Follow US:

Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 2017 Maps of Meaning 02: Marionettes & Individuals (Part 1)

Difficulty: 0

So I am going to briefly review some of what I told you last time,

and then I am going to walk through as I mentioned, I am going to walk through

the Disney movie film Pinnochio and which I presume most of you have seen

How many of you have seen it?

Yeah, OK, that's, that' as I think I mentioned that is something in of itself right?

I mean the fact that you have all seen it means that it's an

production of cultural significance, and because it's such a strange artifact

That's one way of looking at it, it might be worth

trying to take it apart to understand why it is, for example, that you even understand it.

and so,

I offered you the proposition last week that we

view the world as essentially through a narrative lens

and I believe that we view the world through a narrative lens

because the fundamental problem that we have to solve

as living creatures is how we should act in the world.


that means,

how we should act to maintain ourselves

but also how we need to act in relationship to other people

and in relationship to the broader world in order to maintain our self across time.

so that's a complicated problem, right, it's not just how you survive

it's how you survive now and next week, and next month, and next year

and 50 years from now and maybe your, your descendants as well

if the culture is going to stabilize

and then not only you across all those time frames but you and everyone else across all those time frames

It's a viciously difficult problem

and so, I would say that we have evolved mechanisms to solve that

I think that is self-evident in some sense because for example one of the mechanisms that

animals have evolved to deal with the problem of social being

even if they are not particularly social animals

is the dominance hierarchy, right, or you could call it hierarchy of authority or power, because

I think that considering human

structures, social structures as mere power

structures is a terrible mistake, it's a terrible oversimplification

because power is no means the only, like force is what I mean

force is not a stable way of solving the problem of how to live together across time

the question is what is the stable way of solving how to live together

across time, and the really is the question and it's part of the question that

I am trying to answer

partly because it's a perennial problem, right, we face the problem of

how to organize ourselves in small social units

without undue conflict and then we face the larger problem

of how to organize ourselves into large social units without undue conflict and that conflict can be

absolutely devastating, and, and frequently is


so then I would also say that the first way of solving this problem isn't conscious

you see, not at all

and, you know

you may know, and you may not know that there are

there are different forms of memory


really technically different forms of memory, so for example

there is short term working memory

which is the memory that you use to hold things like telephone numbers in your active imagination

it decays very rapidly, it's only 4 to 7 bits

which is why

well it's why phone numbers are, were at least

7 digits long, you know, you can kind of

manage that as a loop that, and then there is

episodic memory, and that has two elements one is semantic and the other is episodic

it's, what's the name of that

mmm, someone said something...

[Student] Procedural?

Yes well there is procedural memory and then there is another

the kind of memory that you use to represent your

experiences to yourself, so let's say it is image laden and the other one is semantic

and semantic is your memory for facts and those are quite different, so for example

procedural memory

that is how you ride a bike, that is how you play the piano

that's how you play jazz music if you are in a combo

it's, it's the memory, it's a funny kind of memory because it is built right into you, you know, I mean

so is, so is, the kind of memory that you use to represent your own life, but it is much more malleable is some sense

so, what that means is that in your procedures

there is information that you don't know about, it's patterned information that you don't know about

part of that is how to act

you know, like, when you walk into a social gathering

you don't really think through how you are going to act

you know how to act, and if someone asks you

exactly what it is that you are doing and why, you could formulate a story about it

but the probability that, that it's the existence of that story that enabled you to act that way is zero, because

you have to react way faster than that, and so, you know have social knowledge

built into your nervous system because you have practiced being a social being for a very long period of time

and of course, then that social being has been shaped forever really, it's the right way of thinking about it

Now, we know that animals organized themselves into hierarchies

and we will say of dominance, because it is more true the farther back you go in time

at least since the time of the crustaceans, you know , when we split from out common ancestor 300 million years ago, and so

and it's true for social animals and non-social animals so

even animals that don't live together in groups

have to organize themselves into a hierarchy

in the space they inhabit, songbirds are a good example and they have dominance disputes all the time

partly that's, you can hear them having their little dominance disputes in the spring when they are singing because basically what they are singing is

I am pretty damn healthy and I am ready to go and if you are another bird like me you had better steer clear of this tree!

and, the dominance songbirds

you know, they don't live together, crows are social but don't most songbirds aren't

the dominance songbirds get the best nest

and the best nest is the one that doesn't get rained on

it's not to windy and it is close to food sources, and

you know, so they have the healthiest chicks and they attract the best mates, and

like it is really important where you are positioned in the hierarchy even if you are not

like a flock or a herd creature, now, we are more like herd creatures so it's even more

it's even more relevant to us , but there is just no escaping

a hierarchical arrangement in social being

that is social being

and, and, and it is evolutionary ancient beyond conception so

300 million years ago there weren't trees, you know I mean, so the dominance hierarchy is older than trees

so that is really something to think about and then, you know, when you are thinking about the reality that shaped us

say, from an evolutionary perspective but also from a cultural perspective

what you have to understand is that that the things that have shaped us most are the things that have been around the longest, and so you could say

those are the most real things

and you can't even see some of them, it's not like you can come in here and, well it's not exactly true

you can't come in here and see the multiple dominance hierarchies that are at work

You can in a way, because,

the chairs are set up to face this way and I am facing that way and

that gives you some clues about the social order here and you take the cues instantly, right

you come down, you sit in the chairs, you organize yourselves according to mutual expectation and that's part of your procedural knowledge

about how to behave as a social creature


that knowledge is really really deep and a lot of it is coded in your behaviour

now, and in other peoples behaviour as well

and that's, you know. that's the expectations you have of other people and of yourself, and a lot of those are implicit right,


when we are interacting there's, there is a very large number of things that you just don't get to do

and you know that too, and you won't do them, and that way we can act as if we understand each other

even though we don't, because you are really complicated

and I am really complicated and there is lots of situations where we might really be in conflict

but because we share a map of the culture, the cultural expectations

it makes part of our, it's built right into our perception

you will act out that set of expectations and so will I

and if neither of us can do that, even if one of us can't we are going to stay, we are either going immediately

devolve into conflict or we are going to avoid each other like the plague

and that's exactly the right thing to do,

and so, one of the really useful things to understand , and this took me a long time to formulate properly, you know,

you hear the terror management theorists for example and they have this idea that

your, your meaning representation, the story you tell about the world

regulates your death anxiety, it's something like that

but that is not right, I mean it is close to right and it is a smart idea

it came from Ernest Becker by the way who wrote a book called "The Denial of Death", which is actually quite a good book even though it is wrong

you know, sometimes a book can be very useful

it can be usefully wrong, and Becker's book is usefully wrong

because he thought that

it's the internal representation of your belief system

that regulates your anxiety and that anxiety is fundamentally

in the final analysis anxiety about death, it's like well, OK, fine, it is a reasonable

proposition, but that isn't how it works, you see,

it isn't my beliefs that right now that are regulating my emotion

It is the fact that I'm acting out those beliefs, which include implicit perceptions, I'm acting them out

and so are you

and so, what you're doing and what I expect, more accurately, what you're doing and what I want you to do

and the way I want you to react to me, that's working!

so it's the match between my belief system and the way that everyone else is acting that is regulating my emotions

it's not the belief system

it's mediated by the social culture and you see if you understand this then

you understand more particularly why people

are willing to fight to the bitter end to protect their culture

it's not a psychological structure that they are protecting

it's a psychological structure and sociological structure, simultaneously

so the social contract is

you have a set of expectations and I have a set of expectations

they are actually desires, they are not merely expectations because as

living creatures we are desirous, we don't just expect

and so you desire an outcome and I desire an outcome

and we agree to act in accordance with that

that's the social contract

and so people don't like having that disrupted

well it isn't because it psychologically destabilizes them, although it does

it's because it actually destabilizes them

right, if all of a sudden we can't occupy the same

specified domain of territory it isn't only that we are thrown into psychological disarray, although we will be

it's that we will start fighting with each other, like, and that can kill you

it's no joke, it kills people a lot, like it happens

it can happen very easily that a cohesive social group can fragment along some fracture line

of identity let's say, and all hell breaks loose

and you know, that's what the Tutsi's and the Hutu in the, in the, in Rwanda

and those things can get out of control just so fast it's just unbelievable and so

and that wasn't, death anxiety, that was death, that's a whole different thing

and that's the other thing that terror management people don't exactly get, it's like

it isn't just that your culture and cultural beliefs protect you from anxiety

and say anxiety about death even, it's that they actually protect you from death!

