Ep. 3 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Continuous Cosmos and Modern World Grammar




my notes

  • 00:00 - recap
  • 4:30 - myths today. means a falsehood that is commonly believed - however - myths aren’t false stories about the ancient path, myths are symbolic stories about perennial patterns that are always with us
    • ben: Jung’s archaic man chapter in modern man in search for a soul
  • 5:15 - the continuous cosmos - humans experience themselves in radical continuity, a deep connection between the natural world, the cultural world, and the world of the gods - these are not differences in kind (animal or human or caste), but differences in power (pharaoh’s are god-kings because they have more power) - god is not a metaphor for those in the axial age (i.e. the ancient Egyptians) - gods are just more glorious, more powerful, than us - older religious used glorious (shining with power) to describe gods - greek gods were not moral exemplars, they were just extremely glorious, extremely powerful
  • 8:15 - the continuous cosmos moves in great cycles - just like the seasons, just like day and night, time moves in large cycles that repeat through eternity - rituals are activities that tap into this continuity, to get back to the original power of creation - you do not want to change these cycles, as you undermine your past - time is wrapped on itself
    • ben: more of Jung’s archaic man, the presuppositions, the explanations, the crocodile, the intent, the power
  • 9:30 - the axial age shattered this way of thinking - it didn’t go away, there is aspects of our thinking that is still like this, but a totally different worldview was layered atop of it, for describing the self and the world
    • ben: it was demoted from conscious occupation, to subconscious dwelling, to make way for new conscious interpretations and challenges
  • 10:00 - this is called the great disembedding - the prior world was replaced with a new one - mythological is neither just scientific nor metaphorical - what is this new world? there is now a mythology of two world - the everyday world, the untrained mind, beset by self deception, illusion, chaos, we are out of touch with reality - then there is the real world - how the trained wise mind sees the world, how the world really is, a world without our self deception and illusions, a world with reduced suffering and violence, because the mind is not beset with foolishness and out of touch with reality
  • 12:00 - in the continuous cosmos, wisdom is power orientated, to be wise is to learn how to acquire the power that was imbued in the cycles - that energy was put into the cycles, and it cycles around, and you want to tap into that power - to become proposers, provide security, to overcome conflict - this wisdom is what we now call prudence - how to fit into the power structures of society, how to make things work for you, getting the most power and prosperity you can
    • ben: Jung’s archaic man, everyone was eternal, they didn’t die from old age
  • 13:15 - in the great disembedding, there is a radical change away from that, wisdom changes, you do not want to fit in the world of the everyday world, the world of suffering and violence, where you are out of touch with what is real - you deeply desire to be in touch with reality, it is one of your most powerful drives, you do not want to conform to the everyday, you want to transform out of the everyday, into the real world (ben: is you mankind, or you modern man? - huh, Jung reference) - the old shamanic myth of soul flight, of flying above, or perspective clarity, is being exapted in a new sense of self transcendence, out of the everyday world into the real world, and wisdom is knowing how to make that transformative leap, and meaning isn’t just about connectedness as it was with the continuous cosmos, but now about a connectedness to the real world (as opposed to the detrimental connectedness to an illusory world), so meaning is changing, wisdom is changing, the notion of yourself is changing (before you were defined by how you fit in, now you are defined by how you can self transcend, self transform, grow as a person) - it has become pervasive, notice that we (modern man?) does not like to be around people who are not growing, who aren’t somehow transcending, we grow upwards (like the shaman gaining soul flight, seeing clearer), growing more mature, more in touch with themselves and reality
  • 15:30 - the peculiar perspective that was introduced by the great disembedding, is that we are somehow strangers to the world, pilgrims

  • 16:30 - three places to talk about this - china, India, Greece, ancient Israel - the latter 2 are where the axial revolution took place, and is deeply constituted within us — India is the source the confluence of the mindfulness psychotechnology — each developed specific psychotechnologies which are now natural to us — most of what we consider natural, are things that actually culturally internalised — for example, we it is difficult remember what it was like before literacy and words — the degree to which we do not have a historical understanding, is the degree in which we will be ignorant of the historical factors influencing the meaning crises

