JOHN VERVAEKE IS OBSESSED BY MEANING. Totally obsessed. In fact, the introductory episode
of his much-anticipated new video series After Socrates
spends quite a while deconstructing the many alternate meanings concealed in the title. What does it mean to be after Socrates? Historically, we live after him. Sure. But the eminent Canadian cognitive scientist and philosopher also wants us to join him in following after
that wily old Athenian sage.
And what was Socrates himself after?
This series might be described as a participation in tracking down Socrates -- as though following subtle clues about the movement of prey animals in the deep forest. Are we hunting Socrates? Perhaps. John invites us to join a kind of hunt or imaginal quest for eros, logos & wise companionship.
On January 9th the first three episodes dropped on Youtube. The series has a very different flavor than his lengthy, much-praised Awakening from the Meaning Crisis
lectures. This one will be less extensive, more intensive. It shifts from the synoptic ideas and worldviews that join philosophy, spirituality and neurocognitive science into something altogether more experiential.
John has spent years weaving together his own "spiritual" practices, experiments in participatory immersion processes (e.g. circling) & deep meditations designed to evoke Socrates as the spirit of dialogical wisdom-cultivation. Now he is ready to present a pedagogical public journey that builds up an ecology of relevant psychothechnologies. So this is the perfect thing if you want to get into a flow state with the logos, undertake guided internal practices that build from episode to episode, get book recommendations and dive deeply into John's nuanced and deep appreciation for Platonic terminology.
But it's not a method! Don't get him started on the Cartesian exaggeration of the dominant role of technical methods!
As much as this series is about spiritual midwifery in the Socratic way of "sapiential self-transcendence
," it is also profoundly about digestion.
We need to get better at digesting our lives. What good are ideas if they aren't assimilated? What good are our experiences if they aren't integrated? Even our most touching personal insights, peak states and most exotic emotions often simply slide away into the fluctuating ocean of the world -- without leaving anything behind for us. That seems unwise. Returning to our unnecessary hunting metaphor: You have to eat what you kill.
The unexamined life, said Socrates, is not worth living. That might mean that the knowledge we do not deeply assimilate (bodily, mentally, emotionally, with both internal and external high-quality conversations), does not transmute into a personal depth of meaning.
Roll that around in your mind, as John might say.
Now, of course, we just need someone to make an equally snazzy Before Socrates
series to explore the role of pagan wisdom, deep place, ecology, indigeneity, trans-anthropocentric wisdom and the pre-urban developmental traditions that existed long before the public intellectuals of militaristic, patriarchal Athens... * BONUS *
The next two episodes:2 - Socrates the Monstrous3 - Dialectic into Dia-Logos