Ep. 7 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Aristotle's World View and Erich Fromm | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Ep. 7 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Aristotle's World View and Erich Fromm".
Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.
Welcome back to Awakening from the Meaning Crisis. So last time we began our discussion of Aristotle and how he has contributed significantly to our understanding of meaning and wisdom. And we talked about how Aristotle was centrally concerned with something that he thought Plato didn't give an adequate enough account of change. But importantly, Aristotle's term for change is properly understood in terms of growth and development. And we talked about how much your sense of growth and development is constitutive of finding your life to be meaningful. We talked about how Aristotle understood that development in terms of making use of Plato's idea of idos form, the structural functional organization. And then what's happening in change and in development is that something is being informed. In particular, something like wood is the potential to be a table or a chair. And when it has the correct structural functional organization, then the chair starts to act like table. Sorry, the wood starts to act like a table or the wood starts to act like a chair. And that is the idea that when you inform some potential, it gets actualized into particular thing. And so change is the actualizing of potential via information. And then in order to understand that better, we leapt ahead to look at a current account of growth and development that was directly inspired by Aristotle. Aristotle, we looked at Alicia Uraro's work and we went through the discussion of what a dynamical system is and how we can use it to understand growth and development in terms of the idea of a virtual engine. We then returned and used that language to better understand Aristotle's idea about wisdom as a cultivation of character, where wisdom is to create a virtual engine. And there's a deep connection between being a virtual engine and the cultivation of virtues. That wisdom is the cultivation of a virtual engine, a character that regulates your self-development, in fact your self-making, so that you can actualize your potential. You can live up to your potential. What is living up to that potential means? It means, and we talked about, it means moving through that hierarchy that we talked about last time. The hierarchy of actualization from the mere plant to the animate thing to the mental thing to the rational thing. So to be wise, to live up to your potential is to cultivate a character that most helps you realize your capacity for rational self-reflection, your capacity to appropriate and take charge of your ability to engage in self-actualization, self-realization. And to do so in such a way that fulfills the potential of your humanity, that you most realize, reveal, actualize the characteristics that make us uniquely human. And that foolishness is to have not properly cultivated your character. So even when you have the correct set of beliefs, you believe that you should not do something, you will still fall prey to a crazea because you have not cultivated adequate enough for your character. Then I challenged you in two ways. I challenged you to try and reanimate and deepen these terms that we use every day to talk about how meaningful our lives are in terms of growth and development and actualizing ourselves and living up to our potential to deepen those terms by returning and reflecting upon them using Aristotle. But also a Socratic challenge via Aristotle. What are you doing to cultivate your character? How much time are you dedicating to it?
Discussion On Aristotle'S Theory And Its Influence On Human Cognition
Character Cultivation (04:20)
Since it is now reasonable, given this argument that it plays a significant role in how meaningful your life is, how much time have you devoted, how much time do you regularly devote to it? Now as promised last time, I want to turn to the other side of Aristotle's work and show in a further sense how he contributed to the axial development of these ideas of meaning, wisdom, self-transcendence. And of course Aristotle is understanding self-transcendence as this living up to your potential self-realization, ascending through the hierarchy until you are a fully realized, fully rational human being. Now Aristotle was interested in rationality for exactly this reason. He thought it was the way of defining human beings. Now his understanding is axial. Rationality is what we've been talking about since the beginning of this series. The axial revolution idea of second order thinking you can step back and reflect on the ways in which you're self-deceptive and you have a capacity for self-correction and self-transcendence. That's the hallmark of rationality. Please remember that. Because we have tended and we'll see much later why we tended to reduce rationality to the idea being logical. But that's not the core idea of rationality. The core idea of rationality is your capacity for reflectively realizing your capacity is for self-deception and illusion and for self-correction. And for Aristotle that self-correction is a process of also realizing your potential through the