Knowledge Production and the Coordination of Human Activity

There is a nascent economic revolution around “knowledge production.” Knowledge production now accounts for most of the production in developed economies. 80% of the jobs in the United States are service sector. This means that economic production is now mostly about how to manage and build relationships.

Almost every person on the internet produces some kind of art, music, video, photography, spoken or written words. More and more people are making a living in this through crowdfunding and through consulting. But what are the principles that coherently unify knowledge producers on the internet and in other fora? What does it mean to be a knowledge producer?

The industrial revolution was a way of harnessing the power of many individuals to focused ends. It was organized around the division of labor. Each individual had a specialized role, he did a very small, repetitive action that was a part of the whole process. But industrial production was primarily about producing material widgets.

Our era is a kind of inversion of the industrial revolution. Rather than having a specialized role, the knowledge producer attempts to represent the whole process. This does not means there is no specialization, it just means that knowledge producers are not coordinated by specialization, as they were in the industrial revolution. There is not so much of a division of labor, as division of interest.

Knowledge production is about particular interests, but it is about the way that those specific interests capture or relate all of the other nodes in the network to itself. It is about a way of seeing the world. A particular piece of knowledge must be so compelling that it can stand in for all of knowledge. We can suspend belief for a few moments and see the world entirely through this lens.

The technology of our time has revealed that knowledge is so extremely interdependent and interconnected that every action mutually affects every other. The only way to produce knowledge is for its expression to be the whole process, all at once.

What is the whole? This is the problem. The whole is mythical, it exists as an axiom, or a hypothesis. It is completion, finality, symmetry, in a world that is decidedly incomplete, evolving, and processual. We have an instinct for the whole because we are incomplete, just like we have an instinct to eat food when we are hungry.

We know that the knowledge producers cannot give us the whole picture, but we can momentarily buy into their picture of the whole. We are instinctively attracted to the completion and finality of the knowledge producer’s vision, the way it links together all aspects of life. Knowledge producers produce a kind of mythology. They present a way of seeing the world. And this background vision is what unifies knowledge producers.

Industrial production was coordinated around the incentives of monetary exchange. If you worked in your specialized role, you received a certain wage in exchange. By taking on more responsibility, you could move up the hierarchy. You could become a manager who organized the specialized wage-earners.

By contrast, knowledge production is coordinated around the incentives of completion and wholeness. It seems to be primarily individualistic because each person is incentivized to produce knowledge based on their own particular vision. Knowledge producers are not incentivized by monetary exchange alone. They contribute to the ecosystem of knowledge long before it is profitable, because it is for the mutual benefit of everyone. They are incentivized by the instinct for wholeness. The more that they embody the “true” whole, the more social activity is enduringly coordinated around their content. The mythology of the whole leads to coordinated activity which is value creation. Money is added as a side benefit of coordinated activity.

This is why the modern economy is so confused and unsure of where its value is coming from. The macro-level coordination of human activity is a role that is carried out by money currency. But knowledge production is now inherently competing with money currency for this role. Knowledge production is attempting to autonomously coordinate human activity on its own.

This is why valuations of technology companies are so confusing. Technology companies coordinate so much human activity, but it is not immediately obvious why they should be in the business of making money. It seems more like they perform a public service. But when they coordinate enough activity, money is basically added as a side benefit. Their primary role is to coordinate knowledge production.

Is it possible to shift from an macro-level equilibrium of monetary coordination to macro-level equilibrium of pure knowledge production? This would require a mythology and technology of the whole. It would require a mythical technology not instantiated on computers, but instantiated in the real world, in a real world application that guides human motivations.

 

 

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Metagame and Adaptive Coordination

“The Game” is a mythical construct that human behavior is coordinated around an unconscious axiom. We are continuously confronted with the unknown, unconscious future. We try to make this unknown, unconscious future more certain or predictable. In making the future more certain, we “take responsibility” for what happens in the present. We take responsibility what comes into the field of experience. This means that we see the unexpected and novel things that happen as meaningful and relevant to our existing circumstance. We turn the unexpected and novel into significance, purpose, and meaning that is relevant to our desired state.

The most basic motivation is symmetry with the external environment. In this symmetric state, the external reality unfolds within our own internal domain of mastery. The internal reality is reflected in the external environment and vice versa, all of the unfulfilled needs and desires about the uncertain future are basically satisfied. In this state of completion, one feels as if his own experience is the whole of reality. We believe that our experience is final and complete and whole. This happens because our own first hand experience is the only thing that we ever know. We are tricked into thinking that our experience is the “whole of reality.” At certain times we actually believe that our own individual sensation is all that exists. This makes us better able to survive because we can convince ourselves that we are more important than we really are. We give ourselves the confidence to overcome incredible obstacles.

This “whole” is a useful fiction. We never actually obtain the state of pure symmetry, in which all of our needs and desires are fully satisfied, but we experience glimpses of it. This is the orientation of our biological machinery, it is what we are drawn toward. We are drawn towards finality, completion, toward understanding our own choices as responsible for the whole of existence. This is the mythical objective or the object of the Game. Behavior is coordinated around unconscious symmetry with the external environment. Each of us wants our experience to be the entire universe, yet at the same time we want to give this state to others. We want the feeling of wholeness for ourselves, yet we also want everyone else to experience that state. And we are sometimes willing to forego that state in ourselves in order to give it to someone else.

We are evolved to believe that our experience is the whole of reality, because our experience is the only thing that we ever know. We experience asymmetry in time, we feel that the future is unequal to the past. We feel that we are incomplete, partial, biased. We see the world in terms of our asymmetric plans, intentions, and goals. Having asymmetric (that is, unrealized) plans, intentions, and goals is advantageous because this gives us something to work towards that we do not presently have. But we are trying to make our goals symmetric, bring them from the external environment into our internal reality. Our ultimate, unconscious goal, the meta-goal, is perfect adaptation, perfect symmetry, perfect wholeness. All explicit goals are actually subgoals of this one meta-goal.

What we actually experience is a simplification or compression of the perfected adaptive state. Our first hand experience is a low resolution image of the perfected adaptive state. It is a compression of symmetry which lost some of the crucial aspects, and thus appears asymmetric. Our continuous confrontation with the unknown future is a Game of decompressing our experience. By preparing for the unknown future, we are trying to make ourselves more whole, more symmetric with the external environment. Decompressing our experience is recognition of novel occurrences as usefully significant and meaningful to the ultimate goal. It is experiencing the environment as useful and relevant.

