Plato’s Phaedo 65d: There is such a thing as absolute Form (pattern). It is the essence or real being of everything. It is apprehended by the intellect (not the senses).
Plato’s Timeaus, 37d: [the Demiurge] began to think of making a moving image of eternity: at the same time as he brought order to the universe, he would make an eternal image, moving according to number, of eternity remaining in unity. This, of course, is what we call “time.”
Subquestions and everyday applications
- What is? Ontology (the model of being).
- What is Your Universe made of?
- Where are you, really?
- Is the matter all it is? Can science describe it fully?
- We like stuff. We chase stuff, we want more and more. What is it actually, is it worth it?
- Does matter matters? Are things you can grab better or different than things you can feel?
- Are you a materialist or an idealist or neither or both?
- In the USA, we have more and consume more than anywhere in the World. We also have the highest percentage of believers. Do gods smile on us?
The philosophers, as a part of the “what is” dilemma, argue always about dualism and nondualism.
As of 2016, according to folk psychology, The Universe has eight(!) distinct natures for you to pick from.
- There is God, he is lately rather not a bearded white man, more and idea not a guy.
- The World is permeated with the divine presence, it is everywhere, something more than the things. The New Age gone mainstream, Buddhism, Taoism, Gaia hypothesis, etc.
- There is a real world. It is solid, reliable, measurable, and scientific. What you see, it is what you get.
- There is also the soul, me, self, it is more than science, it may be even immortal if we’re lucky. It may be quite separate from a religion.
- The Subjectivity: the opinions, aches, personal “experiences”, it is pretty scientific, but it is slightly beyond the exact description.
- The Sub-consciousness, the murky, dark world of psychics, dreams, psychoanalysis and hypnosis.
- Then, it is a loose group of beings , and it is ok to believe in them or not. There are ghosts, aliens, zombies, demons, dead people, devils, and angels.
- At last, there is the quantum science, pseudo -science and just plain weird facts. The expanding Universe, uncertainty principle, anthropic principle, string theory, the multiverses, dark matter, non-linear time a’ la “Groundhog Day”, and some half-dead cats…
How to work on the answer to Question #2
“What is” and ” what’s real” seem to me completely unanswerable or so obvious that you just open your hands with “huh?” gesture. But if you just slightly attach to them the value shade of “what’s important” they make more sense. Your home brings values, the church brings beliefs and myths, the school and media bring ” ten thousands of things”. How do they sit together in you ?
An example, by Ricky Newins: “Pragmatically speaking that which we come to know via science. Is there more to it outside of science that we will perhaps never know? Quite possibly.
Clarifying these issues is very important for the people who worry about the money, which is about everybody. Some worry more than others, some realize it more than others… How to know if I need to go to school some more, invest, retire? This question helps also people with the anxiety of their importance… or lack of importance- these often go together.
We are in the Center of the Universe.
I think we, humans and other beings on Earth, are in the center of the Universe. We are in the center of our Universe and this is the only Universe that exists. It is important to ponder this as if it is really so, it brings a lot of the responsibility to us, humans, as the squirrels and dolphins , as pretty and smart they are, they won’t help much.
As a philosopher, I think that the solution for the present pickle will come from the maturing of the human mind rather than from more successes in the technology.
An idea that we are in the center of the Universe seems like the fine place to start from!
I have been studying the mechanisms of the evolution for the last 35 years and the idea of the personal Universes comes straight from the evolutionary neuroscience. Every animal’s brain evolved to fine tune animal’s behavior in given environment. Perceive, see, understand, adapt, this for the animal is the same thing. It is what an animal does, without splitting it into categories. The animal’s world (Nagel’s “What it is like to be a bat” will not tell you much…) is very different that mine and yours. It is not subjective and it is not objective- there is no self to make this distinction. It is obviously dependent on the observer, made by the animal’s peculiar, primitive perception and memory, but it is out there. Birds’ migration shows that they can coordinate complex actions, but the sharing is automatic, not via intentional communications. So, the animal’s world is outside, around the each animal, built mostly over the eons of the evolutionary time, with just a little of it built during the life of the animal- to allow for diversity beneficial for the species survival.
Even if the evolution created homo sapiens with the vastly improved brain, the communications ability, and thinking skills, each of us still builds his or hers personal world, with the Universe getting bigger and bigger around us.
