Being Part of the Universe

Via It’s Okay to be Smart.

Not entirely sure how I feel about this one. I like the sentiment, but we’re only a tiny part of the universe. Equating ourselves with the universe because “we are all star dust” or something similar doesn’t really work to my mind.


Romance at Mars Hill
Editing Memories
Atomism is Just a Theory
What is Love? Baby Don’t Hurt Me …
  • William

    It is truth my friend. I like it.

  • Toni Larson

    Like A grain of sand is part of the beach,
    Like A drop of water is part of the sea,
    Like My frosty breath is part of the night,
    Yes, I’m a bit of stardust,
    no matter how small.

    • Bart Mitchell

      Very nice, I love this.

  • Rex

    Consciousness is the best attempt that we know of for the universe to perceive itself, and we get the privilege of being the medium. If we should discover others one day, I hope that we and they are able to keep this thought in mind.

    Or, if that is too deep; One day we are going to realize that our real overlords are the bacteria that inhabit Earth. If you think about it, they are the ultimate tool using species. They spawned multicellular life so that eventually, it could build the Voyager probes in order to carry bacteria out of the solar system!

  • Kodie

    It reminds me of this video from Seinfeld.

    I don’t have show-downs with the universe.

  • Jack M

    The science I see seems to make it very likely true that the subjective eperience of an enduring self is an illusion that thinks it’s real. It’s like a user interface that thinks it’s a user. Everything we know that exists is made up of fermions and bosons arising from quantum fields. The fermions and bosons agregated as me and as you are intensifications of quantum events embedded in an interconnected causal web interlacing all spacetime in this universe.

  • FO

    Without conscience(s) the Universe would not be able to experience itself or even know of its own existence.
    This is a reverse Anthropic/Zen principle.
    “Does a universe exist, if there is no conscience in it that can observe it?”

    • Michael

      Well from a broader perspective, there is nothing special about consciousness. There is already all the information of the universe “out there,” so to speak, even if there is no analog of this information in a central nervous system. Quantum “observation” merely refers to an interaction with anything at all.

      The anthropic principle should be called the anthropocentric principle.

  • Paul

    As it’s presented here: Dangerous. This quote is out of context of philhellenes’ original video (a video which was lauded here two years ago) where it is used poetically amidts talking about understanding science. This small meme captures none of that and really it is guilty of something similar to cherry-picking. Instead of picking the quote that, out of context bolsters the argument, it picked the quote that represents the argument but opens it up to attack and falsehoods by being out of context.

    As it is presneted here, the quote opens the door to pseudoscience. If I had not seen the video that this quote had come from and recognised the it, my first thought would be that this is nothing but nonsense most likely to seque into something Chopra-esque. It’s fine to be awed by being able to understand the universe. But that is complicated and philhellenes took 10 minutes to bulster the argument away from a “spiritual experience.” A cherry-picked quote for an internet meme does not do this. It is dangerous as it opens an intellectual position to being corralled with the unintellectual.

    • FO

      I don’t see much Chopra-junk in it.
      It is pretty true to me that we are made of the same shit as the rest of the universe, and nothing particular if not in arrangement.

      • Kodie

        I get what Paul’s saying. If it’s out of context, I sensed that because talking up to the universe to tell it something it already knows is weird.

        Serenade by The Steve Miller Band.

        I spend a little more time than most people consciously realizing that I live on a planet (all the clues are there). Also:

        I do talk to inanimate objects within the universe but I fail to comprehend that they are the universe also. I have a more difficult time with this “stardust” notion, although Joni Mitchell put it well in Woodstock; I do not fully comprehend the idea that my molecules used to be very far away from where I am now.

      • Paul

        There is a huge difference between acknowledging the common origins of matter from nucleosynthesis and the big bang for the universe at large, and jumping to a personification of the universe that equates us as being the universe as well. The latter is quite pantheistsic or panentheistic. It opens the door to how our consiousnouses are all interconnected with each other and the universe at large. How? Quantum mechanical gobbledy-gook, superposition of observers, and spooky interactions. Don’t forget the waves too!

        I go to a university that is known for a having very hippy tradition and see this train of thought way too often. Identifying it has become a knee-jerk reaction. I will agree, however, that Phil’s original message was not laiden with Chopra-junk. But without the encapsulating discussion from which this quote originated, the door to such junk opens.

        • FO

          Aren’t you reading it a bit too literally?

          • Kodie

            Most people would.

          • Paul

            My experience agrees with Kodie, most people would. Since when have people been able to get the difference between literal and metaphorical truths, eh? There’s some famous book that gives people a hard time in this respect…

            I write a lot of poetry myself and am trying to incorporate more and more scientific and mathematical beauty into it. I have no problem with a poetic statement trying to capture something aesthetic about the universe. Sound-bites don’t do any good in this regard. I had no problem with Phil’s video, but this is simply too divorced to necessarily carry the same intention unless you are familiar with his work.

  • Steven Baudoin

    It works for me. I have a photo of the Milky Way, with Devil’s Tower in the foreground, on my Facebook profile. When someone asks me if I’ve been there, I say, “The Milky Way? Hey, I’ve never been anywhere else!”

    • UrsaMinor

      You need to get out more. Andromeda is lovely this time of year.

  • Iosue

    Man’s general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general world view, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself. If he thinks of the totality as constituted of independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken and without border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole.

    David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order