Vervaeke, Awakening from the Meaning Crisis

This could be under politics, or just about anywhere. It’s starting out with a historical view of the development of human cognition. It’s intended to be for a non-academic audience. Way too much to cover, but a couple of things were relevant to CFI.

Ep. 2 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Flow, Metaphor, and the Axial Revolution - Bing video

He’s talking about how early humans found ways to enhance their own learning, by getting into what we call “flow states” today. At the time, it was the shamans doing it. The work Vervaeke has been doing is a scientific look at the roots of religion. Depending on how much background you have, you might have to listen to some of the earlier parts, but I thought it was interesting at about 20 minutes when he mentions intuitions that go wrong.

Around here, we might just call them logical fallacies, when correlation is considered causality. Or when some life experience is used to justify racism.

After that, he talks about the origins of language and how they allowed us to store our thoughts, so we could reflect on them, and correct our errors. It sounded a lot like the Richard Feynman quote, that the easiest person to fool is yourself. Kind of sad that we gained this ability about 3,000 years ago, but we still haven’t got the hang of it.

Onto Ep 3 today
Ep. 3 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Continuous Cosmos and Modern World Grammar - Bing video

After 20 minutes he gets to something that I’d been trying to do, but I was never serious enough about it to seek out deeper academic study. Fortunately some others have. Before seeking a church in my early 30’s I was noticing Biblical references in literature and history. I thought it would be good to understand these allegories and sources of inspiration for the people who founded the culture I live in.

Vervaeke points to this and quotes Nietschze, “I fear we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar.” When I’ve tried to bring this up with atheists, they dismiss it, saying I’m just grabbing another interpretation of the Bible that’s as untrue as any other. But that is the paradigm of thinking I’m seeking these interpretations with the goal of restoring religion or giving it a meaning that is palatable for the modern ear.

Vervaeke puts it in the context of the evolution of thinking itself. Shamanism was an attempt to bring themselves into harmony with the cycles. The Axial Age added myths on top of that, making wisdom a form of power, a way of removing the self from the cycle to gain knowledge. Science has shown us the cycles are what we are. There is a movement toward entropy but the patterns that form as that energy is released form galaxies and planets and on this one, life. Understanding that can break the religious notion of there being a separate reality. Oddly enough, the story telling traditions are what led us to this realization.

Episode 4 is about Socrates. Again, my favorite part occurs around 20 minutes. The story of Socrates working out this conundrum is also interesting if you have time. There’s a bit at the end that I’d never heard before. Socrates, as most know, was sentenced to death for his persistent philosophizing, “corrupting the youth”. But I didn’t know it was a close decision and the first vote for his death was not certain. Then, he proposed the alternative, saying philosophy has been costly for him, it’s hard, he doesn’t get paid, so, his punishment should be to make him keep doing it and provide him with housing and food to make that possible. The next vote to kill him was nearly unanimous.

What Socrates did was integrate the Natural Philosophers, the early scientists, like Thales. They were getting away from gods and looking at what is real. This also took them away from what it relevant. Just like the complaints today that science produces truth, but can’t speak to morality.

Then there were the Sophists, who didn’t care much about what was real, they just wanted to use language to make a good argument. They couldn’t just say “believe me”, but they could distract you enough with some irrelevant data and something catchy, something that appeals to emotions, and get you to connect their version of reality to that. This is the difference between a regular old liar and bullshit artist. He elaborates on Harry G. Frankfurt’s work.

Socrate’s insight was to realize he knew what he didn’t know. He could hold that and not be troubled by it. He tried to get people to pay attention to what was relevant when determining what was true, and those truths would train them to pay attention to what was relevant.

I just found out there are 50 of these. It’s possible I won’t get to all of them

All Transcripts - Meaning Crisis Collection

Ep. 12 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Higher States of Consciousness, Part 2 - YouTube

He is using the terminology he’s developed, so I can’t say how much sense it will make to you, but I like the technical explanation at the end of this one. The last 5 minutes.

He’s dealing with the question of how we can evaluate the science we have on self-transcendence and gaining wisdom. We can show it happens, but the data is incomplete and the results are not consistent. Some people do guided meditation with psychedelics and have insights that help them overcome their addictions. Others do it and say aliens have infiltrated our government. Those people come here, right?

Before that, he discusses how we determine what’s plausible, and how that results in science filtering out the ridiculous, and thus, we can’t claim certainty. So, the alien believer is, in a way, right, their theory is possible. I challenge that based on possibility being very different from plausibility. What this series is trying to do is bring up some technologies, that have been set aside as implausible, and look at recent studies of them to create a rational description of a system to increase wisdom.

