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Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective 
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 Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective


Please use this thread to discuss this chapter.


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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
Given the ethnocentric superiority complex that so many people have, it is no wonder that so many of our fellow humans still believe that the universe revolves around them. A cosmic perspective would bring us to the realization that we are only here on this planet because of a series of fortunate coincidences. A cosmic perspective would also provide insights enabling us to feel at one with the rest of the planet and perhaps get past the cultural and political differences that so divide us today.

If I'm sounding a little mushy, it's likely because Tyson's message overlaps so naturally with the book I just finished reading, Robert Wright's Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment.

I'll be making a case for this book as our next non-fiction choice. And thanks, geo for mentioning it last September.



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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
LevV wrote:
Given the ethnocentric superiority complex that so many people have, it is no wonder that so many of our fellow humans still believe that the universe revolves around them. A cosmic perspective would bring us to the realization that we are only here on this planet because of a series of fortunate coincidences. A cosmic perspective would also provide insights enabling us to feel at one with the rest of the planet and perhaps get past the cultural and political differences that so divide us today.

If I'm sounding a little mushy, it's likely because Tyson's message overlaps so naturally with the book I just finished reading, Robert Wright's Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment.

I'll be making a case for this book as our next non-fiction choice. And thanks, geo for mentioning it last September.



You cannot go beyond what evolution has granted you. Your conceptual and perceptual abilities are inextricably tied to your immediate environment. As such, your behavior is governed accordingly.

Your "cosmic perspective" is poetic language, but in essence just wishful thinking.

Tyson get's way over his head when he attempts philosophy, which, I might add, he too believe is dead.



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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
ant wrote:
Tyson get's way over his head when he attempts philosophy, which, I might add, he too believe is dead.

I agree that Tyson is over his head, and spouts much drivel here. This is just John Lennon's "Imagine" (or T.H. White's lessons from Merlin to Arthur, in "Sword in the Stone") spun out in a hope for science to fill some role that religion doesn't anymore (if it ever did).

I am all for a universalistic moral perspective, and certainly getting people over their desperately self-centered natural perspective is a key part of that. It has not been my experience that "science buffs" have managed the trick - much more common is to find people claiming that science backs their selfish perspective and so they are right and everyone else is wrong.

ant wrote:
Your "cosmic perspective" is poetic language, but in essence just wishful thinking.
I think it is actually a real thing. Going back at least to "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds" science has provided many people with a sense of some meaning larger than themselves, and independent of power plays by the clever and the ruthless.

But I think NDT is overly optimistic, in promoting his perspective, apparently hoping that everyone who sees this displacement from being the center of the universe will then become humanist benefactors of humanity. There is no obvious reason why it would not lead just as easily to their becoming Harley-Davidson fans or taking up ice fishing.



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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
Harry Marks wrote:
I am all for a universalistic moral perspective, and certainly getting people over their desperately self-centered natural perspective is a key part of that. It has not been my experience that "science buffs" have managed the trick - much more common is to find people claiming that science backs their selfish perspective and so they are right and everyone else is wrong.
The problem of perspective in science arises from a philosophical issue termed the the subject-object split. Rational empirical method requires objective distancing from matters under investigation, whereas the religious attitude of connection to the world relies more on intuition. One philosophy paper exploring these themes is at https://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Cont/ContCuce.htm

Kant investigated this problem for philosophy with his so-called ‘reverse Copernican Revolution’, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant/#KanCopRev demanding that objects conform to cognition, that experience conform to laws of necessary truth. The Newtonian shift from the Ptolemaic geocentric model had displaced humanity from the centre of scientific concern. Kant put man right back in the middle, by making mind the measure of meaning. But in modern science there has been a rejection of Kant, with British Empiricism based on Hume largely accepting the logical positivist argument that there is no meaning outside science.

Modern astronomy, typified by Carl Sagan’s observation of human insignificance against the immensity of space and time, has humbled man through Sagan’s image of the pale blue dot, the Voyager 1 photo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot of our planet from past Saturn, a symbolic framework accepted by Tyson.

