Why Do We Reason – With Professor John Vervaeke
Channel: Hamza Tzortzis
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But what we will do is we'll have each speaker have a 12 minute introduction, after which there'll be half an hour for a discussion between the two of them. And finally, we will open up the floor for questions and answers from all of you.
You know, in this fast paced world that we currently live in, and this world where we have a tremendous amount of overload of information. Often we're left questioning, sometimes the very basics and the foundations of what we believe. And we look around society and we see, every single aspect of society is being challenged intellectually on a number of different levels. And it can be incredibly confusing. We're going to add a little bit to that confusion, but hopefully in a way that can open up your mind to a number of really important questions. Dr. rabac, his work and shophouses sometimes as background will provide an interesting analysis of the intersections between
spirituality between reason between consciousness between understanding, and these are concepts and understandings that we need to be able to engage with, particularly in a world where people are being overloaded with information, but perhaps losing understanding of logic. And you know, sometimes the popularity of nationalist politicians around the world is kind of showing this lack of engagement with logic and understanding this why it's incredibly important to talk about these types of subjects. Dr. virbac he has been teaching at the University of Toronto since 1994. He currently teaches in the cognitive science program, the psychology department, the psychology and mental
health program. He has won and been nominated for several teaching awards, including the 2001 students administrative Council, and an association of part time undergraduate students Teaching Award for the Humanities, the 2012 Rajni Ghosh Excellence in Teaching Award. His most recent publications include relevance realization, the emerging framework in cognitive science, and the forthcoming chapter entitled relevance meaning and the cognitive science of wisdom. His research interests are relevance, realization, insight, problem solving, general intelligence, consciousness, mindfulness, rationality and wisdom. How is the source to source sources is the author of the Divine
reality guide Islam in the mirage of the mirage of atheism. He is a public speaker, instructor essayist. He has a master's in postgraduate certificate in philosophy from the University of London. He's currently continuing his postgraduate studies in the field, however, has studied Islamic theology under qualified scholars, he has delivered workshops, courses, and accredited diploma courses on topics related to Islamic thought, and philosophy. Please give both of our speakers a big hand and
tonight is meant to be a discussion and a dialogue, not a debate. It's not meant to be a gotcha, Hi kouachi, saying something, it's meant to be a dialogue and a discussion. And you know, to everyone here, I would encourage you to have an open mind. The Prophet sallallahu Sallam said, at LACMA bloodletting movement, that wisdom is the last belonging of the believer. So wherever you find wisdom, whether it comes from a Muslim source or not, the wisdom belongs to you, it is your loss of belonging, you should take it. So approach this discussion with an open mind and listen to both of our speakers with the best of your listening ability. And since Dr. Rocky is our guest, we're going
to start hopefully with him.
Thank you very much. First of all, I agree with the format that you've explained. And I was very, I felt very well treated, and last time. And so I wanted to thank everybody for that. And I had, we both had a very enjoyable time. So I want to I want to talk about rationality, because it's what I do work on. And,
and so I have, I have a video series out now called awakening from the meaning crisis, because of the issues that are pervasive in our society that are pointing to that people are hungry for meaning in very important ways. And
the, the thing I want to talk about is how rationality is should be reconnected to that project, the projects of wisdom, and the project of the cultivation of meaning, meaning in life, and what we have, especially if you see how it's portrayed by certain people in the internet, on YouTube, we have a very thin notion of rationality, a very thin notion of rationality, that is very much a post enlightenment notion. And is not well, allied to in fact, it's I would say, it's disconnected to the ancient notion of wisdom that we find within the Socratic and platonic paradigms. And because Socrates thought that that kind of wisdom was worth dying for the unexamined life is not worth
living because of it.
deep connection to meaning in life, I am proposing and arguing for that we need to return to this more ancient notion of rationality, in order to get from it, that functionality of affording the cultivation of wisdom and the cultivation of meaning in life that are so desperately needed in our society today. So that's what my work is. Now, that sounds like kind of a sort of, you know, whoa kind of topic. But it's actually a topic for which I can do a lot of work as a scientist. And so that's what I'm bringing to bear. So let me just try and give you an idea for a limited time. So I'm asking for everybody's forbearance and horrible commode puts into discussion. So this is going to be
very juicy in nature. But what's what's the model of rationality that I'm arguing against as being too thin?
Well, there's a couple aspects to it. The first is the idea is that there's two things that rationality is regularly confused with often treated as if these these terms were synonymous. And there is good argument and very good a lot. And if we have time, we'll go into it. Empirical evidence that both of these confusions are in fact that they're they're mis identifications. One is to identify rationality, with the capacity for being logical. That is a mistake. There, for reasons I can get into a little bit later. Trying to equate rationality with logic, reality is actually the mistake for the for the very reason that we are in which cherny act and others and the work that
I've done on relevance realization was called the finitary predicament. So we cannot pay attention to the vast amount of information that's available to us moment by moment, we cannot access all of the vast amounts of information that's available to us, in our long term memory, we cannot calculate all the possible permutations that we need to engage in everybody engaged in even the basic action, this overlaps with things called the frame problem and the relevance problem. And what that means is if you tried to logic, your way, through almost all of your behavior, you would very quickly exhaust all of your resources, all your computational resources, all your cognitive resources.
So what that means is that if you were to try to be like data, or Mr. Spock, you would commit a very easily, it's very easy to show you would commit a very deep and profound kind of cognitive suicide, he would cease to exist as cognition, that means that the relationship between rationality and logic is much more complex than simple identity. Of course, I'm not saying that you can be illogical and irrational, but what I'm saying is the right is that rationality, because the word ratio, rational rationality is about knowing how, when and to what degree you should be logical, and that's a much less difficult thing to theorize about, and also to study.
Wonderful for somebody who wants a job, right? As a professor. The other thing that rationality is often confused with is intelligence. So that you can be very quickly means, you know, the reason why you're behaving irrationally is because you're not very intelligent. This is also a mistake. So this goes to, like, literally for decades of work by Keith stanovich, and others, many people showing that the following is to our best measures of how intelligent you are your general intelligence, are only weakly predictive of our best measures of how rational you are, above a point three in other areas. So what we got, I'm really highly confident in what I'm about to say, intelligence is, at
best a necessary but never a sufficient condition for rationality. Right? And here's part of the reasons why. Because you're in the finitary predicament which I just described before. And you have to have all the information, what are you focusing on? Of all the ways you can connect it? What are you connecting into? What are you ignoring, because a big part of what makes you adopted and intelligent as a problem solver is actually what you're ignoring right now.
That's the that's the, that's the thing that is a part is to get AI to do well ignore irrelevant information and zero in on relevant information. That's the hard problem we're facing right now.
Now, what makes you intelligent is that you can do that and you can do it in a wide variety of domains.
But the price you pay for is the following the very machinery that makes you so adaptive, zeroing in on relevant information, is the same machinery that makes you continually susceptible to self deception. Because what it does is you have to select what you're going to pay attention to, and that's adaptive, but you know, what that also does that prejudges prejudices, what you find important or relevant, that's also bias. So, what I want to say is right intelligence, the very processes that make you adaptive, also make you perennially susceptible to self deceptive, self destructive behavior. Let me give you one clean quick example. Okay, if you will try to calculate
the actual form of probability of an event. You will be overwhelmed by
computational tasks. So what do we do? We rely on two heuristics to get that biases, what should we pay attention to, we will reliably rely on the availability heuristic. We judge how, what by how easily we can remember event
where imagine that happening, the more probable it is. Or we also use what's called the representativeness heuristic. If an event is very sort of prototypical, it's probably highly probable, that these are good adaptive things. And here's where you use them. You take your friend to the airport, you take your friend in the airport, and you're going to get on a plane.
And so you do all these euphemisms for downtime. Like, oh, you have a safe trip, what you text me when you get there, because you know, the planes crashing, you just wait, we came crashing out of detachment. But we do all this stuff, right? Now, why are we doing because the availability heuristic is I can easily imagine a plane crash, and it's my whole, my whole reckless brain, they think a metal will fall crash. So it's easy to imagine. And when it crashes, notice when it's a political event, nobody ever says there was an accident, when I'm playing crashes, it's a tragedy. It's a disaster. So the availability heuristic is going and then the representative.
and then the person gets on the plane, the safest mode of transportation there is, and then you without giving it a second thought, get into your car, the North American has got a sheet.
Very machinery that makes you adaptive makes you susceptible to self deception.
So if rationality is neither being purely logical, nor being intelligent, what is it? Well, here's what I want to propose to you.
Let's pick up on what I just said.
rationality is a way in which you can use your intelligence recursively on your intelligence, to deal with the problem of self deception.
Rather than thinking of rationality is directed primarily to winning arguments in debate, which is what it's becoming. Let us link it more closely to the ancient notion of wisdom, where what wisdom is, is the capacity to see through illusion into what is more real. And what we're what you find is what improves people at being rational, is exactly systematic abilities to be to be comprehensively responsible to being self deceptive. And you give me that notion of rationality, that I want to point out to you that there are many avenues other than your inferential practices by which you fall into self deception. The way you pay attention, also can be a way in which you fall into self
deception. So in addition to perhaps using some logical techniques to improve your inference, to reduce your self deception, you will also need things like mindfulness practices to improve your attentional skills, so as to reduce self deception.
So what and there's other things so another thing, another way in which we are self deceptive is, are not a propositional knowing, which is knowing that something is the case. But we can also think about your perspective or knowing your perspectival knowing is knowing what it's like to inhabit a particular perspective. I know what it's like to be sober, for example, I know what it's like to be tired. I know what it's like to be having my perspective, in contrast to handsets, and your perspective, your perspective well, knowing also is relevant to how your self deceptive because one of the ways you can be pervasively self deceptive is to be by being egocentric, not having a good
enough facility at taking other people's perspective, that you need to training other than logic, and other than mindfulness to improve your capacity for improving your perspective, how will knowing and overcoming self deception.
There's another thing that's very relevant and this has been brought up by people like
he also participatory knowing this is the this is not the knowing by having a state of cognition, like propositional knowing or procedural knowing of skill, or having a state of consciousness like perspectival, knowing this is the knowing you have by a state of identity. This is the this is the things you know, by becoming them, you know, honesty by only if you become honest.
So you aspire to things. Now, here's the thing about aspiration. If I'm actually aspiring to be something other than I am, that means I don't currently have the value.
That means I don't, and I can't actually adequately assess the probability or right. So there's a more full argument about this. And if you want ones I can give it later. But the gist of the argument is that you can't infer your way to a future self that has a different set of values and a different way, a different capacity to judge the probability of things you just can't. So both la Paul and I
Agnes color, argue that so what we this is a process of aspiration where I aspire you said well what does this have to do with rationality? Well what she argues is she calls it proleptic rationality, notice something, one of the things I have to aspire to is rationality.
If aspiration is not a rational process, then I cannot rationally justify you becoming rational, which defeats rationality, the process of aspiring for rationality has to itself be incorporated in to rationality, which means there is what you might call a developmental transforming of rationality and aspiration, or what she calls proleptic rationality that we also have to include into our model of rationality. Now, you have all of these rationalities, and you have them well, rationally coordinated together. So they're acting as checks and balances on each other, so that you're massively not just quantitatively, but qualitatively increasing your capacity to deal with self
deception and a comprehensive and systematically reliable way. I would propose to you that that's a good candidate for wisdom, at least what Plato and Socrates meant by it. And I think we need that today. Because we lacked it. And our culture is being more and more beset by self deceptive patterns, both individually and collectively. And the hunger as a culture for meaning in life. And I can give you lots of data on this, the book that Chris and I have written, is out there on all of this.
We need that because that kind of rationality, and it's overlapping with wisdom, and self transcendence in development, will give people a way of deeply responding to this desire to be more deeply connected to themselves and to reality. So I'm deeply critical of people who purport to stand for rationality, and are actually limiting us to logical manipulation of influences for purely propositional reasons, so that they can win in a debate for a particular set of beliefs. I oppose that. And I've given you my reasons why. Thank you very much.
Recommended Rahim al hamdu Lillah wa Salatu was Salam ala rasulillah brothers and sisters and friends. I greet you with the woman Mr. Sami greetings of a peace salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato.
