Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anthropocentrism vs. Cosmocentrism

Groping toward a Paradigm Shift

Frank Luger headshot by Frank Luger 1


Anthropocentrism views reality relative to Man, and maintains, directly or indirectly, that Man is the measure of all things. Based on immediacy and experience, as validated by sense-perception, this natural perspective was proposed by Aristotle quite in harmony with the then prevailing world-view somewhere between the ancient Babylonian flat-Earth model and the Ptolemaic system in the 2nd century, A.D. Despite several paradigm changes, from geocentrism to heliocentrism, from Newtonian Mechanics to Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics, anthropocentrism is still around, at least indirectly; by instinct, inertia, and emotionally satisfying features. That is, due to natural psychodynamics, most of our thinking, knowledge, as well as epistemic tools are still permeated by sophisticated anthropocentrism. However, current Science in general and modern Physics in particular have increasingly cast doubt on the adequacy and tenability of the anthropocentric paradigm. The expanding Universe from Big Bangs to Big Crunches, cosmic evolutions from the blurred mode of existence in modern microphysics to the blurred mode of existence in macrophysics, together with such recent evidence as for example the 2.7° Kelvin microwave background radiation, nonluminous cold and hot 'dark' matter, intergalactic plasma, etc. all seem to indicate that reality is independent of Man; and that Man is but a small clog in the cosmic scheme of things, regardless of cognitive abilities, now or ever. Therefore, the new world-view of cosmocentrism, based on cosmodynamics rather than psychodynamics, as introduced herein, proposes a radical cosmic paradigm with nothing less than a fundamental reversal of anthropocentrism. In short: cosmocentrism views reality relative to the Cosmos; and maintains, that Cosmos, rather than Man, is the true measure of all things.


ANTHROPOCENTRISM (Man is the measure of all things, reality viewed relative to Man)

  1. Direct anthropocentrism: naïve realism
    1. Primitive: No model of the Universe, from prehistoric times to approximately 4000 B.C. (?)
    2. Crude: Flat-Earth model of the Universe (Mesopotamia), from about 4000 — 400 B.C., approximately.
    3. Simple: Round-Earth model of the Universe (Aristotle), about 400 B.C. — 150 A.D., approximately.
    4. Smooth: Geocentric model of the Universe ( Ptolemy, Tycho Brahe ), about 150 — 1600 A.D.
  2. Indirect anthropocentrism: classical realism
    1. Fine: Heliocentric model of the Universe (Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, etc.), 1600 — 1800 A.D.
    2. Sophisticated: No-center model of the Universe, infinity ( Kant, Laplace, etc.), 1800 — 1900 A.D.
    3. Implied anthropocentrism: scientific realism, quantum realism
    4. Subtle: Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics, the expanding, steady-state, inflationary models of the Universe, Big Bang-Big Crunch (Planck, Einstein, Bohr, de Broglie, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Dirac, Hubble, Hawking, Guth, etc.), 1900 — 2000 A.D.- ?

COSMOCENTRISM: cosmic realism (Cosmos is the measure of all things, reality viewed relative to the Cosmos, Luger's Genie), 2000 A.D. - ?


About 400 years ago, two competing world-view paradigms, based on the geocentric model of Tycho Brahe and the heliocentric model of Nicolaus Copernicus were equally compatible with all known observations. It was impossible to decide in favor of one or the other in terms of available evidence. Thus, concerned natural philosophers may have sympathized with the absurd predicament of Buridan's ass which starved to death between equally attractive feeding possibilities.

In time, heliocentrism superseded geocentrism; and thus a paradigm shift had taken place. One reason was that such new discoveries as those of Kepler, Galileo, Newton, etc. had slowly tilted the balance in favor of Copernicus. The other, perhaps even more important, reason was that supporters of Tycho Brahe had gradually died out.

Why was this important? Because the geocentric model was more compatible with emotional factors than the heliocentric one. These factors had to do with simple, common-sense, intuitive notions, as well as with philosophical-religious teachings about Man's privileged status in Nature, Man's closest kinship to God, and the like. Of course, these self-flattering notions were extremely resistant to rational arguments; therefore, the most vociferous partisans simply had to die out to make room for the new view. The emerging mechanistic world-view allowed far less arrogance and complacence and sharply accentuated the need for rationalism and empiricism. Nevertheless, human conceit and cosmic vanity have survived to the present day; and in spite of overwhelming contrary evidence, still find ample expression in the common-sense view of the Universe, which may be summed up as anthropocentrism.

