Ep. 6 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Aristotle, Kant, and Evolution

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my notes

  • 0:00 - recap
  • 3:00 - Aristotle vs plato - Aristotle didn’t feel Plato explained change very well - Aristotle biology, plato mathmatical - Aristotle change = growth = development
    • meaningful life = growing life = wise life
  • 4:15 - idos - gestalt - logos - recap
  • 6:00 - actuality (actual, not fraud, not simulation) - how does wood act like a chair, table, or ship? - It is the form.
  • 7:30 - wood is potential, wood is potentially a chair, table, or ship - when given form, then it starts to act as a chair, table or ship - this is where in-formation/information comes from, when an object is in form - a living thing, is an object that is making itself, giving itself form - food is potentially you, hence its form as food, food forms you from digestation - (ben: how do enemies form you, how do allies form you, how do friends form you, how do bottles form you?)
  • 9:30 - current cognitive science - Dynamics in Action - Alicia Juarrero - newton, change occurs from casual impact, from be-cause - because - what causes it to be
  • 11:30 - Kant - why did change go from growth to because? What is now natural, is things that required extreme historical attention to get us there. Kant, the line of causation, if stuck to its grammer, identifies and avoids circular explanations, to avoid explanations that suffer from infinite regress - the homunculus fallacy, which is a fallacy because it is vacous and empty
  • 15:00 - Kant found a problem - the tree makes the tree - living things are self-organising, they use feedback cycles, which falls back to circular reaosing - Kant concludes that their cannot be a science of living things, that biology is impossible
  • 17:30 - This is what Dynamics in Action by Alicia Juarrero tackles - there was a huge gap between biology and physics that prevented us solving this dilemma - if we cannot consolidate biology and science, then we cannot understand who we are, know who we are, because there is no way for science to enter into it, it must be solved to know thyself, to escape from fallacy and vacuousness (ben: seems this is the big seperation between the east and the west here, the CTM is mostly stuck in Aristotle’s mindset)
  • 16:55 - So what is the solution? What needs to go? Causation…? We know Newton was wrong on a few things, so we know we can’t be absolutely committed to this view.
  • 19:30 - causes vs constraints
    • causes are events that makes things happen (newtonian) — this is actuality
    • constraints are conditions that make things possible (we no longer see this anymore - this is the domain of Aristotle - the domain of patterns and forms - the formal cause - the structural-functional organisation) — this is potentiality
      • enabling constraints, makes more things possible in a system — variation — increases options
      • selective constraints, makes less things possible in a system — scarcity
  • 22:00 - An object can be structured in such a way, such a pen, such that motion is possible, when an event occurs
    • ben: this is what life does to objects, it changes the form of things using causes to place new contraints — this is the process of transformation, to objects and to ourselves
  • 22:50 - tree - transforms itself, through food, to increase the event of more photons, through intent — real potentiality is not fiction, it is science
  • 27:00 - evolution is the first dynamic systems theory, it accounts for both growth and development
    • reproduction - goats make more goats
    • selective constraints - scarcity of resources - with no scarcity of resources, no selective pressure, no evolution (ben: but there would still be mutation, just no selection?)
    • scarcity is a cosntraint but also an event - i.e. mass scarcity = extinction event
    • evolution is cyclic, it opens up its potential, then pushes it back down through selective pressures (ben: correct descriptor here is elimination of abundance/mutation, and variation of abundance/variation) — evolve is a revolution with change
  • 31:00 - evolution is a virtual governor, it’s not a machine, but it is something that shapes and limits possibility — life is a virtual generator — when you put the two together, they become a virtual engine — this is dynamical systems theory — why there is a feedback cycle, that isn’t just random and chaotic, and why it produces growth and development, because there is a systematic interaction between enabling and selective constraints
  • 34:00 - back to Aristotle - character — you are born with your personality, you personality is part of your constitution, it is given to you by your person/body and the environment, which you have no control over — your character, is what you can cultivate, unconconsciously, serendipitously, or explicitly — character’s constraints are defined by their virtue — virtue is a virtual engine — character is defined as what is the virtual engine on a person’s development, what system of constraints have you identified with and internalised that regulate your development
  • 37:30 - What is courage? It is the golden mean between two things — coward and foolhardy — you are a self-organising process, you modify the environment, which reacts with you, and changes you, which you then evolve again
    • (ben: I think, we have this goal — but it is darn hard to accomplish)
  • 40:00 - you build your character to organise yourself up, to improve your self, so that your potential is fully realised
  • 41:00 - wisdom is gaining the ability to cultivate virtues that regulate your potential for its actualisation
  • 41:30 - akrasia - transalted as weakness of the will - however, modern research is suggesting the notion of will is defunct and we should abandon it — akrasia is when you know what the right thing to do is, but you don’t do the right thing (aka ignorance) — (ben: naiveity when you don’t know you are doing the wrong thing) — you don’t have sufficient character under these conditions, you have failed to train your virtual engine to regulate your development and growth upwards to actualise your potential (ben: it seems he is defining potential here as destiny - or potential to the social virtual engine of virtue - but how is that defined? Ben: faith, or nature via moral economics)
  • 43:45 - what does living up to your potential mean?
    • a good knife, is a knife that has a suffecient structural-functional organisation, such that it can fulfill its purpose (ben: defined by know thyself, but also know thy environment — group selection vs individual selection topic focus)
  • 45:00 - we are self-making (the embodied mind, varela, thompson, rosch) - autopoetic - a tornado is self-organising, but it will move into conditions that will destroy it - life can seek out conditions that protect and promote its continued organisation — (perl: thinking being) in living things, the purpose of the thing, is its structural-functional organisation (ben: the meaning of life is to live… obviously… what I am I missing about why this such a rare unique insight?) it is a self-making thing, its purpose is to enhance its stuctural-functional organisation
  • 46:00 - Aristotle - you are a rational reflective creature, unlike a plant
    • each step of these, progresses through “in-formation”
      • inorganic matter (tornado? or stone?)
      • living thing (plant)
      • self-moving thing (animal)
      • mental thing (child?)
      • rational thing (adult?)
        • you can cultivate a good rational virtual engine, when you realise the things, which are distinctive of our humanity
          • if you do that, you can know why you are more valuable than the table
            • What are the things that unique in us?
              • Your capacity for overcoming self-deception
              • Your capacity for cultivating your character
              • For realising wisdom
              • For enhancing the structure of your psyche and the content of your reality
            • Your purpose is to become fully human as possible
              • How much of your life is dedicated to this?
    • to live up to potential, is to make sure you have cultivated a character that takes you upwards to rational thing
      • (ben: it means squat, if you still can’t find opportunity for your potential)
  • 53:00 - modern self improvement is vacous because it has no depth