Thank you, professor. That was very insightful. I'm going to try to explore what you said earlier later in our discussion, and maybe through the questions and the answers. So I'm going to talk about something totally different
in order to enrich the discussion, and I think there's going to be some overlap. So for my work, in my research, I've been studying something called evolutionary reliable.
Before I get into that, then we just talked about some of the ideas that I've been trying to address. I've recently responded to microbeams, relatively recent, academic piece, and he is responding to stitch on painting, concerning evolution, reliable ism. And some of what I'm going to say, is what I have basically tried to articulate.
generally speaking, we all have the ability to infer, to deduce, to postulate, to develop an argument to suggest all of these things, is premised on the idea that we have relatively reliable cognitive faculties that can produce true beliefs.
So in our discussion today, we haven't come here. And we haven't said that, you know, what, my cognitive faculties are totally unreliable, and they can never produce beliefs that are a representation of the actual state of affairs. I mean, you wouldn't do that you can't have a discussion, you end up in basically a state of extreme skepticism that there is no knowledge at all right.
So we all have this assumption, seeing this room, hopefully, that we have reliable cognitive faculties to some degree. And yes, we know the unreliable in other areas, but generally speaking, we have reliable cognitive faculties that can produce beliefs that are a representation of the state of offense, state of affairs. Now, the argument here is that, generally speaking, from a naturalistic point of view, the argument is that that is explained by the Darwinian mechanism. Now what I'm going to say is not an attempt to report or refute the Darwinian mechanism, no, I'm just going to basically show that basically, it has limitations in some areas. So the Darwinian mechanism by
natural selection, basically
would say that we have reliable cognitive faculties that can produce reliable true beliefs. Because natural selection, right, favorite, reliable cognitive faculties that could produce true beliefs because it was conducive to survival production, there were fitness enhancing.
So in the beginning of this conversation, a Darwinist or someone who adopts that kind of position, or even a naturalist would say that, you know, there is a necessary link between truth and survival.
But I think academics have moved away from this now on this thing, well, that's not really true, because there's a whole range of thought experiments that you could articulate, that basically breaks the necessary link between truth and survival, for example, or her and or Brian and many others, they would basically argue that, you know, say you go into a jungle and you're primate, and you have this false belief that has emerged from unreliable coming to faculties are all fungi are poisonous, right?
You end up surviving, because you avoid poisonous fungi. But you also avoid nutritious fungi. So it's not necessarily true, there is no necessary link between truth and survival. This is a very obvious point, right? So in the discussions in academia, they've moved on, they've developed a different approach, a different strategy in is called evolutionary reliable ism. So they've moved away from the idea that there is a necessary link between truth of survival. And they say, well, it's probabilistic. Meaning it is highly likely it is more likely that natural selection selected,
reliable cognitive faculties that can produce reliable true beliefs over unreliable cognitive faculties that produce false beliefs. And this is called evolutionary reliable ism. Now,
the problem with this is that you're going to choose one over the other in this context. And you have to have some kind of evidence, philosophical empirical, you can't just stay silent. So yeah, it's okay, we could be evolution reliable is because that means you have epistemic privilege. You know why, given the fact that, you know, these domains of knowledge can't even explain maybe language properly, or the development language can't develop inner subjective conscious states consciousness properly, then you don't really have that epistemic right, to, you know, have epistemic privilege. So you need some kind of improper evidence of philosophic evidence. Now, the
philosophical evidence, in my view, there's a big problem, because it is,
if you read the works of the academic, James sage, and others, you would see that having reliable cognitive faculties that can produce reliable true beliefs, having those they would, they would basically drain your biological resources, and he wouldn't be conducive to survival and production. Because, you know, your brain is low glucose, right? And, you know, doing these detailed inferences, even with minimal data, you know, is quite draining. So why would natural selection, actually select reliable cognitive faculties that comes at a huge biological cost, right? So, from this perspective, there is philosophical evidence, if you like that would suggest, well, there's no strong reason to
believe why natural selection would select
reliable cognitive faculties that would produce true beliefs.
So the philosopher evidences is neither here or there. But if you've got empirical evidence, well, there's a hell of a lot of evidence out there, but there's nothing substantial. And you go either way, you could provide evidence for the fact that natural selection was more likely to select reliable cognitive faculties that produce true beliefs over unreliable faculties that produce false beliefs. But there's also evidence for the other way. For example, there's evidence from Donald Hoffman, I believe, he's a cognitive scientist, and he talks about true perceptions. And he looks into genetic algorithm algorithms and evolutionary game theory, he comes to the conclusion that
actually having true perceptions is not conducive to survival reproduction, based on his study. So if you were to rely on that kind of study, then you have to come to the conclusion that we're not really designed to have true perceptions.
Right? Because in our evolutionary history,
it was more likely than natural selection selected the traits that
basically allowed us not to have true perceptions, right. So from this perspective,
if you adopt a kind of philosophical, naturalistic paradigm, and within that you choose or you decide to say that Darwinism is an explanation of who we are. And I think there's a huge problem
We couldn't really take into account or justifying the assumption that we will have that we've come here today, which is that we have reliable come to faculties to some degree that can produce reliable true beliefs. And I would say that we need to explore other areas, other domains of knowledge to actually take ground to, to actually take that assumption seriously, because a particular domain of knowledge has a particular assumption, can only keep the assumption if the domain of knowledge doesn't negate that assumption. But in my view, philosophical naturalism, if they adopt the kind of Darwinian paradigm actually negates that very assumption, because from what
I've said, thus far, one would have to basically conclude skepticism as the appropriate kind of philosophy, which is that there is no knowledge, which could be problematic, but we could explore that further in our discussions.
So I wanted to quote the study for you, actually. So I didn't want to miss quoted.
Now, what does God commit to this, which is very interesting. So if you take this as a metaphysical exercise, right, because philosophical naturalism is a metaphysics, release philosophy, philosophical naturalism. naturalism, by the way, is the worldview that there is no supernatural, there's no divine.
And everything could be explained by physical processes. And a philosophical naturalist will naturally
select or choose Darwinism as the current world confirm model that would explain who we are. Now, in doing so you can't ground that assumption that will come here today with which is that we have reliable cognitive faculties that can produce reliable true beliefs, based on what I've discussed thus far. But that's based on initial philosophical assumption, a metaphysic. A first principle, if you like, now, from the Islamic, spiritual intellectual tradition oversee, we believe in the divine, we believe in God. And that's really our metaphysics. That's our lenses in which we understand the world. So one would argue that, under kind of theism, the theistic paradigm, having reliable counter
faculties that produce true beliefs actually makes sense of the fact of who the divine is, the divine is, in Islamic tradition, I mean, the wise and Aleem the knowing he has the totality of wisdom and knowledge, right? God has the picture, we just have the pixel, right. So it would make sense by his wind and power and the names of natural attributes I've just discussed, that he created human beings in some way, right? We're not negating you know, the physical causes of the universe as an explanation for how things emerge. Because in the Islamic paradigm accepts the aspect, which is the various physical causes as an explanation for the how things work and how things emerge. It's
not a problem. So yeah, so it makes sense that the divine created human beings, and with reliable cognitive faculties that could produce true beliefs by virtue of who the divine is, right. So I think from a theistic point of view, we don't really have a problem to, you know, keep that assumption because our worldview, our perspective, doesn't negate that very assumption. But if you're philosophical naturalist, and you decide to adopt down Islam as a, an explanation for everything that makes us human, and in particular, in this case, are reliable comes to the faculties that can produce your beliefs, then there's a bit of a sticky wicket here, as we say in Britain,
right? Because that would negate because because it negates the very assumption that it holds. And the idea here is you can't have a domain of knowledge that has a particular assumption, yet that domain or knowledge, that domain of knowledge negates his own assumptions. You just can't do that you have to either give up your assumptions, or change your knowledge change your domain of knowledge. Right. So coming back to the quote, and I'll end on that.
Todd Hoffman, where are you? Do I have reliable cognitive faculties to find on and what?
There you go. So Hoffman saying and I think it's Mike.
So, Hoffman Singh and Mark sorry. They basically say the key point is that fitness is distinct from truth. organisms that evolved fit a vision systems through natural selection need not ipso facto, evolve to see truth. If a true perception takes more time or energy to compute, or if you represent aspects of the world that irrelevant for guiding adaptive behaviors of the organism, then it could adversely affect fitness. The studies thus far, using evolutionary game theory and genetic algorithms indicate that
True perceptions are not necessarily fitter. And that simple interface strategy can drive through perceptions to extinction.
That's the, basically the summary of the people that the research I studied by Don Hoffman and others. So to conclude, from a kind of spiritual perspective, you know, this discussion for especially the Islamic tradition for the Muslim is not kind of abstract because it has meaning, because we believe our purpose of life or the meaning of life is to worship the divine. And worshiping the divine means to know the divine to love the divine, to obey the divine, and that also includes being humbled before him. And it also includes singling out the internal and external acts of worship to the divine among the internal acts of worship, because like love, and reliance, and
external acts of worship is the kind of physical acts of worship like maybe supplication prayer, and you know, charity, but those have eternal dimensions to because of intention, etc. But it's a different discussion. So, you know, our purpose of life, a meaningful life is to worship the divine. And that's what we believe gives us a sense of contentment, and a sense of, you know, fulfillment because, you know, the famous Quranic statement that basically says, If you forget God, God will make you forget your own self, as if our kind of self identity is contingent on our relationship with the divine one that created us. So how does this make sense with worshipping the divine? Well,
if you think about it, you know, if we were given reliable cognitive faculties that produce true believes, by the divine, then the, the human mind is a product of the Divine. And yet we praise the human mind all the time, you know, amazing poetry, architecture, quantum theory, cognitive science, all these amazing things ago, wow, bravo. It's amazing. We give it a standing ovation, we clap, we applaud. But, you know, now, now, given what I said, say you say it's true.
Well, what does it mean? How we must now uphold the divine and give extensive praise to the divine. And obviously, there's a tradition, extended praise is a key to worship. So that's how it all links together.
So these are interesting ideas that we can explore. And, you know, there's so much more to it than that, because this also could relate to the fact that, okay, maybe we want to adopt a Darwinian mechanism to explain our reliable cognitive faculties that could produce your beliefs. Let's adopt another metaphysic, right? Or this adopted philosophy, a particular philosophy of the mind that physicalism not just physicalism, but a particular conception of physicalism by convergent materialism. Now, you want to use that now, because that could open a huge kind of worms, which we do later. Right?
Yeah, but there's other ways of dealing with it as well, from a naturalistic perspective, don't build a straw man thinking, Oh, you know what he goes, theism has won the day, that's not my approach here today in any shape, or form. So I just want to throw these ideas out there. So just to conclude,
the Darwinian mechanism, by natural selection, in my view, doesn't really explain that assumption that we've come here today, which is that we will have reliable cognitive faculties that can produce true beliefs. Based on what we discuss, I think an interesting way of looking at it is, well, if you have the first principle or the metaphysic, that the divine exists, it makes sense of this assumption. And if, if, if that's the case, then you know, we should not only praise the products of the human mind and praise the human mind, praise the one that actually created the human mind, which is a form of worship. And that's it. Thank you very much for listening.
So that concludes, the opening statements will now give time for both of our speakers to have a bit of a discussion, if you'll introduce a little bit my own bias and try to steer the conversation a little bit. But both of you kind of talked about maybe the limitations of logic. And here's a quote from often that you mentioned kind of talks about the limitations of ception of Darwinism affecting our ability to develop enhanced logic, and you talk to yourself about the limitations of logic and rationality. So how then do we ground our beliefs?
Or how do you, you know, present to people how we would ground our beliefs in a consistent, logical way? Or do beliefs need to be grounded consistent in a logical way? When you talk about wisdom, for instance, an optic Now you may have heard me talk about having heard you talking
about when he talked about, you know that the concept of wisdom, you know, is that logical enough to be considered like an objective truth. Okay.
So I want to respond to both that. And first of all, I want to say, first of all, I want to compliment Hamza that was a very philosophically sophisticated argument, and it has interested he's putting pieces together in an interesting novel way.
