June 29, 2017 (Tallahassee):
Lloyd Geering writes: “The very great difference…between the emerging global world and the many traditional worlds it is undermining and threatening to supersede is that they were meaningful worlds and the global world is not, or at least not yet…All the worlds which humans had constructed prior to modernity had been shaped and directed by the quest for meaning. Each had been successfully established because…current knowledge and the quest for ultimate meaning were in harmonious relationship…The global world, in undermining and displacing the Christian world [for example], has not yet evolved an equivalent meaning system. Thus, even in this post-Christian era, the basic need to find meaning in life leads many to cling to one or other of the remnants of the ‘other-world’.”
What makes science’s search for meaning fundamentally different from religions’ search for meaning? The answer to this question could reveal the way to merge the two now separate modes of searching for meaning.
Modern science grew out of an understanding that humankind is set against nature and has the mandate to rule over it. There is the knowing human subject set against the passive natural object to be mastered and exploited. Questions of ‘ultimate meaning’ were in the domain of the human (humanities) and were handled by religion, philosophy, mythology, spirituality, theology, etc. Questions of less-than-ultimate concern were in the domain of science and the scientific method. The world was dualistic.
A penetrating phenomenological gaze reveals a structural continuity from quarks to consciousness, showing that meaning is an integral, scalar thing that operates by the same logic at all levels of the simplicity-complexity scale.
‘Meaning’ is what the cosmos is and does, all the time and everywhere.