Forgotten Truth, Huston Smith

probably read this mid-90s

What follows are a slew of quotes by a book called Forgotten Truth it’s sort of like a grandparent of Power of Myth. I think what he’s getting at with all this stuff here is that we’ve got to believe that there is something bigger than us and that we are part of that something bigger.

The scientific gauge is quantity: space, size and strength of forces can all be reckoned numerically. The comparable yardstick in the traditional hierarchy was quality.

To the popular mind quality meant essentially euphoria: better meant happier, worse less happy. Reflective minds, on the other hand, considered happiness to be only an aspect of quality not its defining feature.

The man of archaic societies tends to live as much as possible in the sacred…because for primitives the sacred is equivalent to power and in the last analysis to reality. The sacred is saturated with being.

Objects can be larger or smaller, forces can be stronger or weaker, durations can be longer or shorter, these all being numerically reckonable. But to speak of anything in science as having a different ontological status–as being better, say, or more real–is to speak nonsense.

Itself occupying no more than a single ontological plane, science challenged by implication the notion that other planes exist. As its challenge was not effectively met, it swept the field and gave the modern world it soul. For this is thew final definition of modernity: an outlook in which this world, this ontological plane, is the only one that is genuinely countenanced and affirmed.

Though man’s conversion to the scientific outlook is understandable psychologically, logically it involves a clean mistake. Insofar as we allow our minds to be guided by reasons, we can see that to try to live within the scientific view of reality would be like living in a house’s scaffolding, and o love it like embracing one’s spouse’s skeleton.

Norbet Wiener used to make the point by saying: Messages from the universe arrive addressed no more specifically than To Whom it May Concern. Scientists open those that concern them. No mosaic constructed from messages thus narrowly selected can be the full picture.

Ambiguity seems to be an essential indispensable element for the transfer of information from one place to another by words where maters of real importance are concerned. It is often necessary, for meaning to come through, that there be an almost vague sense of strangeness and askewness. Speechless animals and cells cannot do this. . .Only the human mind is designed to work in this way, programmed to drift away in the presence of locked-on information, straying from each point in a hunt for a better different point.

Science can tell us what men do prize but not what they should prize. Values, life meanings, purposes and qualities slop through science like sea skips through the nets of fishermen.

Since reality exceeds what science registers, we must look for other antennae to catch the wavebands it misses.