But rather than overcoming the conceits of selfish assumptions, the astronomy of Sagan and Tyson itself generates its own mythology. Modern astronomy offers no way for humanity to connect to the cosmos except observation. The old geocentric idea of as above so below saw humans as meaningful parts of a coherent whole, whereas the timeframes of the Big Bang and the distances of cosmic expansion are too big for human connection.


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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
ant wrote:
LevV wrote:
Given the ethnocentric superiority complex that so many people have, it is no wonder that so many of our fellow humans still believe that the universe revolves around them. A cosmic perspective would bring us to the realization that we are only here on this planet because of a series of fortunate coincidences. A cosmic perspective would also provide insights enabling us to feel at one with the rest of the planet and perhaps get past the cultural and political differences that so divide us today.

If I'm sounding a little mushy, it's likely because Tyson's message overlaps so naturally with the book I just finished reading, Robert Wright's Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment.

I'll be making a case for this book as our next non-fiction choice. And thanks, geo for mentioning it last September.



You cannot go beyond what evolution has granted you. Your conceptual and perceptual abilities are inextricably tied to your immediate environment. As such, your behavior is governed accordingly.

Your "cosmic perspective" is poetic language, but in essence just wishful thinking.

Tyson get's way over his head when he attempts philosophy, which, I might add, he too believe is dead.

Can we not "go beyond what evolution has granted" us? Just what has evolution granted us? Maybe to some degree the ability to go beyond our survival needs, as paradoxical as that may sound? I grant that the whole question is profound and difficult. Perhaps faith institutions, in their many forms, are the only way we've devised to escape the confines of ego (not that these institutions don't seem to sometimes create their own problems--maddening!).

When I hear people talk about universal perspective in regard to saving the earth, I sometimes want to call "bullshit" (and then I feel bad for thinking it). I do doubt our ability, because of natural selection, to act for the greater welfare in that sense. We think we can have it both ways, meet our own needs and desires while saving resources and species and preserving the climate, but this could be a big delusion, a sop to our conscience. The problem seems to be that in large part, the things we want are good in themselves--ability to travel where we want, give everyone a good standard of living, conquer our diseases, etc. But all of this is, after all, only for us and inevitably impinges on the rest of the environment. So I'm conflicted on the problem you raised, as I often am.



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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
Is the term ‘Cosmic Perspective’ the same in meaning as ‘cosmic consciousness ‘ ? Elizabethan cosmic consciousness was explained as a pyramid with God at the top and then humans, animals, etc to the base which sort of held the whole thing up. Then gradually, after the Victorians, the concept changed to humans at the apex and God sort of permeating the whole. I seem to be a bit stuck with this concept. Once you lose the idea that God is a kindly old gent who answers our supplications like The genie in the lamp, and think of God being a state to work towards, it becomes quite a seductive mind set, even if, like me, you have a bit of a crush on Richard Dawkins.


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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
Mr. Tulip has stated that until science and non-religious people come up with a myth or story with the power to counteract the force of religious or supernatural paradigms, they will never make significant progress in that arena. Toward that end, NDT is on to something with The Cosmic Perspective. As a cosmologist, he focuses on astronomical scales. This could be improved by increasing the human connection to this perspective.

If the astronomical scale is too cold and brings feelings of insignificance, NDT also attempts to provide a human connection. Yes, the molecules in our bodies come from star dust. "We do not simply live in this universe. The universe lives within us." But he also mentions "No way around it: some of the water you just drank passed through the kidneys of Socrates, Genghis Khan, and Joan of Arc." This is one aspect of The Cosmic Perspective that should receive more emphasis. Perhaps making the time frame current would help. Consider the water in your morning coffee may have, for example, been aerated in the waterfalls of Iguazu on the day you were born and may become part of a cloud floating past Annapurna this spring.