Whether in crude or subtle ways, anthropocentrism regards Man as the central fact or final aim of the Universe, or of any system; and its evaluations are always relative to Man, always based on comparisons with Man. Direct anthropocentrism is the natural world-view of naïve realism. Based on instinctive and intuitive sense-perception, this simple and linear perspective maintains that reality is as it looks; things are what they seem. After Copernicus, indirect anthropocentrism gradually superseded the earlier view along the lines of classical realism. Finally, despite the rational objectivity of scientific realism and the counterintuitive or irrational features of quantum realism, implied anthropocentrism is still with us, as seen for example in the various sophisticated 'anthropic' principles. Today, all world-views are still intuitively anthropocentric, modern Science notwithstanding.

Against all this, in diametric opposition, cosmocentrism proposes the Cosmos as the central fact or final aim of the Universe, or of any system; and suggests that evaluations might approximate independent reality much closer when they are made relative to the Cosmos, based on comparisons with the Cosmos. This is the (un)natural world-view of cosmic realism. Based on scientific research data and sometimes even counterintuitive synthesis, this complex and nonlinear cosmocentric perspective maintains that reality is not as it looks, things are not what they seem. Of course, this view assumes that scientific realism is correct; i.e. that there is a world 'out there' that really exists and that is independent of our attempts to observe it and in fact independent of our very being. Its corollary assumption is that scientific investigations can make this world comprehensible to us. Neither of these assumptions is arbitrary or ad hoc; they are based on plenty of evidence from modern Science as well as the lessons of History.

Perhaps the lessons of History have taught us to avoid the fate of Buridan's ass. Perhaps we no longer have to fritter precious time away, just waiting for partisans of the rival view to die out. Perhaps we have learned to recognize irrational clingings to self-flattering views, and we already know how to deal with ignorance and arrogance. Perhaps Mankind no longer needs cosmic vanity to be reconciled with 'fate' and natural reality. Perhaps a paradigm shift in favor of cosmocentrism will herald the dawn of a new era, when emotional maturity and tolerance begin to supersede fratricidal-suicidal adolescence. Let's hope so- and, therefore, let's start groping toward it!


Perhaps the most concise definition of anthropocentrism was given by Aristotle, when, some 2,300 years ago, he quoted the great sophist Protagoras (cca. 481-411 B.C.E.), who said that "Man is the measure of all things". This was in perfect agreement with common-sense views of Man, Nature, God or gods, and the Universe; based on the knowledge of those times and projections or extrapolations thencefrom. In order to fully understand what anthropocentrism is and what its inadequacies are, it may be worth while to take a somewhat closer look.

For some 7,000 years, until the early XXth century, we had thought that we live in a static Universe, characterized by eternity, permanence, stability, predictability, and reversibility. Although the importance of change and time-bound, irreversible processes have always been recognized, the permanence-features of the Universe had been given greater emphasis. Why? Because of the adaptive preoccupation with God or gods, which in this context also represented the vast unknown segment of reality; and of course, God or gods had to be immutable in order to maintain divine status and absolute rights. What evidence was there to support such view?

Not much. Our remote ancestors did not think so much in terms of evidence as in terms of plausibility. However, they were no fools. Keen observations formed the basis of their intuitive views and sharp analogies helped them to make sense of the bewildering world in which they lived. It was quite natural to observe human causation, from which simple intuition or projection led to superhuman causation. So, gods had always been thought to be giant humanoids with supernatural powers. Remember, Science did not exist as such; and authority was based on power, rather than knowledge. Thus, the Sun-god Shamash had divine authority by means of which laws could be conferred upon Sumerian society and enforced through the good offices of King Hammurabi about 4,000 years ago, throughout Babylonia.

This is how the first consistent world-view arose in ancient Mesopotamia, based on astronomical observations and practical considerations. It was the natural or instinctively intuitive flat-Earth view, according to which we live on a flat disk covered by a hemisphere. The ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, among others, furnished gods and angels for Heaven above the hemisphere, and devils and demons for Hell beneath the disk. Stars and their constellations resembling something that humans could relate to, gave rise to astrology and associated myths. The most important feature of this natural world-view was consistency with all known facts as well as explanation in terms that were familiar and satisfying to the ancients.

