Why the polycrisis is a permacrisis, which is actually a metacrisis, which is not really a crisis at all.
A breath of fresh air, thank you. You clarify the core work of the 21st Century -- becoming the first people to consciously learn to know, see, explore, understand, confront, be confronted by and respond to a meta-crisis of a whole form of civilization, i.e. our Modern Techno-Industrial (MTI) form of civilization. Up to now, meta-crises have been seen as deeply personal, which they are, but not as entailing a our whole way of knowing and responding to reality as whole cultures, indeed our whole form of civilization. Given this novelty, it is not surprising that we are having trouble wrapping our heads, hearts, bodies and souls around what we are into, up against being asked to do/become. By the way two other persons who developed non-trivial understandings of this are both Canadians, now deceased: Northrop Frye (literary critic) and Wilfred Cantwell Smith (historian of religion).
Thanks Jonathan, this has helped reify a project I'll be re-releasing. You have also put into words the lack I too felt with "polycrisis", but as you highlighted, hopefully it can at least be the gateway to a deeper diagnosis--so to speak.
This is a fanastic and hopeful piece that pulls together so many threads I've been contemplating, particularly the question of how we re-admit our interiors back into the big questions of the day and how we move forward without feeling overwhelmed by binary ideas of external collapse. In my last essay, I wondered about "living through the metacrisis without being defined by it" and I'm looking forward to exploring more of that with the help of the Perspectiva community.
My goodness buddy. What a piece of work… Art… Dot inspiration. A hot air balloon that lifts me up, but also has me marveling at the size of the balloon. I’m a bit stunned at your grasp, and your ability to communicate within it. I would actually enjoy engaging with you, should you have the capacity as I engage my own ideas of Regenerative intimacy in the world.
Hi Jonathan, already sent replies by email, and since then have posted my response here:
Hi Jonathan, was conscious that the only question I answered "No" was the 3rd one, about whether the problem was new or "qualitatively distinct"?
Reading one of my linked posts, I realise Iain's intro from TMWT - quoted in your first "Attention as a Moral Act" piece, says it well:
“I believe we have systematically misunderstood the nature of reality, and chosen to ignore, or silence, the minority of voices that have intuited as much and consistently maintained that this is the case. Now we have reached the point where there is an urgent need to transform both how we think of the world and what we make of ourselves; attempting to convey such a richer insight is the ambition of this book.”
ie The systematic misunderstanding is not new, it's as old as the enlightenment I said, but the urgency has reached some kind of tipping point - the mix of ubiquitous public awareness of "the polycrises" and the mass reinforcement through immediate electronic media. (We really do need to understand what the meta-problem is and what solutions should really look like?)
Prefixing the World? 6000 words to argue about the meaning of words and the epistemic curse of being raised to become a semi-conscious talking head with shallow sense of reality, fooled by the reification-fallacy of humanity's communication biased consciousness?
Self-deceived by the conscious use of terms like 'interiority,' 'souls,' 'systems,' and 'society,' with too little knowledge or 'felt-sense' awareness of the non-conscious orchestration of human behavior and the universal 'triangle' of perception involved in our subject-object sense-of-reality. Hence the 'unbelievable,' to modernity's foolish notion of 'I think therefore I am," accuracy of ascension philosophy's understanding of the non-conscious orchestration of behavior and how our tri-level consciousness is driven by the survival power of 'suspicion,' concisely stated in the words: "I speak to them in parables, because seeing they don’t see, and hearing, they don’t hear, neither do they understand," Matthew 13:13.
You used the Buddhist notion of Maya to unwittingly denote our 'attachment' to the reification-fallacy inherent in language and the 'illusory' nature of any society's language created 'consensus-reality,' like our English speaking consensus of living within a period of 'time' numbered 2024? A named and numbered sense-of-reality that is 'delusional' and alienates our species from the earth-turning reality of being-in-time.
While the universal nature of humanity's 'epistemic confusion' was understood by ascension philosophy and its antidote (as opposed to a senseless antidebate based on foolish self-ignorance) was gifted to so-called history in the form a story about how to be born anew at the 'time' within earth-axis rotation when the Christ narrative 'touches' the objective world., to paraphrase Jordan Peterson.
Maya resolution or the epistemic confusion involved in becoming a well-educated semi-conscious talking head with a shallow sense-of-reality, can be 'healed' by recognizing the 'optical' illusion of the sun 'appearing' to move and 'cognitive' illusion of the word 'sunrise' appearing to define the the reality of the sun moving above a 'horizon' at the 'birth' of a period of time, the reality-labeling word 'day' appears to define.
Is your epistemic confusion defined by the way you used these words "why the polycrisis is a permacrisis, which is actually a metacrisis, which is not really a crisis at all," Johnathan? During a period of epistemically confused time when humanity has clearly reached the age of consequence involved in the evolutionary agenda of how a sentient species becomes fit-for-purpose.
Or your use of the words 'interiority,' 'souls,' 'systems,' and 'society,' in such a 'so,so' way that reveals your lack of knowledge and awareness of your 'nervous system' and 'how' it non-consciously orchestrates your 'triangular' perception of consensus-reality's reification-fallacy?
Albert Einstein famously said that we cannot 'hope' to solve our problems with same 'level' of consciousness that created them, and is your 6000 word essay a fine example of the way we all 'unwittingly' try to do, just that?