as well as protecting you from death anxiety, I mean look

It's warm in here

it's cold outside

the fact that the culture is intact means that you are not outside freezing

that's a hell of a lot more fundamental in some sense than mere anxiety, although

I am not trying to underplay the role of anxiety that's a major issue, but

there is something that is a lot more fundamental at stake that mere psychology

so it's the match between your map of the world and other peoples actions that regulates your emotions

and, and it regulates it completely, because

you know if someone in here starting acting seriously deranged

like brandished a pistol, let's say

all of a sudden you would not be in the same place

at all

not a bit

and so what would happen, well

chaos would happen

and chaos isn't just that you would get anxious, that's not a good enough explanation

what would happen is a lot more complex than that, what happens in some sense is that your body

and it does this, it does this, what would happen is that you would react the same way that a rat reacts to a cat

it's exactly that, it's exactly that, you would respond as if

a terrible predator had emerged in your midst

And so, What is that reaction? Well it's not just anxiety

because, when you encounter a predator

anxiety isn't the only thing that is useful, that would just make you freeze, that could be the worst thing you could do

freeze and well you are a pretty easy target

so you have to be prepared for a lot broader range of responses that mere, mere

mere, petrification

like how about a little aggression

that might be helpful, you don't know it also might get you killed but,

but maybe you could take the guy down and maybe that's a good idea

you know and, and maybe you have to run, so that's disinhibited as well

and maybe you have to think really quickly

and reflexively, so that happens, that's actively disinhibited I would say as well, it's like

your whole being thrown into intense concentration on the moment

and you are burning up physiological resources like mad, and so what will happen after something like that

if you don't develop outright post-traumatic stress disorder, which some of you would

is that, you'd, assuming that the situation was brought under control

you would walk out of here shaking with your heart rate at like 170, and it would take you like

well it might take you the rest of your life

and maybe you would never recover, but you could be bloody well be sure that it would take you the rest of the day

that's for sure!

and so

it's no joke when someone steps outside the confines of the social contract

right, and that is kind of, there is a philosopher named Hobbes

who I suppose in some sense was a centrally conservative philosopher as oppose to Rousseau

who is kind of his exact opposite

Rousseau believed that people were basically good

in their natural state, so he believed that nature was basically good

and he believed that culture was what corrupted people

and so

Hobbes believed exactly the opposite, he believed that in the state of nature, let's say

every person was at every other persons throat

and the only thing that prevented continual chaos was the imposition of a

of a collective agreement that would be the social contract

that essentially governed how people would interact and that would keep that underlying chaos

at bay

and you know

my contention is is that Hobbes was correct and Rousseau was correct, and

and I think that if you add Rousseau and Hobbes together you get a total picture of the world and that's really

I think the picture of the world that I am trying to relate to you, it's both at once, it's like

well, you can't just attribute human

malevolence and unpredictability to society

it's a non starter

it's like, people built society so all you are doing is pushing the problem back, it's like

where did it come from

well, the society, the society before

well then, the one before that, it's like well

you got to tangle up the individual in there at some point, right, because people created society

and so,

you can't just blame human irrationality and malevolence on society

well and also, it's, it's ungrateful for God's sake, it's like

society obviously also makes you peaceful, part of the reason you are peaceful right now, all of you is because

well, you are not that hungry,

you are certainly not starving to death, you would be a very, very different person if you were starving right now

you know, or if you were enraged or if you were panicking or if you were terrified

because your future was radically uncertain, I mean you are not just

any of those people right now, you're

satiated, and I mean that technically, you're satisfied

none of your biological systems except perhaps curiousity

which is a rather pleasant emotion

are activated in the least

and, you know, because of that you all think that you are in control of yourself

but don't be thinking that, that's just not right

you mean, if you look at how the brain is structured, for example

the hypothalamus which is a really important part of the brain, it basically

it basically establishes the framework of reference and the actions

the framework of reference within which and the actions you take

in order to fulfill basic biological needs

so the hypothalamus makes you thirsty, and the hypothalamus makes you hungry

and it makes you sexually aroused

and it puts you into a state of defensive aggression, and

it actually also makes you explore

and be curious and all of that's hypothalamic, it is an amazing structure

and then

and it's really small and it's right at the base of the brain

and you could imagine it as something that has tremendously powerful

projections upward throughout the rest of the brain into the

emotional systems and the cortical systems and all of that, like

tree trunk sized connections, you know, metaphorically speaking and then

the cortex has these little vine-like tendrils going down

to regulate the hypothalamus

you know, and when push comes to shove

man, the hypothalamus, that thing wins!

and so, you know you get people now and then

who have a hypothalamic dysfunction and one of them produces a condition called

I can't remember it, it's not dypsomania

although it's like that, it doesn't matter

it produces uncontrollable thirst

and so what will happen is that people that have this hypothalamic problem

will drown themselves by drinking water, which you can do by the way

and so they just cannot get enough water

and there is not stopping them, right

no more that there would be stopping you if you were suffering from raging thirst, it's like

it's a happy day when the hypothalamus is not telling you what to do

and you know you live in such a civilized state that most of the time

roughly speaking, you are tranquil and satisfied and

more or less you can imagine yourself as a peaceful

you know, productive, well meaning


but don't be thinking that's you would be if you were put in the right situation

because that's just not right at all


you know lots of times soldiers develop post-traumatic stress disorder because they go out on the battlefield

they are kind of naive, they are young guys you know and...

It is actually is worse if they are not that bright it turns out because having a lower IQ

is one of the things that predisposes you to post-traumatic stress disorder, but anyways

they go out on the battlefield and they see what they are capable of under battlefield conditions, and like

you know, we have been fighting wars for a very long time

millions of years, you know chimps basically have wars with other chimps

the troupes right, because the juveniles will patrol the

perimeter of their territory and if they find other chimps from other troupes that they outnumber

they will tear them to pieces

like and chimps are really strong, and so, when I say they'll tear them to pieces I mean that literally you know

hey tear them to pieces

and Jane Goodall discovered that originally in the 1970's, she didn't even report it for a while because

she was so shocked, you know

she kind of assumed like most followers of Rousseau that the human proclivity for warfare was

that was something that was uniquely human

you know, it had something to do with our

our unique self-consciousness or our intelligence or something like that

she had no idea that it was rooted

that deeply

you know, we split from chimps about 6, 7 million years ago something like that, and so

we were patrolling territory, we were gang members

7 million years ago, and, you know

that's a minimum estimation because of course that ancestor

shaded back, maybe, 20 million years into

entities that were roughly primate like

and so, territoriality and the proclivity to defend territory is so deeply embedded in us

it's like,

the control center for our whole brain

and so, there isn't anything more important to us I would say than maintaining


match between

what we want to have happen and what other people are doing

in response to our actions, like that's that, that's what we want

and as long match is maintained

then our emotional systems, and I would say that anxiety is probably primary in that regard

our emotional systems remain


they're on

they're ready

like a nuclear reactor rod are on

and the rest of the brain dampens them down but

it's like, you don't want them to take time to start up, man you want them to be on at a tenth of a seconds notice when it's necessary

and so, you know that's kind of why, well if you look at a wild animal

it's like, its alert

you know, it's ready to dart this way or that way, especially a pray animal

instantaneously and it has reflexes

built into it as you do

that will respond way before you're conscious

So, for example

if you happened to be walking down a trail and you detect something snake like in the periphery, you will leap away

before even know that you leapt

and that's because it takes a fair bit of time to actually see a snake

by which I mean, form a conscious representation of the snake

you know, and maybe it takes a 1/4 of a second or something like that

or even longer

but it doesn't matter, maybe it takes a tenth

a twentieth of a second, a tenth of a second but the thing about the damn snake is that it's way faster than that

it's really fast that thing and it co-evolved with primates by the way

and so it can nail you way faster that you can look at it so, you have

your eyes map snake like objects right onto your reflexes so that

the eyes go, the eyes make you jump

and then they see after that, yeah well now you can see that's no problem




now what I would say that what we do is that we live in a shared story

and the story is a way of looking at the world and it's a way of acting in the world at the same time

and that story has to operate within narrow parameters

and this is something that is extraordinarily important to understand

because, and this is something I think that Piaget figured out, Jean Piaget

figured out, better that anyone else, I think that he really got this right and

by the way, one of the things that Piaget was trying to do

you never hear about how strange these great thinkers are

Piaget was a very strange guy and he was a

he was a hyper-genius, he was offered the

curatorship of a bloody museum when he was 10 years old, you know, because he wrote this little paper

on mollusks which apparently was very good and

so they offered him the curatorship of a museum and his parents wrote back and said, "Well you know,

no, probably not because he is actually ten."

