Ep. 25 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - The Clash



my notes


  • Hegel: proposes how to move beyond Kant/Romantics rejecting the notion of the thing in itself: reality is just patterns of intelligibility, there is nothing above and beyond that
  • As ideas being developed, reality being developed
  • Geist: quasi living system of patterns of intelligibility
  • Understood as a process of dialectic
  • Dialectic: process by which ideas/patterns by which reality is known and actual
  • Pattern in which ideas articulate and differentiate from one another. One idea opposed by another, distinguished from and then taken up in a higher order of integration, serves as new idea…etc.
  • Emerges and develops, becomes more and more into deeper patterns of understanding/being
  • Reaches a state in which a system of ideas emerges that grasps the dialectical process itself → culmination state of absolute Geist
  • Real is the rational: development of rationality and intelligibility of reality is also reality itself: absolute spirit/mind = God
  • Secularized, non-religious God
  • Advocates for a new mythology of reason: last and greatest work of mankind.
  • Main critiques Hegel:
    • Schopenhauer: will to live missing.
    • Nietsche: will to power missing
    • Kirkergard: Hegel reduced everything to propositional knowing, left out perspectival knowing/anagoge - given us epistemic transcendence not existential ethical self transcendence
    • Personal transformation and transformative experience that are necessary for returning to making deeper contact with reality left out
    • L.A. Paul: can’t reason our way through transformative experiences central to cultivation of wisdom


  • Proposal: history not driven by reason but by the monster
  • Influenced by Feuerbach: religion as projection of our humanity, projected distortion that distracts us
  • Marx rejects theistic resonance of Hegel: dialectic not of ideas, playing themselves out religious, but of economic forces playing themselves out politically
  • Not by ideas in contrast but by socio-economic classes in political conflict
  • Dialectic will work out contradictions until they are resolved → peace and freedom achieved because resolved conflicts
  • Secularized version of God working himself out in history to the promised land
  • We identify with our class, with our struggle, participate in the Kairos by engaging in revolution - violent political change
  • Powerful pseudo-religious ideology


  • Nationalism: nation-state can take the role that God has taken in the past:
    • Patriotic devotion to the nation state
    • Sacrifice for it
    • Participation in its history and will follow you upon your death
  • 19th century fierce nationalism
  • Nationalism when understood as will wedded to emerging scientific/industrial revolution, imperialism
  • Ways in which people have secular pseudo-religious ideologies to fill the gap left by erosion of Christian framework


  • Germany: Nietsche, Shcopenhauer, Hegel, Marx, Lurther
  • Fragmented as a nation for centuries, united Bismark 1870
  • Nationalism fierce in Germany because finally political entity with tremendous economic and industrial power/scientific production
  • Sees itself in competition, lagging behind other countries, France, England in creation of world empire. Nationalism/imperialism paramount.
  • Disaster: WWI: all this machinery that was supposed to bring us to utopia, dreches Europe in tidal wave of blood and destruction. Generation decimated.
  • Germany especially traumatized - defeated.
  • Victors: France and England especially treat Germany poorly, weaken it economically, cripple it militarily
  • Tainted by Luther’s horrible antisemitism
  • Rhineland mystics: neoplatonic, gnostic
  • Critiques by positivism of German idealism: wedded to the success of scientific materialism
  • Marxism real threat in Germany
  • Goethe: romantic tradition: romanticism becoming decadent in Germany
  • Fragmentation of protestant reformation
  • Will to power
  • Philosophical vacuum
  • Racist interpretation of history to try and replace Hegel’s idealistic interpretation of history, or Marx’s economic interpretation


  • All come together in Hitler’s auto-didactic mind
  • Dangers of auto-didactic approach to meaning crisis.

(This is where some of his fear of auto-didacticism comes in)

  • Meaning crisis comes to fever pitch
  • Mein Kumpf: verges on incoherence due to Hitler’s attempt to articulate all of this personally
  • Hitler like Luther: sees his own personal struggle as representative of all of germany and western civilization. Exemplifies this chaos and articulates weird mythology
  • More than just facism and racism: in service of a gnostic nightmare

(How is it that the gnostics got so much right in terms of participatory knowing but so dangerous an ideology. Seems there is a great danger to participatory knowing which can be subject to serious bias. Is the risk worth it? Can we divorce the good from the bad here?)