"...I learned in biology class that more bacteria live and work in one centimeter of my colon than the number of people who have ever existed in the world."
NDT is very impressed with numbers. Yes there are more non-human cells in the body than human, but he missed a chance to discuss how the human body includes a life sustaining symbiosis between human systems and non-human bacteria.
Quote:
From that day on, I began to think of people not as the masters of space and time but as participants in a great cosmic chain of being, with a direct genetic link across species both living and extinct, extending back nearly four billion years to the earliest single-celled organisms on Earth.

This unbroken tree of life is another aspect of The Cosmic Perspective that should be emphasized. Again, more detail could be added and the timeline could be made more current. Any break in your ancestry - someone killed 100 years ago (or 50,000 years ago) prior to procreation - you would not exist. Similarly, consider the millions of descendents of victims of recent mass shootings who will never exist.

Once thought to be a higher level function, humans and animals are not the only life forms that communicate. Bacteria communicate on a global scale as we discussed in The Global Brain many years ago. Trees in a forest communicate through fungi and root systems.

The molecular water cycle, bacterial symbiosis, the unbroken chain of the tree of life, and communication networks all the way down to the bacterial level are some examples of radical interdependence that is rarely perceived in daily life. (Buddhists expand this concept to one of inter-being, where humans are so dependent on deep time and global processes that the concept of a discrete self becomes an illusion, but we don't need to go there. Yet.) These add a warmer human connection to stark considerations of 100 billion galaxies in a 14 billion year old visible universe.

The Cosmic Perspective is not a philosophy. It is a recitation of non-controversial facts providing an expanded perspective on how humans relate to deep space, deep time, and critical interdependence from molecular to cellular to global levels. As Mr. Tulip and NDT imply, if a compelling human-centric myth or story arises from all this, it may inspire improved human thought and behavior. This will take time; changing to a cosmic perspective, let's check progress in say 300 years.



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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
Penelope wrote:
Is the term ‘Cosmic Perspective’ the same in meaning as ‘cosmic consciousness ‘ ? Elizabethan cosmic consciousness was explained as a pyramid with God at the top and then humans, animals, etc to the base which sort of held the whole thing up. Then gradually, after the Victorians, the concept changed to humans at the apex and God sort of permeating the whole. I seem to be a bit stuck with this concept. Once you lose the idea that God is a kindly old gent who answers our supplications like The genie in the lamp, and think of God being a state to work towards, it becomes quite a seductive mind set, even if, like me, you have a bit of a crush on Richard Dawkins.


Hi Penelope, Happy New Year.

The Great Chain of Being by Lovejoy explores this idea of cosmic consciousness, which is quite controversial in scientific circles due to its perceived conflict with the theory of evolution, and politically due to its historic racism and support for existing hierarchies.

A cosmic perspective is quite different, as for astronomy it involves the mind experiment of seeking to think from the perspective of the universe, recognising the immensity of space and time compared to human perspectives.


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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
Happy New Year Robert Tulip and all!!

It does seem a naive sort of question, Cosmic Consciousness as opposed to Cosmic Perspective. I suppose Cosmic Consciousness is/was just a belief and Cosmic Perspective is proven science. I really can't get my head around the numbers involved, which doesn't really depress me, it just leads me to feel slight disinterest. I'm thinking what a kind man Tyson sounds. I like him, and I wish I could get more involved emotionally. It's science Penelope, I tell myself, it isn't about emotions, you twit.

The trouble is, computers are so much better at numbers and science......they are rubbish, however, at empathy.

I have nearly finished the book but I don't feel I have brought much to it intellectually. I mean I have done a lot of mental exclamation marks.......like.....Corr!!! and Blimey!!!

I am reading a couple by D Z Phillips - One called Recovering Religious Concepts and and second one is called Can Religion be Explained Away? They are studies in Philosophy and I find I can get absorbed, although neither book belongs to me. They are ones which my boss sent for me to put on the Internet for sale, and they are quite pricey for modern books, so I'm reading them very gingerly.