and so that was Piaget, man, the guy was a genius

and, you know, he was actually motivated by the desire to reconcile science and religion

that was actually was his entire

motivation for what did, you never hear that but that is the case

and so,

Piaget was very interested in how

you produce structures that enable you to regulate yourself

because you are kind of like a

a colony of strange sub-animals that have to figure out how to get along

so that you can sort of be one thing

you kind of learn that, I would say between the ages of 2 and 4

as you are being socialized, you know how erratic 2 years old's are, I mean they are a blast and

and it's part because they are erratic, it's like

they are unbelievably happy and then they are unbelievably hungry and then they really hot

and then they are really upset and crying, you know and then they are really scared, it's like

and all of that's just untrammeled so it's really fun to be around them, especially when they are happy, because they are just so happy

that it's just, you know

you don't ever get to be that happy

and so, it's nice to be around a 2 year old because you can kind of

feel that again, you know, and a lot of, one of the horrible things about being a parent is that you spend

a tremendous amount of your time

making your child less happy

and the reason for that is that positive emotion is very impulsive

you know, because everybody says well you should be happy, it's like

well, no, when you are happy you are actually quite stupid

and so, because happiness makes you impulsive,

happiness makes, happiness says, "Hey, everything is really good right now, get what you can while the getting is good!"

and so,

as a, like if you are hyper-optimistic, manic we'll say

It's like every stock investment looks like a really good stock investment

and it's like, you go out and spend all your money because

look it, there's those wonderful things everywhere and you could do so great things with then, and then

you know, you spend all your money

and then, you crash and think, oh God, my life is over, you know because I just, I just

spent all my money on all this useless stuff and it's all under the grip of impulsive positive emotion

you know and so.

when you're telling your kids to be quiet and settle down

it isn't because they're making a lot of noise being in pain

it's because they are running around like wild baboons having a blast! And

disrupting things like mad, you know and so, well kids, have to settle down, you know like,

"Quit having so much fun!"

and it's kind of awful that you do that but

but you do

and that's because

the emotions and motivations have to be brought into

like a relationship with one another within the person

so that, you know

one thing I remember with my son who was quite

he is quite disagreeable by temperament

which is actually a good thing as far as I am concerned although it brings its own challenges

and so with my daughter when she was misbehaving, she was pretty agreeable

and uh,

you know, if she was misbehaving I could basically just look at her

and she would just quit, you know, but my son, it was like

that was just nothing, you're looking at me, it's like, no that's just not going to go anywhere man

so then I would like tell him to stop, and

that really wasn't having much of an effect either

he would just sort of maybe laugh or run away

or whatever, he was a tough little rat, and

you know, what I would do with him, is that he would

be doing something and I would interfere and he would get upset, and you know

angry, and so then I would get him to sit on the steps and I told him, this was when he was about two

I said, look, you are going to sit on the steps, that's time out, you're going to sit of the steps

until you've got control of yourself, and you can come back and be

and play the family game again

I basically said, be a civilized human being and they you are welcome again

and so he would sit on the steps, it was so interesting to watch because

he was just enraged, he would sit there

like have you every seen a two year old have a temper tantrum?

It's really quite the bloody phenomena

if you ever saw an adult do that, you would like, you would call 911

right away, it's like oh my God! and I have seen adults do that, you know because

people, say, with borderline personality disorder will have temper tantrums and it's like

man, you want to about 30 feet away from that person, that's for sure, it's really, but

in kids, it's like

well first of all they are only this long, so how much trouble can they really cause

but it's like, you know they're just completely gone, they are like

on the floor, their face is red, they are just furious, like way more furious than you ever get

if you are even vaguely socialized

they are just outraged and they are kicking and hitting the ground and like, it's like a little

epileptic fit of anger you know , they are completely controlled by their rage and

we took care of one kid for a while who

he was actually a pushover, that kid, you could get him to behave by

you know, kind of shaking your finger at him, but, his mother thought he was really tough

because he had her fooled, he had her figured out

and one of the things he would do is have temper tantrums and during the temper tantrum

he would hold his bloody breath until he turned blue!

it's like try that, like you know as, that's your homework

go home and, go home and have a temper tantrum and while you are doing it hold your breath

until you actually turn blue

it's like, you won't be able to do it

you don't have the willpower of a two year old

that's for sure, that little varmint, man he would just have a fit

then he would hold his breath and then he would turn blue, it was like, Wow! that's, that's amazing

and we would just let him do it, and you know

he would turn blue and everybody would be gone and he would come out if it, you know, and

it didn't work, so he just quit doing it, I think he did it like twice, and then he figured out, oh well,

that's a lot of work for very little outcome, and you know it's not like two year old's are stupid, they're

they're not stupid, but they are probably smarter you

but they are not civilized, by any stretch of the imagination, and so, anyways back to my son

I would put him on the steps and he'd be like "RRRRRR!", just like enraged!

and, and trying to get himself together, you know

and I'd wait a few, like I had a strict rule which was

as soon as you are done

you're welcome again

so, it's completely under your control, you

you can get yourself calmed down, you come and talk to me again

if you are calm enough so I like you

then you are welcome back in the family, no grudge, nothing

and so, it's harder that you think, like people think that they like their kids, like don't be thinking that

they are hard to like, they are little monsters, and they are very very pushy and provocative

and so lots of their parents do not like their children

and they do terrible things to them their whole life

so, it's no joke, and uh,

it's very common and, you know, that was Freud's observation, fundamental observation, that

a lot of psychopathology is rooted in the family and you can be sure of that

you know and, when you hear about some mother who's done something terrible to her child, which happens reasonably frequently

you know perfectly well that

she has very terrible capacity to discipline, the child has just provoked her

and provoked her and provoked her and provoked her and provoked her

it just happens to be a day where

her new boyfriend left, and she is quite hungover and she got fired, and it's like

that's the wrong day to provoke her

and then she does something that is not good!

And you read about it and you think, "Well how could that happen? How could anyone do that?" Well

that's how they do it

and so, kids they are very provocative, just like little chimps

chimps will

the adolescents will, like throw little pebbles and sticks at the sleeping larger males

and bug them

and that teasing, which it is, that teasing

turns into full fledged dominance challenge behaviour once the adolescent males get big enough to do it

and so when you are being provoked by a child, which

they provoke you all the time, they are trying to figure out well just,

"Where are you exactly, what happens if I do this? What happens if I do this?" You know and

how else are they going to figure it out?

Anyways, he would sit on the steps and just

he is just enraged and trying to control himself and I would watch that and then you know I'd

come back after about two minutes or whatever and he would still be "RRRRRRR!"

and I would say, well, you know, have you got yourself under control

are you ready to get of the steps? And he would go "NOOOO! NOT YET!"

and then, you know, he would get himself under control

and then he would come back, and you know, he'd be contrite

and then I would like him right away, you know

you got to watch that, you know because, you don't like being dominated by a two year old, no one does

and so if the child hasn't

mastered himself and started to act in accordance with the prevailing social norms

you won't like them, well you think, "Yeah I will because I am a good person.", It's like, no you won't

and no you are not a good person so don't be thinking about that at all, it's just not true


when he was contrite then he'd come and then, you know, we would just go on like nothing had happened

because that is what you want to do, right as soon as you get compliance

especially if the compliance is in the best interests of the child

you want to reward it instantly, right, that's the right thing to do

because so then


you could just see him gaining control over himself, and so what was really was happening is

His, in his mind, in his brain we'll say there was a war between the psyche, the ego that was starting

to become integrated, you know and starting to become a continuous person, an identity

and it is fragile in two year old's and it can be disrupted all the time, and it is, that's why they are so

hyper-emotional, it's fragile that little ego

and it doesn't have a lot of power

and so what you want to do is reward it when it wins!

