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Barriers to Perception:
From a World of Interconnection to Fragmentation
Making Sense of the Cosmos
The great molecular biologist and Nobel laureate Francois Jacob has stated that the human brain has a built-in need for order. From earliest times, human beings looked out and recognized cycles, repetitive patterns in natureday following night, the seasons, tides, lunar cycles, plant succession, animal migrationthat conferred the ability to predict their recurrence, and thus people acquired a semblance of understanding of and control over the cosmic forces impinging on their lives. Gifted with an enormous brain, our distant ancestors were inquisitive, experimental, and inventive. Over time, they acquired profound insights into their immediate surroundings that had conferred survival value. No doubt they pondered many of the same cosmic questions that we ask today: How did we get here? Where are we going? What is the meaning of life? As the great French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss wrote:
From the dawn of human awareness, people accumulated insights and understanding and superstitions that were woven into their mythologies, into the fabric of their culture and identity. Anthropologists call this a “worldview”; in it, nothing exists in isolation from anything else. The rocks, the wind, the stars, the