II. LEARNING PLANET: An Integral Humankind Knowledge
A. Original Wisdom
At the outset references are provided for the Rosetta Cosmos concept as a path to ecumenical rapport. Mythic Animism surveys indigeneous, mystic immersion within and stories of a living, personified, magical realm. From this milieu arose independently in many places around the world a sense of a stratified creation as the result of a creative iconic system, by which it is made humanly comprehensible. Various engagements west and east are noted The Anthropocosmic Code.
The great world religions are entered later on in The Phenomenon of Humankind chapter with regard to how each manifests a universal, complementary truth. The Renaissance project to read the natural cosmos as a testament of God’s works by and its accord with God’s word in scripture is reviewed in The Book of Nature. Its recent revival is covered in the Part VI Religion and Science module. A brief section on Western Philosophy, under construction, is lastly included.
1. Rosetta Cosmos
The original Rosetta stone contained three versions of the same passage: two forms of Egyptian hieroglyphics and a third in Greek. By this unique find the Egyptian script could at last be translated and understood. At a time when religions and cultures vie over textual and historical heritage, when postmodernism says relative comparison is not possible, an expanded Rosetta cosmos is suggested whereby each transcription, whether myth, religion, philosophy, literature, art or science, would necessarily describe the same reality. A renewed imagination that we live indeed in a literal, narrative creation made to be deciphered and read could be of much value. By this view, each language and dialect, from temple architecture and scriptures to mathematics and Hubble telescope images, ought to report, in translation, the one, same message. A few works are noted that convey impinge on this approach. The Book of Nature, An Informational Source and Emergent Genetic Information also contain apropos citations.
Berry, Thomas. The Dream of the Earth. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988. Sage essays contemplate the epic proportions and responsibilities of the human presence in an immense, still unfolding numinous universe. Typical chapter titles are: The Earth Community, The Ecological Age, Bioregions: The Context for Reinhabiting the Earth, The Historical Role of the American Indian and The Cosmology of Peace.
“Such a fantastic universe, with its great spiraling galaxies, its supernovas, our solar system, and this privileged planed Earth! All this is held together in the vast curvature of space, poised so precisely in holding all things together in the one embrace and yet so lightly that the creative expansion of the universe might continue on into the future.” (xv)
Boulding, Kenneth. Ecodynamics. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1978. A pioneer systems thinker, Boulding provides a general theory of physical, biological and societal evolution which then informs the course of history. If asked “what evolves,” it is most of all an encoded “know-how.”
Capra, Fritjof. The Turning Point. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982. A holistic systems view of life is proposed to supplant the mechanical model and as a consequence to inform for a more humane society. Capra provides a prescient grasp of complex adaptive system theory:
“Besides the complementarity of self-assertive and integrative tendencies, which can be observed at all levels of nature’s stratified systems, living organisms display another pair of complementary dynamic phenomena that are essential aspects of self-organization. One of them, which may be described loosely as self-maintenance, includes the processes of self-renewal, healing, homeostasis, and adaption. The other, which seems to represent an opposing but complementary tendency, is that of self-transformation and self-transcendence, a phenomenon that express itself in the processes of learning, development, and evolution.” (285)
Eisler, Riane. The Chalice and the Blade. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1987. The grand cycle of metahistory from its maternal inception and long patriarchical dominance now reaches a juncture between continued oppression or empathic transformation to a partnership of women and men for the good of children. Eisler’s perspective is uniquely informed by the sciences of complexity just appearing.
Fox, Mathew. The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. The book’s subtitle is “The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance” and is lyrical mediation on the immensity of the coming revelation. We have lost an original vision of the correspondence of microcosm and macrocosm, as Hildegard of Bingen knew: “God has arranged everything in the universe in consideration of everything else.” If we can regain this providential secret then with St. Paul the world will rightly be seen as birthing and bringing forth a New Creation.
Jantsch, Erich. The Self-Organizing Universe. Oxford: Pergamon, 1980. Twenty years ahead of its time, a visionary exposition of a dynamic creation which spontaneously develops life, mind and personal significance.
Life appears no longer as a phenomenon unfolding in the universe - the universe itself becomes increasingly alive. (9) In an Epilogue: Meaning, finally, the central theme of the dynamic connectedness of man with an unfolding universe is re-evoked. In a world which is creating itself, the idea of a divinity does not remain outside, but is embedded in the totality of self-organization dynamics at all levels and in all dimensions. (18)
Koestler, Arthur. Janus. New York: Random House, 1978. A valiant attempt by the renowned author to move beyond scientific reductionism by constructing a theory of “holoarchy” which reflects the innovative, modular rise of life.
The point first to be emphasized is that each member of this hierarchy, on whatever level, is a sub-whole or ‘holon’ in its own right - a stable, integrated structure, equipped with self-regulatory devices and enjoying a considerable degree of autonomy or self-government. Cells, muscles, nerves, organs, all have their intrinsic rhythms and patterns of activity…they are subordinated as parts to the higher centres in the hierarchy, but at the same time function as quasi-autonomous wholes. They are Janus-faced. The face turned upward, toward the higher levels, is that of a dependent part; the face turned downward, towards its own constituents, is that of a whole of remarkable self- sufficiency. (27) Ontogeny and phylogeny, the development of the individual and the evolution of species, are the two grand hierarchies of becoming. (43)
Mallove, Eugene. The Quickening Universe. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987. Here is an example of how what is observed depends so much on one’s inclination. The whole sweep of cosmic evolution reveals to this astrophysicist not sterile mechanism but a universe becoming progressively alive, a genesis.