Cosmological Community: Man’s Place in the Cosmos
The modern ‘displacement’ of humanity from its ‘home’ in the ‘center’ of the cosmos is an epochal event—even a celebrated fact in some quarters—that continues to reverberate through virtually every facet of contemporary life: from the ‘bifurcation’ of nature, to the separation of the humanities and the sciences, to the reductive and accidental character of human being posited by modern biology, to the atomization of liberal society. These developments betoken not just a change in humanity’s ‘place’ in the universe, but the very abolition of ‘place’ (topos) and perhaps the very unity or wholeness which led Platonic, Aristotelian, and Medieval Christian cosmology to the idea of a uni-verse in the first place. This provokes the question: in what does the unity of the universe consist? In what sense is it a single order at all, and how are we to understand our place in it? Where does the communio personarum fit in this order? We will examine ancient and modern attempts to address this question from Aristotle and Plotinus, to Maximus, the Areopagite, and Aquinas, to Descartes, Newton and beyond. We will argue that only a theology that has recovered its metaphysical and cosmological ambitions can finally countenance and sustain the notion of the universe as a cosmos that is big enough for man.