The mess is here, on Earth, we are in the center and the safe heaven moved somewhere to the galaxy next door.
I have my life, my world which is interconnected with 7 billions of “you’s”.
You are in the exactly same situation, these are all assets we have, and if we are not extremely careful, we are going to blow them out in the nuclear holocaust. Or starve slowly, take your pick.
After the last human dies, a computer in some deep bunker will still continue to churn out data revealing new “discovery” based on Cosmic Microwave Background measurements.
But it will be no CMB, this term will become completely meaningless. And it will not matter whether the report is in English, Arabic or Chinese. If there is nobody to read it, there is no CMB, period.
Really, see- “micro” means nothing, “wave” means nothing, “back” means nothing – there is no front so can not be back, there is no “ground” and no “cosmic”.
OK, you say “ let’s continue this story, and in a million years, the aliens discover this planet and this computer printout”… Not so fast: you can not discover anything is there is no concept of “discovery”. There are no years if there is no spring and winter, and if nobody is born and dies , the time is meaningless and useless. Without the human, there is even no story.
Yes. We are the center of the Universe.
To reflect exactly my opinion, this answer should be followed by several caveats.
But if you are asking this question in the sense “isn’t it true, what science tells us, that we live as a tiny, insignificant specs , on the small planet, on the periphery of the remote galaxy, with the huge , cold, unknown cosmos around us?” , then the answer is resounding – NO.
Some scientists are trying to cheers us up, like Primack and Abrams in “The view from the center of the Universe” and Tom Yulsman in “Origins”. They made it worse, their wishy -washy argument and wishful thinking goes from reassurance that our size is just right (sic!) to the hope that future science will alleviate our wretchedness to stating that the Universe does not have the center, therefore we can not be off it.
My caveats which include the glossary and concepts pertaining to my philosophy may seem in the beginning slightly controversial, but if I worry too much about it, I wouldn’t even start.
First, talk about “the center”.
We automatically think about “the center’ like a cartographer, or as a boy scout- “we need a flag in the center of the camp”. The Universe is “everything” and has many, many dimensions.
On the top of the obvious ones, like space, mass, magnetism, time, think of “the center of ethical and emotional concern”, “center of complexity “, “center of the information density’ and “ center of consciousness”.
We could now get bog down in the nightmare of definitions controversies.
But this we will not do, it will not be necessary.
Hold this thought and let’s go to “the Universe”.
The only Universe I have is my Universe, and the same is true for you, and for you.
The “we” means 7 billions of us , right?
Again it looks that I am trying to trick you and left you with the play on words. Not in the least.
If we find out that the center is more or less similar for everybody, then we will not need to argue about “my Universe” vs “our Universe”. Like you and me, who have been building mine and your Universes since mine and your conception.
Now imagine 7 billion personal worlds all mingled, shared, interconnected. Then add 14 billions of the mom’s and dad’s worlds which were the base of the each of our personal worlds, add all the ancestors’ worlds, further and further back in time. All sentient beings contributed to the process of building subsequent generations of personal worlds.
All the dimensions we mentioned and many which we did not count were the product of this incredible complexity masterpiece, including space, the time and others. The main function of the evolving animal’s nervous system is to create understanding, in other words -the cognition. And this works through categorizing, naming, creating semantic shortcuts, the metaphors.
According to the Gaia hypothesis , kind of similar to my philosophy, the interconnected sentient beings create super intelligence, like interconnected neurons and dendrites, create the conscious brain. To me, these connections between humans are mostly related to ancestors via genes and culture via instincts and the core of human nature. These connections make possible for each of us to become conscious and create a meaningful world.
During the last 80 years, science and philosophy are grappling with the explanation of the observed vs observer dilemma. From Bohr and Einstein to Maturana and Varela and Thompson , the concept of observer-built reality is gaining ground.
And, of course, about 50 000 years ago, the culture and the technology for the engineering reasons developed “the agreement universe” so we could hunt the mastodon or build the bridge or a spaceship. The other names for this are “nobody’s universe” or “reality”.
But while the scientists still ( and will forever ) argue, this should not make us feel like the insignificant specs, excused to be helpless and small, waiting for the creator to help us, please!
We are at the center of human experience, as we are building personal worlds, the Universe consists of. We are responsible for it and every of us 7 billion, matters.