Man, Universe-Builder and Maker of Over-Beliefs

Every man is a "Universe-Builder"; he is, likewise, a maker of "Over-beliefs".

Man's inner and outer necessities, real or imagined, have made him both a Scientist and a Philosopher. Neither Science nor Philosophy alone has been adequate. The material facts of the science of his universe have not satisfied; an "overbelief" or a "philosophy" in terms of which an interpretation of his life as a whole may be attempted has been a necessity. He has been in search not only of facts but of meaning and values also. Moving slowly at first with a kind of uncertainty across the surface of the earth man has left behind him a slender thread of achievement. In his efforts to rationalize existence man became a universebuilder. Part and parcel of the universe which made him the story of his life is the story of his attempts at adjustment in a changing universe. The record of man's progress is the record of the universe-builders' achievements in the long struggle for adjustment to environment. In man's two great 'external storage systems', Science and Philosophy, are found the facts and techniques which man has employed in adjusting himself to his Universe.

The Universe-Builder. Overbeliefs

"Man has in himself heavens and earth And in him all things are latent".

In the beginning the universe made Man; and afterwards man began to remake the Universe".

As to the origin of "life" we know nothing. Man emerged, eventually. Whether or no, he had to climb a tree to rid himself of an overdeveloped nose, climb down again and walk upright on the ground to remove a caudal appendage, we are quite sure that man scarcely free of his assigned biological ancestors started to build his own "universe'

If the first "organism" had failed to make its required adjustments life would have ended. The Universe would have had to "try" again. However, the "organism" did not fail in its adjustments. Therefore, man. This is not a static world. It is unique at each tick of the clock; but so is man. Therefore, phenomena.. They press upon man from every point of his environment. The latter is a big word in its significance. It includes everything from starlight to an idle thought,—all that is within and without.

Man is sensitive to change. The physical basis of life is protoplasm. All protoplasm is irritable, therefore it responds to environment. 'Life' is a label for certain recognized types or ways of reacting. It persists only so long as it can "trade" with environment. Man may not "barter" much; the relations are too intimate. If he does, he pays. If he cannot "trade" carbon-dioxide for oxygen on the basis of certain limited ratios he dies. These "trading" relations between man and his environment indicate that his life is conditioned ly the maintenance of a dynamic equilibrium with environment. The irritability of man's protoplasm led him to explore his environment. Experience taught him the necessity of adjustment. Living protoplasm has the power of adjustment. Man possesses a highly organized adjusting mechanism. In search of closer adjustments to his environment man became a "universe-builder" and eventually, a scientist and a philosopher.

'Universe-building' is the result of an attempt on the part of man to present a 'picture' or 'pattern' of the whole of his environment to the end that he may make effective adjustments. Each man is a "universe-builder" or else he is biologically and intellectually still "up a tree". It may be only a three-story universe,—"heaven above, hell underneath and the earth in between", yet it is this man's uni¬ verse. It will "be commensurate with his knowledge unless he has a two-compartment mind. If he has, then some of the myths, traditions and "beliefs" characteristic of this type of mind will probably determine its nature and archi¬ tectural design. However, it will be a necessity of this man, rational or irrational.

For the early universe-builder, however, there were adjustment. Man can hpprl his "lomrings" first and thpn adjustment. Man can heed his "longings" first and then imagine a 'picture'* of the universe which fits into his "dreams"; or he can use his experience to guide him to the truest possible picture and out of it develop a rational group of longings. Unfortunately, early man chose the first of the two methods. Instead of shaping his "dreams" on the lines In his struggle to adjust himself to environment and in his search for reality behind the "constantly changing" aspect of nature he fashioned the universe in the image of his own "desires".

The primitive universe-builder had gods, goddesses and lemons everywhere in his environment. In fact Thales (600 B.C.) remarked contemptuously, "all things are filled with gods". Aristotle, at a later date, conceived of a uni¬ verse of fifty-five transparent shells around the earth being moved by an "unmoved Mover". Euclid the founder of our present system of Euclidean mathematics visioned the universe as a cubical box of three dimensions with the earth patterns of the universe men at various periods have dnpatterns of the universe men at various periods have de¬ veloped certain "overbeliefs". Much of the woe of mankind may be traced to these overbeliefs, some of which have persisted for over 2000 years.


Introduction to a 1930's science book. The language is very interesting. The passage is very insightful in places, naive in others, but poetic throughout.

Folksonomies: history science knowledge meaning perception origins belief

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 Man, the Universe-builder
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Lee, Richard Edwin (1932), Man, the Universe-builder, Retrieved on 2013-12-29
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  • Folksonomies: cosmology