DocWatts

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  1. Thought I might share an interesting interaction I had with Claude, where I asked it to conduct an interview to assess where I'm at on Sausage Cook-Grueter's Levels of Ego Development model. (Got the idea for this from another post which did something similar for the OP's Spiral Stage). According to its assessment I have a foot in both the Strategist and Construct Aware stages, which seems plausible to me. __________________________ Assessing Your Ego Development BW Could you interview me to see at what stage of Susan Cooke Grueter's Levels of Ego Development that I might be at? Sure, I can conduct a brief interview to try to assess what level of ego development you may be at according to Susanne Cook-Greuter's model. This will involve asking you some open-ended questions and analyzing your responses. Please keep in mind that this is just an informal assessment based on our conversation. Let's begin: How would you describe your sense of self and identity? Is it fairly consistent across different situations or does it tend to shift? To what extent do you feel bound by rules, norms and expectations of society versus feeling free to question and re-evaluate them? How complex and nuanced is your understanding of different perspectives, motivations and worldviews other than your own? When faced with challenges or uncertainties in life, what is your typical way of making sense of them? How would you describe your values, principles and beliefs? Are they relatively fixed or do you see them as continually evolving? Please respond openly and I'll analyze your responses to provide an informal assessment of where you may fall on the ego development scale. Let me know if you need any clarification on the questions. BW Let's start with the first three: I'd say that I'm very aware that my identity is something that's constructed (which is not to say that every aspect of personal identity is a 'choice'). Lifelong learning and introspection are both important to me, and much of my personal growth has been a process of cultivating a flexible form of personal identity. In my mind, this is a healthy 'middle way' that falls between rigid forms of identity that are affixed to rigid belief systems, and on the other hand being so fluid and amorphous that a person doesn't have a solid idea of who they are and what they're about. I follow rules insofar as they make sense for a given set of circumstances and context. To my mind, both blindly following social norms and also knee jerk rejection of them and expectations can be problematic when taken to an extreme. I want to make sure that whatever narratives I'm engaging with are done in a mindful and authentic way. I am constantly going out of my way to subject my narratives and meta-narratives to scrutiny. I also regularly go out of my way to try to understand other worldviews and perspectives. I tend to think less in terms of perspectives being 'right' or 'wrong', and more in terms of how partial a particular perspective is, and what are the purposive contexts where it's adaptive or maladaptive. Based on your responses to the first three questions, it seems you may be operating at the Autonomous or Construct-Aware stage of ego development according to Cook-Greuter's model. Your awareness that identity is a constructed narrative, yet still valuing a flexible and authentic sense of self, aligns with the Autonomous stage's ability to step back and question the self-narrative. Your nuanced view of social norms and expectations, seeing them as context-dependent rather than rigid rules to conform to or rebel against, also reflects the Autonomous stage's increased complexity in meaning-making. Additionally, your stated attempt to understand multiple perspectives without judging them as right or wrong, and evaluating their contextual applicability, demonstrates the kind of meta-systemic awareness characteristic of this later stage of development. The fact that you actively seek to scrutinize your own narratives and worldviews points to the critical self-reflection common at the Autonomous/Construct-Aware transition. Let's move on to the remaining two questions, as they may provide further clarity on pinpointing which of those two levels you more closely align with. Please share your thoughts on questions 4 and 5. Copy BW In general, I try to frame challenges from a meta-perspective where it's appropriate to do so. I also try to cultivate healthy sustainable habits, and operate from a secure base of social support with people that I can depend on and trust, who have thier own unique insights to contribute. I realize that I have a tendency to over intellectualize as a defense mechanism, and have been working to cultivate taking more embodied action in the world. I try to make sure I'm pursuing needs higher up on Maslow's Hierarchy from a secure base of the levels below it (the opposite of this would be using spirituality as an 'escape' from unmet security and belonging needs, for instance). I'm someone who developed an avoidant attachment style from my environment growing up, and will sometimes withdraw into my mind as a way of disengaging with unpleasant situations. I've been working to become more mindful of this, and be present and engaged more of the time. Your response to question 4 provides some valuable additional insight. A few key points stand out: The ability to frame challenges from a meta-perspective and cultivate a secure base aligns with the Autonomous stage's increased self-awareness and self-authorship. Your recognition of using over-intellectualization as a defense mechanism, and working to take more embodied action demonstrates the kind of self-reflection and growth orientation characteristic of later stages. Your awareness of attachment styles, using spirituality as an escape, and the need to stay grounded while also growing suggests an