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Can Consilience Save Us from Societal Collapse?

August 10, 2021 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT

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Interintellect Tom Beakbane discusses the divisions in society and how they might be reconciled. 

Here are four suppositions about our collective predicament:

  1. Society is undergoing extremely rapid change resulting from technological developments. The institutions that have historically provided social cohesion and sensemaking are proving inadequate. Levels of social anxiety are increasing and society is fractionating into tribal groupings with different views about the purpose of life and what is good or evil. 
  2. The narrative dominant amongst those who are highly educated, which I term “Climb Higher,” supposes we are journeying to realms of higher knowledge and factual certainty that enable governing specialists to make economic and political progress and thus eliminate poverty, inequality, racism, sexism, prevent climate change and immunize us from death.
  3. Many consider this narrative overblown and are searching for meaning in other ways – including in lifestyle choices and in sensemaking forums like Interintellect. 
  4. Social and political policies based on the Climb Higher narrative will not deliver the stability and mental peace everyone craves. Instead levels of paranoia will increase spurring authorities to double down on their policies and shut down dissenting voices. 

Consilience is a new way of making sense of what is going on that results from developments in neurophysiology that reveal the limitations of human reason and the genesis of tribal behaviors. Consilience reveals weaknesses in the Climb Higher narrative and the dangers of powerful bodies – irrespective of whether they are left or rightwing.

We need to develop new narratives that are more realistic, more antifragile and more personally empowering. We cannot depend on traditional frames of reference including those that were religious because technology has changed the game. 

I believe a critical first step is to acknowledge the findings of frontline researchers that reveal how our neuronal systems work and how we understand everything through processes that are social. With a more honest understanding of ourselves we can begin to craft systems that empower individuals to find meaning and live together peacefully and productively.


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August 10, 2021
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT
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Tom Beakbane
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