Franz Brentano

Franz Brentano

“Those who knew Franz Brentano, even if only through his work, saw him as representing modern man, struggling with the riddle of the universe … he was first and foremost a thinker, one who did not allow his thinking to wander at random … Franz Brentano himself estimated that his work on psychology would fill five volumes, but only the first volume was published. It is fully understandable to someone who knew him well why no subsequent volumes appeared … In order to find answers to the questions facing him after the completion of the first volume of Psychology he needed spiritual knowledge. But spiritual science he could not accept and, as he was above all an honest man, he abandoned writing the subsequent volumes. The venture came to a full stop and thus remains a fragment.” — Rudolf Steiner, from Aspects of Human Evolution, Lecture Five, 1917.


Now I See … is a page and an opportunity for Anthroposophists to present reviews of non-anthroposophical books in such categories as non-fiction, scholastic or academic, history, science, biography, autobiography, and the paranormal.  The books do not need to be current or recently published, and most should raise the disturbing question as to why Rudolf Steiner’s name — or Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science — is not included in the index and in the contents, and when the absence of these resources or answers is felt to be something of an acute or tragic loss, or at the very least as a serious omission. Another kind of book appropriate for review will be of interest to Anthroposophists due to its timely and relevant subject (such as Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a WWII Fighter Pilot, by Bruce and Andrea Leininger, about their son, James Leininger).

The reviews submitted should not be critical, but should be written with a thoughtful, deeply questioning and sympathetic point of view, similar to Rudolf Steiner’s quotation about the work of Franz Brentano, above.

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A Tale of Love and Darkness, by Amos Oz; Review by Frank Thomas Smith

This is a memoir, an autobiography written by a novelist who admits his disdain for footnotes, so they are few and far between. This, however, is not the book’s only virtue. Love and darkness as the two powerful forces running through his extraordinary, moving story which begins in Poland and Russia where his ancestors lived and died before and during the holocaust. But his parents and other relatives and friends were zealous Zionists and escaped to Palestine while there was still time. Amos Oz was born in Jerusalem in 1939 and lived through and participated in the history of Israel from its (modern) beginning to date. The characters here are not the historian’s bloodless footnotes, but real people, most of whom we wish we knew.

Rather than run on about the book’s contents and virtues, I prefer to lift an excerpt which particularly interested me – although there are many others. This book is required reading for anyone who loves literature and is interested in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Frank Thomas Smith


After my military service, in 1961, the Committee of Kibbutz Hulda sent me to Jerusalem to study for two years at the Hebrew University. I studied literature because the kibbutz needed a literature teacher urgently, and I, studied philosophy because I insisted on it. Every Sunday, from four to six p.m., a hundred students gathered in the large hall in the ‘Meiser’ Building to hear Professor Samuel Hugo Bergman lecture on ‘Dialogical philosophy from Kierkegaard to Martin Buber’. My mother, Fania, also studied philosophy with Professor Bergman in the nineteen thirties, when the University was still on Mount Scopus, before she married my father, and she had fond memories of him. By 1961 Bergman was already retired, he was an emeritus professor, but we were fascinated by his lucid, fierce wisdom. I was thrilled to think that the man standing in front of us had been at school with Kafka in Prague, and, as he once told us, had actually shared a bench with him for two years, until Max Brod turned up and took his place next to Kafka.

“That winter Bergman invited five or six of his favourite or most interesting pupils to come to his house for a couple of hours after the lectures. Every Sunday, at eight o’clock, I took the number 5 bus from the new campus on Givat Ram to Professor Bergman’s modest flat in Rehavia. A pleasant faint smell of old books, fresh bread and geraniums always filled the room. We sat down on the sofa or on the floor at the feet our great master, the childhood friend of Kafka and Martin Buber and She author of the books from which we learnt the history of epistemology and the principles of logic. We waited in silence for him to pronounce. “Samuel Hugo Bergman was a stout man even in old age. With his shock of white hair, the ironic, amused lines round his eyes, a piercing glance that looked skeptical yet as innocent as that of a curious child, Bergman bore a striking resemblance to pictures of Albert Einstein as an old man. With his Central European accent, he walked in the Hebrew language not  with a natural stride, as though he were at home in it, but with a sort of elation, like a suitor happy that his beloved has finally accepted him and determined to rise above himself and prove to her that she has not made a mistake. Read more…

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Lights In The Sky & Little Green Men, A Rational Christian Look at UFOs and  Extraterrestrials, by Hugh Ross, Kenneth Samples, and Mark Clark. The book is published by NavPress, Bringing Truth to Life, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2002.

