Syntopical Great Idea #1: Change

Syntopical Great Idea #1: Change

CulturesCoverChange—we have been told and we often experience—is inevitable in this world. Change can be physical—material bodies on Earth change in form and space through time. Change can include the transformations, over extensive periods of time, of a species, a nation, a cultural heritage, a language or a family line. The weather changes, you age, your opinions and your appearance often change. Change can also be emotional, psychological or spiritual. Perhaps, then, the first way to consider the idea of “change” is to look at what does change in the world and what, if anything, remains the same. What, in other words, persists through time and space and motion and yet remains unchanged?

In our contemporary world it has become popular to suggest that “change” is the only thing that is true and to be counted on in our lives. But this vertiginous idea of “the never-ending motion and constant change of the world” is also shared by a long line of spiritual guides and philosophers, among them the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, who suggested almost three millennia ago that all material things are subject to change and alteration. Moreover, Biblical Old Testament prophets, such as Solomon, have wrestled with what changes, what remains the same, what is new and what is old. For instance Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, writes: “The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course” (Ecclesiastes 1:5-6). But he also writes: “All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:8-9). Thus, Solomon is an excellent example of one who considers all that does change and yet how not much changes at all—he is the first of the “the more things change the more they stay the same” line of argumentation and ennui.

This brings up several important questions, among them: “If the world is in a constant state of change, why is this so?” and “How are time and space used to measure when and where change occurs?” and, finally, “What changes and what stays the same?”

As we begin to explore this Great Idea we will discover that although some things may always be in a state of change (temporal, spatial, physical, emotional, spiritual), many cultural traditions, and the individuals who live and create within a certain cultural heritage, have also built architecture, written works of literature and theology and philosophy, painted and sculpted in ways that suggest that there are things that are immutable and unalterable. In this chapter we will consider what changes, and what does not, in the world.

Principle Questions Relating to the Great Idea
1) The Nature of Change: Cause and Effect, Newtonian Laws of Motion, Energy, Illusion, Free Will or Corruption of the Immutable

2) Time and Space (When and Where) as a Measurements of Change

3) Apparent Change versus Real Change: What Changes and What is Unalterable and Immutable?”

Excerpt From: Dr. Chad Redwing. Culture and Values of the Western World: Syntopical Course Guide. Available from Confluence Courseware on iBooks and Kobo by clicking the book cover.

Rodney Marshall

Rodney J. Marshall, Ed.D., is Editor-in-Chief of Confluence Courseware, LLC.

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