I'm not going to talk about the theism conclusion, at least immediately, we want to come back to that as possible. I want to address the issue because I and then that will allow me to actually address your questions. I'm going to kind of the two at the same time. I want to remind you that I don't
equate rationality with illogicality. So
let me try to explain a bit more, because I think the issue here,
at least part of what I see him saying is there's and this is an important difficulty for naturalism in general, which is an issue of normativity. And so they were invoking the normativity of truth, if we have, if we had the liability for Microsoft doesn't deny that we have reliability for other things. It's just for the normativity of truth. So that's, that's, that's where the argument bites. And that's fair enough. Here's my and here's my response. So it's interesting, because I've already submitted independently responding to a pump in in certain ways.
So the the problem with the idea that we would have evolved to pursue truth is that that would be bio economically expensive. If you said we just don't have the resources that we consume most of our cognitive processing. I think the thing I would say first in response to that is that's true for everything you try to do.
If you tried to play a game of chess, and you try to, as I said, when I was doing the probability, if you tried to do all the calculations that would overwhelm your computational resources, I don't think
we evolved for truth. I think we evolved for adaptivity. Again, that's that's agreed upon. So here's what I want to say that we don't operate according to one normativity, the normativity of truth.
What a lot of my work is that there is another normativity that is just as important that seriously limits the truth we pursue, which is relevance. We only pursue,
we only pursue relevant information and truths that are relevant to us precisely because we have adapted not to see golf possible choose not to derive all possible implications, you're not deriving all the logical possible implications of every statement I'm making here. If you tried to do it for even one of my statements, it would overwhelm you. So what you're doing consistently, reliably, is zeroing in on all the possible implications, the ones that you consider most relevant. That's what I meant earlier about your activity. Now, here's where the I think the argument changes.
Once you say that we're arguing that we're we have evolved to seek relevant foods. And their relevance is precisely because of bio economic constraints, that it is no contradiction, to say that we evolved to have reliable mechanisms for finding relevant truths. And as I that admitted, that explains both our capacity to find foods that we find relevant, and the fact right, because the Darwinian to explain both the successes and the failures of pandas, not all that sort of thing, right? It also explains why so much of your cognition is very self deceptive. Now, Mama did not make this mistake of not attributing it to, I just want to say this clarity, saying that we reliably we
have reliable mechanisms, we have an assumption of reliable truth does not quantify how many trees you have.
doesn't mean you have a lot doesn't have to mean you have a lot. We all assume we have a lot. And here's the thing, empirically, that's false. For the assumption, you're trying to rely on the assumption, it's got to be like a hamster said, it has to be a transcendental assumption about the capacity, not your individual cognition, because most of your beliefs, and most of my beliefs are false. That is a very reliable result. Okay, so we don't so what if all we have to have are, like, all in all the argument requires is a finite set of true beliefs. And that's already limited by the normativity of relevance realization. That's how I respond to that. And that brings me to this issue
of wisdom. Because wisdom, like understanding is not the same thing as knowledge.
Knowledge is being able to ascertain the truth, your propositions, if we're doing propositional knowledge, understanding is being able to grasp the significance, the relevance of that knowledge, and it is very possible to have the first without having the second. And insofar as you're committed to a normativity of wisdom, as opposed to just knowledge, I notice that they're different, because knowledge is about overcoming ignorance. But wisdom is about overcoming foolishness, and ignorance and foolishness are not identical. Therefore, knowledge and wisdom are not identical. And insofar as you have a normativity of wisdom that might one way I'm showing you that you have a normativity of
relevance, not just the normativity of truth pursue.
So now, what does that mean? First of all, I'm not here to try and trespass on the argument about the divine I, there's important ways in which I think that's a conversation I would like to enter into. I talked a lot about the importance of the experience of of sacredness, so that is not the intent of what I'm doing here. But what I'm trying to show is,
I'm trying to show it to you. I hope you take this in good spirit friendliness, that
I think it's possible to be a naturalist by and respond to the normativity argument by showing that intelligence and especially understanding and rationality are not governed just by the normativity of truth, but governed precisely by the normativity of relevance, which is constituted by the very accurate bio economic limitations. That's what my work, in fact, tries to argue and show constituted by the very bio economic limitations that are central to Hoffman and other people's argument.
So in that case, I think it's possible now what it does is it does two things, it again means that we have to open up the notion of rationality. And again, I'm trying to suggest that to you that rationality is not a wise person doesn't just get truth in a situation, the wise person has the more important skill of zeroing in on what's most relevant.
That's why insight is such a central feature of wisdom, as opposed to inference. They can zero in on the relevant information when the less wise among us struggle.
So I think if you'll allow me, I think it's one that we weren't, we didn't evolve to generate theory.
we evolve to cultivate wisdom. And then along the way, that gives us some skills of rationality for overcoming self deception. And then we have used that I cannot everything that we used will evolved for that use, you know, you're not saying that that's clearly false. Because lots of stuff, like you can do lots of things that you didn't have the balls to do. Right? You wear clothes, you didn't evolve to wear clothes and wrote off one.
Right? Okay, so right. Right. So the point there, what I'm trying to make is, if you say we evolved for, like intelligence, and then rationality, and wisdom, in which relevance realization is being recursively improved throughout that continuum, then I think that's how I can respond to that. And now, how does that grounded, because wisdom isn't just about your beliefs.
It's not just about your propositional knowledge. Most of what makes you a cognitive agent is not your beliefs. Most of your behavior is not driven by your beliefs. When you came into this room, you relying on your skills, your navigational skill, and these are the things it's very hard, you know, it's really easy to get to a computer inferential manipulation. No, it's really hard to give to a computer, the ability to walk into this room, and sit successfully on the chair. All that know how propositions are knowing that something is the case, knowing that it's true or false knowing that a cat is a male. But this is very different from knowing how to catch a ball. Knowing how to kiss you,
skills aren't true or false. They're not governed by normativity of true or false. They're governed by normativity aptness, how well do they? how well they apply to the situation. So wisdom is not just about getting true beliefs. It's about having skills, your perspectives, you have a you have a normativity there. How do I know about this, because it comes out in what we do in virtual worlds, you know, what people care about the sense of presence, that sense of presence is the normativity of your perspective, or knowing the field the feeling of being connected in the right way. That's our belief, some belief, that's a way in which you inhabit your person, like you like you're watching a
video gaming, it doesn't feel like you don't feel like you're there. Why do I know this is so crucial, because I'm studying how scientists on earth move the rovers around on Mars, you know, what they work for, they work for getting that sense of being on Mars. Because that ability to have that perspectival knowing then makes it allows them to, to cultivate all the skills they need, and then on the basis of the presence, and the absence of their skills, and then they can do the science of trying to figure out the true beliefs about Mars, what grounds the true beliefs are the powerful procedures that are then grounded in the situational awareness given by our perspective taking,
which is ultimately grounded by the identities we're assuming in our bio economic constraints. So that's how you grounded you don't try and ground it that, theoretically, you try and grounded by saying, and so this is, this is what embodied cognitive science mean, how you ground it, and this is what I think comms is pointing you grounded in how do people actually do the science. That's what rounds in what rounds it is. There's nothing in the propositional system that will round it. I just, I just think I just accept that. Right. But I think it's round yet. And right the propositional is grounded in the procedural which is grounded in the perspective title, which is grounded in the
participatory and like I say, that gives you a nesting of normativity truth for propositions, atmosphere skills, presence, for perspective, and for participation, that fundamental of you know, adult adaptive fixedness. Because if you're not fitted your environment, whether or not it's true or false, all this other stuff isn't going to be possible. For you. That's what it seems to be. That's when you see behind. Like I said, in this case study, when you put human beings into a completely hopeless
environment, which is a great test case, because then you get to see, what's it like when human beings are completely gobbled up by because you can watch them trying to build the science literally from the bottom up. And that's how I think ground the science. That's my end.
Thank you, professor. Connie. JOHN, john.
Thank you. So that was really interesting. I'm not going to pretend that I understood everything you said.
We're gonna explore more question answers to think about relevant truths. I think it could be the case as well, that we could have evolved to have what I want to call now relevant falsehoods. Right? Which means that it could do Yeah, that's good. Exactly. So I don't see that as maybe an adequate response to save the naturalistic program. Because James, he makes a really good point, I'd like to read it to you. So he talks about basically, that, you know, unreliable cognitive faculties are produced for beliefs could have been forced to discriminate or survival, because we could have had cautious belief forming processes that were false. For example, He says, as organism may hide,
because it believes falsely that predators nearby evolution, beloved, evolutionarily sorry, it pays to have cautious belief forming processes that over detect over detect dangerous predators, especially when false beliefs carry little costs. So when you talk about relevant truth?
Are you are you changing the meaning of truth here? Are you saying it's, you know, a information or data or an attempt to understand reality that is fitness enhancing? Or it is the case that is a representation of the actual state of affairs? So let me try and show you what I mean. Um, so we I think that you, the point, you didn't seem to be challenging me, it's not saying the rival is arguing is not saying we have lots of trouble. Okay, so. So what I'm saying is relevant, when you're we're appealing, relevant information to use an intro to your proposal? I'm happy to do with that. Right? It's going to be the case that Yeah, a lot of that is going to be false. But I'm pretty sure
that a lot of instability is going to be beliefs, it's going to be app skills. So there's a lot of stuff in here, and then some of that is going to be true. And here's why I how I respond to that argument. Now, don't you mean, is a signal detection argument, right? It's it looks like this. Right? So signal is information that is relevant to you? adaptively. Right. Does it signal detection theory, noise doesn't mean auditory noise. It can be this is this means information? That's irrelevant to your survival. Is that okay? And so the argument that's being made is just my way to challenge the argument. So what we what we have to do is we have that. So let me give you an
And it's the cautious one. Okay, so you're a gazelle. And there's a noise in the bush, and you need to know is
a leopard? Because that's really bad.
Right? Or is it the wind? And the problem that facing you is the informations ambiguous, ambiguous, right? And so what you do, you have to do what's called setting the criteria, right? So this is what I do is I said here, which means I'm going to treat most of what's almost noise as a signal and I run away. And a lot of the times when I'm running away, there's no leverage. And that's a false belief. But it's adaptive. And here's why it's adaptive, because getting eaten by a leopard is way worse than running around a lot. Because all that happens is the other gazelles laughing, right. Now, the problem with that the problem with in the presupposition in the quote is that that's always
the case. But there's two types of errors, there's a miss, right, where you miss a signal that's there or a mistake, right? When you take noise to be a signal way, it isn't, that depending on the problem, sometimes this is more risky to you. But on other problems, this is more risky, there is no set place to set the criteria. Now sometimes they she points out, it might bite me good to set the criteria. Sorry, she was very cautious, set the criterion very hard, because the misses are very inexpensive. But when the mistakes are very expensive, the exact same theory says like to set the criterion very low. And then what you get is you're going to increase a lot of the truths that
you're going to find. I just disagree with the assertion in there, that you can be sort of comprehensively adaptive by having a permanently both set criteria.
I totally agree with that. I don't think that's the main issue with the kind of challenge to evolution reliable ism, per se. It's just basically saying that, well, can we trace back our evolutionary history to show that
natural selection, it was highly it was more likely than natural selection selected.
liable for two faculties that produce relevant true beliefs over unreliable country factories that produce
relevant false beliefs relevant in this case that there were adaptive fitness enhancing. That would be the problem. So all of this, to me, is great. It makes it I think it supports the kind of essence of the argument. And it basically says that we generally speaking, if we're going to
conclude anything, we'll have to be quite skeptical about many of our beliefs be if we're to say that, yes, we adopt Darwinism as the mechanism to explain what makes us human. That's my point. So the reason I'm going to give you I want to be authentic with you, because you are not a new atheist, of course, for sure.
Yeah, exactly. I'm not an anti theist. Absolutely. So the reason why I think this is a very good discussion, because this is like a challenge to the Dawkins of the world, that they have, like knowledge, claims about religious beliefs, and they point the finger and they're, like, you know, almost absolutely, as an evangelical about these ideas and so on. So but people do those things both ways. I do appreciate that. But this, you know, given the fact that they do adopt the Darwinian mechanism, sometimes in a non scientific way, because they make it to this kind of, you know, popular God, but I think is reprehensible. Yes, yes, absolutely. So the reason I tried to develop
the strategy to show them well, if you're consistent with your, if you're consistent with your
doctors, because then we don't interrupt each other, yeah.
