is that charity from rich to poor creates enemies. (pp.50,51).  “We are not helping the underdeveloped countries when we give them part of our wealth….Goods only benefit the right people.” (p.52)

2.He then begins to define service or charity, making the point that change can  come only when the hearts of men are moved and this operates on a very different time span than transfer of technology.  Thus, to provide pure wells, bathrooms, and the like to “developing” countries is of less importance than working with them and teaching them to help themselves. This is consistent with the notion that “Rome was not built in a day.”  ERH cites as example that today the technology of war allows fighting to last for a relatively short time, but the actual anger or hatred goes on for generations.  He also cites his own experience; from 1941 to 1944 few people thought of him as a German, but by 1945, even his friends thought of him as “…that awful German.”  So long did it take their hearts to comprehend the meaning of Nazism.  Technology and human time spans are basically different.

3.The essential notion of time and timing here is that we live in  multiple time spans, each of which must be recognized and balanced.

Every event contains the extremes of lightning flashes and snails.  And for that reason we are burdened by both as if they were one.  Assimilating facts only, contributes to bringing about the end of the world. ….Peoples are not flashes of lightening;. they are snails. (p.55)

They must respond to both the demands of the day, and those of the century.

4.How to recognize the demands of the day?  ERH cites the example of saving a baby from a burning building or saving the building;  “..developing countries are like the baby.”  He goes on to make the distinction between the stages of developing countries, politically, economically, socially, as compared to our own industrial societies.

5.The concept “economy” to ERH means that there are three basic elements evolved over long periods of time. After the hunter and gatherer came, 1) the peasant who tilled the land and who was given the gift of agriculture from the monk who taught him, 2) the craftsman who could build the cathedrals, taught by the engineer, and 3) the technologist/inventer who was taught by the natural scientist.  Each lives according to a different time span; the farmer is slowest, technological change the fastest.  Modern society lives in all three at once,which is its strength and the source of its adaptability and creativity.  All three are necessary side-by-side:

Thus if the expanses of the continents of our planet are to be cultivated now as the Creator of the soil and its treasures demands, then industry, craft and peasantry must pool their gifts: the reliable dedication of the free peasants who need not be overseen, the reliable craftsman of a team, and the coherence of the antipodes brought about by enterprises spanning the globe. (p.61)

Finally, he points out, finally that psychologically many of us tend to retain the values of the peasant, being tied to one country, or one neighborhood, or culture.  The future person cannot be tied only to the past, but also to the future.  He cites airline pilots and stewardesses who can only fly 72 hours per month, have no home because they are always on the move, and who become exhausted because of lacking a place to call “home.”  This, he suggests, is the metaphor for the new planetary man, who must respect all three time-zones of life, and know that the future will make unique demands upon us.  If we are to recognize these, our planetary service, which involves working with all three types of peoples, must respect their time-tables.

Chapter 6, the Planetary Household

1.Appropriate change is the universal necessity for a vital community. There is a Latin word, hostis, which connotes both enemy and guest.  The daughter becomes a mother, the son a father, the obstreperous student a teacher of obstreperous students.  In these examples, change did not occur, one simply repeated one’s experience. To solve this problem one needs to understand, not only different demands in different roles, but also the transition from one to the other.  If the change doesn’t create peace, the old behaviors perpetuate war between the roles.

What is important instead is the ability to change at the right time from apprentice into master, patient into doctor, or subject into ruler.  We must be able to call forth from within us the variation; teacher, or maybe policeman, or welder, or juryman, at the right hour.  (pp.64,65)

2.The great decision we have at any moment is to respond to being called to take-on some new role.  And that role may be the opposite to what we have done before.

3.To find peace, we must create inner time.  Inner time is the opposite from clock time, it is the time to reflect, to create a new time by seeing how we must change.  ERH tells the story of the young man who chose to be shot rather than enter the SS.  “A man who accepts death in order not to commit evil deeds helps us to do the things which must be done to replace war, lest we lose our creative breath.”  (p.68)

4.Development means decay. Things left by themselves “develop,” then die out.  “The mere world will become a planet only when worldly development is stopped and replaced by loving participa­tion.” (p.60)   What ERH means here is that things cannot be left by themselves to just “develop.”  For example, to give money to “developing countries” will never work.  One must, instead, participate with the country receiving the aid, working along with them to teach the spirit of regeneration, to create mutual understanding, to teach them that they are not alone and that we are brothers and sisters.


