Readings from the New Book on Nature: Physics and Metaphysics in the Modern Novel

Readings from the New Book on Nature: Physics and Metaphysics in the Modern Novel

Readings from the New Book on Nature: Physics and Metaphysics in the Modern Novel

Readings from the New Book on Nature: Physics and Metaphysics in the Modern Novel

Excerpt

Not so many years ago a rocket plunged through the sweet milk of the earth's cloud cover into the whisperless dark of outer space. The on-board camera panned through the glittering immensity beyond to focus on the only object on that alien horizon that seemed designed for warm and secure habitation. And what an impossibly beautiful sight it was! Against the backdrop of the interstellar night hung the great ball of the earth, with the intense blue of its oceans and the delicate ochres of its land masses shimmering beneath the vibrant and translucent layer of its atmosphere. The distances between us seemed suddenly contracted, the ecosystem more fragile, but the impression that sent the adrenalin flowing through my system was the overwhelming sense that the thing was alive! The teeming billions of organisms writhing about under the protective blanket of atmosphere ceased in the shock of that visual moment to be separate--they were interdependent, fluid, blending presences in the one organic dance of the planet's life.

Although everything in the above paragraph may seem true in emotional terms, or at least fit the preconceived, a cursory examination of implicit assumptions would probably lead to the conclusion that it is anything but an objective analysis of the content of the visual image. What we have here is an attempt by a humanist to communicate my own value-laden, subjectively based conception of existence in a world presumably represented by a visual image. In addition to the anthropomorphizing of various details of the image, we also detect here a metaphysical assumption, i.e., all life forms are interdependent and may even participate in some fundamental unity.

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