- Jan 2023
ernest becker has made a lot of is offered the same kind of argument which he calls terror management theory um shanti deva rather in the beginning of how to awaken uh how to lead an awakened 00:36:00 life talks about how terrified we are of death how terrified we are of being nothing how terrified we are what's going to happen after death becker doc talks about the same thing and shantideva 00:36:13 argues that in order to save ourselves from that terror what we do is we try to pause it make permanent and self safeguard this self becker does the same thing says we tend to reify ourselves as 00:36:24 a ball work um against terror to somehow manage our terror and but in any case self does seem the self illusion i think i think that idea is quite right by the way that the fear of death which is 00:36:36 deeply wired into us causes us to posit that self causes us to say hey maybe it can live forever maybe it can be reborn life after life after life maybe it can go to heaven things like that 00:36:48 but i also think the idea that affect is deeply related to our sense of self is really there shanti deva makes this point as well as does david hume um shanti deva uh points out that here's when you really decide you've got a self 00:37:02 it's when somebody insults you or hurts you right so somebody says garfield you idiot an and i immediately said wait a minute i'm a whole lot better than that how dare you talk to me like that i don't feel like my body's been 00:37:13 insulted i don't feel like my mind has been insulted i don't feel like my perceptions or sensations have been insulted i feel like i the thing that's got those things has been insulted and i want revenge at that point so that kind 00:37:27 of effect there or if you do something really cool like win the olympic gold medal in 100 meter sprint like i would love to do um with usain bolt's body um then you think when you're really proud of what you've done the pride 00:37:39 attaches not to my body not to my mind but to me so this idea that affect really brings up that sense of self i think is really important uh hume uh makes the same point in his treatise of human nature for those of 00:37:52 you who want to see this done in western philosophy he thinks that it's pride and shame that really bring up the idea of the self you know i mean when i'm ashamed of something that i'm done that i've done i'm not ashamed of my hand 00:38:04 that wrote badly i'm ashamed of me for having bad penmanship if i didn't give to a beggar i'm not ashamed that my mind did something wrong i'm ashamed that i did i was tight-fisted um and so the 00:38:16 idea that these and these aspects bring up the idea of self i think is very powerful and of course anger as i said earlier is another big one all of these involve egocentric attachment so it's when we're attached to things in a way that really fronts 00:38:29 our ego as the possessor then we find that we're positing that self and so this finishes the first of the three things i wanted to do this evening first was to convince you that you really do think yourself to explain what 00:38:42 that self is and to give some idea of why i think that you have why i think that you think that you have a self um no matter how much you might reject that idea on reflection
!- intrinsic fear of death : strong role in creation of a self illusion -Ernest Becker, David Hume, Shanti Devi all regard death as a major reason we create the self illusion - Becker cliams we reify the self as a bulwark against the terror of death - the fear of death is deeply wired in us - the story of a self allows it to posit a symbolic form of eternal life, hence resulting in immortality projects - we know we have fallen under the spell of the illusion of self when we can be insulted, when we get angry, when we feel shame - it is these affects which establish a self, hence why the self imputation is so strong and difficult to dislodge
- Sep 2022
On this road we encounter the psychological obstacles to adoptingnew thinking as recognizable staging posts along the road: denial, anger,bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance.
!- similiar to : Mortality Salience - grieving of the loss of a loved one - grieving the future loss of one's own life - Ernest Becker is relevant - Denial of Death, Death Terror !- aligned : Deep Humanity
- Jul 2022
Socialsystems can organize humans into relationships that are sensible and relatively safe holding in checkmany destructive traits of individual humans. The question remains how to achieve a healthy andflexible balance of control that puts the human first. This balance, as will be argued is far from beingcurrently the case.
- Social system currently dictate the overall direction of the Anthropocene.
- Voting, as a collective process within social systems enables the majority of votes to determine the collective action outcome of members of a social system.
- The final vote can be determined by a number of factors such as power, access and knowledge.
- In societies with large inequalities and political power assymetries, voting does not always lead to collectively beneficial results.
- Further, some social institutions can be harmful to individual and collective wellbeing.
- For example, authoritarian regimes are a prime example.
- Terror management theory (TMT) holds that there is a preponderance of social institutions that encourage psychological death denialism, an action that can lead to chronic psychological damage that can manifest in pathological social behavior.
