Thich Nhat Hanh

We are here to awaken from the

illusion of our separateness.

Thich Nhat Hanh

The Copernican Revolution

It is common in our Western societies too look in to the other to assign blame for whatever is wrong with the World, or with ourselves, our way to solve our problems it is related, not in what to do with ourselves, but how to deal with the other, if you can’t be on time because you were delayed by traffic, it drive you nuts, and you blame those morons who decided to take to the road at the same time you did. If things do not work at work it is easy to assign the blame to this , or that person, who dropped the ball, just like the idiot who fumbled the football on the last game of your favorite team, and therefor they lost the game. If our love relationship is not working, usually is because our partner it is not doing, this, or that, or because he/she does exactly the opposite of what you expect.

You may be wondering what Copernicus has to do with all this?

Well, his heliocentric model, with the Sun at the center of the universe, demonstrated that the observed motions of celestial objects can be explained without putting Earth at rest in the center of the universe. His work stimulated further scientific investigations, becoming a landmark in the history of science that is often referred to as the Copernican Revolution.

Jan Matejko's Copernicus

But what interest us here it is not the change from the Ptolemaic system of an Earth centered Universe,  to an Heliocentric, but  far vaster consequences; Not only the Earth was not the center of the Universe, and orbited around the Sun, but the idea of a center, in an Universe constantly in motion lost it’s appeal, from there to believe that Man as subject of knowledge it is no longer the central reference point of what he knows, just like the Earth, and the Stars, it lost the center idea that Man was the measure of all things.

Therefore the Self was relegated to a dustbin in history.

Vitruvian Man

Jean Laplanche, and Freud

Following the introduction of the theory of generalized seduction, French philosopher Jean Laplanche published a collection of essays under the title “The Unfinished Copernican Revolution” which referred specifically to the “object” of psychoanalysis, the unconscious – the generalized seduction theory emphasizing that such a revolution is “incomplete.”

Freud, who repeatedly compared the psychoanalytic discovery to a Copernican revolution, was for Laplanche both “his own Copernicus but also his own Ptolemy.” On the Copernican side, there is the conjoint discovery of the unconscious and the seduction theory, which maintains the sense of “otherness”; on the Ptolemaic side, there is (to Laplanche) the misdirection of the Freudian “return to a theory of self-centering”. Thus ‘what Laplanche calls Freud’s “going astray”, a disastrous shift from a Copernican to a Ptolemaic conception of the psyche…occurred when Freud replaced his early seduction theory…of sexuality as an “alien-ness” decentering the psyche’with one centered upon the individual – ‘the illusion of a universe that Laplanche would characterize as Ptolemaic, where the ego feels it occupies the central position’.

Laplanche wasn’t too happy with Kant, he accused him to revert to a Ptolemaic position, despite his Copernican Revolution.

Jean Laplanche

Immanuel Kant


Actually KANT’s “Copernican deed”, i.e. his critical reversal of the relation between the knowing subject and empirical reality, his fundamental break with dogmatic metaphysics, in short the whole content of his Critique of Pure Reason, acquires its essential significance only in the light of the new relationship between the ideal of science and that of personality, in the basic structure of his transcendental ground-Idea.

If one isolates KANT’s epistemology from the latter, KANT’s Copernican deed, which is usually considered to be a radical revolution in modern philosophy, is, in itself, in no wise radical.

It is quickly forgotten that since the time of DESCARTES, Humanist philosophical thought had been characterized by the tendency to seek the foundations of reality in the knowing subject only. HUME had with extreme acuteness tried to show that our experience is limited to sense phenomena. In distinction to the “objective” metaphysics of Greek and medieval philosophy, the Cartesian adage “cogito, ergo sum,” signified the very proclamation of the sovereignty of subjective thought. Insofar as the Humanist ideal of science, with its logistic principle of continuity, developed without a real synthesis with medieval or ancient metaphysics, its deepest tendency was the elevation of mathematical-logical thought to the throne of cosmic ordained. If any one doubts this, he may return to the sources of the Humanistic science-ideal and behold once again the cleft which separates modern Humanist thought, with its essentially nominalist concept of substance, from the old objective metaphysics of substantial forms. He may examine once again the experiment of HOBBES, as presented in the preface to his “De Corpore“, according to which the entire given world of experience is theoretically demolished, in order that it may be reconstructed by the creative activity of mathematical thought.


Kant’s major work, the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 1781), aimed to unite reason with experience to move beyond what he took to be failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics. He hoped to end an age of speculation where objects outside experience were used to support what he saw as futile theories, while opposing the skepticism of thinkers such as Berkeley and Hume.

He stated:

“It always remains a scandal of philosophy and universal human reason that the existence of things outside us … should have to be assumed merely on faith, and that if it occurs to anyone to doubt it, we should be unable to answer him with a satisfactory proof.”

