viernes, 9 de marzo de 2012

A dinosaur on the shore

There are some persistent collective ideas in the history of humankind. Many of them are built-in with different myths; whose, in turn, are shaped by a variety of archetypes that according with his most prominent analyst, Carl Gustav Jung, are the imprints of human's ancient formation of mind. One, stubborn, die-hard and pervasive is the God hypothesis. Of course, ancient ages shaped to posterity the key elements of God's myth with a battery of elements such as his metaphysical character, his necessity and his will; the affirmation of a willingness universal power. Modernity changes this perspective and either denied or modified the conception of God. There is either no God at all, or there is a special form of him, radically diverse from the ancient one. The last alternative begins with an important shift: from “he” to “it”. Clearly, speaking of God is not speaking of some person. On the contrary, is to speak of something essentially different from an individual person. Nowadays, under the sciences’' influence there is a widespread comprehension of God as a universal principle of order, a fluctuation between order and chaos, the essence of the Nature’s framework through time.
In these terms emerges the Theory of Evolution with its several ramifications. Such theory tells the epic of the natural world into ages with its unthinkable extended time, its paradoxical biological formations that swings between the hazard and the necessity of the existence of each being alive in the world’s history. As The Theory of Evolution establishes that “Evolution rhymes, patterns recur”, (as Richard Dawkins, says in his work The Ancestor’s Tale, no matter how carefully he takes this assertion), it informs a mythical history of Being. Let’s be clear: evolution is a myth because it’s a way to shape the world and our experience of it in terms of full sense, as polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski established in his classic essay The Presence of Myth, and this involves a set of assumptions that are beyond empirical scope and verification, spawning in consequence a form of metaphysics that shapes the entire universe of the theory. Of course, in this time we don’t have a better way to explain the cosmic and natural development of our planet and its creatures. Even more: that is the only way to explain it.

Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life

That’s why it’s not rare that in a brilliant contemporary theogony such as Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, there is an affirmation of this modern conception of God. In the bombastic and beautiful sequence of Genesis, among the formation of Milky Way, the start of the Sun and the birth of Earth itself, we see the powerful image of a wounded dinosaur on the shore of a primitive beach. With its hyperrealistic craftsmanship, Malick’s dinosaur makes clear the film's point of view on God: the great chain of Being full of life, interactions, dynamics and movement across time and space but without intentional purpose. A pervasive but blind God. Sometimes this vision is called “pantheism”.
On the foundations of the ancient Earth belief, scientific humankind has built a large and prolific system of theories and securities about the meaning of life. And there’s nothing better to face the world as it shows us: as an endless symphony of objects and the relationships between them. It’s proper and fair that we accept all this as a precise description of reality, a matter of fact about us and our planet. But we must have in mind its mythical core in the sense of American philosopher W.V.O. Quine: 

As an empiricist I continue to think of the conceptual scheme of science as a tool, ultimately, for predicting future experience in the light of past experience. Physical objects are conceptually imported into the situation as convenient intermediaries −not by definition in terms of experience, but simply as irreducible posits comparable, epistemologically, to the gods of Homer. Let me interject that for my part I do, qua lay physicist, believe in physical objects and not in Homer's gods; and I consider it a scientific error to believe otherwise. But in point of epistemological footing the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conception only as cultural posits. The myth of physical objects is epistemologically superior to most in that it has proved more efficacious than other myths as a device for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience. (The quote is taken from his essay “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”.)

Dinosaurs, like Homer gods, are the substance of our metaphysics, the way we set up our scientific image of God, no matter how aporetic this may sound. That’s the game of reason across the ages, the way we make a stand for our actions and our way of living in the planet; the way, in sum, that we create our universe, our reality and our gods.

2 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

During previous years, UIC had very good philosophy teachers, but most of them are gone by now. After reading your blog entries, I think that currently you may be one of the best philosophy teachers of the UIC, you even make your own philosophical dissertations! And that’s much, considering that most of us philosophers are only commentators, but we don’t make our own dissertations. So, if you get good chances and some luck, you may become a prominent teacher on the UIC, with some time. Good luck! Our University needs more people like you.

Manuel Guillén dijo...

Thank you very much! I hope so.