16:15 - Adam Smith - The Wealth of Nations
Adam Smith thought that there were two sides to us, one side is our concern for SELF, that gets what it needs to survive but the other side is our empathic side for OTHERS, we cares for the welfare of others. His economic design theory distilled into THE WEALTH OF NATIONS was based on the assumption that these two would act in a balanced way.
There are also two other important and related variables at play that combine with Whybrow's findings:
- Death Denialism (Ernest Becker) A growing meaning crisis in the world due to the waning influence of Christianity and significant misinterpretation of most religions as an immortality project emerging from the psychological denial of death
John Vervaeke's Meaning Crisis: https://www.meaningcrisis.co/all-transcripts/
Glenn Hughes writes about Becker and Denial of Death: https://hyp.is/go?url=https%3A%2F%2Fernestbecker.org%2Flecture-6-denial%2F&group=world
- Illusion of Immediacy of Experience Jay L. Garfield explains how philosophers such as Nagarjuna, Chandrakurti and Dogen have taught us to beware of the illusion of the immediacy of experience that consists of two major ways in which we mistaken conventional, relative reality for intrinsic reality: perceptual faculty illusions and cognitive faculty illusions. https://hyp.is/go?url=http%3A%2F%2Fdocdrop.org%2Fvideo%2FHRuOEfnqV6g%2F&group=world
If this notion of human existence as a unity of participation in both perishing and non-perishing reality sounds odd to modern ears, it is mainly because philosophical and scientific–and consequently popular–thought during the last few centuries has been busy constructing a very different image of the human person. The image of participation has been changed and simplified into an image of two entities: a body, and a mind inside the body that has intelligence and ideas. This is the image that eventually came out of Descartes and Hobbes and other early modem thinkers, and wound up as a portrayal of human beings as mental entities encased in physical entities: a mind-thing imprisoned in a body–thing. Now a mind-thing imprisoned in a body-thing cannot experience participation in the ground of reality. Why not? Because it is imprisoned, isolated in the head. It can only have ideas about it and “project” them out onto reality. What becomes, then of the non-perishing dimension of meaning? Accepting the modem image, we could have faith that we have a relation to non-perishing reality only through first conceiving of a non-perishing reality–let us call it “God”–in the isolation of our bodily-encased minds, and then projecting that conception onto a “beyond” of things, and finally engaging in the desperate procedure of believing that it is real and that we have a connection with it in spite of not knowing anything of the kind. In other words, as long as self-understanding is dominated by this modem image, human consciousness cannot make sense of its own experience of immediate participation in a non-perishing ground of reality. And therefore, it cannot really make sense of its moral striving–since what is the point of the struggle for goodness if goodness is nothing more than temporary private opinion? Thus the modem image of human nature short-circuits the Socratic and Kierkegaardian understanding of existence, and leaves us with the familiar contemporary mess of radical moral relativism. This modern image of human existence is tenacious, though–partly because it is so closely connected to the modem view of what real knowing is, a view that enjoys an almost unassailable status. It might be summarized with extreme brevity as follows. If the mind is a thing encased in the physical body that only knows reality through the mediation, through the channeling, of the physical senses, any valid knowing has to validate itself through the presence of the relevant sense data. And this means that all true knowing is the type of knowing involved in the natural sciences, where empirical verification must take place through quantifiable data. Data that cannot be mathematically measured, such as the data consciousness discovers in its own activity and awareness–for example moral insight–can never be a matter of knowing, merely of opinion. How could the Socratic experience of discovering that the moral autonomy of the soul involves a non-perishing dimension of meaning ever be verified, if the data of sense, quantifiable data, are the only relevant data for affirming truth? The life of Socrates–an exemplary model for over two millennia of the moral liberation of the soul through the catharsis of practicing death–is, in this view, a life based on nothing more substantial than a private irrational belief. So to sum up: what has happened is that the enthronement by modem philosophy and science of an image of human nature as a thingly mind entrapped in a thingly body, has made all symbolizations of a non-perishing dimension of reality non-credible to many people–particularly to the intelligentsia, who emphasize their modem credentials by presenting themselves as the cultured despisers of religion. And, of course, one of the reasons why this modem image is so popular and so resistant to critique is what it appears to promise. If we go back to the founding texts of modernity, to the writings of Descartes, of Bacon, of Hobbes, we find a great optimism. If there is no participation in a mysterious origin of non-perishing meaning, there is no mystery essential to human existence. If there is no such participation, then all knowledge originates only in human consciousness itself. And if there is no primal mystery, and if all meaning is of human creation, we can hope one day to bring nature, human society, and history fully under human control. In his last book, Escape from Evil, Becker wrote: “Hubris means forgetting where the real source of