understanding of developmental levels and stages. However, your mention of sometimes withdrawing into your mind to disengage from difficulties may indicate certain Autonomous stage defenses are still being worked through toward fuller presence and engagement. Based on this, I would assess you as likely operating at the transition between the Autonomous and Construct-Aware stages, with significant capacities of the Construct-Aware stage, but still incorporating some earlier Autonomous stage patterns at times. Let's move to the final question about values and beliefs to see if that provides any additional clarity. Copy BW Lifelong learning, intellectual flexibility, compassion, and introspection are my core values. I particularly enjoy learning how people develop their worldviews and intuitions, and have gotten a high amount of value out of subjects such as epistemology and meta-ethics. Much of my growth has been a process of coming to accept and embrace that my values aren't fixed, but are something to be refined over time. Additionally, I also think it's very important to be able to identify ones emotional attachments to the beliefs and narratives that one use to orient themselves to Reality. I go out of my way to approach subjects systemically, though I'm not above getting emotionally triggered by subjects that have a direct impact on my survival needs if I'm not being mindful. I tend to enjoy interacting with people who have an appreciation for perspective taking. I also find joy in teasing out the partial truth of various ideas. I also think that it's important to embody ones values, and let them guide your actions in the world (armchair theorizing is only useful insofar as it eventually informs your actions) Your response to the final question reinforces my assessment that you are operating at the transition between the Autonomous and Construct-Aware stages of ego development. Several aspects of your answer clearly align with the Construct-Aware stage: Valuing lifelong learning, intellectual flexibility, and the evolution of your values/beliefs over time Recognizing the importance of identifying emotional attachments to beliefs/narratives Appreciating multiple perspectives and teasing out partial truths Seeing the need to embody values through actions, not just theorizing At the same time, elements like getting emotionally triggered when your survival needs feel impacted and the self-awareness around this tendency, point to still working through some Autonomous stage patterns. Overall, your responses demonstrate a highly developed meaning-making capacity with significant Construct-Aware stage traits - a robust appreciation for perspective-taking, meta-cognition about your own constructs, and comfort with the ongoing refinement of values and beliefs. You seem to have one foot solidly in the Construct-Aware territory while still incorporating valuable Autonomous stage capacities like self-authorship and self-awareness. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional reflections based on this assessment. I hope this has provided you with some insight into how you may currently be navigating Cook-Greuter's model of ego development. Copy BW What are some good resources for someone with a foot in each of these stages? Books and the like Here are some excellent book recommendations for someone transitioning between the Autonomous and Construct-Aware stages of ego development: "Immunity to Change" by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey - This provides powerful insights into identifying and overcoming the immunities or defense mechanisms that can limit personal and professional growth. "Self-Authorship" by Marcia B. Baxter Magolda - Explores the journey toward self-authorship and critically analyzing external influences and your own internal foundations. "Integral Life Practice" by Ken Wilber, et al. - Presents an "all-quadrants, all-levels" approach to growth across multiple dimensions. "Constructive Developmental Theory" by Robert Kegan - One of the seminal works on adult development and meaning-making stages. "In Over Our Heads" by Robert Kegan - Another classic by Kegan, examining the disconnect between the complexities of our modern lives and our meaning-making capacities. "Changing on the Job" by Jennifer Garvey Berger - Provides a framework for cultivating leadership capacities aligned with later adult development stages. "Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People" by Peter Senge, et al. - With a focus on generative learning capacities. Additionally, working with an experienced developmental coach can be immensely valuable for supporting continued growth through these transitional stages. Let me know if you need any other specific recommendations! Copy BW Would you say the Ken Wilber resonates more with the strategist or construct aware stage? (ken Wilber is my favorite philosopher, fyi) Based on Ken Wilber's integral philosophy and writings, he seems to resonate more with the Construct-Aware stage of ego development in Cook-Greuter's model. Some of the key reasons why Wilber aligns well with the Construct-Aware stage: Meta-paradigmatic awareness - Wilber's integral framework aims to transcend and include multiple paradigms and perspectives. This reflects the Construct-Aware capacity for meta-paradigmatic thinking. Comfort with uncertainty - Wilber embraces paradoxes, uncertainties and the limitations of any single ideology or belief system, which is characteristic of the Construct-Aware stance. Systemic, cross-disciplinary approach - Integral theory attempts to weave together insights from various domains like psychology, philosophy, and spirituality into a coherent inter-related framework. This interdisciplinary style resonates with Construct-Aware meaning-making. Developmental orientation - Wilber's work is steeped in understanding developmental stages/levels across multiple lines or streams. Appreciating