Mankind and the Planet

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Mankind and the Planet, past, present and future Philosophical Speculations

Page 11


Whether one should designate the Whole of Reality as a 'non-empirical' entity and reserve the term 'empirical  for partial data of reality only is a matter of convention. Since, anyway, experience posits the Whole of Reality, which it takes to be the horizon or the borderland of experience, including unknown reality – it makes no difference whether this is seen as belonging to experience in a wider sense or not – one can regard the realm of  experience without unknown reality as the empirical domain proper; we then take the realm of experience in its wider sense, including the unknown reality, which we know  exists, to be the domain of cosmic experience, the whole of reality. Unlike the empirical domain proper, cosmic experience cannot be described as explorable by methods of observation and induction. It requires systematic construction. But that systematic construction is much wider and far more varied than what was previously called metaphysics. Nor is it unambiguously 'a priori'. This is not the place to enter into methods of dealing with the Whole of Reality. While the concept of the Divine, in a primary sense, has been related to a part of reality, namely to the existence of mankind, that concept  must extend to its conventional connotation,, namely to the whole of reality. Mankind is one essential element in the concept of a Divine reality. In a mankind-less universe, a necessary step, a stage in forming a concept of the Divine would be missing. (The argument from design implies reason, the essential property of man; the nous implies the reasonable being, man.) Mankind is the only phenomenon in the world  that allows the Divine to be reached in some empirical way. However, it is only one prominent manifestation of the Divine that is  encountered by mankind, not the whole.  When considering its relationship to mankind, one can only fathom the true range of the whole content of the concept of the Divine in terms of its confrontation with the whole of reality. To think this through, one would need to proceed to far more general cosmological principles.  One would have to say:

1. The whole of reality cannot be taken as having the same time characteristics as an empirical aspect of  reality that is seen from a partial angle (an ego). Time is indeed a perspective-phenomenon, but it is not exclusively a perspective phenomenon.

2. Whatever happens in any one area of the whole of reality is, in an anticipatory way, implied in that whole. The level of the whole is as least that of the highest of its parts (high is used with reference to differentiation, power, enjoyment); in fact, the whole stands higher, since  it provides the conditions for the coming about of parts.

3.The entire evolution of the universe, including the highest point to be reached by mankind in the future, is anticipated in the time – or timelessness – aspect of the whole of reality.

4. The whole of reality is not conceived adequately by a mental picture that results if life, not spatial matter,  is taken as the pattern directing the universe; that picture has an immense pyramid, the lower and fundamental strata of which are formed by the masses of galactic matter, narrowing as it rises to the upper strata until it reaches into the solar system, with earth at the apex;  the complex of life on earth would be the tip or 'fruit'.  The picture would not be altered or affected in any way by the assumption that life exists on spots other than earth, always providing that its occurrence is seen as tiny in comparison to non-living matter.  That, as it were, static picture of 'all that exists', albeit defensible  from the point of of view of life as the essence of the world, is incomplete in the framework of time.

The whole process of the origins of this structure needs to be represented in a way that shows that its most remote, final end was already contained in its beginnings. Nothing can 'originate' that, in a cosmic sense,  'is' not; nothing can evolve that was not involved. A state of affairs must, therefore, be presented in which the world process exists in a kind of anticipated existence ( about which a few explanatory remarks will be given below) without  becoming a superfluous hypostasis, because the source of the process is the free, chance play of possibilities – and not empirically conscious purpose. As I have already explained, if the possibilities are such that they contain  the significant possibility, i.e., if they are not infinitely arbitrary  and lawless, but definite, the chance play is itself an 'arrangement'.  If the world process is anticipated and if its possibilities are such as to yield the significant possibility as realised, given unlimited time, the world, in so far as it has definiteness, is still 'arranged'; definiteness and being arranged coincide if a significant possibility is contained  in the definite possibilities. Definiteness, ultimately, presupposes an ontological sphere of indefiniteness. This may be compared to the infinite reality as expounded in the system of Oskar Goldberg in his book, Die Wirklichkeit der Hebraer.

