Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Opening Frontiers of Knowledge

Originally posted on April 28, 2012

Consider that we live at the surface of existence, and are learning to partake of increasing “depth” through successive expansions in many directions, including some of the following:

During the 15th and 16th century, the Renaissance, Western culture expanded to reconnect with its own pre-medieval past, the classic Graeco-Roman civilization, along with the spiritual traditions of other cultures, juch as the Jewish mystic tradition, the Kabbalah, and the mystery religions of classic and post-classic periods.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the horizon widened to include the idea that there were other worlds. Astronomy expanded beyond the idea of the heliocentric cosmos. More distance and freedom from theocracy

Mainly in the 19th century horizons opened by means of microscopy into the micro-world of cells and germs, micro-anatomical anatomy (histology), and other worlds. Advances in materials, tighter seals, finer glassware, etc., made it possible to begin to explore physiology and biochemistry in the early 20th century.

The invisible world of electronics and radio began to open in the 19th and 20th century and has expanded into radar, wi-fi, satellite radio, cell phones.

In the 18th century, more serious work on comparative linguistics emerged, and the study of the roots of our own and other languages, philology. This made progress since then, and now offshoots, communications studies, media studies.

The 19th century made strides carrying forward earlier explorations in oceanography and geography, and new concepts in geology have advanced since then—especially the weird concept of floating continents colliding as the source of volcanos and earthquakes.

During that period a number of people were exploring and trying to understand the implications of oriental philosophy, especially yogic, Buddhist, and Taoist principles. This has continued to be refined into the present.

Increasingly, psychology and sociology met other subjects, like linguistics. The field of semantics was a hybrid, looking at the social impact of words. Semiotics did the same for images. Most people don’t even know these fields exist. In the second half of the 20th century this trend continues, with people noticing ever-more vividly how much humans construct their social reality and get caught up in the illusion that it was always this way and that’s the way things need to be.

Theories of evolution have expanded to consider that history isn’t just “one damn thing after another,” but represents true novelty based on complexity and invention. Histories of the evolution of the ideas of democracy, a more ecumenical spirituality, the nature of history and the evolution of philosophy and psychology—indeed, the idea that consciousness itself might be a kind of evolutionary process—all these are, shall we say, “paradigm-shifting”?

Fields such as postmodernism, constructivism, bias, notions of co-creation, consciousness studies and the like have emerged, including sub-fields on, say, the study of myth, and parallel to that, re-opening to the implications of the power of and prevalence of the non-rational mind. Humanity in the early and mid-20th century had deluded themselves into believing that reason not only was the answer, but that it would be possible to inculcate critical thinking in the mass of the population.

These are examples of a myth of progress, an opening of the psyche to new realms. I see these frontiers as continuing to expand and more frontiers that we hadn’t thought of that way as also opening up. I see no reason to assume that we have discovered all that needs to be discovered. Well, I’m excited to be living in these exciting times. For me they offer opportunities to think about what’s happening and where is it going and what should we do so that we don’t end up where most of us seem to be heading (and taking the rest of us down the tubes with them).

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