Of course, partial explanations also flourished, as this was the age of fabulous myths and great legends. However, the most general view, being the most consistent with facts and features of reality thought to be important, was this anthropocentric flat-Earth model, which was also the most satisfying in terms of cognitive-emotional needs.

The only addition to this view was its extension by Aristotle. He simply took the flat Earth and spinned it around, so that the hemisphere became a full sphere. By that time, more and more evidence seemed to suggest that the Earth was round, not flat; and this was more consistent with his philosophical reasoning, which emphasized natural beauty and harmony.

It was thus quite natural for Aristotle to propose his famous hierarchy, called "Scala Naturae", which put Man near the top of a ladder or apex of a pyramid, if you will. Beneath Man was the animal kingdom, and beneath that, the non-living world. Above Man was God or gods; by means of which the unknown could be rationalized, albeit in naïve anthropocentric terms. Man thus acquired dominion over Nature, Man was Nature's finest, destined to rule all the world, being subject but to God or gods.

Our truth-needs were satisfied by the simple anthropocentric world-view, while our love-needs were satisfied by the human-privilege notion of our closest kinship to God or gods. Together, they had taken care of our cognitive-emotional needs, with minor variations, all along the line. Thus, natural psychodynamics was the essence of anthropocentrism, quite understandable in prescientific times and unscientific terms. Things were what they seemed, and reality was as perceived by Man.

Based on careful astronomical observations, the Alexandrian astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus formalized the Aristotelian world-view during the 2nd century, A.D. The Ptolemaic system simply postulated that the Earth was the spherical center of the Universe; and the Sun, the stars, and the other planets revolved in orbits and spheres around it. Heaven was still above it all, and Hell was still below the surface of the Earth.

A dozen centuries or so later, this was still the prevailing view, further extended and complicated by astronomical observations and postulates, such as stellar patterns and various epicycles. This perspective formed the basis of the geocentric paradigm as championed for example by the famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe at the end of the Renaissance period in the XVIth century. It was still a directly anthropocentric perspective, well in line with Church dogma. The Universe still revolved around Man; and thus, no matter how pompous it sounds, Man was still the crowning glory of Creation and God's gift on Earth.

Let's remember that ever since Man knows that he knows, reality has always been perceived in two categories; known and unknown. At first, knowledge was limited to Man's immediate experience; and everything else was unknown. But the unknown is unpredictable, hence anxiety-provoking; and unrationalized anxiety reduces Man to helplessness. By rationalizing thunder and lightning as the wrath of God or gods, for example, such phenomena could be given explanations that people could relate to; and, very importantly, no other explanations were available. Today, we have adequate explanations of natural phenomena without recourse to supernatural notions. We might still experience some anxiety when facing thunderstorms for example, but we no longer have to invoke and try to placate gods or demons in order to survive such episodes. In other words, as knowledge has increased over the millenia, the unknown has decreased proportionately. Knowledge thus enables us to relate to various features of reality without superstitious beliefs and practices or incapacitating fears and anxieties. However, in this context, it is important to distinguish between subjective and objective kinds of knowledge. Perhaps a word of explanation is in order.

Subjective knowledge, while intuitively appealing and perhaps even emotionally satisfying, may also be unreliable and invalid. From perceptual selectivity to idiosyncratic preferences, subjective knowledge can easily lead to false beliefs and distortions of reality. For example, belief in witchcraft had led to tragic persecutions and absurd injustices for many centuries. It is thus a moral duty to always strive for more and more adequate knowledge and to remain open to criticism, even self-critique; otherwise, arrogance and self-righteousness can lead to but repetitions of the horrors of History.

Objective knowledge may be counterintuitive and even emotionally unsatisfactory, but being reliable and valid, it really helps to avoid self-righteousness and falsehoods. Fortunately, we have epistemological methods and safeguards to ensure the adequacy of objective knowledge. The built-in self-correction of the scientific method is our principal guarantee of reliability and validity, in spite of the inherent limitations of Science.

