Ep. 39 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - The Religion of No Religion

topic

discussion

my notes

  • Need to give an account of wisdom - wisdom framing needed for cultivation of responses to meaning crisis, and use of, interpretation of the cognitive scientific framework
  • Need to talk about notion of getting something that is a religion that’s not a religion.

Religion That’s Not a Religion

  • Tentative, not trying to found a movement.

  • Books about this idea:

    • James Carse: the Religious Case Against Belief
    • Roberto Unger: the Future of Religion
    • Alain de Botton: Religion for Atheists
  • People trying to play with what this might look like.

  • Dawkins: should cultivate poetic ability to wonder and awe of scientific worldview

  • Trying to get some conceptual vocabulary.

  • V not offering something definitive.

  • For many nones, returning to organized religion not a viable option

  • Utopic visions not viable due to trauma of 20th century, drenched the world with blood

  • Propose that we need to do something like what religion used to do:

    • Comprehensive set of psycho-technologies set within a community of practices
    • Allow for comprehensive transformation of consciousness, cognition, character and culture
    • In a way that is analogous to religion
  • That kind of transformation is needed today to address the mata-crisis of all the crises we are facing, in an accelerating fashion.

  • Acknowledge centrality of Religio

  • Important role for indispensable mythos in the activation, accentuation, acceleration, appreciation of religio

(Ok: so we were worried he’s getting rid of narrative. Doesn’t seem so)

Religio vs. Credo

  • Idea of open-ended mythos analogous to the transgressive mythology of the Gnostics
  • Credo = I believe
  • Paradigmatic set of propositions that state the essence of a religion is, in terms of truth content that is to be believed.
  • What has happened is as propositional knowing come into ascendant and having mode come into ascendance the having of propositions that are asserted (wilful assertion) has become dominant
  • We speak of religions as belief systems.
  • Propositional knowing, having the propositions, have them by asserting them in a wilful fashion -> credo dominance
  • Not derived from reason but asserted
  • There is an important role for Credo.
  • Post-modern critique: this is enmeshed with power, dominance, control, creating purity codes, boundaries of identity Us/THEM
  • Wants to try and take out a function for Credo
  • Can think of people having paradigmatic statements and pictures that this might be indispensable to them
  • Plausible that there is a mythos that is indispensable given the contextual sensitivity, the dynamic coupling of religio, set of symbols and stories and celebrations, and shows, associated with mythos
  • Gets sacredness out of religio
  • Try to be deeply respectful to religious creeds: even though criticisms are legit, also a legit thing
  • Problem is to confuse indispensability with metaphysical necessity

(So not getting rid of mythos, but getting rid of closed mythos).

  • Can talk about an indispensable functionality -> signal detection theory
    • We’re always facing perennial problems when we are doing information processing
    • There are aspects where there is both too much and inadequate information
    • Often info is ambiguous: unaclear if is the info you need.
    • Signal: information I want or need
    • Noise: information don’t want - distracting, misleading, etc.
    • Always a significant overlap of signal and noise
    • Can be confused with signal
  • Ex:
    • Gazelle, hear a noise in the bush.
    • Could be an important signal, information that you want, telling you a leopard is near
    • Or could just be the rustling of leaves caused by the wind - irrelevant
    • Signal or noise is a matter of Relevance Realization
    • Caught here: if you’re the gazelle experiencing the overlap zone. Don’t know what it is.
    • Could get more information, but also diminishing return, any new info will also have same problem
    • The more regress, and try and get signal about signal, the more time. Can be costly
    • Idea that every act is risky. It’s a gamble.
  • Trading off between various contingencies:
    • Have to set the criteria
    • Decision line, include everything to the left as signal, exclude everything to the right. Problem with that is that opening up to different kinds of errors

