“THE GREATEST OF ALL THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF 20TH-CENTURY SCIENCE has been the discovery of human ignorance.” Lewis Thomas, Lives of a Cell. “OUR IGNORANCE, OF COURSE, HAS ALWAYS BEEN WITH US, AND ALWAYS WILL BE. What is new is our awareness of it, our awakening to its fathomless dimensions, and it is this, more than anything else, that marks the coming of age of our species.” Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Naming the Nameless

Every philosophy and religion has its “god-term”— the term that stands for ultimate reality. Plato’s term was “The Form (or Idea) of the Good.” Lao Tzu called it Tao (“The Great Way”). Pythagorus referred to “The Divine Number” and Plotinus named it “The One.” One of my favorite terms for ultimate reality comes from the German theologian Rudolf Otto: Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans, that is, “The Terrible and Fascinating Mystery”.  Or we could just agree to name it Sheila.