If you’ve ever had the opportunity to witness the night sky in a remote area on a clear night I could understand if you told me it had a lasting effect on you. We recently went camping in a nearby state park and it was the first time I had seen a night so clear without the typical Houston light pollution. Needless to say I was stunned at what had always been there but is veiled in the city. While gazing at the stars there were many thoughts which I’d never had before which came to mind as it was a new experience. It is apparent that being human and looking into the distant universe has likely been a defining characteristic of what it means to be human on planet earth, even into the distant past I would presume. I was only disappointed I hadn’t seen it more often in life, as it seems an important reminder.
In the modern world it is very easy to get caught up with the human narrative and societal norms. The typical drama of human endeavors such as politics, religion, money, the things that seem to be made by us. If we had more ease of access to views of unimaginable quantities of stars it could provide a break from the stress of society. The vastness of space is a reminder that there’s more out there than we know, just that thought alone provides solace from the every day grind and the idea that it should be taken so seriously. Maybe it’s not the biggest deal what we’re currently going through, yet we often act like personal problems are universal in importance.
In recent coursework, the origin of Philosophy came into discussion. After thinking about it for some time and imagining what the feeling must have been like for the ancients. What caused them to do Philosophy? One night under the stars, a really good night under the stars, and it is no question that the tangible answer to my pondering on the topic was presented to me. It was so much better than logically figuring it out, debating, about how philosophy started. That sense of wonder among so many unsatisfactorily answered questions must have been the same thing humans felt from time immemorial.
The obvious questions that come up, at least from a westerner’s mind, are the ‘5 W’s and the H’. Did someone do this? Where did all this start? Is there a reason for any of this? What even is this, or my place in it? How did any of this happen? We often tend to feel we have a lot of these questions figured out but the immensity of the sky on a clear night always makes you wonder if maybe we missed something, or brings doubt that we could ever really know.