5.Such teaching will take at least two generations, indicating fruitful achievement only in the third generation.  (p.71)   With reference to the young man who resisted the SS, he writes:

A truthful, courageous, and believing declaration like the letter from the farmer’s young son should give us the courage to realize that three generations truly belong together.  I am the mediating generation and I am extricating him from death by burdening you, the reader, with him.  One generation can indeed listen to another.  I am transposing the dying boy into you, and he will endure through you. (p.71)

Chapter 7, The Peace of the Pirates

1.The world needs a new type of pirate; one who asserts himself in the absence of formal authorities.   He points out that, although the notion of a pirate is generally negative, the action can have positive consequences, especially when the laws of the land are corrupted. (p.74)  What are the acts of piracy in this context?

2.Acts are morally different from one another.  A new piracy might be rescuing shipwrecked persons, freeing slaves, protecting women, preserving valuable documents, paying ransoms, feeding the hungry, or extinguishing flames at the danger of one’s own life.   ERH points out that the pirate normally operated in free, unregulated space, on water, land, and air that had not been claimed by some country.  Nowadays, there is little or no unregulated space.

3.The relevance of the pirate to creating “inner time” is that creating a future requires free space and free time.  So the question is, how is that time to be created?  And his answer would seem to be, nowadays, by acts of piracy, by stealing what other people believe is theirs.

Once the policemen impose the same borders as the geographers, the child of God within us will suffocate.  The double pressures of the law and of knowledge will overwhelm our consciences and make us believe that no one can fly, write, love, hate, or serve except on the legitimate paths of the railroad, the airlines, the ski-lifts, the various academic scholarships, the state exams, the draft, the street signs, the IQ tests, and birthcontrol. (pp.75,76)

4.As I understand his text, one of his points is that any religious creed is potentially dangerous to its “so called” believer, or it is nothing. The distorted thing about our situation today is that almost nobody who is earning his daily bread with the Christian creed (i.e. clerics) realizes that the credo may be deadly dangerous.  Only laymen believe that, or people like Bonhoeffer, who take off their frocks.  If the creed is not considered dangerous, divine worship is emasculated.  The creed is either high voltage or empty straw.

And for this reason, planetary service must be placed under the pirates flag because piracy is the last bit of freedom from regulation.  Since the pirate need not start wars because no state can be blamed for his actions, he is capable of creating a kind of peace. The pirates peace.   (p.77)

5.Pirate’s peace means that the pirate does not call or name himself, contrasting with  warring nations, which create their own myths by speaking to themselves as to who they are.  ERH describes peace as the act of allowing someone else to call you by your name, and they allowing you to do the same.  Friends greeting others call each other by name, the sign of a peaceful relationship.  But, as so many nations are greedy today, ignoring the environment and other elements necessary for survival, they be circumvented.

…the messengers of the planet will have to grab the globe away from the raving nations.  Wanting to determine its own fate empties a nation.  Lacking the justice which accords each its own place, a nation becomes, in the words of Augustine, a band of robbers. `If the states themselves are becoming similar to pirates, I will have to seek shelter with the pirates myself in order to show my readers the way to the source of health.’  (p.81)

6.The first step is to act.  One does not need to know, or cannot really know, how something will come out.  One must simply , “…relax and accept the fact that eventually the things will take hold which I helped to start. One doesn’t need to know more.” (p.88)  ERH cites a number of Peace Corps workers who validated this idea: to listen and ponder, to act, then to wait and see what grows.

And most importantly, one’s patience must reject the time-clock of a scientific world.  The establishment expects to go by the appointment book.

