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Barriers to Perception:
From a World of Interconnection to Fragmentation

David T. Suzuki
The Suzuki Foundation, 2211 West 4th Ave., Suite 219, Vancouver, BC V6K 4S2, Canada

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 nature—day following night, the seasons, tides, lunar cycles, plant succession, animal migration—that 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:

I see no reason why mankind should have waited until recent times to produce minds of the caliber of a Plato or an Einstein. Already over two or three hundred thousand years ago, there were probably men of similar capacity (Lévi-Strauss 1968).

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

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