Should we study “the world is vast”?

As many readers may know, the UPenn Primals Initiative team is right now trying to identify humanity’s primal world beliefs using several different methods, looking across history, religions, cultures, etc.  One method, but no others, identified the world is vast/small.  Awesome.  It certainly it fits the criteria; it’s about world essence, it’s descriptive, it concerns only everything, and it’s super simple.

At the same time, more than any of the other primals we have identified, we don’t expect the world is vast/small to play a major role in human thinking and behavior, at least compared to other primals like the world is safe/dangerous.  That one probably affects a good deal of everyday behavior, life decisions, how one processes information, and more.  But this 2-minute video that Alicia shared got me thinking that maybe we should keep it.  What do you think?  It certainly evoked within me a powerful, emotional, gut-level, primal belief about reality.  I’m curious if it does the same for others.  I’m also curious how others think this primal could influence human life in tangible ways.

The world seems less small with friends...(Andrew, Amy and Reb, Alicia and I)

In my experience, the world is less alarmingly large with friends (Andrew, Amy,  Reb, Alicia, me).


About Jer Clifton

Look up, friend. The world is too beautiful for my eyes alone. View all posts by Jer Clifton

8 responses to “Should we study “the world is vast”?

  • Whit

    And let me add: a case for the small. I’d argue that limits create romance. It’s Batman’s frugal limitations that elicits the fandom of the populous should He battle Superman. The first Die Hard is the best Die Hard because he only has so many floors, so many bullets, and so little shoes. I am only so smart, so strong, this, this, this forges the magical, the wonderful. Limits make us gasp. The hulk of the Universe bids us tremble: forgiveness, grace, kindness, mercy, this knocks us flat.

    • Jer Clifton

      Good point about limits…and I’m sure that is what theologians thought in response to the physicists who were telling them how large the universe is, and how removed we are from its center in any way.

  • Whit

    If I become shipwrecked upon a deserted island, (as I am want to do) the curious island critters, having never associated with humans, might fancy my forehead a perfectly reasonable sum of forehead. Only when a vulgar boat load of Coastguardsmen arrive to rescue me will my fuzzy coinhabitance exclaim! Hey! Your frucking forehead is stupid big! So too our universe. Call it big? Sure. Call it quant? Still, sure. All elephants are bit, but calling all elephants big elephants is shoddy description.

    • Jer Clifton

      This is an important assumption to primals…can we make descriptions of the word when there is no other world to compare it too? My answer: yes. The reason for this is that while we might live in the same world, we definitely perceive the world differently, and so my world is comparable to your world, and your world is comparable to your mother’s world, and when we compare those worlds, we find, unsuprisingly, that they are quite different places.

      • Whit

        So every man, with his own custom sets of weights and measures, is loose to gauge the breadths of reality as he sees fit? Your universe may be vast, but at it’s center sits the individual- and should his perspective give him peace, give him ‘happiness,’ then his perspective is best? Ho, ho, ho, I fancy your anachronistic analysis beset upon my comment below ironic. Especially considering Copernicus’s last remarks were: Die Hard one is the best, followed by die hard 3, die hard with vengeance, followed by die hard 2, die harder, then four, and WTF number 5!

  • Lisa Sansom (@LVSConsulting)

    Oddly, this reminds me of Zaphod Beeblebrox in the Total Perspective Vortex… Like this:

    “You … you … have been in the Vortex?” stammered Gargravarr.

    “You saw me, kid.”

    “And it was working?”

    “Sure was.”

    “And you saw the whole infinity of creation?”

    “Sure. Really neat place, you know that?”

    Gargravarr’s mind was reeling in astonishment. Had his body been with him it would have sat down heavily with its mouth hanging open.

    “And you saw yourself,” said Gargravarr, “in relation to it all?”

    “Oh, yeah yeah.”

    “But … what did you experience?”

    Zaphod shrugged smugly.

    “It just told me what I knew all the time. I’m a really terrific and great guy. Didn’t I tell you, baby, I’m Zaphod Beeblebrox!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: