The Manifesto for establishing Cosmology as a new Philosophy of Nature
The purpose of our activities is to approach the cognition of the Universe in its essence. Cosmology – the discipline which tries to reach that essence manifested as the interconnection and organisation between all phenomena in the world – has, by definition, the highest and most absolute goal, all other goals representing only its particular parts.
Thus, cosmology is identical to philosophy of Nature. Man, as a particular part of Nature, represents the manifestation of the very same principles and tendencies that exist in the whole Cosmos, and therefore – through his relationship with external Nature and his own self – confirms himself as the microcosmos, inseparably connected with the macrocosmos.
In this respect, cosmology necessarily also includes anthropology as a discipline of Man, therefore needing to be humanistic in the full sense of the word. Since, in the very same sense as the self-reflective human being exists only through his relationship with the Universe, the cognition of the Universe is an act which necessarily happens only in the context of human history and human psychology. In case this fundamental insight is forgotten and either the cosmological-natural, psychological, or historical context is neglected, the cognition of the Universe is impossible. For this reason, cosmology needs either to exist as a universal discipline, which is built around the axis of the total relationship “Man-Cosmos”, or not at all as a science.
The cognition of the whole Universe requires the synthesis of all manifold and complementary powers of cognition present in Man, their critical usage and permanent mutual verification. In this way, the path directed towards the reflection on the origin of all things and its manifestation through the natural world establishes itself as an organised system of wholeness between thinking and practice – that is, as a science in the full sense of the word – bringing about knowledge and comprehension.
This critical method follows as a consequence of the infinite character of Nature, which implies that the cognition of the world cannot be realised in a single step, but only as continuous progress. This method takes the form of a chain of refutation and criticism of earlier levels of knowledge in the pursuit of more complete and accurate knowledge, encompassing and transcending the previous one. Various means of cognition open the way for a diversity of methodologies and disciplines of cosmology being employed, which need to be united and viewed taking into account their mutual interconnection.
Physical cosmology, therefore, aims to describe the Universe, both theoretically with mathematical methods and models, while necessarily using a certain set of philosophical notions and assumptions, as well as empirically by trying to use experiments to exclude certain physical models or paradigms. Physical cosmology, as any other human assertion, is necessarily determined and bound by philosophical notions and assumptions, however: notions like matter, space, time, measurements, mass have been commonly used without reflection. For this reason, although physical cosmology represents an inevitable tool in the cognition of Nature, it cannot completely fulfil its aim on its own.
On the other hand, speculative philosophy of Nature critically examines those very notions and assumptions that are taken by physical cosmology as merely given, also addressing the question of the possibility of describing Nature by mathematical methods. Moreover, speculative philosophy also reflects on the relation between theory and experiment, and critically analyses the accomplishments and results of physical cosmology. However, without a living relationship towards the material, which is given to speculative philosophy by physical cosmology, and without the examination of the consistency of the concrete philosophical assumptions in relation to the empirical content, speculative philosophy becomes unproductive and leads to a stage characterized by various arbitrary intellectual concepts that cannot be either proven or refuted, even partially.
Finally, mythological cosmology uses the correspondence between Man and the world, i.e. it uses the parallels between certain states and processes happening in the external world and the ones happening in the internal life of Man. Furthermore, it directly creates images and symbols that are then used by poetical and artistical vision which tries to give symbolic and intuitive answers to fundamental cosmological questions. In this respect, the materials of mythological cosmology are of profound importance for the understanding of the fundamental relationship “Man-Cosmos”, therefore representing the junction between psychology and physics. At the same time, by revealing the regularities of Nature in relation to psychological processes, these materials often lead to an intuitive understanding of important properties of Nature. Despite this importance of mythological cosmology, if its materials are not put into a proper historical, natural, and critical context, but are instead understood as literal truths rather than symbolical concepts, they tend to become an irrational obstacle to the development of knowledge, leading into the darkness of superstition and absence of knowledge.