It's good to try to balance out Philosophy with Science, I think.


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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
I cannot find the 'Thank Post' button to thank Robert Tulip and Llandroid for their kind replies. I do appreciate and thank you again.


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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
LanDroid wrote:
Mr. Tulip has stated that until science and non-religious people come up with a myth or story with the power to counteract the force of religious or supernatural paradigms, they will never make significant progress in that arena.
Yes, this cry for myth is a universal problem in psychology, well analysed by TS Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. People are happy to live with anomalies in their paradigm when the critics are perceived as only making negative criticisms and don’t have anything positive and clear and coherent and superior to offer. The problem of myth was well explained by Plato in The Republic, that generating popular vision requires philosopher kings to produce a fantasy that will resonate with mass interest. The challenge is to take on board facts like those adumbrated by Tyson and turn them into a theory of value, producing a coherent explanation of how everything connects together from most important to least.
LanDroid wrote:
Toward that end, NDT is on to something with The Cosmic Perspective. As a cosmologist, he focuses on astronomical scales. This could be improved by increasing the human connection to this perspective.
I have to confess, much as I like and admire Tyson, I find his analysis frustrating. I am mostly familiar with the astronomical facts that he lists, but I just don’t think he does a very good job of putting those facts into a coherent theory of value to construct a persuasive and compelling paradigm, which is the only interesting thing in philosophy. My view on how to do that is that the astronomical aeon of billions of years has to be used as a lens to also discuss shorter aeons, lasting millions or thousands of years. That is how to connect astronomy, geology and history.
LanDroid wrote:

If the astronomical scale is too cold and brings feelings of insignificance, NDT also attempts to provide a human connection. Yes, the molecules in our bodies come from star dust. "We do not simply live in this universe. The universe lives within us." But he also mentions "No way around it: some of the water you just drank passed through the kidneys of Socrates, Genghis Khan, and Joan of Arc." This is one aspect of The Cosmic Perspective that should receive more emphasis. Perhaps making the time frame current would help. Consider the water in your morning coffee may have, for example, been aerated in the waterfalls of Iguazu on the day you were born and may become part of a cloud floating past Annapurna this spring.
That mention of stardust reminds me, as I may have said before, of a conversation I had with the famous evangelical theologian NT Wright when he visited Canberra more than a decade ago. Wright attacked Joni Mitchell for propounding the false Gnostic idea that ‘we are starlight’, and I pointed out to him that her Aquarian song Woodstock actually involves the correct scientific observation that we are stardust, as Tyson so clearly explains.

Where these ideas get interesting for me is when people link them coherently to mad old books like the Upanishads, which develop seemingly crazy ideas like ‘all is one’ and ‘thou art that’. I have the impression that most astronomers look on these type of Vedic philosophies with considerable disdain, scorn and even fear, worried that talking about philosophy seems too mystical. That is where books like the conversation between Pauli and Jung can help open the dialogue on the psychological assumptions about the relation between fact and value, science and philosophy. Heidegger also usefully explores the foundation of the unity of all things in his analysis of Parmenides' dictum that reality is timeless, uniform, necessary, and unchanging.

Tyson’s point that the universe lives in us needs to be connected to human perspectives, such as to the old myth that we are made in the image of God, an idea whose real meaning is that human brains are where the universe reflects on itself, mirroring existing facts of perception through orderly conceptual systems of symbols. Unfortunately, analysing such mythological language from Genesis seems to be out of bounds for Tyson due to its cultural associations with supernatural faith, which he only approaches with a condescending superior tone.
LanDroid wrote:
"...I learned in biology class that more bacteria live and work in one centimeter of my colon than the number of people who have ever existed in the world." NDT is very impressed with numbers. Yes there are more non-human cells in the body than human, but he missed a chance to discuss how the human body includes a life sustaining symbiosis between human systems and non-human bacteria.
One of the best books I read last year was Gut by Giulia Enders https://www.amazon.com/Giulia-Enders/e/ ... sr=1-2-ent She converted me to daily probiotic powder in a glass of cold water before I eat anything. It has done wonders for my digestion. Our gut is our second brain. Apparently, squat toilets prevent haemorrhoids.
LanDroid wrote:
Quote:
From that day on, I began to think of people not as the masters of space and time but as participants in a great cosmic chain of being, with a direct genetic link across species both living and extinct, extending back nearly four billion years to the earliest single-celled organisms on Earth.

