Phenomenology, 4E Cog-Sci & Awe

Anagoge Podcast is now over 1 year old! Thank you everyone for listening.

Shaun Gallagher is the Lillian and Morrie Moss Professor of Excellence in Philosophy at the University of Memphis. His areas of research include phenomenology and the cognitive sciences.

In this episode, we talk about Shaun’s background, the nature of phenomenology and cognitive science, the role of embodiment and action, and Shaun’s research about the overview effect; the awe astronauts feel during spaceflight when seeing Earth.

0:00 Start
05:49 Shaun’s background in cognitive science
10:27 The paradox of phenomenology
21:32 Cog-Sci as an example of the role of philosophy in science
32:25 Embodied Cog-Sci and psychopathology
40:16 What’s 4E Cognitive Science?
58:45 Varela and Dalai Lama – Mind & Life Institute
1:04:00 Awe in the overview effect
1:14:40 Background of the awe experience
1:20:05 Connections with psychedelic and religious experiences
1:25:26 Enactivist Cognition
1:31:22 Critique of Heidegger of social cognition

Revolutionizing Psychology

In this episode, I talk with Gregg Henriques about the problem of psychology and the solution he has been working on for 20 years. We covered the bulk of his theory in the first half of the episode, and in the second half, we do a deep dive into cognitive behavioural therapy, including Gregg’s experience with it and some controversies in one of the major studies published about CBT.

Gregg Henriques is a Full Professor and a core faculty member in James Madison University’s Combined-Integrated Clinical and School Psychology Doctoral Program. He teaches courses on integrative/unified psychotherapy, personality, social, and cognitive psychology. He developed the Unified Theory Of Knowledge (UTOK), which consists of eight key ideas that Henriques results in a much more unified vision of science, psychology and philosophy.

0:00:00 Start
0:00:45 Useless introduction
0:06:00 The enlightenment gap
0:12:56 The problem of psychology
0:22:34 Why evolutionary psychology can’t be the answer
0:32:15 The tree of knowledge
0:39:09 Emergence and complexity dynamics
0:45:57 Comparing it to memetics
0:50:08 Justification hypothesis
0:53:08 Dan Sperber and Hugo Mercier
1:01:41 The influence matrix
1:10:29 Children social intellgience
1:12:26 Variation of the influence matrix
1:18:47 Connection with Haidt
1:20:57 Empirical backing
1:26:47 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
1:47:03 Cognitive vs Non-Cognitive Therapy
1:55:52 Rigidity vs pseudoscience in therapy
2:02:33 Conclusion

Foundations & Absurdities of Science

Michael Strevens teaches philosophy of science at New York University. His work revolves around the nature of science, covering topics such as scientific explanation, complex systems, and probability. In his book “The Knowledge Machine” he explains why science is so successful at creating knowledge and why it took so long for humans to come up with it.

In this episode, we talk about the origins of science, philosophy of science, the contributions and flaws of Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn, what makes science special and some odd contradictions at the core of scientific thinking.

0:00:53 Introduction
0:03:19The origins of science
0:08:01 Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn
0:16:52 What Popper and Kuhn were missing
0:21:43 Sociology of science
0:25:49 Contributions of philosophy of science
0:32:42 Bayesian probability
0:35:08 What makes science special?
0:41:59 The irrationality of science
0:46:18 Aesthetic and theological motivations in science
0:48:43 Caloric fluid vs kinetic theory of heat
0:58:08 Creativity in science
1:00:14 The tediousness of extreme detail
1:04:49 Can science make truth claims?
1:11:32 Philosophy of quantum mechanics
1:15:49 The biggest challenge of science

Music, Ancient Greece and Whitehead

Nathan Dufour is a writer, musician, video artist and activist. He produces music videos on YouTube about philosophical ideas and teaches Latin language and Greek Civilization at City College of New York. He received a PhD in Classics from CUNY’s Graduate Center.

In the first half, we talk about the relationship between music and philosophy, the performative aspect of art, philosophy’s origins and how it connects to music, classics, and western civilization.

In the second half, we cover Plato and Whitehead, which was Nathan’s PhD thesis. We discuss Whitehead’s process philosophy, how it connects to Platonism, and some of the modern implications of Whitehead’s thought.

