“A way for the cosmos to come to know itself”

DVD received: Carl Sagan’s 1980’s series Cosmos. When I first watched it as a teenager I immediately decided my vocation must be as astronomer. Which I would be today were it not for my dislike of mathematics, unfortunately a prerequisite. Anyway, the series is a joy to watch again. A little übertriebend in style and dated in terms of its CGI, but Sagan’s wonder is infectious, his teaching skills impressive. And you realise it’s not just a wonder about the cosmos that drives him but also a wonder about human history and the history of human knowledge. Having the first alone seems to be all the rage at the moment, but having both produces a more sophisticated philosophy and arguably better equips one to respond to the current threats faced by human and planet alike. “We are a way for the cosmos to come to know itself.” A very profound thought by Sagan, and one which will be distateful to some who shamelessly proclaim themselves ‘post-humanist’. Sagan was smarter than many in the present generation, realised early on the problems our society was heading towards whilst refusing easy solutions. For this reason his series is a timely resource to return to.

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