Kant proposed a ‘Copernican Revolution’ in reverse, saying that:

“Up to now it has been assumed that all our cognition must conform to the objects; but … let us once try whether we do not get farther with the problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to our cognition.”

Western civilization and it’s Copernican Revolution, in is rejection of Metaphysics, and it’s embracing of a Secular non-Religious views find fault with Kant, precipitating Scientific methodology, and abandoning the subjective Self, in my opinion bringing the disastrous materialistic condition we live today at the rejection of Spirit, and the scandalous downfall of the dream of the modern Man in to the  quicksand of Postmodernism pessimism.

Fukushima the triumph of reason

Leo Marx holds that the boundless optimism that bolstered the hopes of Americans until the Second World War has dissipated into “widespread social pessimism.” The reasons for this change in attitude, according to Marx, are complex. They are to be found in specific technological disasters (Chernobyl and Three Mile Island), in national traumas (the Vietnam War), and more generally in a loss of faith in technology as “the driving force of progress.” Marx places this change of expectations in historical context by examining the role of the mechanical arts in the progressive world view and showing how “both the character and the representation of ‘technology’ changed in the nineteenth century” from discrete,easily identifiable artifacts (such as steam engines) to abstract, scientific, and seemingly neutral systems of production and control. With its “endless reification” in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the newly refurbished conceptof “technology” became invested with a “host of metaphysical properties and potencies” that invited a belief in it as an autonomous agent of social change. By mystifying technology and attributing to it powers that bordered on idolatry, mid­-twentieth­ century Americans set themselves up for a fall that prepared “the way for an increasingly pessimistic sense of the technological determination of history.”

Marx concludes that postmodernist criticism, with its ratification of “the idea of the domination of life by large technological systems,” perpetuates the credibility of technological determinism.

Chernobyl 25 years later

E.F. Schumacher and The Great Chain of Being

For Schumacher one of science’s major mistakes has been rejecting the traditional philosophical and religious view that the universe is a hierarchy of being. Schumacher makes a restatement of the traditional chain of being.

He agrees with the view that there are four kingdoms: Mineral, Plant, Animal, Man. He argues that there are critical differences of kind between each level of being. Between mineral and plant is the phenomenon of life, As Schumacher says though scientists say we should not use the phrase ‘life energy’, the difference still exists and has not been explained by science. Schumacher points out that though we can recognize life and destroy it, we can’t create it. Schumacher notes that the ‘life sciences’ are ‘extraordinary’ because they hardly ever deal with life as such, and instead content themselves with analyzing the “physical-chemical body which is life’s carrier.” Schumacher goes on to say there is nothing in physics or chemistry to explain the phenomenon of life.

For Schumacher, a similar jump in level of being takes place between plant and animal, which is differentiated by the phenomenon of consciousness. We can recognize consciousness, not least because we can knock an animal unconscious, but also because animals exhibit at minimum primitive thought and intelligence.

The next level, according to Schumacher, is between Animal and Man, which are differentiated by the phenomenon of self consciousness or self awareness. Self consciousness is the reflective awareness of one’s consciousness and thoughts.

Robert Fludd's Mundus Intellectualis

Schumacher realizes that the terms—life, consciousness and self-consciousness—are subject to misinterpretation so he suggests that the differences can best be expressed as an equation which can be written thus:

  • ‘Mineral’ = m

  • ‘Plant’ = m + x

  • ‘Animal’ = m + x + y

  • ‘Man’ = m + x + y + z

In his theory, these three factors (x, y and z) represent ontological discontinuities. He argues that they are differences can be likened to differences in dimension; and from one perspective it could be argued that only humans have ‘real’ existence insofar as they possess the three dimensions of life, consciousness and self consciousness. Schumacher uses this perspective to contrast with the materialistic scientism view, which argues that what is ‘real’ is inanimate matter; denying the realness of life, consciousness and self consciousness, despite the fact each individual can verify those phenomena from their own experience.

He directs our attention to the fact that science has generally avoided seriously discussing these discontinuities, because they present such difficulties for strictly materialistic science, and they largely remain mysteries.

Next he considers the animal model of man which has grown popular in science. Schumacher notes that within the humanities the distinction between consciousness and self consciousness is now seldom drawn. Consequently, people have become increasingly uncertain about whether there is any difference between animal and man. Schumacher notes that a great deal of research about humans has been conducted by studying animals. Schumacher argues that this is analogous to studying physics in the hope of understanding life. Schumacher goes on to say that much can be learned about man by studying minerals, plants and animals because man has inherited those levels of being: all, that is, ‘except that which makes him human.’

Schumacher goes on to say that nothing is ‘more conducive to the brutalization of the modern world’ than calling humans the ‘naked ape’. Schumacher argues that once people begin viewing humans as ‘animal machines’ they soon begin treating them accordingly.

