Monday, February 16, 2009

on science and seeing whole

a word about science... and with all due respect to this vast body of knowledge (one i've spent a good deal of my life studying), i don't believe that it – in and of itself – has answers to the ultimate questions. the meaning of existence. as suggested in the post on mafouz's the beggar.

science is about limits. isolation. manipulation. control. and i don't use any of those words in a pejorative sense. they are (technical) terms often used in science. this kind of analysis is powerful and productive, no doubt.

but not in isolation. not in and of itself. i've also spent a good deal of my life studying the humanities... literature, art, philosophy and religion. i think mahfouz's point in the beggar is just that: science has its place. so do our other forms of knowing and doing.

the point i'm particularly interested in, however, is being... being present. or the state of presence. that's what tells us that finding meaning in life isn't about choosing between science and art, or religion and science... it's about the whole. and without presence we can't see (or be) whole.
The ultimate truth, then, is in the reality of the world and not somewhere outside or beyond it, and the only thoroughfare to the metaphysical is a physical one, along which travelers should be committed to the well-being of each other and the maintenance of the road.

-Rasheed El-Enany, from Naguib Mahfouz: The Pursuit of Meaning (pp.109-110).


  1. nice quote. familiar themes. :)

  2. indeed... thought of you on that "committed to the well-being of each other" part! ;)

  3. completely agree with your thoughts science and its limitations and the need to view the world in a holistic manner. have recently been reading David Suzuki's book The Sacred Balance. thought i'd share a passage that your entry reminded me of:

    "while we look to science to reveal the secrets of the cosmos, its primary methodology of reductionism focuses on parts of nature. and as the world around us is examined in pieces, the rhythms, patterns and cycles within which those pieces are integrated are lost, and any insights we gain become illusions of understanding and mastery."

    science is a beautiful methodology and can contribute a great deal to our understanding fo the world around us, but it's only one aspect of knowing. without other ways, methodologies, insights, we are not complete in our humanity. but i would also argue that, like the quote presented, we "should be committed to the well-being of each other and the maintenance of the road." i am not sure that we can be complete by simply being and knowing. we must contribute and give something back. just as our understanding of the world and ourselves should be integrated by the various methodologies of inquiry, we too must realize that our presence and our being is part of something larger than ourselves and without maintaining that interconnectedness we are lost.

    Thanks for making me think.



    love the quote!... and suzuki. i used to watch his show when i was a kid. never really read any of his books, though. only snippets.

    thanks for sharing your thoughts, groz!

    peace :)