cultivation of character. But what is at the heart of rationality? Because if we go back to the Platonic model Aristotle has told us a bit about one side character. Remember Plato talks about how you are aligning the psyche. But Plato also talked about being in contact with reality. How did Aristotle develop this side of the Platonic equation? This is his way of trying to give a deeper analysis of structuring the psyche to reduce self-deception. What did he do to develop Plato's idea of being in contact with reality? Because if you remember we also have this meta drive. We need to be in contact with reality. I put it to you that that is in fact the core feature or at least the core motivation of rationality. The core motivation of rationality is the desire to come into as deep a contact with reality as possible by those means that are as reliable as possible. So for Aristotle this brought him into a discussion about what it is to truly know something. To truly know something. And again he is going to be deeply influenced by Plato while of course making his own unique changes and challenges to Plato. So we have got a view in which we think we largely conceive of knowing as being able to give a very accurate description of something. I know what a chair is if I can really describe it very well to you. Now there is a challenge to that if I were to ask you the following. Who knows better what a chair is? Somebody who could describe a chair very well to you or somebody who could actually make a chair. And many people would say well the person who can describe it doesn't really understand and they will probably struggle for words and use words taken from Aristotle without realizing they don't get the essence of a chair. Because if you can make a chair then you grasp something more. And this is again related to this notion. If you can cause a chair to be then you deeply understand what a chair is. So Aristotle then asked well what is it that the chair maker has that the accurate descriptor does not have. And again it goes back to what we saw before when I gave you my description of the bird you know it has wings and beaks and all this stuff and I was lacking the idos.
Aristotles unique knowledge theory (09:04)
I was lacking the form the structural functional organization. So Aristotle says what the chair maker has that the good descriptor does not have is the chair maker actually has in their mind the idos. Think of it like an architect. That has a blueprint. The architect has in their mind the structural functional organization that is actually going to be shared in the building. The architect has the idos. The chair maker has the idos in their mind and they can actualize they can use that idos to actualize the potential in the wood to make the chair. So to know something is to possess the same idos as it. Now the architect right when he has the idos for the building. He doesn't have a material building in his mind. You couldn't go and house a family of five inside his mind. When we say that it has the same pattern we don't mean it's actualizing the same matter as wood and metal in a building but the same form is there. So for Aristotle when I know something and this is the original meaning of this word. There's conformity I share the same form with it. So when I know some object or know something my mind takes on the same structural functional organization as a thing such that if I could take that idos from my mind and actualize it in some potential I could make an instance of the thing. I could cause it to be. So if you'll remember shape is not the same thing as form but we can use shape as Aristotle does as an analogy for form. So when I know the cup I could know it by standing away from it and describing it. Right trying to describe its shape and I'm using shape as an analogy for form or I can actually conform to the cup. I'm actually taking the same shape. Notice how this enables me to causally interact with the cup in a much more intimate and complex and sophisticated fashion. So when you know something for Aristotle your mind is in conformity with it. Now that's really important because that means when Aristotle's theory of knowing there's no distinction that as we typically have between knowing and being. What do I mean by that? Again using the analogy. Here's the modern view. I'm over here describing it. It's over there independent. I'm over here describing it. Here's Aristotle's view. I'm actually changing my structure. This isn't just I'm not just knowing and having beliefs. I'm being changed. This is a change in my being not just a change in my knowing. The conformity theory doesn't just change your beliefs. It changes the very structure and functioning of your being. So the conformity theory is a very different way of thinking about how we know things. So Charles Taylor who I've mentioned before Herbert Dreyfus and others. They talk about the conformity theory as a contact epistemology. So to know something is to be in contact with it. It's to actually participate in the same form as the thing. We're going to come back to this sense of participatory knowing. Participatory knowing is when I shape myself in order to know the thing and I know it by conforming to it. This is different from descriptive knowing where I stand apart and I generate propositions about the thing.
