# Vervaeke, Awakening from the Meaning Crisis

I think he is underestimating the extent and power of mathematics in dynamical systems.
It’s called “partial differential equations” which maintain a constant, but variable mathematical organization, accounting for changing values over time.

# Dynamical system

In mathematics, a dynamical system is a system in which a function describes the time dependence of a point in an ambient space, such as in a parametric curve. Examples include the mathematical models that describe the swinging of a clock pendulum, the flow of water in a pipe, the random motion of particles in the air, and the number of fish each springtime in a lake. The most general definition unifies several concepts in mathematics such as ordinary differential equations and ergodic theory by allowing different choices of the space and how time is measured.[citation needed]

Time can be measured by integers, by real or complex numbers or can be a more general algebraic object, losing the memory of its physical origin, and the space may be a manifold or simply a set, without the need of a smooth space-time structure defined on it.

Did you listen to him, or just respond to my paragraph? He speaks extensively on dynamic systems

I’ll revisit the video. I did not get through it all. My bad.

Well, I had a minute, and he really pulled a lot together in Episode 33.

I think the thing he hasn’t solved, that science doesn’t have a lot to say about, is this thing he calls “relevance realization”. He claims it’s a thing, it’s how we choose what to focus on out of the millions of things happening at any given moment. It’s coupled with the environment, it’s that “water we swim in”, so when we try to explain why we are focusing at a detail, we can step back and include more framing to say why, but that doesn’t solve the relevance problem, because there’s always more framing, until we’ve explained our entire life and then how our ancestors led to us. You can’t do it.
So he calls it “primordial” and borrows from the Tao, saying “the way it can be spoken of is not the way”. He has to keep clarifying that he’s not trying to sneak in gods, like when says it’s a “fundamental grounding of being”. He even evokes St. Paul. He also quotes extensively from an essay. I think it’s in here, but not sure The joy of secularism : 11 essays for how we live now / edited by George Levine - Penn State University Libraries Catalog if that’s the right reference.

So, a lot. I’m not sure how easy this will be for someone who hasn’t seen the previous 32 episodes. He jokes about how he wishes he could do 100 more but his production crew would kill him. I especially liked his descriptions of curiosity and wonder, and how they differ. Curiosity is the having mode, directed at material things. Wonder is opening up to the whole atmosphere we exist in, we participate in it, and are in awe of its inexhaustible potential.

Near the end he makes a reference to studies that show people in religious communities are protected from some of life’s difficulties. He doesn’t seem to be aware of studies about how secular communities can serve that same purpose. That was disappointing. But, I’ll probably keep listening.

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I believe another term is “selective attention”

Selective attention is defined by the American Psychological Association as “concentration on certain stimuli in the environment and not on others, enabling important stimuli to be distinguished from peripheral or incidental ones.”. When heavily concentrated on untangling a knot, for instance, the brain might engage selective attention and … Read more

Just heard this in a recent YouTube. The other speakers were the usual lot. It’s a great summary of the 50 hour course. It’s not a word-for-word quote, I cleaned it up for the written word.

The shadow of spirituality, 2023 posted in November
What is the current state of spiritualy? Are the new age spiritual beliefs leading us into a post enlightenment dark age?

It is a confused phenomenon. There are a lot of things going wrong in it. People are trying to deal with anomalous spiritual mystical experiences (we know about 40% of the population has these), or they’re hungry for meaning, or they’re looking for transformation, or they’re looking for belonging. I would make a case that these all have a proper role in a well lived human life. But, I think they’re trying to do it in a moribund two-worlds mythology that we inherited from the Axial Age, that is not consonant with the picture that the scientific worldview is giving us. That often leads them into pseudo-science as they try, often in a sloppy way, to integrate those two (old mythology and new science) together.
They also move toward a kind of decadent romanticism in which they try to find alternative faculties that they believe can give them special access to reality (sort of ‘my intuition or my imagination is a magical faculty). These are all very confused projects, part of the way rationality and spirituality have been fundamentally severed, post the Enlightenment.

That’s the negative, the positive in new-age spirituality is that they represent that people are seeking places in which they can practice in a way that will bring them transformations so they that they have a proper home for the cultivation of something like wisdom and virtue. But this is often confused with an arcane or esoteric knowledge project. It’s often confused with weird sub-cultural political commitments. So, the new-age movement is a symptom of much deeper profounder confusions that if we don’t address, things are going to get much worse for us in general, as a culture.