In addition to numerous other qualifications in education, Hugh Ross has received master’s and Ph.D degrees in astronomy, Kenneth Samples has a master’s degree in theological studies, and Mark T. Clark is a Professor Emeritus of political science. The authors are active in Reasons to Believe, “a nonprofit organization providing research, publications, and teaching on the harmony of God’s revelation in the words of the Bible and in the facts of nature.” There is no hesitation in this compact book of 255 pages to take on the worst human UFO-related disasters of the twentieth century and point directly to the cause, which is demonic.

In the Preface, Hugh Ross writes “Speculations about unidentified flying objects and extraterrestrial beings just won’t go away. They continue to crop up in conversations all over the planet. Almost everyone can tell a story of seeing weird lights in the sky – lights that seem to defy explanation.” Little green men are those beings who fly overhead in spaceships, sometimes landing. “We hope this book will compel people to explore beyond surface explanations.”

Kenneth Samples opens the first chapter with references to sightings from antiquity through the twentieth century, with an increase of sightings by pilots during World War II, who speculated that these anomalies, called “Foo Fighters,” were advanced enemy aircraft. “From the late 1940s through the 1960s, the United States Air Force investigated UFO reports through various projects and committees, concluding with the “Condon Report,” which states that “further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.” However, the subject has obviously not gone away and has continued to be carried, e.g., by NASA’s SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), professional ufologists, social scientists, UFO enthusiasts and debunkers, New Agers, UFO cult members, and Christian theologians and apologists.

Author Kenneth Samples examines Types of UFOs in Chapter 2. “There are plenty of crackpot UFO enthusiasts out there, but many ufologists are respected scientists and other experts who are going about their task in a professional way.” Subheadings in this chapter include Systems of Classification, Natural Explanations, and Two Leading Hypotheses. The hypotheses for the phenomena are extraterrestrial (ETH) – the most popular explanation among Americans – and interdimensional (IDH). Regarding the IDH, this is “sometimes described as the paranormal or occult view of UFOs. Some ufologists, (especially Christians) have ascribed an angelic or demonic interpretation to this interdimensional presence. Even a number of leading secular ufologists have argued for a correspondence between UFO phenomena and the occult or demonism.” Significantly, the authors refer throughout the book to the concept of the RUFO, or the residual UFO, “those unexplainable yet real phenomena that remain after all naturalistic explanations have been exhausted.” The “Condon Report” aside, there should be much to learn about cosmic and human existence – as this book testifies – from UFOs and RUFOs. (RUFOs are later described as “both real and nonphysical” in a chapter titled A Closer Look at RUFOs.)

As Hugh Ross writes in Chapter 9, Nature and Subnature, “Ever since publication of Robert Jastrow’s landmark volume, God and the Astronomers, in 1978, references to the supernatural – and specifically to God and theology – have become commonplace in books by astronomers and physicists. If a person scans the science shelves at a local bookstore, he will find books with titles like God and the New Physics, The God Particle, God and the Cosmologists, Reading the Mind of God and Through a Universe Darkly. What’s going on here? Is a mass conversion taking place? No, it’s not a mass conversion. Rather, this development arises from research findings. A mountain of evidence compels the conclusion that reality must exist beyond the physical universe.” Under one of this chapter’s subheadings, The Nature of Supernature, Hugh Ross writes, “For those who care to investigate, nature holds abundant clues to its supernatural source or cause. And that investigation may hold keys to unlocking some of the mysteries of  UFO phenomena.”