My Notes

  • 3, Aristotle considered himself a Platonist, but thought that he had no good answers for how change occurs.
  • 4, ‘change’ means something more like ‘growth’
  • 4, the logos of a thing is the structural-function.
  • 8, ‘information’ ‘you put form into something, and you actualize it’s potential’ (like a chair from out of lumber.
  • 9, Food is potential ‘you’
  • 12, things that seem so obvious to us are historical creations.
  • 13, principle of causality is very helpful because it avoids circular explanations.
  • 18, Kant’s explanation for why there cannot be a ‘science’ for self-organizing things.
  • 21, causes are events that makes things happen, constraints aren’t events, they’re conditions that make things possible.
  • 22, the structural function of the thing is what makes motion for it possible.
  • 25, laws of motion and energy, etc, is not a description of an event, rather a description of a constraint.
  • 29, Darwinian natural selection requires two ‘potentials’: The scarcity of resources (reducing options), and genetic variations (which can increase options). It’s a recursive dynamic system that improves itself in reaction to the environment.
  • 34, Virtual engine, must have a governer (restrictor), a generator (producing variety) and a feedback loop between the two.
  • 35, your character is that aspect of you that you can cultivate.
  • 36, when you’re talking about a virtue, you’re not remarking of an event, but a virtual engine that has been habitized into somebody.
  • 37, when spend a lot of time on our appearance and status, but how much do we actually spend on our character? (if it’s the engine that regulates our growth and behavior, we should spend a lot of time on it.
  • 38, the golden mean (not just the average). To cultivate character/virtues is to pay attention to where you lack the generative-constraints, or where you’re lacking the selective-restraints.
  • 40, “he’s not living up to his potential”
  • 41, wisdom is gaining the ability to cultivate virtues and actualize one’s potential (towards its natural end, which is happiness)
  • 43, we do the right things because we either do not know what we should do, or we do know, but have not cultivated the character to do so.
  • 45, we are self-making things, capable of seeking out and directing ourselves towards or away from different constraints.
  • 49, to ‘live up to your potential’ is to make sure you have cultivated your character so as to take you as high up the hierachy of creatures that you can go. inorganic>living>self-moving>mental>rational.
  • 51, the end for a person is the thing that we find valuable that cannot be found in other creatures: capacity for rational wisdom, to become most human (unique to humans) as possible.

Conclusions
I feel I have a much better understanding of potential now.

Tyler:
Always consider what territory we are in, and what hierarchies are we building?