Ep. 43 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Wisdom and Virtue

topic

discussion

my notes

  • S1: makes foolish when leap to conclusions, interferes with inferential processing of S2, leap to conclusions inappropriately -> causes bias, self-deception
  • Active open-mindedness, foregrounds S2 protects it from undue interference from S1
  • In a therapeutic context, need the machinery of leaping to work well. Powerfully predictive of insight - that’s what you need in therapy
  • Need a cognitive style that foregrounds S1 - mindfulness, facilitates insight. Cognitive flexibility
  • Need a way to coordinate active open-mindedness and mindfulness so that we can optimize the enhancement in rationality of the relevance realization that is at the core of our intelligence
  • How you relate to your intelligence and applying it to itself. Problematizing your intelligence and try to improve = rationality
  • When recursively and reflectively use my rationality to enhance/optimize my rationality (ex: by enhancing relationship between the component styles of mindfulness and active open mindedness)
  • The way you relate to your higher cognitive processes, meaning-making, problem solving capacity not just intellectual of information processing but deeply existential
  • Mindsetting: way identify with your intelligence has impact

Theories of Wisdom

Shwartz and Sharp

  • Practical Wisdom, Aristotle meets positive psychology
  • Positive psychology: study the mind how it excels, system as a whole
  • Peterson and Zelligman: Virtue as form of human excellence
  • SandS note difficulty with virtues (honest, courageous).
  • Presentation of virtues implies they are logically independent of one another.
  • Feature list of virtues, without way they interrelate to one another.
  • We should look for a feature schema (structural functional organization) of how virtue works.
  • If just maximize virtues can run into trouble. If maximize honesty will lead to cruelty at times, given up on kindness
  • Core argument: we should talk about the relationship between the virtues
  • Situations where see virtues in conflict with each other:
    • Ex: bridesmaid, time running out, with the bride, trying on dresses
      • Caught between being honest, kind and helpful.
      • How do you balance them all?
    • Ex: grading an assignment for a student. Made great progress, from a low C to a high B.
      • If grade as objectively as possibly can, feedback can keep student at B
      • Am I marking what they’ve done? Or can I push them. If give them an A can that push them to be an A student
      • Is my duty to be brutally honest or to push them to be the best they can be
  • Shows virtues not independent. Trying to optimize between them
  • Start to see important things about our relationship to the virtues
  • Real-life situations don’t come with the related virtues attached - the problem of relevance
  • Often represent virtues with rules: “be kind” doesn’t specify conditions of application: not the same to be kind to my kid, a stranger, etc. Can’t capture in a rule
  • Rule application depends on relevance realization
  • Problem of conflict is determining which is more important
  • Problem of specification also a problem of determining relevance
  • Relevance, conflict, specificity
  • Vervaeke would add: need to develop a virtue I don’t have: aspirational Need to cultivate a virtue I don’t have: development
  • Developmental process dependent on capacity for insight and qualitative transformative experience
  • Need a higher order ability that deals with relevance:
    • Conflict
    • Specification
    • Development
  • They argue that’s wisdom.
  • Given they are not logically independent, need wisdom in order to be virtuous
  • Each virtue is just how to be most wise in each situation
  • Deep connection between cultivation and pursuit of virtuous way of life and cultivation of wisdom
  • Aristotle’s distinction:
    • Sophia: theoretical wisdom
    • Phronesis: practical wisdom
  • SandS argue that Phronesis is what need for virtue: ability to be contextually sensitive, to know what to do in each situation
  • Related to procedural knowledge (knowing how to do something) and perspectival knowing (situational awareness/what is most appropriate)
  • Resist trying to understand phronesis as having rules. Can lead to trying to legislate everything - it’s impossible.
  • Can get into the illusion that can somehow replace people becoming wise with people having laws
  • Not proposing anarchy - but to step back and realize should have a balance between proposing legislation and cultivating wisdom
  • Ask will this legislation reduce harm, also ask will this legislation make it less likely that people cultivate wisdom?
  • They leave out sophia because they associate it too much with having rules.
  • Rules are proposing, see sophia laregly as propositional, but this may be unfair to sophia. Sophia more like the awareness of principles. Getting into a process.
  • Cross contextual sensitivity: generalizable across contexts
  • Sophia like deep ontological depth perception
  • Need to know how to put principles into processes. Need to know how to put processes into principles.
  • Need both Sophia and Phronesis
  • Want an opponent relationship between them: discover powerful principles and put them into effective practice, so that can regulate practices with well-justified principles
  • Language of expertise
    • Expert doesn’t necessarily posess best theory, they have the best know-how
    • Not thinking of perspectival knowing -> mistake
  • Vervaeke: sometimes mean expertise to mean good, in psychology it’s a domain-specific thing. Know-how rises to an authority, but doesn’t give special authority in other areas and may interfere
  • Expertise very domain-specific
  • Domain-specificity of expertise not what need here. Being context-sensitive not the same thing as having expertise
  • Phronesis not like having expertise in tennis, it is my ability to be sensitive in this context, and that context, and that context
  • What we need is a domain general ability - not a contradiction
  • Have to be able to be context sensitive in many different domains
  • Need an ability to be context sensitive in domain-general way
  • Ability to realize relevance and intelligence better ways of understanding phronesis than expertise - domain-general ability to be contextually sensitive.
  • We’re not foolish in domain-specific say
  • Phronesis much more like intelligence, rationality, RR - apply across multiple domains, general problem solver, capacity for foolishness