Viewing the external environment as symmetric to the internal states is the optimal adaptive strategy, because it allows us to see our own blind spots. What comes up, what presents itself in experience is a reflection of some aspect of our internal state. We must adjust and adapt, take responsibility in ourselves for the problems that we perceive as external. The environment reflects some unconscious or subconscious aspect of our developmental process. Through the recognition of symmetry, we are able to recognize that we all mutually affect one another’s plans. All of our plans and goals are interconnected in a single substructure.

Our asymmetric experience is composed of an narrative. This narrative is seeking a culmination, an end. It finds its completion in other narratives. So my own incomplete narrative is completed by another individual’s narrative in the external environment, and his is completed by someone else’s, and so on. All of the individual narratives are in a mutual algorithmic chain of interaction. They affect one another in a continuous, tightly interwoven, interlinked substructure of awareness.

There is an affective economy of mutually interacting narratives. All of the individuals have internal narratives that are seeking the equilibrium state of symmetry with the external environment. By discovering other narratives, they discover more aspects of perfected adaptive symmetry. They decompress their experience to be able to handle more and more information, more layers of complexity. Yet each individual is attempting to simplify all of these embedded layers of complexity into a single narrative.

All of the individuals simultaneously attempting to simplify the complex interaction of narratives, means that each individual is simplifying each other’s simplifications. There is a virtuous feedback cycle of simplifying each other’s simplifications. Each successive simplification corrects for the errors in the others. The whole system of interactions is striving to compress all of the complexity of interacting narratives into a single, pristine metanarrative.

Adaptive mythology is discovering the symmetry or equilibrium in which all of the narratives spontaneously converge on a single, continuously updating metanarrative. Yet this final state of equilibrium is actually characterized by a continuously evolving asymmetric interaction of narratives. This is the mythology of the Game: there is a single substructure of awareness in which all of the individual narratives are participating. The individual actually only ever does one thing. Biologically, he strives for completion and finality, but he ultimately discovers this finality in the very process of striving.

jung red book 4

Carl Jung, Image from the Red Book

 

Metagame

The Meta-game can be described as the effective use of one’s skills across multiple domains. Society is a collection of different games, each of which have rules, purpose, and hierarchy. Money makes all of the games compatible with one another. However, the mythological construct of the Meta-game is also supposed to make all separate games compatible with one another.

Humans coordinate large-scale social interaction by the incentives of monetary exchange. Everyone agrees to agree that money expresses value. But it is clear that money is not the ultimate signifier of value. It is clear that there are more important senses of value. The pursuit of truth is expressed in large scale social coordinators such as religion and science. The pursuit of truth in religion and science is often opposed to the pursuit of money. Money and the Meta-game compete and cooperate with one another.

The love, care, and sympathy that underlies mutually beneficial exchange and selfless acts of giving, are considered more important and more fundamental than the actual architecture of monetary exchange itself. Most of the incentive to accumulate wealth is actually a derivative of the more fundamental desire to coordinate human action more effectively. This explains why people contribute to a distributed knowledge ecosystem like the internet with no expectation of monetary reward, often at significant monetary costs. They are simply improving the system because it is mutually beneficial for everyone.

The entrepreneur generates a new game, he generates a new hierarchy, in order to inject new value into the system. By creating a new game, the entrepreneur is really trying to generate a new form of coordination, that is nevertheless compatible with monetary exchange. But the contemporary entrepreneur is not just competing with other businesses, he is competing with the institution of monetary exchange itself. He has to create more effective modes of coordination than monetary exchange. This is essentially what the nation state government has done. This is why the government is the largest corporation. The nation state is at least as effective at coordinating people as capital.

The contemporary entrepreneur must generate a game that is so fundamental to people’s sense of value that it can actually compete with the institutions of monetary exchange for the role of coordinating human action. This is a business that speaks to the core of human attention and motivation.

At the core of human attention and motivation is a desire for completion, fulfillment, wholeness. This desire is satisfied in everyday life by habits and routines, which simplify the complexity of life. And building on those habits, we create narratives of our situation, which radically simplify all of the internal and external complexity. So our psyche is trying to solve the problem of how to optimally simplify all of the complexity in such a way that we are continuously fulfilled.

Each of our successive decisions or choices is an attempt to take every one of our previous decisions and choices that we have made and bring it into a finality, bring it into one single culmination. We are constantly striving to compress all of our previous decisions into the one, single, best decision.

The entrepreneur who produces this sense of wholeness and finality will add value with his venture. However, this wholeness and finality is ultimately not a “product,” it is not something which one actually attains. It is more like a useful fiction, it is something that is strived for, reached for, and ultimately never attained. It is a mythical construct. It is the object of the Meta-game. And this is why the most successful entrepreneur is competing (and cooperating) with the social architecture of monetary exchange. He is trying to find more fundamental ways to coordinate than monetary exchange. He is trying to coordinate around pursuit of truth, and this is ultimately compatible with the pursuit of money.

The progressive evolution of capitalism is at an impasse. Capitalism is undoubtedly the most productive and effective form of social organization for giving people a better standard of living. Yet at the same time is alienates people from one another, it makes people lonely, it breaks down social forms, it degrades the family. The contemporary entrepreneur is trying to create or discover an equilibrium of mutual care. Anyone who creates this kind of value, money is added to that endeavor as a side product, as a derivative. But ultimately the complex social interaction of humans is striving to overcome the estrangement of monetary exchange and enter into a more fundamental interactive relationship of mutual trust.

This is a sociobiological phenomenon. We saw the first gasps of it in the sixties hippie revolution. But the sixties movement gave into hedonism and immediate gratification. We need a sociobiological movement of enduring fulfillment. Today’s entrepreneur is trying to compete and cooperate with monetary exchange itself. He is trying to re-humanize the human being, who has been estranged and alienated for so long that he no longer knows what social interaction is about. His interactions are about care, the system of mutual care and respect, the system of mutually corrective fulfillment. We need a social movement that is about responsibility, entrepreneurship, and using capitalism itself to overcome capitalism.

There are more effective ways to coordinate people’s interactions than capitalism. The modern system of capitalism is predicated on trust. The more people trust strangers in their community, the more effective economic development is. Is it possible that we could build up to an exponential culmination of trust? That we could trust one another so much that we overcome estrangement and alienation and find a more efficient way of coordinating than monetary exchange? This would be characterized by something like the social exchange of truth, the exchange of information in the pursuit of truth. It would be like a collective, socially inclusive quest for truth in which every stranger is a piece of the puzzle, and all of the pieces are interacting in precisely the right way to complete the puzzle.

