LIVING & DIVINE

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Introduction
Part 1
Part 2

Part 3
 § ch5
 § ch6
 § ch7

Summary
THE LIVING AND THE DIVINE
Part 3: Human Consciousness and the Hall-Mark of the Divine
Chapter 6

Cosmogonic Consequences
Life and the Disposition of Matter in the Universe

Science has concerned itself little, if at all, with theories about the creation of the universe, with cosmogony since it is a field that lies outside of any conceivable experimental enquiry. To the extent that, on the fringes of science, questions are raised and hypothetical answers given, these tend to be handled on the model of the nature of physics, namely as relating to possible events within inanimate nature as a setting for life. That setting is seen as incidental and not really relevant to the question of the origin of the material universe. Matter is obviously indifferent to its being characterised as the setting for life. The origin of life appears as a fringe problem in a different branch of science, one that is also not concerned with questions of cosmogony ; biology barely touches on questions on the origins of the inanimate world and then only in so far as they may have some bearing on a given situation where, regardless of how it originated, there are circumstances that do allow for empirical experience and observation of life, e.g., temperatures between degrees, the presence of oxygen, water etc. Biology handles the origin of life, where it does so at all, not as a cosmic problem but only as a question within biological phenomenality, with no connection to any questions beyond it.

We shall try, systematically, to set out a view that connects both areas. We do not wish to probe into the origin of the cosmos as merely a setting, an 'environment' for life and indifferent to it. Nor do we want to separate the question of the origin of life from that of the birth of the physical universe. We are well aware that we are not able simply to 'solve' fundamental questions that stem from the human urge to know. We do intend to set such questions on a more positive track. We are also aware that, in this overview, there will be space only for highly generalized lines of thought; - but then, where else but here would that be allowed, in a field that discusses 'great', comprehensive and fundamental processes. We do not claim to ask or answer about things 'in the beginning'; we simply seek to set matters a little further back than is normally the case.

Since we are positing 'matter as such' as well as 'the dynamics of matter' and 'consciousness', let us also posit 'living' in some form as a basic given. We do not set any one of these above any other in the sense that one of them would rank higher than the others; we are not taking a specific philosophical stand. All are already present as far back as we are able to reach. But none of them, in the stage that we are reaching back to - and this is important - none appears in the condition then that we experience empirically now. The matter of 'Ur' matter is not that which we know as inanimate matter; its dynamic is therefore not an empirically experiential dynamic, living is not the narrowly defined living that we know, nor is consciousness the consciousness of that delimited living. Empirical experiential data require, as we have noted, transformation if they are to be perceived as cosmic data. We shall content ourselves with examining this transition from cosmic data to empirically experiential data.

We have said that actual, observable living comes into being together with so called non-living. Let us, all the same, glance briefly at the universe that comes into being without life and do so from a biocentric perspective. If we look at things from a non-biocentric view, we se the huge complex of heavenly mechanics as an impenetrable puzzle While it may be more or less fathomable in terms of its order, it is, on account of that very order, so impossible to grasp that philosophical thinking has throughout the ages, been moved to look for a world architect of that vast mechanism. Well, one should not, it would seem, be too hasty to call on the ultimate principle of all possibilities; problems then get answered too quickly and not satisfactorily. And what, then, about the line of thought that concerns living and its relationship to that huge world machine? Is that not relevant here? Cannot the puzzle of the origin of life itself be affected by the formation of the cosmos which does, at the least, have regions with functions that correspond to needs in living?

There arises the age old question regarding 'the first movement' and 'the origin of movement'. - a most reasonable question if the answers are all to be found in inanimate matter, an essential feature of which is inertia. True, movement is relative, so is rest. But, without entering into an analysis of those phenomena now, surely dynamic processes can be seen as real, to the extent that rest and movement can 'become'; one can surely also ask how the dynamic arose. Matter and movement are certainly connected to dynamic and there are certainly lifeless forces. Yet, might one not understand these as 'disturbances' within an original equilibrium? Might one see these, not as spontaneous, but rather as reactive? Impulses that seek to recreate something that had been actual earlier and that were 'spontaneously' disturbed? That original disturbance that set everything going cannot have been merely of a reactive nature; it has itself to have been derived from a spontaneous procedure. And is not living the prototype of spontaneity and of the original dynamic? A lifeless dynamic is but a recreated dynamic; and again, matter is essentially inert.