Mark Clark tackles Government Cover-Ups in Chapter 7. “True believers in UFOs are frustrated at not being able to convince the world that a residual portion of UFO sightings are for real. Could someone be making their task more difficult?” The U.S. Government. “And so the loaded word ‘cover-up’ enters the conversation.” He continues on with the subjects of Roswell, the Classified Information that came out of the Cold War, Project Blue Book (the Air Force response), the CIA, and Bureaucratic Politics. Then a second full chapter, Government Conspiracies, includes the topics of Political Culture, The Psychological Dynamic, Contrary Evidence, Popular Opinion and the Ockham’s Razor dictum.

This is a remarkable book that should be on the shelf of every conscientious twenty-first century citizen. It is not easy to read through Chapter 14 on UFO Cults by Kenneth Samples, where he describes The Aetherius Society, The Unarius Academy of Science, Heaven’s Gate, and The Raelian Movement. These unimaginably horrible realities of human behavior and error are followed by The Bible and UFOs, Chapter 15 – quoting Ezekiel 1:4-28;10, 2 Kings 2:1-12, and Revelation 1:12-18  –  and a Summary, Chapter 16, stating that “RUFOs … are consistent with the Bible’s descriptions of demons.” Adhering to the “doctrinal statements of the National Association of Evangelicals and the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy,” Reasons to Believe has admirably taken on the UFO phenomena. The book concludes with three Appendixes (e.g., Appendix A, Fine Tuning for Life on Earth), extensive Notes, a Bibliography, and Subject and Name Indexes.  – Martha Keltz


The Incarnation of Ahriman: The Embodiment of Evil on Earth: Seven Lectures by Rudolf Steiner, Given Between October and December, 1919, Skylark Books, on  

Astronomy and Spiritual Science, The Astronomical Letters of Elisabeth Vreede, SteinerBooks, on

On-Line references:

Cosmic Christianity & The Changing Countenance of Cosmology:

The Ahrimanic Deception:

The Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman:

The Cosmic New Year:

The Mission of the Archangel Michael:

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The Gnostic Jung

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The Gnostic Jung And the Seven Sermons to the Dead

Reviewed by Frank Thomas Smith – Quest Books: 4th printing 1994

The Seven Sermons to the Dead is a mysterious, little known or understood work of C. G. Jung’s, which was privately printed in German, without copyright or date, sometime between 1920 and 1925, and distributed to a select group of friends. Stephan A. Hoeller copied, then translated it from the original. Then he wrote a book in which he not only calls The Seven Sermons a Gnostic document, but also claims that Jung himself was a modern Gnostic.

The Gnostic Jung is essentially an attempt – and a very good one at that – to interpret the Seven Sermons, and they certainly need interpretation. Along the way Hoeller, an almost worshipful admirer of the “Wise Man of Küsnacht”, gives us a clear, skillful elucidation of some of Jung’s essential ideas. But the question is: Was Jung really a Gnostic? Certainly he admired Gnostic thought and his works are liberally sprinkled with references to them. But he never called himself a Gnostic; on the other hand, he never identified with any philosophical or religious stream but his own psychoanalytical specialty.

Without doubt Jung’s kind of psychoanalysis was different, approaching what could be called a path of initiation, the analyst becoming a hierophant and the patient a neophyte, or disciple. Mental illness was considered to be a divided or incomplete condition and health as a state of spiritual wholeness – or near wholeness. Jung always insisted that his writings were based upon empirical evidence and personal experience – and not mystical speculation. After his death and the publication of his autobiography, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, and disclosures by his most intimate disciples, it became clear that Jung underwent an intense period of spiritual experience between 1912 and 1917. This may explain his insistence on the word “empirical” to describe his investigations. The only fragment of his writings from that period which he permitted to be published was The Seven Sermons to the Dead, using terminology and style of second century Gnosticism. Jung attributes the authorship to Basilides, a Gnostic sage who taught in Alexandria around A.D. 125-140. Whether this implies some sort of mediumship or automatic writing is a matter of speculation. However, it should be borne in mind that it was the practice for centuries to ascribe authorship of spiritual treatises to someone who the real author considered to be more spiritually advanced than himself.