And that’s where it ends?

Spinning our wheels?
Same as it ever was.

Thanks. That was interesting. Through my experiences and education I could follow and appreciate everything he said. I experienced the flow state as a musician, as a pilot, and as a triathlete. That’s not bragging - I’m old and should have had these experiences.

I hadn’t thought about metaphor and its similarity to seemingly disparate parts of the mind connecting, but once he presented the idea it seemed obvious. He also mentioned psychedelics as a means of achieving brain connections that don’t normally occur. Sam Harris shared his experiences with this in his book, Waking Up.

I couldn’t help but think how many people seem not to have developed a meta cognition that realizes when the mind fools itself. E.g., Trump supporters.

Edit to add : I didn’t know this was an older thread. When I clicked on an “unread” post button, it took me to the original post. I watched the whole video and posted this. Then I saw the many posts and wondered how everyone managed to watch it and respond so fast. My intuitive mind figured it out. LOL

Your are a thorn in my side. It’s a 5 minute summary. He was answering a question in a forum. They weren’t going to let him do his 50 hour course on their platform

Not recognizing the substance of my complaint is why I’m a thorn in your side.

Sorry. Wish you wouldn’t take it so personally. I’ll repeat I like Vervaeke, I’ve listened to a few of these and he’s an excellent professor teaching his topic, (and he knows how to wake those dozing students). I’m not attacking the teacher, I am attacking the unacknowledged mind set.

At least I’ll spare repeating my broad observations/complaint that fit under the heading of Abrahamic thinking & and disinterest in explicitly recognizing the mind ~ physical reality divide.

The first bolded section is a way of stating your “mindset”. It uses different words, which is extremely difficult to do with you, you just don’t allow it. I take nothing personal, this is data and evidence of what you do.

I prefer these words because they are broader. The Axial Age was a worldwide change in thinking. Abrahamic mindsets came from a tiny area that happened to be a cross roads. It expanded, mostly west, with three branches and had to conform to survive.

Mythology allows for change and expresses universal themes and values.

I did take note of the Axial Age reference and though I didn’t mention anything, and it works and I thought good point. So I don’t disagree.

Sure. But, so what? Abrahamic mindset, or Axial Age, or even necessary for advanced society and kingdom creation. That’s all beside the point of my basic observation, turned complaint.

I’ll stick by this observation:

I prefer to see it as getting back on point.

“Well, like, that’s your opinion man” – El Duderino

It’s been a while. These are getting to where the first half is a lot of terms, a lot of rearranging of words that have been introduced throughout. This would probably be at least two semesters in the college level, and you’d read the material. Overall, I think he did a good job picking the 50 session format. The meat usually comes in the last 15 minutes. Although the stuff at the beginning about agape is good too.

In this one, near the end, he brings up Ursula Goodenough’s “Sacred Depths of Nature” book. I have a post on that somewhere. Agape love is loving not just the person, but caring about the conditions that person lives in and how they are educated and nurtured. Goodenough’s book explores how we can move away from the narrative language we inherited from the Axail Age, a language of power coming from above, and explore our abilities and our connections to the environment. Instead of a goal of transcending from our limitations into a cosmic ultimate purpose, ground ourselves in reality and transcend into what we can do here and now.

I don’t think I ever did a separate post about Ursula

Looks like rain all day, so time for another. I’ll skip to episode 41. 40 was titled “the religion of no religion”, but that turned out to be a bit of a bust. 41 discussed something that I am very interested in, but it’s not something you can talk about openly. That is, are most people just incredibly irrational, and likewise stupid, and is there any way a few smart, rational people can deal with them? This post puts some science to that, speaking generally about our brains and history, so it’s not offensive to those stupid irrational people that we all know are out there.

We know there are standards of rationality, but we know that even those who can list them fail to meet them. Is it competence or performance? We can identify incompetence in extreme cases, like brain damage, but what about those who are well versed in logic, but not wise. This is the problem of science of denial, where people are legitimately afraid of the man who can make an atomic bomb, but doesn’t know how to NOT use it.

CC, you’ll be glad to know that the only reference to DesCartes is, “he’s wrong”. But, science shows rationality doesn’t automatically come from intelligence either. As we see here in CFI, it can be hard to sort out when someone misunderstands vs when they are using fallacious reasoning for their conclusion. Vervaeke’s theme in this series is that we need to look at how we size up problems. We can use science, but that only works in a narrow, controlled, environment. If we tried to approach our daily problems scientifically, we would be stuck considering every angle, and we would fail in the daily acts of problem solving. So, that’s NOT rational.