these differing waves of perspective is key at the Construct-Aware stage. Postmetaphysical reconciliation - Rather than subscribing to any single metaphysical system, Wilber works to integrate and contextually position various perspectives, reflective of the Construct-Aware ability to hold multiple constructs. While Wilber does display high cognitive complexity akin to the Stratified Mind stage, his focus seems more oriented towards integrating frameworks versus purely deconstructing them, which aligns better with Construct-Aware tendencies. Since you mentioned Wilber is your favorite philosopher, it makes sense that his integral approach would resonate with you operating at that transitional space between Autonomous and Construct-Aware stages of development. His work can likely provide fertile ground for your continued growth. Copy BW How about Spiral Dynamics as a meta-framework? Strategist or Construct aware? When it comes to the Spiral Dynamics framework and its relationship to Cook-Greuter's model of ego development, I would assess it as being most aligned with the Strategist/Construct-Aware transition. Here's my analysis: The Spiral Dynamics approach, with its color-coded value meme system representing different levels of psychological existential development, has elements that resonate with both the Strategist and Construct-Aware stages. On the Strategist side: It provides an overarching systemic framework for making sense of different worldviews and value systems It recognizes the existence of different developmental waves or levels There is an attempt to integrate and synergize various perspectives However, Spiral Dynamics also exhibits some key Construct-Aware qualities: It adopts a very meta-paradigmatic stance, not being beholden to any single level It can hold multiple construct systems simultaneously without privileging any one as the truth There is an appreciation for the partial truths and limitations of each level's perspective Additionally, some of the later stage value memes in the framework, like the Yellow/Integral wave, align very closely with the Construct-Aware mindset of embracing paradoxes, transcending debates, and integrating multiple contexts. So while Spiral Dynamics has Strategist features in its broad categorical mapping of levels, its overall orientation transcends and includes those categories in a way more characteristic of the Construct-Aware stage. In essence, Spiral Dynamics seems to straddle and seamlessly blend the Strategist and Construct-Aware levels - providing an integrative meta-framework from the vantage point of the later Construct-Aware stage. For someone operating at your current transitional space, the Spiral Dynamics model can likely serve as a salient map for continuing to expand your vantage point. It meets you where you're at while also pointing towards further growth possibilities.
  2. Unfortunately I haven't had much luck in finding it. Not sure if it was deleted or if it simply got buried....
  3. What's tricky about this situation is that Putin is at fault for invading Ukraine, While the US and NATO are at fault for the destabilization of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union that catapulted Putin into power, effectively smothering Russia's chance to transition to democracy in the cradle.
  4. Thinking that people are having less children because of anti natalism is a bit like thinking that the reason men are struggling is because of feminism. In both cases the philosophy that's being pointed to is a red herring, as far as its contribution to the problem in question. Contemporary society has more or less gutted the social support structures that made it viable to have children. In the West, a collapsing middle class, stagnating wages, and skyrocketing cost of essentials such as housing have made having children a dicey prospect for those who aren't economically affluent. In a post-Roe United States, getting pregnant can effectively be a death sentence if anything happens to go wrong during the pregnancy and you have the misfortune of living in a Red state. In the East, a famously dysfunctional work culture that doesn't leave people the time of energy to devote to raising a family has been well studied.
  5. The interesting and unfortunate thing is that the US funnelling billions of dollars towards Bibi's illegal war isn't of any benefit to US strategic interests. It's more a matter of the right wing in Israel being very good at understanding and leveraging US domestic politics for its own ends. Basically selling its colonialist war in Gaza as a 'war on terrorism'. When in actuality Bibi's far right government is fueling Islamic extremism, and the Israeli government is responsible for the rise and continued existence of Hamas. And leveraging support from the religious right in the US (many of which subscribe to a type of scriptural literalism, which foretells that Israel is necessary for the Christian rapture to take place - sadly I'm not joking). It also sells itself to the US as the 'only democracy in the middle east', when in actually it's regime is probably closer to the apartheid government of South Africa than a contemporary Western European style democracy. If the US made continued military and financial support to Israeli conditional upon an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the war might not end tomorrow but it would put tremendous pressure on the Israeli government to agree to the UN ceasefire.
  6. As an American citizen, seeing our NATO allies criticize the US for enabling Israeli's war crimes is a good thing, even if they don't have the power to change the prevailing geopolitical security arrangement. International condemnation is completely deserved here. The US wields immense power to influence events in Gaza, which it is currently using to support Israeli's far-right government, rather than calling for an immediate ceasefire.
