Some recent comments encouraged me to look up Owen Barfield, a long-standing friend of C.S. Lewis and partly behind Lewis’ conversion from atheism to Christianity. I draw my readers’ attention to Owen Barfield (1898 – 1997).
My swallowing reflex comes into play as Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy are mentioned. I have not studied Steiner very much, but my attitude in regard to esotericism and New Age ideas as an Anglican Catholic is reserved. However, we should not stop there but rather see the important aspects of Barfield’s thought. I have just ordered Poetic Diction, and will probably then read Saving the Appearances and Romanticism Comes of Age. I will not be an unconditional fan of everyone I read, but this fellow seems to be of high importance in the school of thought I am working on.
On the very first page of this website, we read:
Barfield’s immediate relevance is profound; it is to solve the core problem of modern times – which is ‘alienation’: i.e. the deep sense of meaninglessness, purposelessness, and isolation from people and things.
This would depend on being able to explain theories of knowledge and consciousness in an accessible way. Many try to promote “being connected” and put over the idea that we function only as social beings. Many people need the corporate structure that gives motivation to an individual person’s work. I personally am quite the opposite. I do my best and most creative work alone, but that may be due in part to my Aspergers / autism. Alienation is a serious issue for us all, but we cannot eliminate it by forcing the person to be social and corporate, but rather to give meaning to that alienation. The Romantic’s alienation is such that meaning and purpose are found in the objects of Sehnsucht. In short, the meaning of our alienation from the “world” is found in God. If this meaning is found, then our hearts and minds begin to open up in empathy and mindfulness of other people and their thoughts, feelings and needs.
Post-modern isolation and nihilism go much further, and I find that many I meet just don’t care – Je m’en fous, as they say here in France. At least you can discuss with someone who is against you, engage debate and make progress. With the profoundly indifferent, nothing is possible. They cannot be evangelised or anything.
Back to Barfield, I need to go through this site and read the three books I mentioned. I would like to see the influence of both English and German Romantics on his thought and how he explains his theory of knowledge. I am extremely encouraged by these comments and the discoveries I am making.