strange order of things
Renowned neuroscientist Antonio Damasio's newest book, The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures, makes some revolutionary claims. All organisms with nervous systems have consciousness. Feeling-based images are at the root all human experience. Consciousness would be impossible without feelings, which provide the subjective experience of homeostasis - a biological state of order that aims toward the future. Culture is rooted in feeling and is the complex means by which humanity seeks to survive and thrive within that homeostasis.

Today on the Truth Perspective we discuss Damasio's main arguments, where his genius shines through, and where his thinking is hampered by a philosophy that ultimately cannot account for the phenomena he seeks to explain. With reference to other thinkers and philosophies, we provide an alternative explanation that takes these mysteries seriously - the so-called emergence of consciousness and value, the nature of the individual, and the source of transcendence - and what it means for how we should think about life, our place in the world, and our ultimate responsibilities.

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Corey: Hello everybody and welcome back to The Truth Perspective. My name is Corey Schink and today is Saturday the 25th of August. With me today are Harrison Koehli.

Harrison: Hello.

Corey: And Elan Martin.

Elan: How are ya?

Corey: Today we'll be discussing the preeminent neuroscientist Antonio Damasio's book The Strange Order of Things released in February 2018. It's been described as a landmark reflection that spans the biological and social sciences, offering a new framework for understanding the fundamental motivation that drives life, feeling and the creation of human culture. Now Damasio begins the book by discussing the fact that we humans are born storytellers and we find it very satisfying to tell stories about how things began. We're pretty good about it when we're discussing our relationships, how our parents met, how we got a job, this and that, but when it comes down to the very meaning of life and the foundations of our morality and culture, we get things very wrong, especially when we're talking about the natural world.

So what Damasio does is go down into the very basic motivations, the foundations that drive all of life and he finds that what they really come down to is the drive for homeostasis. Now homeostasis is the pursuit of survival and thriving within the constraints that are put on us by the environment in which we live. He writes that on the one hand life specifications that we never had a hand in designing such as needs, risks and the exuberant driving forces of pain, pleasure, desire and reproductive urge, hail from ancient times and from non-human ancestors whose intellectual reach was non-existent or limited and who could not comprehend to any substantial degree, the situation that they were in. Their fates and that of their species was left to the fortunes of their biological endowment, notably to the genes that construed them and largely governed their behavior while their biological endowment and the needs that they have, have become our biological endowment and our needs.

So we'll see that much of what we take to be unique facets of human existence are also evident in the communication systems of bacteria, the empires of ants and even the miniature cities that we call our human cells. And when we make this discovery and the process that he shares in his book, we also find something of a new frontier for understanding what it means to be uniquely human. What does it mean when all of your drives, your programs and automatic behaviours are similar to things that we take to be lower and not as evolved as humans? I think that's kind of the summation of what he sets out to understand in the book and with that what do you guys think? Where would you like to go from there?

Harrison: Well just in general I want, first of all, to give my overall thoughts on the book. I enjoyed reading it, but after a while reading and then reflecting on it and skimming through it again to prepare for this show I realized that there are parts that I absolutely loved about this book and that I thought went in directions that are almost totally unique, at least within the field that Damasio is a part of and really insightful in bringing together all kinds of information from all systems of biology, psychology and sociology and creating this synthesis that is really quite amazing, I think. So on the one hand it reaches up into the aether of great thoughts and thinking but then it also plumbs the depths of the stupidest kind of asinine thinking possible when it comes to his root explanation for things.

I think that's inevitable for a scholar of his caliber because all of them are like that. In certain areas they're all complete idiots and that just comes with the territory of being a scholar and being a specialist in a certain area; you're completely ignorant about other fields and other ways of thinking and especially if you're a biologist or a psychologist these days because it is just so infused with scientific materialism and with neo-Darwinism that you can't escape it.

So there are parts in the book where it's painful to see him floundering for an explanation. But on the other hand, even in those sections he gets really close to something and that's why I like the book so much in spite of all of this. He's grasping and he's getting really close to what I think is an answer to the questions that he's asking and the answers that he's seeking. He's almost there and he gets there in so many different places in this book where it's almost like "You're almost there. Just keep going just a tiny little bit" and he never quite takes that one step. But thankfully we have shows like this where we can push him over the edge and force this book to take the steps that - at least I think - it should take.

So we'll be getting into that I think and for those of you who have been listening to this show regularly for the past several months, you might even be able to predict those answers or that direction that I'd like to go with it. But we will get there. So maybe we'll start somewhere else.

Elan: Well I thought it was quite a good book. I can't recommend it highly enough. I was happy to see him go in the directions that he went to towards the end of the book, which we'll get to and I think provide part of what was so unsatisfying for you Harrison. Keeping in mind that he is steeped in materialist thinking and that a large part of his focus as a scientist is biology, I was able at certain times to say "Okay, this is where he's coming from and you know what? I don't know a lot of these things." Some of those things, the groundwork that he lays for homeostasis and the things that human beings have in common with ants and cells and bacteria, as you pointed out at the top of the show Corey, are remarkable and form a foundation for everything else that makes us intrinsically human, at least in the biological sense.

So it is quite a journey. I look forward to filling in some of the gaps as well, especially towards the end where he takes what it is to be human biologically and that this homeostatic imperative as he calls it, this need to find those things that would satisfy our feelings as individuals with perspective and mind and consciousness, it's quite a ride I would say.

Corey: So looking back, on previous shows I know that Harrison has discussed a lot of Whitehead's philosophy and how Whitehead viewed nature and the structure of nature. So Harrison, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the similarities involved between this book and philosophy that's come before that really was ahead of its time?

Harrison: Sure. There are several overarching themes that are played out through this book that I thought were pointing right in the direction of Whitehead. So I'll talk about a few of them. These would be philosophical, metaphysical descriptions of reality that then account for what we talked about last week, the presuppositions of science because there are several presuppositions of science that are all over what Damasio's doing, obviously because he's a scientist. So this is the area where I see him almost not quite getting to the answer.

One of the things that he gets that I was really glad to see him elucidate, was this idea of the unified organism. The way he describes it is that this homeostatic imperative, as you put it Elan, is rooted in feelings and those feelings are rooted in sensations. What he means by that is that he would say that organisms without a nervous system sense. They have a sense of what's going on. They act as if they are interacting in the world in this meaningful teleological, goal-oriented manner. Again, last week we talked about this "as if" language. He never gets past the "as if", but basically cells will act as if they don't like something or as if they like it, as if something feels good or as if something feels bad and then homeostasis is built on that, of the organism seeking out what makes it feel good because what makes it feel good promotes survival and avoiding the things that make it feel bad because what make it feel bad will kill it and stop the survival of its species.