Science is not perfect. Nor is it complete. It may or may not be emotionally comforting, but it's still the best we have; and it works. Of course, it is also our moral duty to avoid the fallacies and pitfalls of scientism; and never to mistake Science for a religious substitute or make substitute religion of it. Science, in the modern sense of a dynamic epistemological activity characterized by its hypothetico-deductive-inductive method, is still very young- barely 400 years old. What's that compared to 4,000 years of anthropocentrism, 40,000 years of cultural evolution, and 400,000 years of anthropological evolution?

Yes, it was perhaps 400 years ago that modern Science had begun to take shape. Francis Bacon of Verulam, among others, was instrumental in formulating its methodology. By that time, Copernicus had already proposed the heliocentric paradigm; and thanks to Gutenberg, printed knowledge had begun to spread. However, only elegance and Occam's razor argued in favor of Copernicus; and his vindication had to await the works of Kepler, Galileo, Newton, etc. Scientific measurement and systematic experimentation throughout the XVIIth century gave rise to the scientific revolution. To be sure, Science was still part and parcel, a 'handmaiden' of Natural Philosophy; but by the turn of the century, its emancipation was well under way, and direct anthropocentrism was in trouble!

The XVIIIth, XIXth, and especially XXth, centuries have seen indirect anthropocentrism gradually superseding the earlier direct view as the thriving handmaiden of Natural Philosophy had rapidly blossomed into a very attractive and effective young 'goddess'. Her emancipation became complete about a hundred years ago, and her superior beauty and efficiency have been amply confirmed by such spectacular technological marvels that would have been called 'miraculous' not too long ago. When my Grandfather was a child, there was no such thing as an airplane; but in the year he died, Man walked on the Moon. And that's within a single lifetime! Since then, progress has even accelerated and keeps increasing at an ever-dizzying rate. Today's knowledge, its immensity notwithstanding, may be very rudimentary compared to tomorrow's knowledge. Where it's all going to lead is anybody's guess right now.

During its early evolution, Science generally proposed a mechanistic, deterministic, and mathematically predictable Universe, not unlike a great clockwork of great precision. The XVIIIth century had extended this static, hydraulic, machine-like view to Man, as shown for example, by Julien de la Mettrie's "L'Homme Machine". Pierre Simon de Laplace's monumental work, "Mécanique Céleste" had taken determinism as far as doing away with God by doing without God. When questioned about it by the Emperor Napoleon, Laplace rather arrogantly replied that he had no need of such hypothesis.

Indeed, the rapid and spectacular progress of Science had demystified the Universe to the point that Friedrich Nietzsche announced that "God is dead". Nihilism, existentialism, and materialism had no room for anything supernatural. Positivism and Darwinism appeared to rob Man of his semi-divine privileges and cast serious doubt on divine creationism. Thus, about a hundred years ago, as Science had gradually begun to reveal that things are not what they seem, even indirect anthropocentrism started to be in trouble!

However, the Universe itself was still thought to be static. That is, the heliocentric model, ruled by blindly mechanical forces, was at first simply extended to infinity, both 'up' toward the macrocosm of stars and galaxies and 'down' toward the microcosm of atoms and molecules. Later, the Sun was deprived of its central position; and there was no further need for an astronomical center, as such. Stellar and galactic systems could make up the static Universe, without a preferred center; but being its prime observer, Man could still maintain dominion. This is a very subtle psychological point, well worth careful consideration. The static Universe remained indirectly anthropocentric, by virtue of potentially infinite observability and predictability, hence controllability. It was even thought that all essentials were already known, and the completion of Science would soon be forthcoming. Instead, what came forth was a series of knockout blows.

During the XXth century, it became clear that the Universe is not static, but dynamic and expanding. Worse, Relativity Theory in the macrocosm and Quantum Mechanics in the microcosm had completely overthrown common-sense, intuitive notions; and thus deprived us of conceptual comfort and security. As such, there could be no further doubt that things are definitely not what they seem. Increasing doubt had been cast on predictability and controllability. Worst of all, limits to knowability had begun to appear, such as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle in Physics and Gödel's Undecidability Theorem in Mathematics, for examples. Schrödinger's wave mechanics cast doubt on exact determinism and substituted probabilistic interpretations. It was shown that the act of investigation itself may distort reality. The sheer proliferation of data, the information explosion has blown all objective knowledge way out of proportion, in utter disregard of Man's perennial cognitive-emotional needs and the lessons of History. The result has been increasing confusion and frustration throughout the weary XXth century.

