In 1543 Copernicus published his work – De Revolutionibus – which showed that the planets, including this Earth, revolve around the sun. This shook the foundations of the established Church, which had taught that everything revolved around the Earth.
How does this relate to humanism? Well only this – as I understand it their religion has everything revolving around mankind. Really? What is the basis for that belief system. The only rational underpinning that I can perceive would be a belief that man is the only point of consciousness in the universe, which would indeed set this particular species apart. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s insight is that humanity is the current apex of the evolution of consciousness (Phenomenon of Man), but not that humanity is all-in-all – its own context. Is humanism not then simply a kind of collective narcissism?
Tuesday (19th February) is the 540th anniversary of Copernicus’ birth. He was, of course, the mathematician who posited that we are centred around the Sun and not the Earth. It brought him into conflict with the Church. It is our EGO’s natural assumption that WE are critically important and that all meaning revolves around us; ridiculous when contemplating celestial orbits and the expanding universe. Surely equally naive when addressing the meaning of existence – (that we humans are the centre of everything).
Humanism derives all meaning in us, we, humans and our fulfilment. In this philosophy we are the equivalent of the Earth; but it appears to me that our species on this planet with our narrow senses are only a part of something bigger. With it’s nucleus elsewhere. Effectively, for me, meaning is centred around a philosophical “Sun” rather than on our “Earth”.
Indeed, rather than emphasising the importance of ego – what happens if we accept its insignificance?
One description of life’s journey is the progress from the baby’s unboundaried “I am everything”, to the realisation of our separated triviality. The rich compensation can be the revelation of the depth and infinity of love that we are in our entangled whole.
Nirvana? The truth shall set you free. Let us be spiritual Copernicans.