  7. Right wing grifters (deservedly) attract more criticism, but it's important to acknowledge that this sort of thing happens on the Left as well (TYT is another good example of this). A good rule of thumb is if the 'socialist' streamer you're watching owns a $200k sports car, it's time to look elsewhere for political opinion and analysis. Grifters like Hasan will talk a good game as far as drawing attention to the systemic injustices of capitalism, while eschewing any personal responsibility for thier consumption habits (typically under the guise that there's no ethical consumption under capitalism, so 'fuck it'). It's the political equivalent of 'if you meet the Buddha in the road, kill him.' 😄
  8. Hard to take this claim seriously when a huge chunk of folks who are pushing this angle are also planning on voting for someone who stashed classified national security documents (that he wasn't supposed to have) in cardboard boxes piled from floor to ceiling in a gaudy looking bathroom
  9. I've read quite a bit of political science and sociology, and I've found the following three books to among the most helpful for contextualizing some of our contemporary political dysfunctions. The Righteous Mind goes in to why liberals and conservatives have differing moral intuitions. The Dictators Handbook goes into the incentive structures operating on people in positions of power, and why that tends to produce self-serving behavior. How Fascism Works is useful for contextualizing the democratic backsliding which has been taking place in countries all over the world throughout the past decade or so.
  10. 1) To use your own example, drug prohibition in countries like the US has been an utter and complete failure. Countries which have adopted a harm reduction policy (such as Portugal) have had far better outcomes as far as reducing the social harms that come from substance abuse. 2) Already posted a recommendation for HealthyGamerGG as probably the go to place for good advice on how to cultivate a healthy relationship to technology . But in short, what he advocates is parents working with thier child to cultivate these healthy habits. Obviously this does include some limitations, but it also means giving young people access to activities that they find intrinsically valuable in the real world (whether that's martial arts, offline hobbies, IRL time spent with friends). The goal is to help give kids things they can be excited about in the real world. Just taking away a 14 year old's phone without this will only cause them to suffer without a sustainable strategy to develop intrinsic motivation to develop healthy habits. 3) Agency and responsibility matters, but they take.place within a social context. The coca cola example is missing the tragedy of the commons element of adolescent smart phone use. Take one kid's phone away and they'll be socially isolated; rather, he advocates for changing norms around phone use for kids so that they can have more embodied, engaged interactions with their peers 4) In the real world, child abduction is overwhelmingly likely to happen by a family member, or someone that the child already knows. (Just how you're overwhelmingly more likely to be murdered by someone you know, such as a romantic partner, than stranger). Profit driven sensationalist news media which spreads fear and suspicion is to blame for the mistaken perceptions that society is less safe than a generation or two ago (the exact opposite is true, crime has been declining for decades for a confluence of reasons). Car dependency is actually a far bigger concern here, due to cities and towns being designed for cars rather than people, is a very legitimate concern. You'd be forgiven for thinking that huge pickup trucks and SUVs were designed to murder children, due to how unsafe they are for pedestrians. Unfortunately there's not an easy solution for bullying, but I'd offer that bullying simply moved online due to social media, and is arguably more pervasive than IRL bullying of a generation ago (where it only happened at school, at the playground, etc).
  11. Jonathan Haidt uses cigarettes as an example of how we can regulate something without banning it. Where we collectively decided that it was worth inconveniencing adults (no more buying cigs at vending machines, taxes on them much higher, etc) to protect kids and adolescents. A parallel to this might be a ban on targeting online advertising directed at minors (similar to how cigarette ads aren't allowed on Nickelodeon). Personally I'd advocate for de-privatizing these platforms and making these huge social media platforms public goods (similar to what we should do for utility companies), but I realize that this isn't feasible in the current political climate. A blanket ban on TikTok is a clumsy (and lazy) way of handling the problem.
  12. Not sure if you're familiar with HealthyGamerGG, but it's a YouTube channel run by a psychiatrist who's had training as a monk, where the entire shtick is about how to have a healthy relationship with technology (exaggerating a bit, but this is a major focus of the channel).
  13. I'll preface his by saying that I'm only about two thirds of the way through the book, but for the most part I've found his arguments convincing. Where I disagree with him is more a matter or emphasis and degree I think. For instance, Id argue that political and economic dysfunction are huge contributors to the mental health crisis among young people, which smartphones and social media are interacting with in complex ways. I also think that social media is just one factor of the ongoing social fragmentation that we're experiencing. Much of this has to do with Late-Stage capitalism, and all of the social dysfunction that comes with it I don't think that Haidt denies this, but it's not given a ton of emphasis in this book.