This unbroken tree of life is another aspect of The Cosmic Perspective that should be emphasized. Again, more detail could be added and the timeline could be made more current.
Per the link I shared in reply to Penelope, I get the impression that Tyson seems blithely unaware of quite big currents in the history of ideas, including how this concept of the great chain of being is central to a highly controversial supernatural theory. Re-purposing the chain of being for an evolutionary description of the tree of life has an element of irony.
LanDroid wrote:
Any break in your ancestry - someone killed 100 years ago (or 50,000 years ago) prior to procreation - you would not exist.

Dawkins noted the analytic statement of pure genetic logic that all ancestors have had descendants.
LanDroid wrote:

Once thought to be a higher level function, humans and animals are not the only life forms that communicate. Bacteria communicate on a global scale as we discussed in The Global Brain many years ago. Trees in a forest communicate through fungi and root systems.
Yes, the wood wide web is a good illustration of the connections that people can perceive as mystic unity, explained as how trees use subtle chemical signalling.
LanDroid wrote:
The molecular water cycle, bacterial symbiosis, the unbroken chain of the tree of life, and communication networks all the way down to the bacterial level are some examples of radical interdependence that is rarely perceived in daily life. (Buddhists expand this concept to one of inter-being, where humans are so dependent on deep time and global processes that the concept of a discrete self becomes an illusion, but we don't need to go there. Yet.) These add a warmer human connection to stark considerations of 100 billion galaxies in a 14 billion year old visible universe.
Going there, it is absurd for mystics to assert that the individual self is not real. And yet, the point they are making has some validity, in that people routinely hold delusional beliefs about personal identity, and these false beliefs become sources of suffering. It is not the concept of self or ego as such that is an illusion, but rather specific false ignorant beliefs that people have around what their ego is, such as that they are not connected to everything else, or that they will go to heaven or hell for ever after death based on their opinions on specific dogmas. Jung had some interesting comments around this topic of the relation between the ego and the id.
LanDroid wrote:
The Cosmic Perspective is not a philosophy.
Unfortunately, that is precisely the exact contradictory fallacy and oxymoron inherent in Tyson’s entire perspective and philosophy. A philosophy is a viewpoint. Your point of view is your perspective, framing your perceptions with your conceptual assumptions. As Kant said, perceptions without concepts are blind. So the traumatised hyper-modern argument that we can do away with all perspective is a profound myth. Anyone who says their own opinion is just facts and not philosophy is in thrall to la belle dame sans merci.
LanDroid wrote:
It is a recitation of non-controversial facts providing an expanded perspective on how humans relate to deep space, deep time, and critical interdependence from molecular to cellular to global levels.
Ha! These facts are "non-controversial" only among those who share the assumptions of Tyson’s value system based in evidence and logic with its de-centred universal transcendental imagination. Facts never “provide” a perspective until they are sorted into a systematic conceptual scheme. Tyson shows how controversial these facts from objective astronomy are by his constant digs at Donald Trump.
LanDroid wrote:
As Mr. Tulip and NDT imply, if a compelling human-centric myth or story arises from all this, it may inspire improved human thought and behavior. This will take time; changing to a cosmic perspective, let's check progress in say 300 years.
Unfortunately we do not have three centuries to wait. As the Walrus said, the sea will boil this century without a profound paradigm shift.

Tyson is patronising toward the old idea that earth is unique, even though we have not yet found any evidence for life elsewhere. Then he uses this patronising stance to justify the mad idea of other universes, another piece of useless speculation that only diverts us from understanding our real universe.

