John Vervaeke - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Episode 7 - Aristotle’s World View and Erich Fromm - Summary


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

Axial Revolution > Ancient Greece > Aristotle

Other side of Aristotle’s work: how he contributed to the axial development of these ideas of meaning, wisdom, self-transcendence. Living up to you potential, self-realization, ascending through the hierarchy, until you are a fully realized, fully rational human being.

rationality is second-order thinking, stepping back and reflecting on the ways in which you are self-deceptive and you have a capacity for self-correction and self-transcendence. rationality is not “just being logical”.

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.

To know something is to possess the same eidos as it, to be able to make it. con-formity is to share the same form (eidos). When we’ve made sense of things, the pattern in our minds is the same as the pattern in the world.

To know something is to be in contact with it. participatory knowing is when I shape myself in order to know the thing and I know it by conforming to it. Intimate connection between the mind and reality. This is different from descriptive knowing when I stand apart and I generate propositions about the thing.

There are 3 tests to determine if something was real:

world view is an account of the world and an account of how you know the world that mutually support each other in very strong bonds of plausibility. Deep bond between your understanding of your understanding and your understanding of the world.

arena is a place that is organized such that you know how to act in it. You know where things belong, what actions are appropriate, how to calibrate your performance (physical and intellectual).

To be an agent is to be capable of pursuing your goals, to organize you cognition and your behavior so your actions fit the situation, fit the environment.

Co-identification between agent and arena, each identity is determined by and determines the other.

existential mode is the process by which you are co-identifying agent and arena so that they fit together and make sense of each other, and you get a coherent and functioning world view.

meta-meaning relation: if you do not have the agent-arena relationship, then none of your particular actions have meaning.

Today we have a scientific worldview but it gives us no existential guidance, it does not tell us how to make our lives meaningful.

nomological order is having a worldview that is constantly affording existential modes in which agent-arena relationships are unfolding and blossoming naturally, so that 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, belonging and fittedness within it.

To have a meaningful life is to have a life that is situated within a nomological order.

Axial Revolution > India > Buddhism

enlightenment is a project of trying to deal with threats to meaning in one’s life.

Two existential modes:

having mode being mode
categorical expressive
control, manipulation reciprocal realization
I-it I-thou
intelligence reason
solving problems making meaning
e.g. having sex e.g. being in love

modal confusion is trying to satisfy our being needs in the having mode.


Next: episode 8.

Previous: episode 6.