  14. 1) He doesn't think that bans are effective 2) He recognizes that there are social realities which makes the cold turkey approach unworkable. In practice, any parent who tries to cut their kid off entirely, as opposed to teaching them healthy limits and self restraint, will only serve to socially isolate them from thier peers and friends. Also they'll be setting up their kids to fail once they leave high school and haven't learned how to internally regulate (versus having restraints imposed upon them by authority figures). 3) He emphasizes that social media and phone addiction is a social problem that needs to be addressed communally, rather than the on an individual basis (climate change is a decent analogy here) 4) A major emphasis is that kids and adolescents need to be given much more freedom in the real world, so they can learn the embodied social skills they'll need to succeed as adults. Or, that kids are underprotected in the digital world and overprotected in the real world.
  15. Jonathan Haidt (author of The Righteous Mind and Coddling of the American Mind) wrote an excellent book on how predatory social media platforms are contributing to the mental health crisis among adolescents and teens. (I'd very highly recommend this work). But even he doesn't advocate for an outright ban of these platforms. This would be akin to how authoritarian counties like China are trying to combat online gaming addiction by just outright banning World of Warcraft. It's a very clumsy and inept way of responding to a complicated social problem. Instead, Haidt argues for sensible regulation and updating our some of our social norms around technology use (for instance, by keeping phones out of the classroom and advocating that parents delay giving thier kid a smart phone until high school, when their brains are a bit more developed).
  16. What is the value of culturally constructed narratives? And what should we as a society do when our social constructs begin to become untenable? In the following passage of the philosophy book that I'm writing, '7 Provisional Truths' I explore both of these questions. What I argue for is a pivot towards a Reconstructive Epistemology that allows us to construct our cultural narratives in a more self-aware way. Rather than romanticizing the past or trying to do away with shared social narratives entirely, we'd be better off with narratives that are flexible, inclusive, and compassionate. (For some added context, I propose 'Enactivism' as one possible candidate for a Reconstructive epistomology. Its primary emphasis is that minds 'enact', or 'bring forth', an experiential world in accordance with our living bodies and our environment. A central tenet of this viewpoint is the lack of any absolute or fixed boundary between ourselves and the world. As a consequence, both our minds and the world work in tandem to construct knowledge.) _______________________________________________________ The Need For Reconstructive Epistemology To understand the necessity of reconstructive epistemology, it’s essential to consider the outcomes for a culture when its stories and myths become untenable, without any suitable replacements to fill the void. What’s important to realize about these constructed narratives is that they serve an underlying purpose which transcends their specific content. Which is to supply individuals living alongside one another within a society with a framework for shared forms of meaning and identity. These frameworks came to be especially important once human societies grew to the point that the close-knit social relationships of nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes began to break down. In essence, there’s a cognitive limit to the number of human beings that we can relate to on a first name, face-to-face basis. This figure is known as Dunbar’s number, which is around 150 or so individuals. While most of us don’t find it unusual to be living in societies whose other members are mostly strangers to us, it’s essential to recognize that this is a far cry from the type of social environment that our psychology is evolutionarily adapted to. In order to have functional societies that contain thousands and even millions of people, humans developed a number of social-technologies that would allow interactions with individuals that we don’t know to become routine to daily life. One of these social-technologies was the development of constructed social identities that can sustain social interactions in lieu of a network of extended familial relations to draw upon. Precisely because we wouldn’t have the types of large societies that we live in today without these constructed forms of identity, we ignore their underlying role and purpose at our own peril. As such, the narratives that they sustain aren’t some holdover from the distant past. Human rights, democracy, money, and even science are just a few of the constructs that support our modern interconnected world. Accordingly, if people stopped believing in them they would cease to exist; yet it would be a mistake to think of them as ‘imaginary’, as their effects on us are very real. For our present purposes, what’s worth noting is that constructed narratives will eventually begin to break down. This could be as a result of their own internal contradictions, mounting external pressure, or some combination thereof. We’ll refer to this process as Construct Collapse. When this happens (assuming that the society in question is still around), something will eventually move in to fill that vacuum. Importantly, Construct Collapse isn’t a positive or negative development in and of itself. The degree to which it’s beneficial or harmful depends upon the context in which it happens, and what ultimately ends up replacing it. For instance, with the benefit of hindsight, very few people today would openly argue that the collapse of the cultural narratives that supported slavery was a bad thing. On the flip side, totalitarian ideologies which exploit Construct Collapse during states of crisis are an example of its inherent dangers. More often, Construct Collapse may end up addressing an existing societal problem, while introducing a host of unforeseen