He uses the cosmic perspective to support the growing religious movement of people who say they are spiritual but not religious. As the contradiction inherent in that idea illustrates, a non-religious religion, the better approach is to identify the errors in specific religions without making the sweeping assumption that religion can be abolished.

Religion is the effort to connect humans to the absolute. The modern atheist faith that we can abolish religion conceals the assumption that there is no way to connect to the absolute.

Tyson wants us to grasp the large and the small in the same thought, although he does not seem to find the Goldilocks path to this objective through the medium sized.

He says the universe is not a benevolent cradle, even though that is exactly what the universe has provided for our planet through four billion years of orbital stability and fecundity.


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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
Penelope wrote:
Once you lose the idea that God is a kindly old gent who answers our supplications like The genie in the lamp, and think of God being a state to work towards, it becomes quite a seductive mind set,
Marvelous. I might add that God is the working, as well as the goal, but that is fairly minor. Once a person has made the transition from kindly old wish-granter (or implacable judge) the rest is easy.



Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:15 am
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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
Robert Tulip wrote:
Kant investigated this problem for philosophy [the subject-object split] with his so-called ‘reverse Copernican Revolution’, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant/#KanCopRev demanding that objects conform to cognition, that experience conform to laws of necessary truth. The Newtonian shift from the Ptolemaic geocentric model had displaced humanity from the centre of scientific concern. Kant put man right back in the middle, by making mind the measure of meaning. But in modern science there has been a rejection of Kant, with British Empiricism based on Hume largely accepting the logical positivist argument that there is no meaning outside science.
Kant's mode of processing, with "a priori" modes of understanding such matters as time, seems to me not to have held up very well. Scientific investigation has uncovered matters that our nervous system treats as given which are not, in fact, true, such as time being absolute and causality being strictly sequential.

However, it is not clear to me why modern sophistication should have any strong implications for "meaning" which I take to be tied inextricably to "mattering", i.e. to values. In fact I don't see any way of escaping from a sort of Kantian "a priori" meaning of fairness. Our nervous systems are wired to detect unfair behavior, when it happens to us. Thus we experience a kind of dislocation from being the center of everything when we recognize unfair behavior happening to others, or even unfair behavior we have ourselves inflicted.

Even though I frequently oppose the "relativist" approach to right and wrong, I don't see how the world of values could be said to be independent of sentient perception and sentient thought about that perception. With our a priori sense of fairness we make deductions about what that "means" and this is the basis of knowing right from wrong. Other values work similarly: we have innate perceptions of importance, modified by logic and linkages with perceived causality (much of this structure coming from others around us).

So I am left unsure what either science or logical positivism gives us in the way of meaning. Maybe it plays a role a bit like relativity or quantum mechanics, helping us to sort out boundary situations foreign to experience (of ourselves and our compatriots), but having little to say about meaning in ordinary life.

On the other hand, the experience of dislocation of meaning from self is central to a more abstract, less visceral sense of fairness and right. Similarly, we generally value a broad sense of values, including in esthetics, based on principles rather than on direct emotional reaction. The distance created by reason helps to give a values system based in philosophically sound meaning structures, rather than self-centered gut feelings. Science doesn't automatically give that, but I have a sense that it contributes significantly to such distance.

In the extreme case removal of self as even a reference point for values seems, almost paradoxically, to come not from reason but from direct mystical experience. Mystics often take the distinction between "good" and "bad" to be artificial (though I prefer the taoist formulation that the shadow is intermingled with the bright, eye-catching aspects of life) as well as distinctions like "us" and "them" and even subject and object. But this is based on highly subjective experiences of "the unity of everything", which are similar in emotional impact to the crashing of ego boundaries when someone falls in love.