Balts and Staudenger: Berlin Wisdom Paradigm

  • Seminal theory of wisdom
  • Article: Wisdom a Meta-Heuristic (Pragmatic) to orchestrate mind and virtue towards excellence
  • Accepted the deep connection between virtue and wisdom
  • Meta-heuristic: tells us RR playing a significant role in this theory - heuristic for managing your heuristics
  • Pragmatic:
    • Pragmatic syntax of language: always conveying more than saying
    • Pragmatism:
      • James: what it is to live a good life
      • You should evaluate your knowledge claims in terms of their efficaciously - how they can be used in your life to adapt you to the world
      • Propositional claims ultimately have to be grounded in your procedural abilities which has to be grounded in perspectival and participatory
    • Problem with pragmatism: potential confusion between truth and relevance
    • Pragmatism tries to situate intellectual claims into lived experience, viable ability to fit your world to develop your connectedness to develop yourself
  • They are invoking ideas and making use of them that presuppose the ability for relevance realization
  • 5 criteria to judge someone wise:
    • Rich factual knowledge about the fundamental pragmatics of life
      • Like Sophia
      • Deep grasp of the facts, principles of the fundamental pragmatics of life
    • Rich procedural knowledge of the fundamental pragmatics of life
      • Knowing how to put these principles into practice
      • Propositional and procedural, but going to need participatory (explain how we go through traumatic developmental change), perspectival (connects procedural to specific contexts)
    • Lifespan contextualism
      • Kind of perspectival knowing
      • Way in which take the big picture, zoom out, then zoom in as needed
      • Crucial, lot to do with our capacity for self-regulation
    • Relativism of values and priorities
      • Vervaeke: critique. If they are using this term carefully, don’t think many of the people think of as wise were moral reletivists (Socrates, Buddha, Jesus)
      • Arguing against tying the notion of wisdom to liberal values
      • They may be talking about capacity for tolerance - rather than relativism: fallibilism (don’t assert certainty), humility (recognition of limits, status, etc).
    • Recognition and management of uncertainty
      • We cannot pursue certainty, have to act the best we can with unavoidable uncertainty
  • Dripping in the machinery of relevance realization
  • Meta-heuristic: coordinates between heuristics: ex: trade-off between compression and particularization
  • They focus on expertise, but misleading, overfocus on important procedural knowledge to the exclusion of perspectival/participatory, confuses context-sensitivity with being domain-specific
  • What they tend to be arguing for is a comprehensive cognitive flexibility and adaptability
  • Started to generate some empirical work
    • Train independent judges to evaluate people’s behaviour
    • Put people into various situations, get them to relate how they would deal with these difficult situations
    • Do they answer in a way that exemplifies these 5 criteria
    • Attempt to empirically measure wisdom
  • Cognitive styles important for being wise
    • Judicial style, good at making judgments. Don’t have time to get into this in-depth
    • Shows is how important the capacity for good judgement is for wisdom
  • Ex: gave experimental task to solve problems. 3 conditions
    • 1.Discuss with someone else
      1. Imagine an internal dialogue
      1. More time to think.
    • 1 and 2 outperformed group 3
    • Wiser if talk to others, then why do we carry around the BS mythology of complete individualism
    • No important difference between group 1 and 2 - talking to someone and imagining talking to someone just as good
    • Grossman: Solomon Effect: if I describe a problem to you from 1st person perspective, tend to be locked in. Framing off transparent, can’t see through it. If re-describe from third person perspective, often have an insight, notice something didn’t notice before. Moving outside and looking back through someone’s eyes can enhance capacity for wisdom tasks -> perspectival knowing