John Vervaeke - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Episode 6 - Aristotle, Kant, and Evolution - Summary


The following are my main takeaways from the video, quoting and paraphrasing the content.

Axial Revolution > Ancient Greece > Aristotle

Aristotle lays the foundation for further aspects of a scientific approach to wisdom and meaning.

While I love Plato, I love the truth more.

Interested in growth and development. Part of having a meaningful life is to grow.

A block of wood can be made into a chair, a table or a ship. actuality, what makes the wood act like a chair? The eidos. The wood is potential for chair. The change from wood to chair is analogous to development.

in-formation is to put a form (eidos) into something and therefore actualize its potential.

Living things do this for themselves. Like a chair that makes itself. Food is potential you.

be-cause is what causes something to be.

Living things make use of feedback cycles and are self-organizing. The tree makes the leaves and the leaves make the tree.

dynamical systems theory, causes and constraints.

causes are events that make things happen, actuality.

contraints are conditions that make things possible, potential. enabling contraints increase possibilities. selective contraints reduce possibilities.

Events cause eidos which constrains future events.

theory of natural selection, Darwinian evolution.

personality is given to you by biology and environment.

character is the aspect of you that you can cultivate. The system of constraints that you have identified with and internalized, and that regulates your development.

golden mean is the right balance. Courage is the right balance between coward and foolhardy.

Living up to your potential.

Part of what makes your life meaningful is that you have cultivated character that allows you to actualize your potential. Your purpose. Your capacity to overcome self-deception and to enhance your contact with reality. This is wisdom.

akrasia is when you know what the right thing to do is but you don’t do the right thing. You do the wrong thing because you don’t have sufficient character.

Human beings are self-making and seek the conditions to continue to exist.

inorganic matter => living things => self-moving things => mental things => rational things.

Next comes Aristotle’s account of a world view, what it is and why it matters so deeply to our self-understanding and our existential meaning.


Previous: episode 5.