The full synthesis of theoretical and experimental physical cosmology, speculative cosmology and mythological cosmology, the critical analysis of their results and limitations – in the light of the goal given by the establishment of the universal science describing Nature in its totality – is possible only in the framework of philosophy of Nature or general cosmology, which represents their common medium and their common axis.
The development of knowledge regarding Nature shows itself as a component of history, and for that reason it cannot be viewed outside the development of human society – in much the same way as the current description of Nature needs to be understood in relation to its earlier stages of development and to the tendency for reaching future stages. Therefore, our position regarding cosmology and methods to approach the cognition of the Universe are inspired by historical experiences related to the development of human knowledge and not our subjective desires.
The first relation of Man towards Nature as a totality, and not only towards its particular parts, was the relationship between Man and the night sky, the motion of heavenly bodies and their regularities – which were then understood in their connection between the seasons of the year and the phenomena appearing on Earth. In this way, the first and most important truth about the world as a universal interconnectedness of beings on various levels was realized, i.e. that Nature is cosmos and not chaos. This necessarily leads to the idea that human knowledge capable of understanding the Universe is universal and indivisible. For, what is partial, bounded, and incomplete cannot cognise the Cosmos that is a unity.
In these very first attempts of understanding the world, Man still did not develop more complex categories of rational thought, while empirical insights were limited only to direct material given by the senses. However, self-conscious thinking, which is the primary characteristic of Man, together with the arising of questions regarding his own existence and purpose, have all required that the Universe tries to be understood immediately – using the capabilities which were at that time at disposal. In this way, on the junction of what would later become art, psychology and physics, mythological thinking was developed. It used the net of obvious parallels and hidden relations, as well as correspondences between conscious and unconscious parts of human psychology and Nature. In this fashion it developed a sumptuous richness of symbolical images and lessons regarding the world.
Following manifold complex processes, which happened during the development of human society, these images became the centres around which the customs and the systems of belief of organised religions were formed. Those systems of beliefs served to establish social cohesion and to create group identity, but also, at the same time, to justify social order, as well as the monopolies and privileges of ruling social groups. Further development in the description of the world, which used more complex forms of thought, as well as a focused interest in researching specific parts of Nature, led to the separation of philosophical thought from mythology. From that period on, the most fundamental and essential form of thinking about the Universe was represented by philosophy of Nature, closely related to metaphysics and epistemology. This comes from the fact that philosophy of Nature does not make any assumptions but questions every assumption and every statement.
During the development of philosophy of Nature, which happened throughout many centuries, the interest shifted from the totality and universal properties of things to specific objects and their particular properties. In this description of natural phenomena, through the reduction to parts that are analysed separately, a very efficient form of thinking was reached through quantitative reasoning – which reduces things to a purely abstract relation of numerical comparison – and thus, mathematical thinking became the foundation of empirical sciences.
The great success of empirical sciences in finding various new materials and understandings regarding the structure of matter accelerated their separation from philosophy. However, following the fundamental property of the world as Cosmos, a single thing cannot be understood as if isolated from all other things – because only through the totality of its relations to all other things it exists and acquires its properties. In the very same way, by separating empirical sciences one from another (for instance by dividing them into physics, chemistry, biology), as well as by their further reduction – i.e. the specialisation in even more narrowly defined disciplines – together with their separation from philosophy, the cognition of the world cannot be established. Although such separation of sciences from philosophy is understandable in a short-term sense in a given historical context, for it enables the specialised collection of various empirical material, in the long term it represents an obstacle for the development of every single discipline. This became completely obvious during the last century, and the beginning of this century, when it became apparent that the further development of each scientific discipline requires synthesis with all other disciplines, as well as a critical reflection and refutation of its own assumptions – which is nothing else than the requirement of the existence of philosophy of Nature.
