II. Pedia Sapiens: A Planetary Progeny Comes to Her/His Own Actual Factual Knowledge
4. Whole World Philosophy: An Ubuntu Universe
May, Todd. A Significant Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. Unfortunately, no such occasion or option is possible, except for an existential muddle. A Clemson University philosopher typifies the abysmal bankruptcy and despair of postmodern academic endeavor and discourse.
Many of us would have preferred that the universe welcomed us as awaited ones. We would have preferred our humanity to be etched into the nature of things as an imprimatur that gives it – and us – significance. But things are not like that. The universe is silent. We are not anointed, we are not awaited, and we are not welcomed. As Darwin has taught us, we are evolutionary contingencies. Nothing led to our existence except the changing character of the nonhuman environment. We are cosmic accidents. (175)
McLeish, Tom. The Poetry and Music of Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. The York University, UK, Chair of Natural Philosophy, a newly created position to recover in the 21st century this original Newtonian pursuit, in regard considers ways to join artistic and scientific creativities. This revived two culture synthesis of “emotion and reason” can aspire to a “cortical lateralization” per Iain McGilchrist (2009) so as to join right and left brain complements in holistic unison.
Ubuntu and Harmony: An African Approach.
Ronald Nicolson, ed.
Persons in Community: African Ethics in a Global Culture.
Scottsville, RSA: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2008.
A University of KwaZulu-Natal psychologist proposes an African morality and ethics founded upon a scale of spiritual beings, God’s essence or life force, the principle of cosmic unity and balance, and the communal, relational nature of selves.
Namazi, Hamidreza, et al. The Analysis of the Influence of Fractal Structure of Stimuli on Fractal Dynamics in Fixational Eye Movements and EEG Signal. Nature Scientific Reports. 6/26639, 2016. We place this iconic entry in our natural philosophy section for it can well represent the global frontiers of thought and discovery. Namazi is an Iranian engineer at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He is joined by Vladimir Kulish, a Russian engineer at the same institution, and Amin Akrami, a University of Tehran researcher. By virtue of our worldwide Internet access (if available or allowed) to scientific literature and collaboration, such a team can form anywhere on a sapiensphere planet, who then publish in a major British online journal. As many current contributions, the paper proceeds to show how nature’s universal self-similarity is evident everywhere, in this case for optical phenomena. See also by the authors and Iranian colleagues more fractal findings as Diagnosis of Skin Cancer by Correlation and Complexity Analyses of Damaged DNA in Oncotarget (Vol. 6/Iss. 40, 2015).
One of the major challenges in vision research is to analyze the effect of visual stimuli on human vision. However, no relationship has been yet discovered between the structure of the visual stimulus, and the structure of fixational eye movements. This study reveals the plasticity of human fixational eye movements in relation to the ‘complex’ visual stimulus. We demonstrated that the fractal temporal structure of visual dynamics shifts towards the fractal dynamics of the visual stimulus (image). The results showed that images with higher complexity (higher fractality) cause fixational eye movements with lower fractality. Considering the brain, as the main part of nervous system that is engaged in eye movements, we analyzed the governed Electroencephalogram (EEG) signal during fixation. We have found out that there is a coupling between fractality of image, EEG and fixational eye movements. (Abstract)
Nicholson, Daniel and John Dupre, eds. Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. After some years of writing articles, Exeter University philosophers of science (search each) edit and introduce a large volume as a strong statement that prior fixations on particulate things, substantial isolate objects, need be supplanted by an emphasis upon dynamic waves of relational interactions between them. As the book blurb and abstract for their Introduction say, the general intent is to update and embellish A. N. Whitehead’s 1920s philosophy of an organismic nature into the 21st century. Typical entries are Ontological Tools for the Process Turn in Biology by Johanna Seibt, Objectcy and Agency by Denis Walsh, Symbiosis, Transient Biological Individuality, and Evolutionary Process by Frederic Bouchard, and Developmental Systems Theory as a Process Theory by Paul Griffiths and Karola Stotz.
Everything Flows explores the metaphysical thesis that the living world is not made up of substantial particles or things, as has often been supposed, but is rather constituted by processes. The biological domain is organised as an interdependent hierarchy of processes, which are stabilized and actively maintained at different timescales. Even entities that intuitively appear to be paradigms of things, such as organisms, are actually better understood as processes. Unlike previous attempts to articulate processual views of biology, which have tended to use Alfred North Whitehead's panpsychist metaphysics as a foundation, this book takes a naturalistic approach to metaphysics. Biology provides compelling reasons for thinking that the living realm is fundamentally dynamic, and that the existence of things is always conditional on the existence of processes. (Excerpt)
Nicolaus, Georg. C. G. Jung and Nikolai Berdyaev: Individuation and the Person. London: Routledge, 2011. A British psychotherapist draws a unique contrast of these luminous thinkers. Berdyaev (1874-1948), a Russian religious and political philosopher, joined the Marxist revolution but could not support its Bolshevik regime and in 1923 fled to Paris. Jung (1875-1961) is the Swiss founder of archetypal psychology, and source of this section. The author finds their thought as a contrast of Jung’s alchemical views of “mysteries of the feminine” with Berdyaev’s “existential dialectics” that favor “mysteries of the masculine.” Of course they are complements of the cosmogenesis and psychogenesis of personal individuation, ever within caring community. Berdyaev is seen in search of a Christian humanism with a Sophian immanence and in a panentheistic way that includes a paternal Creator.