The coming generations will have to master two completely different types of times….The so-called time of the technological age is robbing us of our own real time…beat back the raging time of technology with the time of healthy hearts. “One doesn’t need to know more” represents the time of our hearts. ….Men love to act for themselves, and with spontaneity; and as I have sometimes observed, have come at length cheerfully and voluntarily into measures, which they would have opposed, if they had imagined they were to be driven into them” (pp.90,91)

[RF – Is not this last phrase a fundamental dictum for all teaching and learning, and for the basis of planetary service as well?]

Chapter 8,   David Scott Palmer

1.This chapter seems to be devoted to establishing the importance of identity for persons taking action.  Pirates?  This is important because it is not groups per se that take action, but action is taken through the courage of individuals within that group.

There is always a great temptation to hide within a group, to set  aside the personal danger of taking a stand, of “sticking one’s neck out.”  But ERH is asserting that there must be leadership, a personal owning up to ideas and commitment to action, otherwise nothing gets done.

One can step into the light of history only by bearing one’s first and last name.  Bearing your name stops one from just belonging to a class or social stratum and disappearing into it.  That’s when a person rises above his social class costume; that’s when his face shows above his clothing……The spirit of peace and the peace of the spirit require that we think, act and decide by overcoming our race, class and our self-interest. (p.94)

2.He goes on to suggest that, “…we would rather put up with a bad reputation than sink to the level of types, concepts, and numbers with which one does not speak.” (p.94)

Indeed, the great criticism of politicians these days is that they will not own up to a political view on their own.  As it is, they agree with everyone.

[RF – However, the planetary servant must have the courage to speak out and must therefore be willing to risk the danger  of having and acting on beliefs.  A danger which cannot be avoided, he might have said, if one is to evolve with a soul.]

3.Life in planetary service must be involvement with individuals.  “Life in service has to be life in service of a name, or the service remains lifeless.” (p.95)  Social science that attempts to deal only in abstractions remains ineffective.   An important step in establishing EFFECTIVENESS IS TO GET TO KNOW PEOPLE PERSONALLY! “That is why I named the chapter David Scott Palmer.” (p.96)

Chapter 9, A Pirate’s Esperanto

1.In all of this, what is revealed to me is the primary social effect of large massive populations who do not know each other, where there are ghettos established between social classes and various groups within them, e.g. academics and business, Spanish and black (gangs), red-necks and Unitarians, etc. The separation of these people, the fact that they do not speak to each other, INCREASES CRIME BECAUSE PEOPLE WHO DO NOT SPEAK, DO NOT TAKE CARE OF ONE ANOTHER.  Thus, modern society tends to have the large crime rates in the cities, including white collar crime.

2.What ERH is interested in here is what he calls the new language that is necessary to establish between strangers, who make peace between themselves. The language must speak to the calendar of celebrations.  Because every technological advance expands space and shortens time needed for adapting,  it destroys a familiar living group.  “This human group must be replaced explicitly.” (p.98)

3.Destruction of a familiar living group!  If technology destroys living groups, how can new ones be established?  THIS IS A CRUCIAL QUESTION FOR THE PIRATE! ERH puts this question in the context of increasing space as a result of technology.

The answer is that to re-create groups one must be patient, one must get to know all persons with whom one works.  ONE MUST COUNTER THE TECHNOLOGICAL SPEEDING UP OF TIME, BY INSISTING ON SLOWING DOWN ONE’S OWN TIME.  We constantly under estimate the time needed to solve social problems. (p.100)

4.What time schedules must we understand?

a.The speechless stage of the pre-human world living in the present, “…laughing, crying, hunger and love, sleeping and being awake alternate their reign over us.” p. 102  These are “urges” propelling us through life,  the twilight dawn (of consciousness).  (p.102)

b.Second is war,  where we are brought together to a focus on a specific goal, a purpose, to conquer an enemy, be it an invader, or reduce famine or crime.  Here, time is explicit, and all impatient urges must be set aside in the interest of achieving the goal.  One works on long-range assignments, and the steps to take are to be clarified; during war one does not speak to the enemy, there is no “…time in common.”

c.Peace is concluded when a common time is established.  This occurs when one shares common sorrows and joys. When such common time does not exist, either there is the twilight of the present, or war! (p.103)