That grows as organisms grow because what are we if not just a collection of smaller organisms that grow to the point of organisms with nervous systems where all of these systems interact and cooperate, where they are all acting not only for their own homeostatic survival and flourishing, but for that of the entire organism and they work together towards that end. So of course he talks about bacteria like colonies of social insects, like ants and bees for instance. But that is going on within our own bodies too.

So first of all, all those things are based on feelings and then second, the only way that that can all work together, the only way that that cooperation can actually take place, is if there is some kind of unifying element where everything can communicate with everything else because the way he puts it, if there were no centralizing information clearing house for all this information that unifies it and presents it to a mind that can have access to all these different feelings from all different parts of the body, if there were no centralized location for that, there would be no way of coordinating all these varied impulses and drives in the direction of homeostatic survival and thriving.

So there needs to be this organic unified whole. This was just a long way of getting to this first point from Whitehead. One of the central points about Whitehead's philosophy was his description of the ontology of organisms and that what an organism is, is a collection of smaller organisms and as these organisms are put together or informed or organized in such a way to create a new organism, that organism then has a unified mind on top of that collection. This was developed by one of his students, a theologian named Charles Hartshorne who came to call this a compound individual.

So you have an individual and an individual would be everything from an electron, a proton, an atom, a molecule, a bacteria, a cell, an organ or a human or a dog or an elephant. It's something that we identify as its own whole - and again this is what we were making reference to last show when we were talking about evolution and intelligent design. Each organism seems to have its own being and its own desires and drives and motivations. So each of these would be a whole and he would distinguish that from just a collection of individuals that don't create a higher organism.

So that would be a bunch of rocks, or a single rock. You break a rock into two pieces and it's just two rocks. You haven't destroyed anything essential to the integrity of that rock. But if you take an animal and you cut it in half, you have destroyed that animal. It is no longer a dog or an elephant. It has lost the organization which gives it its being. The essence of that unification of all of those parts is a singular mind or at least a unifying mind that unifies all of these parts. That's a very important philosophical distinction that Whitehead makes in his philosophy in order to account for the way that reality works and especially in biology, but not just biology. That would go down all the way to physics

So that's the one thing and the way Damasio develops that was one of the things that I found really remarkable about the book because first of all, he talks about the absolute primacy and essential nature of feelings to the phenomenon of consciousness. A lot of people often think of consciousness as thinking and then their thinking, awareness and feelings are just an extra little bit of colour that gets put into that consciousness. He argues, no, consciousness is actually rooted in feeling. Feeling is the first thing that comes and then consciousness is built out of all that feeling.

So all of the different parts of our body, all of the different chemicals going on and organs and systems in our body, are all experiencing something, feeling or sensing something. Then the nervous system has branches out into all those areas and takes all of that information bringing it to that central clearing house of information and unifies it. That interaction between all these systems of the body is what we think of when we think "I am me. I have a physical location, a limited, specific, identifiable location in space and that creates me." So I am aware of my body at this instant, where all of my limbs are, the space that I occupy and all of the constant feelings that are accompanying that being, that living. Those are constantly informing that sense of self.

He distinguishes these two systems, an old network and a new network of feelings. So the old network would be evolutionary old. He even argues that the enteric nervous system, all the neurons surrounding your stomach and your digestive system is the original brain, the first brain, because it has a lot more in common with the systems in single cells and organisms leading up to organisms that have nervous systems. It's like the first nervous system was more like a stomach than it was to a brain. The way that works, it's a really diffuse, almost nebulous sensation device. So if you think about a cell, a cell is in space. It's got its own delineated, objective area of space that it inhabits and it interacts with the world through these chemical signals like we were talking about last week.

So a chemical signal will come and when you look at single-celled organisms, you can see them approaching and avoiding certain objects. Or if there's a prickly little thing that it doesn't like it'll recoil away from it and we can see that and we can create stories out of those images. It would be really easy to create a cartoon of cells and having them interact in ways that we can write a story about; for example, approaching something and then you touch it and you don't like it so you recoil. That cell doesn't like that prickly thing because it hurt him. So we can anthropomorphize these cells because they're acting in ways that seem to be purposeful and motivated.

But the way Damasio describes how to get your mind around what that might be like, it has more in common with tasting and smelling than it does with seeing or hearing. So try to imagine that you can only smell and taste so you're smelling. Close your eyes and you're in this environment and you follow your nose. Try to be a dog. You're searching for smells that you like and that you know that you remember are good smells because they lead to good things. And you avoid the bad smells. Then when you find something you taste it and that's good so you consume that thing that tastes good.

That forms the old system. There are various parts in your body that work in that way, pure chemical signals. There are even systems that are directly linked to the brain that are based on that old, unmyelinated infrastructure. It is this diffuse system that just bathes in these chemical signals. It's not like it fires a neuron and then that neuron fires a digital signal to the brain, like programming, zeros and ones, it's this kind of diffuse bathing in a chemical signal. And then on top of that we have the new system which is your skeleton and your musculature that sends signals to the mind that creates that more highly refined sense of body and space where now we have an exact representation of the body in space.

So as organisms evolve it's like we have this more refined and more organized and more accessible to consciousness image of the self. When we have more information like that, more access to way more information and much more accurate information about the state of your own organism, what's going on within it, where it is in space, how it feels when it interacts with the outside world, then we have a greater sense of self, right? And that culminates in - as far as we know - in humans and in human consciousness. All of that works together in this highly refined way where there are all these systems running in parallel, one after the other and even overlapping and intermingling with one another. It all blends together to create consciousness.

It was really a trip to read this book and to visual all of this stuff going on and to see how good a description it is that you can read it and just be like "Oh wow, yeah! That makes sense." It's one of those books that you read and say "Oh it's like I already knew that but I just hadn't read it said in such a way before." So that is really the good thing about the book.

But just to get back to your question Corey, that was one long answer to describe one thing, but to get back to probably what you were intending when you asked that question - correct me if I'm wrong - about Whitehead's philosophy, that's just one aspect of it but the overall aspect that this is pointing to is this panpsychism. I don't think Whitehead termed it this way. I think it was his students that eventually called it this - panexperientialism. Everything has experience.

