This is the first video on sustainable meaning. It’s an overview of how and why human beings are connected to each other and the world in a biopsychosocial interaction we call “meaning,” and how and why this can be more or less sustainable.
I’m excited for it as a set-up to subsequent videos on applied sustainability – an alternative wellness paradigm that reconciles the science of human nature with the more spiritual idea of the human need for meaning, and how we can normalize our approach to wellness with wisdom. Read more →
I should offer this piece apologetically. Trump has gotten so much media time, commentary pieces trying to explain the media blitz are themselves cliche. Looking at the media response itself, we almost need to explain why so many people feel that Trump needs explaining. From a certain perspective, Trump is both inevitable and predictable, so why the incredulity?
We now know that the liberal/conservative divide runs deeper than we thought: to temperament and neurodiversity. The result is a political discourse fraught with barriers built on incompatible paradigms that start in our biology. If we want to evolve our culture politically, if we want to change things, we must know what we’re really up against: a deep political neuro-divide.
Neurodiversity is short hand for different biological predispositions for making meaning of the world. In telling this largely unknown story, we can build a meaningful basis for four new paradigms – evolutionary diversity, evolutionary purpose, evolutionary politics, and especially important: evolutionary mental health.
Individualism is belief system about self-determination, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Evidence shows that this doesn’t necessarily make us happy. The “culture of Me” can leave us feeling judged, small and alone, and can disconnect us from a meaningful sense of communal life and contribution. So where does it come from? Ironically, individualism is cultural, and culture is a natural phenomena that reflects humanity’s deep human need for collective meaning. Paradoxically, then, the “culture of Me” is itself evidence that individuals crave something bigger than themselves, an incongruity at the heart of American life.
Building off our model of meaning to a still higher level shows us how meaning becomes wrapped in culture and society, and how these things come to affect not only how we see the world, but how it affects us physiologically for better and worse. The old tropes that we are connected are true, and that comes with implications good and bad.
Building off of our model of meaning from before, we take the implications up one level to show that meaning builds something very real in the world outside of our subjective perception of it. That meaning creates chemical reactions between people and between people in the world lends a certain scientific credibility to two ideas: 1) how we see the world can shape it; 2) how we see the world can shape us as well.
Popular theories hold that meaning comes from god, culture, society, ideology, the spirit, the mind, or the brain. In many ways, I will argue that that it is all of these and more. By trying to create a simplified and interactive model of how meaning works, I hope to show that meaning is a force that works at levels big and small, with its own particular logic, to push human beings in a particular direction. I hope to sketch an understanding of how and why human beings create meaning, so as to ultimately engineer more of it. I also hope that a science of meaning might be the antidote to a pathological model of mental health, and an overly judgmental kind of politics.
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.