Participatory knowing (13:34)
So the conformity theory has this very powerful idea of an intimate connection between the mind and reality. And it's based on a very powerful idea. And as I mentioned Aristotle is going through a significant revival in our understanding of living things, understanding of mental things. We are increasingly coming to see that this kind of contact knowing, this participatory knowing is much more central to how cognition works than we previously thought. We're going to come back to that a lot in this series. I just want you to take note of it now. Notice how this, what we need to notice right now is how this theory of knowing, which is also a theory of being, satisfies that desire of being in contact with reality as opposed to being like separate from it and merely pointing at it with my words or my propositions. All right.
Solving, wrongful thinking (14:41)
So if I'm in conformity with the world, that tells you something very interesting. The structural functional organization, my patterns of intelligibility, member for Plato, intelligibility, and Aristotle completely inherits this. Like I say, again, read Eric Pearl's book on this. How I make sense of things, the pattern of intelligibility is the same pattern by which the thing is organized. So when I'm making sense of things, there's a structural functional organization in my mind that is shared with the structural functional organization of what I'm making sense of things.
Humans use their intelligence to make false statements (15:23)
But does that mean that everything I think is just true? No, Aristotle is like a genius. He's probably a clear instance of what's been called a universal genius. We shouldn't dismiss what Aristotle says so easily. Aristotle literally writes the book on everything. Say you're at a party with Aristotle. You say, "Well, I'm interested in physics." Here, I wrote the book on this. This is called Physics. This is the book that started physics. Oh, well, I'm also interested in philosophy. I'm interested in metaphysics. Here's the book I wrote on metaphysics. Well, I'm interested in how animals move. Here's my book. I wrote on how animals move. I'm interested in psychology. Here's my book.
Dreams. Here's my book. How to write books. Here's my book. Aristotle is right just. An astonishing intellect. So, what does he mean then? Well, what he means is, right, that after we've done all that axial age, second order thinking, after we've done all this socratic and platonic argument and discussion, well, we've done this rational reflection, once we then get to that, I'd ask, that structural functional organization, we can be confident that what structural functional organization we're finding and how we make sense of things is the same. Or to put it in a slogan, when we've made sense of things, the pattern in our mind is the same as the pattern in the world. So, what are those processes?
The very process of making, trying to find a pattern (17:03)
Aristotle, like everything he does, he tries to explicate a little bit more. So, think about this. Think about how you try and determine if something was real. If it really is the case. So, let's say you're interested in Susan and you're talking to your friend Tom. And Tom and Susan and yourself, you were at a party the previous night. And Tom tells you, "Oh, Susan, I think Susan really likes you." Now, this is important to you because you really like Susan. You'd really like it if Susan liked you. This would be a good thing. But you don't want to leap into this because your heart has been broken before and you've acted foolishly and impulsively, so you want to make sure. So, you say, "Wait, wait. Come on, Tom.
Believing you are drunk when you are not. (17:56)
I saw you last night. You were really hammered." Like, you were drunk. I don't believe you. And this is, Tom says, "No, no, no, no. I heard this way before I was drunk. I heard this at the beginning. I heard Susan say this at the beginning." And then you say, "Come on, Tom. There were so many people. It was so noisy. How can you be sure?" And Tom says, "No, no. This was in the kitchen." Susan was in the kitchen when I heard her say it. It wasn't that noisy there. And then you say, "I don't know." And then Tom says, "Yeah, but Andrew and Jane also heard Susan say that." And you go, "Oh, wow. I think Susan likes me." So you do these three tests. You make sure that the relevant organ of cognition, your attention, your memory, your brain, was functioning normally. Yes, it is. It's functioning normally. So I was sober. You make sure that the environment isn't creating distorting conditions. Too much noise. No, no. It's an optimal environment. Let's do this. Organ operating optimally, environment optimal are really good. And then I look for, "Did other people experience an intersubjective agreement?" So, this is what you do, right? You very carefully try to get your mind into an optimal state. You make sure the medium is the best, right? And you do a lot of intersubjective discussion to make sure that you're in agreement with other people. So you do really deep philosophy. You argue and discuss. You enact like the stochratic thing. You really train your mind. You get the appropriate conditions. You do all this. You come to some agreement. And then once you get there, you can have significant confidence that you're in conformity with reality. That the pattern that's in your mind is the pattern that's in the world. Now, I point this out to you, not because I want to say that Aristotle is ultimately right, because we're going to see how that way of doing things was challenged. But I want to point out to you how you still do it now. There's something deeply plausible and practical in what Aristotle's saying.