In many ways, he’s responding to this

The Descartes Challenge

  1. Appreciating the physical reality ~ human mindscape divide on a deep personal level.
    He begins in the Paleolithic era, but acknowledges that when doing this sort of thing, you have to pick a starting point. There is always something that came before.
  2. Appreciating I am an evolved biological sensing creature, a product of Earth’s evolutionary pageant with a string of parents going all the way back to Earth’s origins.
    This is recognized throughout. Not sure how to make the case without reviewing the whole thing.
  3. Appreciating it’s self-evident that Gods are created within our personal and collective human thoughts and imagination.
    In the first episode, he talks about Shamanism, not as a belief, but rather as tools for enhancing the tribe. He moves on to the Axial Age, looking at the similarities of the religions that started then. Also Egypt and Greece. A major theme is how we deceive ourselves, and the tools to recognize that break out of it.
  4. Consciousness and life is all about dynamic interactions, not a thing to study like a specimen.
    Episode 6 introduces Alicia Juarrero’s work with Dynamical Systems Theory.
  5. We need each other to keep ourselves honest.
    Somewhere in Episode 11 and/or 12 he mentions that the work of attempting to achieve a higher state of consciousness should be done in a community setting, with guidance.
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CC, this should be up your alley, no?

From a human perspective, I agree with all these propositions.

He gets history in a way I’ve never heard it before. In episode 14, he talks about Diogenes, who took a lamp and looked for an honest person, and told Alexander the Great he didn’t want riches, he just wanted Alexander to stop blocking his sunlight. I’ve heard that all before, but never with the additional context of the “Cynics”. Diogenes was getting people to see the confusion between purity codes and moral codes.

We get those confused people here all the time. They say they are disgusted by gay people, or black people. That is a purity code, developed by culture, but it feels like part of their being. The moral codes of civil rights and equality can be arrived at from reflection on natural laws, laws that are rediscovered throughout time by successful civilizations. Justifying prejudices cannot. It feels to them like legitimate research and methodology, but it’s not.

Another way this is seen here at our forum is when people see the purity codes, and how they support the power structures, and believe they have discovered something no one else has. They still aren’t reasoning and looking for evidence to develop a workable moral code, instead, they cobble together anecdotes and create easy answers with implausible explanations, then find others who will agree with them.

I question the standing of court in a personal health related issue of a person. The fetus is not a person and therefore should not be subject to nor be privileged under law. It is a medical issue to be adjudicated by medically knowledgeable persons.
OTOH, the female host is a person under law and has inviolable rights, such as right to refuse hospitality to an unwanted parasitic organism, that in reality may be a real threat to the host.
If the fetus is unable to survive outside the womb, that is not the problem of the owner of the womb.

Or to put it another way,

Pregnancy is never a guarantee. A fetus is a seed, a being, a human potentiality. Spontaneous natural abortions, miscarriages happen. A fetus may be a human, but it doesn’t take on the mantle of personhood until those first breaths of life-giving air are infusing its lungs and pumping through its arteries and veins.

Beyond that, in a free society, legally speaking, why doesn’t a woman deserve the Right to Self-Defense along with Sovereignty Over Her Own Body?

When push comes to shove a just law, in a just society, would clearly acknowledge that a woman’s life is more precious to her existing family and society than an unborn potentiality.

The fetus inside of her will always matter more to herself, than to any moralizing bystanders. Women should be entrusted above all others, with the responsibility of making their own best informed choices about their own pregnancies.

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How is this related to this thread?

Typically, a legal person can sue and be sued, own property, and enter into contracts.
legal person | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute

If a fetus is not a “person”, courts have no business interfering. Courts cannot make law affecting the behavior or treatment of a viral infection. Viruses are not persons.

Why is legal standing important?

In short, standing keeps courts in their constitutional lane. Standing also has important implications for people seeking access to the justice system, because if someone lacks standing, the courthouse doors are closed to him.Jun 29, 2021

I’m listening to EP 12 part two, a second time now. It feels long winded and lordie 50 episodes, wish I did, but I don’t have that kind of time. My life is full of commitments, and chores, spring garden chores, transition from wood burning to water catching, etc., etc., and then a Friday a phone call, come Tuesday AM I was off to South Carolina and the grandkids again, with a young puppy into the mix, and household fix-it items to schedule in-between. So I’ll spare the commentary, (okay, couldn’t resist a few shots), still it’s not an easily digested fluff piece like some VOX articles I’ve read. :wink:

It was a trip this is pretty much the 4th anniversary of my first getting to know little two week old Li’l B. No more bundle of sacred miracles, he’s a kid with an ego, his own ideas, places to go, and orders to give out, and I love that he still wants to spend his time with me, with Li’l G doing his best to keep up with us and now the little pup nipping at our heals. :v:

His depth of knowledge is, um, deep, so yeah. He could just make his case and let you do the comparative philosophy part, but so far it’s worth it for me. I hope I’m doing the forum a service with my summaries. His has a book from 2019 too.