Time without a calendar of the soul’s sorrows and joys shared in common, is an abstract time, is time artificially reduced to measuring external things, like police, labs, walls, borders…office hours, the working day, terms of service…..One generation after the other has to be won over explicitly and induced to conclude peace.(p.104)

5.Peace rests on people being leveled, seeing each other as equals.  Then common goals and joys become more important than war! p. 104

[RF – I believe this is an example of why so many people have trouble understanding ERH as George Morgan describes so eloquently in his book SPEECH AND SOCIETY.  Issues such as,  war and peace, love and hate, science and feeling have different meanings in different situations.  When he writes about these issues in different contexts his explanations, his applications and interpretations are shaded to fit those circumstances.  Time, for instance, has many dimensions,  but these can only be understood in specific circumstances.  The definition of time must therefore be understood as the sum of these uses.]

Peace joins together “distemporaries,” war divides, peace (contrasted with an armistice) requires trust and usually requires several (at least 3) generations to establish. (in the mean time an armistice may prevail). War requires only a single generation to explode.

Technology, and by inference commerce, according to ERH, allows a condition between war and peace. These forces, he asserts, are therefore in control.

6.Peace breaks out only when people “come to themselves.”   This is to say, when people care less for their reputation, appearance, rank, honor or rights.  Actually we can only come to ourselves if we don’t care whether the world considers us legitimate or illegitimate, decent or indecent, noble or plebeian.  (p.106)

7.Rights are won, not given, and our age claims to offer many rights by law.  These need to be protected, as  “…NO ONE WILL GIVE THEM BACK.” if they are lost. (p.108)

8.Time and timing are crucial to establishing peace.  We must take time to allow knowledge of each other. This alludes to the time of war (everything needs to be done fast and on time),  like the time of the craftsman, who has much time.  TO ESTABLISH PEACE, THESE TWO TIMES MUST BE WELDED TOGETHER BY THE PIRATE, SO THAT HE CAN USE BOTH.

9.Pirate service must be civilian, so that there can be freedom to be creative  freedom for an individual.  The Peace Corp’s secret of success was that its members were laymen.  Cardinal Roncalli, later Pope XXIII, are example of prelates who ranked laymen above themselves because lay-people tend to be free to be creative, unbound by politics, or economics, or long-range plans.    “Isn’t it remarkable that in our age the extraordinary things can only be done by lay-men?” (p.110)

The professional, the technician, plans everything beforehand, based on what he knows, on what is known; he creates “things in space.” Things in space die.  The layman surprises us; he takes time, then may abandon it through overcoming his fear of death. (p.110)

The technological world anticipates all functions by planning and every expert is pre-determined and pre-programmed.  He must accomplish something, something which has been known beforehand.  With this he enters the world of space, space makes him visible.  Since what is visible about us is prone to death, the spaces in which the experts act are not only dead, but deadening.  Only pure time is free of death, and a man can take part in it only by forgetting space and overcoming fear of death. (p.110)

[RF – Another interesting paradox in life.  In order to create something lasting and of worth one must forget a fear of death.  The aphorism is,  “We gain life by being willing to die?”  Clearly president Bush was not willing to take time to pave the road toward peace in the middle east situation in 1991.  He took the fast track, so to speak.  He made war rather than waiting for sanctions to work.]

10.Planners and administrators are important, but only one step in a link.  As with William James, one must be able to look at an old phenomenon afresh, as if seeing it for the first time.  That is not what the planner does, but what the pirate must learn to do.

11.To be a proper pirate, one must not work only for one’s self interest or even only for that of his country.  ERH cites Theodore Roosevelt and Kaiser William II, as examples  of both sides of this question.  The new pirate must work for peace for mankind, not just for one’s self. (p.112)   And “…doing the proper thing ranks above officiality.” (p.113)

12.One must learn to listen to the moment, to know how to make the distinction between following rules and breaking them, by doing the unpredictable.

