Wolfgang’s Weekly

19 January 2022

Along with the Ptolemaic theory, the ancient anthropology fell likewise into oblivion. Man ceased in effect to be a microcosm, a theomorphic being standing at the center of the universe, and became instead a purely contingent creature, to be accounted for by some sequence of terrestrial accidents. Like the cosmos he was flattened out, shorn of the higher dimensions of his being. Only in his case it happens that “mind” refuses to be altogether exorcised. It remains behind as an incomprehensible concomitant of brain-function, a kind of ghost in the machine, a thing that causes untold embarrassment to the philosophers. The fact is that man does not fit into the confines of the physical universe. There is another side to his nature — be it ever so subjective! — which cannot be described or accounted for in physical terms.  And so, in keeping with the new outlook, man finds himself a stranger in a bleak and inhospitable universe; he has become a precarious anomaly — one could almost say, a freak. There is something pathetic in the spectacle of this “precocious simian”; and behind all the noise and bluster one senses an incredible loneliness and a pervading Angst.  Our harmony and kinship with Nature has been compromised, the inner bond broken; our entire culture has become dissonant. Moreover, despite our boast of knowledge, Nature has become unintelligible to us, a closed book; and even the act of sense perception — the very act upon which all our knowledge is supposed to be based — has become incomprehensible.

—Excerpt from Cosmos & Transcendence