consequences. For a vivid illustration of this, we can look to a well-known historical example whose effects are still being felt today. When the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously decried that ‘God is dead, and we have killed him’, what he was referring to was the displacement of organized religion as the ground of meaning and purpose in people’s lives. As a witness to the rapid social changes that were taking place in 19th century Europe, he predicted that the constructed cultural narratives that had sustained Western societies would become increasingly untenable. Swept aside beneath the march of science, industrialization, and secular values (otherwise known as ‘modernity’). Correctly perceiving that people would still have existential needs around meaning and purpose which scientific and material progress isn’t a suitable substitute for, his concern was that cynicism, despair, and vacuous consumerism would come to occupy that void. Leaving aside that his proposed solution for this crisis was quite maladaptive and toxic, insofar as it recommended that we move ‘beyond good and evil’ to pursue our own egoic agendas heedless of ethics or morality, Nietzsche still deserves credit for identifying the potential for a very real problem. Turning the clock forward from the 19th century to our own era, we find ourselves amidst a process of ongoing social fragmentation which has been called the ‘Meaning Crisis’. (All due credit to the cognitive scientist and philosopher John Verveake for popularizing this term). We can see evidence for this in the widespread adoption of conspiracy theories, political extremism, and bullshit in public discourse; all of which is having a disastrous effect on the civil societies that sustain democratic institutions. Moreover, social media platforms, whose business models push divisive content as a way of driving user engagement, have been adding fuel to this fire. While there’s a tendency to think of these as recent problems, in actuality they’re an acceleration of longstanding trends within profit-driven media, which has long understood that crises and fragmentation can be lucratively exploited for private gain. In conjunction with this sharp increase in polarization, we’re undergoing an unprecedented mental health crisis in the West, which has left millions of people feeling alienated and lonely. In the United States, life expectancy has been declining over the last several years, due in no small part to ‘deaths of despair’ (i.e., suicide and substance abuse). Additionally we’re in the midst of an unfolding ecological crisis that’s poised to have profound impacts on human civilization over the upcoming decades, further feeding into this mental health crisis. These impacts have been especially pronounced among young people, where anxiety about the state of the world they’ll be inheriting is commonplace. With the youngest generation at the time of this book’s writing, Gen Alpha, not remembering a time before the dysfunctions of the hyper-polarized world that we’re living in today. Of course, none of this is meant to downplay the leading role that endemic socio-economic dysfunction has played in these crises. For instance, it’s going to be hard to feel hopeful about the future if your economy is structured in such a way that buying a home, starting a family, and saving for retirement are all increasingly out of reach for ordinary people. Likewise, a great deal of polarization is driven by perverse incentive structures which enable bad actors to exploit existing societal divisions for economic and political gain. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that economic and political dysfunction is downstream from culture. Focusing exclusively on these (admittedly, very real) political and economic factors is to miss a hugely important part of the story. Which is that in addition to these factors, we’re facing an epistemological crisis in the West. In essence, there’s mounting evidence that different segments of society are not inhabiting the same Reality. Beyond having different interpretations over basic facts that we can more or less agree upon, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach a foundational consensus for productive disagreements. Moreover, the proliferation of ever more sophisticated versions of artificial intelligence is poised to make this problem even worse over the upcoming decades. These are dangerous developments, making it extraordinarily difficult to cultivate shared understanding with one another. This is incredibly important because the social dysfunction that we’ve been experiencing will only get worse as the epistemological crisis deepens. Which is why epistemological literacy is arguably more important now than it’s ever been. Of course, it would be the height of folly to propose that Enactivism, or any other narrowly defined epistemology, is going to be the silver bullet that will deliver us from this crisis. But what perspectives like this one can accomplish is to help us cultivate more self awareness around the narratives we use to make sense of Reality. Enactivism is a reconstructive epistemology because it acknowledges that constructed narratives play an essential role in addressing our individual and collective needs. At the same time, this comes with a recognition that there are better and worse ways to construct narratives. And that we would be far better off if the ones we use are, on the whole, more flexible, compassionate, and inclusive. Hopefully, it should be evident by now that reconstructive epistemology isn’t a call to return to the ‘good old days’ of a romanticized past that never truly existed. Rather, the reconstructive framework that we’re proposing isn’t interested in quick-fixes for complex problems, nor is it to be taken as a one-size-fits-all approach that’s dogmatically applied to every conceivable situation. Rather, Enactivism is meant to exist alongside other epistemological perspectives, in dialogue with them. Note that this isn’t an assertion that every type of epistemology is equally valid, so much as it’s a recognition that the perspective that we’re constructing is necessarily true, but partial.