Nowadays, people don't know what to believe or whom to trust any more; and cognitive dissonance as well as emotional voids characterize modern Man's conflicts, which may be indicative of progressive neurosis, maybe even psychosis of some schizophrenic variety. By instinct, Man still directly perceives things relative to himself; but scientific knowledge forces him to think less and less as though the Universe revolved around him and more and more in very sophisticated, albeit still indirectly anthropocentric terms- but even that is rather objectionable. For example, we have to consciously remind ourselves that the galaxies are 'out there' and electromagnetism permeates everything and bacteria are 'all around', whether we see them or not. Together with the Big Bang cosmology and plenty of other evidence, the emerging picture seems to suggest that human sense perception, however extended by telescopes and microscopes, keeps Man locked into a 'bubble' of virtual reality, as it were, in dynamic interaction with the expansion of the Universe. But virtual reality is definitely not independent, real reality. This is tantamount to pronouncing the death sentence on all anthropocentrism, whether direct or indirect or both.

Let's put it differently. If we proceed from Man 'outward', we pass through the increasing magnitudes of the solar system, then the stellar system, then the Galaxy, then the Local Group of galaxies, then the supercluster of local groups, all the way to the outer limits of the Universe. As we reach these limits at the level of cosmology itself, things become increasingly blurred. The geometry is no longer Euclidean, visual information becomes less and less reliable, and more and more indirect methods have to be used, from radio astronomy and x-rays to mathematical modelling. There's a uniform microwave background radiation at 2.7 degrees Kelvin, which may be evidence of the Big Bang itself. Recently discovered hot and cold dark (nonluminous) matter seems to comprise 90% of the Universe, which is inaccessible to direct observation. Perhaps such dark matter could effectively close the Universe by providing a positive cosmological constant, whereby a pulsating or oscillating Big Bang - Big Crunch cosmology would perforce emerge, ad infinitum.

Now, if we proceed from Man 'inward', we pass through decreasing magnitudes, through the 'worlds' of physiology and biochemistry, all the way to quarks and other subatomic particles. Finally, we reach the inner limits of the Universe, as it were. Here, again, a blurred mode of existence seems to prevail, as virtual particles spontaneously jump in and out of existence all the time, as shown by Quantum Field Theory. Again, the geometry is no longer Euclidean, visual information becomes less and less reliable, and more and more indirect methods have to be used from electron tunneling and x-ray scattering to mathematical modelling. The same dark matter as in cosmology seems to provide sufficient energy densities for the fundamental field so that virtual particle fluctuation may continuously take place, again ad infinitum.

So, proceeding from Man outward, we reach the blurred mode of existence, which is cosmodynamics. Proceeding from Man inward, we also reach the blurred mode of existence, which is also cosmodynamics. Either way, the same Cosmos is at the end, as per current knowledge. The Cosmos seems to be the infinite baseline of all existence, from which all material events arise and to which they periodically return. If we were to post an unbiased, ideal observer at the level of the bare Cosmos, the Universe would look very different from there than from here. Let's be a bit whimsical and call this nonhuman cosmic observer 'Genie', somewhat similarly to Maxwell's 'Demon', if you will. Relative to Genie, all material events would be on a scale of positively increasing magnitudes, if we allow the observations to be at the origin of Cartesian coordinates. Genie would observe all material as well as nonmaterial events as various motion phenomena as though the vantage point were at the center of a sphere, assuming our habitual Euclidean geometry for present heuristics. Therefore, relative to Genie, it seems reasonable to conclude, that the Cosmos is the central fact or the final aim of the Universe; and this is nothing less than the definition of cosmocentrism itself.

Let's imagine a straight line or spectrum with Man at the center, and Cosmos at both ends. If we rotate either half of this line around Man, we get the anthropocentric paradigm. If we bend it in half and double it up so that Man is at one end while Cosmos at the other, and then rotate it around the Cosmos, we get the cosmocentric paradigm. Since the doubling up resembles a loop, by rotation we get a doughnut or torus-shaped Universe, which is compatible with all present-day objective knowledge, including Cosmology. Man is way out, somewhere at the periphery of the torus, nowhere near the center. However, things are not this cheap; and while anthropocentrism is a simple, static, and linear world-view, cosmocentrism is a complex, dynamic, and nonlinear perspective, nay, a complete paradigm per se.