  • 19:15 - let’s foreshadow the meaning crises - the great disembedding is a mythological way of thinking that allows us to articulate and train the psychotechnology of the axial revolution, of wisdom, of enhanced meaning - the problem is, this mythology is failing for us now, the scientific worldview is destroying this worldview for us - in a way that may seem ironic, the scientific world is returning us to a continuous cosmos - there is no radical difference in kind, between us and the primates we evolved from - there is no radical difference in kind, between us and our body - **if we can no longer live in this mythology - and that is what mythologies are, they must be liveable - don’t tell me what you believe, tell me what you can practice, tell me what is liveable for you - for most of us, we cannot live the great disembedding anymore, we still talk this way, but we can’t live it — how do we salvage the ability to cultivate knowledge, enhanced meaning, self transcendence, realise who we are, and how the world is, when we can no longer use the mythological worldview in which it was born? we are going through a reembedding…. we are being reembedded back into the physical world…

  • 22:00 - ancient Israel - the grammar of the bible is the grammar of our cognition - grammar is how you put thoughts together, it is not what you say, it is how you say it - neitzsche anti-christ’s “I fear we won’t get rid of god, because we still believe in grammar” - we are still filled with the god grammar of the bible

  • 24:00 - ancient Israel’s significant psychotechnology is understanding time as a cosmic narrative of a story - the invention of using a story through time as a way of explaining the cycles of the cosmos - the infinite cycle is onerous, it is boring, you want to get free from the cycle! doing the cycle forever, is terrifying, you want nirvana, release from the cycle, because there is no purpose to the cycle! - the great disembedding combined with the invention of a time driven story (beginning, change, end) has the future open, your actions can change the future - you can now participate with god, in the ongoing creation of the future - stories operate on meaning and morality - the moral content of your action decides how things are going to go - this is why the god of ancient Israel is such a different god - before axial, gods were gods of places or functions, there is no significant moral arc - the god of the old testament, is a moral arc not bound to time and place - exodus, the Israelites are embedded within the everyday world, god comes and liberates them to the real world, a journey to a future to the promised land, a god that moves between time and space, a god to future, that is why god has no name at the start - when Moses asks god his name, finally, god responds with, which has been poorly translated since, “I am the god of the open future, and you can participate with me, in the story of the ongoing creation of the future, to resolution or off course” - we still take courses in universities - we go to the cinema, to see stories, of how the future could be made

  • 30:30 - as the Old Testament progresses, the god becomes more axial, to the god we now take for granted - progress is now first formed - is life progressing, or are we stuck, are we moving forward? — the idea is, history progresses, that it can degenerate, and it can improve* — god becomes more representative of that - the term for this is kairos - the crucial turning point, the right place, the right time

  • 32:00 - bible uses sex a metaphor for knowledge (ben: is this vice versa?), maybe cultures do - this is meant in a participatory sense, there is a story, and you are participating in it - participation is when it is changing you and you are changing it, like an emersion in a stream, or a river - when you are making love with someone, you are resonating and participating with them, changing each other, to a climax, a resolution

  • 33:40 - the term faith has become useless for us now - in ancient Israel, faith did not mean believing ridiculous things for which there is no evidence, that is a recent idea - before, faith was your sense that you were in a reciprocal realisation that you are in course, on course, evolving with things, or your sense of where you fit into the story, and your kairos - we ask ourselves, how is our relationship going, is it on course? where is it going? is it progressing? is it growing? am I becoming the person I want to be? am I changing where I want? is it going well? - this is da-ath

  • 35:00 - of course, you can get it wrong, you can think you on course when you are actually off course - you are trespassing, walking off the path, no longer on course - this is sin

  • 36:30 - what the Israels did, was turn the movement from the everyday world to the real world, into story, into stories - you start now, and you move towards the promised land - humans sin, and they move the course of history away from its culmination - the idea is, that god has to intervene periodically, god has to redeem, to wake people up, so that they can sense they have gone off course, so they can go on course — this is the prophetic force — to wake you up, to how you are off course — today this is not psychics but therapists — this brings force an increasing emphasis on human decision making, to wake up for our moral responsibility to help everybody to get things back on track, and to turn things back to the promised land — this idea of justice, to get back on track, has become endemic — this is how we think about ourselves, we see ourselves as on journeys and want to progress — try to judge yourself without invoking the notion of progressthat progress is mostly measured, by moral progress, of increased justice, of people living up to their promise — this the grammar we have inherited from the israels

  • 42:00 - what the iraels did, was position the kairos into a particular position