The thought comes to mind, and it seems worth considering, that it was one and the same cosmic impulse that both drove out the phenomena of active living from the diffuse, boundless worlds of world matter that was shot through with life, and into their ever more circumscribed state and that, in doing so, also provided the impetus for the birth and gradual assuming of form in the inanimate cosmos. A notion that we meet from time to time is that the highest and most sophisticated organism is a microcosm. With all its bizarre view of a simple system of correspondence between the organization of a body and the heavenly order, the notion does lead to a thought worth pondering: the most highly organized form of living does seem to be provided with the equipment to function together with all of the rest of nature, to hold within itself in an extract form all nature's substances and laws, a reflection of nature, as it were. The organism seems to be so fashioned that it can, unaided, adjust and in some measure adapt to unprecedented events that occur in its environment. It must somehow have anticipated such occurrences and taken them into account. The situation which the structure of a highly developed organism presents takes into account an endlessly complex external natural world. This would seem to point to the idea that both factors, the constituents of the body and those of the world must once, in whichever way or form, have been 'together'; the capacity to adapt would then be seen as a reasonable, natural outcome and not some capricious miracle.

How might one imagine that first, world-wide happening, a single action that impinged on the actual, empirically limited life and on an order of matter which served life on an inanimate cosmos, progressing thence to form and movement? What we witness is possibly the impact of a very fundamental phenomenon, division. That division releases movement in the mighty, potentially living 'Ur' matter. The release affects the inanimate cosmos, but thereby also prepares it for actual living.

We need to assume that everything that excludes empirical living, in terms of the location and substance of its being, would separate off. However, at the same time and taking into account considerations of space and distance in relation to that matter, living would not only not be excluded by the division; the division would be a condition for the existence of living; it would come from the very substance of living.

We may understand the event as the counterpart of something that theoretical physicists call 'entropy'; we find here a reversal of an equilibrium, a split relating to life and not merely a physical occurrence, - although, obviously, it in no way goes against the laws of physics.

The origin, or rather the initial phase of living is, according to this line of thinking, to be sought, not in micro organisms or 'seeds', to be found or born in the midst of inorganic substance, but rather in the boundless whole of cosmic world matter and space and in the world wide movements of its recurrent settling and resettling. Living did not need to be thought of as a force outside of physics and chemistry. It could be understood as ordered and structured into the entire cosmos that it permeates.

We may once again think in terms of a cosmic field. Its matter and substance are not driven to spread, as in physical processes, but rather to contract. Setting aside the notion that that combining process has its origin in the space of the whole world, we have, as it were, peeled off the view of something we call life, something that combines a sheer limitless wealth and chemical factors in an unimaginably sophisticated and highly specialized way within the smallest space.

In a real sense, life as we know it empirically comes into being at the boundless, narrow end, the tip of a skittle-like phenomenon, a process of ordering and rearranging that world matter undergoes. The origin of life, however, needs to be looked for in the vast, boundless regions; it has to relate to the entire substance of the cosmos. How might one imagine that huge field which can penetrate and control a microcosm? It would seem that any interpretation must needs follow the lines of the relation of an organism to its environment, even though at this point and in this area one cannot yet really speak of an organism as such nor, consequently, of an environment as such. We are here speaking of a narrower gathering of elements in the puzzle of living, taking place in stages, the result of conditions of heat and matter, whereby a surrounding area of matter and of physical conditions is set aside at each stage and remains as environment.

The initial happening of life begins together with the division of organism matter from environment matter, of organism conditions from environment conditions. Such a process of differentiation cannot have been restricted to any one section of the cosmos, since no section of the universe can be separate from or independent of the rest of the material world, either as regards the origin of substances or as regards the physical conditions that prevail there. The fact that life developed on earth is not conditional on the solar system, but on the entire universe. Moreover, the fact that the substances necessary for life to unfold are found on earth or reached earth posits the order of the entire cosmos and, in particular, the development of that specific order. And the development of that order means that the conditions required for the origin of life collected in stages within an even narrower space, such that the game of dice and probabilities regarding all factors proceeded with an ever increasing chance of getting the right combination, one that enables the birth of life. The format that living assumes prior to the birth of actual, empirically known life is the energy of movement and the formation of a 'field' that controls inanimate matter with which it is intimately connected - as are all energy processes with all so-called matter. But it does control the movement; it is not a vis vitalis.