It would be futile to attempt a synopsis of Hoeller’s interpretation of The Seven Sermons to the Dead here. At best we can consider a few aspects which especially interested this reviewer.

Western materialism has caused many seekers of spirituality to direct their search toward Eastern mysticism. Jung, surprisingly, contended that the search for the wisdom of the East had almost darkened the mind of the West and that it is a search that continues to lead many astray. It isn’t only the impact of alien cultures that can be dangerous to the Western soul. Much of Hindu and Buddhist thinking is directed towards the obliteration of individual consciousness (ego-lessness).

When desire is snuffed out by a variety of meditation and concentration practices, what remains is a psychic corpse from which the libidinal cosmic force of the vital urge has been artificially removed. One can perish of psychic pernicious anemia as well as from its physiological analogue, and the fulfillment of such objectives as desire-lessness and ego-lessness may very well lead to just such a condition. The desire for self-knowledge is just as much a desire as the desire for food or sex.

In his work The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious Jung restates the message contained in the Second Sermon when he says: “Evil is the necessary opposite of good, without which there would be no good either. It is impossible to even think good out of existence.” Jung was insistent especially on the reality and titanic magnitude of evil, for he felt that western humanity, beginning with Christian theology, has consistently and disastrously dwarfed the picture of evil as arising from the unconscious of humanity. In Civilization in Transition he wrote that evil “is of gigantic proportions, so that for the Church to talk of original sin and to trace it back to Adam’s relatively innocent slip-up with Eve is almost a euphemism. The case is far graver and is grossly underestimated.”

President Bush was criticized for calling bin Laden and the terrorists responsible for the World Trade Center destruction “evil”. The critics are not saying that bin Laden is “good”, rather are they implying that evil doesn’t exist, and we should look for reasons in socio-economic injustice. Although it is not possible to deny that social injustice exists in the world, it would be difficult indeed to characterize these terrorist acts as anything but evil, if we take Jung’s point of view seriously. Of course, there are many other kinds of what seems to be pure evil in the world. According to Jung, good and evil are not two opposite poles of a linear dimensionality. They resemble a circle wherein going far enough in either direction is likely to associate one with the opposite polarity. He said that there is no good that cannot produce evil and no evil that cannot produce good. Read more…

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Encounter in Rendlesham Forest, The Inside Story of the World’s Best-Documented UFO Incident, by Nick Pope, with John Burroughs, USAF (Ret.), and Jim Penniston, USAF (Ret.). Published by Thomas Dunne Books, An Imprint of St. Martin’s Press, 2014.

The first encounter, in the early hours of December 26, 1980, was an actual landing of the UFO craft. The second encounter, on the night of December 26, involved the sighting by personnel of D-Flight of a fiery red/orange object that descended slowly into the forest. It was surrounded by an eerie blue/white corona. The third encounter took place from the evening of the 27th through the next morning, and several challenging UFOs with beaming lights were witnessed.

On December 26, the strange intense lights of the first encounter were seen in the forest outside the East Gate of the Woodbridge US Air Force base. At that time the Bentwaters and Woodbridge NATO bases, on British soil, were staffed by Americans. The twin bases were in “the sleepy county of Suffolk on the cold, exposed coast of the East of England,” an area described as “creepy” and “weird” by service personnel. The Rendlesham Forest was between the two bases. The red and blue lights were spotted by Airman First Class John Burroughs, who had been patrolling Woodbridge near the East Gate. He contacted his supervisor, Staff Sergeant Bud Steffens, and both drove out to a small track that led into the forest. An odd white light had also become visible. They returned to the base to inform others, including the on-duty flight chief at Woodbridge, Staff Sergeant and NCO James (Jim) W. Penniston, who thought there might have been an aircraft crash. As it turned out it was not a crash, it was a landing. “In the clearing was a small, metallic craft. It was about three meters high and maybe three meters across at the base. The craft was roughly triangular in shape … It had a bank of blue lights on its side and a bright white light on the top. There was no sound whatsoever. Penniston “had the presence of mind to take a number of photographs.” Unfortunately, the photography failed, probably due to high radiation levels. But Penniston managed to sketch both the craft and its symbols in his police notebook.