So this is really what I think is the revolutionary aspect of this book because for years what has been happening in philosophy and biology is that the line has been moving back down to the biological evolutionary tree of life for where we find consciousness or experience. Two hundred years ago there were scientists who thought only humans had experience and animals didn't. That's why Descartes could perform vivisection on live animals because he thought that they were just machines that couldn't feel anything. But slowly that has been moving down, down, down and Damasio gets to the point where he just says "Everything with a nervous system has some level of experience, some level of feeling".

But that's where he has the cutoff point. He says sensation as cells and other organisms that don't have a nervous system, he says that those organisms only sense things and there is no mind in that sensation. It is only as if it has some kind of feeling or subjective experience. That's where he draws the line.

So he did a great job pushing the line that far. What Whitehead would say is no, for a coherent non-contradictory accounting of the facts of experience as we know it and to explain science and to account for science as we know it, we have to let experience go all the way down. Experience has to be a fundamental aspect of reality to the point where even electrons will have some very primitive form of experience. It would be 'what does it feel like to be an electron?' Just an iota of experience. A very limited number of experiences, maybe even one. I'm not a physicist or a chemist but from what I've read I think it's protons that never die. They're always around and they're always doing the same thing. They never change. So what would be the experience of being a proton? It's just the same thing for eternity, for as long as you exist. You don't experience very much at all. That's very limited experience. But as new elements form and as new atoms come together, new experiences develop.

And then what happens when we have life, right? What happens when life gets introduced into the cosmos? What kinds of new experience come out of that? Well this is where Damasio goes pretty much full neo-Darwinian. He just says "Oh and then experience evolved because of natural selection and because it was beneficial for experience to come'. It's just like hold on, wait a second there. So the creation of the emergence of consciousness just came about because it was advantageous that creatures would have consciousness.

Elan: I want to interject on that.

Harrison: Go ahead. I'm done.

Elan: I'd like you to continue if you have more on that but in fact I thought that the book almost argues against some of his points of view.

Harrison: Exactly.

Elan: Because when you're reading this you're thinking "Wow!" You have levels of feeling; that nervous systems is girded on top of this very primitive feeling state and functionality and as he describes the human being, one of the most wonderful descriptions I've ever read, you can't help but ask yourself, or at least exclaim "We're friggin miracles!"

Harrison: Yeah.

Elan: How is it that just purely through evolutionary explanations, which are even more dissatisfying after reading this, we have come to be this incredibly complex being that's got all of these systems working in conjunction with one another that's developed feeling and consciousness to a level that's almost alien next to the descriptions of single-celled beings and how they function. So that gave a lot of food for thought. One of his concepts that you were alluding to Harrison was the ability for human beings to imagine certain things which make us distinct from animals in the sense that, because of our developed minds and consciousness and our ability to feel through certain things, we can describe certain things to ourselves including those feelings, associate them to certain things that are either internal to us or external to us. It's through those descriptions that we have taken this homeostatic imperative, things that we feel we need or want in order to balance our life to make things healthier, to make things more constructive. It's all of these constructions via awareness and imagery and the ability to describe things and name them through language, through our mental processes, that has taken this whole thing as he describes it, to the next level.

I think that may be a good place to continue on in that direction if we want to.

Harrison: Well just really shortly I'll mention one other critical thing that you included in there that has vast philosophical implications; the idea of value because what the emergence of homeostasis is, is the emergence of a sense of sensed value. Or I wouldn't even say that. It's the emergence of a new level of sensed value and that's another thing that Damasio can't account for. It's the same problem that we got into with Peterson and Harris' debate on the existence, objectivity and emergence of value in reality. How can we account for values?

So this is a big hole and a big question that this book still leaves open. He tries to give an explanation for it but he can't. It's a totally unsatisfying answer that he gives for where value comes from, where the experience of value comes from.

Elan: Well ironically he calls it, I think subjectivity.

Harrison: Well yeah he does. It's kind of ironic in a sense just because there's two definitions of subjectivity. He's using it in the philosophical sense as being a subject because we are all subjects and we only experience the universe subjectively as subjects. So there are objects and subjects, so a subject being an agent or a conscious or experiential being experiences a world of objects. But in the more epistemological journalistic sense of course, then you can be objective about your perspective and the things that you're describing or subjective being biased and not matching with reality.

So he's using the word in a different sense but he doesn't have an answer for where value comes from and that is really a remarkable thing because from these first organisms that can only sense, as Damasio puts it, he says "Well they're acting "as if" they like or dislike something but they don't have any minds in order to be able to actually like or dislike something. They're just acting as if they do because it's evolutionarily advantageous".

That's why I use the word asinine at the beginning because it's just a totally stupid explanation. There's nothing to it. It's just words that evolutionary biologists think have meaning but that actually don't. No, that is the first instance of value. First of all, why would the universe even need to have a sense of value, liking or disliking, or one thing being better than the other? The universe was getting along just fine without any creatures, with planets and comets flying through the vast reaches of space. You didn't need any sense of value. The physical universe was getting along just fine.

But all of a sudden out of nowhere these creatures spring into existence that somehow now one thing is better than the other. "Oh, this state of being feels better than the other one. Not only does it feel better, it is better in the context of certain goals and certain future states." So what these organism are actually doing is that they are feeling objective reality. They've acquired the ability to sense a wider, more expansive version of reality, a new aspect of reality now. So now they're not just experiencing interstellar collisions of raw matter. Now it's the form that makes me, first of all it is a form. It can take different futures. There are different possibilities open to it. Some of those possibilities are objectively better to me than others. Survival is better than death and extinction.

Now objectively, just looking at it from the perspective of physics and chemistry, there's no difference. It doesn't matter one way or the other if you live or die. It's just collections of matter. It's just one configuration of matter compared to another configuration of matter. One might look like this, the other looks like that. There's no essential difference. It's just collections of matter. But when you have this organized organism - that's why it's called an organism - that has a specific shape, a specific configuration of information, that matter is put together in a specific way, it actually creates something new in the cosmos, something that wasn't present before. The first experience it has, the first sense of value that it has is the sense of its own value.

So we have a new value that has come into creation. We have the emergence of a new form of value. So evolution and survival is this kind of organized path through time and through history that goes in the direction of preserving that value, but not only preserving that value in the homeostatic sense, but like one of you mentioned earlier, not just survival but thriving, flourishing. So the emergence of even new sets of value.

So there's this grand mystery that is just beautiful within all of these life forms, within life itself that is pointing in the direction of something but for Damasio it's like "Oh it was just evolutionarily great". Now of course he can recognize and appreciate the end points, the goals that have come about because of this in culture and philosophy and art and all of these things, but it really sullies the picture when he gives the evolutionary explanation.