13.Service on the planet must achieve a celebration for peace, a holiday whereby all, normally distemporaries, will work closely together.  “This is what the service on the planet must achieve.” (p.115)

14.A pirates of peace must be anointed, recognized beforehand by a group, as one committed and willing to take what may come, like a bride or groom entering a marriage:  “…all will know themselves anointed by the prophesy that the world is waiting for them in order to become a planet.” (p.115)

15.Peace cannot be force upon us, “The soul has to enter peace explicitly and voluntarily.” (p.116)  When victories are won, a new language is born. (p.117)



Lectures 1-4
Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98


Lecture 1

1.What is a profession? What does it mean?  In terms of: 1) what kind of a code of knowledge should be generalized throughout the world, 2) how our society threatens professional standards and undermines them, and 3) how we should  respond to those threats. (p.3)

2.Obviously, a profession represents expert knowledge in some field needed by society such as dentistry or law or teaching,  but it also must be underpinned by a code of ethics that goes beyond the technical aspects of that knowledge.

Ethics are essential because they form the bedrock upon which public trust is built. At all costs, trust must be maintained.  SO THE FIRST PRINCIPLE IS THAT THE PROFESSION MUST BE RECOGNIZED (TRUSTED) BY SOCIETY.  Usually this means backing by law.

3.There are three sets of relationships to be understood; 1) between the professional and his profession, 2) between the professional and his clients, and 3) between the professional and the law (authorities). (p.1-5)

The same applies to teaching, between 1) teacher and parents, 2) teacher and students, and 3) teacher and school board. AND, AS IN ALL RELATIONSHIPS, THESE CLASH AT TIMES.

4.There is a “body politic” that must exist first before all professions; ERH’s reminds us that “the whole exists before the parts.”  The professional must be “called” and must be recognized by the society, which means someone else must bestow a name, a title one the professional. NONE OF THIS CAN BE SELF-APPOINTED, as  “…the recognition that the political and social names in a society are given, and not self-made….Somebody else has to make sure that you are a dentist in their eyes.”  (pp.10,11)

5.All of this comes down to three things, 1)a brotherhood of the people who do the same service,  2)  people who are in need of that service, and 3) authoritative recognition by community leaders that the service is being satisfactorily performed.

6.Law should never be enacted unless it is valid for the next generation. Any idea that should live longer than a single life-time must be institutionalized!

Just as liquid water has two other states, ice and gas, so professions live in three time-spans: 1) the immediate (e.g. the dentist services a tooth ache), 2)  the life-time of the professional as he relates to his profession, and 3) the service to humanity, which is recognized by law to apply to the next generation. THERE IS NO COMMON DENOMINATOR BETWEEN THESE THREE TIMES; THEY ARE SEPARATE ELEMENTS OF A UNITY THAT INVESTS EVERY PROFESSION.

7.This tripartite is expressed in three languages, the language of law, of the profession between professionals, and finally, the language of everyday activity, between professional and client.

The professional man then is also a layman a member of the “public,” and a legislator who looks toward eternity.  In each of these roles we represent three time-spans, 1) the immediate or present, 2) our own lifetime, and 3) eternity.

8.Finally, these time-spans represent a hierarchy of values, 1) eternity is most important (like dying for one’s country), 2) second is one’s life-time, and 3) and last is the present (the tooth-ache, so to speak).

Lecture 2

1.As “public,” man is passive, unseen and unrecognized as an individual. Man, in his strength, has a title – engineer, doctor, dentist etc. (p.1)

a.Professional standards are universal, not bent by local mores.

b.Professional also means that one is changing the aspect of the technical or specialized knowledge.

c.Professionals are (or should be) “infected” with a spirit of the calling.

2.IN AMERICA THE PROFESSIONAL IS IMPOVERISHED! , because he is seen either as an individual or as a member of the “public,” but never in brotherhood with his professional colleagues. (p.4)

3.IT IS CRUCIAL TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE “SELF”  (as your flesh and blood individuality) and one’s spiritual use of the term “I,” as a professional.  The professional, professing the opinion “I,” is speaking within the learning, tradition, and research of the professional community.

4.One must understand the sequence in education.  The sequence of learning is to receive knowledge, then to re-learn it in terms of his/her own experience.  To re-learn, is to re-search.  These are separate and necessary stages in learning.  To research comes after the initial learning. To re-search adds new“meaning” to the learning.