Schumacher argues that what defines man are his greatest achievements, not the common run of the mill things. He argues that human beings are open-ended because of self awareness, which as distinct from life and consciousness has nothing mechanical or automatic about it. For Schumacher “the powers of self awareness are, essentially, a limitless potentiality rather than an actuality. They have to be developed and ‘realized’ by each human individual if he is to become truly human, that is to say, a person.”

Albert Durer  Christ like Self Portrait

The Eastern View

Shvetashvatara Upanishad

1 What is the cause of the cosmos? Is it Brahman?

From where do we come? By what live?

Where shall we find peace at last?

What power governs the duality

Of pleasure and pain by which we are driven?

2 Time, nature, necessity, accident,

Elements, energy, intelligence —

None of these can be the First Cause

They are effects, whose only purpose is

To help the self rise above pleasure and pain.

3 In the depths of meditation, sages

Saw within themselves the Lord of Love,

Who dwells in the heart of every creature.

Deep in the hearts of all he dwells, hidden

Behind the gunas of law, energy,

And inertia. He is One. He it is

Who rules over time, space, and causality.

4 The world is the wheel of God, turning round

And round with all living creatures upon its rim.

5 The world is the river of God,

Flowing from him and flowing back to him.

6 On this ever-revolving wheel of life

The individual self goes round and round

Through life after life, believing itself

To be a separate creature, until

It sees its identity with the Lord of Love

And attains immortality in the indivisible whole.

7 He is the eternal reality, sing

The scriptures, and the ground of existence.

Those who perceive him in every creature

Merge in him and are released from the wheel

Of birth and death.

8 The Lord of Love holds in his hand the world,

Composed of the changing and the changeless,

The manifest and the non manifest.

The separate self, not yet aware of the Lord,

Goes after pleasure, only to become

Bound more and more, When it sees the Lord,

There comes an end to its bondage.

9 Conscious spirit and unconscious matter

Both have existed since the dawn of time,

With maya appearing to connect them,

Misrepresenting joy as outside us.

When all these three are seen as one, the Self

Reveals his universal form and serves

As an instrument of the divine will.

10 All is change in the world of the senses,

But changeless is the supreme Lord of Love.

Meditate on him, be absorbed in him,

Wake up from this dream of separateness.

11 Know God and all fetters will fall away.

No longer identifying yourself

With the body, go beyond birth and death.

All your desires will be fulfilled in him.

Who is One without a second.

12 Know him to be enshrined in your heart always.

Truly there is nothing more in life to know.

Meditate and realize that this world

Is filled with the presence of God.

A Sadhu

Even if I got no sympathy for the idea of Reincarnation a common occurrence on Indian thought, for it lacks Ontological soundness, since it gives autonomous reality to the individual self that goes on reincarnating until achieving personal liberation, or Oneness with Brahman, when to begin with the individual self is illusory, and therefor non-existent, so how can have existence even after death? It is rather more simple for Brahman to be the only existent, and the separation illusory. In Advaita philosophy, individual souls are called Jīvātman, and the Highest Brahman is called Paramātman. The Jivatman and the Paramatman are known to be one and the same when the Jivatman attains the true knowledge of the Brahman (Skt. Brahmajñāna) . In the context of Advaita, the word Paramatman is invariably used to refer to Nirguna Brahman, with Ishvara and Bhagavan being terms used to refer to Brahman with qualities, or Saguna Brahman.

However having this in mind, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad is a wonderful example of seeing the Self as One.

About theburningheart

This entry was posted in Buddhist Monk, Capitalism, Copernicus, Cosmogony, Cosmology, Counsciousness, Critical Thinking, Deconstruction, Dualism, E.F. Schumacher, Ecology, Economy, Future, Globalization, Historical Evolution, History, Human Nature, Jean Laplanche, Kant, Leo Marx, Metaphysics, Myth, Mythology, Otherness, Philosophy, Politics, Postmodernism, Progress, Science, Self, Shvetashvatara Upanishad, Spirituality, Technological Determinism, The Great Chain of Being, Uncategorized, Western Civilization, Wisdom and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Humidor says:

    Thank you for anotheer wonderful article. Where else could anybody get that type of information in
    such an ideal means oof writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m at the
    look for such information.

  2. macalder02 says:

    Reading your articles, is a sort of entering into religion, philosophy and tradition. It is necessary to look for a serene time, without interruptions and a desire to always seek the meaning of the words in order not to lose the illusion of the subject. Immerse yourself in the mysteries of the Hindu religion has been an interesting experience. The names of the gods still spin in my head.

    • theburningheart says:

      Thank you Manuel, I admit my posts are not easy reading, but a challenging one, but knowledge makes light, so we can see the way.
      Thank you for your patience, and your comment! 🙂

  3. Another one that looks really good, Mr Anaya – I will (have to) get back to it as I prefer taking the time to think about what I read – thanks for your prolific writing on all these subjects!

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