 

Evolution and Phenomenology

Evolutionary theory tells us that we are not adapted to truth. Instead, we are adapted to useful fictions which facilitate the fluid coordination of human activity. Useful fictions such as religion, capitalism, and science became so useful that they facilitated the cooperation of increasingly large groups of people. In a sense, they became so useful that they were true.

For this reason, social science has been notoriously less successful than natural science. There is no standard model, no periodic table of elements, no canonical system of taxonomy, for the human social world. The empirical and quantitative approach to the social science has had limited success. We learn a lot from mathematical models, from collecting data, from doing empirical field work. But the empirical/rational/analytic approach to social science is unable to provide a sense of meaning, purpose, motivation in people’s lives. It treats people like data points, or like atoms. The scientific approach to social things doesn’t always hold weight because we are not adapted to the literal truth, we are adapted to useful fictions.

This is where a little know branch of social science enters in: phenomenology. Phenomenology was created by Edmund Husserl in the early 20th century. Phenomenology is a scientific approach to the pre-scientific. It is a rigorous evaluation of the common-sense, everyday experience of the world. The discovery of phenomenology is that our everyday, first-hand, direct experience of the world, is the whole of reality. It encompasses absolutely everything there is. But this is a useful fiction. What we see in the world is not the world as it is (whole), what we see is the world in terms of our purposes. We frame the world according to what we are trying to do. So we actually perceive a very narrow piece of the actual world. Phenomenology affirms both of these seemingly opposite conclusions- our experience is the whole of reality, and our experience is severely limited.

Contemporary evolutionary theory and cognitive science is consonant with this view of phenomenology, and adds more to the picture. Donald Hoffman asserts that the brain actively constructs the physical world. We do not see reality as it is, the world is far too complex. The brain actively constructs and simplifies the objective world for our perceptual purposes. He adds that our experience of the world is a data structure, it is a kind of error-correcting, data compression. We compress the objective world into our experience, we radically simplify it. Hoffman contends that felt consciousness, the experience of the world is fundamental, that is the most basic, objective reality at some level.

The problem with the rational/empirical approach to social science is that it seems to be working out okay. It seems to tell us a lot about society. But it doesn’t give people motivation, purpose, or meaning. And this is what people need most from science right now, because science has ultimate epistemic authority in society. People are running out of ideas about how to keep the economy going, people are running out of ideas about how to keep people off of drugs, people are lonely and feel a sense of desperation. It is time to look for a social science that is individualized, distributed/decentralized, and mutually correcting. Not a top-down, totalitarian theory, but a bottom-up, emergent theory.

Phenomenology gives people a sense of motivation, purpose and meaning because it tells us there is a goal to strive for: symmetry. The symmetry between internal and external environments is what all of our motivational systems are oriented towards. This is when our plans, goals, and intentions are being completed, brought into experience, when the inner and outer realities reflect one another. The ultimate goal of phenomenology is to experience the whole of reality, all at once, and it tells us that this is the true nature of our experience.

Evolutionary theory gives us the rational reason why this is a useful fiction. Our own direct experience is the only thing that we will ever know. We know that our experience is not whole, not complete, not final. But we are evolved to think that it is. Completing our plans, seeing through our intentions, bringing our wishes into reality, makes us feel as if our experience is the whole of reality, as if we are the only one who exists. And this makes us more attractive, our ideas spread and replicate. Symmetry with the external environment allows us to survive and reproduce. It is the ideal state of human adaptation. It is also what allows us to coordinate and cooperate. We feel that our own awareness is symmetric with that of the other person, we see things the same way.

Everyone is, consciously or unconsciously, striving for symmetry. And this means that they are striving to simplify, compress, reduce, the complex external environment down to simpler terms. They are striving to make it into a concise narrative, suited for their evolutionary purposes. We are striving to focus in on what we are trying to achieve. But we are faced with an immense sea of complexity, which is the external world, with all its layers, aspects and problems. And so we sum over everything we can conceive and reach a “good enough” conclusion, we reach a useful fiction that allows us to adjust to and control the environment.

But this useful fiction is not just a fiction, it is useful, and therefore it reaches down to the most fundamental, evolutionary structure of the world. It allows us to achieve goals, execute plans, realize intentions. Symmetry involves taking responsibility for our field of experience. Anything that comes into our field of experience is meaningful, significant, and important because we are evolved to see our own experience as the whole of reality. Every occurrence is a symbol or representation of some more fundamental social reality. There is an interdependent substructure of consciousness.

Since we are all dealing with the same objective substructure, all of our compressive experiences are synchronously correlated. We continuously simplify the world. And through mimetic processes, people simplify each other’s simplifications. We enter a virtuous feedback cycle in which there is a contagion of simplifying narratives, compressing more and more information into simpler and simpler structures. Eventually, we converge on the simplest possible narrative that compresses the most possible information. Once we enter this virtuous feedback cycle, then we will converge on something like a standard model of society. Our useful fictions converge on the ultimate useful fiction which coordinates all of human activity.

 

How is human social coordination possible? The condition of social coordination is the ascription of fundamental value. Human beings coordinate around what is most valuable to them collectively. The process of converging on a fundamental coordination value is itself an emergent social process.

The experience of the human being is continuous selection of the most important aspects of the environment. Experience is a reduction of the environment to those aspects which are most significant for its own purposes. So coordination is possible only in light of the fundamental purposes of experience. The fundamental purpose of experience is its incentives or its motivation, which can be understood in terms of rewards and punishments.

What is the most fundamental motivation of the human organism? The motivation of the human organism is to survive. Survival depends on adaptation to the environment. The purpose or the fundamental motivation of the human organism is to reach a state of perfected adaptation, in which it responds to the environment in an ideal way. If the human being’s most fundamental motivation is to reach a state of perfected adaptation, then this is what they value the most, this is what they coordinate their behavior around.

Experience is a continuous selection or reduction of the environment to the most important aspects, those aspects which are most conducive to adaptation. What is adaptation fundamentally? Adaptation is when you become more like the environment, and the environment becomes more like you. It is an adjustment to and control of the environment. The state of perfected adaptation is when there is a symmetry between the internal states and the external environment. This means that our plans accurately map the unfolding of the external environment.