ERH asserts that, today, we tend to assume the child can learn everything immediately, and thus “…our poor American child has no future, because all its imagination is destroyed when he/she is told `You can do everything now…”  (p.8)

The notion here is that, at the university, the professor is engaged in a new level of teaching in which “research” meant that the meaning of knowledge could be changed and created anew. (p.11)

5.Thus, the “high” in higher education recognizes this change in approach to learning. The professor has been recognized as having the authority to say “I” in the spiritual sense.

ERH cites the old man who got up in a meeting, having lived in the community for over 70 years, to pronounce the historical sense of values in the community.  His “authority” was derived from his experience in the community and was recognized as such by the group at the meeting. (p.11) At that moment his “self” changed from a “we” into an “I” – a great mystery of transition.

Transition, authority, and experience are the social variables determine the destiny of the community through history. These are factors of social time.  By contrast, the objects of natural scientific investigation measure time very differently,  their focus being oriented toward spacial elements, i.e. the clock rather than phases or stages of a process.  (p.12)

6.The “self,” in the sense described above, represents spatial considerations, as do all concrete entities. Personally experienced events such as  hunger, intoxication, and nervousness are expressions of the “self.”  However, when individuals act in the name of a profession, such as an M.D. writing a prescription, his  “I” represents “authority” conferred by a group, just as a scientist pronouncing a new discovery. In these cases the social role represents a wider arc of time.

7.The Christian tradition has waged war against stagnation by way of attempting to balance between change and tradition.  The Greek mentality was to see no change; life went in cycles of repeated experience, of forgetting what is to be learned through experience that should be acted upon to bring about change.

8.Change occurs by considering what idea is to be applied at the right time.

9.The churches in American are filled with cowards.  “They have no social status, they have no courage, they have no convictions, and they do what’s pleasing.” (p.15)   His evidence is that no church “consecrates” divorces, and any church will marry the same person four times.  His second criticism of the churches is their numerous “squabbles,” and tendency toward fragmentation into sects. This, ERH asserts, is confusing and damaging to the lay persons attempting to follow “the true faith.”

10.Regarding the issue of what ERH calls “corollaries,” or in other writing, “paradox,” he points out the constant decision between change and tradition.  This is revealed in the different roles (and dress) of men and women.  Women change dress each day, mens’ stay the same.  The reminding of this phenomenon represents a continuity from generation to generation that will “save the world.”

Lecture 3

1.ERH begins this lecture with a discussion of the fragmentation between divisions of labor in the work force. HIS POINT IS THAT ALL PARTS OF THE `WHOLE’ ARE INTERDEPENDENT. EACH PART COMPLIMENTS THE OTHER.

a.Today, capital and labor are separated; unions fight CEO’s.

b.Historically, the peasant, the artisan, and the leader (designer) had to work together to build a cathedral.

c.Today, it is the same; production depends upon the unity of unskilled labor,craftsmen (on the machines), and  leaders who design, but the fragmentation causes undue disruption of this process.

2.ERH draws the conclusion that a flow of trained personnel is required for the chain of continuity to be maintained from generation to generation.  It follows also that one needs to maintain a loyalty to a division of labor, to a profession, if a society is to properly produce the goods and services the next generation needs.

3.The Irish, French Canadians, and Italians were dedicated to the church because it offered them more than religion; it offered them a place in the world by way of teaching them to be loyal to a work, or to a plot of soil. (3 virtues: “stick-to-it-ness to place, to purpose, and to group).  (p.11)

4.As a continuation of this point, ERH asserts that “…nobody is more superstitious than modern man, after he has gone to high school.  Because he believes in the latest fad.  He forgets everything that has existed before.”  (p. 12)

5.Today, more than ever before, a revival of professions depends upon an apprentice system, as in medicine. One role of  interns is to re-establish craft.

ERH defines a law of LIFE:  “…ALL GREAT REFORMS START AT THE TOP AND GO DOWN TO THE BOTTOM.  In complete contradiction to the gospel of the common man, nothing ever happens down below that hasn’t happened first at the top.” (p.17)

6.Today we are threatened, not only by soil erosion, but by SOUL erosion; it is a matter of caring for the community.  “What we do to our neighbor and to the land, we do to ourselves.” (p.21)

It is a decision from one’s soul that calls us individually to be loyal to our work, to seek perfection (pride in one’s work), and to work with others in a team spirit.  (p.23)

Lecture 4

1.ERH is making the point of continuity and education (and by indirection toward the professions), by quoting the Bible.