Both orientations, the experience of total unity and the intervention of reason, can lead to values that are subtly counter-intuitive. We may even overturn basic, socially prevalent understandings, for example with a rejection of capital punishment based on either reason or a dramatic identification with the criminal. I'm willing to grant that science and its impersonal approach has a healthy role to play in creating a richer understanding of the connections between cause and effect that inform our sense of meaning. I just don't accept NDT's inference that the link is automatic.

Robert Tulip wrote:
But rather than overcoming the conceits of selfish assumptions, the astronomy of Sagan and Tyson itself generates its own mythology. Modern astronomy offers no way for humanity to connect to the cosmos except observation. The old geocentric idea of as above so below saw humans as meaningful parts of a coherent whole, whereas the timeframes of the Big Bang and the distances of cosmic expansion are too big for human connection.
Agreed that scale is a barrier to proper mythical connections. I think Tyson (like Dawkins) does a little "as above so below" himself, suggesting for example that insignificance in the factual account of the astrophysical universe corresponds to appropriate humility by individuals in the social structure. (Dawkins' myth-making is even more complex).

In the end, both scientism and scholasticism fail to make connections that hold up to careful examination. They may resonate, especially with people who are concerned with the same questions as the writer, but they don't do a good job of approximating the true structure in our sense of meaning.



Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:51 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 12: Reflections on the Cosmic Perspective
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LanDroid wrote:
The Cosmic Perspective is not a philosophy.
Unfortunately, that is precisely the exact contradictory fallacy and oxymoron inherent in Tyson’s entire perspective and philosophy. A philosophy is a viewpoint. Your point of view is your perspective, framing your perceptions with your conceptual assumptions. As Kant said, perceptions without concepts are blind. So the traumatised hyper-modern argument that we can do away with all perspective is a profound myth. Anyone who says their own opinion is just facts and not philosophy is in thrall to la belle dame sans merci.
LanDroid wrote:
It is a recitation of non-controversial facts providing an expanded perspective on how humans relate to deep space, deep time, and critical interdependence from molecular to cellular to global levels.
Ha! These facts are "non-controversial" only among those who share the assumptions of Tyson’s value system based in evidence and logic with its de-centred universal transcendental imagination. Facts never “provide” a perspective until they are sorted into a systematic conceptual scheme. Tyson shows how controversial these facts from objective astronomy are by his constant digs at Donald Trump.

Very interesting as usual Mr. Tulip, but I don't agree with the above. Tyson is certainly not doing away with all perspective, he is detailing a new one. Facts such as we're a minute part of 1 galaxy out of 100 billion galaxies stretches one's perspective. That perspective may alter one's philosophy or not, but it has nothing to do with Donald Trump. As I recall, NDT criticizes Trump mainly for his stances on science. If you don't like those opinions, that has nothing to do with facts regarding the immense scope of time and space. Which specific facts do you dispute?

Mr. Tulip wrote:
Tyson is patronising toward the old idea that earth is unique, even though we have not yet found any evidence for life elsewhere. Then he uses this patronising stance to justify the mad idea of other universes, another piece of useless speculation that only diverts us from understanding our real universe.

Tyson is fighting the ancient idea that the earth is the center of the universe. Obviously with at least 100 billion planets in our galaxy alone, the earth is not unique. We may never detect life on other planets even if it exists, but that doesn't mean our planet is unique let alone the center of the universe.

I don't think Tyson incorporates them into The Cosmic Perspective, but multiple universes are not a mad idea. There are some aspects of quantum mechanics that not only allow for multiverses, but actually require them to fully explain certain phenomena. You might want to check out The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. As I recall he describes about nine different theories of multiverses.
Quote:
Modern astronomy offers no way for humanity to connect to the cosmos except observation.

Perhaps, but The Cosmic Perspective goes well beyond astronomy. As I pointed out before, "The molecular water cycle, bacterial symbiosis, the unbroken chain of the tree of life, and communication networks all the way down to the bacterial level are some examples of radical interdependence that is rarely perceived in daily life. ... These add a warmer human connection to stark considerations of 100 billion galaxies in a 14 billion year old visible universe."



Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:10 pm
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