  • True self in our blood - decadent romanticism
  • Here we are, we are a master race trapped within a worldwide conspiracy keeping us from our divine heritage, only by opposing and trying to thwart the evil overlords can we come to our true divine heritage as the master race that is in our blood and in the soil of our nation
  • The ones who worship the demiurge are the Jews
  • Hitler crafting something between a religious totalitarian ideology and a personal mythology that he exemplifies
  • Not just a political movement: pseudo-religious ideology. Totalitarian proposal confuses and distorts mythicism, nationalism, infused with decadent romanticism and gnostic ideology, will to power
  • Triumph of the WIll: propaganda Nazi film
  • Tsunami of bullshit: all of these currents that are emerging out of the collapse of the three orders, spun by Hitler to give people a powerful response to the exigent intensity of the meaning crisis
  • Intensified by socio-economic collapse of the great depression. Seems to vindicate gnostic nightmare.

World War II: Battle of Kursk

  • Nazism vs. Maxism meet in titanic struggle on Eastern front in WWII
  • Battle of Kursk: 1943 - nothing like it anywhere else in world history. Biggest battle ever.
  • Millions of men. Thousands of tanks and airplanes. Brutal and vicious.
  • Russian victory: beginning of end of Nazi, ascendence of Soviets
  • Literally beyond comprehension in terms of size and scope and death, shear amount of technology and material - impact on genealogy of meaning crisis
  • Tremendous struggle symptomatic of meaning crisis
  • Both sides fixated on belief, totalitarian ideologies, secularized religion
  • Ideas supposed to explain history, reality, how to achieve utopia, recapture axial legacy
  • Politicization of the quest for meaning. Mythology confused with politics
  • Perspectival knowing reduced to political viewpoint, participatory knowing reduced to political identification
  • Titanic struggle of wills

Meta Crisis

  • Legacy: soviet union also collapses

  • Secularized political process of pseudo religious ideologies both symptomatic and and contributes to the meaning crisis - feedback loop

  • Meta-crisis: Thomas Bjorkman: intertwining crises:

    • Ecological
    • Socio-economic
    • spiritual
  • To address this require comprehensive change in:

    • consciousness,
    • cognition,
    • Character
    • Culture
  • Only thing in the past that create systematic sets of psycho-technologies that transform cognition, culture, character in interdependent ways was religion

  • In the 19th and 20th centuries tried to create alternatives

  • Need to respond to the meta-crisis, but traumatized by the pseudo-religious ideologies

  • Some people trying nostalgic return to religion: fundamentalism (including some atheists)

  • Can interact with politicization: get potential for terrorism.

  • So doubtful of all this as a response: post religious

  • Fragmented, auto-didactic

  • Dangerous interactions

  • Seem to need a religion that isn’t a religion

  • To see meaning crisis is a struggle between political ideologies, using violence or argument to change belief is to misrepresent the meaning crisis - there is no political solution

  • Need a God beyond all gods.

  • For many this is a dilemma

  • The clash locks us into this dilemma - the aspect of the meaning crisis where we need a religion that is not a religion

  • Moby-Dick: is about this dilemma - could make a good case for this

  • Zombie mythology could be an articulation of this

Cognitive Scientific Analysis of the Machinery of Meaning Making

  • Time to move onto a cognitive scientific analysis of the machinery of meaning making
  • Use it to build a theoretical structure for recovering and salvaging what we can of the axial legacy
  • Hopefully afford the engineering of new psycho-technologies
  • Affording people the means to begin the process of individually and collectively creating systematic sets of psycho-technologies, bring back sapiential (relating to wisdom) pursuit of self-transcendence

What is Cognitive Science?

  • Recent discipline, late 70s
  • Idea: we have multiple disciplines studying minds:
    • Brain:
      • Try to understand the mind by studying the brain. Patterns of neural activities
      • Neuroscience: FMRs, EEGs, etc.
    • Information Processing:
      • programs, algorithms, ways in which can make artificial intelligence
      • Computer science → AI → AGI
      • Try to make machines that actually are cognitive agents
    • Behaviour:
      • Psychology
      • Trying to understand behaviour, working memory, long term memory
      • Experiment on human beings
    • Language:
      • Linguistics: Important way in which mind operates and communicates
      • Talk about tree structures, transformational grammar, test judgments about if grammar makes sense
    • Culture:
      • Anthropology: uses participant observation. Culture something need to know in participatory fashion
    • Philosophy:
      • Looks at how to bridge those vocabularies
  • Mind is not clear. Science is fragmenting what mind means, fragmenting you: who and what you are
  • Need to capture the causal interaction between the levels, want to get them all talking to each other. Theoretical integration
  • Cognitive Science brings it all together.

A post was merged into an existing topic: Ep. 26 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Cognitive Science

A post was merged into an existing topic: Ep. 27 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Problem Formulation