Zombies in Western Culture: A Twenty-First Century Crisis

That’s a great age. Like when the understand the pattern of jokes, but don’t know what punchline is, just what one sounds like

Interesting. I went camping with a young family decades ago and around the fire they had both kids tell their ‘story of the day’ a regular habit that these kids have been nurtured with from an early age to telling their story of the day they had and anything they wanted to talk about, I mean they were young, 5 & 7 seems to my memory, and it was captivating and amazing listen to these two little squirts telling tails as good as any of us could have mustered. It’s not exactly like that here, a loving modern suburbia sports loving household, not some hippy family out in the mountains with tons of “spare” time for focusing on raising their two children, hippies, but degree holding hippies, don’t you know. :slight_smile:

Still I know what you mean by watching the cognitive jumps, since it’s months, up to half year between seeing them these days. There’s a lot of stuff I’d love to write about, but between no time and sense of privacy and such, don’t. It certainly gives me more reason to live and look toward the future. Too bad I don’t see anything grand that direction, I am at the treasuring the days, months and years - a decade doesn’t compute, more the one day at a time attitude anymore.

It’s all about this day, right here, right now and doing the right thing and, why not, being good at doing the best with what ya got, and enjoying the doing of it. Because, besides me, they too will be taking a little bit of me and these moments right now, with them for the rest of their lives, I want to give them the best these 67 years have to offer.

I have had a chance to watch a bit of Verbeke’s series. I’m a little confused about the “Meaning Crisis” and would love a little clarification. In fact, I commented over at his introduction video and want to share that over here, even started a thread, but recalled you already started one, so here goes.

I want to see if there’s a conversation in this “Meaning Crisis” because I don’t understand what he’s going on about, so I’m busy constructing my responses, as Vervaeke goes on and on. I’m an unschooled busy regular guy, so I don’t have the time for excessive verbosity, yet that seems the life blood of too many academics. But that’s just me, an outsider to the academic universe, which is why I like hearing some of you folks out there who are from that world.

Awakening from the Meaning Crisis

John Vervaeke - YouTube

Awakening from the meaning crisis?

Are you discussing the crisis of people not knowing who they are?

Who am I? . . . Who are you?

If you were to ask me,
I have an easy answer, though it’s taken 60 some years to ripen.

Who am I?
Most fundamentally I am an evolved biological sensing creature.
My mind is the product of my body, and my body is a product of this Earth’s Evolution.
A self-aware filament in Earth’s ongoing Evolution.”
And it feels really good. No meaning crisis anymore, at least not for me.

I’ll shut up right here, for now, and hope for a little dialogue . . .

Did you listen to the first interview I put up? The one about Domicide? That one is more about current applications of his work.

Or, go to the end of Episode 6 (52 min). He lists some common phrases like “personal growth”, and “potential” and then says, “blah, blah, blah”. Those words have lost meaning in this world, because so many have hijacked them. The series is about where those ideas came from, and also how they get lost, co-opted, and abused. And, how do we rediscover them?

Unlike your theme, that is inspired by deep time, he is seeking the general rules for finding that inspiration. At any moment, we can find something to improve our current circumstances. The skills to do that; self-reflection, noticing the patterns of the natural world, feeding back those insights, increasing the variation in our options, determining our best options, all of that works together to allow us to flourish. All of it is available to our species naturally.

I did start that video, but too late and faded out. Am listening to it again, discovered I quoted some highlight in a comment I started but never completed.

Reconfigure transcendence-ness.
Transcendent only means something when you have a sense of the sacred.
Sense of the sacred = I’ve encountered something more real (the really real) than my day to day.
Transformative Experiences.

Some sense of sacredness.

Need for transcendence.
the really real

Stop thinking of the sacred as completion & perfection

Living systems aren’t after maximization, they are after optimization.

Fitting yourself to reality, rather than focused on maximizing value.

33:45 Are you really well connected to yourself and other people, (and dare I add other creatures?)

That harmonizes quite well with my notions.

You missed all the context. “Meaning Crisis” is the key concept in that musing.

Sorry that was written a bit klutzy, what I’m not understand is what specifically is this “Meaning Crisis”?

What Meaning Crisis?

Can you offer a definition?

The answer to what meaning is not laid out in this course yet. I don’t know if he has a short answer to that anywhere. He keeps saying things like, “we need to know this so later we can understand the modern meaning crisis”.

I’m done for today, but here’s a spot where he states the goal of finding out to fix the crisis. It just takes a few minutes

Okay, having coffee now, so I won’t dodge it.

There are a few ways we are confused about meaning in this crazy world. We confuse having and being. Our gods are labels that we defend, without knowing what their words mean. Whatever ancient wisdom is in the Bible or the Bhagavad Gita, we don’t really care anymore, we make up a story about it and claim our way is better. I’m not pointing at anyone in particular here, it’s pervasive enough to call it a crisis.

If you do try to find meaning outside of religious practice, good luck. We are social animals, so we need others to practice the skills and reciprocally grow. Instead of supporting each other in growing as a person, search for self-help, and you will find exercise, diets, public speaking, and finances. Those are all fine, but they are things to have, not things to be.

At the end of 16, he talks about the two times he brought home a baby from the hospital and looked at it and saw this was not yet a whole person, not something with which to build a friendship, but he knew that his love for it would bring it into that fullness of being and in turn, it would pass that on. Parents, most of them, get this today, but we have cordoned that off, we look at it as something cute. Instead of making it the sacred ground on which to build the world, we fight over words they can read and what clothes they should wear, as if those purity codes are where the meaning lies.