Carl Sagan’s Cosmos



I feel that this excerpt of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos illustrates his ideals as a Naturalist. This passage discusses how he feels that humans are inferior compared to the vast “superiority” or the ‘Cosmos’. It’s almost as if he gives the universe a character and considers it a physical identity. His statement “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” Coincides with the Naturalist principle of the physical being all there is.


Sagan also refers to the Naturalist ideal that the physical reality is experienced with all 5 of the senses, with this quote: “Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us – there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of a falling from a height.”


Naturalists believe life is accidental. Sagan portrays this belief by saying, “…They remind us that humans have evolved to a wonder, that understanding is a joy… Our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a moat of dust in the sky.”


Sagan’s idea of reality is that everything is bigger and more complicated than our human minds can perceive and survival consists of more than life alone. To Sagan, humans are “young, curious, and brave” but also feeble in our attempts to understand the world because the “Cosmos” is so much more vast to our human inferiority. Humans have made so many discoveries and achievements, but we have only begun to scratch the surface of everything the universe has to offer. Our future relies on our ability to progress, survive, and “evolve” into creatures with complete knowledge of our “Cosmos.”