So the argument here is if they're consistent with the propositions and the beliefs about certain things, the fact that the dominant mechanism explains, you know, what makes us human, in this case, our reliable cognitive faculties appeals to believe, then the logical implication is that they have to adopt a form of skepticism in my view, right? I don't agree with stitch and plantinga, especially coming together as a kind of a Christian philosopher that says, Oh, this, you know, this, this refutes, you know, naturalism, totally. I think they go too far. Yeah, the balance view would be, I think, at least they should be logically consistent with their perspective and see what we have to
be skeptics like, in the true sense that there is knowledge and therefore that dampens the pointing of the finger, you know, religious claims and stuff like that. And that's why
what I get from you as well, when you talk about wisdom is well, it's about how you relate you since your state of being is very important. Like there's so many propositions that you could know to be true. But it doesn't necessarily change how you are, like, actually made from this from you. Our discussion last year was phenomenal for me, because I remembered a few things. Number one, you said to me, You said to the audience, and you educate and less educated he that he was very profound. You said that, in wisdom traditions, you can't be an autodidact. That's right, yes, you need someone to take you through and help you navigate. That expiration aspect of wisdom is crucial. Good. I love
that. Because that equals our tradition, true. And it shows a lot because a lot of Muslims who aspire to be like, you know, scholars, and intellectuals, if they learn just from the books, you can see the way they relate to themselves and other people, right. And I would argue, you know, I
don't like using this word. But fundamentalism and extremism is as a result of an autodidact, because they don't have someone that never needs that, that that wisdom tradition. So I thought that the other thing I got from you was, which I think was amazing, it was that your beliefs are not good predictors for your behaviors. Yeah, which is good. I'm gonna come to your class. So the other thing was which thing was very important, which relates to the Islamic tradition as well, which was that, you know, having information and abstract way, there is a gap between what you know,
in kind of abstract information and who you become. So, this is why for me, when I talk about the Islamic tradition, I used to say that Islam is not a belief because the belief from osafo says can be very mundane, like this is a microphone, but rather Islamic wisdom traditions, they are
forms of knowing that transform what's here. It's called the spiritual if you like, transform what you see and how you relate to yourself, and how you relate to others. Now, that shift in your state of being doesn't come through reading a book, understanding propositions, logic, that's right. Yeah, it comes through. Actually, why don't you tell us so you tell us, this is
what it comes through. How do you change your state of being?
Well, first of all, I want to say something that
one of the things that Socrates was on about was exactly he died for relevant truths.
He rejected the sofas who just manipulated the relevance in the salience of information. But he also rejected the natural philosophers of the day. Because although they did provide truth, those truths were in no way transformative. He rejects both, because he said that what we actually need in order to become good and wise and relevant shoes. So that's, that's, that's what and and what does that come up? Because you can ask? Well, when the Socratic tradition was a tradition that I think that was, was directed to the very question, you're asking, how do we go about changing who we are fundamentally. And that's, that's a very interesting thing.
Because like I said, and you seem to be agreeing with it, you can't infer your way through it. I want to give you an example of this from the work of La Paul, about transformation.
She does a thought experiment, and we're using classified experiments here. So that's, I think that's legit for discussion. She says, So, well, I've already given you a just an idea of what the perspectival and participatory knowing is. But let me open it up in this example, as well. She says, your friends come to you. And they give you really convincing evidence that they can do the following. Now, this is pretty close to Halloween. So this is okay. They say we can turn you into a vampire.
He say? So here's the question should you do?
Well, here's the problem. You don't know what it's going to be like to be a vampire. You don't know until you become but once you become it, then you're lost, because then you can't get back.
Right. And you also don't know who you're going to be when you're verified. So there's going to be a change in your perspectival knowing, and there's going to be a change in your identity, because your preferences and values are going to be shifted cuz you're going to be vampiric, rather than so you don't know the values you're going to have. And you don't know the perspective if you don't, right. So how do you decide, because if you don't do it, you don't, you literally don't know what you're missing. And if you do do it, you literally don't know what you're going to lose. And you say, onward. So but here's your point, because when she gave her the thought experiment, she says, This
is the decision you face, right? Whenever you're considering some kind of fundamental transformation, are you going to have a child,
you don't know what you don't want, you want to know what's going to change, you have a job,
you're going to be different. Right? And you're like, well, I won't have a job because I don't want to be that other person, but you don't know what you're missing.
If you do it, when you break here, your friends will tell you stuff that you don't know, because you don't know what it's gonna be like for you. And who you're going to be. Once you have a child.
Enter into a romantic relationship with someone you know, it's going to change you being in that role, and you're going to be a different person. And it's going to be what is right and what it's going to be like to be you it's going to be different after. And so you see, you can't infer your way through it. Because you can't use decision theory. Because you don't have a stable set of probabilities. You don't have a stable set of utilities, you don't have a staples, you don't have a staple set of anything. And yet, almost all the important things we do like the aspiration to wisdom, like the aspiration to rationally require that transformation.
Like, why did you come to school? Well, I want to become a different person than I am. But you don't know where you're going to be losing.
You don't know what you're going to be missing if you don't come to school.
So how do we go through it? Well, here's something that I think would be very welcome in your tradition. The way we do it is we do it by a file a form of symbolic play. Now don't miss hear my word play. I want you to hear it the way to use the developmental psychology, not the way our culture has trivialized it to the pursuit of fun. I want you to hear serious play, it survives when we when we say things like playing music, I beside each one, you don't do Tai Chi in the Chinese language, you play it. It doesn't mean I'm doing something frivolous or for fun. I'm doing something really serious. But nevertheless, it's called plan. Why? Don't think about it. Let's go back to
whether or not you're gonna have a child. What do people do?
Well, I started wondering this and I asked, I got to talk to a Les Paul directly. It's a look like and I'm sorry, proposed an answer. She said, Well, that's pretty Yeah, exactly. This is why I see people doing they go and get a dog.
And then they you really kind of creepy things with the dog. They take pictures with the dog and they put it in a bag and they take it on vacations. Weird. Where are our devices you your friends might give you when you're considering getting into a relationship. They'll say go on a trip with that person. travel with them.
What are you doing? What you're doing is the creating in not a not a thought analog. They're creating an inactive analog, where they put you in this place because what play does is it puts you in this place where you're getting enough of that if you'll allow me This is where the taste of the world you want to get into and the taste of the person you might be but you haven't fully committed
Right, and then you still can withdraw here. And so what people do is they symbolically play they enact. And it's becoming really, really profound that people that people are who I would think would describe themselves as secular and very secular countries, undertake this kind of thing. Let me give an example. The Nordic countries, one of the most secular countries in the world, right. And, and, and also some of the best places to live, according to sort of Steven Pinker graph, I don't think he's right. But but that's another thing. Okay, so what's becoming very popular, there is a thing called Jeep form. So this is live action roleplay, you go into a role playing situation. And instead
of a dungeon master, there's a person who's the director, and they'll assign you, you're going to play the husband, and you're going to play the wife. And you've just discovered that she's on Facebook. And you're going to act this out. Now, what they what the director is doing is changing roles around giving you props, trying to get you to the job state of mind, because thereafter, this phenomena bleed, what they want is that as you're playing this, the distinction between the play and what's happening in your real life, the line leaves, so that the play gets infected by what is happening in your real life. So that you can do that tasting, of how it might other be, without yet
having fully committed to it. I'm just trying to give you the example that human beings This is how human beings actually move in a way, because they can't do it inferentially, they seriously, symbolically inactively played themselves. Now, I happen to think and i mean this respectfully, I happen to think that a lot of sacred practice, is serious play in that sense, that a lot of what goes on in what people and again, I mean this respectfully, if you watch any of my videos, you know, I was respectful of religious traditions.
But I think what's going on in worship?
What I think is going on a lot for me touch each one comes out of a spiritual tradition.
I think that is that very kind of sacred play. I think that a lot of I'm not claiming all I'm not trying to trespass on your theism. But I think a lot of the functionality of religion is the indispensable serious play, that allows us to grow the wisdom and the rationality that we could not infer our way into. That's how I think we do.
Actually, like just play with that is that play?
Like the Hajj rituals, the pilgrimage that we do, a lot of it, like you said, it's completely symbolic. And it's meant to mimic what each person will do on the Day of Judgment. So the fact that you're crammed with so many different people, one location has been resurrected, we're at one location, all the men are wearing two pieces of shawl, just like the two pieces of short trousers that we bury our dead ends. So it's as if you've been resurrected from the grave. Can you cut your trout on and you're crammed in the fun location, and you're all begging God for mercy, just like you would be right? So it's just that same idea. It's like it's being a play. It's trying to prepare you
spiritually for something that will happen. I think what's very interesting with this is I you know, I wasn't always Muslim, I became Muslim around 16 years ago. And I remember, you know, this reading about the Islamic tradition and being like, inverted commas, right, intellectually convinced the God is 1x y&z I think what was very important to me, is I learned how to pray the five daily prayers before I became Muslim,
in a way, it was that kind of play in a respectful sense, right. And that created an awakening within me. So in Islamic tradition, and this, you know, can correlate to studies in the psychology of religion and it could be of science by the not conclusive, but there's something there, where every human being has this natural state, that is innate disposition. Within this innate disposition is a form of Portal knowledge, right, primary knowledge. You know, in this arbitration, we argue it is the knowledge that God is a reality, and that He is worthy of extensive praise. Now, and there's other things like beauty, basic morality, but this focus on the two essential elements here, which
is that God is a reality and is worthy of extensive praise. Now, what happens to the innate disposition, which is called the fifth in Islam based on various prophetic traditions, is that it gets clouded. Right, it gets clouded because parenting parents corrupt the children
and society does we have systemic effects for sure.
If you've seen the Joker, you'll understand that.
So, he gets clouded. So what happens is, is that there are different things that can unpowered the innate disposition to awaken the truth within. So to change the state of being from Islamic point of view, is that thing which unclouded the innate disposition to awaken natural Sivan.
For Pete, for many people could be different things. It could be trauma, like trauma, that you know, in psychology they talk about, you know, the way to get transformation is for more insights. Insight is very difficult, right? trauma is easy, because I'm just going to kick you in the mouth. And it's going to be talking about free teeth. Yeah. So that's what, that's what that's gonna do. And that's really there's a definite the family, or an illness, or humiliation or failure. These are sometimes blessings will mean that by belittling anyone's suffering, by the way, but there could be blessings. When you look back, you say, Oh, my God, that creates such an awakening for me where transformation
in my state of being meaning the way I relate to myself and other people. So from the very paradigm point of view, maybe it wasn't the intellectual stuff 16 years ago, that basically made that made me take that leap, if you like, or that transformation, it was actually through the practice. And I remember my friend telling me that, you know, in Islamic tradition, the closest you are to God is in frustration, you know, because the face is like the symbol of the ego. And your code is all mighty, his his high. You know, he's perfect, because perfect names and attributes is maximally perfect. And his names and attributes are nor do have no deficiency on floor. Human beings, in contrast, are
nothing there isn't even a comparison. And that whole process of you worshiping the divine, is basically it was an awakening thing for me. So that's interesting, because for me, that created that type of an awakening for me to, you know, maybe have a realization that for me, as the front was was was the way of life to follow up. So this is only interesting stuff, man.
I tried. You tried Chico,
Chico, done, I'm sure. And which are really Yeah. Okay. I have a question for you. Right. So I use visual field. And I used to do something called steel wire mantus. Right. So steel wire, and my test was you have the northern and southern style of matches, but they added steel wire because they incorporate Chico, Chico, you have the soft side and the hot side. So I remember one of my cheekbone classes, you know, you have the den team, which is about one inch down to two inches in and you get this kind of magnetic thing going on. I think this all could be explained naturalistically. For sure. I have a paper coming out on a naturalist. I want to see that because I tell you why. Because
most hit someone in the stomach and they didn't budge. They didn't know what was cookies, right. Yeah, it was designed to kick was
to take people off the horse and harm the horse, right? So I was like, oh, and the guy. I was like 90 kilos pus at that time, I think. Yeah. And I was kicking him. And he was like, as if nothing happened, right? How can you just I know is your papers coming up? Can you explain to everybody how that works? And that's just for me, because I've been in the martial art traditions for since the age of 12. Or something. And I really want to know, how does how, how does hard Chico work? Well, I don't know about Archie calm. I mean, I can tell you. So. Like I said, I'm not an expert in that. And so the paper isn't on that specifically.