Aristotle was the science. (20:18)
This is how you, on a day-to-day basis, try to make sure that you're in touch with things. So how are things? What is the structural functional pattern of the world? When I'm making sense of things. So Aristotle is also, as I said, considered, you know, a foundational figure in science. In fact, for literally millennia, right, a millennia, he is basically identical to science. Knowing Aristotle is to know science. So he's building upon all the pre-socratic philosophers before him. But basically what he says is, okay, how is the world organized? What is the structure of reality? Well, how does it look to us? What can we all agree on? Okay, so we're all stone-cold sober, clear day. We can all talk. We can agree. And this is when, try to get back to Aristotle's time. This is how things seem to all of us. We're at the center. And this is something we're going to come back to, because that's how your perceptual cognitive system seems to operate. You're at the center. Things are moving around us. So he has a geocentric worldview. The earth is at the center. Well, why do things move?
The magnet is moving you. (22:06)
Like why are things moving? So he has the idea, again, that things move for the same reason you do. Remember Thales talked about that? The magnet is moving. You are moving. Look, when I lift on this and it's pushing against me, that feels no different to me than when a person is pushing on me. It feels like the table is moving itself against me. Again, don't concentrate on whether or not this is true. Concentrate on how much sense it makes. When I move the pan away from the earth, it looks like it moves itself to get back there, which looks exactly like I want to be over there. And I move myself there, because I'm separated from where I want to be. So Aristotle's idea is that everything is made up of elements, basic elements, like earth, water, air, and fire. Things that have a lot of earth in them, like this marker, want to be where earth naturally is. Earth is at the center. So if you move things away from the earth, things fall back towards it. Water is going to be on the surface. Fire moves up and air is above. So notice when I burn some wood, how much sense this makes of it, because when I burn the wood, the fire comes up. The water that evaporates spreads out is condensation. And then the ash, the earth in part, falls down. So for Aristotle, the earth is at the center, and this is the thing. Everything is moving by a process of natural motion. Everything has an internal drive, just like you. Everything is trying to get where it belongs. Everything has a natural place. And this is very important. Everything is moving on purpose. Everything is trying to get where it belongs. So notice how meaningful this view of things is. Everything is moving just like you. You're doing things to get where you belong, and where you are where you belong. Then that's the fulfillment of your goals. That's what makes your life meaningful. All of these things, the whole everything in this cosmos, remember we talked about that, we talked about Pythagoras, a beautiful order. Everything in this cosmos is moving purposefully, meaningfully. Now, it's important that you resist the temptation here to be smug and say, "Wow, what is silly idea?" I mean, thinking the earth's at the center. Isn't he a Luddite? No, because the idea that the earth is not at the center, that the idea that the earth is rotating was known in the ancient world. It's known by Aristarchus, for example. The problem with this view is that there were great counterarguments about it. Look, if the earth is rotating, and you think the earth is rotating, that means if I'm on the earth and it's rotating, and I drop an object, as the object is dropping, I'm moving forward with rotation. I end up here, and the object drops, then end up behind me. Because as I let go of it, I'm moving on the earth that's rotating, and it should fall behind me. So let's do it. Let's run the experiment. Oh, it doesn't fall behind me. See, what you need to realize is that until you also have an idea of something like universal gravitation, and other ideas like inertial motion, the idea that the earth is rotating actually doesn't make good sense of the phenomena. So I'm just rotating, why am I not feeling a breeze on my face constantly when I face one way rather than the other? So there was all kinds of arguments. So Aristotle has a sense that we can still appreciate. So this is how we get in contact with reality, and this is the pattern that is making sense to me. And what I mean by that is, even though you and I are post-daycart, post-Newton, and we know and we're post-kapernicus, we still move around the earth as if it's at the center, and that the earth isn't moving, and that objects fall directly down, etc., etc.
