I’m reading a book called The Dynamics of Transformation: Tracing an Emerging Worldview by Grant Maxwell. It’s fascinating. As the subtitle suggests, the author makes a case for an emerging worldview. The ideas put fourth are almost by definition hard to grasp because the language to easily describe them doesn’t exist. For example, Maxwell uses the terms below very frequently, and I lacked even a basic understanding of their meaning going in:
- Teleology: The study of evidences of design in nature.
- Archetypes: The original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies.
- Temporality: The state of existing within or having some relationship with time.
- Syntropy: The psychological state of wholesome association with others.
- Fractal: Any of various extremely irregular curves or shapes for which any suitably chosen part is similar in shape to a given larger or smaller part when magnified or reduced to the same size.
- Ingression: entering.
That said, the book pulls you along no matter how many tabs you have to keep open.
Maxwell talks about qualitative temporality, which I understand as a characteristic, or mood, or spirit, related to a given period of time. For example, the thousand year period up to the year ~1500 was qualitatively very different than the last 500 years or so. Something about the quality of time produced a cognitive boom or discontinuous leap that manifested in the likes of Copernicus, Columbus, Martin Luther, etc.
Maxwell offers some explanations as to why, but more interestingly, suggests that we’re on the cusp of another such leap, and points out that the leaps themselves are increasing exponentially.
As my vague understanding has grown I’ve been able to find examples on other mediums that seem to offer support. For example, Copernicus’ change in world view seems to correlate with our own changing world view, i.e. the internet and artificial consciousness. I’ve been formulating this theory about collective consciousness or group intelligence driving our species towards something even if we’re unconscious of it at the individual level.
I went back and found a quote from Sam Harris’ interview with David Deutsch. Around the 1:27:48 mark Deutsch says, “Our culture is much wiser than us in many ways.” This interview was from 2015 but for some reason it stuck in my head. The idea also relates to the case Yuval Harari makes in Sapiens. For example, when humans started farming the quality of life went down in many ways relative to the hunter gatherer lifestyle. For some reason as a species we opted for safety and relative security despite the poor trade at the individual level. Now there’s 7.5B of us. Coincidentally Harari was also interviewed by Harris regarding Harari’s new book Homo Deus (another emerging worldview).
The Dynamics of Transformation discusses the concept of synchronicity or, “the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.” Maxwell describes how the current modern paradigm, that’s reductionist, quantitative, and materialist in nature has left many people anxious, depressed, etc. Synchronicity Maxwell argues is potentially a sign that their is a higher dimension that we’re missing and that may offer hope.
The despair Maxwell writes about was the exact topic of conversation between Joe Rogan and Dan Doty as I listened to episode #951 on the way in to work today. Their conversation wasn’t about archetypes or ingression, but it echoed my burgeoning understanding almost perfectly. It was a synchronicity. Later today I saw a tweet on my way to lunch that got even weirder:
It’s hard to imagine a book and subtitle that could’ve fit more in-line with the exact phenomenon I’ve been contemplating derived from my concurrent reading about synchronicity.