Tuesday, February 21, 2006
The search for universal physical principles began in the Western tradition with philosophers we know as the Pre-Socratics. The Pre-Socratics were looking for what they they called the cosmos, a comprehensive order of things derived from the material substance or substances shared by all matter. From them came the impulse to do the same for the human species as a phenomenon disassociated from the rest of the physical world, to search in this case for the immaterial principle that made us all the same and would therefore serve as the foundation of universal human organization. To this day we continue this strange and presumptous quest, even though our much profounder understanding of the physical and biological world might suggest that the characteristics we share with a limited number of people embody our soundest principles of organization, precisely because of what is the same in all of us.