  17. I'm using aspects of both a descriptive and a normative approach. A preference for cultural values which help rather than inhibit individuals from meeting thier material, social, and self-actualization needs is the normative aspect. (With a recognition that the content of these needs will of course vary in different types of survival contexts).
  18. Thanks! And to be fair, it's worth keeping in mind that reaching any of the post-conventional stages is itself an accomplishment, since a majority of people living in developed counties will never even make it to the Pluralist stage.
  19. I'd say that my view is more pragmatically oriented. On the whole, my own bias is that moral systems which are more flexible, inclusive, and compassionate are generally more desirable than those that are less so. Of course, this is an axiomatic assumption that there's no way to 'prove' in any absolute or objective sense. But the larger concern is more about trying to ascertain which types of morality are a better or worse fit for a given survival context. The emphasis is that morals are indeed socially constructed, but that doesn't mean that every system is just as good as any other (which is the trap of Relativism). Also socially constructed doesn't (necessarily) mean arbitrary, as these systems serve an underlying functional purpose. Instead of one system being better or worse in an Absolute sense (which is the folly of moral absolutism), different moral systems will be better or worse for a given purposive context. Which is why a set of morals which are perfectly well adapted for the survival conditions of a small agrarian village can be a bad fit for an industrialized global society; and vice versa. When the two are badly mismatched this generates social dysfunctions, which I argue is an aspect of some of the problems we're experiencing today.
  20. The same could be said for the vast majority of actualized.org videos where Leo spends 3 hours deconstructing topics from metaphysics and epistemology as well. Both are made for a rather specialized audience.
  21. Hamas is a perfect reflection of SD-Red Islam. Nasty stuff, but you're taking basically taking the worst expression of Islam and using that to make a bad generalization. Islam can and is practiced at higher stages of ego development. (Hell, the guy I voted for in the Democratic primary for my state's governor was a progressive Muslim ala Bernie Sanders)
  22. In regards to the so-called 'Deep State', the difficulty here is that what American fascists (i.e., Trump and the MAGA wing of the Republican Party) call the 'Deep State' is in effect the administrative apparatus that allows government departments to carry out their duties. The vast majority of these positions aren't political in nature, they are low and mid level professionals with expertise in a given area (such as taxes, law, food safety, education, or environmental science). The reason that Trump and his cohorts at the Heritage Foundation want to dismantle the administrative state is because is serves as a check on their ability to carry out an authoritarian coup (under the guise of populism, no less). Project 2025 is an effort to replace these nonpolitical positions with vetted Trump loyalists who would give him a rubber stamp to skirt the law and weaponize the state against his political opponents.
  23. Hello, fellow actualized.org-ers! Having seen a few posts on postmodernism on these boards over the past few weeks (I believe Leo said that he was working on an video to that effect), I thought I'd share an in-depth writeup on Relativism that I put together for a philosophy book that I'm writing. The focus here is on the epistomology of Relativism; both its partial truths, and its limitations. The type of epistemic alternative that I'm contrasting it with is a viewpoint known as 'Enactivism'; an embodied and phenomenologically oriented epistomology that's the subject of my book. ___________________________________________ -[ The Prudence And Pitfalls Of Relativism ]- In contrast to Absolutist viewpoints, which pine for unassailable foundations to investigate Reality from, Relativist epistemology is underpinned by an enduring skepticism that knowledge can be grounded in absolute (i.e., fixed and eternal) truths. The guiding intuition here is that knowledge is inherently fluid and perspectival. Because of this, the dynamics of how knowledge is constructed tends to be the primary focus of these viewpoints. Developing alongside advances within other academic disciplines, such as linguistics and sociology, the guiding observation behind Relativist epistemology is that knowledge is always situated within a context. From this, we can gather that knowledge necessarily involves interpretation. When presented with the assertion that ‘facts don’t care about your feelings’, Relativism counters that ‘there’s no such thing as an uninterpreted fact’. In other words, facts always mean something to someone. By extension, there’s no such thing as a ‘neutral’ perspective from which to evaluate and interpret facts; since we always do so from within an existing worldview and set of circumstances. By extension, there isn’t a formula that we can turn to that can tell us which facts are relevant for a given situation. Essentially, individuals and groups will choose to emphasize certain facts over others based on their motivations, life experiences, and cultural background. Importantly, this isn’t a ‘flaw’ of human reasoning that can be excised through a strict adherence to ‘objectivity. Rather, it’s a basic epistemological constraint that’s imposed upon us by the fact