We are accustomed today to see our tiny planet earth on pictures taken from outer space. During the July 1969 Apollo II mission astronaut Edgar Mitchell remarked:... "Suddenly from behind the rim of the moon...there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel" and what was then a breathtaking photograph showed the earth rising in all its glory -- and tragedy.
Many pictures of the kind show us the earth floating through the uncanny tranquillity of the universe; a negligible and quiet star, that is, by comparison to billions of others exploding, imploding, colliding, collapsing, forming. The earth has a distinctive feature. It stands out against its dark background by its shifting blue, white and sometimes reddish colors reflected from the sphere of its air and its water, covering three quarters of its surface.
All scientific and literary visions to the contrary, it might well be the case that it is the only planet in the universe that meets the most subtle and precious conditions for sustaining life. If this could be proven to be the case, say, by a complex mathematical formalism of statistics, no doubt, the human being -- which has been the center of twentieth century philosophic inquiry -- would have to be assigned a hitherto neglected existential category: the eeriness of cosmic solitude.
So, it least, it looks. But one can take also another step into looking at human existence on the earth. If one removes the earth . . .