Hold the mic down. Thank you. It isn't about that. Specifically, it's about just a natural explanation of the cheap and all
the things I'm interested in explaining are things like the one inch punch, how people can, you know, be one minute away. And then finally, so I sometimes do that on my students and things like that.
And so now it's something you measure that putting all the mystique aside, and Mystique is not the same thing as mysticism. But putting all the mystique aside, when when we studied it, the people that are highly trained in this can get up to 70% of a full body piston punch and a one inch punch. So it's not made up. Yes, it's a real thing. And then well how are they doing that? And so
they This is a it's not an easy explanation, because we need explanation human beings would have come upon by now.
So first of all, and this is also work I published on TV. Do you guys know about the flow state? How many of you have heard of the flow state getting into the zone? You athletes get into it, you get into your sparring you It explains an otherwise bizarre phenomenon of rock climbing, rock climbing sounds like something from you know Greek punishment. You know, in ancient mythology, you gotta climb up that rock face, it's gonna hurt, you might fall to your depth. And then once you get to the top, come back down.
So but why do human beings do it? Because it seems absolutely stupid from right sort of the hedonistic but they do it because it puts them into the flow state. So what is it like to be in a flow state when you're in the zone? You feel it's optimal in two ways. First of all, people reliably is why they do the rock climbing. They randomly report. This is one of the best experiences they have in their life. If any of you ever had this, maybe dancing or fencing, anything
Like that some people sparring you can, you can get it playing jazz. Here's, I bet you didn't realize you're in it, how many of you have gotten into sort of the zone, video gaming anybody, because that's a reliable way of getting people into the flow state as well. Okay? So
it's ultimately that people really like it. But it's also optimal in another way, people are at their very best.
So when an athlete is got, you know, that you can see that moment, and athletes are constantly, like gimme wills stealing fire, and some of the work ID, they're constantly trying to concentrate and get into flows that you can see when an athlete gets into the flow state. Because what happens is, although you can tell metabolically, they're putting in all kinds of effort, it seemed effortful, effortless, it seems like we got to get into the flow state, it's like, I can tell that my body is expanding lots of energy, but it feels effortless, it's graceful, and go go back to the original meaning of grace gifted, right? It's like, suddenly, something happens. Now athletes and martial
artists and jazz musicians, and the top notch video game is trying to get into the flow state precisely because that's when they're performing at their best. Because what you're doing in the flow state is you're basically getting a whole getting your body and your mind to do a whole cascade of insight problem. It's like a chain, a whole bunch of aha moments together. And you're really ramping up your intuitive ability to pick up on complex patterns. So if you can get into the flow state, and that's what Taoism is, and that's what Tai Chi, and she combos, like their techniques, practices for reliably getting into the flow state. Now, if you get into the flow state, what
happens? Well, you lose all this narrative stuff, you get the sense of time is now passing very differently, you have a tremendous and this is why, the more here's what's how predictive you find it. And I again, no, no, no lack of respect. But this, irrespective of your religious affiliation, how often you get into the flow state is predictive of how meaningfully how meaningful you will lead your life.
It's, it's also a, it's an, it's an antidepressant, not a drug. But the more often you get in the flow state, that much less likely you are to become clinically depressed.
So it's really and here's the other thing, it's universal across cultures, religion, socio economic groups, genders, professional levels, people can get into the flow state, and they describe it almost identically.
So that means it's very fundamental to how your cognition works. So right, so it's optimizing your cognition, it's optimizing your connectivity, it's optimizing your performance. And then we'll get to that. So remember, I said you playing punchy, imagine doing jazz, but not with an instrument, but with your body. So that you have that hyper coordination mixed with innovation at all times, like a jazz musician, a jazz musician has to be terrifically proficient in playing, you can't just fake it, you have to be really, really proficient first. But also to be good jazz, you also are constantly innovating. So if you're in a flow state, and high proficiency, high innovation, and then you're
embodying that in a kind of hyper coordination in your body. And that's where the power comes from. There is a like, what you what you find is that all of the muscles, not just the large piston muscles, the small control muscles, the feedback loop, the nervous system to the brain, the feedback back loop within the brain, between the cerebellum and the frontal cortex, these are all being optimized, efficient. And then when when somebody hits you with G, you feel it. Because all of these muscles, all these processes have been hyper coordinated.
That's what she is.
I don't know what it has to do with the rest of what we're talking about.
I think it's fine to approach them in a way. That was great, because he basically told everyone if you're not sure you're going to get depressed,
which was our term for basically being in that zone while you're praying? I didn't know that. So if you have any questions at your school, just raise your hand you get
Do we have another mic to pass to the people in the audience? Some small questions, but
we could be But it would be good if both the recording and the audience that hear the questions.
Can you please define what you mean by truth? And can you also define? Because I know you said the Hoffman and then how he kind of described the truth. What do you mean by that? Okay, so the Hoffman study is about true perceptions. So
what you perceive is what is the understanding what you perceive, and every presentation of the actual state of affairs was out there? So the argument by Hoffman is well, you can have false perceptions and survive, and it's probably likely that natural selection selected that over to perceptions because firstly,
But conducive to survival reproduction, which really undermines the kind of undermines the person's domain if it's true, right from that point of view. So it's an interesting study. And obviously, with most studies, you need more research. Right? So that's just to clarify your understanding of
that. You want to understand what I mean by truth. Oh, my God.
I mean, the word truth was kind of going on. Yeah, I mean, truth. They're different in philosophy, the different understandings of truth, right. So, you know, Karen Chisholm, foundationalism. x. y&z is also referred to as you know, the exam when you when you see something is true, it's a representation of the actual state of affairs. But I'm going to talk about someone Islamic perspective. So, you know,
it's such a loaded question.
Truth in this case, is a representation of the actual state of affairs, but what the actual state of affairs
is, is, is basically the affirmation that there is the divine, and that He is worthy of worship, right. And that would be a truth from a kind of spiritual metaphysical point of view. But that was also just like seeing this table. Right? You know, me saying that is a table, that proposition or that statement is a representation of the actual state of affairs. So when when Muslims say that there is a there is the divine, He is worthy of worship? That, for us is a representation of the actual state of affairs, because there is a divine and the divine is worthy of worship. And we could articulate why that's the case. But that's a later discussion. I want to relate this to this kind of
false notion that sometimes the Muslim community has I think we've secularized our knowledge, I don't mean that in insensitive way, because I agree with the professor on this issue. You know, there is not a button you press and all of a sudden you have this kind of spiritual or existential certainty for the use those terms you have, or a lever you pull, it just doesn't work that way. Because, you know, when we're talking about certainty, there was talk about who you certainly can be, but what is the human being the human beings on this computerized functional model, that you type in an algorithm and all of a sudden, that's it, you've got it, right, from a design point of
view, you've you found the divine algorithm for guidance, and you type it in and that's it, you know, it's like in the matrix. Now, I know kung fu, it doesn't work that way. So
that's why there's I mean, traditionally have certainty as a concept is, is the grades the levels of certainty. That's why from the Quranic discourse point of view, you have the notion of an evil yaqeen, which is the certainty of knowing something that someone's like giving you a report, for example, that you hear a radio report that the hospitals on fire, then you have it again, which is you've seen the hospital on fire, so that the certainty of seeing or observing that you have talked with Dr. Kane, which is the certainty of being because you're relating to the hospital, the way that you're in the hospital, you're experiencing the fire. So these are levels of sanctity, and that's
why, you know, I could say to the, my mother's cooking is the best cook in the world. It's par excellence. Yeah, she makes the best record in Greek. Well, the watercolor is one of the best sweets, go go get it. It's amazing. Yeah, I could have like, if I'm gonna die, I'll bring my die. And I'm very disciplined sometimes, right, I'll have a whole trade or almost a poetry. And so I can describe that Cheever saying, This is how she makes it. These are the ingredients. Now that is what you call exhibit tradition. elodea pain, which is the certainty of knowing something in an abstract way, right, from this perspective, then you could actually see her doing it right see someone
tasting it saying Oh, it's so nice. Yeah, that would be in some way angle your pain the certainty of observing it, but for you to have the highest form of certainty with you got to stop right. So hopefully that helps in some way to unravel that. It's not just the simple one plus one easy to tune because once you understand the human being the human being is not just a computerized functional model the human being is me tradition is a lot is a soul consciousness is enough's. A psychology is a part of a heart and an output and the output is an intellect. And in this tradition, the intellect is a function of the spiritual heart. Right? And then we also have that innate division, the fitrah
order these things are in dynamic interplay. That's why you know, cognitive science from what I learned from the professor last year, is that your beliefs actually we need some are good predictors. VBA is so complex. There's a lot of things going on, right. So yeah, I didn't answer your question, but
I'm gonna answer the question too, because he directed
The thing that struck me most, and I did all the requisite, you know, philosophy, courses and epistemology, and there's a truth and all that.
And the thing that stuck with me at all that was Spinoza
chooses not something you know, it's something by which you know,
which is a very different thing. So, if you try to look for a property and a proposition that makes it true, I think you're looking for a place. So what what I take that to mean, is
a chi, I think truth to be judgments of truth are a one way in which we make judgments of realness and judgments of realness are always comparative judgments. It's like, you can't say something as tall except in comparison to something that's short, you can't say something is real, except by having overcome. Like, what I'm trying to say is I do you have to overcome some kind of illusion or self deception to then make the judgment of truth. I don't think you'd make the judgment of truth per se, to a proposition. What I'm saying is, there's no way of knowing truth independent of transformation, if I haven't gone through, and, whoa, I now in a place from this perspective, where
I can see how that perspective was limiting, that allow that allows me comparatively to say, this is more real than that. And insofar as my statements, right, give me beliefs that track that movement, then I would say there on the track of the truth. So I'm not of the opinion, that truth it, right. But I want to point out that we have other judgments of realness, independent of our beliefs. Because as I said, I your beliefs, I typically don't ask people what they believe I typically ask them what they practice.
think about think about again, this skill, the Tai Chi. Like, they'll be honest, there isn't truth. In fact, one of the ways I would want if I was sparring with Hamza is I tried to get him into propositional thought. Because if he gets into propositional thought, his skill level goes down, and I can beat the crap out of him. What's one of the things you can do is if you're sparring with somebody say, Hey, that was a really good strike. How did you do that?
And then they're doing
some important trying to show you realness there is something more like this aptness like that that element of grace that I was talking about in flow. So we use flow as a measure of sort of the realness of our procedural engagement with the world. That sense of presence, like the scientists are trying to get on Mars, how that's how we measure our perspective, or real realness. And then you know, that participatory knowing the kind of person you're becoming, there's, you know, you know, in your bones when you're becoming right, when you're sort of on track in your development, and then when your development is going around, but often you only know it by going through growth, growth,
think about going through grief, I've lost both parents.
You don't know until after the only way through grief is to grow into another person that can see, right, the person who is in grief, my friend, Chris helped me through some very significant grief. Right? So that's, that's, that's the participatory realness. I'm becoming, I'm realizing, listen to the word, who I'm supposed to be. We have all of these different standards of realness. And I think the truth of our propositions can is not cannot become independent of transformation. And we have all kinds of transformations that are not about transforming our beliefs.
So that's what I would say.
Yeah, that was kind of too much. Right.
Try, first of all, thank you all for the very nice discussion, like was a great exercise. I have to push them. So first, to Dr. Nikki, you talked about relevant towards and that how everyone will like I said, for instance, we evolved to be adopted.
We all have our own personal truths that we find relevant. So what do you say about something like that? Does that mean that there is no Subjective Truth? Each one will have their own different tools and their own different perspectives?
And then the second question, better for me if I answered each question, singularly, rather than having both questions, I said, Okay, nothing is apparent to you. I won't forget that. So please stop.
So you have to be very careful, because the fact that
I'm not waiting relevance to a subjective judgment, right there. Like if you don't do the relevant move in chess, you lose, right? It's not an arbitrary selective preference relevant. So think about that. Let me use the analogy of evolution. Right. Fitness is not a property of the organism because the great white shark fit well depends if it's in the
Atlantic gaps, the fact that the Sahara no dice, they didn't, this is not a property of the environment. It's not a property of the world, light of the of the physical environment. Fitness is a real relation between the organism and the environment. It's neither a subjective preference, nor is it an objective physical property, part of the physics of the ontology, it's a real relation between them. relevance is the cognitive equivalent of that biological fitness. It's the real relation, that I talked about reality and real, it's the real relation between you and the environment that you are appropriately fitted, so that your limited finite resources can zero in on
the information that is needed in that situation to deal with the realities of that situation. So I do not I know, I tried to say, what I'm arguing for is not any kind of subjective realism, subjective relativism at all. And I'm arguing for a relational realism. And those are two very, very different things.