  • If set criterion too high, get get noise, but miss a lot of valuable signal
  • Where do you set the criteria? No algorithm for that.
  • Different kinds of erra lot of noise as signal
  • If set it too low, don’t ors are differentially relevant depending on the context
  • Missing signal in some contexts can be much worse than mistaking noise for signal
  • Ex: miss the leopard, willing to make a lot of mistakes so don’t make misses
  • Other situations where reverse: mistake more costly than a miss
  • What you need is to be flexibly setting criteria that are deeply situationally aware. Perspectival knowing - situational awareness.
  • What is the context and how to set the criteria
  • Point is that what Credo is:
    • Setting the criterion for religio
    • Trying to determine what behaviours are putting me into contact with religio
  • We have to set the criterion: one way to do this is in an absolutist way. There is a final way, and absolute place to set the criteria - but that is perilous. The open endedness of RR undermines this
  • If we can acknowledge this, we can acknowledge that we will set the criterion with our mythos, but should never try and set it in an absolute manner (credo-dominance). Misunderstand the functionality of setting the criterion.
  • Continually reset the criterion optimally
  • Religion that’s not a religion would always have credo in service of religio
  • Many would say creeds are historically interpreted, right in practice, but a lot of conflict about this
  • Should always be thinking of making credo clearly and comprehensively in the service of religio
  • Helped by being linked to a notion of sacredness being grounded in an inexhaustible open-ended optimization rather than in some absolute state of perfection
  • Always understand the mythos beholden to three levels:
    • Unconcious level:
      • level that RR is taking place - don’t have introspective access to.
      • Grounding of participatory knowing
      • Level where connections being made.
    • Consciousness level:
      • level of salience landscaping - perspectival knowing (grounded in participatory).
      • With situational awareness makes possible procedural knowing.
      • Where consciously directing actions tp appropriate affordances given to me at this level, and appropriating those affordances by cultivating skills.
      • Coping turns into skilful interaction.
      • Coping-caring becomes skilful action and apt sensibility.
      • Level where connections being sensed, internalized
    • Cultural Level:
      • distributed cognition.
      • Level where trying to communicate.
      • Level where connections being shared.
      • Machinery of mythos
      • Propositional knowing, but also points down towards the others
      • Credo in the service of religio
  • Any mythos is going to understand itself in service of religio, but also directed downwards to the other types of knowing.
  • Should be a mythos that is explicitly committed to both of those, directed towards accessing, activating, appreciating types of knowing
  • Once have this programatic framework in mind, should be cultivating an ecology of pscyho-technologies

Ecology of Psycho-Technologies

  • Ecology designed to be top-down - reaches from the propositional down to the participatory, but also open and allows bottom up emergence from the participatory up through the perspectival through the procedural and into the propositional
  • Should be setting up sets of practices and cognitive styles that:
    • Have complimentary relationships to each other
    • Sets of corresponding checks and balances
    • Strengths and weaknesses
    • Dynamical system that is reliably complexifying in a reliably self-correcting manner
  • Need to do something important: need a meta pscyho-technology, designed to move us out of the intuitive psycho-technologies, and explicitly cultivating an ecology of more explictly engineered psycho-technology
  • Should give people ways of cultivating the meta-PT
  • To address the perennial problems, coherent with worldview attunement
  • Connection between capacity for collectively creating the meta-PT, and the individual meta-virtue of wisdom
  • More that people are individually cultivating wisdom in order to collectively pursue meta-PT, allow us to engineer individual PT
  • Very tentative. At an organizational level:
    • Have something like it in the emergence of the cyber-technologies that are being integrated: Wikipedia
    • Interesting in the way it is generated. Collective, cooperative fashion. Reliable stability, but also reliable evolution.
    • In one of his courses got former-students to create wikl of some of the main ideas of the course, get involved in a participatory fashion
    • Gets people more interactional and evolving content
    • Could create a credo analogous to that: a credo wiki by which groups of people interested in creating an ecology of practices and PT can communicate with each other for how to adaptively set the criterion and how to constantly re-engineer the creation of the meta-PT that will help, promote bottom-up and top-down functionality of this PT.
    • Could be set in a co-op structure, co-op together to create a shared curriculum, credo, shared vocab - not imposed as an ideology, allow insights and discourse
  • Not a utopic vision: people are already doing this, already trying to create this ecology of practices, setting the criterion, making use of internet
  • Whether or not it functions or takes root not up to him. Just trying to help.

Cognitive Science of Wisdom

  • Wisdom is a meta-virtue
  • Resonant with the communitas
  • Also needed for the project of enlightenment
  • Satisfying deep connectedness to one’s self, the world, others that make for a meaningful life
  • 1990s: Robert Sternberg: Wisdom, A Handbook of Wisdom
  • 1999 article McKee and Barber:
    • Wanted to try and link all of a priori theories of wisdom/philosophical theories, and pscychological theories
    • Philosophical ones are top-down, psychological bottom-up
    • Trying to set up an equilibrium between them.
    • Argue that what all these theories converge on is seeing through illusion.
    • Core of wisdom is the ability to see through illusion.
    • Cognitive and existential illusion caused by self-deception
    • Systematically, not just this or that self-deception but systematic seeing through self-deception
    • Seeing through illusion and into some sense of reality - or at least what is more real
    • Very profound meaning (deep) and pervasive (across many different instances) kind of insight. Systematic insight
    • Find across many areas where misframing problems to see them as systematically related such that can come up with insight that intervenes not just on this problem but in all of these problems in a systematic fashion