It seems like what we all want to say is that imagination is generated by the universe, but what we can’t seem to agree upon is whether the universe is therefore also imaginal.
We are seeking understanding of the nature of causality, and of the roots of animal perception and imagination in a supposedly pre-perceivable, pre-imaginable electro-magneto-physio-chemical process.
I myself would not want to suppose that anything precedes experience–no matter how proto-perceptual or proto-imaginal some forms of causality may seem from our evolved anthropic perspective. Electrons are the neurons of our cosmic brane. They are intimately involved in the cognitive activity of our brains. Human thinking appears in the world as chemically mediated electrical activity, which is also to say that the physical world appears to think. Panpsychism? No, this isn’t smearing mind all over everything indiscriminately. The thinking universe has a more differentiated form than that. Mind individualizes, drawing itself together into organized bodies of ever increasing complexity. Rocks are made of highly organized bodies, like crystals, and even smaller and more highly organized beings, like carbon, and gold. But the rock itself cannot properly be considered an individual organism; it is not an organized, self-organizing being. Its identity as that particular rock is far, far more accidental than the identity of an individual atom of gold or an individual bacterial cell or human person. These latter bodies have a deeper causal memory, and a more intense experiential relationship with their own identity than does the rock. Given the mineral structure of certain elements, and the plate tectonics of earth, rocks just happen. They don’t display purposive or organized behavior. They are the accidental result of more individualized, mentalized organic/organized activity taking place on a different scale. And they are only really individualized by cognitively proficient animals such as ourselves, who define that rock as distinct from this rock.
This is Teilhard’s law of complexity/consciousness, which lead him not to pantheism, but to a vision of the cosmos as the still gestating Body of Christ.
As Teilhard put it, “We humans cannot see ourselves completely except as part of humanity, humanity as part of life, and life as part of the universe … True physics is that which will someday succeed in integrating the totality of the human being into a coherent image of the world” (The Human Phenomenon, Preface).
- Teilhard and Steiner: Cosmogenesis in light of Anthroposophy (footnotes2plato.com)
- Teilhard and Meillassoux (footnotes2plato.com)