What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” – William Shakespeare

Since the beginning of recorded history, man has been curious about the world around him. His inquiry, fueled by the desire to understand his existence and purpose, is largely confined within two major frameworks: mythological/religious and scientific.

The myths and religious beliefs tend to evoke and emphasize both thought and feeling by way of elaborate and beautiful stories, music, art and more, while the scientific approach rests more squarely on the cold and hard intellectual facts of life. Advocates of the former direct their inquiry to the totality of the phenomena they seek to explain and favor answers which point to the whole of truth, while proponents of the latter prefer to examine, describe and understand the component parts of the whole with the goal of eventually finding answers to the same questions about life and existence.

The myths/religious belief systems give answers to the largest questions of life, such as “Who am I,” “Why am I here” and “Where am I going” while the scientific approach typically focuses on identifying concrete answers to questions significantly more limited in scope. What interests me most about these two approaches, however, is that they share a common goal: understanding.

In some ways the religious framework has provided more words and concepts to describe the invisible aspects of life, but certain branches of science, such as quantum physics, are working hard to the same end. Whether the twain shall meet I cannot be sure, as both approaches tend to crystallize that which is inherently flowing and therefore divide more than they connect using the analogy in yesterday’s post.

Is the gold rush for information going to end in a bust? Is it nothing more than a trip down the rabbit hole? Time will tell. Do the religious approaches thin the veil which divides wisdom and knowledge? It shall be shown.

In the meantime, we have limited symbols – words and concepts – made available to us by both approaches through which we can peer to find insight into absolute truth.

7 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. Colin

    It will be helpful to find the words that describe the area that connects religion and science, but before the words become part of our languages, there have to be people that experience the gap enough to describe it. You have to have the experience to explain it, and I hope we can have some people to have the experience enough to create the words.

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  2. Aimee

    I really enjoyed this post! The quotation of Shakespeare is enlightening but you really revealed the dynamics of the well trodden paths to understanding and a new path opened for this reader. Have a beautiful weekend!

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  3. Lady Leo

    Looking around me with the knowledge that there is more unseen then seen, brings a feeling of awe, humility and thankfulness. I feel to be careful in what I add as it connects me to a host of powerful forces. It reminds me “that fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. Great post Gregg, thank you.

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  4. Kolya

    Language is certainly a beautiful symbol to convey either of those two frameworks. I’ve always loved etymology and have been fascinated with words since I first learned to read!

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  5. Ricardo B.

    Words and names can do the thing itself justice, where it is an honest and genuine representation of the real thing or they can be disingenuous, fabricated to the end that it falsely represents the thing in question. I see this happen so much in the field I work in, the field of medicine, where many therapies that are offered to the public are portrayed far more favorably than they actually are in reality. All this reflects the state of consciousness that currently is, and how we ‘market’ our ideas reflects our attitudes towards the symbols we use to represent our ideas.
    When the symbol used to clothe the object or idea is the most proximal, this is where we sense beauty, artistry, poetry, symmetry in language – even in science this can be, it’s just of a different temperament. The symbol will be powerful, great and mighty, yet humble – not flashy for flashy’s sake, and you don’t get the slight impression that it’s too good to be true because there is a sense of gravity. Just like the state of consciousness of the individual that crafted it.
    I work for the day that our sciences and religions will be united as surely as they once were, for they simply reflect the different, complementary aspects of our own nature which are united in our own being.

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