You know, when it, he gets control over the underlying motivations you want to say

Hey, good work, man! Good work, kid!

You did it, you know, you got yourself under control, way to be! And the kid is really happy about that because

it's actually not that much fun to have a temper tantrum

It's exhausting, you know, it takes you over


[Student] Could you give an example of what you would reward him with?

[JBP] Oh, just a pat on the head or, you know, "That's good!" kind words you know or whatever

[Student] Notice it.

[JBP] Yeah, notice it pay attention, that's it, that's it, pay attention and that's a great

it's a great thing to know with people, like in your relationships

here is the key to a good relationship, it's not the only one but

Watch your person

carefully, carefully, carefully and whenever they do something that you would like them to do more of

tell them that that was really good and, mean it, and it's not manipulative, because if it's manipulative it won't work

It's like you have to say, "Wow! I am so glad you did that!" And you have to be precise

Here is what you just did that I though was great!

and then "Oh boy, that's so nice that you noticed, I can't believe that noticed" It's like

you know, you do that twenty times and the person will be

like the rat that's just pushing the lever for cocaine, you know

so but no, I'm serious, Skinner established this, B.F. Skinner noticed this a long time ago

Reward is intensely, useful in terms of modifying behaviour, but the problem is, is that

it's really hard to notice when things are going right.

Right, because you are kind of primed to notice when things are going wrong, and so you use

threat and punishment more often as

agents of shaping the people that you are around because, you know, when everything is going right

what are you going to say, everything is going right

it turns to zero, you just assume it

and that's, that's not good

that's not good, you want to pay attention and if your person, your children, your wife

whoever, your mother

your sister

if you want them to

if you want to rectify your relationships with them, and I am not saying to do this in a manipulative way, it won't work

but if they do something that's promoting harmony and peace and goodwill, it's like

attend to it, tell them that you noticed, it's like

so useful and you have to get rid of grudges and your resentment to do that

right, because you don't want to, you are kind of mad at your sister

and then you know, she does something good, you think there is no goddamn way I am going to reward her for that

so you ignore her when she does something good, it's like

that's brilliant that is, because then you just punished her for doing what you want

and people do that with their kids all the time

you know, because they let the kids dominate them, then they get resentful

then the kid will run up to them to show them something that's kind of spectacular and they'll

they are not happy, they'll like, "Oh yeah, that's, I'm working."

You know, little kids

all sad about that and he has just learned something

so and it's not perhaps what you want him to learn

and so you have to keep your relationship with your children pristine

and that means that you can't

hold a grudge or resent them and that means that you have to help them learn how to behave

so that you like them

and that way, if you like them

and you are kind of sensible, and maybe your partner also likes them, so, you know, you have got a consensus going there

there is a reasonable possibility that other people will actually like them too

including other children and then the world open up to them

you know, then you'll bring them to peoples houses and the people will actually smile at them

and give them a pat on the head instead of thinking, "Oh my God that brats coming to visit again

I wonder what he will break this time."

You know and that's just a horrible thing for your child to experience repetitively

in situation after situation

all they learn is that adults have a false smile but they are really lying all the time


It's like a bit of hell and there's a lot of children who are trapped in that, it's really awful to see

I can see kids like that when I walk down the street, you know, it's like

they are little doomed things and they're, they are, you know, they are screwed in 15 different ways and there is no way out of it

It's really awful


I would not recommend that you do that

It's better to notice that you are a bit of a monster

or a lot of a monster

and notice that

you are much happier with the people around you when they behave in accordance with

reasonable social norms and then you actually feel genuinely connected to them

you want to work on their behalf so that everything works out

but if you think that you are a good person and that you would never do anything that was

harmful to your children then you can just forget about that because you will never take it seriously enough to actually learn


alright, so anyways we live inside this story as far as I can tell


you know we kind of put the story together inside us to begin with

and that happens between 2 and 4 when you are

integrating those motivations and emotions into a relatively functional unity

right, and that does happen between 2 and 4

if you don't have your kids socialized by the time they are 4, you might as well just forget it

and I know that sounds terribly pessimistic and all of that but I know the literature on

trying to rectify antisocial behaviour in children, and after the age of 4 it's virtually impossible no matter what you do.

and the reason for that is that

kids who are still acting like two year old's when they are four

you know, they are twice as old, eh, as a two year old

that's a lot of difference, like a four year old is an adult as far as a two year old is concerned

and so if the four year old is still acting like a two year old, that's really not good!

and other four year old's will come up and, you know

do a little play invitation, like a dog, and you know, the kid, the two year old four year old has no idea how to react to that and so the more mature kid thinks

"Oh, well..

how about I play with you?" [motions to another student]

and then that kid is isolated

from the peers and after four you mostly socialized by your peers

and so you just fall farther and farther and farther behind

you are more and more alienated, you are more bitter and angry and no wonder

and it's just not, you can't rectify it



so that's useful to know, it's like your job from two to four

is to turn your child, help turn your child into a functional unity, and by three they should be

functional enough as a unity

within themselves so that they can concentrate on a voluntary goal

for some reasonable length of time

which is also why it's useful to let them spend some time alone, so that they can learn to amuse themselves

because if they can't amuse themselves they are not going to play with other kids

and then by three

they are sorted together enough so if another three year old comes along

they can at least play in parallel

and may also start, maybe able to start playing

a cooperative game

and so, that's often a fantasy game, you know, pretend

and so what the kids will do, sometimes they mediate it verbally

but sometimes it's more acted out

it's a combination of the two

they will assign each other roles

they will do this with you too, well let's have a tea party

well, what does that mean?

well it means let's sit down and act out the act of sharing food

and see if we can get that right

that's what the kids saying we will have a little tea party

you know, it's very important, because human beings share food, like this is a major thing to get right, man.

And so, the kid will say well you be the Mom and I will be the Dad and, you know,

we will make little fort and that will be our house and we will go in there and run our roles and

you know, we are acting out

we are acting out family

and if we are both reasonably civilized as three year old's we can concentrate on that goal

we can establish that little fictional world

we can

negotiate a mutual goal

and then we can run the simulation and that is what kids are doing when they are pretending

it's bloody brilliant, that's play man, it's like

It's brilliant!

It's absolutely unbelievable because

you know, if you are going to play Mom, let's say

It isn't like you

it isn't exactly like you imitate your Mom because imitation would be

you know how annoying it is when someone copies you

so, you know

you are sitting like that and then

and I do the same thing, that's really annoying and that isn't what kids do

they don't

act out the precise actions that they have seen the target of their fantasy

display, they're way more sophisticated than that, they watch

they're mother, let's say, like hawks

and then they start to extract out the regularities in their behaviour, which is Mom behaviour, let's say

that's what makes you Mom

whatever that is, and then

so it's like they look at you across time and they extract out the regularity that makes you Mother

and then they try to embody that regularity in their pretend play and then they sort of encapsulate or

incorporate the spirit of being a mother, or being a father or whatever

or an animal because they'll play at that

and so that is what they are doing, they are using their body as, and their mind as dramatic forums

it's really amazing, you know it's so sophisticated

and no other animal does that as far as we know

and it's the platform on which language is based, first of all we imitate

and language is imitation, right, because we use the same words, right, so it's imitation

it's a big deal so you can act out someone else

and then you can conceptualize them in fantasy and it is only way after that that you

could maybe articulate it, what does it mean to be a mother

so I could have you write an essay about that

well you would have to think about it right?

you wouldn't just automatically know, but if someone hands you a baby, you know, you are not completely

socially blind, you roughly know what to do after you are done with your initial nervousness

you roughly know what to do

don't drop it, that's a good rule you have probably figured that one out at least

you know, don't yell at it, don't startle it, give it a little pat maybe, try hugging it

maybe you go like this, you know, you make eyes at it, you know what to do!

