Open to the Whole
Many years ago now, the philosopher and teacher Leo Strauss made the following statement in one of his lectures: “Man is that part of the whole that is open to the whole.” Always one who challenged the more traditional materialist positions of his colleagues at the University of Chicago, Straus was not only stating the difference between human beings and other creatures in matters of consciousness, but he was also making the case for our very identity.
We have all been placed here with the gift of a unique perception within the Whole of the known universe and its deeper mysteries. It is our gift from an intelligence within which we take our life and from which we are invited to enter the portal to the beginnings of wisdom.
The space we enter, not unlike the porch of an ancient temple, is only a beginning of wisdom because merely having a perception of the Whole does not mean that we have an understanding of our place within its nature. An astronomer can grasp a sense of the visible Whole while not being open to it as a personal relation. A continuing study of the wisdom traditions, on the other hand, provides a rare opportunity to become open to the Whole and to know how to live with that openness.
Here at UPR, we have the means to study the philosophy of this consciousness of the Whole as well as the psychology behind that relationship. Together, these two disciplines provide handles with which to grasp and hold on to its mysteries. Without those handles our position is, in effect, unhandsome, that is, not having a handle on our own lives.
As UPR begins its undergraduate program in earnest, inviting students to complete a degree already begun perhaps in a more traditional setting, we open a portal into the nature and character of the Whole. It is a rare invitation, not suited to everyone, but recognized on some level of an understanding seen perhaps as a deep curiosity or a search for meaning. Once completed, the degree invites a deeper grasp of the wisdom tradition with completion of a graduate degree.
One of the rarities of the UPR setting is that the faculty we have assembled for this study have both a sense of the true nature of the Whole and are also open to being a contributing part of it on behalf of those willing and able to discover what that openness entails.
Richard Geldard, Ph.D.
UPR Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Yeshiva University, Doctoral Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and Author of ten books on Early Greek philosophy and the thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson.