Monday, October 12, 2009

"cogito, ergo sum"

chapter 1 of "cosmos & psyche" by richard tarnas quotes descartes, "i think, therefore i am". undeniable building block of western philosophy and origin to a new perspective.. thus spouts forth a 569 page analysis into the understanding of our universe and our existence.
seems like this will be a transcendental and revelatory walk/jog/run into fathoming a complex yet diminutive period of the human timeline.
can´t wait.

in the meantime...
an exert from cosmos & psyche by r.t


skepticism is the chastity of the intellect, santayana declared and the metaphor is apt. the mind that seeks the deepest intellectual fulfillment does not give itself up to every passing idea. yet what is sometimes forgotten is the larger purpose of such a virtue. for in the end, chastity is something one preserves not for its own sake, which would be barren, but rather so that one may be fully ready for the moment of surrender to the beloved, the suitor whose aim is true. whether in knowledge or in love, the capacity to recognize and embrace that moment when it finally arrives, is perhaps in quite unexpected circumstances, is essential to the virtue. only with that discernment and inward opening can the full participatory engagement unfold that brings forth new realities and new knowledge. without this capacity, at once active and receptive, the long discipline would be fruitless. the carefully cultivated skeptical posture would become finally an empty prison, an armored state of unfulfillment, a permanently confining end in itself rather than the rigorous means to a sublime result.

first, the profound metaphysical disorientation and groundlessness that pervades contemporary human experience: the widely felt absece of an adequate publicly accessible larger order of purpose and significance, a guiding metanarrative that transcends separate cultures and subcultures, an encompassing pattern of meaning that could give to collective human existence a nourishing coherence and intelligibility.

second, the deep sense of alienation that affects the modern self: here i refer to not only the personal isolation of the individual in modern mass society but also the spiritual estrangement of the modern psyche in a disenchanted universe, as well as, at the species level, the subjective schism separating the modern human being from the rest of nature and the cosmos.

and third, the critical need, on the part of both individuals and societies, for a deeper insight into those unconscious forces and tendencies, creative and destructive, that play such a powerful role in shaping human lives, history, and the life of the planet.

these conditions, all intricately interconnected and interpenetrating, surround and permeate our contemporary consciousness like the atmosphere in which we live and breathe. from a longer historical perspective, they represent the distillate of many centuries of extraordinary intellectual and psychological development. the compelling paradox of this long development is that these problematic conditions seem to have emerged from, and be subtly interwoven with, the very qualities and achievements of our civilization that have been most progressive, liberating, and admired.


cosmological situation today

in the course of the past century, the modern world has both seen its greatest ascendancy and its unexpected breakdown. every field and discipline, from philosophy, anthropology, and linguistics to physics, ecology, and medicine, has brought forth new data and new perspectives that have challenged long-established assumptions and strategies of the modern mind. this challenge has been considerably magnified and made more urgent by the multitude of concrete consequences produced by those assumptions and strategies, many of them problematic. as of the first decade of the new millennium, almost every defining attitude of the modern world view has been critically reassessed and deconstructed, though often not relinquished, even when failure to do so is costly. the result in our own, postmodern time has been a state of extraordinary intellectual ferment and fragmentation, fluidity and uncertainty. ours is an age between world views, creative yet disoriented, a transitional era when the old cultural vision no longer holds and the new has not yet constellated. yet we are not without signs of what the new might look like.

recently there have been emerging from the deconstructive flux of the postmodern mind the tentative outlines of a new understanding of reality, one very different from the conventional modern view. impelled by the developments in many fields, this shift in intellectual vision has encompassed a wide range of ideas and principles, among which can be identified a few common themes. perhaps the most conspicuous and pervasive of these can be summed up as a deeper appreciation of both the multidimensional complexity of reality and the plurality of perspectives necessary to approach it. closely related to this new appreciation, both cause and effect, is a critical reappraisal of the epistemological limits and pragmatic consequences of the conventional scientific approach to knowledge. this reappraisal includes a more acute sensitivity to the ways in which subject and object are mutually implicated in the act of knowing, a revised understanding of the relationship of whole and part in all phenomena, a new grasp of complex interdependence and subtle order in living systems, and an acknowledgement of the inadequacy of reductionist, mechanistic, and objectivized concepts of nature.

_gracias a alejandro por compartir su insight a este libro.

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