Vervaeke and Henriques

Picking up from the previous post, where I’d picked-up an apparent mapping between Pirsig and a model combining Vervaeke and Henriques, I’ve been looking at some specific recommended sources – what is it they specifically bring to the party?

Vervaeke I know in so far as he has a whole Patreon-sponsored YouTube series called “Awakening from the Meaning Crisis” – A Psychology and Cognitive Science Professor, Integrating Science and Spirituality to Solve the #MeaningCrisis. (I’ve not watched all of it.) His title is a good characterisation of the “thing” we all seem to be struggling with in the 21st C, our loss of “Wisdom” – and I’ve seen him in dialogue with others – eg McGilchrist and Peterson. What’s not to like?

I have a long-standing thread I refer to as #NothingNewUnderTheSun – essentially it’s impossible to read and give credit to every source. Let’s face it, our topic here is life, the universe and everything – all the libraries in all the world – and anyway almost all of us acknowledge “ancient” sources that pre-date “modern” intellectual history. Ways of knowing that seem to have been left behind in the victory which orthodox science has scored over all walks of modern life. So when I get a new source recommended, I’m not so interested in whether they’re good or right – they probably are given the authority of those I take recommendations from – but what is their thesis specifically?

When asked for that kernel @Kubbaj recommended this little summary put together by Kaleb Peters – a mash-up edited from several other Vervaeke talks:

“Lost Ways of Knowing”

[Ironic given my recent “Ways of Knowing” post – which also majored on Pirsig relationships?]

He seems to have a thing about 4’s – the 4-P’s of types of Knowledge (Participatory, Perspectival, Procedural, Propositional) and the 4E’s of Cog Sci (Embodied, Embedded, Enactive, Extended). Clearly one of his reasons for the 4P’s is his focus on types of memory storage of knowledge, not just the act of knowing – Types of Knowledge, not just Ways of Knowing.

Anyway with my usual binary #GoodFences view, I see:

A clear distinction between the obvious “Propositional” (conceptual) knowledge – the recordable WHAT of belief and knowledge – and the other forms. Things that can be represented symbolically and evaluated on a truth axis as opposed to knowledge that doesn’t necessarily fit that model and is therefore easily forgotten in our analyses.

A clear distinction between “Participatory” (perceptual) knowledge and the other forms. His elaboration, into “affordances” etc, is because he’s modelling not just the act of participation, but the architecture of the different types of “memory” needed to hold them as knowledge thereafter, not just in intellectualised symbolic propositional forms. (Affordances after Gibson, and in my case, Dennett.)

The two extremes are indeed binary, but there is a spectrum, an architecture of different representations. I’d still group Propositional and Procedural as symbolic representations, even if procedural benefits from graphical and video formats beyond textual language. Ditto I’d group Participatory and Perspectival, the former being the event the latter the remembered situation.

What is interesting is, as a result of his affordances model, he also elaborates a model of types of things knowable in the world beyond the knower. None other than Physical, Biological, Cultural – (where in Pirsig terms the latter is bifurcated into individual-intellectual and collective-social). Which brings us to what does Henriques bring to the table with his “Tree of Knowledge” system: (system, notice)

Also shared by @Kubbaj

Where we see instantly that Henriques brings in the individual Minds (actually Brains) into the M-B-L-C stack. Like Pirsig, it’s the history of the cosmic evolution of stuff in the world. I think this “system” over-reaches in simplistic ways “a unifying solution to the problem of psychology” (?) but it has some good elements. Skinner’s “behavioural investment” sounds good for the individual brain/mind “governing” the individual animal – like Solms (?) systems and cybernetics, and Freud’s “justification hypothesis” (collective decision-making as I’ve referred to it) for the socio-cultural level – governance (cybernetics) at the group government level – where scientific knowledge is that which achieves cultural concensus. (That said – a very strong “science” focus running through the whole here?) McGilchrist and Solms both have a strong thread that Freud was close, but no cigar, to solving this already.

Good stuff, even on a brief investigation, even if there’s lots of overlap that can be usefully consolidated / integrated.

[Post Note: suggestion from Karen Wong – this piece of longer dialogue with Jordan Peterson as an intro to John Vervaeke @ 1h51m. Certainly it makes the focus on the first P – the participation – and the “affordances” take on the fit between the world and the participant – immediate and in (non-intellectual / sub-conscious / “muscle”) memory. Spinozan “conatus” too, previously here. Making room for distinctions – many binary #GoodFences. Jordan’s Christian religious angle recurring in interruptions.]

2 thoughts on “Vervaeke and Henriques”

  1. Thankyou for this Ian. Does the “justification hypothesis”(specifically, social justification) have implications for your “evolution of argumentation” posts? Could it be a useful axiom from which to develop new forms of argumentation? Perhaps tieing in with meme theory as well – or building on Deutsch’s notion of rational/anti-rational memes. e.g. justified, unjustified – taking into account survival as well as rationality(just a thought!)

  2. Thanks for the comment Finn, (sorry was offline for a couple of days, so missed it)

    Yes, yes great thought. I certainly think that’s true, I’ve not tried to articulate the link with the (Dennett) evolution of argument point specifically, but I’m sure I will.


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