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April 5, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

Quotes from “A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature”

Quotes from “A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature”

Beauty, Design, & Complexity of the Rose
“Time and again, against the notion that nature is randomly ordered and hence ultimately meaningless and unintelligible, we find beauty, intelligibility and being entwined throughout nature. Entwining is not quite the right word, however, for these aspects really aren’t separate to begin with, though we can mentally separate them, in abstraction. The elegant beauty of a rose, for example, isn’t something added to the plant; the rose is beautiful in the fullest sense, from surface to microscopic depth. The beauty, and the beautiful intelligibility, of the flower–its identifiable form and color, its layers of integrated cellular and molecular structure, its ultimate chemical constitution–is not something added to or extrinsic to the flower; it is the flower. And the is-ness, or being, of the rose is meaningful to us insofar as we know it, to whatever degree we have penetrated its intelligible order, layer by layer, and understand how it is that the underlying layers of complexity culminate in a rose.”
“In other words, a rose is most meaningful to us when we understand it as a kind of dramatic culmination, one possible only because all these layers of complexity are integrated by and toward the whole, brought into harmony in and by the living form itself. Understanding how the elements or parts are brought together harmoniously in the whole is a central goal of science to which the analysis of the whole to its parts is a mere handmaid.”

Defines humanity and its experience out of existence
“Materialist reduction does not only drain meaning from our zoological classifications; in its rejection of the living organism as real, it drains meaning from the very word life, damaging our language and thought, including the language and thought of scientists and science….
“Its important to keep all of this in mind when trying to grasp the far-reaching significance of the reductionist program, for if all is but a bump and grind of subatomic relationship, then the ontological status of the very being of our experience–and, consequently, the language that is largely based on them–are undermined. If organisms are not real–if cats, dogs, trees and humans are really the accidental accretion of genotypic traits–then the substantive nouns referring to them are merely human constructs…”

Structuralism critiques materialism:
According to structuralism, the parts exist not merely as historical aftereffects of the unpurposed association of yet-smaller material parts, but as recongizable functional entities understood in light of the living whole to which they belong. One of the reasons the structuralist rejection of reductionism is that, contra Charles Darwin, there are great leaps in nature, beginning with the great leap between nonliving and living things.”

“These things, existing as unified beings, can be subject of unified self-directing acts–acts not reducible to genetic epiphenomena–so that ascribing action to them through verbs (i.e. predication) is to mean something about our world.” (other parts of speech do the same thing)

“I’ve been to a lot of parties but I’ve never met the number 7.” (philosophers quip)

“Its one thing to accept the universe as ordered; but ordered in a way that human beings are capable of understanding is an extraordinary thing.”
Paul Davies

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