Cosmocentrism shifts focus from Man to the Cosmos. It considers Man as nothing special, but a perfectly normal and necessary phase of cyclic evolutionary cosmodynamics. Cosmic evolution seems to proceed by both positive and negative feedback loops, between Big Bangs and Big Crunches, following the irreversible thermodynamic Arrow of Time. The Cosmos itself seems to consist of an overall closed system and several open subsystems, in dynamic interaction, somewhat like multidimensional subsets within a universal master set. The overall cosmic matrix with its pulsating submatrices appears to be what existence is all about. That one of the submatrices may be called human need no longer distort the overall matrix or the proportions and relations of the submatrices. Relative to the bare Cosmos, which alone may be timeless, all material events are observably time-bound and transient. Cosmocentrism thus provides a perspective consistent with all objective knowledge, and a world-view more harmonious with independent reality than the severely flawed, directly or indirectly anthropocentric paradigm. As such, it may be instrumental in the eventual resolution of our conflicts.

No need to fear humiliation. Our cosmic dignity is assured by our cosmic citizenship status without having to imagine that the Universe revolves around us. Although our cosmic roles may appear to be rather insignificant, we are just as indispensable and integral parts of the Cosmos as any other living or nonliving entity.

Nor does cosmocentrism do away with God or religion. Although, as Professor Stephen Hawking noted, in the Big Bang cosmology there's not much for a Creator to do; God and religion may still be invoked, albeit for emotional rather than cognitive needs. The challenge of cosmocentrism is that Man, not God, must be dethroned. Of course, God in the cosmocentric paradigm cannot very well resemble the Heavenly Father image of naïve realism; but, perhaps, it's just as well. Anyway, that's another story.

Summary & Conclusions

In summary, it may be said that this paper has endeavored to show that a fundamental paradigm shift from anthropocentrism to cosmocentrism is possible and perhaps even overdue. That's because common-sense perception of everyday reality is ab ovo anthropocentric, which is increasingly proven unreliable and invalid by factual knowledge of objective reality. It's high time for our intuitive world-view to become fully consistent with Nature as Nature is, rather than trying to squeeze Nature into our self-flattering pigeonholes. In short, it's time for a fundamental adjustment in our cognitive-emotional perspectives; it's time to transcend our bubble of virtual reality.

To be sure, direct anthropocentrism arose quite naturally along the lines of cultural evolution. From the ancient flat-Earth myth through the Ptolemaic system all the way to the geocentric model of Tycho Brahe, it was just a linear extension of a simple paradigm: that of Man on top of his world. Then, the Copernican heliocentric model gave rise to a mechanistic and increasingly materialistic world-view; which, together with modern Science in general and modern Physics in particular, has gradually shown in recent times that even the indirect anthropocentric paradigm may be inadequate and seriously misleading. The anthropocentric evolution of world-views from primitive to sophisticated can be seen as growing conflicts between subjective and objective perceptions of factual truth, all the way to the cognitive dissonances and emotional voids of today, always relative to Man.

Against this, the new cosmocentric paradigm may be proposed as adequate and truthful representation of cosmic reality; through the careful observations of an independent and factual and unbiased, perhaps even ideally optimal observer at the level of the Cosmos itself, as it were. This objective, nonhuman Genie has only one problem: available knowledge is still permeated by indirect or implied anthropocentrism, in however increasing sophistication and subtlety; as seen for example, in the various 'anthropic' principles. As even the existing tools, such as logic, mathematics, physics, philosophy etc. are still 'contaminated' by anthropocentrism, new tools may be needed; thanks to which many discoveries may be made beyond our wildest dreams. Much remains to be discovered. Genie is going to be very busy, but Genie needs a lot of help for complete substantiation of the cosmocentric paradigm. Although many of its features are counterintuitive, perhaps even irrational; there is already enough evidence in favor of adopting factual and objective cosmocentrism, and without repeating historical mistakes at that. Until now, every world-view has been anthropocentric, whether in crude or subtle ways. The radically new world-view of cosmic realism, called cosmocentrism, introduced here for the first time, is explicitly based on scientific realism, which believes that theoretical constructs (with some exceptions) refer to actually existing things which are described differently on different levels of theory. Gravitation is really there, whether it be described by forces or space-time curvatures. Classical realism has been superseded by quantum realism, which in turn may be superseded by cosmic realism. What it all means for us, is simply that we have to give up dominion. Cosmocentrism does not exalt Man. Rather, relative to the Cosmos, it shows the soberingly modest place of Man in Nature and Nature's proper place in Man. As such, cosmocentrism may be less emotionally satisfying than anthropocentrism- well, tough luck.