Let us look briefly at that theoretical image, the now rather more complete result of movement and rest. At the highest point of the top end of the pyramid of life evident as empirical life is man, standing above the animal kingdom which, in turn, rests on the plant world, itself higher than the mineral world. The order continues in a downward spiral, spreading in a series of outer, environmental shells enveloping one another, thus allowing us to recognize the known order of the cosmos. The cosmos seen as environment is not less essential for empirical life than any single requirement for life, itself of course conditioned by that cosmos. The mineral world appears as the earth with an environment of the solar system, the environment of which is the Milky Way, the environment of which is the spiral of nebulae and all of the galactic systems.

Let us mention, incidentally, that this particular of the world's matter and space is by no means the only possible one, although it is the only 'natural' one, given the known laws of nature. The inevitable frequency of cosmic catastrophes in a different order does not rule out a possible assumption that 'blind' forces of nature might be ruling the world.

The presence of living, in terms of the cosmos and world matter in the order we have outlined, would show itself in the process of wandering world matter. Once the rightful order has been achieved, energy would be as little apparent here as any other energy once it has achieved its goal. Matter, once settled in its rightful place, would not show any sign of life; it is 'live', as it were, only during the course of its wandering to that rightful place.

The proposition that, in cosmic terms, organism and environment together build a living whole justifies the thought that one would always see the pre-form of an organism in the respectively closer and more favourable combination of elements at any given stage. The complex of physical elements, as e.g. the temperature of the sun in the zone that controls the organic element, both hinders life and is also, at a certain distance, essential to it. We understand that complex of physical elements to be the environment. Yet the process that forms life must surely begin with the exclusion of that which will become 'environment', it must begin at the outmost fringes, the unfrontiered regions of the universe. That consideration would lead us to set the initial phase of living one step further back than the mechanics and the thermodynamics of the cosmos, further back than its accidental and seemingly causeless prevailing conditions; the initial conditions would actually have a cause.

In this context we shall not stress the assumption that, from an epistemological point of view, the principle of living is better suited to a 'cause of its self' than is non-living. But the conditions which , we presume, prevailed at the beginning, the factors of movement and heat in a universe that is 'running down', are conditions that imply a beginning and a high point of a supply of energy, even though we may not, indeed we cannot take their physical origin into consideration. Such prevailing initial conditions would seem to call for a new line of explanation and suggested causes, one that would, of course, still have to conform to physical nature.

Such a new principle, at the same time physical and non-physical, can only be a source of movement, something that manifests itself physically and yet does not itself figure as a physical source of movement. And it must be sought not after but prior to the appearance of the early physical conditions for movement, distribution and temperature of matter. In whatever way we imagine the nature of this impulse, it would make the gathering of the world's red hot matter understandable. Whether we trace it back to some inequality in the control of direction of the various sections of cosmic space or whether we imagine that space to be connected to the distribution and type of matter, it is certain that any consideration of that source of movement must see it as very closely connected to the factor of time. The theory of relativity has taught us that cosmic time is not the same as our time; the vast amount of thinking that has resulted leads us to free cosmic notions of time from terrestrial conceptions.

Clearly, however, the terrestrial construct of a four dimensional world continuum entails a further complication if one is to emend the seemingly anthropomorphic notion of the irreversibility of time to include the physical world-all.

The unquestioned determination of the future by the past, whereby a later situation is dependant on an earlier one is, of course, very closely linked to the perspective of our consciousness. Yet it cannot simply be extended to situations of 'things as such' (an sich) or in the cosmos. There, the course of time must itself again be thought of as determined, in view of the circumstance that, in cosmic terms, time is not 'experienced'; it is already there. Living, however, is a typical manifestation of a dynamic determined by the future. Whereas gravity expresses determination in space of a distributive and motional nature, there is absent a determining cause of movement in matter in the perspective of a world dimension where the future is already present, a kind of gravity of time in matter and space. In the cosmic sense, this could be living, which might be defined as a reversal of direction in physicality.