power lies and imagining that it is in oneself (37).” I would suggest that imagining that notions of a non-perishing dimension of meaning are the pure creations of an isolated human consciousness, entails a forgetting of where the real source of consciousness lies: in the experienced mysterious ground of consciousness, which grants us the quite rational opportunity of a free and loving commitment to an enduring dimension of meaning. Of course, in some sense, human awareness of the non-perishing mystery in which it participates remains alive and well, because people keep striving to be moral, and they keep asking questions about that experience. Human questioning will always keep uncovering the eternal dimension of meaning, keep introducing people to the Socratic catharsis, and keep leading people to what Becker called a life of courageous self-realization. But they can be helped to do so by promoting insights like those of Becker on the choice between denying death or facing up to mortality. Like Becker in his chapter on Kierkegaard in The Denial Of Death, what I’ve tried to show is that the problem does not lie in the notion of human participation in imperishable reality. Rather, where the problem lies is in the self-comforting delusion that one possesses eternal meaning, and especially in the measures people take to defend their feeling of righteous invulnerability, especially through aggression. Authentic faith, by contrast, affirms enduring meaning in the context of an open if anxious acceptance of mortality. And so one must conclude that there are two opposites to authentic faith. One is the dogmatic clinging to an immortality project; and the other is the equally dogmatic insistence that enduring meaning is an illusion. Both of these are denials of our real human situation, making up two sides of the same counterfeit coin.
The essay closes with a critique of the subject / object mind / body framework that now dominates modernity. Socrates, Kierkigaard and Becker's claims, when seen through the lens of Cartesian modernity, are relegated to the margins. materialism denies any legitimacy to such claims. Recent 4E cognition is an attempt to push back on this. Hughes notes that:
"In his last book, Escape from Evil, Becker wrote: “Hubris means forgetting where the real source of power lies and imagining that it is in oneself (37).” "
Both types of inauthentic existence involve running away from the awareness of death, not allowing the fact of death to penetrate into consciousness, not facing up to the human situation, and not undergoing the crucial moral catharsis. So Kierkegaard, Becker, and Socrates all agree: the denial of death is indeed at the center of human inauthenticity. Kierkegaard and Socrates would further insist that authentic human living–the open embrace of life structured by death–can only be rejected or embraced to begin with, because perishing meaning and non-perishing meaning co-constitute conscious existence.
Here we find Kierkegaard, Becker and Socrates all in agreement. Both types of inauthentic existence involves running away from death and disallowing the fact of our own death from penetrating into consciousness, and avoiding our human existential condition.
This also prevents us from reaching the next stage of moral catharsis. Denial of death lay at the center of human inauthenticity.
Hughes closes by saying that an open embrace of life structured by death is embraced when perishing and non-perishing meaning co-constitute our conscious existence. This is similar to the Buddhist principle of the middle way and the Stop Reset Go maxim:
To be or not to be, that is the question To be AND not to be that is the answer
Human beings are mortal, and we know it. Our sense of vulnerability and mortality gives rise to a basic anxiety, even a terror, about our situation. So we devise all sorts of strategies to escape awareness of our mortality and vulnerability, as well as our anxious awareness of it. This psychological denial of death, Becker claims, is one of the most basic drives in individual behavior, and is reflected throughout human culture. Indeed, one of the main functions of culture, according to Becker, is to help us successfully avoid awareness of our mortality. That suppression of awareness plays a crucial role in keeping people functioning–if we were constantly aware of our fragility, of the nothingness we are a split second away from at all times, we’d go nuts. And how does culture perform this crucial function? By making us feel certain that we, or realities we are part of, are permanent, invulnerable, eternal. And in Becker’s view, some of the personal and social consequences of this are disastrous.
This is a good summary of Becker's findings concerning denial of death. * Mortality is an existential, perennial and persistent threat; * It generates a persistent anxiety, even terror; * We devise both individual and cultural ways to escape awareness of it as a means to deal with it; * Death denial is one of the basic drives of individual behavior; * One of culture's principal roles is to help individuals avoid awareness of mortality; * Suppressing awareness plays a crucial role in keeping us sane and functioning; * These cultural methods Becker calls "immortality projects" and they are powerful narratives that keep the fear and terror at bay; * This self-deceit comes with a high price, however, as we may not be truly convinced of the narrative and it can cause hatred, ingroup/outgroup and conflict;
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- Title:THE DENIAL OF DEATH AND THE PRACTICE OF DYING
- Author: Huges, Glenn
- perishing meaning
- authentic human living
- 4E Cognition
- Deep Humanity
- Ernest Becker
- non-perishing meaning
- denial of death
- Glenn Hughes
- mind / body dualism
- Stop Reset Go
- Jun 2022
Maybe it’s time we talk about it?
