Love and Containment: You’re walking around in some place, say a mall, and looking at no one in particular. They are all in the place. Then you spot your favorite person to talk to (or, in a pinch, an extremely attractive face). They are not in the place, but the place is in the person. In the experience of consciousness the light switches from the mall being what is formal and definitive to the persons to the light focusing on the person and having him become what is formal and definitive of the place. If something you loved enough happened there, it would define the place for you permanently.
The opposite experience of experiencing something horrible in a place and having it define the place is not another instance of the same sort of thing, for space exists to facilitate the perfection of the higher forms of life; the extent to which this doesn’t happen is either accidental or reducible to moral non-being.
This is a twist on the idea that whatever is, is somewhere (i.e. in a place). Even if we limit the axiom to the cosmos, there is a mode of being in beyond those that were enumerated in pre-20th century physics and metaphysics.
Science as Messiah Figure: The popular narrative of science is that it is a perfection of claims that were imperfectly made by “religion”. The mad lib goes something like this:
“For (multi-century time span) the riddle of (any philosophical term or problem) has engaged the deepest thoughts of the deepest thinkers. But now, exciting new developments by (name of science + ists) at (secular university) are shedding new light into the greatest questions of all time.”
Okay, okay, stop gagging.
More or less corny versions of the same thing are easy to come by: religion tried to solve this problem, but now it’s time we got serious about it and give science a try. Science is the savior of a fallen and inadequate “religion” that could not save us. But the basis of comparison here is not obvious, even if we take it as given that both are trying to explain the same object. Architectural accounts and moral accounts can both be about the same thing, say prisons. There might even be some overlap in the two that gives the illusion that the they are comparable; or perhaps you happen to live in a time where the architects are particularly skilled and the moral theorists are particularly bungled, and this too might make the one account be an infinitely more perfect account than the other.
The universe is too small, therefore man is insignificant. The idea that the vastness of the universe makes a person insignificant is an old one, but it must be the expression of something deeper, since one can also feel insignificant if he is placed in a cramped and tiny room. What if we found out that the earth, sun and dome of stars was all there was? Can’t you just hear people saying “well, if that’s it, then…” Either way, one is voicing some sort of dissatisfaction with the universe. We’d probably find something dissatisfying about the universe being exactly the right size (whatever that is). I don’t mean by this that we are crabby, depressive, or Eeyore-ish (I don’t think Pascal was simply mopey when he was terrified by the size of the universe)