It's built into you, you know, it's built into you, but

that doesn't mean you could lay it out as a series of rules about how to be a mother

it's like you could right a whole damn book about that, so

alright, so anyways, you live in this story

and first of all you get your own story together

and that's by integrating your motivations and emotions together

under social influence

you know,

Piaget kind of states that

before the age of three kids can't really play

they are egocentric, and it's not exactly right because

you are actually playing with you mother

from the time you are born, so even with breast feeding that's a social interaction and

it's a complex cooperative endeavour and it's often hard for a mother and the infant

to get that right

because it's complicated and it requires a lot of social interaction, like the child has to learn not to bite for example

you know and a mother has to learn not to be too nervous and

and there is a lot of social bonding, it's a really complicated social interaction

so the child, the infant even at the earliest stages

is already engaged in a complex social dynamic

that is essentially play oriented

but it's you know pretty primordial , it has to do mostly with the mouth, and

a child's mouth and tongue are already hardwired at birth so

you child is most, this is a Freudian observation as well, your child is almost all

mouth and tongue when it's born, the rest of it's body, well you watch infants , it's like

even when they are

How old?

Seven months? Six months? Four months? I can't even remember now, you know, they will move their arm and they kind of go like this

it's like they have no fine control, they're

it's more like they have

you know clubs on the ends of sticks, it's like that

their nervous system isn't

thoroughly myleinated, then don't have control over themseleves

but their mouth and tongue are already wired up

and so, otherwise they wouldn't be able to swallow or nurse, so

the oral element is extraordinarily important for a young child

that's why kids put everything in their mouth

you know, even when they are a bit older it's like they see with their tongue

which of course everyone can do

you know if you put a block in your mouth you can tell that it's a cube, you can tell that it is a cube without looking

so you can with your tongue, you can see with your hands, you can even see to some degree with your ears


so they're a social interaction right from the beginning, but for the point of simplification

you might say well first the child


themselves into a functional unity under the

pressure of social dynamics

and then they get unified enough so that they can attain unity with another child by

setting up a fictional world

and cooperating and competing within that, because that's quite interesting to because

you know, people often

juxtapose cooperation and competition as if they are opposites

but they are not opposites at all

another Piagetian observation

so you say, "Well is hockey a competitive game?"

and people would say, "Well yeah!" but then you think, really!

Really! No one brings a basketball


So, we are going to play by the rules

That's cooperation, well are teams competing against each other

Well yes! But they agreed to compete within a particular landscape

and they all cooperate to maintain that landscape, and so

you do the same thing when you are playing Monopoly

It's like you are trying to win but at the same time you are cooperating

That's what, that's society man! That's society right there!

You are cooperating

That's the big enclosure, and within that there are regulated competitions

But, to separate those artificially and say one is competition and the other is cooperation is just

It's just not. just not very smart, it's not observant, that's not how it workd

and games are intensely cooperative even if they are intensely competitive, I mean

the hockey teams are playing in the same game, that's the cooperation, then each team

there is competition within the team to be the best player, let's say, but everyone wants that

because everyone wants good players to emerge, but still cooperate like mad with your team mates and if you don't pass

and you know, play like a reasonable person then, they're going to not be happy with you

and so,

even within that competition, cooperation is regulating the interactions and then you can think

this is a really good thing to think too, it's like

People often say to their kids,

doesn't matter whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.

and the kid of course has no idea what that means, it's like what do you mean, I am trying to win

and the parents says, "No, no, it matters how you play"

and the kid pushes them and the parents really can't come up with a good explanation of why that is the case

They might say, "Well other kids won't play with you"

There you go!

Because you could say,

this is something to think about, so

there is a game

and there is a victory within the game

but then there is the set of all games

and there is victory across the set of all games

and the victory that you attain across the set of all games

isn't winning all the games

it's being invited to play all the games

and so if you play fair

then you are playing a meta-game

and the meta-game is how to win across the set of all games

and so if you teach your child how to behave properly then they always get invited to play

and that makes them winners

and that's that!

and so if you understand that you understand something

phenomenally important about the emergence of morality

you know because people, moral relativist in particular think that morality is relative

and of course human beings are diverse, just like languages are diverse

and there is more than one playable game but there is not really more than one playable meta-game

it's like you are either the kind of person that other people want to play with

or you are not.

and it you are not the kind of person that people want to play with then you are a loser

it's as simple as that, and that's

true of all cultures, they might be playing different individual games

within their culture and undoubtedly they are, but

the set of all games that they play is still common across cultures, that's part of what makes us human

and then you could say as well

we are actually evolved to detect people who are good at playing the set of all possible games

and we actually know that, that's not theoretical, we know for example

some things are easy to remember and some things are to remember, you know

Here is something that is easy to remember, you play with someone and they cheat

Man, you will remember that, that's like in your mind, that's not going anywhere

and so great are detecting cheaters and you remember

and that's because you can't trust a cheater and you shouldn't invite a cheater to play a game with you because they might cheat!

and so, that's part of the innate morality system, you remember cheaters because they good at playing the meta-game

and of course you're evolved

of course you are adapted to the meta-game because

you are the product of this immense evolutionary history right and

whoever your ancestors were

which is an unbroken string of successful reproducers going back 3.5 billion years

you think about that, every single one of your ancestors

successfully reproduced, it's mind boggling that you chances against that

are so, it's billions to one and here you are the line of

3.5 billion years of success, the whole world was trying to kill you, that whole time and here you are, it's like, and but

you know, you are still only going to last about 80 years


but that, you know, is still, you know good for you, so anyways

there were lots of games that your ancestors were playing across that immense span of time

many, many you know, lizard games and tree dweller games

and crustacean games, you know the huge set of games

and you are adapted to win across those games, all of them

and that's built into you, man, that's your central human nature, that's what makes you social

and it's not some mere cultural construct

quite the contrary, it's so deeply embedded in you, it's what you are

Alright, so well

this is a story, it's a game too, that's another way of thinking about it, you know, that's a Monopoly game, well

what's the frame

well that's the rules of the game

and are they, why do you accept them

Well, it's kind of arbitrary right, it's like

that happens to be the rules, hockey has different rules

basketball has different rules, but what they share is that they have rules

OK, so there is a frame, that's the rules, and then within the frame there is a goal

and the goal is whatever the rules dictate, you know there is usually

It's usually the construction of a heirarchy

of success within a frame

and so that's what you play, and so you play Monopoly, and it's like, we'll accept the rules

that's the social contract and then we will each try to win

and that will be fun!

We find that amusing, and if you lose, what do you say?

Well, you say there is always another game

and so that's great,, so

if you have that attitude and you play fair, then it doesn't matter whether you win or lose

although you still want to try to win because otherwise you are not a good player

but you accept defeat gracefully because

you can play again!

and so, and you will win some and you will lose some and that's not so bad, you know and

even if you lose, well maybe you learned something, and

and you're doing a lot more than one thing while you are playing Monopoly, you know, you are having a conversation and

learning how to interact with people, and learning how to regulate your emotions and so

even if you lose if you have any sense you win

and if your kids have any sense they know that

and so, that way you buffer then against defeat, it's like yeah, yeah, you know

next time

it's OK

You should try but it is OK

and, and that's

useful information for people to know


alright, so you are always in one of these little frameworks and there is just no getting out of it, so

and that's because, you know at any given moment

this is like field theory, there used to be psychological theories that talked about the field of human experiance

something like that, and this is kind of what that is, this is a field and

basically what happens is that you parse out a little part of the world



an amount that you can handle

so let's say it has some duration , you are not aiming at something 50 years in the future

it's because how the hell are you going to to that?

there are too many variables, you know

so, your aiming at some handleable amount of time

and you posit a goal in there and you plot your route and then,

that tells you what is up

and tells you what is down, because up moves you towards the goal and down moves you away from the goal and

that's sets up your motivation framework so that

you have something worth attaining, you know that's a really interesting thing to know too, it's like

Why have a goal?

Well it's easy, no goal, no positive emotion.

Because you experience positive emotion by noticing that you are moving towards a goal

and so if you don't have a goal

well you can't have any positive emotion! So,

you better have a goal, and so you might say well what should the goal be?

Well we could start by saying, well, any goal is better than none.