Corey: Well I think one of the major contributions that this book makes and why it's been so well received is that he really takes the darkness and he just shines the headlights right into it. He extends our cognitive map of history from humanity and all the way back to the very foundations in a way that you can relate. It's the relatability which makes it so poignant and so fascinating; he's like "Bacteria communicate. They get together, they wage wars against one another. If one of their family members betrays their clan, that family member gets excommunicated and then you go all the way up to the evolution of the nervous system and the evolution of humanity and you see that the very same principles that they were operating on are what we still operate on and we have to operate on and we have to take them seriously because you see that with this giant chain of being we've all had to follow the same rules. It's like seeing ancestors. There's something about it where you get the sense of this giant family of life almost, even though that family is so dysfunctional. It's always trying to kill one another.

Harrison: And that you're part of it. You're part of this story.

Corey: Yeah.

Harrison: And you're an integral part of this grand narrative that's been playing itself out for billions of years.

Corey: And that's why I also think it sullies it when you get down to the origins, you get to the genesis story and and it's like 'and god's not there'. Who's there? No, it's just somebody tripped and knocked over something. {laughter}

Harrison: The cosmic accident, the cosmic stubbing of the toe.

Corey: Yeah, the cosmic accident happened. But I think that's one of the biggest contributions of this book, extending that cognitive map because as we have discussed in previous shows, like in the Idea of History and the philosopher Collingwood and his idea of the development of the human mind through various historical phases, one of them being a focus on art and beauty as being fundamental aspects of truth and how emotional that is and then the idea that religion, just by stating my imagination, my emotions, god is this, you can make up whatever imaginative story you have about nature and then insist that it's true because you imagined it since you have this internal representation and everybody gets around and does their rituals about it, that reinforces its "truth" because it's relevant and it's practical. It keeps people together. It keeps the tribe together. It keeps everybody in the right place.

That only goes on for so long and then you get the scientific mindset which is looking more into at what is actually going on. The scientific point of view is now "Let's come up with these theories that replace the imagination and then we can investigate things and we can see what's really going on and we don't need the imagination. We don't need subjectivity. We don't need any of that. That's all silliness." But then just by doing that you get to see. After centuries you get to see what's actually going on and I feel that's where this book really comes out and stands almost in a sense as a breakthrough for a lot of people. Now you see a scientific, philosophical, religious look at history in the sense that it's still abstract, it still has these scientific suppositions that we've talked about in previous shows but it's still a step forward to a coherent narrative that people need.

Elan: Yeah.

Corey: When you don't have a functional narrative, life is just a series of events that happen, like accidents. This happened, that happened. Who cares, we're here. Let's live, party. He discusses that in the book, about the fact that the image is the basic unit of the human mind. He discusses that fact. And then when you string images together it creates the narrative and it seems that we are biologically programmed that we need these images to be strung together in order for us to be strung together, organized and to make sense. In order to make sense of the world we have to take our internal images, thoughts and feelings and then string them together coherently into something that has an orientation in the world. You can have knowledge, you can have learning, you can have all these things but that still doesn't equal an orientation. I think the orientation of this book still has all these scientific presuppositions but it's still pointing towards a deeper meaning.

Elan: Yes.

Corey: A deeper appreciation of life.

Elan: It's a virtue of the book Corey. I think that towards the last part of it he is asking the question about civilization now. He's saying, "Okay, so this is what we're made of. This is where we've come from. This is how we're constructed. What is our homeostatic imperative now?" And given the fact that we have access to all of this information which is a miracle for people with critical thinking, a wonderful benefit and yet you have a whole other part of the population that is floundering and to whom it's detrimental to have all of this information, all of these narratives, all of these images that are overwhelming people, that are being designed to steer them in the wrong direction and thinking on things that don't support homeostasis, that don't support constructive living.

And he talks about a whole range of things as well. He discusses AI and those developments and the idea of trans-humanism being devoid of feeling and how those things are counteractive as well to the well-being of society and human beings. But I think what he's trying to do to the best of his ability in any case, like you said, is point in a direction, to affirm the values of altruism, not without a certain amount of discernment of course and critical thinking. But he's saying that these are things we have yet to achieve a level of cooperation in spite of all the information that we have access to, that is going to sustain us.

So he offers hope but he's also I think a little bit cynical and understandably so about where we're going as human beings.

Harrison: I wanted to comment on different things that each of you said. I'll start with you Elan. You introduced the idea of culture. This is one another one of the kind of revolutionary aspects of this book; Damasio gives a description of culture in terms of feelings and homeostasis. Again, it's not that culture and all of these human cognitive creations and social creations are these sterile mental creations that just come out of this robotic mind, that they are also rooted in feeling, that culture is the expression of the search for collective homeostasis.

So all of the innovations that we have, all of the cultural techniques that we have developed over our entire evolutionary history, all of the social rituals and interactions that we have developed over time are all in the service of homeostasis and that means they're all in the service of feelings, that feelings are the inspiration for all of them. So what is technological innovation if not just "Okay, I've got a problem and something is pulling me in a certain direction. I've got a problem to solve. I want to solve that problem. This state of affairs isn't quite good enough for me but I can do something to make myself feel better and it won't just make me feel better, it will make other people feel better too if I solve this problem."

And then these problems are solved and that results in an invention, an innovation, something new that makes people on the whole feel better. We can give this one to Sam Harris, right? It is an increase in well-being individually and collectively. So all of human history is this long development of this flourishing within the homeostatic limits of humanity. As cultures develop, what they are are just these grand systems to promote and flourish within this homeostasis. So putting it in terms like that is really interesting and this also comes back to Collingwood as well. I recently read another one of his books, The Principles of Art. The art part isn't really relevant to this discussion but within the second part of that book he goes through a bunch of different aspects of human experience to then come up with a theory of art and one of those is language.

So we have this really intricate analysis of what language is and the conclusion he comes to is basically the same as Damasio, that language is the expression of feeling and that language isn't just words that we say and in fact just to say that it's a bunch of words is actually not to do language justice because language is a full mode of expression and it's the expression of feelings. So when we develop a language, what are we actually developing? Well it's images like you mentioned. Everything is images in consciousness. So when we have a word for something, we form words through associations as we grow. Dog, dog, dog, not only the sound but the way that mother, for a child, says it and the expression on her face, the form of her body, the expression of her body, the movements that it makes and the posture that she takes, all contribute to this idea or this association of dog and of course the dog itself.