The human being perceives the world in terms of plans and plan structures. These determine how the most immediate, intuitive and instinctual actions relate to the longer term goals and purposes. The plan structures determine how the environment unfolds, what aspects of the environment we perceive. They determine what is important. The plan structures of human beings are interdependent, they interlock and mutually modify each other. The construction of personal plans is an emergent, interdependent social process.

The plan structures and goals determine how we frame the environment and what aspects of the environment we perceive. The environment and the social processes modify our plans, based on where they conflict with other people’s plans. There is a hierarchy of plan structures competing for dominance. Our own plans are embedded within other people’s plans. But there is an overall, aggregate plan structure, which is collectively negotiated and decided by continual dialogue that modifies plans.

Overall, there is a social process for converging on a mutually constructive, reinforcing plan structure. This involves positing an overall goal that reveals the most fundamental motivations and value of the human being. The most fundamental motivation or reward of the human being is to seek an equilibrium of perfected adaptation. This is a state of symmetry with the external environment, in which embedded plan structures unfold in pure thematic continuity. According to this state, all novelty is beneficent and reinforcing.

The collective plan structure is the process of coordinating around perfected adaptation. According to perfected adaptation, reality is efficient, meaning that everything which passes through perception is meaningful and significant. This must be the case because experience is the reduction of highly complex, heterogeneous information to simplified, important elements. Perfected adaptation is an ideal type, it is an object that is posited as the prototype of experience. It is the fundamental motivational system of the human being.

Experience is the reduction of the complex, external environment to a simplified heuristic. All human beings are making this reduction in terms of the fundamental human purpose. This means that all reductions are oriented toward the same fundamental value. There is an intrinsic, biological coordination of human activity. All individuals are reducing or compressing the complexity of their environment in a similar way. They all process their environment according to the same fundamental motivational significance, the symmetry with the external environment.

This means that the internal states of the various individuals are algorithmically correlated. There is fundamentally one human experience which is taking place through variegated, fragmented perspectives. The collective human experience is a complex, synchronous object tending toward the state of perfected adaptation in which there is a perfected collective consciousness. Paradoxically, the most lucid experience of this synchronous object is not in the collectivity of groups, but in the collectivity of individuals, the synchronous coordination of individuated states.

The field of behavioral economics is devoted to proving that human beings have systematic biases in reasoning. Behavioral economics developed in response to the conception of rationality in the discipline of traditional economics. Economics assumes that human beings have stable rank ordered preferences and apply a utilitarian calculus to make decisions. Kahneman and Tversky were among the first who set out to prove experimentally that this conception of rational homo economicus could not be literally true. Their experiments revealed systematic biases in human reasoning which directly contradicted the idea that humans were perfectly rational.

However, there is another explanation for why people have systematic biases in reasoning. Gerd Gigerenzer argued that we are not inherently flawed reasoners as Kahneman and Tversky suggest. But Gigerenzer is also not agreeing with the orthodox economists that we are completely rational. He instead suggests that we use simplified heuristics to reason, that we reason probabilistically.

The philosopher Martin Heidegger described a situation in which people deal with average “everydayness.” We are immersed in patterns of behavior and routines. We see things in terms of their practical usefulness for everyday life. We do not perceive static, material objects. We perceive a flux of useful transitions toward our intentions. We see everything  in the material world in terms of the end toward which we are progressing. Thus there is a systematic bias built in to our experience, but it is an immersive bias, not an error of calculation. The error simply comes from the fact that we perceive things in terms of their usefulness for our ends.

Heidegger’s conception is related to the “flow state” observed in psychology by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The person who has practiced an activity or skill over and over again, gets immersed into that activity. We develop habits and routines that are deeply embodied and engrained in the nervous system. When practicing our skill, we become absorbed into that action, such that from their subjective point of view, time seems to stop. We enter a state of blissfulness, in which our brain is highly active and engaged.

These immersive states can appear as forms of systematic bias in reasoning, as described by Kahneman and Tversky. But from a practical, subjective, everyday point of view, these states make life worth living. The flow states, the practices of skillful activity, give our life meaning and purpose. They allow us to contribute and add value to humanity.

Our systematic biases in reasoning come not from some error of calculative reasoning, but from the fact that our experience is the only thing we will ever know. This causes us to unconsciously believe that our experience is the whole of reality. All of our evolutionary tendencies are driven toward reinforcing the idea that our experience is the whole of reality. We experience pleasure when this idea is reinforced and pain when it is not. This is a flaw in reasoning, we know that other people exist, we know that our experience is partial and biased. Yet all of our subconscious and unconscious motivations are toward making ourselves the absolute center of reality. We cannot help reasoning in this way because we are so immersed in our own experience.

Yet because we realize this bias in ourselves, we simultaneously realize that other people also have this bias towards perceiving themselves as the whole of reality. We thus realize that our own experience is not in fact the whole of reality, because there are others who believe their experience is the whole of reality. Who’s experience in fact has primacy? It is decided by a kind of cooperative game. The equilibrium is one in which everyone subconsciously believes that his own experience accurately represents the whole of reality, but these wholes mutually reciprocate and correct one another, converging on a steady-state. This is the “efficient meaning hypothesis,” an extension of the efficient market hypothesis.

The efficient market hypothesis says that prices reflect all available information. If there is some new information about a company, for example, if regulators crack down or if the company makes a profit this quarter, that information is immediately reflected by a change in the stock price. There is steady-state equilibrium in which stock prices accurately compress information about actual changes on the ground in the underlying companies.

The efficient meaning hypothesis says that everything which comes into the field of experience is some reflection of the overall distribution of collective, social experiences. The individual is, in fact, a measure, a barometer of the collective distribution of experiences. He both receives and changes this distribution by his own actions and responses. The human individual does not adapt just his immediate environment. He reasons and abstracts from his immediate environment to the future and to other places in the world. His immediate environment is actually an extended immediate environment. He is able to know what is going on at other places in the world and perceive how those events affect him in his current situation and how he affects those events, through the mediation of his immediate experience.

However, this puts the ultimate responsibility for world events into the hands of individuals, a prospect which is both empowering and frightening. If individuals are responsible for world events, then they had better have their acts together.

The efficient meaning hypothesis admits, with Kahneman and Tversky that there are systematic biases in reasoning that come from our adaptive strategy in believing our own experience is identical with the whole, but it also asserts with Gigerenzer that these biases may be adaptively useful heuristics for sorting through the environment. This wholistic reasoning is obviously very complex and hard to do effectively because there are so many variables involved. However, when done effectively it leads to the highest levels of adaptive human performance.