This session ends with learning to be “actively open minded”. But the series isn’t over, it’s not some final solution. It’s grounded in Stoicism and CBT therapy, so it’s not some wild new idea Vervaeke invented. For me, becoming aware of my confirmation biases was a first step in losing my old belief system. Being curious, and just letting myself wonder about all of the amazing stuff out there, is also part of it. And, don’t forget, question your worldview, all the time. Although that gets back to picking an approach like science and trying to apply it to everything, constantly questioning everything would result in daily failures too. So, it becomes more about practices and less about rules and laws and data.

Alrighty then. I think this might be getting the start of something that could lead to, I don’t know. Only 6 to go, so let’s hope it wasn’t a complete waste of time. As I noted earlier, he started to reference material on, WHAT I WOULD CALL, the question of, “how do we deal with stupid people?”

In Vervaeke’s words, it’s more like, “how do we cultivate wisdom?”
Ep. 43 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Wisdom and Virtue (youtube.com)

The lecture has several lists of virtues and contribute to wisdom, and discusses how lists don’t work. An early example is, if honesty is a virtue, then should you answer honestly when the bride asks you if she looks beautiful? Other virtues and skills are discussed, each time coming back to the idea of balancing rules for being wise with the abilities to choose what is relevant, see the context, apply the principles to the situation.

So, kinda fun.

Not from the series, but a discussion that lays out some of the landscape. And it’s short.

After a C.S. Lewis poem and some other junk, about 18 minutes, John gets into his “ways of knowing”, mostly contrasting the first “propositional” with the others that are practices. The interviewer then asks what we do with that, and at 22:00, he says, “well we stop talking about it so much”, and points out the irony of saying that at a conference.

The practices should be both individual and collaborative. Like Tai Chi, meditation. The key is they are self-corrective. There the “you” that is what you feel is “you”, the “you” that is hard to put into words, the thing that seems to be generating thoughts. Then there’s the “you” that takes over when your favorite song comes on, or when you’re swinging a hammer. Practices get the second “you” to intervene with the intellectual, and then you have meaning making.

The system is running whether you like it or not. Knowing how the chemical systems work doesn’t change the machinery. Knowing that someone else had a prayer practice, then recreating those prayers, doesn’t produce the same results in every person. A discipline of physical fitness might produce insights for a successful life for one person, but for another it will just make them bulked up jerks. Plato’s analogy was the man, the lion, and the monster, and he discussed how we get them talking to each other.

You can get the non-propositional knowing, that is, the participatory knowing, to be responsive to the good arguments and evidence that come from the thinking part, that is, the conscious part that feels like it exists in our heads.

What I was taught is that there is an option, that you can push all that body stuff aside, all those emotions and urges, and let the brain do the work. I was raised to be very practical, to go to school and fit in. Nothing wrong with that, it’s given me a very comfortable life. I was taught to think for myself, and to my parents’ consternation, I did. I met people who talked about looking to spiritual pursuits, to letting go of propositional thinking and explore the inner… something. It got vague once I started experimenting.

Those practices, whether in a church, or a field somewhere, whether they involve enhancements or were purely contemplative, didn’t work as well as the people who told me about them said they would. It’s not anyone’s fault. All of them we’re told by someone and most of them had success stories, either themselves or someone else, as evidence of the choices they made. Very few of them talked of, or could keep, one foot in the practical and one in the practices. Fewer still had much insight into how to do that or why.

Reminds me of the Moody Blues lyric,

Some try to tell me
Thoughts they cannot defend
Just what you want to be
You will be in the end

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I’m trying to tell you something 'bout my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It’s only life after all, yeah
Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
And I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine, yeah
Closer I am to fine, yeah
And I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a B-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
Got my paper and I was free
And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine, yeah
Closer I am to fine, yeah
I stopped by the bar at 3 A.M.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
And I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I’d been the night before
And I went in seeking clarity
I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
We go to the doctor, we go to the mountains
We look to the children, we drink from the fountain
Yeah, we go to the Bible, we go through the workout
We read up on revival, we stand up for the lookout
There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine
Closer I am to fine
Closer I am to fine, yeah
Source: Musixmatch

Closer to fine
Indigo Girls

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