Friday, November 20, 2009

A Note on the Symbolized Cosmos

Relevant to the discussion of of terms geocentrism or anthropocentrism, Seyyed Hossein Nasr employs the term "homocentric" in the following:

"A civilization may develop a science which turns its back upon the qualitative aspect of things revealed through symbols in order to concentrate upon the changes which can be measured quantitatively. But it cannot destroy the symbolic reality of things any more than can a qualitative and symbolic study of natural phenomena destroy their weight or size. Today, through the destruction of the 'symbolist' spirit in the West, men have lost the sense of penetrating into the inner meaning of phenomena, which symbols alone reveal. But this impotence does not mean that natural symbols have ceased to exist. The symbolic significance of the homocentric spheres of Ptolemaic astronomy, which the immediate appearance of the heavens reveals, remains valid whether in the theoretical Newtonian absolute space or the curved space of relativity the earth moves round the sun or the sun round the earth. The homocentric spheres symbolize states of being above the terrestrial state in which man is presently placed. The states of being remain real whether we understand and accept the natural symbolism which the heavens themselves reveal to us in our immediate and direct contact with them or whether in the name of other theoretical considerations this we disregard this immediate appearance and the symbol which this appearance conveys."

And:

"In fact, even new scientific theories, if they conform to any reality at all, possess their own symbolic meaning. To correspond to reality in any degree means to be symbolic..."[Italics mine.]From his Sufi Essays (1972).

Dr. Nasr is a professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, and is one of the most lucid writers today on metaphysics, the relationship of man and nature, the perennial philosophy and related topics. He is one of the founders of Sophia Journal, a journal of perennial philosophy and spirituality.

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