And then when we look at the dog we see all of the things about the dog that make the association for dog. And at first the associations are wide. A little child first learning to speak might see a raccoon and say "Oh, doggie, doggie", right? It's not a dog but close enough. So all of these words that we form are representations of experiences but what are those experiences? Well they're rooted in all those things, in the sensory perceptions that we have of things, the information that enters primarily our auditory and visual systems. And whenever we have an auditory or visual stimulus as Damasio points out, it then evokes a feeling which is felt in the body and then everything gets meshed together.

So that would be the sensation of your body in that instant and all of the sensations within your body; the configuration of your body in space when you're sitting or standing and then all of the little feelings that infuse your viscera, the insides of your body and all of that goes together to form a simple word. A word is not just a word. It is a full bodily experience, so a string of words is not just a string of words. It is all of the feelings that are evoked in your body, all of the memories that are evoked for each individual word and all of the combinations of words. Basically just the string of words and the person you're communicating with or the thing that you're seeing, every aspect of what you're seeing, so again, their facial expressions, their carriage, the posture, the movements of their body and the different parts of their body. Every aspect of what you're seeing will create changes in your own body and those changes are then felt and all those changes are then linked to the memory.

There's probably a very active part that the mind plays in categorizing and organizing all of these things and linking them together in memory to form these categories. So the connection is between Collingwood's idea of language as the expression of feelings and then Damasio's explanation of pretty much every human endeavor in terms of images and then images that are rooted in feelings.

So we have this complete picture bottom-up that takes into account all these aspects of human experience from the most simple bodily sensations up through more refined and specified feelings, drives and motivations to the images that then get presented to consciousness and formed in consciousness through all of these processes that then give us all of the ideas that we have, the images in our minds. Then what that does, because we are the most organized and complex creatures, we then have the most access to information, we have the most information input and also the most information processing capability.

So that's what you guys were talking about earlier, about the expansion of human consciousness and how much it can encapsulate and what that is is we have more access to memories. We have a more refined sense of memory and more access to the future.

Elan: Yes.

Harrison: I'll go with memory first. So looking back in time not only do we have memories but we can even imagine things in a different way, not in the sense of deluding ourselves but the past as it could have happened. So we can look back in the past and say "Okay, this happened. But this could have happened. If this had happened instead we could have gotten this. And then that would have led to a different now." A similar kind of process can get put into the future. So now we have access to even more of the future.

A cell does have an ability to project into the future in some ways. All organisms do because they act in goal-directed manners. But we have more access to the future and we can play around with those ideas to a vastly greater degree. We can manipulate those ideas within our minds. When we think about that in terms of the future, what we are doing is projecting into the future various potential futures and then playing around with the ideas, so not only what could have happened in the past but what could happen in the future. "This will lead in that direction. This will lead in that direction."

Then again coming back to the homeostasis which is the experience of value and then adding in the freedom that the human mind has, this is the choosing of certain values over others, the experience of the value, the realization that there is something about it that you feel you need to manifest in the world; 'this would be better I could do this or if I could manifest this future' and then the ability to direct yourself and direct your organism in the direction of that value to instantiate it into the world.

Corey: Right. And that's all motivated by feeling. The feelings are the ones that are driving this because that's how empires are built. That's how why you have children, why you feed them and clothe them. But at the same time it's not just feeling. What you're saying is that there's a lot more to it than feeling. Feeling is the foundation but if you go to a restaurant and you see your best friend's wife with somebody else, they're sitting there and it's obvious that it's a romantic situation, a lot of people have completely different feelings about that. There are different psychologies out there that would feel differently about that.

If you think of someone who has a proper moral upbringing, somebody who we would say was a normal person, they would feel a disgust, they would feel betrayed, they would feel angry and those feelings would motivate them to go do something, tell the husband or whatever. But then you think about somebody who's not oriented in that way, not necessarily a psychopath or a murderer, their feeling is "You know, I can probably take advantage of her character flaws".

Harrison: Blackmail.

Corey: Exactly. Feeling as he describes it is fairly flat. It's fairly one-dimensional. He does discuss the difference between sensations and more higher emotions but when you look at psychologies and just the orientation of a person in the world, there are plenty of people out there whose feeling does not always match up to the situation.

Harrison: Well that reminded me of an observation about the book. This whole description of homeostasis and of just the human organism and the different levels of sensation, just as an off-hand remark it reminded me of the way Gurdjieff describes the human organism with its different systems, like sensation, feeling and thinking, the different centers or brains. So there's a lot of food for thought there if you're familiar with Gurdjieff's writings.

But one of the things about looking at the things about looking at the world in terms of homeostasis is that it doesn't quite reach the level of multi-levelness. This is a reference to Dabrowski who we talked about a couple of weeks ago. It is really a description of biology and then society rooted in biology. It's really factors one and two in Dabrowski's system. So while that can achieve a lot and those two things are vastly important, there's still something missing but that something missing I'd say is the next level of value.

So we had the level of value of physics and chemistry and out of that there was the emergence of a new value in the form of life and then from life and the interactions of life forms and of societies of life forms we have humanity. Humanity is still created out of chemistry and lower life forms, so we're built on top of that. We still have those values within us and those values that are still important for us but we now, with our more expanded minds, have access to a new realm of value and can create new values and experience and manifest new values on top of that.

So the homeostasis is very important for individuals and societies, even just for their survival. Without homeostasis we would not survive. But we have survived and it has been because of that homeostatic imperative and the feelings that we feel. It's basically pushing and pulling us in the direction of survival and that's been the history of life in general, 'just survive'. It's like you described last week Corey. You're thinking about the cell and early organism and it's just been this life or death struggle with no room for anything else. It's like humanity has a foundation that's pretty good of survival. We're still here. The time that we have been on this planet has been a microsecond compared to how long life has been here, but we're still here. We're pretty good a surviving at least. But what are the things that we're not doing quite right? What could we be doing better?

Those are the questions that would bring in the third factor. That's where the individual comes into play and what the character that the individual can create for his or herself. That means that there are going to be some things that will be seen as higher and lower within that homeostatic framework. So something that just from the level of the animal would be a good thing for homeostasis, which could just be a chance encounter in the wild where it's "Okay, it's going to be you or me buddy" and then one of those animals dies. It could be for food. It could just be aggression and fear playing into it, but that does not translate well into the human sphere.

Now it can and it has and it does continue to do so, but that's where morality enters the picture. There will be some things where even though that's a good thing according to the law of the jungle and natural selection, it's not a good thing in terms of something higher, in terms of that higher value. That really has been the history of morality, for humans to figure that stuff out, to say "What is the right answer?"