01:07 Introduction
3:37 Who is Nathan Dufour?
05:33 Music and philosophy
10:54 Performance vs truth
15:23 Decay of modern art and hip-hop
33:11 What is classics?
37:42 Origins of Western civilization
43:04 Nathan’s background
47:31 Misconceptions about classics
50:13 Middle-Ages history and information overload
58:04 Platonic forms
1:03:55 Timaeus book
1:07:13 Plato, Pythagoras and mathematics
1:09:07 Whitehead’s mathematics and Platonism
1:18:26 Whitehead’s actual entities
1:21:00 Interpretation of Plato
1:24:42 Lack of mysticism in Whitehead
1:31:11 The legacy of process philosophy
1:41:03 Systematic vs unsystematic philosophy
1:45:33 Sacredness and Whitehead
1:51:48 Conclusion
1:54:09 Music video: History of Science

The Science of Magic & Transformation

Juensung Kim is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, focusing on the science of self-transformation related to the psychology of religion and the cognitive science of magic. He is the lab manager of the Consciousness and Wisdom Studies Laboratory.

In this episode, we discuss the meaning of magic and some of its scientific research. Other topics such as psychedelics, wisdom and transformation are also covered, especially in their connection to the meaning crisis and Juensung’s work.

0:24 Introduction
8:43 Magic as an outgroup practice
19:26 The cognitive science of magic
25:10 Talent for magic
32:27 Shamanism and magic
39:26 Ancient and modern medicine
47:21 Embodiment and experience
49:07 Astrology
1:00:33 The importance of meditation and magic boundaries
1:10:35 The interplay of meditation, hypnosis and trance
1:15:20 Duality of psychedelics and the meaning crisis
1:23:53 Modern wisdom seeking
1:30:12 What creates the desire for personal growth
1:38:19 Psychedelics and personal aspirations
1:44:16 Replacing magic in modern society
1:47:51 Conclusion

Dialogos, Wisdom and Science

John Vervaeke is the author of the famous YouTube series “Awakening from the Meaning Crisis”. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and he is the director of the Cognitive Science program in the Consciousness and Wisdom Studies Laboratory. He has a vast body of scientific work related to consciousness, mindfulness, flow, and wisdom. In this episode, we cover some of John’s life, the importance of dialogos, and the relationship between science and spirituality.

01:21 The origin of the Anagoge Podcast
03:14 What is dialogos and what has John gotten from it
09:39 Losing dialogos online and in podcasts
16:03 John’s intellectual path in science and religion
27:00 Bridging the scientific and religious worldviews with wisdom
33:40 Participatory vs propositional knowledge from mystical experiences
42:36 The problem of self-selection within an ecology of spiritual practices
48:24 The lag of science for spiritual practice
53:08 Trade-offs from new conceptual vocabulary and the role of the imaginal.
1:02:12 Reaching John’s intellectual milestone
1:07:36 Avoiding computation in CogSci programs
1:09:53 Appreciation of John’s work

Religious Symbolism

 Jonathan Pageau is a carver who specializes in Eastern Orthodox Icons and other traditional Christian images. He graduated with distinction from the Painting and Drawing program at Concordia University in Montreal and has recently gained popularity on YouTube by discussing symbolic thought from Christianity and its expression in modern culture. In this episode, we cover a bit of his personal history, early Greek thought in relationship to Christianity, what love means, how reality unfolds, and more.

0:26 Introduction
2:42 The early life of Jonathan as a carver and his religious journey
10:22 Philosophical background
16:35 Biblical scholarship
20:32 Plato and Aristotle’s role in Christianity
34:27 The problem of perennialism
44:30 Love in Christianity
47:55 Logic, love and fractals
53:53 Problems with secular spirituality
56:48 Mystical experiences in Christianity
1:03:17 Movie and novel recommendations for symbolism

The Psychology and Evolution of Religion

Dr. Azim Shariff is a social and moral psychologist whose research focuses on morality and religion. He also has some more recent work on the ethics of automation and how people deal with the ethical dilemmas of self-driving cars. In this episode, we talk mostly about the psychology of religion through the lens of cultural evolution.

