Tuesday, July 3, 2007

(16) Reason's Cousins

As Virgil asked: "Is this the way to the heavens?" In turn,
the Stoic philosopher Seneca responded. "For this is what
philosophy has promised me--that she will make me God's
equal. That's the invitation and that's what I've come for..."
[Seneca, LETTERS FROM A STOIC, Translator (Robin
Campbell), Penguin Books, 1969, p. 99.]

The ancient Stoa taught that we are as a microcosm to the
Macrocosm. And the Macrocosm was that Vital Force, the
great Reason that stood as the Plenum of the Universe.
And it is within this context, I believe, that the early Stoics
were talking in these terms as an equal to God.

*Reason* was the big outcropping discovery for the early
Greeks. It was a new human tool, very shiny and exciting.
Reason was that discovered capacity that seemingly made
the human rise above all the other life forms on the planet.
Albeit, however, even in this context only a few humans actually
were well honed in this new capacity wherein one could feel a
true son of God, or God's equal. The route towards living a
virtuous life under the aegis of Reason was that of philosophy.
And the Stoics felt that they had it right, were on the correct
course, if you will.

In today's world, some of these kind of ideas seem rather naive.
Over the course of more than two millennia, Reason isn't
worshipped as it once was. Perhaps the European Enlightenment
was the sunset of Reason as the one and only important human
capacity. Perhaps putting too much emphasis on Logic dimmed
our worship of Reason. More likely the evolution of learning, the
compiling of an ever increasing knowledge-base, put Reason
into a less comfortable place.

Today we look at ourselves, at our world, far more holistically.
We have come to understand that we humans are far more
diverse in our capacities, in our abilities, that now disallow
pigeon-holing ourselves into one specific category--Reason or
otherwise. Today modern psychologists realize that our mind
is altogether Emotion, Feeling, as well as Reason. And by
stressing just one category, there had been the tendency to
ignore these other useful capacities. What we modern humans
are learning is that holistically all our capacities must interplay
with one another, must work in tandem in order to be more
effective in this Game of Life.

I still believe that sentient forms of be-ing in this world are as a
microcosm to the Macrocosm; because it is our hope that in
some not yet fully understandable way the Universe, itself, is
the epitome of Sentience. But, again, Sentience cannot be boxed
in, just as a sentient being should not. Evolving, unfolding in this
world, is not about just one capacity over all the others in which
we have been endowed. Instead, it would seem we are meant
to discover over and over more capacities as we evolve towards
a greater maturity.

One of the major new fields rising in our own time is Consciousness
Studies. Scholars representing many disciplines are involved in
this new field. Indeed there are international forums sponsoring
this work more and more. Nowadays it is far from just Reason.
It is even beyond the more general categories of Emotion and
Feeling. Scientists now study Consciousness in relation to Quantum
Physics or within the more general context of the New Cosmology.
Scholars no longer are reticent about such human capacities as
telepathy or even subtle energies--hence we have Psi, Parapsychology.

Thus it would seem Reason has its cousins, so to speak. Reason
need not be rejected as we place our other human capacities in
their rightful place. After all, if not for Reason we would never have
discovered or come to comprehend these other aspects of the human
mind. And Reason, too, has come to be tolerant, more open in its
estimation of these other human capacities. Reason has allowed
itself to become a pioneer wandering in mental fields of which the
ancient Stoic could not even imagine.