Ep. 38 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Agape and 4E Cognitive Science

topic

discussion

my notes

  • Higher state of consciousness empowers gnosis. Set within a proper ritual context, and that this is being used to cultivate and being reflectively transformed by a counteractive dynamical system - get you sets of practices for cultivating sati, flow, Prajna, communitas, inner dialogue
  • When set within a wisdom framing, person developing interlocking sets of virtues for addressing self-deception and for affording self-optimization. Results in a reliable response of amelioration and alleviation of the perennial problems = enlightenment

  • The components can each be explained and understood by our best cognitive science
  • Still need to articulate wisdom from a scientific perspective
  • Need to also talk about way in which this whole project can be undermined if these whole sets of practices can’t be situated within an encompassing and welcoming worldview
  • Having an ecology of psycho-technology is necessary but not sufficient to respond to meaning crisis
  • Raif Kelly: trying to bring together aspects of parcourt, martial arts.
  • Michael Nathan: training of wisdom within martial arts
  • People are already doing this.

Integration with Historical Forces

  • Talking about what he sees emerging. He’s not trying to found. Can we get religion that’s not a religion
  • Loss of the three orders
    • Nomological: deep sense of coherence and connectedness
    • Normative: sense of significance and depth through self-transcendence
    • Narrative: gives a sense of purpose or direction
  • As we lose this have a worldview in which we don’t belong.
  • Exacerbates perennial problems
  • Susan Wolf: Meaning in Life:
    • Meaning in life is about a kind of deep connectedness that we want
    • To something larger than ourselves
    • Metaphors: symbolic expressions.
    • What people really saying is that they want subjective attraction (to find salience) to objective attractiveness.
    • Because of loss of three orders we know there is no such thing as objective attractiveness
    • There is nothing that is objectively attractive
    • No meaning or relevance in this thing in itself
    • Wolf leaves it there. Alludes to ways in which we can BS ourselves, pretend we have objective attraction by finding group of people who agree.
  • Vervaeke’s work:
    • Is there a way of addressing this problem using cognitive science to address this issue?

Do we need things to be objectively valuable?

  • Could think the set of characteristics that need to exist in order for meaning to be created
  • It’s the transjectivity of the relationship that we need rather than objective attractiveness
  • Relevance Realization is inherently interested in itself because it is constitutive of it being self-optimizing, self-developing, evolving process
  • RR not in me or the world but in the affordances between the world and myself. Bi-directional
  • What need to be connected to those conditions that afford RR itself
  • Conditions that satisfy my inherent valuing of the RR process itself.
  • I ultimately want to care about the conditions that afford meaning-making itself
  • Those conditions are universal
  • When we care to create the conditions of meaning-making because we find them inherently valuable what we’re actually engaging in is Agape: to love for its own sake the process of meaning-making. The process of being a person ultimately.

(Hmmm, I’m not sure if I’m convinced here. Has he made the case that this should be seen as Agape?)

  • That’s why the things that contributes most to meaning in life is our sense of being connected to other people agapically

  • Cultivation, realization, appreciation of agape

  • Meeaning making is transjective

  • To agapically love people is not just to be directed at that body and mind, it’s to be directed at their conditions of community, environment, development, education

(Is he just secularizing the Christian notion of God is love?)

  • Agape precedes permeates and follows us
  • Part of what enlightenment has to be for us, whatever machinery we craft together, has to be integrated into an agapic way of being.
  • Being-mode, I thou relationship
  • We have to care about the conditions that make any caring possible
  • Think we should see Agape as our deepest appreciation for the caring that is intrinsic and constitutive to the relevance realization that makes both the agent and the arena possible.

(this just seems like a strange definition for Agape. Why redefine it this way? Why link RR to it? RR seems independent of Agape. Is it just saying we should love RR?)

  • Pointing to caring about something that is inherently transjective and has a value independent of my valuing of it because my valuing of it does not constitute it into existence - I emerge from it and participate in it. I am not the source or maker of it

(it’s like he’s saying we should care about having the ability to care. We should love the ability to have things be salient to us. I get it, we should, but it seems strange to associate it with agape. Is this a stretch? Trying to hard to fit it into a system Christians will recognize? Can you really “agape” a process?)