The efficient meaning hypothesis involves a deepening of the Enlightenment conception of the natural rights individualism. Individuals are not just created equal with a self evident right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Each individual is actually an instantiation or a microcosm of the whole of social reality. The biases in reasoning which go along with believing that one’s own experience is the whole of reality is adaptively and evolutionarily built into us. This is the unconscious coordinating mechanism of human behavior. It is not enough to simply try to overcome this error in reasoning, we must biologically adapt to it. We must learn to see our own experience as a hypothetical whole, not an absolute whole, but as a transition undergoing continuous reality testing, converging on an ultimate steady-state.

 

 

In many ways, contemporary society is the best situation man has ever been in, there is higher standard of living, increasing tolerance, increasing knowledge and interconnectedness, decreasing poverty, decreasing violence. Yet there is also a constellation of social problems that are all related: the problem of nihilism, the crisis of meaning and of public mental health, mass shootings, suicides, drugs and “deaths of despair,” the problem of the culture wars and the vitriolic political dialogue, the problem of inequality of opportunity and systemic oppression, the problem of what constitutes legitimate authority, truth and knowledge in the sphere of journalism and in science, the problem of peer review in science, the problem of the ethical values that guide science, and of overspecialization in science and in capitalism. All of these problems are related to the spiritual foundations of humanity. Human beings are innately spiritual in the sense that they always strive to overcome their current condition. The spiritual foundations of humanity are the conceptions of humanity’s place in the hierarchical structure of the universe. This is related to the question of whether there is any greater purpose for being the world. There are two broadly proposed solutions to the spiritual crisis: return to tradition and transhumanism.

The return to the old spiritual traditions is broadly an appeal to something like religious tradition or political ideology. In this view, the greater purpose of humanity is solidarity, harmony, and service to one another. Whether through the new age, esotericism, occultism, shamanism, yoga, psychedelic drugs, Carl Jung or Mircea Eliade, music of the 60’s, social conservatism, liberalism, Marxist utopianism, Buddhism, Christianity, it involves trying to recover some “lost wisdom of the ancients.” Trying to get in touch with deeply embodied instincts or practices which are in the blindspot of contemporary, secular natural science. The claim is that there is some spiritual or political knowledge which is not fulfilled by modern natural science. This may even be knowledge from the  contemporary natural or social sciences that is not widely understood or appreciated in the right way. And through rediscovering and conveying this knowledge, it will build up to a tipping point in modern society and initiate a Renaissance in human culture. The hope is that some kind of greater social intelligence will awaken.

Transhumanism claims basically that humanity has given birth to science and technology, and that these will inevitably produce a new kind of intelligence which will supersede humanity. In this view, the greater purpose of human life is to give birth to this higher evolutionary intelligence. Whether through artificial intelligence or genetic engineering, humanity will be surpassed by superhuman intelligences which will either guide humanity or eliminate it. The hope is that we can harness the incredible power of these new technologies toward the good of all people, but this comes at the risk that these technologies will actually destroy us. The momentum toward the outcome of either total renewal or total destruction, is past the point of no return. It is an inevitable trajectory of scientific progress that it will either save the world or destroy it. Once this new higher intelligence comes into being, there will be a clear hierarchy of legitimate authority. The super-intelligent beings will be in command, and they will either help us to renew the planet or else they will wipe us out. The hope of transhumanism is that we can control the initial conditions of the rise of the super-intelligence and thus have some control over the outcome.

My essential argument is that the return to spiritual tradition is the precondition for a beneficent outcome of transhumanism. This is definitely worrisome because the pace of technological progress is extremely rapid and it seems like the pace of social progress is more cumbersome. We seem divided and fragmented on all sides. Furthermore, it seems like it has been this way throughout human history and that there is no hope on the horizon for repairing the divisions. This view is mistaken. I think we only have to look back as far as the Renaissance and the Enlightenment to see a kind of unified human flourishing. It is possible that we will see a re-awakened paradigmatic shift in human perception. What are the grounds of such a paradigm shift which could facilitate a cultural Renaissance?

Yuval Noah Harari correctly (in my view) diagnoses the modern condition as “liberal humanism,” the view that the “voice in the soul” is the primary authority. When we look to make a decision, we say “go with what your heart tells you”. When we ask what is beautiful, we say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” When we ask a teacher what they are trying to do, they say “I want to teach my students to think for themselves.” We rely on our own individual conscience or intuition to tell us what is right and wrong, good and bad. Yet Harari, being a transhumanist, incorrectly (in my view) says that this condition of liberal humanism will be overcome by technology. Instead of listening to our own intuition, people will increasingly listen to technological algorithms. We will turn to Google or Facebook for dating advice and with life questions. We will turn to biopharmaceutical and bioengineering companies to cure our diseases.

By contrast to Harari, I argue that liberal humanism is not going away. Instead, I argue that liberal humanism will deepen. Liberal humanism’s focus on the individual will become characterized by a deep sociality, rather than an individualist self-reliance or a reliance on external technology, there will be a deeply interdependent, synchronic sociality. I think this will represent a genuine shift in the global social coordination equilibria. Instead of outsourcing our decisions to technological algorithms on Google or Facebook, we will outsource our decisions to the “external” environment. Instead of the individual conscience being the primary authority, the individual will increasingly be seen as the entire whole. Each individual is an instantiation of the whole of reality. This is the key axiom of the Renaissance of liberal humanism into deep humanism.

The whole of reality is not dynamic or static, it is a composite subjective-objective that we are all intrinsically striving towards to fulfill our limited, partial state. This is not objective reality as science knows it, but a pragmatic way of determining how we should act. When each individual is the whole of reality, the “external” environment gives immediate feedback on each choice because the whole, as whole, is interdependent and synchronic, all of its aspects are internally correlated. It is up to us to determine whether the environment is giving us good feedback or not. Every experience is significant and meaningful. This is only true if everyone is acting on that same premise, if it is truly a global equilibrium. If Harari is correct that we are already operating on a liberal humanist paradigm, then how long before we realize its logical next phase and transition to the deep humanist paradigm? My suspicion is that we already tend to operate on the assumption that our experience is the whole of reality. This is why there are prevalent reasoning biases demonstrated by behavioral economics. Instead of reasoning like pure natural scientists, we reason based on feedback mechanisms from the environment combined with the vague intuition of a higher, more complex threshold of potential, beyond experience.