To clarify, the second question is, I want to know the relationship between the human mind and the heart. So
what's the second thing the heart, the heart?
And this is for both of you. As a psychology students, we learned that, yes, everything is in your brain, you know, it's amygdala, it's everything on the brain. But then when you come from the sonic perspective, you hear about things like, Oh, it's not the either the eyes that are blind, but it's the hearts that are blind. So there's a lot of kind of symbolism to the hearts in Islam. And they want to know, from the cognitive perspective, and from the Islamic perspective, how do you rationalize that? Are they two different entities? Is it just a human mind? Is it? What is it exactly? And where do our emotions come from? Where does our motivation kind of come true? Okay, so
I mean, the problem with the word heart is it's ambiguous between two two things. There's the thing that's pumping your blood, and you can lose that people do they get artificial hearts. And as far as I can tell, they don't lose the other meaning of art. So I'm going to talk about the other meeting about this physical organ. Physical organ is something that is often physiologically felt when we're having particular emotions. But I don't think the physical organ is the relevant thing at all, but for the reason I just gave.
And so what do you mean by the heart? Well, I think you need a whole bunch of things. Like when Pascal talks about, you know, that the heart has reasons that reason knows that. He's meaning a whole bunch of things together. He's meaning meaning emotion, is meaning he's meaning motivation. He's also meaning your your, your, what he calls the spirit of finesse, your your sense of a situation, like, you know, when you're going to kiss somebody, you think he compares it to the spirit of geometry, you don't try to geometrically calculate how you're going to kiss somebody. Because getting the bajoran theorem, that's the right angle here. I know. Right? Don't do that.
Because it's not just a matter of the calculation, it's a matter of timing, the right placement, the right stage of your, of your development, the right stage of that person's development. And to use a word I just mentioned before, whether or not there's a real relationship between you and that person, all of that has to be taken into account. So I think that when we're talking about the heart, we're talking about, like all of those other kinds of knowings. And right then the propositional knowing that I've been mentioning the procedural, because all of these kinds of knowings will require you zeroing in on, like if I'm going to catch a ball at the zero information,
and I will have to care in the right way. I have to be caring and coping moment by moment, right. But to catch a ball, I have to be caring and coping. If I'm caring about maintaining my sobriety, maintaining my sanity, and you know what, you care way more about me and you care about truth. And sorry, I don't hope you can weigh more what your sanity than you do, but your truth.
I'm really confident about that. If I offered you, I'll give you all kinds of truths, but you're going to be friggin insane when you get them, you know, yeah, I want that.
So you care about yourself, you standard notice this isn't it's not like you're carrying an emotion around with you all day. Like I don't know what it would be fear or Oh, my sadness. I don't know what it is. But you're but you care about it deeply. So caring doesn't necessarily mean feeling either. It means the way in which you are zeroing in on what's relevant, what's important, what you're identifying with, and how much you're committing your time, and your attention and your development to it. I think from a cognitive scientific point of view, that's what the heart is.
Thank you for your question. It's a very deep question that traditionally, the multiple boxes having tradition this discussion on it, but
see why I mentioned earlier concerning the pump the hype that occurs which too many others
What is the intellect the upper is the function of the heart. And what we mean by heart is the spiritual heart, right? And then you have the knifes the kind of psychology, you have the law of the soul and you have the fitrah. All of these things are a dynamic interplay.
Now, when you want to zoom in on the heart, so as you said that the heart is blind, right? So the heart can become softened, it can become hardened, right. And in Islamic spiritual practice, the whole point of Islamic spirituality in accordance to the Quran and the prophetic traditions, is to soften one's heart as well. For example, when you engage with, for example, Vicar, Vicar is the remembrance of the Divine Self into its destruction.
So it softens the heart, or in this case, it polishes the heart. Like according to one prophetic tradition, everything has a Polish and the Polish of the heart is the vicar of Allah is the is the remembrance of Allah. You can't rationalize that, you have to do it. Right. And as you continue the spiritual practice, something happens, right.
So the heart can be polished. And that's very interesting, because when it's polished, you can reflect with divine guidance, mercy, because you know, when someone is truly remembering God, and they're present with the divine, they don't, they don't look like this and angry all the time. And you don't want to like, you know, be aggressive, there's something about them, right. So the heart can be polished. Also, the heart can have blemishes, we call them spiritual practices. So for example, one key blemish of the heart is hatred. The Prophet Muhammad upon me, he said that hatred is a razor, and it shaves off the religion, meaning, you know, it shaves off, you know, from my
pondering on this person perspective, of course, it shaves off your mind your faith, right? You're kind of conviction, your spiritual conviction and your relationship with the divine. So, you know, and we have tools of how to deal with with hatred. For example, if I hate you, one of the tools in these spiritual tradition is that I now do I supplicate for him. No, no one knows that apart from me and Allah right. And if every night I'm suffocating for this person, which in a room, museum something Oh Allah, please guidance is there. Please forgive him guarding the best in this life in the hereafter showering him with your boundless love and mercy grant him and his family to invest in
this side from the Hereafter, and a show that applies to all of their progeny to the day of judgment as powerful stuff, you might not mean it here. But you know, that it through spiritual practice the blemish of your heart, particularly in this case, hatred will be removed any works. This has been going on for like over 1000 years in our tradition for 1400 years. This is a spiritual tradition. So for example, things like ostentation, right? Showing off, right? Look at me, I am a I'm a I'm a philosopher, I could do a weights punch. And
I'm a weak Chun guy, one of these things, right? That's like showing up most of the patients for example, say when they give salad plus other coins, Islamic tradition is charity. All acts of worship must be done for the sake of the Divine no for your ego, right because he's worthy of that act by virtue of the fact that he is a Illa Allah The date is one worthy of worship is worthy of your love. And you know, you want his divine rewarding you to prevent yourself from the inevitable consequences of closing the door to divine guidance and mercy which in the Islamic tradition is the fire. So during for these reasons, is sincerity if you do for other than if you did for your ego for
praise. That's that's like a form ostentation is his arrogance, right? How do you deal with that now? So it's like it's a tradition to deal with that which is in the heart, you do an act of worship outside of the obligatory acts everyday, the only you have good? No. So one of those acts in the spiritual tradition with the Prophet Mohammed appointed me peace. He basically said this person coming to the mosque, he's an inhabitant of paradise. So one of the companions followed him, they stayed with him for three days. And he didn't see anything. His practice was wobble. So he said, How come you're going to paradise? Right? Your eternal place? Right? Why how kind of thing he said, what
every night before I go to bed, I feed my harmony, hatred. Right?
He Allah is the de that no one knows apart from you or God, and during that continuously creates that state of being the way the way you relate to Allah, the way you relate to yourself and others. In this case, the way you really Tama it creates that state of being in which you do these acts of worship for no one else but for the divine. Right. So other blemishes of the heart can include jealousy. Right? So Jason, Islamic tradition is not being any of this from the point of view that you want that thing as well as natural sometimes, right? Oh, he's got a great house. I would like a great house to write that's not nasty per se. What is malicious and evil from that point of view is
that you want his house
For you and a house, and you don't want him to have a house, right, that would be blamed within Islamic tradition. So the How would you do that again, you supplicate for him, you understand who the divine is because the divine is all powerful his his his bounties are infinite. So you now saying that I need to get it and he shouldn't get it. It's like you're diminishing the bounties of God that he's that God is not powerful enough, he doesn't have the bounties to share and give everybody what they do you see my point. So there's so many different things, I'm just paraphrasing, but so the spiritual heart is the thing that also beliefs, right? And isn't very interesting,
because you can give to people the same information, and they will have the different conclusion. Look at me my whole life, if you look at my life, right, say, my life is this line here. And you see me here, I have the same information, but I'm in a fundamentally different state of being. And I have the same information here, and I'm in this fundamentally different state of being, why is it the case? Why is it the case that you know, you we have the same abstract information, but we conclude differently? Right? Just like even if suffering in the world, you know, one would conclude like Arthur Schopenhauer, the pessimists philosopher, it wouldn't forget it. It's finished, right?
And this is trying to justify suicide, right? The greatest act of freedom is killing yourself because you didn't choose your path. But you could choose your day, right? It's gloomy, right? Or you could give a different meaning to even suffering, right.
So the point here is the same kind of reality, your data, you could react differently, because the way you relate to it in the Islamic tradition is about where your heart is. Do you see? So this is a this is a lot here. But they you know, they say one thing.
I think there was convergence there. Because I would say, what's changed is the significance of the information is constant, what's changed is its significance or relevance, like when you're looking at the duck rabbit, or the Necker cube, things like that the information is the same, but it's relevance or significance. And it's understanding for you has changed, but he's doing understanding well, but that's but that's the point is, I would say that you're also changed, but the who is doing understanding is also changing. What What I meant is your explanation of the heart as being, like grasp the different difference, even though the information is the same. sounded very similar to
what I was saying about, I think the relevance realization processes, it's not that there's a lot of what we're talking about just what we're talking about the the heart, that's what I was showing her. I also wanted to note that
thank you invoked the presence of God as the standard of realness, which, again, goes towards that, again, that sense of presence, being an important way by which we evaluate the realness of things that's independent, and maybe even generative of our capacity for a belief. You seem to be arguing, right. So I thought that was a point of convergence as well. I just wanted to know, thank you.
Just want to thank the organizers. And thank you, Dr. Cohen.
for your insights that you shared with us today. I'm going to ask you this question that I so some of the questions we asked you last time when you and Mr. Hamza spoke, and it was around the crime. I know, I think I asked you last time if you had engaged in debt, or Reddit, and I believe you said no, correct me if I'm wrong, and at that time, I hadn't read and I have not read very much of it since. Okay. So it's it's, I guess, so.
What from the Islamic texts has personally resonated with you? And
what questions would you like to explore further? I do have a second question about around that your beliefs around God. But I'll wait.
The first one, I mean,
I haven't met a lot of the crowd. And I don't want to pretend that I have just read snippets here and there. I've been reading a lot about
I've been especially reading it through the work of Corbin. Corbin was
he was part of the circle of people like Carl Gustav young, and others. And Corbin was making an argument he was trying to bridge between heideggerian phenomenology and Persian philosophy and he was making a strong argument for the importance that Persia had placed in philosophical history because it acted as a connecting place between European philosophy on one side and Indian side and Asian philosophy on the other. And so I've been
I've been reading a lot of that and I can vary
So I've been also reading, like, I'm not going to try to pronounce his name, because it's a I would mispronounce it. But he was a Persian philosopher mystic, and he won't, he won't. I believe that the English translation is something like the way of elimination, and why I'm particularly interested in it. He talks about knowing by presence, something that has been invoked here and something that I've been arguing, and he was on the heat into the idea of illumination, is not to primarily develop more and more sophisticated chains of belief, but to being about the transformation of consciousness and cognition, so you get an increasingly sense, an increasing sense of the realness of things in terms
of how they are present to, because you have that sense of presence. And so I found that particularly Wow, because that really jives with a lot of the coxide that I'm doing right now. And I found that really, really insightful. And then Corbett is talking about people like that and referring to them, because Corbin is introducing this term he calls the imaginal. The imagine that the imaginary is the mental images you have in your head, right. And then we have sort of the formal patterns of reality. The imaginal are the patterns between us and the world. Let me let me try and give you an example. Like once an example of the imaginal, as opposed to the imaginary. Suppose that
let's say, here's a something we care about justice, I want you to hold justice in your mind, I want to make I want you to make justice present, in your mind, when you do
to what many people do, and because I do this all the time, is still imagine the woman with the scales, but the balance.
Now Why? Well, because when when balance is actually what you like, when I'm moving around, and I'm balancing, I'm actually using the cerebellum. Right? It's a it's actually giving my balance.