Yes, long overdue!
Coming to terms with potential near term extinction of our species, and many others along with it, is a macro-level reflection of the personal and inescapable, existential crisis that all human, and other living beings have to contend with, our own personal, individual mortality. Our personal death can also be interpreted as an extinction event - all appearances are extinguished.
The self-created eco-crisis, with accelerating degradation of nature cannot help but touch a nerve because it is now becoming a daily reminder of our collective vulnerability, Mortality salience of this scale can create enormous amounts of anxiety. We can no longer hide from our mortality when the news is blaring large scale changes every few weeks. It leaves us feeling helpless...just like we are at the time of our own personal death.
In a world that is in denial of death, as pointed out by Ernest Becker in his 1973 Pulitzer-prize winning book of the same title, the signs of a climate system and biosphere in collapse is a frightening reminder of our own death.
Straying from the natural wonderment each human being is born with, we already condition ourselves to live with an existential dread as Becker pointed out:
"Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order to blindly and dumbly rot and disappear forever."
Beckerian writer Glenn Hughes explores a way to authentically confront this dread, citing Socrates as an example. Three paragraphs from Hughes article point this out, citing Socrates as exemplary:
"Now Becker doesn’t always emphasize this second possibility of authentic faith. One can get the impression from much of his work that any affirmation of enduring meaning is simply a denial of death and the embrace of a lie. But I believe the view expressed in the fifth chapter of The Denial of Death is his more nuanced and genuine position. And I think it will be worthwhile to develop his idea of a courageous breaking away from culturally-supported immortality systems by looking back in history to a character who many people have thought of as an epitome of a self-realized person, someone who neither accepts his culture’s standardized hero-systems, nor fears death: the philosopher Socrates."
"Death is a mystery. Maybe it is annihilation. One simply can’t know otherwise. Socrates is psychologically open to his physical death and possible utter annihilation. But still this does not unnerve him. And if we pursue the question: why not?–we do not have to look far in Plato’s portrait of Socrates for some answers. Plato understood, and captured in his Dialogues, a crucial element in the shaping of Socrates’ character: his willingness to let the fact of death fully penetrate his consciousness. This experience of being fully open to death is so important to Socrates that he makes a point of using it to define his way of life, the life of a philosophos–a “lover of wisdom.” " "So we have come to the crucial point. The Socratic catharsis is a matter of letting death penetrate the self. It is the acceptance of the perishing of everything that will perish. In this acceptance a person imaginatively experiences the death of the body and the possibility of complete annihilation. This is “to ‘taste” death with the lips of your living body [so] that you … know emotionally that you are a creature who will die; “it is the passage into nothing” in which “a corner is turned within one.” And it is this very experience, and no other, that enables a person to act with genuine moral freedom and autonomy, guided by morals and not just attraction and impulses."
- May 2022
Second, acknowledging increased affective insecurity and that heightened vulnerability and fear will be a factor, great efforts must be made to bolster the care, support and protection provided to people.
Mortality salience for the masses - operationalizing terror management theory (TMT) and Deep Humanity BEing Journeys that take individuals to explore the depths of their humanity to make sense of the times we are in will play a critical role in contextualizing fear of death triggered by unstable circumstances and ameliorating these fears with the wisdom that comes from a living comprehension of the sacredness of our life and eventual death.
It is anticipated that this period will address the harder aspects of global transition, in terms of technology, infrastructure, and social behavior change. As initial enthusiasm may have waned, a stoic approach will be required, refreshing the workforce and dealing with more dangerous hyperthreat actions.
It is clear that through such a massive and unprecedented transition, a whole being approach must be adopted. This means dealing with the inner transformation of the individual in addition to the outer transformation. The hyperthreat increases the attention to each individual's mortality salience, their awareness of their own death. As cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker noted in his "Denial of Death", our fear of death is normatively suppressed as a compromised coping mechanism. When extreme weather, food shortage, war, pandemic become an unrelenting onslaught, however, we have no escape from mortality as the threat to our lives will be broadcast relentlessly through mass media. Inner transformation must accompany the outer transformation in order for the general population to emotionally cope with the enormous stress. Deep Humanity (DH) is conceived as an open praxis to assist with the inner transformation that will be needed for mental and emotional well being during these trying times to come.