To enable the return of empirical disciplines, enriched by the development of their material that happened through centuries, back to their source – which is philosophy of Nature – is the fundamental purpose of our activities. By this reunion, empirical sciences would again become reflective and critical, while speculative thought would get its material in the living structure of Nature. Uniting empirical sciences and critical philosophy of Nature, which needs to happen on a higher and enriched quantitative level, is opposed by those forms of thinking that represent a dogmatic fixation on earlier levels in the development of knowledge. For this reason, the currently dominating opinions, inspired by systems of organised religion on the one hand, and reductionism and positivism on the other hand, represent the main obstacles to understanding of the Universe further at this moment.
The systems of organised and institutional religion are, as a general rule, built around important contents of mythological cosmology and powerful psychological symbols, but, as institution, have a tendency to become separated from the creative impulses that had reshaped them, becoming stagnant and unwelcoming to philosophical and critical thought. If taken in this artificial way, they become a dogma and obstacle for the cognition of Nature and Man. Furthermore, by postulating an imagined ideal world with respect to which this real material word is just an illusion or the sphere of sin and suffering, those systems reject what is most real and complete, viz. the infinite power of Nature realised in the Universe we observe. Therefore, the criticism of systems of institutional religion represents a necessary pre-condition for the understanding of Man and the Universe.
The dominant positivist philosophy, which stands at the base of current science, represents essentially the same dogmatic process that characterises institutional religions. However, unlike institutional religion – which transforms the contents of mythological cosmology into a dogma isolated from its relationship towards philosophy – positivism is dogmatic towards a particular type of knowledge, namely with respect to the results of empirical methods.
Here, under the name of positivism we understand – based on the tradition of its usage which dates back to August Comte – the approach defined by its dogmatic relationship towards the rationally constructed phenomena, predominantly implying the uncritical attitude towards the notions of empirical sciences. This approach assumes the possibility of existence of isolated „facts” and separate statements regarding them as a means of the cognition of reality, thus taking the empirical sciences to be the superior form of cognition.
The positivist paradigm by definition rejects the importance of philosophy, especially metaphysics, while ignoring the fundamental fact that every notion and every fundamental assumption of empirical science is a philosophical assumption and is moreover based on a certain paradigm of metaphysics. This includes, for instance, notions such as matter and movement, change, finite and infinite, time, number, equality and inequality, measurement etc. and the already mentioned correspondence between mathematical structures and Nature. Therefore, positivism and its forms only represent a very primitive metaphysics, which uses the current limited results of science to make a universal truth out of them. Such a primitive kind of metaphysics does not allow any criticism, since it forbids the process of thinking about the fundamental notions of empirical sciences and their limitations.
The approach of positivism insists on so-called scientific ‘facts’, but forgets that Nature does not manifest as a bag of readymade facts; rather as a total relationship between an indefinite number of mutually dependent phenomena. Only after the establishment of a certain intellectual system and after interpreting manifold phenomena in its context, it is possible to form some relative notion of a fact. Furthermore, such a notion actually represents only a simplified component in some limited model of the infinite complexity of Nature. In fact, through the development of human knowledge, such relative facts are constantly replaced by new relative facts, in the framework of newer and relatively more precise intellectual systems. The positivist approach understands the knowledge of the Universe only as a loose collection of partial truths, as a random set of isolated ‘facts’ which are given once and for all. Because of this, positivism is not capable of understanding correlations and the inseparable interconnection of Nature in all its parts. Therefore, it represents a mere reductionism. Positivism usually uses the argument of correspondence between theory and measurements, and the principle of verification by measurements, while trying to prove the self-sufficient character of physical cosmology and other empirical sciences. At the same time, the principle of falsification, which is often mentioned as a criticism of the verification approach, only represents a logical extension of the same arguments for which the same criticism applies.
