I am stealing this word from Dr Jason Fox. I am watching The Meaning Crisis with him and a few others at the coterie and this morning we discussed episode 7.Episode 7 focuses on Aristotle, but also on the distinction between being and knowing. I always came to being and knowing via Heidegger, and thought about being and existence and knowledge as knowing. In this episode of the meaning crises being is more like becoming, something that perhaps acts out of its own vital forces.
This could also be construed as process vs product. But lets stick with being and knowing. John Vervaeke talks about the modal confusion. That in our world, and advertising in particular, confuses knowing mode – all cars are similar, replaceable, etc with being mode, happiness or maturity or love. Like if you buy this car then you will have maturity. But maturity is not a having it is a being.
Satisfying a desire (having) does not give rise to meaning (being). Maybe this could be the psychological fallacy or the psychoanalytic fallacy. Going back to the idea of akrasia – the notion is that if only we knew what was best we would do that! And that when we dont it is because we have a weakness of will – satisfying desire over reason.
I am interested in psychotechnologies – how can we address divide? Some thoughts are how do we reconcile desire with reason perhaps, desire with meaning. It is not just resisting our desires but cultivating desire for those those things that will help our being. Every being is different so desire is different there is no rule that all people should desire one sort of thing.
One of the points JV discusses is the agent and the arena – that this is one of the ideas that Aristotle introduces. That once we have axial age psychotechnologies of reason we can then do the following operation: We have a world, an arena, that we can understand how that world works via reason. We can construct a narrative about it, with rules and laws etc. Then we can identify ourselves as an agent (perhaps this can be thought of as adopting particular personas), to act within the arena – the world.
This analysis made me think of games – a pre-axial age technology. Games, children’s game or adult games embody this arena/agent relationship – and it is a psychotechnology. Aristotle innovation perhaps is the meta turn that indentified this structure within games and looked at areas of human existence, nature, physics, politics in this framework that creating the beginning of sustained investigation into these areas.
Today there is a resurgence in gaming it appears. At least video games and VR games provide a new medium through which to write games. Is this psycho-technology perhaps different from something like chess or ring around the rosy. I would say yes, because they allow the proliferation of NPC (non-player characters) with their own becomings that interact in the game. It is a move from the agent-arena to the agent(s)-arena and considering some things that were previously construed as objects (as having/subject to knowing) as beings.
Back to ontological modelling… the meta question is how do you shape your being. The modal confusion exists to “meaning.” Meaning is not a thing you have but a process or perhaps a quality of a process. What is ontological modelling. Dr Fox put it out there in response to how to approach radical changes in life (divorce, illness, death etc), but perhaps engaging with meaning is a constant ontological modelling. We are shaping our becoming, and the meaning question is a question of ontological modelling – what sort of meaning do we want to have?