He also “plucked up the courage to touch the object. It felt hard and smooth, like a smooth, opaque glass.” However, when he touched the symbols, “they were rough, like running my hands over sandpaper.” The craft responded to Penniston’s touch with a white light at the top that “flared up and became so intense that Penniston was fear struck and temporarily blinded …” After a time, the craft rose above the trees, taking two or three minutes, and then “accelerated away in an instant.” It was noticed that three indentations were left on the hard, frozen ground, and that the line between them formed a near-perfect equilateral triangle. Later, plaster molds were made of the indentations. Read more…

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Mexico Profundo: Reclaiming a Civilization

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México Profundo, Reclaiming A Civilization, by Guillermo Bonfil Batalla (1935-1991), is translated by Philip A. Dennis and was published by the University of Texas Press in 1996, with eight paperback printings through 2009. From the back cover, Mexican studies; anthropology:For Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, the remaining Indian communities, the ‘de-Indianized’ rural mestizo communities, and vast sectors of the poor urban population constitute the México profundo. Their lives and ways of understanding the world continue to be rooted in Mesoamerican civilization… Since the Conquest [Hernan Cortés, 1519-1521] Bonfil argues, the peoples of the México profundo have been dominated by an ‘imaginary México’ imposed by the West.”

Philip A. Dennis is a Professor of Anthropology at Texas Tech University. The book opens with his Foreword of 1995: “Guillermo Bonfil Batalla’s book México profundo: una civilización negada seems prophetic in retrospect. He predicted the collapse of what he called the imaginary Mexico and hoped that the strengths of the “México profundo” would serve as a basis for building a new Mexico. According to Bonfil Batalla, Mexico is not a mestizo country. Rather, it is a country whose majority population continues to be rooted in Mesoamerican civilization and whose way of life reflects cultural patterns and values with thousands of years of history … The México profundo erupted into national consciousness on January 1, 1994, when the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de la Liberación Nacional – EZLN) took over four towns in the southeastern state of Chiapas. Their struggle provoked a still-unresolved confrontation with the Mexican government. Most of the EZLN fighters are Maya Indians from a poor state whose population includes more than a million Maya people. Their rebellion responds to years of injustice and oppression. In recent years in Chiapas, large cattle ranchers have continued to usurp Indian land, with the support of paid gunmen and the judicial police. Land and wealth and political power in Chiapas are highly concentrated in the hands of the local elite, while the Indian and peasant majority live in extreme poverty.”

“Guillermo Bonfil Batalla had a distinguished career in Mexican anthropology, cut tragically short by his death in an automobile accident in July 1991 … Bonfil Batalla began his career as one of the early critics of indigenismo, a continent-wide movement concerned with Indian welfare, but directed by non-Indians. He and other Mexican anthropologists of the early 1970s concluded that the paternalistic stance of indigenismo obscured the truly multicultural nature of Mexico, and they supported, instead, Indian efforts at self-determination.”

The book is divided into three parts (each with two to five subheadings): Part I, A Civilization Denied; Part II, How We Came to Be Where We Are; and Part III, The National Program and the Civilizational Project. From Bonfil Batalla’s summary that precedes Part I: “What unifies them [the México profundo] and distinguishes them from the rest of Mexican society is that they are bearers of ways of understanding the world and of organizing human life that have their origins in Mesoamerican civilization and that have been forged here in Mexico through a long and historical process … The civilization of Mesoamerica has been denied but it is essential to recognize its continuing presence.” Later in Part I, under the subheading Cultural Schism, he writes: “Cultural diversity is not a problem in itself … The problem lies in the dual, asymmetrical structure that underlies the plurality. At this point it is indispensable to return to the origin of this problem, which is none other than the colonial situation from which current Mexican society is derived. This is a past whose basic, antagonistic duality has not yet been superseded. To the contrary, it is expressed in every facet of national life. It is an original sin that has not yet been redeemed.” Read more…

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