It is a curious and peculiar fact that from the culturally-and-symbolically-insulated vantage point of human existence (and for many if not most of us), the Cosmos is little more than another category and branch of knowledge; another curiosity along with sex, war, religion, politics, popular culture, automobiles and mobile phones (to name an arbitrary and random but prominent few). The set of all things in our world of shared experience, knowledge and technology contains a sub-set of planets, stars and galaxies.
The true mystery and more astounding revelation in all of this is that all of human existence, all of our vainglorious self-importance, all of our values and beliefs, all of our extended-cognition-as-technology and all of our deep biological and planetary history is a vanishingly small sub-set of the set of all things that is the Cosmos. The foundational source and generative conditions for our emergent existence in the Universe are so vast as to beggar even the wildest of dreams; so inexpressibly far beyond this limited little coccoon of ours that for all intents and purposes beyond our own self-validating self-interest in our own presence on this grand stage, we may as well and quite simply never have existed.
The logical insight required to accept this fact of inversely-misattributed and grossly-disproportionate significance seems to be beyond many of us. In presenting an image of the Andromeda Galaxy or the Hubble Ultra Deep Field to an acquaintance, I have received a reflexive response of “that’s science fiction !”
I am not certain if this is a failure of education so much as it is a combined (or convergent) failure of both intelligence and imagination. Our utterly narcissistic filters and frameworks of projective self-importance, although to a certain point – understandable, are also deeply misleading as to the ultimate nature of our world and our own significance within it.
The historical juncture and inflection point at which technical and theoretical methods or frameworks capable of effective representation and interpretation of humanity’s Cosmological context occur pari passu a tidal surge of peripheral distractions and self-inflating narratives. The most useful thing humanity as a whole might accomplish is to acknowledge its very small, very isolated presence in a spectacularly complex and vast Cosmos. Psychological and cultural factors restrict intelligence and effective perspicacity.