Geocentrism and Cosmos (27:03)
So given that, given the tremendous plausibility of Aristotle's proposal, we can now put these two sides together. You've got the geocentric world, and by world I don't just mean the earth. I mean the cosmos, with the earth at the center and everything moved by natural motion. And then what we have over here is we have the conformity theory of knowing, and I'm going to hyphenate these words because these are not separate for this theory the way they are for us, knowing being, the way of being and the way of knowing. And what I want you to see is how much they mutually support each other. This is very plausible. That's why I told you that whole story about the person who knows how to make the chair. And once you admit that this is plausible and you use Aristotle's test, it supports this view of things. Because if the conformity theory is right, and I do all of this rational reflection, this is the intelligible pattern that I see. Now I can look at this and say this is the intelligible pattern and it's plausible. It makes sense of so many things. And that view of the world then lends evidence that I am in fact in conformity with reality. It provides evidence for the conformity theory. And notice these two things are now mutually supporting each other. That's how you get a world view. You have an account of the world and you have an account of how you know the world that mutually support each other in very strong bonds of plausibility. Now that sets something out for us. Notice that there is now a deep connection that a deep bonding as I say between your understanding of your understanding and your understanding of the world. So let's try and put this together. This is a view of the world that totally makes sense of your actions. This is a world organized according to purpose. Things are moving on purpose. Things are trying to get where they belong. The structure of the world is very, very similar to the structure of the meaningful structure of your experience. So this view basically if you'll allow me a term that I crafted with Christopher Master Pietro and Philip Misovic in our book. This basically makes the external world an arena. An arena is a place that's organized such that you know how you can act in it. It makes sense to you. You know where things belong, what actions are appropriate, how to measure and calibrate your performance. And I don't mean just your physical performance. Also your intellectual performance. If you are a football player and you go into a football arena, things are organized in such a way that you know intimately how to be involved and how to interact. You can conform, listen to my language, you can conform to that situation very powerfully. This is how you become an agent. To be an agent is capable of pursuing your goals. To be able to organize your cognition and your behavior so that your actions fit the situation. They fit the environment. What you have when you have a world view is you've got this agent and arena coupling. Aristotle is explaining to you how you become an agent, how you know and structure yourself to act accordingly. And then he's telling you how the world is organized, cosmos, so that you can meaningfully interact within it. And these two, there's a process here of co-identification.
The identity of this is determined by and determines the identity of this. And the identity of this is determined by and determines this. So the professional football player is a particular kind of agent. They're a football player and they go into an arena. The arena allows them to be a football player that affords them. Then being a football player makes sense of why this part of the world is structured the way it is. They co-identify. The identity as an arena and the identity as the agent co-identify. Now this is important. We need to stop here and take a little bit more care. Because I want to introduce an idea to you. This co-identification because this is something you're doing all the time. You're always assuming an identity. I'm doing it now. I'm assuming the identity of someone giving a talk and I'm assigning an identity to everything around me. Everything has the meaning of how it's facilitating and affording my talk. And even you as the audience have been assigned a particular identity. I'm always assigning an arena an assuming agency and they are co-defining together. That is an existential mode to use a term. This process by which you are co-identifying agency and arena so that they fit together and make sense of each other and you get a coherent and functioning world view. That's your existential mode. And of course it matters really greatly to you. We're going to come back to this later. This is an idea from Clifford Geertz. It was an idea that he used to talk about religion in general and we'll see about that later. But what I want to point out because a similar idea was also proposed by other people like Boober and by Fromm. And although they also said there were important connections to religion they didn't identify it just with religion. These existential modes are meta-meaning relations. What does that mean? If you do not have the agent arena relationship then none of your particular actions have meaning. If I put the tennis player into the football arena it's absurd. It doesn't make any sense. The