The evidence that experience is an unbroken whole is that personal experience is the only thing or process that we will ever know. If the primary phenomenon is consciousness, then we must take this evidence seriously. We must posit that our limited, fragmented, discursive experience is nevertheless some kind of instantiation of the unbroken, objective whole. Deep humanism is a composite scientific-religious methodology. Experience is a hypothetical whole, it is a compression, a low resolution image of the whole. It undergoes continual reality testing, in order to see how and where it is limited and where it is an accurate mapping. There is a hierarchy of interdependent, embedded levels of spatiotemporal plans and analysis. There is a threshold of complexity above which the individual cannot understand. For this reason, the environment is the storehouse of the complex social cognition. We outsource decisions, problems, plans, to the social environment, which gives us feedback on our choices. In the liberal humanist paradigm, this feedback is slow or perhaps never comes, because people still view their individuality as partial and biased. Once people are acting on the axiom that their experience is the provisional completion of reality, then new paradigmatic ways of interacting are possible.

This Renaissance of deep humanism is the necessary condition for the beneficent emergence of a higher, superhuman intelligence. Some version of the “universal science” will be the intrinsic operating system of any kind of superhuman intelligence, we must be able to speak its language before it emerges. The human perception of the world is so limited and narrow that it focuses on certain aspects, and yet these aspects become so important that they become deeply symbolic of all of the rest of the aspects. It is important the we cultivate the process of continually refining and correcting that focus to more and more perfectly map the whole of reality.

 

The crisis of meaning in contemporary society is characterized by a lack of context. Everything has been hyper-contextualized to the point that all context has evaporated and we are left floating in an acontextual ocean of information. Since the time of Hegel, it has been the dogma of the human sciences that all social phenomena are based in history. To understand an event is to understand its historical context. There are no transhistorical truths. Yet Hegel was also the first to bring this realization to its logical conclusion. If all social phenomena are historical, then the discovery of history itself has a historical context. This is why Hegel took his time to be the end of history. There is a history of histories, and therefore there is a kind of transhistorical truth. To put it another way, if all truth is relative, then that truth must itself also be relative. What is it relative in relation to? The absolute. So the discover of history was at the same time a discovery that the absolute or the transhistorical must exist, in a certain way.

But the discovery of history had the effect that it tried to wipe out all previous notions of transhistorical truth. And so what we were left with was the hyper-contextualization of all social phenomena. All social phenomena were seen as embedded in their tightly bound historical constraints. By default, scientific truths took over the throne of transhistorical truths, even though scientists themselves say that science is in continual revision and offers no transhistorical truths. And so particulars began to reign over any kind of overall, universal historical context. And so we are left without an overall story of our time.

What the scientific (and the historical) revolution gained for us in terms of understanding the world as it is, they lost for us in terms of understanding the world as it ought to be. This is precisely the opposite effect that Hegel intended. Hegel emphasized the science of dialectic, which was originally put forth by Socrates and Plato. The science of dialectic is the science of what ought to be. Yet when we look at the modern political dialogue on Twitter, for example, it looks more like all out rhetorical warfare, than a science of dialectic (though this may be going on underneath the surface). What we need is truly modern, scientific conception of dialectic, a true science of what ought to be. This will guide us back to an overall story of the world that is true and good.

Many scientifically minded individuals, such as Max Weber and David Hume, have considered “what ought to be,” to be irrational. In other words, there can be no science of what ought to be. Science has no purpose, science is value-netural, it is not concerned with “what ought to be,” only with “what is.” However, when science is not nested in any kind of deeper value-laden framework, then it has no ethical guidance. Science cannot be harnessed toward bringing society better circumstances or outcomes. There is no basis for judging nuclear warfare to be better than peacetime flourishing. This is obviously absurd, there must be a clear scientific basis for ethical claims. Jordan Peterson has claimed that a Darwinian notion of truth appeals to the survival value of a claim, basically things are true according to whether they pragmatically help us survive. Thus a belief can be metaphorically true, while it is literally false, such as the belief in religion or money.

“What ought to be” is highly complex, in fact more complex than we can conceptualize within our own experience, but that this does not necessarily mean that it is technically “irrational.” It just means that it is more complex than we currently understand, we may be able to understand it tomorrow. How can we have a science of something that we do not understand? We have an intuition about it. In other words, we can represent it in symbolic form. We can compress “what ought to be” into simpler concepts, like a low resolution image which represents the higher resolution original.

Experience is composed of one option, continuously selecting, cutting off many other possibilities. And so experience, is, in some sense, simple. Experience is the low resolution image. By contrast, “what ought to be” is composed of various potentials, various possible futures. This is the complex, high resolution original. All of these possible futures are continuously compressed into this one simple experience. Decision is the act of summing up, compressing, aggregating all of the complex possibilities of “what ought to be,” into one concise, simple experience. But obviously not all decisions are morally equal, there are better and worse decisions. The better decision or experience is the one that compresses the most heterogeneous complexity of “what ought to be” most accurately, into the most concise, most simple possible gesture.

When people compare their low resolution images of experience, they find vast differences. But when they are able to mediate those differences by this field of “what ought to be,” by this complex field of possibility, then they are able to modulate their differences into the more complex, overlapping network of possibilities, without giving up their low resolution convictions. They update their low resolution convictions, by adjusting them to fit more accurately into the higher resolution original. The higher resolution originals overlap with one another because they are more informationally complex. If we each imagine all the hypothetical possibilities of the evolution of our current experience, then those hypothetical possibilities will overlap much more than our current experience itself, which is more limited.

And so we have a concrete way of testing what is ethically better and worse, by direct empirical experience. When experience is an accurate compression of “what ought to be,” then it will be singular, it will be a fluid, uninterrupted continuity of experience. This means that the emotions and the biochemical systems are well regulated. This, in turn, means that individual behaviors meet collective social expectations. And this means that the social order is well configured. So there is a clear continuum between direct experience and the social order. Experience is a compression of the social order, it is a compression of “what ought to be.”

Our direct experience contains the entire social configuration, in compressed form. This is a tremendous responsibility and a tremendous power. The way that we navigate our personal experience, in a sense, determines the equilibria of the world. The gradients of continuity of experience are gradients of entirety. We always try to represent or symbolize the complex whole in a simple manner. We know that this representation is provisional, we use it for reality testing and updating. When we meet something that is unexpected, this interrupts the continuity, this breaks down the conception of the whole in specific ways, and this is meaningful because it indicates the specific place to adjust and adapt.