However, every experiment is always conducted in a specific context so its results cannot, by their very nature, be automatically understood as universal, but this universality is usually suggested based only on a naive application of the induction principle. Furthermore, every concrete experimental result necessarily has only a limited precision and, therefore, knowledge established by it is limited and uncertain. Moreover, an experiment doesn’t prove or disprove any hypothesis by the necessity of some logical mechanism, because every hypothesis can always be extended by further assumptions so that it guarantees an arbitrary good agreement with measurements. The main factor behind most of the current acceptance of certain experimental results, as well as the determination of their importance, is not based on some mysterious scientific method, but mostly by psychological and sociological processes happening inside the scientific community.
One even more significant problem lies in the fact that, with the growing complexity of experiments, they become less and less independent with respect to theoretical assumptions, which they want to test by observations. In this way, experiments tend to include evermore theoretical assumptions needed for their interpretation. For instance, elementary particle physics interprets its complex measurements in particle accelerators by using a statistical comparison between signals coming from a detector and computer simulations built upon concrete theoretical models. The information which is obtained in this fashion, as a consequence, loses its empirical justifications in proportion to the complexity of the experimental setup. In this way, the so-called empirical fact can be called a fact to a lesser and lesser degree, while it rather approaches the status of a subjective interpretative construction. The identical tautological relationship, which implicitly inserts theoretical assumptions in the interpretation of the observational data, is also present in observations characteristic of astrophysics and physical cosmology. As a result of this approach, experimental results eventually lose their contact with Nature and show the tendency of entering into the sphere of complete arbitrariness.
Due to its the passive conservatism and transformation of sciences into mechanical systems, the spirit of positivism has completely conquered empirical sciences and is responsible for the halt of the development of science and its deep crisis that we have been witnessing for the last half century, despite the greatness of total resources and the number of people included in scientific research, which cannot be compared to any other historical period.
The often-mentioned clash between ‘religion and science’ thus only becomes a clash between two degenerated systems – the system of institutional religion and the system of positivist science – that is, in essence, the clash between two dogmas. This clash is inevitable since both systems take the opposite contents of cosmology and make their idols out of them – while cutting their connection with philosophy, which would actually infuse life into them. Thus, we have on the one side the contemporary positivist science founded on empirical results, and on the other hand institutional religions founded on mythological fixed notions. The establishment of cosmology, which is possible only if founded on the principle of synthesis between naturalism and humanism, means a radical criticism and overcoming of both dogmas, which represent a blind alley in the development of human knowledge.
The establishment of cosmology as general philosophy of nature, proceeding as a synthesis of naturalism and humanism, in itself unites physical cosmology, speculative philosophy of nature and mythological cosmology – in this way establishing the unity of reflective thinking, scientific theoretical and experimental methods and art. The goal of this establishment owes its inspiration and is critically founded on the tradition of Renaissance thought. It was precisely the philosophy of Renaissance that opened the road for the triumph of scientific thought and for the development of mathematical methods in terms of the description of Nature. Furthermore, it was precisely the Renaissance thought that replaced the doctrinaire, hiding under the historical authorities, by experiment and practical relationship of a thinker towards Nature. However, the irony lies in the fact that empirical sciences, being ruled by the contemporary poverty of positivist philosophy, rejected the spirit of universalism, characteristic of Renaissance philosophy - which brought it to life – and, in this fashion, rejected philosophy.
The only possibility for further development of our knowledge of Nature consists in negating the current paradigm and re-establishing the spirit of the Renaissance, which will not be and cannot be an imitation of an earlier historical phase but must be the creative development of a tradition of thinking in a new historical period. The path towards this goal is revealed by the light that was aroused by Giordano Bruno, the revolutionary philosopher who left us the example of heroism and martyrdom, dedication to knowledge and fight against all dogmas; the philosopher who showed us the vision of an infinite and eternal Universe, which stretches from infinity, all the way down to Man as microcosmos – a Universe filled with life, infinite possibilities, and unimaginable wonders. In this moment, this vision is more important than ever before, and it directs us towards the full emancipation of Man and the theoretical and practical synthesis of Man with Nature.