that Reality is always experienced from within a perspective. In accordance with this focus on context and interpretation, Relativism also brought to the fore new forms of social critique, which illuminated the impact of coercive power structures on what’s accepted as valid knowledge. Historically, Relativism was often driven by a desire to decouple considerations of knowledge from Grand Narratives. What a Grand Narrative refers to is a story that offers a broad and encompassing explanation for an observed state of affairs, often serving to justify an existing social order (or one of its proposed alternatives). So those are the partial truths contained within the Relativist epistemology. Having explored the ‘prudence’ of this view, where do its ‘pitfalls’ lie? To set the stage for our survey for these pitfalls, it’s worth reiterating that our goal is to differentiate and link the Enactivist epistemology that we’re constructing with Relativism. This involves identifying Relativism’s partial truths, while being mindful of its inherent limitations. Phrased differently, we could say that we’re attempting to ‘transcend and include’ the partial truths of Relativism, just as we did for Absolutism (all due to credit to the philosopher Ken Wilber for popularizing this helpful notion). An attentive reader may have already picked up that there are indeed some shared areas of emphasis between Relativism and Enactivism: namely, a focus on how knowledge is constructed, and a repudiation of absolute knowledge. That said, the overlap between these two epistemological viewpoints shouldn’t be overstated, as there are some major pitfalls to Relativism that limit its usefulness as a comprehensive framework for understanding knowledge. The most notable of these pitfalls arises from how Relativism is ultimately a self-undermining position. To illustrate why this is necessarily the case, we can take note of what happens when Relativism is turned inwards upon itself. For if we take its suppositions to their endpoints, we arrive at the conclusion that Relativism is merely one valid perspective among others; neither superior or inferior to the Absolutist viewpoints that it critiques. Which leads to the paradoxical observation that if Relativism is correct, then one must also accept the validity of Absolutist viewpoints, undermining its own claims. While this might seem like a form of epistemic humility, in actuality no one adheres to Relativism without an implicit belief that it’s a more valid perspective than the ideas it’s critiquing (otherwise, why even embrace Relativism over some other viewpoint)? Another term for this is a Performative Contradiction. What it refers to is an inconsistency within a viewpoint that goes unaddressed (or is at the very least heavily downplayed), because it’s fundamentally unanswerable; and thus inconvenient to those who advocate for that viewpoint. In conjunction with this, the second major pitfall of Relativist epistemology is pragmatic in nature. In essence, Relativism doesn’t provide any real guidance on which types of perspectives should guide our decisions and behavior. Providing actionable guidance on how to discern what’s likely to be true is obviously extremely important for any epistemology. Precisely because any attempt to assess the comparative value of different societal and cultural viewpoints is anathema to Relativism, this severely limits its usefulness for guiding our decisions in the real world. An important aspect of living in the real world means being confronted by decisions that are informed by incommensurable viewpoints. As such, we can’t always reach a compromise that ‘splits the difference’, nor should we work from the assumption that every perspective has something useful to contribute (as anyone who’s dealt with online trolls can likely attest to). This brings us to the final pitfall of Relativist epistemology, which are its potential negative consequences for social discourse. This stems from the fact that Relativist epistemology is inherently deconstructive. What this means is that its modus operandi is to ‘debunk’ existing attitudes and beliefs. To be clear, it’s incredibly important to be able to challenge harmful ideas. But deconstruction on its own doesn’t facilitate shared understanding, nor does it give us a path forward for reconciling our differences. At its worst, bad applications of Relativism can devolve into narcissistic echo chambers, where individuals and groups insist upon their own ‘truths’ that are completely detached from Reality. Needless to say, this is an issue that’s been especially prevalent over the past decade, due in large part to the proliferation of social media; with disastrous consequences for the civil society that sustains democratic institutions. And with that, we wrap up our overview of the Relativist viewpoint. In the conclusion for this chapter, we’ll propose how Enactivism is a reconstructive epistemology, which fulfills a real social need that we have in the West.
  24. Thanks, appreciate the kind words, and the salient points that you bring up. Was planning on dealing with the concept of devilry in a later chapters on how 'Intellect Serves Intuition' and 'Motivated Reasoning Is The Norm'.
  25. Unless the state you're living in has ranked choice voting, because of our first past the post electoral system, voting third party is effectively a vote for Trump (who is actively trying to end democracy, btw ; look into Project 2025 ). You may not like it (I don't), but that's the actual Reality we're living in. https://thomaszimmer.substack.com/p/project-2025-promises-revenge-oppression