Presently, both paradigms are compatible with existing knowledge; and choice may be again made on grounds of elegance and Occam's razor, at least for the time being, until Genie tilts the balance definitely and irreversibly forward. The choice is ours, but with an important caveat. Factual truth is a moral duty and we really ought to keep in mind that things are not what they seem. The shift in favor of cosmocentrism is tantamount to a fundamental revolution at the conceptual level. The essence of this revolution is that Cosmos, rather than Man, is the true measure of all things.

Paper written for and presented at the joint British Mensa P.D.G. — I.S.P.E.Conference, Braziers College, Oxford, U.K., May 5-7, 2000.


Telicom, Vol. XIII, No. 5, July 2000, pp. 30-40,

Commensal, No. 102, August 2000, pp. 24-33,

Gift of Fire, Issue 120, Nov. 2000; pp. 24-35.

PhiSIGma, No. 22, August 2001, pp. 26-36.

1 Chairman and Founder, Mensa Israel; Diplomate, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry;


Anonymous said...

Measures Exist Only For Measurers

"The essence of this revolution is that Cosmos, rather than Man, is the true measure of all things”, Mr. Luger writes.

The 'true' measure of all things for whom? "The truth does not make man great; Man makes the truth great," Confucius. The cosmos does not give a rat's posterior about the truth or measuring, except possibly in the philosophy of panpsychism, according to which nature is permeated by consciousness, and even here this is a stretch.

The cosmos is the 'true' measure of all things only potentially to the cosmos, itself, only if the cosmos is conscious or is consciousness, as in Buddhism and Vedanta philosophy. Why the capital "C" in cosmos?

There is, in fact, no one-and-only-one 'true' measure of all things, except in relation to a conscious entity, which is doing the measuring or perceiving. The cosmos, even if it were or is conscious, is not likely bothered by minuscule man's anthropocentrism, only other small scale conscious entities perhaps would be, e.g., "ETs."

This is not intended to be a defense of anthropocentrism, only a recognition that man cannot completely free his view of the cosmos from his position in it, and the perceptions of his own brain/mind and sensory apparatus in relation to the cosmos of which he is a part. Man cannot in principle completely factor himself out of his own perspective and if he could of what use would such a perspective be and to whom? That which is known only exists in relationship to a knower. Therefore, "Cosmocentrism" is inevitably just another flavor of a more subtle anthropocentrism disguised.

There could be one-and-only-one 'true' measure of all things, only if there were only One 'True' Measurer, i.e., from a theistic rather than naturalistic scientific perspective. Is this, ironically, why the author has chosen to capitalize the "c" in cosmos, a vestige of anthropomophism projected upon the cosmos as a subtle unrecognized theism?


dharmabruce said...

Dr. Zoo, I enjoyed your comments.

Who are we? We are a tiny little bit of the cosmos. Our evolution within the cosmos has resulted in a delightful perception mirror. But we've been mistaking the mirror for the cosmos for far too long. Don't mistake the pointing finger for the moon!

The cosmos made a finger and it picked a nose. What a waste. :)


Anonymous said...

I would add to what may-tzu has said in suggesting that the term anthropocentrism is a cosmocentric observation, and simply expresses the knowledge that we are limited by our perceptual and computational boundaries, and by the length of our lives. In this form, it could give us more perspective on the human condition in relation to a wider reality. In other words, the development of the term anthropocentrism is for the use of further understanding the cosmos. versus simply does not apply. fnnuy tgnihs wdros, ocne uootsrednd.

Ed Dellian said...

The paradigm shift from anthropocentrism to cosmocentrism and reversely already happened several times in history. The last cosmocentric turn was the so-called "Copernican revolution" which actually did not simply replace "geocentrism" with "heliocentrism". However cosmocentric Copernicanism was replaced soon after Newton died by an again anthropocentric view that endures.Cf. my web-site