tennis player can do what they want and it doesn't make any sense. The environment is what's going on? That's absurd. Notice that word. We're going to come back to it. Unless the coupling works your individual actions and projects of meaning don't work. It's a meta-meaning system because this mode makes possible an entire system of meanings. It means that the throwing the ball has a meaning for the football player. The catching the ball, the running here. All of these different things take on their meaning because an agent arena relationship has been set up. You're doing it right now. You have assumed a particular identity. You've assigned an identity to me. Within that existential mode everything you're doing and I'm doing take on whatever meaning they have. This is very, very important. This idea of your existential mode being a meta-meeting relationship and what it does is it's an instance, a particular way of enacting this worldview relationship. Gerts calls this, this thing we're seeing in Aristotle, the way you get this mutual support, mutual intelligibility. Not as a static relation but as an unfolding process. He calls this worldview attunement. One of the things that's really important to you is that your existential mode, the way in which you are creating co-identifications of agent and arena, actually fit into a process of worldview attunement. If you don't have a worldview with worldview attunement then ultimately you can't get this going. You will be like the tennis player trying to play tennis in the football arena. You will start to experience your existence as absurd. It won't make any sense to you. That matters. One of the ways in which the meaning crisis expresses itself is when people say that they feel existence is absurd. People often express the opposite of absurdity when they articulate that they have a meta-meeting existential mode that affords a functioning worldview attunement which gives them ways in which they are co-creating with the world the agent arena relationship. Notice what this is done. What Aristotle has done here is so powerful. He's given us a way, a language of articulating a connection between what we often don't see a deep connection between our projects of trying to intellectually understand the world and our existential projects of trying to feel like we fit in and belong in a meaningful fashion. That's what's so beautiful about Aristotle. He's given an integrated account of both of these.
Exploration On Nomological Order And Mindfulness Within Linguistics And Politics
Nomological Order (38:20)
For many of us today we don't find that clear, constant connection. We have a scientific worldview, a view of how things are, how we understand things given our science. But one of the most common complaints of that worldview is it gives us no existential guidance. It doesn't tell us how to make our lives meaningful. I wanted to propose to you a term for talking about this set of things where you have a worldview that is demonstrating on an ongoing, reliable fashion worldview attunement and so that it is constantly affording existential modes in which agent arena relationships are unfolding and blossoming naturally so that the person is not experiencing absurdity. And so the person is constantly experiencing a deep connectedness between their intellectual projects of making sense of the world and their existential projects of finding meaning and belonging and fittedness within it.
I'm going to call that a "nomological order." "nomological order" comes from "nomos," right? Law. This is what makes the universe law like, not just in our current sense of scientific law, but in the sense that it's a cosmos for us. It's a cosmos in which there is deep convergence and consonant between our best attempts to scientifically explain the world and our deepest endeavors to existentially dwell within it. When we have that, when we have those two together, we have a nomological order. As the nomological order breaks down, of course, then we start to confront absurdity and we start to lose a sense of how we fit in and how we belong. So part of what we can take from part of how we can understand the axial age heritage, part of the way we can understand what it's telling us about meaning is this idea of a nomological order. To have a meaningful life is to have a life that is situated within a nomological order and a tuned worldview that is reliably generating existential modes that are consonant with our best scientific understanding. So I want to pause now in the discussion of the axial age in Greece and in ancient Israel. We will return to ancient Israel after we complete our survey of the axial age, but I'd now like to move to another place that is an important locus of the axial revolution that is having a significant impact on us today. This is something that I mentioned earlier on in this series. We're in the midst of what's been called the mindfulness revolution. One of the ways in which people are responding to the meaning crisis is by an intense interest, both existentially and personally, and scientifically in the phenomena of mindfulness. That somehow mindfulness and the cultivation of mindfulness is a way of retrieving the project of cultivating wisdom and self transcendence and somehow deepening the meaning that we are finding in our lives.
