Totality!

The Labor Day weekend is suddenly eclipsed by September. Summer’s supposed to be over, though of course the calendar says we’ve still more than a couple of weeks. Summer’s a state of mind, I say. Carry your own weather with you, on the inside.

My Labor Day was unlaborious. Your philosophy and your happiness may only partly be got from books, as Professor James told his audience, but

That said, I just came home from McKay’s with over a dozen good books on evolution, the environment, and dogs for an old $14 credit buried in my wallet I’d forgotten about. Today, my happiness is partly got from books. (And from a hike at Burch Reserve, and a beer at Tailgate.)

That, by my standards, is a good Labor Day. Now, back to our good work.
==
In light of today’s CoPhi topic, cosmic philosophy, it seems like a good time to recall last year’s eclipse. One of our discussion questions today:

  • Did you see the solar eclipse last August? Did you view it alone, or in the company of others? How did it make you feel?

Originally published August 21, 2017:

Totality!

It’s eclipse day at last. Never has cosmic perspective been more needed or welcome.

“The cosmic perspective flows from fundamental knowledge. But it’s more than just what you know. It’s also about having the wisdom and insight to apply that knowledge to assessing our place in the universe. And its attributes are clear:

The cosmic perspective comes from the frontiers of science, yet it’s not solely the province of the scientist. The cosmic perspective belongs to everyone.
The cosmic perspective is humble.
The cosmic perspective is spiritual—even redemptive—but not religious.
The cosmic perspective enables us to grasp, in the same thought, the large and the small.
The cosmic perspective opens our minds to extraordinary ideas but does not leave them so open that our brains spill out, making us susceptible to believing anything we’re told.
The cosmic perspective opens our eyes to the universe, not as a benevolent cradle designed to nurture life but as a cold, lonely, hazardous place.
The cosmic perspective shows Earth to be a mote, but a precious mote and, for the moment, the only home we have.
The cosmic perspective finds beauty in the images of planets, moons, stars, and nebulae but also celebrates the laws of physics that shape them.
The cosmic perspective enables us to see beyond our circumstances, allowing us to transcend the primal search for food, shelter, and sex.
The cosmic perspective reminds us that in space, where there is no air, a flag will not wave—an indication that perhaps flag waving and space exploration do not mix.
The cosmic perspective not only embraces our genetic kinship with all life on Earth but also values our chemical kinship with any yet-to-be discovered life in the universe, as well as our atomic kinship with the universe itself.

At least once a week, if not once a day, we might each ponder what cosmic truths lie undiscovered before us, perhaps awaiting the arrival of a clever thinker, an ingenious experiment, or an innovative space mission to reveal them. We might further ponder how those discoveries may one day transform life on Earth.

Absent such curiosity, we are no different from the provincial farmer who expresses no need to venture beyond the county line, because his forty acres meet all his needs. Yet if all our predecessors had felt that way, the farmer would instead be a cave dweller, chasing down his dinner with a stick and a rock.

During our brief stay on planet Earth, we owe ourselves and our descendants the opportunity to explore—in part because it’s fun to do. But there’s a far nobler reason. The day our knowledge of the cosmos ceases to expand, we risk regressing to the childish view that the universe figuratively and literally revolves around us. In that bleak world, arms-bearing, resource-hungry people and nations would be prone to act on their low contracted prejudices. And that would be the last gasp of human enlightenment—until the rise of a visionary new culture that could once again embrace the cosmic perspective.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

And, the cosmic perspective dismisses all narrow parochialism. The Tennessee eclipse? Really?

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