I have been reading about the English historian and well known Labour thinker of the early 20th century R. H. Tawney (his most famous work was Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, 1926). I like this comment on Tawney by Adam Seligman:
“The whole idea of society as composed of individuals who came to be conceived of as the profit-maximising individuals of current exchange theory was abhorrent to Tawney’s view of society and of the individual as well. For Tawney’s view of society was primarily as a moral community, united by…a shared vocabulary of worth and value”.
As Seligman points out, Tawney found the moral authority for ethical conduct in his Christian faith, “in its call…to obey God and not worldly power where the demands of conscience and … power collided”. This was based on Christian belief in human equality before God. People were not equally clever or virtuous, but were “of equal value”.
[Adam B. Seligman, “R. H. Tawney and Scholarship”, Society, 35, 1998, p.64].
Over the years I have often imagined death in relation to the cosmos. There is a sort of science fiction feel, perhaps a TV documentary on space, the stars, galaxies (Brian Cox sort of thing).
I envisage an imaginary observer travelling through the great rush of stars, planets that is part of the dynamic expanding universe after the Big Bang, coming towards us here on earth, then heading off away from us towards the outer edges of space and into infinity (or whatever is beyond the knowable universe, or knowable so far – we keep learning more and more about it all the time).
I have a vision of our spirits, as we age then die, travelling out with that outgoing rush of stars, until we finally become mere dots on outer space, then fade completely away. It’s a vivid feeling, and perhaps not so strange when we think that our atoms, the atoms of everything, are indestructible ultimately, and are just rearranged in the endless mutations and transformations of the universe. Have any of you had similar feelings?