Restoring the Soul of the World

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 11/20/2014
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions
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Humanity’s creative role within the living pattern of nature

• Explores important scientific discoveries that reveal the self-organizing intelligence at the heart of nature

• Examines the idea of a living cosmos from its roots in the earliest cultures, to its eclipse during the Scientific Revolution, to its return today

• Reveals ways to reengage our creative partnership with nature and collaborate with nature’s intelligence

For millennia the world was seen as a creative, interconnected web of life, constantly growing, developing, and restoring itself. But with the arrival of the Scientific Revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries, the world was viewed as a lifeless, clock­like mechanism, bound by the laws of classical physics. Intelligence was a trait ascribed solely to human beings, and thus humanity was viewed as superior to and separate from nature. Today new scientific discoveries are reviving the ancient philosophy of a living, interconnected cosmos, and humanity is learning from and collaborating with nature’s intelligence in new, life-enhancing ways, from ecological design to biomimicry.

Drawing upon the most important scientific discoveries of recent times, David Fideler explores the self-organizing intelligence at the heart of nature and humanity’s place in the cosmic pattern. He examines the ancient vision of the living cosmos from its roots in the “world soul” of the Greeks and the alchemical tradition, to its eclipse during the Scientific Revolution, to its return today. He explains how the mechanistic worldview led to humanity’s profound sense of alienation, for if the universe only functioned as a machine, there was no longer any room for genuine creativity or spontaneity. He shows how this isn’t the case and how, even at the molecular level, natural systems engage in self-organization, self-preservation, and creative problem solving, mirroring the ancient idea of a creative intelligence that exists deep within the heart of nature.

Revealing new connections between science, religion, and culture, Fideler explores how to reengage our creative partnership with nature and new ways to collaborate with nature’s intelligence.

Author Biography

David Fideler holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and the history of science and cosmology. A recognized authority on the Pythagorean school, he is the editor of The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library; author of Jesus Christ, Sun of God; translator of Love’s Alchemy; and editor of the humanities journal Alexandria.

Table of Contents

In Search of the Living Universe

Part I
Awakening to the Beauty of Nature

Humanity and the Cosmological Impulse

1 Starlight and Cosmovision
Awakening to the Universe

Beauty, Desire, and the Soul of the World

Life in the Cosmopolis

The Light of Nature and the Alchemical Imagination

The Lushness of Earth and the Spirit of the Desert

6 The Last Flowering
The Rediscovery of Soul in Renaissance Florence

Part II
The Death of Nature and the Rise of Alienation

The Mechanization of the World

In the Name of Utility
The Exploitation of Nature and the Decline of Pleasure

Part III
Anima Mundi

Rediscovering the Living Universe

9 Psyche Regained

10 The Mirror of Nature
Modern Cosmology and the Reanimation of the Universe

11 The Pattern Which Connects
Life and Mind in Nature

Part IV
A World with a Future

Cultivating Life in a Global Community

12 The Turning Point
Returning Home in the Space Age

13 The Alchemy of Engagement
Working in Collaboration with Nature


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