  • 42:30 - the greeks did things differently from the Israels - they added vowels to the alphabet — which increases the ease of cognitive processing and fluencyregardless of what the information is, if the ease of people processing the information increases, they come to regard it as more real and more valid with more confidence — this can be simple, changing the font contrast between the letters and the page (ben: is this why people with avatars of their face with a black background, get more followers and trust then more complex avatars with more colour and scenery) — example of newspaper articles, better contract, easier reading, more trust — the fluency of your processing, increases your confidence in it, how real the picture it gives you is — (ben: is this why echo chambers form, easier to process information, therefore more favourable intuitions)

  • 45:00 - if I give you something that increases your cognitive fluency, your brain gets an enhanced sense of being in touch with things, in touch with reality — this is a good policy for our brains — a lot of fluency is flow

  • 45:30 - so when the greeks introduced vowels they improved the fluency of alphabetic literacy, they also introduced standardised reading from left to right — standardised improves fluency of the processing, hiroglyphs could go in any direction

  • 46:30 - the greeks also did not have a nation state, they had many smaller communes - in Athens they develop democracy - this put a premium on argumentation and debate — they speed up, the articles of the axial revolution, alphabetical literacy, cognitive enhancement

  • 47:30 - the greeks also invent mathematics, trigonometry, abstract symbol systems

  • 48:00 - what is being invented, is this capacity, for rational argumentation, that is the psychotechnology — it is a core psychotechnology of Ancient Greece - with very important consequences

  • 49:00 - Pythagorus and Socrates - Pythagorus was part of the individuals called The Divine Men — they seemed to represent a rediscovery of the shamanic psychotechnologies — he seemed to have engaged in shamanic training — the thunder stone ceremony (isolation in a cave) — he seemed to experience soul flight (psyche liberated from the body) — he dressed like a god, but no one, at least his followers, did not find it offensive — he discovered the octave — that new psychotechnologies of abstract thought and mathematics gave us access to patterns that we previously did not have access to — he linked music and math, abstract patterns, to engage in shamanic self transcendence — that we are somehow trapped in this world, but we can learn to fly above it, fly free — he found a way to connect self transcendence with the rationally realised patterns, because that will liberate us, change and transform us — Pythagorus invents the word “cosmos”, the first person to describe the universe as a cosmos — cosmetics come from cosmos, they reveal the beauty of things, how pleasant and ordered they are — through transcendence we can see the world as radically beautiful

  • 54:00 - Socrates - epitomises the axial revolution in Ancient Greece

  • 54:30 - Plato took Pythagorus and Socrates and merged then together, into the grammar of how we now think

  • 55:00 - no matter how embedded this grammar is in us, we no longer experience the world as they did, do we actually experience the world as a cosmos

my notes

  • 3:30 - psychotechnologies changes peoples awareness of themselves and how they view the world.

  • 5m - 'myths are not: false stories from our ancient past. They are: symbolic stories about perennial patterns that are always with us.

  • 7:30 - gods or godlike is used in regards to a figures power

  • 19m - the degree to which we don’t have a historical understanding, the degree that we will be ignorant of how the historical factors are driving the meaning crisis today.

  • 22:30 - [on reading the bible] You might say ‘it doesn’t matter, I’m an atheist’. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter WHAT you say, it matters HOW you think.

[Cyclical eternal reccurrance vs linearity and purpose.]

[Israelite God as the god of the open future, where progress and digression can occur]

  • 32m - Sex as ‘knowing’ in the bible, as participatory knowledge. You change it, it changes you, you change it, it changes you.

[This is the axial change in thinking, that individuals have a role to play, they can participate in the direction of the flow of reality.]

  • 37m - human beings sinned, they made decisions that steered the course of history away from the culmination of God’s plan.

  • 38m - prophets are not soothsayers of the future, but ‘therapists’ that wake you up to see all the things you’ve been doing wrong.
    [kai·ros :a favorable moment for decision or action.]

  • 44:30 - the fluency of the thing you are reading influences how real you feel the content is, how much you trust it.

[This is where Vervaeke differs from Peterson, who places too much reliance upon the logos (there was another discussion Vervaeke had where he brought up how he thinks that human cognition is very much dependent upon the environment surrounding it, and how he thought Peterson would be resistant to that idea.)]

Going into the common-world and real-world divide of Pythagoras and others