And then we might say well it should be a goal that other people

will let you pursue, because otherwise it's going to be kind of difficult

and maybe they will be even happy to help you pursue it, that would even be better

and maybe it's a goal that would enable you to learn how to pursue other goals

while you pursue that goal, boy, that would really be good,

And so, you can see that your goal was parameterized

but that doesn't mean that any old goal works, it means there's some goals that work nicely

and some not so nicely, there are playable games and non-playable games, that's a good way of thinking about it

and you want to have a playable game, and there is a lot of them

lawyer, plumber, you know

actor, whatever, they are playable games

and it's not obvious which one is better but

it's certainly obvious which ones are sustainable and which ones are worse

and so they're is a set of playable games and you need to extract from that set of playable games

a game that suits you.

and that would be partly due to your temperament, you know, because extroverted people want to play an extroverted game

highly neurotic people want to play a safe game

agreeable people want to play generous game and

disagreeable people want to play a game that highly competitive so they can win, and

you know, fine!

but they're all

within the realm of playable games

and that means they are socially acceptable as well

and so, that means, it isn't just

arbitrary , it isn't just relative

what you decide to do, it is heavily parameterized, there is only

there is a set of playable games, and it's large, the set is large but

there are commonalities within it, and that's why there are commonalties

that is why morality has a common basis

fundamentally, and so that's partly what we are trying to investigate, it's like

what's up, what is up mean?

what does it mean, is there such a thing, now

one thing to remember is that

if you don't erect a hierarchical structure with something to aim at

you got no positive motivation

because, you experience positive motivation in relationship to a goal, not from attaining the goal

that's satisfaction, besides it's fleeting

you know perfectly well, you graduate from university, poof! Next day you have a problem

which is what do you do next, and that's a tough problem

it's not like you solved your problems by winning that game

you just introduced the problem of having to introduce another game!

so it's unreliable as a source of positive emotion, but what's reliable is, you set a goal.

and you try to attain it

and then that gives your life, literally

provides your life with meaning

that's what meaning is, now it's more than that, but that's what it is

and so then you might ask yourself, well

What's a really good goal?

Well, that's what we are trying to figure out, what's a really good goal? And now,

OK, so you got that, so now I am going to walk through, at least partly through

we will see how far we get, I am going to walk through Pinocchio with you because that is what the movie is about, and

it's a

it's hard to say how it come about, like it was written, the story, by a guy named

Collodi, [spells it]

it's quite a bit different, the story, that story, the written one from the Disney version

the Disney version was a product of the collaboration of

geniuses of animation, essentially, so they were artistic geniuses

great at capturing motion and emotion and all of that

they were stellar at that

and imaginative, tremendously imaginative, but collectively imaginative

and so they put together a collective product

and you might say well how did they do that exactly, it's like well

they were good storytellers, and what does that mean, well

it means you know the story that works and the story that doesn't

and maybe partly what you do is you kind of think out a story, and you think, well what is this happened?

Well, maybe this should happen? Oh! That's the thing! That would work!

It's like a little flash of inspiration, right it's like

you got a piece of the puzzle that fits, you think, That will work there!

and then you talk to the other people and you generate ideas and someone says, What if?

What if they do this? And then everyone goes, No, no that's just not believable, no ones going to buy that.

and someone else has a little revelation, they say, Well, you know, it makes some sense somehow if,

if they do this! And then everybody goes, Oh yeah! That really

that really works!

It's like, why?

Why? why?

Well you don't know, you don't know why it works

but it works because

It works because it's the right story

and so what does that mean?

well it's kind of associated with this meta-game idea

you know, there is a story that you should be acting out that works across games

and you have an inkling of it, you have notion of it, you have a vague apprehension of it

it's sort of built into you, that's an archetype, that's an archetype

and so when you read a story that works you are just entranced by it, and you all know that

You go to a movie and it's a great movie and you are just blown away, you know it's

a movie can pull you in

and turn you into one of the screen characters and, like, run you through a huge set of emotions.

I saw this movie once about

South America, it started with this guy running out of a subway, naked, and he didn't know where he was

and it turned out that he had been

absconded by

the totalitarian death squads and he couldn't remember anything about himself, and

he went back to his village and

basically what happened was that, he ended up back in the totalitarian

death grip.

and it showed how the fascist state

had saturated the village completely, and,

so it was a tragedy and you could see with every action that

this amnestic guy as he recreated himself and remembered his identity

was going to travel down exactly the same road because nothing had changed

and by the time, I wish, I have looked what that movie was for years, I've never been able to find it again

but, when the movie was over every single person in the theater was crying

and not just a little bit, they were just out of it, it was brilliant

terrifying movie

and that meant that was something right about it, man

and it got people, and you you might say

you know you have dim apprehensions about the world

and some of those are instinctual, and some of those are a consequence of your

of your experience, and it's like

the pieces are fragmented, but, if you get away from them, a long ways, you can see how they fit together

but they are fragmented and then you go see a story and those pieces go

click, click, click, click

and then you think, Wow! That's what, that's how that works out, that's what that means

and that produces that overwhelming emotion, and then, and that partly how you make yourself

transparent to yourself

You go and experience a story and watch a story and you tell a story and you start to find out who you are by doing that

My nephew, had a dream at one point

someone made a little animated thing out of it and put it on the Internet which is quite cool

So anyways, he was having night terrors and he ran around like a little knight

you know, k-n-i-g-h-t, knight and he had a little

you know, armor and a sword and he would run around the house

with a little knight hat on, being a knight

and he was only like four or something and he had watched a lot of Disney movies

a lot of movies, so he kind of got the knight idea, it was

He was acting that out and he was having terrors at night, right

and so he would go to bed with his little knight hat and his sword and he would put them on his bed, and then

at night he would wake up screaming, and that happened for a very long time, and so

when I went to visit, you know, I found out that this was happening and

he had night terror, so the kid wakes up with night terrors

screaming but can't remember anything generally speaking, so

anyways, this was happening and so

it happened one day and I was sitting with him and his family at the breakfast table and I,

said, "Did you have a dream?" and he said "Oh yes, I had a dream"

I said, "Well, what was your dream?"

and he said,

"Well I was out in this field, I was surrounded by the dwarves and they came up to my knees and

they were, they didn't have any arms they had big feet

and they were covered with hair and there was a cross shaved at the top of their head and they were all greasy and they had huge beaks

and every where I went they jumped at me with their beaks

and there was lots of them!"

and every body was very quiet after he said this because it was like

Oh, that's why you were screaming at night, it's like yeah, OK!

and so

so then he said

"But at the background there was a dragon, and the dragon would

blow out smoke and fire and then it would turn into these dwarves!"

so it's like, man, that kid had a problem, right, it was like

Well, what are you going to do, fight off a dwarf, who cares! Puff!

Ten more, that's life man, that's life!


That's the Hydra

you cut off one head and seven more grow, that's life, snakes everywhere

and you get rid of one and there will be more

and so, he figured that out!

It's a hell of an existential shock when you are four

and so he is like, he is a knight, he's thinking, what do I do about these dwarves

well their are too many of them, but there is a dragon

well so I said, "Well, what could you do about that?"

Right, loaded question, it implies that you could do something about that!

Well he kind of knew that, which he was running around like a knight

and he kind of figured that out

and he said, "Well I'll get my dad,

and I jump up on the dragon and I poke out both of his eyes with my sword and then I go right down its stomach

to the place where the fire came out, the firebox, and then I'd carve a piece of the firebox out and make a shield,

and that would be the end of that!" And I thought,

Wow! Good work kid! Like

you really got it, right, it's the central human story.

There's the terrible unknown, right, fire breathing

generating trouble

and what do you do, you confront that, you confront that

and by confronting it you get stronger, that's the shield, and that's

that's what a human being is

and that's right, it's exactly right

and that was the end of his night terrors, by the way

which seems to good to be true, but it is actually true

because I followed up with his mother for a long time, and that was that!

He catalyzed that part of his identity

he adopted the role of the mythological hero

and that's what he needed to do, because, like there was a dragon and a bunch of dwarves

like what the hell are you going to do about that? Run? That's not going to help.