Corey: And to find out that the emotions aren't everything, that drive for homeostasis, to feel good. We discussed Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson on another show, that one of the problems with the idea of homeostasis is that it's based on surviving and thriving but as humans we don't know what thriving really means but we're programmed to know what it means and it just means feeling good.

When you look at that with the amount of information that we can process, the amount of complexity and the amount of order and discipline that it takes in order to do things, one of the fundamental aspects of human life is to refrain from just seeking pleasure, from just feeling good. In fact feeling bad and feeling horrible is not always a sign that you're completely in the wrong!

Harrison: Right. It can mean you're doing the right thing.

Corey: Yeah, exactly. It can mean that you're evolving as a person, that you're striving and that thriving doesn't mean I'm sitting there and I've got so many cheeseburgers. I just went to McDonalds. I'm thriving now. {laughter}

Harrison: So this is what I was trying to get at with my previous description, levels nested within other levels. That feeling good is good in certain situations, especially when it comes to your basic survival, whether you're healthy or not, whether you're going to live another year or not in order to get more things done. It's good that your body feels good. If it's not there's something wrong with your body and you might be diseased and you might be falling apart and that would be bad in terms of that, right?

But that will be nested within a bigger level and that's where I think Jordan Peterson's description is so good where he says "Feeling good isn't the meaning of life. The thing that is important in life is meaning and taking on responsibility, not feeling good." People can feel good doing horrible things so that can't be the answer. The answer is when you take on responsibility and you're doing something right. You may not have a really clear picture of the direction that you're heading but that sense of meaning and that taking on of responsibility is inherently what it feels like, what the experience is of going in that right direction.

So what that suggests to me at least, is that the universe is structured in such a way that we respond and we have an experience of what it's like to be moving the right direction. There is something objectively true about the directions that we should be heading and that we actually have a feedback mechanism through which we can recognize that, and that is the sense of meaning that comes from taking on responsibility. So from that we can create a picture of what the future is that we should be heading towards and there will be an element of homeostasis and an element of feeling but like you said and this is the stoic thing, when it comes down to it, in that direction feelings don't matter in a lot of situations and in fact what the right thing to do will be to go against your feelings because you could be socially programmed in a sense, to like a certain thing and to want a certain thing but that will be wrong.

Dabrowski called it positive and negative adjustment. So a negative adjustment would be when you are adjusted to the world, when you're in alignment with the world but the world is going in the wrong direction. The typical example would be in Nazi Germany. You're going along with the crowd, you're adjusted to society and that has been traditionally a definition of mental health, how well you are adjusted to society. Well what happens when the society that you're adjusted to is wrong? Well that's a negative adjustment. In that situation it is morally correct to not be adjusted to your society. It would be a positive thing to not be adjusted. Positive maladjustment is what he'd call that. So with the expansion of human consciousness come these extra responsibilities and extra complexities of life where things are not so simple.

I wanted to read one paragraph from his book. This is in the context of cultures and how homeostasis influences cultures. I think this one gives an example of a case where clearly there is a negative disconnect between culture and homeostasis. I'll just read it.

Certain cultural instruments can actually worsen homeostatic regulation or even be the primary cause of dysregulation. One obvious example comes from the adoption of systems of political and economic governance that were originally meant to respond constructively to extensive social suffering but ended up producing human catastrophes. Communism for example, accomplished precisely that. The homeostatic goal of the invention is undeniable and conforms to the hypothesis I have advanced. The results immediately and in the long run were something else, producing in some cases greater poverty and violent death than the world wars that flanked the dissemination of these systems.

This is a paradoxical case in which rejection of injustice, a process theoretically favorable to homeostasis leads unintentionally to more injustice and homeostatic decline. But nothing in the general hypothesis speaks to the guaranteed success of homeostatic inspiration. Success depends on how well-conceived the cultural response is in the first place, on the circumstances to which it applies and on the features of the actual implementation.

This is the kind of goal that should be held in mind for individuals who are the creators of culture essentially because individuals collectively create culture. If we think about it in terms of these new terms, in terms of homeostasis, we can hopefully avoid situations like communism and avoid the catastrophes, not necessarily because we can deceive ourselves just like the communists did because that's what they thought they were doing and that's what their goal was. But with enough knowledge, let's just say theoretically that we can produce a better society; not a perfect one but one that takes these things more into account. This would be Harris' ideal vision of the future, of the society founded on well-being.

So then this comes back to why this is still a limited picture. Say we've got a pretty good society. You can have a pretty good society in that direction but it still resembles an insect colony, a good society, it functions, it works. But what's missing from that, again, would be Dabrowski's third factor. This would be the individual development of the members of that society and that is not a social process. It can be helped along by social factors, by education and by mentorship but it always comes down to being an individual process where you have to take on your responsibility. You are responsible for the development of your own character and your own mind and it is an internal experience.

That is the way in which new human values are manifested. That is the way in which the human future will be manifested, through individuals coming into connection with and communion with that higher value and then bringing it into the world through their actions, their speech, their physical actions, to their interactions with the world in which we live. And that is the only way that anything will happen. Creating a perfect society will not create better individuals. It will create a fertile ground in which to grow individuals but it still comes down to the individual to take on that responsibility and actually put it into practice.

That's just another way of saying that there's no one that's going to save you. No one is going to save humanity and no one is going to save you personally. That's on you. Other people will help and other people should help and you should help other people but what it comes down to is it's always your responsibility and it will be through your own actions. How to summarize the totality of the inner human experience, to get this across, it's up to you and everything that goes on within your mind, every conflict between yes and no, between higher and lower, between better and worse, in every situation of every day in every direction and every possibility for the future is up to you to make that determination based on your values and the development of your hierarchy of values over time to then have that system, that forged character that when you are confronted with a new situation you can recognize the proper course of action.

It's like "Okay, no I'm not going to do that and no one can make me do that. You're not going to make me do that. There's just no way. I'd rather die than have you force me to do that." That is what a moral character comes down to. It's forged out of iron or something stronger, an adamantine will. So that requires being able to see into the future, seeing potential futures and then choosing it and then the ability to put that into action.

Corey: Right. And that's faith then to, isn't it? It's something that has been lost, that idea of faith as an existential commitment to something that might not exist but that, because it's in your heart, because it's in your character, that you wish with all your might that you could be a better person, that there were better opportunities for yourself.