ALONG THE WAY HE MAKES THE POINT THAT ONE CAN’T PROVE ANYTHING BY QUOTING THE BIBLE BECAUSE EVERYTHING HAS ALREADY BEEN PROVEN BY QUOTATIONS. (And the devil quotes as well – shades of the fundamentalists!   BUT HE DOES ASSERT THAT ONE CAN PROVE POINTS BY QUOTING THE BIBLE AS A WHOLE, by which he means looking at the larger context of quotations, what precedes and succeeds any particular quotation.

a.His first quote is at the last of the Old Testament, where he states that a parent cannot concern him/herself only with his own generation; he must mind the future for his children, and the professions as well,  and it is the role of the “elder” in society to see to this. (p.2)

b.The “elder” is beyond egotism, beyond the “I.”  The elder is wise, as “..the fruit of living in human society is not muscles, but wisdom.  (p.5)

c.The elder would point out that every institution is good at times, and at other times bad, AND WE MUST BE ALLOWED TO SAY THESE THINGS.  We must be allowed to be bored, disciplined, to suffer, “…to say it’s terrible.” (the education)  Education is never all happiness.  In other words, we must always invest part of our lives in the future if we wish for an improvement in community life.

2.There is a time to take  orders, to listen (to commands), and ultimately to prophesy and to give commands (i.e. the 12 tones).  ERH points out that each group in society may have its elders, and that the two groups that seem to have become deprived of elders are women and industrial workers.  (p.9)

3.ERH enumerates other problems with professions. 1) They tend to look narrowly on creativity. (e.g. the story of the pharmacist who invented the lotion, unaccepted by the doctor, but which worked. 2) They must recognize that others participate in different roles that effect their profession, e.g. the parent who administers at home. In the practice of professions one must see the whole, including these different roles, and the roles must be respected by the professional.  Finally, 3) while we need rules that must be taught, we must also teach that there are exceptions to those rules, depending upon circumstances.  And it is always our burden, as professionals, to decide when and where to make these  exceptions.

What Future the Professions – 1969 – Review

The central issue here might be called the problem of how thought is circulated and its vitality maintained.  The underlying assumption is that any idea that is to live longer than one human life must be institutionalized.  What then  are the problems of institutionalization that maintain the power of thought to change us?  The topic of “professional” is used to apply, by inference, to the practice and teaching of all services needed by the community requiring professional knowledge from doctor, lawyer, or teacher to plumber, or carpenter. The author points out the disastrous consequences when any of the stages of professional practice become either corrupted or omitted, such as when the relationships between the professional and his colleagues, or his clients and the law, break down.



On Freedom, Growth and Self-Knowledge
(Transcribed from an LP recording)
Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98

1.     Shame protects the integrity of groups, marriages, clubs, friendships, etc.  If these groupings are to contribute to our lives, they must be protected by differentiating their “inside” (uniqueness) from the “outside” (how others see them). Their uniqueness is their most intimate secret.

2.     Shame is only obliquely related to anything to do with sex.  [For instance Shakespeare’s deep emotional feeling toward England.] ERH cites a number of examples of shamelessness, whereby the “inner” was revealed to the outside world unnecessarily or inappropriately, and points out that this destroys one’s inner world.

3.     Shame opposes science, in that science tends to be dedicated to turning “inner” to “outer” in this sense. Thus, “social science” tends to destroy what is intimately “social” in society.

4.     The power to “unify” to create a new union, of friends or business associates, or to join a church, etc. is identified by our speech.  When we speak, we characterize ourselves as either for or against, or as inside  or separate from a group or cause.

He who says, “We are within, and this has to stay without,” begins to live meaningfully. (p.7)

This language comes from the heart and describes a new inner creation as a visible being.  We impart life, or we can kill spiritual life when we mistake “inside” for “outside.”.  To speak in second person to another  (i.e. you and me) is to unify: to speak in third person, i.e. him or her, is to kill.