You know, if you run in a dream like that

the dwarves multiply and the get bigger and you get smaller as you run

It's like, that no a good, that is not a good solution

and people do that in their life all the time, and so the dwarves get bigger until they are giants

and they get smaller until there is nothing left of them, and then

then there is no recovery, that is not good

Now, OK, so now I also proposed to you that there is a symbolic structure to the world

It's a meta-structure I would say, I think these categories are truly real

and their basically this! There's

unexplored territory and explored territory

and there is you!

and unexplored territory is the source of great riches and probably will kill you and

explored territory is you culture and it crunches you into submission and conformity

and turns you into a civilized being, and

you are stuck with both of those and then there is you, you know you are kind of admirable and cool and you do a lot of

decent wonderful amazing things and there are things about you that are just horrible

and you know about them, and you are stuck with them and that's the world

and that's the the landscape of the world and what you will see

if you pay attention is that people who are ideologues like Rousseau or say, like Hobbes

but it doesn't matter, ideologues will tell you part of that story

so environmentalists for example will say

Nature, that's pristine beauty

natural harmony

French landscape

it's a paradise especially if there are no people, it's a paradise

and then, culture is a rapacious monster

and human beings driving that culture against nature are

monsters of a sort that, and perhaps there should be fewer of then, it's like, yeah, yeah that's all true

it's exactly dead on, right on, exactly right

Was that movie called Avatar?

Yes, that's James Cameron's movie right?

That's that story, yeah, and

Hey, it's a good story

It's even a mythological story but it is only half the story

The other story you could think about it as a frontier myth, that's Star Trek

or Star Wars for that matter, mostly Star Trek, it's like

but we will put it into the context of the frontier myth, the myth that drew settlers into America, say. It's, well

there is a wild savage landscape out there that can be conquered by and settled and stabilized by civilization

and it will be the heroic pioneer who does it

It's exactly the opposite story of the environmental story, which is why I think that the environmental story emerged. It was

you know the frontier story

had a lack in it, it missed half of the world

and so the other story had to come up and it did

and if you take both of those stories, even though they are exactly the opposite to one another

if you know both those stories, then you know the whole story

and it's really weird, you know, because one of the propositions of formal logic

is, it's a fundamental proposition is that something can't be itself and it's opposite at the same time, it's like

that's true for some sorts of things, it's true for logical claims

but it is completely wrong in this particular situation because things are, what they are and their opposites at the same time

and that makes it very very difficult to

that's why a dragon hoards gold, it's like

What's up with that?

Well it will eat you!

And it will, but it has gold!

So what do you do about that? Because it's paradoxical demands

well, what you want to do is face the dragon and get the damn gold, that's what you want to do


you have to be a paradoxical being even to do that, so, in "The Hobbit"

for example, when, what's his name

Frodo, right? It's not, it's Bilbo in "The Hobbit"

You know he is kind of this little underdeveloped

over protected Shire dweller, and,

he is called on a great adventure

to go and find the dragon, and he has to become a thief

in order to manage it

Well that's pretty weird, you know, it's like, it's because

as a good citizen he is just not enough to conquer a dragon

He also has to become a bad citizen in some sense, he has to incorporate the part of himself that is monstrous

let's say, and develop that and hone it

and that's to say that, if you are harmless you are not virtuous

you are just harmless

you are like a rabbit

a rabbit isn't virtuous, it's just can't do anything except get eaten

it's not virtuous

If you are a monster, and you don't act monstrously

then you are virtuous, but you also have to be a monster

Well you see this all the time, Harry Potter is like that too, it's like he is flawed

he's hurt, he has go evil in him, he can talk to snakes, man

He breaks rules all the time

All the time, he is not obedient at all, but, you know, he has a good reason for breaking the rules

and if he couldn't break the rules

him and his little clique of rule breaking troublemakers, if they didn't break the rules

they wouldn't attain the highest goal

so it is very peculiar, but it's very, it's a very very very very common mythological notion

You know, the hero has to be

the hero has to be a monster

but a controlled monster, Batman is like that, you know, I mean it's everywhere, it's the story you always hear

[Student] Is this where morals become ethics?

[JBP] Meaning? You have to be more precise.

[Student] I feel like, because every one is moral, but, in order to become ethics you have to refine the morals, you have to kind of go into....

[JBP] Well that's a good question, you know, because one question is

you know you are kind of implicitly moral in so far as you are socialized

but that is sort of procedural, it's just built into you

this is different, this is also becoming conscious of it

and expanding out your personality into dimensions that it wouldn't normally occupy, so

this happens to people all the time

So, for example, lots of my clients, my clinical clients are too agreeable

and, they are generally women because women are more agreeable than men

but not always, because I have had agreeable men as clients as well

and what happens is, they're resentful and they don't how to stand up for themselves and it's because they're

very compassionate by nature, and so, if you entering into a negotiation with them, they will let you win

Well that's not so good, because you need to win to,

Especially if you are in an organisation of adults

where there is a struggle, right,

When you have kids you can let them win

especially infants, like you have to let them win and that's partly

why compassion is so necessary, but as a

basis for negotiation between adults, it's like

Sorry, it's insufficient, you have to be a bit of a monster so that you can say no.

And so a lot of what you do in psychotherapy

is treat peoples anxiety and depression, that's a huge chunk of it

help them straighten out the way they think, that's a huge chunk of it, but another chuck of it is

well let's toughen you up, you know, let's put you in a position where you can bargain, let's teach you how to

assert yourself and stand up for yourself, and that's assertiveness training and it's a huge chunk of psychotherapy

and you need to learn it, because

part of how you regulate your interactions with other people is to negotiate

and you cannot negotiate unless you can say no

you can't do it

and it cause conflict to say no, and if you don't like conflict

which is basically the definition of being agreeable

then you cannot tolerate the conflict and so then you can't negotiate on your own behalf

and so then you keep losing!

And you are bullied, and you know

it's not good, then you get resentful and

and it's really not good, so you have to

develop your inner monster a little bit

and, and then that makes you a better person, not a worse person

It's weird!

It's weird, but,

but that's just how it is.

Outside of that

diagram is chaos itself and that's the chaos from which things emerge, now,

I can't tell you much about that yet because it's do damn complicated

but I think the best way to think about chaos is as potential

That's one way of thinking about it. It's also that place you end up when you don't know what to do.

It's the source of all things, but it is also the terrible predator, the terrible eternal predator that lurks beyond the explored domain.

It's a winged dragon

and it's winged, who knows why, matter and spirit, that's partly what it is

and I will explain that later

It's also potentially the predatory beast that's been after us for, forever

And the winged predator that picked us off from the sky, so

primates for example, monkeys have

some monkeys have three specialized alarm crys, one is for snakes, and that usually means

Hit the trees! And then one is for leopards, and that means, hit the trees and go out on a skinny branch

because the leopard can't get to you

and then there is one for like birds of pray which means hide somewhere on the ground so that you don't get picked off, and it's like, well

That's what that is, that's what that is

and that's chaos

and it's expanded into much more than that

and then I showed you, I don't remember if I showed you this, but, this is a symbolic representation of

Mother Nature, Father Culture and the suffering of the individual, but it is all, that's all positive

There's no negative elements there

but, that's OK

that's a partial representation and those things are sacred in some sense because

they are representative of an ultimate

reality, of an ultimate reality, the sacrificial individual here, the suffering individual, well that's pretty straight forward, it's like

that's what, that's life

that's suffering, that's life

that's what happens to the individual, so, and everyone is looking at that.

It has power that idea

Well it's because, you know

culture supports the suffering individual, and culture is nested inside benevolent nature and that's

part of the story of the world,

and it's the part of the story we are trying to figure out and make articulate, we have been doing that

for thousands of years, trying to make this story articulate

and it's not yet articulated, it's only, we are only getting it, we are getting it

and we basically do that now with movies and stories and fiction and that sort of thing

We still don't have it articulated

I think Jung went close, came closer than anyone else

Jung and Erich Neumann who was one of his students

came closer than anyone else ever has to actually articulating that, and that's what Jung was trying to do

Is to take all these images, archetypal images

Instinctual images and say, well, what do they mean? What do they mean? What do they mean?

And he got a long ways on that, although his writing is quite obscure, and it's obscure because

How the hell are you going to explain an image like that, without being obscure? It's like

it's insanely complicated, and it's not linear

It's not a linear thing, that's why it's in a picture

Because a picture presents everything at once

and you want to take that apart linearly. Jesus! It's just, it's just impossible.

But we have been struggling to do that, really we have been struggling

From the time that we became self-conscious

You know, what is the world about? How should we live in it?