But what I can do, by having this symbol,
like a justice, I can hold justice in my mind by picturing the lady with the scales, I can then activate my balance machinery. And then I can feel what it's like to be balancing things. And that part of the cerebellum that you use, when you're physically balancing, you also use it when you're trying to balance complex, abstract relations between people and systems, you're using the same cognitive machinery. So you've been acting, a symbol that engages, it's a you, you don't just think about justice, you don't just picture it, you're enacting justice, you're embodying it, you're making it happen in you. That's the imaginal. And that that's how you're making justice present.
There's a deep connection between knowing by presence. And again, this is involving serious play. And that's really that's that's having a deep influence on my thought right now.
Thank you, sir. Thank you, part of my question was that
this lecture is entitled guy, and I did feel like last time you were hesitant to, I'm always hesitant.
So so that's exactly my question. Because you said some beautiful things about our cognitive abilities, and you were very certain about them. And you really traced them quite nicely. No, I'm certain I too strong, but Okay, I think it's possible. I even know that. And I know you've had discussions with Dr. Jordan Peterson as well, too. We have, we have recently had discussions, I'm not saying anything negative or positive about him. So I've had discussions about him that he's also
quite long winded or prefaces or, you know, has this long discussion. He doesn't want to say which short group of people he belongs to, or I didn't make perhaps doesn't want to be affiliated with a label. But I feel that that has written with respectively, I feel that hesitancy from yourself. And I would like to know why that is.
If it's possible, I know, I don't know, I don't want to assume your background. I know that you teach courses on Buddhism, but Sure, why is there this hesitancy to say, okay, there is a God, there is a divine reality. Okay, well, I'm gonna answer your question from the way it's framed. I'm not going to try and answer the question about whether I'm not gonna try and establish whether God exists or not. I think that's pretentious on my part.
So that I don't think I'm going to answer the question the way you framed it, why is there hesitancy on my part? Okay, is that fair enough? No.
Can I answer that first, and then you can come back? Okay. Because I think Well, let me try first because it might go towards why you're still suspicious. First of all, I agree with you that I don't think Jordan should.
I don't I don't think he dodged the question.
So I'll put my cards on the table because that's what you're asking for. You're asking more for me to be honest. I'm a non theist, okay, which is neither a theist or an atheist. A non theist says that they reject the shared presuppositions between at least classical theism and atheism, right. That God is a kind of being that the relationship to them is one of them.
belief that God is in some important way similar to person, etc. Now why why do I Why do I reject that? But let me tell you why I'm not an atheist to, okay. Why do I reject that? Because I have for me.
I practice deeply in multiple traditions.
It's like, you know, aren't you you know, if you've never been to Spain, and somebody tells you like, you know, you know, Spain is wonderful, well, how do you how do you, but if Spain is better than France, but if they've never left Spain, Spain is better than France, but I've never left. But if I've been to both Spain and Spain and France, and I say Spain is better than France, you pay better attention to me.
So I'm good. So I've practiced many traditions, and I've had profound transformations and experiences of sacredness, and what do I mean by sacredness? Now, this may, I don't know what your particular conception of God is. I know that many mystics talk about God this way. My experience is a very neoplatonic experience in the in the sense that what I mean by sacredness is there is an aspect to reality that like realness always has a more ness to it, it it there's an inexhaustible next to it that I cannot, through insight, exhaust the depths of what can be discovered or uncovered. But even this, this object right here, everything like like Blake said, you can see a
world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, you can hold infinity in the palm of your hand and spend eternity an hour. I've had those experiences, but I've had them while doing Taoist practice, or doing deep in meditation.
And that inexhaustible this it's not like a random chaos. It's an inexhaustible fount of new intelligibility.
So, I, I think, for that reason, and again, and I've seen things in Islamic traditions that say things like this, I don't know if it's heretical tonight, so I don't mean any offense. But, you know, God is no thing. There's the no thingness of God, God is not any kind of thing. And so I think that that part of, for example, like, what makes a video game more real to people, is if it has that mortise, that they can keep uncovering more, and when they when they uncover more, it makes more sense to them. So for me, science actually points that out about reality. The people like Dawkins, that comes out rightly criticizes are idolatrous, and I use that term seriously. Like this set of
beliefs is done. That's it. My experiences is all that science shows is that reality, reality did like the towel teacher says about the GAO is a well that is used, but never used up.
And so I've had radical experiences, that transforms experiences of overwhelming oneness.
With properly called mystical, I've had many of these, and when I compare them to people in various traditions, and I don't mean just abstractly, I mean, close respecting discussion, there seems to be deep resonance, mutual understanding, but I cannot find any tradition that I can privilege that for. So I'm a non theist.
Now, that's why I'm hesitant. I don't want and this is what I want to say as well. I believe strongly, given what I've just said, I think I thought they think it's an implication of what I'm arguing for, that there are things that will be symbolic for a particular tradition, that are indispensable for that tradition, to experience the secret. Let me give you an analogy of what I mean.
English is indispensable to me.
If you take away from me, I can't I can't think of reason. Does that mean, I think that everybody has to speak English in order to be a cognitive agent. No. But it's indispensable to me. I can't, I literally can't live without him. But that's not the same as concluding that everybody asked to be speaking English to be cognitive agent. That's my reason for being a non theist. Because and by the way, as a scientist, the evidence lines up with this. People and we have all kinds of measures for this, you'll just have to trust me on this because, right, you know, how wise people are becoming now what's what's a what's a strong prediction of how wise you become past immersion, how much you
commit to a spiritual path and stick to it. All the spiritual traditions outperformed the atheist in the ability to become wiser. But what you don't find is any significant difference between the various paths and how wise the people come because within them, you have to commit, you have to immerse yourself in a path because that reliably does better than the non spiritual people than the people who self declared as atheists does. But the Buddhists and the Muslims by the one outperforms the other. So from my point of view, it's like, I don't I I can't
include this. But I can also conclude why this is what I did. And I mean this sincerely why I deeply respect people in their tradition. From my point of view, I know you're not going to agree with what I'm going to say, but I'm explaining my position. From my point of view, your secret symbols, very likely are deeply indispensable to you, and you cannot live without them. And that's why I do not trespass against them. That's my answer. So I'm not giving a Jordan answer. I'm not dodging and telling you why, why, what I believe, and why I believe. And I also tried to explain to you why I really do respect what you have.
Thank you. Thank you very much.
The way to try and articulate this in a way that makes it sound universally applicable to everybody, from my perspective would be
there's a really powerful verse in chapter 39, verse 29, that talks about the conditions of two people. And the Quran basically says, and I'm paraphrasing, considered the condition of two people, the one person is at service is a slave to many masters in the war, quarrelling, and another person is a slave or at service or relates to, if you like, to one master, His condition is best. Now, one of the main reasons why I think many people
adopt Islam, as the tradition is probably from an existential point of view this verse, because if you really think about it,
see, the concept of worship in Islamic tradition is not just like laying a candle,
and screen somewhere on a Sunday or Friday, whatever the case may be, but rather, is deeply profound. This has a multi layered type of meaning. So it's knowing the divine, loving the divine, or being the divine mate, who has been humbled before the divine and singling out your acts of worship to the divine the internal acts of worship and the external xcelerator. Which which which have meaning that you could take you could you could, you could abstract that and making universal. So is this something in our lives at some point in our existence that we want to know the most? Is this something or some idea or some entity or whatever the case may be that we love the most at some
point in our existence? Is this something that we refer to the most, at some point in our existence? Even it could even be temporary, right?
Is this something that we, that we express acts of worship to almost like, gratitude, utmost, ultimate gratitude. Now, whether you're a theist, non theist, atheist, if you're a human being, I think you're going to be doing these things, you're going to not want to know something that most at some point in your life, you're going to want to, you're loving something the most, at some point in your life. And that can change of course, but you're going to be loving something that was one point in life, you're going to be obeying something, or being referring to something that most at one point in your life, and you're going to be directing acts of worship to something that was at one
point your life, and that could be an internal thing like love or reliance, where it could be external acts of worship. So from that point of view, according to this, by virtue of what I've just said, everyone is in a state of worship, right. So what the Islamic tradition came to do was to simply show that the one that is worthy of that worship, in essence, whether to be relieved to in this way to be known to be loved, to be obeyed, and to direct your activation to is the one who is worthy of worship.
Now, that is not an intellectual exercise.
And it's not just mystical and spiritual. It's a combination of various factors. And that's why everyone is on their journey. And that's why Islam can account for your experiences of oneness. That's why Islam can account for other people's spiritual experiences. Because the fundamental thing that's going on here is you're expressing these things in some way. And what Islam came to do was to correct it and correct it. I don't mean kind of an abstract philosophical way to say hey, this is the beam they should be related to right? Because to knowledge, love, obedience, encouraging acts of worship to the other thing I would suggest from a naturalistic perspective, I always found this very
difficult when I speak. I spoke to my sister about this once
I found spiritual practice with a naturalistic paradigm, extremely problematic and this is me being ignorant here.
I felt that your was equivalent in some way of self worship. I know that you and I don't mean it that way.
From the point of view that we are chasing a feeling, right, we are chasing an experience.
ariens were chasing oneness we are chasing you in the sense of contentment, which is not a problem. In Islamic spiritual tradition, these are byproducts. They're not goals, right?
The goal is the divine relating to the divine, the byproduct is how you feel, as a result of running to the divine. And that's where you could be worshiping the divine, but sometimes you won't feel great, because maybe you're present, you're not present, or whatever the case may be. But your main sense of purpose being fulfilled by watching the divine irrespective of the feeling. So, you know, when, because I see engagement about Buddhism,
which is very fascinating. Yeah.
And that was some conversions as well, absolutely, with the like, the inner dimensions of prayer in some of these things. But for me, I felt spirituality was always about relating to the thing that actually created you rather than relating to something within the cosmos, because fundamentally, from my view, or a naturalistic point of view, that is reduced to what just electrons whizzing around. And I felt, that doesn't give you any meaning. Right. But that could mean giving, that could be me giving the real meaning, of course, I do appreciate that. So do you do us? Do you appreciate the fact that maybe some fears or Muslims will say, this sounds great, right? But
isn't it just reduced to just chasing a feeling of freedom, but in a subjective state conscious state, which can be further reduced to electrons whizzing around? So ultimately, where is the meaning? Does that make sense? Sure. That's a fair question.
So let me let me address the first part.
I think the fundamental things that I found in all of these traditions is a kind of a deep kind of diversion. I've talked about transformative experience. And it's a convert. And I've also talked about this, it's a conversion from egocentrism to anthropocentrism. So and what you could show is that people, this is like the difference between moving north navigating the world in an egocentric fashion, which took what's in front of me, what's behind me, and navigating the world? allocentric Lee, north, south, east west, I'm using that as an analogy. What happens is, and I agree, is there a lot of spiritual narcissism? Of course there is, is one of the things the West is being idolatrous
about, is a kind of spiritual narcissism. Yes. So if what you're what you're doing is spirituality is the following. Look at my wonderful spiritual experience, and put it on a shelf, because it shows how unique I am, how special I am, how much you should pay attention to me all the features of narcissism, then yes, I reject them. But in the people that I study, and I hope what I see in my wife, and people say, that's what they see in my life, people often report changes in me before I realized that in myself, those are the ones I pay attention to, those are the ones I pay the most attention to.
What I see is a change from being egocentric to being reality centric. And then in that sense, if, and here's where I think it does, I think at least shade into what you're talking about. In that, I think the ground of being the ground and reality is again, the know kind of thing. And, and that any attempt to think you have a stable grasp of it is like auditors. And so I, I not, I mean, I'll use a Christian theologian here, Paul Tillich, I, you should only have ultimate concern for what you think is most ultimately real. Now, do I think the ultimately real is just electrons whizzing around? Nope, I don't think so. I'm a non reductive physicalist. And here's the reason why. But the the
electrons and the neutral all the particles, and the forces are identical. They're identical. space and time. Again, all of this difference is real. Because if the difference isn't real, all the patterns in the information it's making are real. And if the information patterns aren't real, then the science that is based on them isn't real. And then the science that's supposed to tell me that there's just electrons isn't real science presupposes the reality of the differentiated information. At this level. It's not just an epistemic thing. There is right or ontological levels. And I think getting into a relationship with those of this is a platonic argument. Getting in relationship to
those patterns of intelligibility is a way of getting in contact with aspects of realness, that don't just simply reduce to the electrons. And again,
to add one more touch to it, I don't think that meaning is in the patterns or in my subjective experience, as much as that feeling is that am I in a real relationship to what is most real in a way that affords me to get into a deeper relationship with what's more real than that? Which affords me to get into a real relationship with what's more real with that, and so on and so forth. That's my experience.