We do not have to go counter to the laws that regulate physical events when the conduction and isolation of heat phenomena come together in the cosmos in a way aptly termed ectropy, under the influence of a dynamic, the dynamic of living, that does go counter, strictly speaking, to the laws that regulate the inanimate world without, however, cancelling these in any way. Tremendous heat at certain points of the universe, whether chemical or mechanical in origin, may correspond to extensive areas of deep-down movement of heat, huge centres of ember formed in an initial movement of heat, while in another region of distributed matter and motion vast areas may be left absolutely motionless. Clearly, the huge cosmic islands of living matter of being must be formed somewhere between those poles of gigantic reservoirs of heat and light and of seemingly world-wide cold, to assemble into world bodies which are far from anything we could term organisms, but which are yet more 'live' than 'Ur' matter was.

All of this cosmic movement represents an impulse in development of the kind witnessed in the development of life. For, to the extent that zones of ember heat and of cold are formed in accordance with an impulse of movement given by original life, a vast section of 'Ur'matter 'dies', namely those huge areas with physical conditions inimical to life. And the dying of one section, the largest section of the world, condenses and intensifies the living remainder, to the extent, that is, that empirical life is related to the quantity of living matter.

We can make a fundamental connection with one further significant moment that links the inanimate cosmos to its origin and the occurrence of life. There is a feature of cosmic systems derived from 'Ur'matter that exists prior to the differentiation into living and non-living. It is essentially connected to a feature of actual life, so that both features can be seen as modifications of one and the same principle known both in living and non-living and that is repetition. The cosmic system is dependent on repetition in constellations, on its cycles, while living in all of its phases is also closely linked to repetition and reflects it; not that it has adapted to it; it is adapted to it because the rhythms of the cosmos and of life have one and the same origin and because the cycles of the cosmos and of life are subject to one and the same order; not two, the one independent and the other dependent. Because empirically experienced living has reproduction in its essence and not as a result of adaptation. The turns and revolutions of cosmic bodies and the countless divisions and subdivisions of time on the one hand, only made possible by a return along given trajectories that lead back on themselves, and on the other hand repetition in living, from the circulation of the blood, breathing, sleeping, waking, chemical interchange, renewal of body cells to reproduction of a like individual; these not only have a direct biological connection, as in the change from light to darkness with waking and sleeping, because the one, life, has adapted to the other, the cosmos; they 'are' adapted, as already said, because one all-encompassing kind of life brought into being and brought about both of them.

The somewhat na´ve view, in the spirit of Aristotelian physics, that the circle is dominant in the superlunary sphere while in the sublunary region it is linear movement, has validity not only as a primitive view, but also as a tendency that characterizes views about nature in antiquity and in mythology, namely the tendency to make a link between human beings and the universe, i.e., to see human beings as having cosmic stature and rank. It is a view that has been discredited because of the confused nature that it read into the relationship of human beings to the cosmos. The confusion arises from a wholly uncritical application of human values such as 'beauty' and 'merit' when describing phenomena in nature, thus blurring the real situation. Thus, when Aristotle speaks of cyclical motion as 'most beautiful' or 'most meritorious', as it were deserving to rule in the heavenly sphere. And indeed, the meaning of the Greek word 'cosmos' was originally 'ornament', thus something beautiful.

While such human values cannot be systematically applied to natural categories, they can figure in the values of living and non-living; and the may well have been derived from the value categories of living. Leaving aside 'beauty' and 'merit' as somewhat unreliable intrusions, that still leaves that cycle as a basic figuration in the cosmos and in life, without any mystic analogy. The age-old idea of a whirl and a spiral appears in cosmogonic speculations and raises the possibility that the first impulse to movement in matter or in its conductors impelled by living ( which may, in essence, be what it seems to be phenomenologically, namely auto-movement) may have been an impulse to turn, emanating from a central point, from inside, a monad-like point that may have set matter in motion; that would explain temperatures of every possible extreme. It is possible to define living and, in a sense, energy activity in terms that measure quantity, such that activity in matter is left far behind. However, when we speak of the suggestion that the impulse to turn may have been the initial movement of the dividing motion of 'Ur' matter, we need also to remember that it is the process of concentration that leads to living.