Well that's a partial answer, and it's a culture bound answer, obviously

But you see archetypal representations like this in many cultures, so for example

the image of the Virgin and Child, that way predates Christianity

like the Egyptians, that was Isis and Horus, that goes back, hoh, we have no idea how far

thousands and thousands of years before the emergence of Judaism and Christianity

Way back before that, and no doubt

back into prehistory itself! Because

a culture that doesn't hold

the mother and child as sacred, dies!


Because, obviously!

So, it has to be held, it has to be held as something

that you revere, which at least means that, you don't kill mothers and children, it at least means that!

And that's an instinct, you know,, it's an instinct, it violates you to to that and thank God!


Let's take 15 minutes


I told you about this a little bit last week, but, you know, one of the motivations I had for

thinking about the things that I have thought through

the motivation I had for thinking them through was because

Well, I

It seemed self-evident to me, let's say

and I think that it was partly from reading Jung, but that just helped me clarify it, was that

You know it was sort of Jung's contention that

We had an organic development of a metaphysical ethic

that was embedded in, in religious tradition

and that basically unfolded let's say in the West until about 1600, 1500, something like that, and then

science emerged and we got unbelievably technologically powerful

using a certain view of the world

you know, we are so technologically powerful

but, we are still not very wise

and that just seem to me to be a bad combination

and, I thought about that a lot, it's like, OK, how do you handle the combination of

exceptional technological power and

and an impaired ethic, let's say

something like that, underdeveloped ethic or one in even which you have no faith, because

you know, it seems, the foundational elements of it are irrational, they're in mythology

they're in religion, they don't fit well with the scientific world view

How do you rectify that problem? And

Well that's a tough problem, you know, it's a crazy problem

and certainly it was the problem that Jung was trying to address, there is no doubt about it

Along with that went an associated problem which was, you know, what happened in the 20th century

which was so awful

and in so many places, it was just so unbelievably brutal and terrible and it was perpetrated by

millions of people, and they were individual people and they weren't that much different from normal people

and in fact they were normal people. So,

the other thing that struck me was that it would be better if that sort of thing didn't happen anymore

and so I was trying to figure what the hell could possibly be done about that, and

you know, part of Jung's contention was, well you had to understand yourself as a monster if you were ever going to

maintain some control over the fact that you are in fact a monster and that that could come forth if the situation is correct

Ok, that seems reasonable, and so,

Well it seemed to me that , you know, people had to become wiser

and, of course, that's a very difficult things to figure out, because you could even question

whether there is such a thing as wisdom, you know, and

and then I thought well that's what the universities are supposed to do, especially the humanities mostly, in particular

it is supposed to make you wise, that's what it's for

and it's a doing a terrible job of that in my estimation

it's more decimating people as far as I can tell, and undermining whatever ethic that they have

rather than making people wise


but I think that we have to become wise, I don't think that there is a choice, I think it's a matter of survival, and

it's more than that, because if you're wise in your own life, you are going to have a way better life

like incomparably better because you are going to

sleep soundly with a good conscience at night, and you know people say that's worth more than money

that's worth more than money. I know lots of people who have lots of money and let me tell you

money protects you, you are as well as protected from the world by money right now as you ever will be for the rest of your life

because most of life's fundamental problems can't be solved with money!

you know, like, rich people get divorced, they have affairs, their children get sick

they have all the problem you have, and that's partly because you are already rich

And so,

you might think that if you had a bunch more money things would be better

but it's just not true, in fact in some ways they might be worse

because money can open up

can open up the possibility of all sorts of temptations to you that you just can't afford at the moment

So, well so, economics, we have already solved that problem fundamentally

and we are rapidly solving it everywhere in the world, right.

The world economy is growing so damn fast that you can't even imagine how you could possibly make it grow any faster

It's crazy, we have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in the last 15 years, you know

The U.N. set a goal, by 2015, I think it was to cut poverty by half

if I remember correctly, and they reached it two years early, you know, it's like

It's unbelievable! So,

Well, so then I started to

try to understand what it might be to

to live and really what I was looking for, and was not so much to live a life that was wise

but at least to live a life that wasn't pathologically unwise

you know, I thought of

the sorts of things that people were doing to one another in the

Auschwitz camps, and in the Gulag Archipelago and all of that

horror that was perpetrated on

on people as definitely unwise, whatever else you might say about it,

it was unwise, so then I though maybe there is a way to figure out how you could not do that!

And so, that's

and I think that that's,

my sense is that when you come to university to learn how to be a civilized person

which is what is supposed to happen at university

otherwise it is just a trade school, and you might as well go to trade school as far as I am concerned if you want

to learn, something that will get you a job, it's like, it's a lot

faster, and it's more certain and it's useful

if you are not taught to be a citizen at university, then

Why bother with it?

So, well so that's what we are trying to figure out!

and, and that's part of that

cloud of mythological fantasy that surrounds our culture, that's

it's part of its deep history that we are trying to,

you know, if you grapple with the humanities and with art and all of that

that you are trying, you are trying to master and incorporate and,

pull in to you so that you're situated properly in history, and

and you are not just floating in the void of, you know, this

tiny individuality that is divorced from everything else, you are weak in that circumstance

Alright, so

that's more of an explanation of why I try to puzzle through these things, and try to puzzle through them with you

So anyways, we talked about this song last week, and

you know, I made a hypothesis to you, we'll go through this quickly

It's doggerel, it's not great poetry but it is irrelevant

It was a very popular son, it's quite beautiful

In the movie it actually sung by like a heavenly choir, that's what it sounds like, so

Its got this cathedral, you can imagine people singing it in a cathedral essentially,

and so that's not accidental, it's purposeful

you know, it partakes of that

what would you call it, it partakes of that esthetic, that's. that's it

So the film makers are, are

implying that

what is about to be shown to you has this

divine element, essentially and that that's signified by the choir of voices that sings this song

and the song says, fundamentally something like this

is that if you lift up our eyes above the temporal, into the transcendent, and so that's

what exists in the heavenly world, in the stars

if you pick an ultimate goal, if you pick the right ultimate goal


and anyone can do this, that's the other thing it's democratic

it's anyone can do this, so that's the second proposition, "It doesn't matter who you are"

You can do this.

And so, I think that's a reflection of the idea of the divinity of the individual, it's like

there is something about each individual that's valuable, regardless of their idiosyncrasies , and

and so they have this potential that they can manifest, and how you manifest it? Well,

you pick the right goal, and, what's the right goal, well it's high

it's elevated, it's above the mundane

Now what does that mean? Well you don't really know, you don't really know? That's why it is signified by a star, and

the star is something that glimmers in the night, right

so it's a source of light in the darkness

And so, there is a metaphor in there, obviously, there is a metaphor there.

And, the star is the star that that's the star of Hollywood

you know, the person that you emulate, that's part of it because an ideal

is, it's going to be a human ideal of some sort that you are going to be aiming at

and so the ideal human being is the star that you are aiming at, maybe it's something like that.

If that's what you are aiming at, well you might say, well, "What should you aim at in life?" And one answer is, well,

Why don't you aim at being

whatever you could be that would be the best!

Now, you don't know what that is, exactly, because how do you know

you know, what, you could think "Well that would be really good if I could have it" And then you could say, "Well,

can I think of anything better than that?" and if the answer is no, then well, why not go for that?

You know, well you might say, "Well, it's too ambitious, it takes too much responsibility."

It's like, yeah yeah, those are definitely problems and,

one of the things that I have figured out over the years is that if you offered the person the opportunity, you know

because people say, "Well, life doesn't really have any ultimate meaning". It's like

yeah, OK, fine, let's say that it has an ultimate meaning

but that in order to

experience that ultimate meaning you have to take on ultimate responsibility for what you do.

That's a heavy price to pay to have a meaningful life.

You know, and you might say "Well, there's no damn way I going to do that, I'll just go for the, you know, pointless,

I'll go for the trivial pointless perspective, which is kind of hard on me existentially, but it frees me up, I can do whatever the hell I want,

moment to moment, I don't have any ultimate responsibility."

and so then, you think "That's kind of a good deal". And then, but that raises this weird spectre

of doubt, which is, well, when you hear people talk about the ultimate futility of life

is it because life is ultimately futile, or is it because they have decided that

they would just as soon not adopt the responsibility, and they use that real decision, which is to not adopt the responsibility

they rationalize that by proposing that