Understanding experience as a compression of the highly complex whole guides the way back to an overall historical context. By the emergent interactions between people, we each form symbolizations of the whole that begin to resonate and feed back between one another. These stories get more and more sophisticated in content, yet become simpler and simpler in format, until they converge on the one final story. This final story is the collectively synchronized whole of experience.

North_rose_window

Rose Window, Chartres Cathedral

Psychedelic Capitalism

Psychedelic Capitalism is not based on free love or psychedelic drugs; instead, it is based on radical responsibility and mutual trust, the most psychedelic virtues. Today’s youth want to free themselves from the yoke of over-indulgence, laziness, and mediocrity. They want to take the burden of the world upon themselves, they want to speak for the world, to transform it into something that is livable. They want art and science to be profitable and worthwhile for everyone, as it truly is. They don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of a virtual reality, dystopian surveillance state, where the technology monopolies manipulate people with their personal data. They don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of a social justice warfare and authoritarian political correctness, where everyone judges and virtue signals with every little behavior.

Psychedelic Capitalism is based on the premise that monetary coordination is an externalized, public scorekeeping mechanism of the true human biosocial coordination. Monetary coordination is the form of the capitalist mode of production. Through using the tools of monetary coordination, humans discover the deeper form of biosocial coordination. This deeper biosocial coordination is characterized by acceptance and convergence of mutually universal principles across time and space. Through monetary coordination, everyone agrees to agree that money has value. Money is a particular kind of information about meta-agreement. It is information about how to ascribe value to a neutral, independent medium that has no inherent value in itself, solely in order to facilitate the greater fluidity of all transactions.

With Psychedelic Capitalism, there is similarly a certain kind of knowledge about meta-agreement, which makes all forms of knowledge compatible with one another. This is a synthetic, universal knowledge which unifies the separate disciplines into a single architecture. It incorporates biology, psychology, sociology, economics, religion, philosophy, into a single concise framework. This unified framework serves as an independent, neutral medium, which interprets and processes the world, and makes disparate forms of knowledge compatible. This kind of synthetic knowledge arises in a capitalist context, as a profit-seeking capitalist firm. Other competing unified frameworks arise and come into dialogue with the original unified framework. In their competition, they interact and transform one another into more coherent, complete unifications of all the disparate fields. The more unified frameworks that enter into the milieu of capitalist competition, the more these frameworks will mutually correct and improve upon one another.

Eventually they converge upon the ultimately precise and simple grand unified architecture of the world. The firms which produce these kinds of frameworks are “knowledge production” firms. They attempt to synthetically blend all aspects of knowledge into a single, coherent metanarrative, blending social science, biological science, with literature and drama. People pay for this kind of knowledge for the same reason that they pay for a good movie, for good journalism, or for good science; on the one hand, they want to be entertained, but on the other hand, they want to learn and be informed about the world and they want the world to be informed. The knowledge production firm works as a team to converge on the ultimate meaning that will coordinate people’s actions on a macro scale, comparable to capitalism or religion. They produce something that is hyperfactual, it is the supreme blend of reality and metaphor. These firms are dedicated to producing something that is so true that it is captivating and so captivating that it is true. The Psychedelic Capitalist firms literally produce “ways of organizing” society, ways of coordinating behavior that are greater than anything we have ever seen.

All of the separate fields of science and literature, because they are products of an innate human disposition, are outward projections of the human structure of cognition, all of these separate fields fit together like nesting dolls, when a certain view is taken. The contemporary natural scientific view of the world is predicated on the assumption that human subjectivity is inherently biased, limited, partial. This subjective delusion is corrected by looking at things “objectively.” Except that there is no scientist who is objective, they are all specialists in their own subfields. The subjective view of the world is limited and partial, but this is because it continuously tries to simplify the world. Experience wants to make the world concise. Experience wants to sum up the entire world into one single, final statement. It wants to declare, once and for all, that the world is just this way. And science is the rightful corrective to this mentality. Edmund Husserl’s explorations into phenomenology were precisely “a science of the pre-scientific,” a science of looking at the world in the common-sense, subjective way. Husserl’s phenomenology shows the way to the experience of the whole, where subjective and objective again become unified in the science of the whole. If taken to its logical conclusions, the phenomenological method produces a virtuous feedback cycle of knowledge continuously simplifying and improving upon itself in an intersubjective, socially distributed manner.

All of the seemingly disparate sciences are in fact projections of a single, universal substructure of human cognition, they reflect the very act of knowledge processed in the human mind. We can reduce all aspects of knowledge to singular, coherent, universal aspects that fit together like nesting dolls. Biology flows smoothly into psychology which flows smoothly into sociology and economics, if we seek to radically simplify and reduce knowledge to these fundamental analogous aspects of mental processing.

Narratives like The Matrix or Star Wars have taken on epic proportions in culture. They have gained a transcendent meaning and metaphor. But they are nowhere near being able to coordinate human behavior on a macro scale, like capitalism does. They are nowhere near competing with capitalism itself. There are narratives that do coordinate human behavior on a macro scale, religions like Christianity. The social sciences in their current stages are nowhere near anything like the organizing capacity of a Christianity. Not even Marxism is close to Christianity. A narrative has to reach so deep into the substructure of human cognition to be able to coordinate behavior on that scale for two thousand years through the same institution. The social sciences should be trying to compete and cooperate with that, they should be seeking to emulate that, to reverse engineer it, to figure out how to organize a stable society. We look to the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, these have been stabilizing forces for around two hundred years, whereas Christianity has been around for thousands! The social sciences are still too busy trying to emulate the calculating, esoteric practices of the natural sciences that they miss the real point of social science, which is to truly coordinate human behavior. Natural science, like physics and chemistry, deals with inert matter, with dead matter, atoms and molecules that are not alive. Social science is a thousandfold more complex, and yet social scientists try to fit their methods into natural scientific methods, treating people like dead atoms, which can be useful but can also be deadening. It is time that social scientists look to the coordinative, organizing power of great literature, religion and drama to synthesize knowledge. This is what Jordan Peterson has tried to do with his Maps of Meaning, to create a synthetic metanarrative, and this is why his endeavor has been so successful. Psychedelic Capitalism is the attempt to engineer a new social metanarrative through the decentralized, spontaneous order of many individuals competing and cooperating in a unified field of coordinated, synchronous human cognition.