Sittartuas Gautoordahat Masters in Anthony Howe (42:09)
And of course, when I talk about mindfulness and mention things like meditation and contemplation, our thoughts should turn, of course, to India and the axial revolution that was taking there. And the particular form that revolution took that is impacting the Western meaning crisis, as I mentioned at the beginning of this series, was in the generation of Buddhism and the set of practices around it. This is a very complex topic. We're not going to do it all at once right now. It's going to unfold as we move through the series. But I want to talk about the axial revolution in India. I want to talk about mindfulness and I want to talk about what it is as a psychotechnology, how it's associated with wisdom and self transcendence. I want to begin the discussion of the nature of enlightenment and why enlightenment is largely a project of trying to deal with threats of meaning in one's life. So just the way, I mean, it's only analogous in this way, so don't draw too much. But in the way Socrates was the embodiment of the axial revolution in ancient Greece. I think you can see Sittarta Gautama as the embodiment of the axial revolution in India. As I mentioned, of course, the axial revolution is being driven there by similar kinds of processes. There's coinage and there's alphabetic literacy and other things like this developing. But there are specific psychotechnologies that seem to have come to the fore. And the reasons for that are very complex. I would recommend taking a look at Karen Armstrong's book, The Great Transformation, because she tries to tease out why did psychotechnologies of mindfulness become so prominent in ancient India? And I'm not going to go into that history, but she gives a fairly coherent explanation about sort of historical cultural factors that generated it. What I want to instead is start talking about Sittarta as a way of, again, giving us a doorway into the axial revolution in India.
otek Howe#8217smouth Sunbutuils Consider The Earliest Coined Words (44:20)
So Sittarta, right, it's all of these figures, right? Socrates and Sittarta later when we talk about Jesus. I mean, trying to talk about, well, who, what's the historical, this is a quixotic endeavor. Trying to somehow peel away and separate them from their legacy is largely a project that you can only pursue to a certain degree. So I cannot, and I don't think anybody can say with certainty, this is what the historical Sittarta was doing. And I'm not going to endeavor to try and separate the myth, and I told you how I used the word myth, from the history. I'm going to let them still remain seamlessly together, because that's precisely how they are making an impact on the West. So the story goes like this. Sittarta, when Sittarta was born, his father had all of the sages and wise men come to his birth, and it was prophesied, foretold in sort of an oracle fashion, that the boy had one of two possible futures. One is he would be a great king, or the other was he would enter a religious life and be a really important religious figure. The king, being what all kings are, chose the former. He wanted his son, of course, to be a great king, and he decided in order to do this, he would try and remove all of the things that might trigger Sittarta from pursuing a religious life, a life devoted to the ideals of the axial revolution. So what do you do if you do not want someone to go through the axial revolution? Well, you try and give them all the benefits of the pre-axial world. You try and give them all the benefits of power and prosperity. So the story goes that the king rigged things so that Sittarta never saw anything distressing. He was always surrounded by beautiful women, correct amount of food, everything that he wanted, and we can sort of just take that as it is, or we can step back and do something that you should always do with things that have a mythological component. Remember, myths are not irrelevant stories about the past, their attempts to get you to engage right now with perennial ongoing patterns. So I want to talk about what the palace represents. A good way of getting at this is Marcus Aurelius' famous quote that, and this is how it goes, "It is possible to be happy even in a palace." That tells you how much the axial revolution is antithetical to palace life. Now, a way of getting that is to get at a notion which we're going to come back to later when we talk about Stolex like Marcus Aurelius drawn from From, and this goes to this idea that I just explained to you, existential mode, that the palace represents a particular existential mode. It's a mythological way of trying to get you to experience, not just think about, but activate in your memory a particular existential mode. All right, so we're talking about the palace, because we're talking about Cidardo living in the palace. What does this represent? From talks about two different existential modes that we all face, again, perennial patterns. They're organized around two different kinds of needs. They're having needs and being needs.