But I like what you said about your hierarchy of values because as people evolve, they make choices, they look at the future, they look at their past, that hierarchy is subject to changing rather radically. And you hope that it does because when you start out you don't want to end with the same hierarchy of values that you started with. But it's a painful process. You look at all the leftists who have dropped out of the snowflake hysteria that's hit the US. At one point their values were social justice for everyone, just complete freedom to do whatever you want. But then they see what it looks like and they see there's something wrong with it and now they have to question their values; their hierarchy of values undergoes a change if they're willing to go through the disintegration process and to re-evaluate what their motivation was, because like we said, it's always emotional. Then when you incorporate new information, you reorganize it, it's not like every liberal who ever wanted a better world was a complete snowflake hysteria idiot but there's plenty of them out there right now who think that they want that, but they've been programmed to think that they want that and they are just fundamentally immoral at this point if they're still continuing to go along with that playbook.

So your hierarchy is subject to change and I think that's one of the fundamental aspects of what you as a person, when you read this book and you look at the history of life and how it struggled to evolve and survive, and then you look at the human dimension you see that there's something else. There's something extra there. You see Michelangelo. You see people who have made history and you see them motivated by similar kinds of emotions. But when you look at someone like Stalin versus someone like a general, they're motivated by a different quality of a similar kind of emotion.

Somebody in the Russian Foreign Ministry or someone in the Russian military today who is motivated by hard qualities of militaristic values and virtues but has such a heightened understanding of the pain and the history of their people, they are qualitatively a different type of Russian than what the same Russian generals were 60 or 70 years ago, maybe their own parents or whatever. You see this evolution proceeds on a different level - similar but we obviously have the capability to completely wipe our own race out fundamentally or to learn and to strive towards that future that we were talking about, that possibly doesn't exist. There's not going to be a utopia. There's not going to be some big party where everybody's saved and everybody's happy and everybody's well-fed because that's just not how the world works. He even talks about that in the book.

Every group is always going to strive to protect its own interests. There's always going to be conflict and there's always going to be fundamental homeostatic imperatives that separate us from them. So there's not going to be the big happy ending. But while we still have time, why not use it, striving to live and to at least send that signal out there, that 'we'll still evolve. There's still a chance for me or you to choose and craft your own inner world' which is actually another thing that I thought about when I was reading that. The interesting difference between the mental representation that he has in the book about having the external world and you can make images of it and having the internal world and then you have feelings that tell you what your gut feels like or that tells you what society is like.

But then there's also that third element where you're consciously forging. You can sit and consciously forge, think with a hammer and choose based on your own values and create and craft your own personal understanding of the two.

Elan: Yeah. And that's what I take inspiration from Corey. When you said all that I was thinking in particular, it's people like Jordan Peterson and Russian President Vladimir Putin who by their own inner work, development of the intellect, making the distinctions between what's right and wrong, establishing their values based on data, on facts, on hard thinking. These people are in effect creating a true, better or higher homeostatic response to American imperialism, to the SJW movement. So it's very interesting because Damasio mentions at one point in the book that in spite of all the information that everyone is privy to in western civilization in particular, they're the most unhappy that they've ever been! They're depressed. They're entitled. They're narcissistic. They're self-absorbed. It's up to us as individuals, as you were saying Harrison, to take on this burden, this cross of correcting it, if only in developing one's self and being an example in the best ways that one has in them, to other people and provide an inspiration in some way or another.

Harrison: What you guys have just been talking about comes back to this idea of narrative or story. The way that Damasio introduces it is in the discussion of images and how through the emergence of the ability to create images in one's mind through having a nervous system, the immediate next step or even a parallel process is the ability to string those together in narratives, in a story. That is applicable at all levels. This again comes back to Whitehead. It's why Whitehead called his philosophy process philosophy because the universe is about change and not just going from one state to the other and back and forth between the two, not just the same state over and over, not stagnation and it's not just random change back and forth between any number of states, it is a process that has certain regularities at all levels but which introduces novelty too.

So that was an integral part of his philosophy in order to account for not only the regularities of nature but also the directionality of nature and the source of the novelty in that direction and in that process of reality. So at the most fundamental level he breaks it down into - I'll use the words again - subjectivity and objectivity. So he'd say there's a physical pull and a mental pull to every event and event is just the instant of experience basically at every level. So this would apply as much to a proton as it would to a human being, a human mind. There is an objective state where you as a physical body, physical thing, experience the causation, experience the physical reality of the objects acting on yourself and of your own self. From one instant to the next, your physical body at one instant is influencing your physical body at the next instant and there is a continuity between all of those progressions.

But in each of those instants there is immediately following or maybe parallel to or intermingling with, there is the mental pull which introduces the final causation. The final causation is the introduction of a goal-oriented self-determination or self-creation. So this is where the mind in this instantaneous self that we don't have conscious access to on certain levels though on others we do, experiences our physical body, experiences all the feelings within our physical body, all of that carried over from all the past and from all of the world around us, from our entire sphere of experience. So we basically form this instantaneous but projected into the past picture of reality, of ourselves, the world, our place in the world and the relation between all of those bits.

Now from that there are several possible futures which we also have access to which enter into our mental pull, our mind. So 'okay, based on this given situation, based upon this immediate context, what are my possibilities and what will be the possibility that I then instantiate, that I bring into reality?' That is self-causation. And then that is brought into reality and can be as simple as 'Okay, what direction am I going to move my arm? I have different possibilities. My arm is in this position at this instant. My goal - which is in a story form - it is in the future, it was here, it is here now and I want it to get there in the future but I want it to be there in the future in a meaningful way. I want to do something specific with it. Okay, I'm going to throw this ball that's in my hand and hopefully throw a strike and win this baseball game' or something like that.

So it gets put into a context, not only in that instant, but in the context of past, present and future which is part of an overall narrative, an overall story, and that is part of an even grander story and it's all connected. The entire universe is connected that way. The entire universe goes towards producing the instant in which we find ourselves at the present moment.

Corey: Yeah, I think that's absolutely fascinating. Just to go back to what you talked about at the very beginning of the show in terms of life and why life doesn't matter to the physical universe. Well in that first moment when life first appeared, there was a completely new dimension of the universe, a completely new dimension. And then as it evolved and then we got nervous systems, then another new dimension appeared and in this dimension you could inhabit consciously. Now we're in these dimensions, like we've been discussing, that this is a place that's dependent on the physical world. It's dependent on all the other dimensions that came before it. It's dependent on food. It's dependent on cellular life. It's dependent on the physical universe and the laws of the universe. But like we were talking about, with these narratives and these mental images that are the basic building blocks of the mind, it's this whole new frontier really, as new agey as that sounds.

Harrison: New frontier.

