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Thank Goodness for the Atmosphere: Reflections on the Starry Sky and the Moral Law

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Abstract The purpose of this article is to take up the largely unthought challenge of Kant’s celebrated remark about how “two things”—the starry sky above and the moral law within—fill the mind with wonder the more one reflects upon them. After briefly discussing the role of the image of the stars in early Greek thought, and then taking account of what we know about the heavens today, I ask if we have yet come to understand just what our relation to the heavens means. The conclusion is that taking the image of the stars seriously and making the effort to understand what we see in that image humbles us. It brings us before a profound limit regarding our understanding of what it means to be human and what it means to live on the earth.
Title: Thank Goodness for the Atmosphere: Reflections on the Starry Sky and the Moral Law
Description:
Abstract The purpose of this article is to take up the largely unthought challenge of Kant’s celebrated remark about how “two things”—the starry sky above and the moral law within—fill the mind with wonder the more one reflects upon them.
After briefly discussing the role of the image of the stars in early Greek thought, and then taking account of what we know about the heavens today, I ask if we have yet come to understand just what our relation to the heavens means.
The conclusion is that taking the image of the stars seriously and making the effort to understand what we see in that image humbles us.
It brings us before a profound limit regarding our understanding of what it means to be human and what it means to live on the earth.

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