Sittartus Llostes Secular In The State That Is To Be A Secular Government (48:05)
So, of course, this mode is called the having mode. It's an existential mode. It's a way in which you make sense of the world and make sense of yourself in this process of co-identification. This is the being mode. Okay, so having needs are needs that are met by having something. These are needs that are met by categorizing things efficiently, controlling them effectively. So, my understanding of thing is categorical. I put it in the correct category. Here's a cop. It's like all the other cops. It functions like another cop. I can replace it with a cop if this one gets damaged. It really improves my ability to control things. I have this categorical way of representing it, and it's oriented towards me getting very effective, efficient control over things. Because I need to have water. I need to actually consume it. If I don't, I die. So, being able to categorize my world, manipulate it and control it so I can get water is very important. That means I relate to things in what Boober, who I also mentioned, called an IIT fashion. And it is an identity something has when it belongs to a category. And so, what I'm mostly relying on here is my intelligence, which is my ability to control and manipulate things to achieve solving my problems. Now, there's nothing wrong with the having mode. You need to have water. You need to have food. You need to have oxygen. The being mode is different. The being needs are not met by having something. They're met by becoming something. So, for example, you need to become mature. Or Aristotle might say you need to become virtuous. It's not met by having something. It's met by becoming, developing. These are developmental needs. According to From, because of that, these are needs that have to do with a particular kind of meaning that you're creating for your existence. And so, you're not relating to things categorically, but as calling would, for example, say, relating to them expressively. Let me show you what I mean with a concrete example. And we're going to come back to these kinds of examples when we talk again about the connections between love and anagage. When you're in love with somebody, you are engaged in being need. You're trying to, if it's love, as opposed to just desire or sex, you're trying to become something and you're trying to afford them becoming something. You're trying to meet your needs of meaning and maturity, growth and development. That's why we pursue love. As opposed, and I'm not a prude. Sometimes you just want to have sex with people. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about when you have said, "No, what I want here is love." Notice that I'm in love with this amazing woman, Sara. I'm in this relationship with her, this relationship of mutual development, mutual realization.
Agago Banga anagage realization (51:51)
In fact, that's a great way of thinking about love. Love is this process like anagage, a reciprocal realization. I don't think of Sara categorically. Remember how I thought of the cup? This is a good cup because it reminds me of all the other cups that I've ever seen. And I know how to replace this, if this one's damaged, and I can control and manipulate it. If I was to say to Sara, "You know why I'm with you?" Because you remind me of every other woman I've been with, and I could easily replace you if I lose you, and I know how to control and manipulate you. I have not made this relationship better. I've pretty much just destroyed it. Because I don't interact with Sara from the having mode. I don't understand her expressively. I'm not trying to control and manipulate. I'm trying to engage in a process of reciprocal realization. We're going to talk a lot about this when we talk about gnosis. So my relationship, I don't assume, right, controller manipulator of an "it" thing. I have an "I thou" relationship with Sara. And here, I'm not trying to solve problems. I'm using my reason because I'm not about trying to get rid of my problems. I'm trying to make meaning. To live in the palace is to try and live everything from the having mode. See, it's not that this is good and this is bad. From this point is we get mixed up. We try to satisfy our being needs within the having mode. We suffer from modal confusion. Think about how much our culture is organized around this because it serves a lot of market interest if I can confuse you. If I can get you to try and pursue your being needs within the having mode. You need to be mature. Here's a car you can have. You need to be in love. Here's lots of sex you can have. Notice how we talk about making love but having sex. Modal confusion. Deep existential confusion. And what happens when you're motally confused, right, is that your need for maturity isn't being met by having the car. Your need for love is not being met by having sex. So you pursue it more. Buy more cars. Purchase more sex. The more the corporate world can get you to try to pursue your being needs from the having mode. The more they can induce modal confusion in you, the more they can sell to you.
End of summary (54:49)
Being in the palace is a myth in the sense that I'm trying to teach you for modal confusion. It's a myth of trying to lead your entire life within the having mode. But here's the thing, because the story continues. So Siddhartha leaves the palace. And he leaves the palace in a way that teaches us something about overcoming modal confusion. And in our next time together, we're going to look at how Siddhartha left the palace. And we're going to look at what does mindfulness have to do with that. And what does all of this have to do with wisdom and enlightenment? Thank you very much for your time.