Ken Wilber on Jordan Petersen

Ken Wilber: Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris & Truth

To be clear – I am in the limited free will camp that Ken describes and align to a degree, but not entirely aligned with anyone else I’ve met or heard.

All structure requires boundaries for differentiation, and we are very complex structure, demanding many levels of boundary to give us the form we have. So we are not free in the sense of do anything, and we do seem to have degrees of freedom which we can develop.
In that sense, I align with much of what Ken says.

I agree that we have our personal experiences, and we can create shared experiences to some degree.
It seems clear that reality is sufficiently complex that all can can ever experience of it is some sort of simplified model; there does not appear to even potentially be sufficient computational capacity in reality to model even a single human as accurately as possible at anything near real time (not even allowing for converting all matter to computronium – the first principles QM equations are that complex).
So there is a real sense in which we are unknowable, but may be approximated with degrees of utility in some contexts.

18:19 Ken says “That is real, that is there, and that cannot be reduced to objective science.”
That statement poses difficulties.
It seems to be sort of true, and also sort of false.
It seems to be too hard a boundary, and seems to imply something about reality that doesn’t actually seem to be there.
There are many aspects of reality that are fundamentally and eternally unknowable, Heisenberg uncertainty, irrational numbers, maximal computational complexity, and many more.
It seems entirely possible that reality is uncertain in an even more fundamental way, a probabilistically constrained randomness, that very closely approximates hard causality in many contexts at our macroscopic level.

At 24:56 Ken says “What Peterson is doing is arguing from these interior subjective and inter-subjective dimensions that are also very real, and cannot be determined according to merely objective exterior realism categories. So they really are, in that sense, even though they do find that if they push into each other there is some real sort of core agreements, they really are differentiating, in large measure, according to these different quadrants, these different perspectives, that they are taking as most fundamentally real.”
Which I can kind of agree with, but not really. Sure, sometimes there are aspects of that present, but I wouldn’t characterise that as the issue.
As I see it, most of the issue between Jordan and Sam is that Jordan sees (with some quite good evidence, and quite accurately in some cases) that there is wisdom embodied in religion that is deeper and more valuable than the surface level failure of the fables, and we put our society into existential level risk if we ignore that. Undoubtedly some levels of truth in that, probably far more than Sam has yet acknowledged (and he has acknowledged some).

25:50 “In part it does come down to that mystical notion that ultimately all of these concepts are based on opposites, and ultimate reality isn’t an opposite.”
That to me just seems false. And I can see how it might appear to be so, but that doesn’t seem to be what is actually going on.
Reality seems, for the most part, to be capable of existence in spectra that in some instances appear potentially infinite, and in many others are sufficiently large that they may as well be infinite from a human perspective, as no human could possibly experience all the possible states in any normal lifetime.
So it is not about opposites, and sometimes there really are polarities present.
Why things seem to be composed of opposites, is that a binary is the simplest possible distinction, and the one we must all first make in most instances. It takes a lot of time and experience to flesh out our distinctions into something that more reasonably approximates the degrees of complexity that actually seem to exist in reality.

Evolution has been dealing with this issue since life began, and particularly so since brains started evolving.

Reality is really complex, far beyond the capacity of any brain to deal with in anything even remotely approaching real time.
Survival is often time bound. You only have a limited number of seconds or milliseconds to get out of the way of a bus or a charging predator. So all that complexity of reality has to be chunked down to a simple model and the important things need to be drawn to attention.
Thus what any of us experience as reality cannot be it. The only possible option is that our personal experience of reality (which I agree with Ken we all have), is a relatively simplistic, subconsciously created model of reality.
We then proceed to make our intellectual distinctions based on this model.
So intellectually we have a model of a model.
Mathematics and logic are great modelling tools, and in some contexts and to some degrees, allow us to build very accurate and useful models of reality, that often work within the limits of accuracy available to us. Does that mean that reality always follows mathematical and logical rules? No, that isn’t required. It is entirely possible to assemble such accurate alignment from very tiny units that are random within probability constraints.
So Sam can be right, that maths and logic are great tools, and allow us to do some amazing things at our level, and still be wrong about reality necessarily being constrained to hard causality at all levels and in all instances. As Ken points out, Heisenberg uncertainty, if taken at face value, seems to point to just such a fundamental mix of the lawful and the random at the basis of this existence we find ourselves in.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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