All these aspects of the whole of reality, the indefiniteness which is the existential place of the complement  to the definite possibilities and entities (the complement being that which is excluded by their definiteness). the anticipated kind of existence of the world process which is responsible for the adjustment of the possibilities in a way such that the significant one can emerge, all this constitutes the 'space', in a higher sense,  of the universe in all its distinctness, including its time and space.  In short, it is the place  of the universe, it is the Divine in its cosmic aspect, i.e., in the aspect in which God embraces and comprises the world.  There is a Hebrew tradition that one of the names of God is  ha makom , 'the place', - namely of the world with its space and time. Spinoza has a similar view, although we would not endorse his conception of the Divine as it stands.

As to the concept of anticipation, there could be two ways in which a real thing or process is anticipated: 1. subjectively, in someone's mind as an idea, urge desire or purpose 2. implied, as in a potential energy stage, where a later, manifest effect is predicated in an earlier manifest stage. Now, a psychic event can hardly be imagined  as implied in a radically non-psychic entity; nor can a radically non-psychic thing or event be imagined as implied in a radically non-a-psychic entity. Since mind and matter obviously belong to an empirical, i.e., partial perspective and are not adequate, at least in their familiar form, to the unperspectified nature of the whole of reality in and of itself, (this is not completely beyond the reach of knowledge, as Kant has argued), the kind of anticipation to be conceived has to be  in a medium that is beyond a separation but still within time, an 'urge' or 'desire' in an unconscious but psychic sense that coincides with a 'potential energy stage' ( the psychic stage, however, must not be taken to denote matter in its empirical state).The Platonic scheme of an eternal, timeless existence of archetypes seems too simple; several ontological spheres that are   actually distinct  from one another, overlap and blend into a single 'timeless immateriality' contrasted with the empirical realm.

However, as the scheme of reality widens and as both the ontological time-order and the realm of timelessness are assumed and kept separate, outside of the empirical time aspects, the cosmological structure seems increasingly free of self-contradictions ( though less appealing in terms of simplicity).  Time and process exist and are objective, even if they are outside of the range of vision of time-bound minds. The world, objectively, is in the making.  The sphere of 'timelessness' is not apparent as soon or as immediately once the point of view of the 'observer' is abandoned as it is in the natural sciences.  In other word, timelessness can not be construed unless we also take into consideration  the mind-like and life-like elements  in the non-empirical view of reality. The world does not 'stand still' as soon as the perspective of an empirical observer is left out; only the time aspect changes. This could be the only legitimate consequence of relativity.  Timelessness, therefore, requires a higher degree of abstraction than observation does; consequently, its construction leads to an ontological realm that is more remote than that which results  from 'rectified', objectified or universalised observation.

The sphere of timelessness thus 'precedes', or rather underlies  the stage in which the world  is conceived of as running.  There is, apart from a subjective perspective,  an objective 'earlier' and 'later' even though it may not lend itself to exact observational determination. However, the objective status, 'earlier' does hold good  even in the empirical  domain  if, that is, the qualitative state is taken into account.  Life, for example, cannot originate in any part of the universe where the temperature is above a certain degree of heat. Now, if we assume that there are parts that have cooled down  sufficiently for life to have been able to develop there, it can objectively be stated that the event of life originating must, objectively, be taking place 'later' than, say, the glowing stage of those parts of the universe. If several cosmic events at different locations, measured from different observer positions, are compared in terms of time, an objective time order could yet be obtained if the inherent successiveness of the stages of a development ( as e.g., heat and evolution of life) is taken into account. Moreover, a comparison of lines from earlier to later based on an inherent successiveness and related to one another (as e.g., in the case of a cosmic body splitting into two parts that have differing biographies and are marked by a differing inherent successiveness) must show a margin of simultaneity that leads to an assumption of an exact though not determinable simultaneity - as, for instance, that I may conclude when seeing a grown up man that he must have been a child, although I may not be able to fix the exact date of any point in that childhood.

In other words, while time is connected to moving bodies, the concept of the body itself is not fixed. Although the concept of motion varies as one passes from finite, common sense bodies to the universe as a whole, there is still an intermediate stage when the material universe can be considered as one coherent body that undergoes internal  changes, i.e., the movement of its particles; it develops as a whole while remaining in time, though not in partial time, not in the time of its parts.

There is no physical timelessness.  Timelessness is an attribute of the Divine or of the ultimate whole of reality as such, not of the material universe that includes life and mind, nor of a mental universe as such.