4Es and Cognitive Science

  • We can make use of what’s happening in third-generation cognitive science (4E cognitive science) with the theoretical machinery developing on the cognitive scientific side of things to address the historical factors
  • Varela: one of the founding figures of 4E cog. Science
  • Evan Thompson Mind in Life
  • Steps towards a science of interbeing
  • Insights of cognitive science, saying things consonant with Dharma (buddhism)
  • Embodiment: we are deeply embodied:
    • mind is not programmed, software, or rule-bound manipulation of symbols. Mind arises with immediate coping with the world
    • Intelligence is our coping with the world
    • Deal with the problems at hand that directly afford our interaction with the world at large.
    • Coping:
  • Enactment
  • Embeddedness
  • Enactive
  • Extended - cognition not in our heads, extended through our interactions with the world through our psycho-technologies
  • Embodiment about the idea that there is a deep continuity among most abstract cognitive abilities and our most embodied sensory-motor action.
  • Cognition grounded in RR which is grounded in our bio-economy
  • Bio not some clay that we drag around. It is a bio-economy that enacts logistical norms of efficiency and resiliency that constrain our cognition, evolve fittedness to the world
  • Biology is deeply embedded.
  • Continual niche construction - Organism shaping the environment and the environment shaping the organism - Transjective evolving loop
  • Embodiment leads to embeddedness - deep continuity, deeply embedded
  • Undermining way Descartes severed everything
    • Can respond to D that mind and body not disconnected, deep continuity.
    • Mind and the world also
  • Emergence:
    • Idea that a system can produce properties as a system that the component parts don’t possess
    • Mind emerges out of the embodied, embedded brain coupled with a living environment
    • Emergence reflected in spirituality by capacity for self-transcendence
    • Complexification inherent in RR machinery/religio
    • Getting a vertical dimension to our ontology
    • Self-organizing -> evolution -> self-making (auto-poeitic)
    • Unlike a tornado I am a self-organizing thing, I seek out those conditions that protect and promote my agency
    • More than self-making, becomes self-identifying thing - reflective
    • Become aware of, self-appreciate of self-making, inherently developmental and then can interact with that
  • Normative order being given a metaphysical backing
  • Emotion:
    • Deep divide between emotion and reason
    • Battle between empiricists and romantics
    • Damassio: showing that people without emotion means these people incapacitated as cognitive agents. Without emotion, without caring that is integral to RR, we have to take care of ourself, when don’t have that face combinatorial explosion
    • Deep interconnection between being embodied, RR, and having emotions
    • Having emotions: way in which RR is brought up into the level of your salience landscaping and shape and sculpt the salience landscape so that agent arena relationship becomes obvious and apparent to you
    • When angry, assume a particular role, assign identities, obvious what should be doing.
    • Prediction: as we move towards making artificial general intelligence, going to have to give them something analogous to emotion
    • Religio: always have caring/coping - core of cognitive agency
    • Emotion carries up to the attachment relationship between individuals, create persons - create persons within communities of persons, shape themselves and their community
  • Excellence:
    • Connections between dynamical systems, and positive psychology
    • standard psych way is to see how things break down and fall apart - by studying how it breaks down we can analyze it understand its parts and how they might be working together
    • Positive psych: shouldn’t study the mind only in terms of how it breaks down, also study the mind in how it excels beyond the norm.
    • How do all the pieces fit together in a way, transcend itself - excel
    • Study individuals who have optimized their cognition better than the norm
    • Only understand in terms of the whole in terms of how it excels
    • Studies: happiness, meaning in life, wisdom
    • Wisdom = excellent in cognitive capacity for coping and caring, responding to issues of self-deception, helping people deal with perennial problems of human existence
  • Deep continuity and emergence, and development give us back nomological order. See how we fit in and belong
  • We see a normative order, what it is to self-transcend, how we can cultivate enlightenment, respond to perennial problems
  • How we can bring about the best internal optimization, best external reciprocal realization, anagoge
  • Transcendence:
    • Goodenough: trying to recover sacred depths of awe and wonder to cultivate wisdom
    • Trying to challenge fundamental grammar
    • New sense of transcendence: instead of transcendence above, she talks about new sense: transcendence into the depths of nature
    • Transcendence into the depths of the psyche
    • Reciprocal opening up, experienced as a type of love
  • Narrative order:
    • Points to a telos, cosmic telos: evolution and RR are non-teleological - open ended
    • If looking to find something to bring back narrative order, can’t find it.
    • Think differently about narrative order. More to do with gnosis: open-ended optimization
    • May have need for symbols and stories to afford this, but we don’t have to think of them as existing independently in the structure of reality.
    • Don’t want to get back into utopic/nostalgic visions. Source of suffering and distress
    • Is it possible to move to a post narrative way of being. In which concerned not with historical narrative, but concerned with the depths to which we are capable of living.
    • What we need is not a narrative of a grand purpose connected to a history of the cosmos. Instead, we can move to getting beyond a narrative way of conforming to reality - post-narrative
    • Higher states of consciousness, narrative drops away but see themselves as deeply connected, deeply at one with themselves and reality
    • Cognitive continuum- fluency - insight - flow - mystical experiences - HSC