State of Emergence podcast

067 Jonathan Rowson – Tasting the Pickle: A Personal Relationship with the Meta-Crisis

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Chess Grandmaster, philosopher, author, and social entrepreneur Jonathan Rowson joins Terry to explore our global, civilizational predicament from new angles — inspired by his recent brilliant essay “Tasting the Pickle: Ten Flavors of Meta-Crisis and the Appetite for a New Civilization.” They go beyond its more recognized features such as COVID, the climate emergency, and our economic and political crises to consider it as a crisis of civilizational purpose, a lack of a meaningful global ‘We’, and its various socio-emotional, epistemic, and spiritual features.

Then, Terry and Jonathan explore a more personal and intimate relationship to the meta-crisis. What does it feel like for each of us to live amidst its various energies and aesthetics? How can we learn to “taste” ideas, practices, and possibilities for their beauty and transformative power? What’s it like to interact with different worldviews in more playful and paradoxical ways? And lastly, we discover inspiration in considering the larger cultural project of building viable “we’s” that are meaningful, coherent, and effective in serving the whole.

Jonathan Rowson is a philosopher, author, chess Grandmaster, sensemaking entrepreneur and the Director of Perspectiva, a research institute based in London seeking to highlight the important connections between systems, souls, and society amidst our complex crises. Jonathan previously Directed the Social Brain Centre at RSA, the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacture & Commerce. He is an applied philosopher with degrees from Oxford, Harvard and Bristol Universities. Jonathan is the author of multiple books including Spiritualise: Cultivating Spiritual Sensibility to Address 21st Century Challenges (2017) and The Moves that Matter – A Grandmaster on the Game of Life (2019). As mentioned above, Jonathan also very recently published a brilliant essay providing an overview of our civilizational predicament called "Tasting the Pickle: Ten flavors of meta-crisis and the appetite for a new civilization,” which you can find on our episode page on stateofemergence.org.

Here are some additional questions explored in the episode:

  • How does our use of language in describing our meta-crisis shape our experience and response? How does Jonathan’s humorous use of “pickle” invite a different experience?
  • As we attempt to understand our predicament, how can we “go meta” with our sensemaking in a way that also grounds us in direct experience and relationship?
  • Which emotional, cognitive, and relational capacities can enable us to navigate the cultural dissonance of our time?
  • How can we build more sophisticated and effective “we’s” at scale, and how might such work begin to impact our systems? 

For more information on Jonathan Rowson and Terry Patten, check out the following resources:

Join Us for the Next Podcast Q&A EventWe will be exploring this episode with Jonathan Rowson in greater depth during our next live State of Emergence live Q&A on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 12 noon Pacific. If you haven’t already joined us, simply register as a Friend of State of Emergence and you’ll receive access to our monthly Q&A sessions with Terry and other listeners. You’ll also help the podcast become financially sustainable. A vibrant community is gathering and we’d love for you to be part of it. Sign up and we’ll see you soon.