1:44 how Azim got into the psychology of religion
3:11 connection between religion and morality
05:34 competing perspectives on the emergence of moralistic monotheism
14:09 how do we define what is adaptive in cultural evolution?
20:26 adaptive value of micro and macro patterns of religious belief
28:12 religion’s adaptive value over time
42:20 the aspects of religion that go beyond belief
50:03 cultural backgrounds that influence religious belief
56:17 the current scientific view of group selection
1:04:29 how religion detaches from traditional values
1:14:06 how religious people view the field of psychology of religion
1:16:27 conflict between science and religion
1:21:29 folk economics
1:24:10 bikini selfies and income inequality
1:27:47 paper controversy regarding religiosity, crime, and IQ

Collective Knowledge and Overcoming Ignorance

In the 4th episode of our podcast, we finally get into some psychology. I had a very insightful conversation with Dr. Steven Sloman. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University. He is a cognitive scientist who studies how people think, particularly collective cognition. He wrote a book with Phil Fernbach titled The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone. We cover a fair bit in this episode, ranging from computational and alternative models of cognitive science, consciousness, his book knowledge illusion, the current age of information, the problem and reliability of expertise, and more.

01:45 computational and other models of cognitive science
9:06 the hard problem of consciousness from a cognitive science perspective
18:00 what is so special about Steven’s book
21:13 what is the knowledge illusion
31:57 the evolutionary origins of the knowledge illusion
35:56 evolutionary psychology and the illusion of knowledge in hunger gatherers
44:35 the knowledge illusion with greater complexity and denser population
50:20 age of information
56:32 the problem of expertise
1:00:45 rescuing expertise
1:09:33 the illusion of knowledge in education
1:12:13 importance of group work
1:17:24 connection to Hugo Mercier’s research
1:24:36 unconscious competition and motivated reasoning
1:29:35 long-term effects of exposition of ignorance
1:33:14 individualistic vs collectivist societies
1:40:44 culture differences of sacred values

Ontology, Mind, and Stories

In this 3rd episode, I had a great conversation with Jean-Philippe Marceau. He holds a degree in computer science and has done a master’s degree in philosophy about panpsychism as a response to the hard problem of consciousness. We talk about materialism, ontology, emergence, neo-platonism, Christianity, and more.

0:51 JP’s journey from mathematics to philosophy
9:40 Godel’s theorems, cognitive biases and the myth of rationality
13:36 Ancient Greek thought
15:58 Brain division and propositional understanding
17:51 Worldview difference from modern science and ancient philosophy
21:07 Plato’s theory of forms and its modern view
22:17 The problem of consciousness for JP’s worldview change
31:49 The layman view of the mind problem
34:30 Arguments for panpsychism
38:14 How is consciousness unified?
54:50 The importance of metaphysics in one’s cosmology
59:55 Kant’s noumenal world and symbolism
1:17:11 The ontology of stories and how it affects reality
1:31:08 The abstract starts before the concrete
1:36:21 Christ manifestation as abstract and concrete

The Cognitive Science of Enlightenment and Mysticism

This is the second episode of the Anagoge Podcast. Today we have Daniel Greig. The goal of this episode was to lay out an introduction to what the idea of enlightenment means, and how does that relate to both contemporary cognitive science and ancient spiritual traditions. How does the feeling of finally figuring a sodoku a block connect to speaking to an Angel? You will find out!

0:22 Introduction
2:15 Psychedelic conferences
9:00 Psychedelics in culture
13:32 Cognitive science of insight
19:15 Neuroscience of insight
20:53 Naive realism
27:46 Transformation experiences
37:45 Wisdom and mystical states
53:03 The role of imagination
1:07:46 The cognitive continuum book

Morality, Psychedelics and Panpsychism

For our first episode, the guest was Peter Sjöstedt-H, a philosopher of mind with a special interest in metaphysics and meta-ethics based on Whitehead and Nietzsche. He is currently doing a PhD on the topic of panpsychism. In this podcast, we discuss psychedelics, panpsychism, emergentism, mental causation, epiphenomenalism, materialism, and more.

0:22 Introduction
2:42 Peter’s introduction in Eastern Philosophy
11:35 Morality and Mystical experiences
31:04 Psychedelics
39:32 Materialism
53:54 Emergence and epiphenomenalism
1:19:08 Whitehead metaphysics
1:37:22 Prajna and mystical states