Corey: Yes, it's this frontier. I just wanted to read this quote really quickly. It's from Ivan Pavlov. We discussed him a little bit on a previous show. When he was in his early 30s he was coming out of college and he was struggling to become a scientist and he was suffering from all of the maladies of living under Russia as it was going through its revolutionary spasms before it became the Soviet Union. While he was engaging in scientific research, he realized that while engaging in such research, if he replaced what he called "the fading overseer of youthful excitation, the authority of direct sensations, with a new source of self-control, conscious systematized behavior", then he realized that:
"True human happiness is guaranteed only to those who understand that they have to undertake this task in timely fashion and devote to it all their time and effort. It is as if nature teases a young, excites their taste for the joys of life, opens the door and reveals the interesting, alluring kingdom of thought. But into this kingdom enters only the person who, entranced by its appearance, undertakes serious and difficult work in order to make one's self worthy of it."
So with the dawn of the mind came this whole new adventure, this whole new challenge that humanity has been undertaking since we first were able to paint on cave walls. To me it seems like a very poignant way of looking at it.

Elan: Well one of the words that Damasio uses in his book over and over again is multi-dimensional. So what he seems to be suggesting is we can't just think on the basic level of homeostasis. We have to be thinking about higher values. That's what he points to at the end of the book when he mentions education a couple of times. It just seems to me as though, even if he's not stating it explicitly, that he is affirming or trying to affirm higher values throughout the book and accepting how it is we exist on so many levels. And really, I had a huge appreciation of this. It reminded me of all types of physical experiences that I've had in my life that I wasn't as attentive to.

A little earlier in the show Harrison you mentioned how the stomach was considered the second brain.

Harrison: Or the first brain.

Elan: Right. It's the first brain. It's the older, more "primitive brain". How many times has my stomach told me something that has turned out to be correct, that had I consciously acknowledged and given heed to, would have put me in a better place in the future? How many times has my chest been on fire? Not so many times, but the impressions were so incredible and distinct. This was my body acting as a brain in a way that I had never been instructed to think about in that way before. So I found a lot of value in the book there and just acknowledging how we as physical beings don't and should not only be in our heads all the time. We've heard recently on the Health and Wellness Show about the neurofeedback technology that's come into being and about all sorts of therapies that remind us to be inside of our bodies, to be embodied because our bodies think, our bodies sense in ways that we don't acknowledge, that we give short shrift to.

So those are just some of the thoughts I had when I was reading this book.

Harrison: We're almost coming to the end of this show. I just want to give a few thoughts to wrap up, taking up from what you just said there because earlier I said that a slight criticism of this model is that it stays in the level of biology and society and doesn't account for that third factor. But I'm kind of revising the way I'm thinking about that because I was thinking something very similar to what you just said, as you were saying it. I was planning on saying something and you said that and gave me the last jigsaw puzzle piece that hopefully put it together. That is that even if homeostasis on those levels is not enough, that there is still potentially, let's say, a higher homeostasis that then is what gives us the sense of what the right choice will be.

Elan: Yes.

Harrison: So potentially we have access to new and higher values. How do we experience that? It's still a feeling of inner homeostasis, except it's not tied to just the survival of the body. It's tied to something different. So we can be in a situation where our body might be at risk but our inner homeostasis, our higher homeostasis, is telling us the right direction to take. It's just a conflict of values but on different levels. A very basic example might be a situation where you're presented with the choice of food and you're starving or making the right choice and maybe saving someone else's life or saving millions of lives and putting yourself on the line and making a self-sacrifice. That's just a really simple example of a conflict between levels of value which are then experienced as levels of homeostasis because you can be feeling hungry enough that you can potentially kill to get food and kill a human, you're that hungry. How many times has that happened in history? That's what history is, people killing each other for food. It happens all the time whenever there's a famine.

The way in which that comes into being is through our bodies in some way. There's a feeling that is associated with it and that feeling is rooted and grounded in the body. This leads me to one final philosophical point which comes back to what we've brought up several times over the previous weeks and that is the source of values. So what is the source of this? I want to read one last little tiny bit from the book and then I'll expand on it. Damasio writes:
The mental moveable something that yielded complex cultural developments also included the startling realization that on occasion no antecedent to pain or pleasure could be identified. No explanation could be found at all there simply being pain or pleasure without any reason for either being apparent. Just mystery. The resulting powerlessness and even despair are also likely to have been a sustained driving force behind human endeavours and have had a hand in arriving at and developing notions such as transcendence. In spite of the extraordinary triumphs of science, so much mystery remains that those forces are still durably at play in most world cultures.
So this is a question. If everything is rooted in homeostasis, what about the intimations that we get of the higher, of the mysterious, of the transcendent that seem to have no relation to just the physical state of our bodies and the state of our bodies in relation to other physical objects? What is the source of that?

Well this comes back to Whitehead's mental pole. It's through our mind that we have access to what you could call the mind of god, to this mysterious source of value and information and it's through that that we connect with the values and that ideal future and it's that part of the story. It's the source of novelty and it's the source of the plot twist of life where something new gets brought into existence and that new thing creates something new and better out of what has existed before. This is how evil can be transformed into good, how an evil situation, through the mysteries of the intricacies of the human mind, but also the mysterious source of transcendence, can look at that situation and say "This is a terrible situation. What can be done in this situation to turn it around, to create something good out of it?"

There's always a better step from that state of evil that can be brought into the world and when that happens something new is created out of the old. This is the foundational story of existence and it comes down to the poles of Dabrowski and in the process there is something. There is a state of affairs. That state of affairs can be categorized in various different ways. There is then the phase where that state of affairs is analyzed, categorized, felt, sensed, experienced and the future is then created out of that present and brought into existence and in a microencapsulation that is that story, the present, the introduction of novelty and the new creation and the new creation is what we are here to bring about in our own lives and collectively. That brings religious language into it because only religious language can encapsulate the feeling that goes along with that, the feeling of the good future, the kingdom of god, the ideal future. When I say ideal, not utopian. Ideal in the sense of the best possible future created out of the present conditions. We can't erase who we are, where we are and the conditions that we are in. The new future has to be created out of these conditions and taking all of those conditions into account. That is what will give rise to the new creation.

Elan: So we should all be engaging in that process to the best of our abilities.

Harrison: At all times.

Corey: I like it. Well with that, we'll end the show. We want to thank everybody for tuning in again this week and wish you luck on that journey through the battle of good and evil. Tune in next week when hopefully we'll be discussing a little bit of the intricacies of the criminal mind. Thank you everybody.

Harrison: Take care. Thanks for listening.

Elan: Bye everyone.