Not to respond. But just to comment, like the real is one of God's names. Yeah, I think there's a tradition is unhealthy. Yeah, the reality for truth, which is very, very interesting. I think that's amazing. I think that's very important.
actually think you're amazing. I don't mean that in factories. I think because I've had discussions with academics before. And this is actually quite unique To be honest, like this lot, things have converged. I've learned again or more, if I see you next year, or repeat some of the things I've learned, just like what I've done today. So I really thank you for your presence and for your time.
Well, first of all, I want to reciprocate every time I come here. And I don't mean this in a passive way. And the questioner is right, and there's a legitimate criticism being made. I'm not trying to force something on you, but my understanding of Islam is is limited. And I tried to show you what experience I have. And I'm not trying to claim anything about that. In fact, I've been hesitant out of respect. But on the other hand, on the limited amount I know and how I can connect it by a discussion to the cognitive science, I know, you've repeatedly deepened my appreciation for Islam.
In time is getting a bit tight. Maybe we have time for one more question, especially at the rate that his answers are incredibly long. Interesting.
Thanks very much. Doctor. My question for you is that someone Sorry, I couldn't see what speaking. someone pointed out to me that one of the reasons the rise of secularism and atheism today is a byproduct of the feeling that because of the technological superiority that we have achieved, in the modern era, relatively speaking, we look at religions of a bygone era as also being antiquity. primitive, like we don't need this anymore, because it is not because of religion, we've achieved our successes of today. He countered, he argued or suggested that one of the ways to counter that notion is to show that earlier civilizations worlds and technologically advanced, so much so that
even at that time, they had knowledge of things that we are not familiar of or aware of today, I mean, for example, navigation, using, you know, stars, or the knowledge of making the pyramids, for example, I mean, archaeologists are still dumbfounded by that. That was one point he was trying to make it that was that because of the rise of technology and science that has given the Western powers or the modern world is very already the equate that as we won't, it wasn't religion, that God is here. So why do we need it? They, I mean, obviously, it's irrelevant in our lives. Also, because of how it the restrictions of religion as well, they can then we can induce that apparent belief
that we can't enjoy life with religion, you know, there's always all these restrictions, whereas here, we're free. By extension, though, and and someone else pointed out that with the decline of religion, we also have a rise in activism, like human rights, women's rights, the environment that concerns that, which also shows that we are just not hedonistic animals eat sleep and procreate? Could you comment on the doctor? And well, it means a chimpanzee. Can you chime in if you can, if you like? So
I'm going to get through one way, but I'm going to refer to you I have the series of their awakening from the meaning crisis, which tries to trace the history of this. And you pointed to both things, the rise of secularism and the rise of the issue that why do people turn to activism? And, of course, not not denying that there might be legitimate socio economic reasons. But there is also an I think you're alluding to this, there's also the quest for meaning, this quest of belonging to something larger than oneself, I think I took that to be part of what you're saying. Okay. So I would, I guess I would respond first by rejecting the claim of the person you're referring to. So to
study very carefully, why and how secularism arose, and why religion went into decline in the West is a very hard thing to do, I think, 25 hours to do in this series.
And so I know you're just reporting somebody else. So I'm not trying to shoot the messenger, please. Except that I am sort of, I'm all I almost want to say viscerally opposed to simplistic accounts of why secularism arose, and why the meaning crisis has arose. You can point to significant changes in white how people were meaning texts in the 12th century, that was a significant contributor to the rise of nominalism within aacom, and then that sets into a
into action, a kind of change in how people think about meaning and belief. But belief goes from believing, which means to give your heart to assertion a proposition, because of the way people are reading differently. And then that leads into Luther and the prospect, like the Protestant Reformation associate, and also this, what are the most secular countries, the countries that are the most secular that where people are the least religious, it's also the correlative where people live most most people live by themselves.
Living by yourself, as society that has more people living by themselves as individuals, and mystically, is a society that will have lower and lower love. And this is in Scandinavian countries, by the way, have lower and lower levels of religious belief.
The causes of why people, right, you look at White people, the nuns, the nln, ESR.
The people who wait on the right on the center's noble, it's not correlated with, I deeply understand science. In fact, the new atheism movement, that the heck any of the new atheist movement is seriously in decline. And even though it's declining, the nines are still the most rapidly increasing Democrat, this one saying these kinds of propositions or proposals as to why secularism and issues of meaning are rising, I think are too simplistic. There, it's until I can give you the whole argument here. I'm just trying to point you, but if you want I literally 25 hours of trying to get how did we get here? And why are we here? And what so do the history and also some of the things
I've alluded to here? How does that line up with our best cognitive science of what humans are doing when they're trying to make meaning when they're trying to cultivate wisdom and try to get the most powerful convergence between them? And I take? So I take that question so deeply and seriously, I spent a lot of time because the argument is incredibly complex, if we're going to try and be as truthful to both the historical and the scientific facts that we can, like very much.
To activate, I think
it's quite important to understand the role of individualism in in, in historically, it's correlated with the price of reformation. Absolutely, absolutely. So
obviously, previously to the kind of rise of individualism, individualism, you had this understanding that, you know, there was God's will for for society, and that the individual's identity was contingent to his relations within a group that changed fundamentally, that, you know, the individual had primacy. And Professor john Chava, he writes about this in his introduction to when he talks about the liberal projects in human rights. And he talks about kind of a brief history of liberalism. And he, and he talks about how the role of individualism in liberalism, right.
Obviously, no, liberalism is a particular set of doctrines. But you know, it's not like he is liberalism is many things, of course. So I think individualism has a role to play what's happened with Scandinavia in other countries. And what's interesting, when you itemize the individual, and from this point of view, the feminist philosopher Marian, Marilyn Friedman, she says, individualism is the kind of taking the individual abstracting the waste from society and divorcing, you know, any kind of sense of social obligation, right? That doesn't mean people don't have empathy, and they feel they should help people, but the kind of, you know, social obligation, as if they were there
put the identity was contingent to those social relations, right. And when you individualize the human being, what happens, what happens is you have a false sense of self sufficiency, right? Which is very interesting. When the Quran talks about the self serve, you know, you think you're self sufficient, that becomes a barrier to divine guidance and mercy. Now, because it's self sufficient, it's actually delusional, right? Like, the older you get, right? And the more kids you have, the more people you meet. And the more positive and negative experiences you have. You realize, you know, we control
those who grieve, grief will tell you absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, I find it very shocking, that like, if you if you're always happy, then this this, you're in a state of roughly you heedless, you, there's something wrong with you haven't had insights. Like if you really understand what's happening in the world, there's going to be something that is going to be bothering you, right? And maybe, you know, thank God for Western civilization in a way right? Because if you took away religion, and you didn't replace it with something, I think everybody killed themselves or something. Right. I know. that's a that's a very harsh statement to me. And thank God there was
something else temporarily hopefully, which is, you know, you know, that kind of capitalism is you know, the well being stuff computer games always like, you know,
They're always doing things right, you know, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, listen to stuff. Because if you were chasing those ephemeral things, then oh, my God, I mean, you could like what's going on. And the point is, is so going off on an arranger, but individualism from this point of view, you have this false sense of self sufficiency and the Quran says, you know, the one who thinks is sufficient. That's like a fire to divine wisdom guidance. Now, what's interesting is the crowd spends a lot of time to show you that you are actually dependent. You're not individual, you're dividual. Because let's think about one moment, I keep taking 22nd chapter, it talks about life
cycle, the human being, you were a baby, I mean, just reflect, reflect properly have insights and what it means to be a baby, right?
You can't feed yourself.
I mean, that that should move you because someone else was doing that for you is not moving. If that's not moving, then we have issues where you couldn't feed yourself, you couldn't wipe your own pusteria you need to touch and love and affection. If you take a newborn baby, and you put in the corner of a room and you don't interact with it, he would die.
And some of us we think we're catapulted from mother's womb with a briefcase and a tie in a backpack. Is that true? And, and us being here today is as a result of almost an infinite number of variables that you have no control over. And the Islamic tradition spends a lot of time to show you all of those things are fundamentally dependent on the one who is independent. Right. And that changes something right. So I would argue this from a design paradigm point of view that being living on your own, maybe it's because you're sort of sufficient you need anyone may be creates that kind of self sufficiency, and it creates a division that becomes a barrier to divine guidance and
mercy. And if you close the door to divine guidance and mercy that is basically almost rejecting him too. So it also attracts you and egocentrism is a part of the problem. By the way, let's define egocentrism is a cognitive bias, that your way of seeing the world is the only way of seeing the world, it's, it's hard for you to see things from perspective. So little kids tend to be extremely
ego centric, right. And so part of maturity is to become less egocentric, but we overlook, I become, I can step back and take a perspective on my perspective, if I have internalized how you have taken in perspective, we grow our metacognitive ability to overcome egocentrism, by living in the presence of other people, and having their perspective of knowing impact and shape our perspective. So you know, this, your friend is doing the same strange, stupid thing in their romantic relationships that they've done before, and they can't see it. And you see it so clearly from the outside. Oh, can't you feel like some of them?
And then, but then when you're in the middle of it, man, did you see it? No. Now what's really interesting, and he got close in the head, done research. That's a real thing. If I give you one of those problems, and ask you to try and solve it, you know what you'll do with that thinking? You'll explain it from a first person perspective. And you'll be all wrapped in and all devices. And then I'll ask you to do the following. Try and describe it from the third person perspective, as if Tom over there was describing it. The people will then do that. And then they'll suddenly realize, oh, oh, oh, oh, now, I'm speaking as a non theist and a naturalist. But I think one of the things that
happens when you relate to something like God, is you get a transcendent perspective on your perspective, that can take you dramatically outside of your egocentrism.
But I think when you live alone, you don't get practice, even with other human perspectives that transcend you and reveal your bias. So that because you don't have that intermediate direct experience, but leading to something of an even greater or more encompassing perspective, becomes unthinkable to you. Not that you can't make propositions about it, but you can't enter into the perspective for what, from which, from which it is present to you.
Now, that is completely consistent with what you said about the self Alliance. But I would add that I would add another dimension.
Want to thank everyone for coming out tonight, and I asked you all to give a round of applause.
I've benefited a lot and there's so many things he said, just making connections in my head to, of course, items of sorts, as you know, connecting it to our Stanford tradition, I think was incredibly important. Please, you know, if you have time in the state line.
Absolutely. Give thanks to both of our panelists for coming out and spending your time with us here. Thank you all for coming out. And hopefully everybody has a safe drive home. I would like to say once again, thank you. I know that I don't share many of your beliefs. But I deeply appreciate
Shame, the intellectual respect and hospitality that I was showing. And I got a definite sense of that. I mean this without pod or insult intended, I got a sense of good faith in entering into discussion and dialogue. And that matters more to me ultimately, because again, don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you practice.
I'd like to echo that, you know, we met last year and
concept now, but I related to what he said last year, I expressed it in this form today. So it's very important, I think, to talk about these things, and not to be afraid to have intellectual discourse and discussion and to really each other, relate to each other in this way. Even if you feel there are differences, because you as long as you do within the spirit of civility, tolerance and kindness, and having sincerity and being committed to the well being of other people. Because the prophetic tradition, the prophet Mohammed appointed VP said, love for humanity, what you love for yourself, the rbkc Linares for people for humanity. And the traditional scholars, when they talk
about loving fathers, whether for yourself, it means you love goodness for them, and you love guidance for them. So if you sincerely are committed to other people's well being, it's extremely important, because it will help engage, facilitate these type of discussions. And the final thing I want to say is, so when you talk about these differences, the differences are usually the basis for anxiety and fear. But if you show the human relevance of that difference, or the meaning behind it, then hopefully that fear doesn't, it doesn't turn into anxieties and hatred, but rather it turns into mutual cooperation, or some kind of sense of
even coexistence, affection. Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Where do we go? We need more of that right now. Yeah, for sure. Thank you. So hopefully, we could do this again.
I always felt both times. Welcome. So if you wish me to come back, I'm happy to come back. Thank you.