Laffoley_Geochronmechane_HiRes_zPaul Laffoley- Geochronmechane (1990)

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William Blake- The Fall of Satan (1825)

There is a crisis of meaning in modern global culture. In the U.S., this is can be seen in the rising suicide rate and in the opioid drug epidemic, the “deaths of despair.” These problems seem to primarily affect people with low education. However, I argue that these problems actually stem from the fallacies of the elite, highly educated classes. I will describe two general mindsets of contemporary highly educated people in the U.S. These are deliberately broad and imprecise categories, they are meant as heuristics, to show a general trend, hopefully I can avoid making a straw man of these positions.

The “Silicon Valley/Wall St./Biotech” mindset: I consider here the software engineers, finance/economists, and doctors or medical professionals. With this crowd there is a technological optimism. They are just on the brink of unlocking the greatest human potentials- artificial intelligence, genome sequencing, biological engineering, pharmaceuticals, are all converging and cyclically improving each other so rapidly that every day brings huge progress and new information. From within these fields, there is mountains of evidence that they are indeed working for the greatest good of humanity (and not unimportantly, their own good) and delivering on the true promises of rational human potential. Capitalism has facilitated the largest improvement in human living standards ever seen, just over the last 100 years. But let’s take a closer look at this group’s assumptions about human nature. From the economics/finance fields, we have the assumption that man is a rational actor, basically following a utilitarian calculus, with a strict rank-ordering of preferences. From the Silicon Valley and health fields, we have the assumption that man is a set of evolving biochemical, neurological algorithms. Basically, we are biological machines with no soul and no purpose. To someone inside these fields, these assumptions are simply necessary and useful to get good results. They provide enough richness to give meaning and purpose to the lives of the people who are in these fields. But to someone outside these fields, these assumptions about human nature look absolutely bleak and nihilistic. There is nothing to work for, no narrative about what a human being could be. We are just biological automatons in a vast, complex, and meaningless machine universe.

The “Social Justice” mindset: I consider here the people who go to work for non-profits, for the government, as social workers, and in other high social impact jobs. With this crowd, there is a much more pessimistic outlook on the world. The world does not look so good, it is not heading in the right direction. Inequality is high, public mental health is poor and not really on the agenda, the environment is rapidly getting more and more polluted, animals are mistreated. What are their assumptions about human nature? Identity markers such as race, gender, sexual orientation, convey information about social power. There are broadly two classes of people, the  “oppressed” and the “oppressor” classes. There is not really any objective rational truth, all truths are relative and all societies are different, but basically equal. Tradition and engrained social conventions largely misguide people and keep them from realizing their implicit coercive or oppressing tendencies. There is a sense that we could change society if we just educate people about the ways that they unintentionally reinforce power structures. The government has a responsibility to provide people with their basic needs like education, health care, and enough money to survive. There is a push for inclusivity, diversity, and equity in the workplace. The highest ideal is total collective solidarity, total social harmony and complete tolerance. This hypothetical ideal is contrasted with the competitive, survival of the fittest jungle that characterizes modern capitalist society. To someone outside these professions, these assumptions look completely bizarre. Imagine explaining Judith Butler’s views on the human being to a Christian fundamentalist in Montana.

The emphasis on specialization and the division of labor in our advanced capitalist society, makes it so that these views can be closely held and used within their narrow domain of expertise without having to be justified to the public at large. But these highly influential views propagate through the social continuum in unexpected and unclear ways. It is not obvious that the Silicon Valley/Wall St./Biotech assumptions are actually good on any kind of broader social, cultural, or political level. Quite to the contrary, these assumptions do not seem to portray social world that is absolutely bleak, meaningless, and hostile to life. But this biochemical/technological narrative is highly influential and people absorb it from their doctors, from TV, and from the culture. Similarly, the Social Justice assumptions about the world and human nature seem bizarre and irrelevant to day-to-day life. What do race/gender/sexual orientation have to do with how I get through the day? How does these assumptions give me any sense of purpose, anything greater than myself to live for? The oppressor/oppressed narrative carries a little bit of political weight, and the apocalyptic, utopian aspects may resonate on a broadly Christian level. But overall, the elite class propagate these two views of human nature that are absolutely bleak.

It may be important here to consider Leo Strauss’s distinction between the esoteric and exoteric. The exoteric teaching is the public facing, the view that appeals to common sense, that appeals to the contemporary historical context, the view that people will accept and understand. The esoteric teaching is the secret, private understanding, reserved for the elite few who can understand the true meaning. For the uneducated Americans, the educated elite’s assumptions about the world and human nature are highly esoteric. This may be partially due to the emphasis on specialization and division of labor in capitalist society. But perhaps the highly educated should consider the exoteric, public facing consequences of their studies.

What is it that ultimately gives life meaning for most people? It is a narrative, a story about how life is. This narrative involves a beginning and an ending, the means and ends, a purpose which one is working toward. The end has to be worthwhile, and it has to be actually attainable. The elite must not only consider their own esoteric, specialized narratives that allow them to effectively achieve their ends, but they must consider the exoteric, public facing consequences of their fields. That is, good intentions often produce unintended results. People must be careful about how their good intentions propagate.

Technology and identity politics cannot fulfill the function of getting people through the day. There is a need for a new metanarrative not only for the benefit of the uneducated, but for the benefit of the coordination of specialized knowledge. The specialized sciences, especially the social sciences and the humanities have a huge coordination problem. Peer review work is very rarely cited in these fields. It is unsurprising given the status of the social, cultural, political dialogue.

The construction of a metanarrative inevitably involves some kind of convergence of traditional conventions and rational truths, some hybrid of faith and reason, because a narrative is constructed from means and ends. The ends are based in faith, the means are based in reason. A structurally precise metanarrative would accurately synthesize these two aspects in a way that is historically and contextually embedded. It would use the skills and reason of social science and biological science together with the aesthetics and faith of the spontaneous social order. The engineering skills of reason together with the self organizing complexity of markets.

The only way to end the downward spiral of despair and nihilism is to converge on a new paradigmatic metanarrative to replace the barren assumptions about human nature. This new metanarrative may be nothing more than discovering a process of convergence. We have to discover within ourselves a new Renaissance of human flourishing. We finally have the capacity within ourselves to bring together all fields of human inquiry into a single field of harmonized complexity. This inevitably involves some social engineering,  strongly tempered by decentralized, spontaneous market forces. The human sciences can start to actually build off of one another and create a virtuous feedback cycle of creativity and an upsurge in social ingenuity and prosperity.