Some people say that psychologically speaking the 20th-century began with Freud's first footsteps, metaphorically speaking, upon that unknown shore he nominated 'the unconscious,' and ended with the medicalization of the human condition's 'a pill for every ill' sponsored by the second most profitable industry on the planet, 'big pharma,' as anti-psychiatry calls it.
While C. G. Jung suggested that so-called history is a product of our undifferentiated consciousness, with this word formulation, "until you make the subconscious conscious it will direct your life and you will call it fate." And more recently, as the 'apocalyptic' spirit of scientific revelations continues to gather pace, a guru of somatic-experiencing wrote, "When psychologists speak of the unconscious, it is the body that they are talking about." — Peter Levine, In an UnSpoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness.
I'm sure your aware of Gabor Mates' The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture. But are you aware of the possibility and probability that ancient philosophic debates about the ultimate 'good' in life, like Socrates' "knowledge is the only good, ignorance the only evil," were based on our human proneness to traumatic experience and our foolish self-ignorance?
And as a chess playing master, well trained in the art of not exposing any game-playing sign of weakness, are you aware of the whole-of-life training of your conscious mind? Consider:
Levine's criticism of psychologist’s is reflective of Carl Jung’s earlier critique of our conscious mind, "The conscious mind allows itself to be trained like a parrot, but the unconscious does not — which is why St. Augustine thanked God for not making him responsible for his dreams," Psychology and Alchemy (Collected Works of C.G. Jung). And Jung’s comment about dreams was no doubt influenced by his mentor Sigmund Freud and the publication of his famous book The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900. Which in the context of our semi-conscious experience of being human with a conscious mind trained like a parrot, by our instinct for imitation and the mysterious auto-suggestion power of memory, brings our modern day experience of logical positivism into the realm of a waking dream?
And is this why Iain McGilchrist's last appearance on Rebel Wisdom saw him reiterate the fear expressed in his book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, that our species appears to sleepwalking towards the Abyss?
Definitely worth a re-read! Thank you Jonathan!
I'm still reading this, but paused to see if I can ask your permission to republish it in The R-Word -- https://rword.substack.com/ . But I could not find an email address for you ... and so I'm posting my request to you in this fashion.
I didn't need to complete my reading to know I wanted to make this request. It's a perfect fit for what's going on in The R-Word lately, as is most anything found in Perspecteeva's multiple web presences. I love it that you folks are digging in around questions of deliberate cultivation of the social imaginary! That's my leading edge of inquiry now! I think this is the most urgently important work in our world today! Indeed, the word "education" can mean nothing outside of a context in which the social imaginary takes center stage.
Excellent article. Had many lightbulb moments that connected ideas together that I'd been grappling with myself.
And FYI ... one commenter on my blog reference to this piece - AJ Owens - has responded with a piece on his own blog: https://staggeringimplications.wordpress.com/2023/09/06/husserl-and-the-metacrisis/
And sorry, I'm on a bit of a roll with this topic, which I can explain if you have the time, but ... :-)
One post of mine from a couple of years ago, is a direct reference to your suggestion of "meta-crisis" and relating this to my own millennial meta interests. https://www.psybertron.org/archives/14579
I cut and pasted some highlights:
…ever since the term polycrisis went mainstream, I noticed myself bristling, and I feel a kind of avuncular responsibility to remind people what metacrisis means and why it matters much more than the idea of polycrisis.
The metacrisis is the historically specific threat to truth, beauty, and goodness caused by our persistent misunderstanding, misvaluing, and misappropriating of reality. The metacrisis is the crisis within and between all the world’s major crises, a root cause that is at once singular and plural, a multi-faceted delusion arising from the spiritual and material exhaustion of modernity that permeates the world’s interrelated challenges and manifests institutionally and culturally to the detriment of life on earth.
Meta highlights that we also need to look within ourselves to psyche and soul, and also beyond, for a renewal in our worldview or cosmovision which has a direct bearing on prevailing ideologies and social imaginaries.
The metacrisis says there is a spiritual crisis within the political failure to attend to myriad crises (e.g. the destruction of our only liveable planet is clearly delusional but also sacrilegious);
...‘a new government’ is definitely not enough, and widely touted plans for ‘a new economy’ or ‘a new politics’ will not take root without arising alongside some kind of spiritual innovation to shift perception and understanding about the nature of the self and the meaning of life...
Meta says there a crisis that is not just ‘out there’ in the world, but ‘in here’ in your heart and mind, and ‘between us and reality’ in the way we relate, notice, imagine, understand, listen and speak. We are participants in crisis, not just spectators.
...metanoia, the first word in the New Testament in Matthew’s gospel, which is often translated as ‘repent’, but really means a profound and world-shifting change of heart and mind. That’s what we have to go towards, and it is something metacrisis helps us to see and do, but polycrisis does not.
How here's me, Suzanne, again. McGilchrist is critiqued for not coming up with a way forward, which is all that I deal with, where I suggest that "to shift perception and understanding about the nature of the self and the meaning of life," changing our story is the most basic thing that would do it. Would you have a look? https://suzannetaylor.substack.com/s/changemaking-now. I'm trying to launch a substantial conversation on and off Substack!
One more thing. If we educated children properly they would create a different world, but given it will take some time for children to become adults, best we not wait for that
The type of attention we pay to the world co-creates the world. What are you doing with other people’s co-creative faculties? That’s a lot of CR Isis you got there on the plate. You’re like a polyamorous Denis Hopper in Blue Velvet-
“… any crisis that moves!”
Btw- Good luck amalgamating the feedback and creating the new visionary.
Can’t wait to meet them!