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He has published and edited numerous articles and books, and his recent article on non-human intelligences is titled Our Wild Kosmos! Currently, Sean is the Dean of Integral Education at the California Institute for Human Science where he also serves as Program Director for two integral PhD programs. Here are some of the questions Sean and Terry explore in this episode: What are Sean’s 16 ways of practicing wise responses to conspiracy theories and those who believe them?  What emotional and cognitive capacities does it take to “hang out in the unknown” instead of jumping to conclusions? What exactly are “exo studies?” Why are they important? Can they catalyze a major shift in human consciousness and the practice of science? Which 10 recent events — from New York Times bombshell articles to Pentagon admissions — have led to a new widespread legitimization of UFO and ET studies?  What are the 3 major “ontological realms” of anomalous phenomena? Can they be experienced and understood in our ordinary waking state of consciousness, or do we have to open to different modes of knowing in order to experience them fully? Can spiritual practitioners explore and integrate exo realities without becoming fascinated and distracted from the conscious divine reality from which they arise? Sean’s 16 Guidelines for Practicing with Conspiracy Theories REALIZE THAT WE ALL ARE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS: Keep in mind that we are all are conspiracy theorists of one strip or another – we have strong biological, cognitive, and social-cultural tendencies that predispose us towards conspiracy thinking. No one is really is immune. We are all in this together. It is psychologically commonplace – though it gets magnified or distorted under certain circumstances.  CLAIM YOUR SOVEREIGNTY: Stay in our own sovereignty and energy management around the content. – it can be intense and disorienting. DON’T BELITTLE CTs or CTers: Avoid belittling them and encourage others not to – as it encourages an environment that is not conducive to engaging them. DETERMINE WHAT KIND OF CT IS IT? Determine if it is a rational or irrational CT (or an evidence-based CT vs a speculative CT) – how much evidence and what kinds does it have supporting it.  DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN GOOD DATA POINTS vs NARRATIVE: Keep in mind that CTs often are based on good data points and insights and are pointing to “gaps” we ignore at our own peril. Differentiate the data points from the narrative. Acknowledge the “facts” (if they are solid/verifiable) but don’t blindly accept the “links”.  ACKNOWLEDGE THE “DEEP MEMETIC FRAME” INVOLVED: Identify the deep memetic frame being presented and connect with that w/o affirming the content of the CT. CTs tend to resonate with our deepest sense of how the world is (i.e., our worldview). HANGOUT IN THE GAP: Acknowledge that the official story doesn’t add up but refrain from committing to a CT – allow for multiple possible non-official stories to contain potential explanations. Allow yourself to “reject” the official story but holdback from identifying with a single CT narrative. TALK ABOUT CTs & SEEK CT PERSPECTIVES: Talk with people about all of this - Seek the perspectives of the CT believer. Chances are they have some good points and reasons for their position.  AVOID HAVING A CT ABOUT CTers: Avoid falling into us-them dynamics and simple explanations for complex scenarios esp. ones that have some concerning data points supporting them. LOOK TO SEE IF CTs ARE FEAR OR GROWTH BASED: Look to see if the CT actually moves us toward a better society – evolves systems or consciousness by exposing hard truths, demanding transparency, accountability, etc. or does it attempt to better society by instilling fear, racism, separation, division. Be wary of any version of a CT that dehumanizes people. EXPAND YOUR MEDIA DIET & AVOID DIGITAL ECHO CHAMBERS: Expand your media diet to avoid digital echo chambers – engage in a diverse source of information – avoid algorithm selections for you. AVOID DEMONIZING BIG Xs: Be cautious when you demonize Mainstream (Big) Media, Big Pharma, the USG (Big government) and instead strive to point out the aspects of those “others” you find problematic – be as specific as possible.  UPDATE AND REFINE YOUR PERSPECTIVE: Keep updating and refining your own perspective even when it contradicts earlier positions you had. Don’t stay static in your own thinking – try and add to it vs replace it with some other position. Lean into doubleness, “good “contradictions, and complexity. PRACTICE & PROMOTE EPISTEMIC REFLEXIVITY & HUMILITY: Practice epistemic reflexivity (reflecting on your own thinking) and epistemic humility (reflecting on your own biases, tendencies, limitations, projections). The more metacognition we can develop the better. Unhelpful CTs often involve simplistic non-reflective modes of thinking and analysis. Encourage others to do these types of thinking practices and look for them in our information leaders. HELP REBUILD OUR INSTITUTIONS: CTs are thriving because we have lost trust in science, government, and journalism – for some very good reasons I might add – all of these institutions have been found to have taken advantage of our trust in them. How do we rebuild those institutions – what are the checks and balances that can create a healthy knowledge and information ecosystem.  BE COMPASSIONATE WITH EACH OTHER WE ARE ALL IN A SENSE-MAKING CRISIS: Individually and collective we are facing a crisis of sense-making and meaning – we need to be compassionate to ourselves and those around us as we all try and figure out how to navigate this terrain. For more information on Sean Esbjörn-Hargens and Terry Patten, check out the following resources: For more information on Sean, check out the following resources: Sean’s “Exo Studies” Institute Sean’s recent paper, “Our Wild Kosmos!: An Exo Studies Exploration of the Ontological Status of Non-Human Intelligences” What’s Up With UFOs? website MetaIntegral website Book edited by Sean in 2015, Metatheory for the Twenty-First Century Book edited by Sean in 2019, Dancing with Sophia: Integral Philosophy on the Verge  State of Emergence podcast website Terry Patten’s nonprofit, A New Republic of the Heart Terry Patten’s personal website Join Our Upcoming Podcast Q&AWe will be exploring this episode in greater depth during our next State of Emergence live Q&A. If you haven’t already joined us, I want to officially invite you to become a Friend of State of Emergence and join these monthly Q&A sessions with me and other listeners episodes, as well as help the podcast become financially sustainable. A vibrant, intelligent, and caring community is already gathering around State of Emergence and we’d love for you to be part of it. Our next Q&A event will be on Tuesday, April 13th at 12 PM noon PST (recording will be available). Go to stateofemergence.org and click “Join the Conversation.”

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