Are we alone?

An article today that talks about the “raised hopes” that we may not be unique in the universe.
I am always confused by people who “hope” that we find out that we are not unique. If there is extra-terrestrial intelligent life, that would be an extraordinary thing to be sure. But why “hope” for something like this? One might be curious, but “hopeful”?
Walker Percy addresses this in his brilliant little book “Lost in the Cosmos.” Percy suggests that Sagan and others are so hell-bent on finding intelligent life elsewhere (or that apes have language here) because they are desperate to affirm science’s apparent judgment that we are not unique in the cosmos (that we really are just an accidental pile of cosmic dust). But why be so bent on proving you are not unique?
The real trouble, for Percy, is that they spend so much time looking out into the universe that they do not know themselves – and they manage to ignore how singularly amazing the event of human language is.
Sagan, like every other ET searcher, is in need of connection – community. He is alienated (lost in the cosmos). But is the answer as much “in here” as it is “out there”? Will we really know ourselves and secure “hope” by the finding of other allegedly random bits of matter organized in a way similar to us?

About Kleiner

Associate Vice Provost and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.
This entry was posted in Catholic thought/religion/culture, Philosophy, Polis (politics, culture). Bookmark the permalink.

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