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(Human) Nature

March 10, 2010

My friend Melissa came to visit this past weekend. Besides learning that Darien and I are the ultimate homebodies and don’t actually do much outside of working and eating, I learned this at the American Museum of Natural History:

Although we are at the center of our own cosmic horizon, the universe has neither a center nor an edge. Every point in space is at the center of its own cosmic horizon. Like a ship at sea, we float in a vast cosmic ocean, unable to see its true extent.

Now, maybe that statement is actually quite obvious and rudimentary, but it blew my mind when I read it. I re-read it, and then I went back, after walking on to the next display, to write it down.

What got me was that nowhere in the entire universe can one see beyond oneself. You can only see and know the world from where you are. There is no ultimate truth, there is only the truth from where you’re sitting at any given time. That means that everyone, quite literally, is at the center of the universe. When someone is self-centered, it’s because nature — all of nature — is inherently self-centered. Why should we be exempt? It’s a big picture explanation of a fundamental part of being human. Now I know that it’s not our fault. It’s just the way it is when you’re floating in a vast cosmic ocean.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 15, 2010 3:12 pm

    HMMMMM. Well, what threw me the other day was a writer pointing out that we don’t even know our own physical selves very well. Like, you probably won’t ever get to see your liver, etc. So we are walking around in a largely unknown universe wrapped inside a largely unknown package. So we spend our lives getting to know the tiny bits of things that we can observe and experience. And then we share those observations with others and hope we can cobble together some kind of common culture/ understanding/ sense of foundation. I do know that when i saw an x ray of my bones, I felt weird knowing that I have/am a skeleton! Robin was really thrown years ago when he saw Darien’s heart beating on an EKG!

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