5.     What is accomplished by such unions is the time and protection to grow. We are protected (accepted) by the group, because the beginning of growth must always be in secret.

What we gain by shame, then, is space, too, an inner space which we can use to discuss, to converse freely… It remains in the bosom of the family.  So we gain time, and we gain space for irresponsible, playful, preliminary talk…But we now know that the essential problem for man is: when is he willing to be recognized by others for what he wants to stand?  (p.13,14)

Then we must judge when to make a commitment. This commitment effects our character, and when taken in sum represent what we have become, spiritually,  at some point in time.  To live fully one  must remain capable of being transformed throughout life, defying prediction.  We can never know ahead of time when transformation will happen.  This not knowing is important self-knowledge.

6.     The old Greek admonition, Know yourself, was not meant to mean, “Be predictable.” Rather it meant, be humble.  Self-knowledge in this sense is creative, because it assumes that we must remain strong enough to end a relationship, if and when that becomes necessary for our continued growth.

7.     To change the world around us we must create new unions, new corporations, new associations that can support a new way of doing things.

8.     Shame is about having secrets.  It is about our “inner sanctum” which powers freedom to change,  assuming others, do not know certain things about us ( those things that must change). When others know too much about us we become imprisoned by that power they have over us. Knowledge of others is paradoxical in this sense.  To learn about the meaning of our experience we need to reveal our  thoughts on significant issues to others.  But we always do this at a risk, so we had better to select our friends with care for this reason.  Knowledge other have about us is both a path and a barrier to understanding reality.  To some extend, we become what other allow us to become.  Our friends forgive  our ignorance, judging us subjectively,  and our enemies judge us objectively.

9.     Shame and timing go together. The least important type of knowledge about us can be known can be known at any time; the most important type of knowledge, one can only know at the right time.  ERH’s example is Jesus, who declined to be called Messiah in public until his last hour.  He forbade his disciples to say it.


11.   The great problem, then, is to know when to speak or act at the right time. This is the meaning of the message of Jesus. It is the unique message of Christianity, AND THIS KNOWLEDGE, WHEN TO SPEAK AND ACT, CANNOT BE KNOWN BEFORE THE MOMENT IS AT HAND!  (p.29)

12.   REVELATIONS AND VEILS:  To know at the last moment means to remove the “last veil.” Shamelessness is to tear away all veils, to recognize no veils, to not understand that certain things cannot and must not be known until the right time. (pp.29,30)  Shamelessness is to know something out of the context of time  But this does not necessarily mean consciousness of its  significance.

THUS, WHILE THE FACTS OF LIFE TEND TO RULE OUR LIVES, WE DO HAVE POWER AND THE BASIS OF THAT POWER IS PRECISELY TO DECIDE THE RIGHT MOMENT TO DO THINGS. p. 1-31  We must eat, sleep, love, go to work, breathe, etc.  But we can decide when, which makes all the difference in our lives.

And now comes something most people never consider: Great truth also must be forgotten again, because it is so true that timing allows us to know great truth, that obviously later on, it isn’t wise to remember it, when we are back again in the slime and in the — mud of everyday living.  (p.31) …importance decreases when availability increases. (p.34)

13.   To rise above certain personal problems,  such as jealousy, to put them in their place is important knowledge of course, but this sense of how to hold such generalizations in our memory and apply them at the right time is only known through art, specifically poetry, such as in Shakespeare’s Othello.

“Poetry therefore is protecting you against the shamelessness of your own soul, because although the whole issue is there, right before you, it is in the disguise of another man’s or another women’s life….We will have to walk in frankness, thanks to poetry, but not in nakedness.”   (p.36)


ERH describes shame as a crucial link to personal growth.  While we may acquire knowledge in the abstract, we can know its meaning, as related to our lives,  only at the right time.  Shame is the veil by which we protect our inner life until its meaning can be revealed to ourselves and others.  And while there are many forces that must control our everyday behavior, our freedom is in determining the right moment to reveal those inner thoughts.  This essay is a succinct and complete statement of one of his brilliant insights on human nature.