Nolan, Daniel. Cosmic Loops. Bliss, Ricki and Graham Priest, eds. Reality and its Structure. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Yes, we do peruse editions as this, whose subtitle is Essays in Fundamentality. We note this chapter by a Notre Dame philosopher as an example of our 21st century collective human abilities to take in and survey a whole temporal trajectory from origin to finis. Whomever then are we altogether to appear as a phenomenal way that an entire evolutionary universe may come to its own internal description and cognizant witness? But our humankind observance is never factored into the overall scheme. A vested, male, academia remains unable to ask whether this scenario that valiant people arise might have a preordained existence, identity and intent of its own.
Obenga, Theophile. Egypt: Ancient History of African Philosophy. Kwasi Wiredu, ed. Companion to African Philosophy. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. The octogenarian Congolese author with a doctorate from the University of Paris Sorbonne is an emeritus San Francisco State University professor and esteemed scholar of African wisdom. As Maulana Karenga conveys in his book, its essential basis is the spiritual and moral principles of the goddess Maat, with affinities to similar teachings across the southern continent. By this primal vision, an integral, lively cosmos can be seen to abide and proceed as a procreative evolutionary genesis. (42)
Odhiambo, Thomas. Essence and Continuity of Life in the African Society. Staune, Jean, ed. Science and the Search for Meaning. Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press, 2006. The first president of the African Academy of Sciences illuminates a conception of an organic milieu composed not only of extant entities, but suffused by an internal, ascendant life pulse. (notice phenotype and genotype in the quote)
Likewise, the Akan people of Ghana consider a human being to be constituted of three elements: the okra, sunsum, and honam. The okra is the innermost self, or life force of the person expressed as a spark of the Supreme Being in the person as the child of God. It is also translated as the English equivalent of the “soul.” The sunsum seems to be equivalent to the spirit of humanity, and with close analysis is not essentially separate from the okra. The honam refers to the physical body. (70) The relationship between God and humankind is as that of a parent and child. (68)
Olney, James. The Rhizome and the Flower: The Perennial Philosophy – Yeats and Jung. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. A curious situation has arisen as postmodernism reigns over academia. The mindset takes as its icon, drawn from Deleuze and Guattari, the way that botanical root systems, e.g. crabgrass, send out shoots in every which direction. Such a “rhizome” denotes vicarious branchings but in this guise without any inherent guidance. See Rhizome in the Encyclopedia of Postmodernism which cites “…no determining universal structure.” But from this erudite book not yet entranced, we learn that the word comes from the Greek “rhizomata,” which was used by Empedocles, Plato, and Heraclitus to designate just the opposite. Rather it is from an abiding, “undying, invisible” source that extant flowers bud, blossom, and fade. We enter this contrast as example of our late dark age, which denies any perennial ground of being, relishes in doing so, and mocks the very quest.
Omnes, Roland. Quantum Philosophy: Understanding and Interpreting Contemporary Science. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999. The emeritus Universite Paris-Sud XI physicist achieves an extraordinary appreciation of quantum phenomena, which is then set in a continuity with Greek thought and traditional theologies. As a synopsis, this encompassing reality involves two prime aspects – Cosmos and Logos, both an emergent substance, and a mathematical source. Omnes then affirms, with Mircea Eliade, as a capsule of historical and current belief, that a greater reality does and must exist on its own. To sum up: the way we see it, the sacred is everywhere in the universe and nothing is completely profane. Profanity is but an illusion of our own ignorance. (245)
Pabst, Adrian. Metaphysics: The Creation of Hierarchy. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012. A University of Kent at Canterbury philosopher stresses once again, with Aquinas and the scholastics nature’s revelatory essence by way of “analogia entis,” an analogical, iterative, recurrent stratification between human, universe and triune Divinity. Rightly, an excessive focus on individuals is to be corrected by their encompassing relationality. Once and future, if you will, here is the ingrained secret code that begs to be realized, ignored at our expense.
This essay seeks to retrieve metaphysics and reveal its theological nature. It shows how ancient and modern conceptions of being in terms of individual substance fail to account for the irreducible, ontological relations that bind immanent, finite beings to each other and to their transcendent, infinite source in God. Instead of some abstract ‘individuality’ that begs the question, the essay suggests that a thing’s unique form is both existentially and essentially its metaphysical positioning in relation to other things. In turn, the relational ordering of all things suggest a priority of relation over substance, which intimates a first principle and final end that is itself relational – the creative relationality of the three divine persons that brings everything out of nothing into actuality and gives all beings a share of Trinitarian being in which the created order participates. (xxvii)