The Other I

May 16, 2010

Something more or some place else?

Filed under: Uncategorized — theotheri @ 2:39 pm

I have just finished reading an article on Greek mysticism recommended by the author of the blog Ontological Status.  It was quite a surprise.

The surprise is not that the Greeks believed that there is another, better world than the one we currently inhabit.  What surprises me is how pervasive this idea has been in Eastern thought as well as spreading to the West.  How many mystics have intuited that somehow we don’t belong here, that we really belong some place else.

As I read the article, I found this idea intensely alienating.  Because my own intuition is that I am already where I belong.  That this universe is my home.   I do have a strong intuition that there is something “more”, some dimension of existence that is ineffable, that is somehow more profound than the flat 24/7 days that necessarily consumes so much of our energy.

But that “more” isn’t some place else.  And it doesn’t come from some other place or Someone Else.  I exist in it now.  I take my sustenance from it.  It contains my past and my future.  And it is my destiny.

It’s why I’m a scientist.  I cannot think of a more marvellous, awful, profound (etc.) thing to contemplate than the universe of which I am a part.


  1. I liked your posting on being at home. I’m reminded of Stuart Kaufman’s “At Home in the Universe.” It is straight science and math … from 1989. He was trying to locate the “algorithms” that matter used in its transition to life. I’m sure you would understand it better than I. His new one “Reinventing the Sacred” (2008) continues the search.

    This is amazing stuff for me. Science was within my range of interest … but the math … maybe it was the teachers, but while I could do it, it never meant anything real to me. We only were taken as far as analytucal geometry, anyway. We were not even given calculus. There were no electives. But if there were I rpobably would not have “elected” math. Now I’m trying to play catch up.

    I would love to get your impressions and observations of Kaufman’s efforts … you as a scientist, and I presume, a mathematician. You can google his name and there are some interviews by him that might get you started. He’s in Calgary Canada, now, I believe. He used to be at the Santa Fe Institute.


    Comment by tonyequale — May 17, 2010 @ 7:14 pm | Reply

    • It sounds as if your high school math was on about the same level as mine. It stopped with analytical geometry, and despite my loud agitation for a course in calculus, it was not on offer. In retrospect, I think the nuns simply had no one who could teach it. Interestingly, it was as a Maryknoll nun that I discovered math was something more than a Soduku puzzle yielding clever Right Answers. To their credit, our superiors brought in a series of speakers, one of whom introduced us to math as something far more than plugging in formulas to get right answers. (I often wonder now if our superiors had any inkling of the force they were unleashing when they encouraged us to start thinking. Though Pope John is the one who started it, and at least for the group of which I was a member, I think the storm was unstoppable.)

      Anyway, I am competent in math, but I possess nothing like the heights required to understand some of the mathematical proofs on the level of quantum mechanics. I would not say I have even so much as wondered about the algorithms that were involved in the transition to life. Mostly I take these mathematics on faith. But I think I understand the thrust of the mathematical mind, and the awe-filled world which it describes.

      I will look up Kaufman’s work. “At Home in the Universe” sounds interesting, although just the title “Reinventing the Sacred” would have put me off without your recommendation. It sounds as if it is going to be an esoteric introduction to Intelligent Design. I’m flying to the States in mid-June. If I can get one of his books from the Cambridge library here, I’ll make it my reading for the trip.

      Thank you for suggesting what sounds like another – uhm – interesting challenge.



      Comment by theotheri — May 17, 2010 @ 8:04 pm | Reply

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