- terror management theory
- individual inner transformation
- mortality salience
- BEing journeys
- ernest becker
- inner transformation
- denial of death
- fear of death
- Deep Humanity
- Nov 2021
Like, the world I came to is exactly the same as the world that I left. But what you wouldn't have understood is that every breath that you took contributed to the possibility of countless lives after you - lives that you would never see, lives that we are all a part of today. And it's worth thinking that maybe the meaning of our lives are actually not even within the scope of our understanding.
This is a profound observation that shows how our collective species death over deep history shapes the universe. From a first person experience of reality, however, does it makes us feel that the universe is intimate? The universe is a grand dance and we are part of that dance. Ernest Becker's Mortality Salience looms large. How do we feel meaningful in the face of our mortality? How do we alleviate the perennial meaning crisis?
Dr. Lewis Akenji, the lead author of the report says: “Talking about lifestyle changes is a hot-potato issue to policymakers who are afraid to threaten the lifestyles of voters. This report brings a science based approach and shows that without addressing lifestyles we will not be able to address climate change.”
This underscores the critical nature of dealing with the cultural shift of luxury lifestyle. It is recognized as a "hot potato" issue, which implies policy change may be slow and difficult.
Policy changes and new legal tools are ways to force an unwilling individual or group into a behavior change.
A more difficult but potentially more effective way to achieve this cultural shift is based on Donella Meadows' leverage points: https://donellameadows.org/archives/leverage-points-places-to-intervene-in-a-system/ which identifies the top leverage point as: The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, power structure, rules, its culture — arises.
The Stop Reset Go (SRG) open collective project applies the Deep Humanity (DH) Human Inner Transformation (HIT) process to effect impactful Social Outer Transformation (SOT). This is based on the inner-to-outer flow: The heart feels, the mind thinks, the body acts and a social impact manifests in our shared, public collective human reality.
Meadows top leverage point identifies narratives, stories and value systems that are inner maps to our outer behavior as critical causal agents to transform.
We need to take a much deeper look at the pysche of the luxury lifestyle. Philospher David Loy has done extensive research on this already. https://www.davidloy.org/media.html
Loy is a Buddhist scholar, but Buddhist philosophy can be understood secularly and across all religions.
Loy cites the work of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, especially his groundbreaking Pulitzer-prize-winning book: The Denial of Death. Becker wrote:
"Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order to blindly and dumbly rot and disappear forever. It is a terrifying dilemma to be in and to have to live with. The lower animals are, of course, spared this painful contradiction, as they lack a symbolic identity and the self-consciousness that goes with it. They merely act and move reflexively as they are driven by their instincts. If they pause at all, it is only a physical pause; inside they are anonymous, and even their faces have no name. They live in a world without time, pulsating, as it were, in a state of dumb being. This is what has made it so simple to shoot down whole herds of buffalo or elephants. The animals don't know that death is happening and continue grazing placidly while others drop alongside them. The knowledge of death is reflective and conceptual, and animals are spared it. They live and they disappear with the same thoughtlessness: a few minutes of fear, a few seconds of anguish, and it is over. But to live a whole lifetime with the fate of death haunting one's dreams and even the most sun-filled days—that's something else."
But Loy goes beyond mortality salience and strikes to the heart of our psychological construction of the Self that is the root of our consumption and materialism exasperated crisis.
To reach the wealthy in a compassionate manner, we must recognize that the degree of wealth and materialist accumulation may be in many cases proportional to the anxiety of dying, the anxiety of the groundlessness of the Self construction itself.
Helping all humans to liberate from this anxiety is monumental, and also applies to the wealthy. The release of this anxiety will naturally result in breaking through the illusion of materialism, seeing its false promises.
Those of the greatest material wealth are often also of the greatest spiritual poverty. As we near the end of our lives, materialism's promise may begin to lose its luster and our deepest unanswered questions begin to regain prominence.
At the end of the day, policy change may only effect so much change. What is really required is a reeducation campaign that results in voluntary behavior change that significantly reduces high impact luxury lifestyles. An exchange for something even more valued is a potential answer to this dilemma.
- leverage points
- carbon inequality
- human inner transformation
- david loy
- luxury emissions
- donella meadows
- ernest becker
- denial of death
- Deep Humanity
- Stop Reset Go