Re: credo ut intelligam you should check out Michael Polanyi, especially his notion of “indwelling”, you might find it interesting

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I'll check him out!

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Thank you for sharing abt Polanyi, Christopher

I found this link and now I feel like looking for his Gifford lecture series


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> Let's invert each of these.

Autonomy <--> Mimesis

Mastery <--> Rigidity

Purpose <--> Boredom

I’m reminded of the conversation we had in the comments of your last week newsletter

If Herzberg two factor great insight is that unhappiness is not the inverse of happiness but is its own thing, then I also wonder if autonomy is also similarly not the inverse of mimesis.

Neti neti (neither this nor that) is beyond inverse (not this or opposite this) and might be a more helpful device to explain autonomy

Eg using last week conversation, unhappiness is neither happy (obviously true) nor not happy (this is the subtle difference)

I suspect same for autonomy where it’s neither mimesis nor not mimesis.

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Interesting, I agree that I'm not sure you can call them opposites. Maybe abstract ideas are undefinable, so you can't have opposites. I actually wrote a half-formed thought on this yesterday. https://chr.iswong.com/notes/abstract-terms/

But I don't think it's the same as the happy/unhappy relationship. What would the 2x2 of autonomy/mimesis be?

yes autonomy / yes mimetic - No original thoughts but does what he wants???

yes autonomy / not mimetic - A realized individual

not autonomy / yes mimetic - Someone who does not have original thoughts

not autonomy / not mimetic - no action???

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> Maybe abstract ideas are undefinable, so you can't have opposites.

Undefinable? I guess you mean nebulous?

Even if abstract concepts are nebulous, I wonder if they are all equally so.

If you literally mean undefinable, do you think they are all equally so?

> But I don't think it's the same as the happy/unhappy relationship.


> What would the 2x2 of autonomy/mimesis be?

I am less sure if this is automatically the case.

I am biased towards autonomy as a core value, so instead of treating autonomy vs mimesis as intersecting lines in a 2 D space.

I kinda feel autonomy is a 2 D plane that intersects with mimesis a 2D line in a 3 D space.

Sorry if I sound like I'm overcomplicating things. I am still working this out in real time.

I am still at the 2nd stage in this triadic pattern (image link => https://substackcdn.com/image/fetch/w_1456,c_limit,f_webp,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/https%3A%2F%2Fbucketeer-e05bbc84-baa3-437e-9518-adb32be77984.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fpublic%2Fimages%2Fe94eab75-73dc-45fe-a8fe-8b0a6a65abe7_1685x840.png located at bottom of this section https://www.entrepreneurial.engineer/i/93131903/pattern-language-as-explained-by-ryan-singer)

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> Neti neti by Hindu practitioners to understand Brahman

Im beginning to think anything past a certain level of complexity all cannot be reduced by abstractions

End up the best thing you can say is “not this and not that”

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mentioned this mini-essay in the above comment.


I think abstractions are really hard to think about. We can try to carve out bits and use concrete examples to understand those bits. This is a fractal and recursive process.

Or this strategy of via negativa.

But both are dependent on looping ideas with reality. You need to have action in order to start the process

I think there is a connection to McGilchrist in that you need to use both left hemisphere and right hemisphere to understand abstract concepts. There's also a connection with Vervaeke and Relevance Realization in contextualizing and relating the ideas.

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Yeah, and thanks for mentioning vervaeke and relevance realization.

I'm personally wary of getting too abstract about not being too abstract! Ha!

Referring to your notes,

> He thinks that abstract concepts don't have good definitions. Love, creativity, success, what do they mean?

I wonder how relevant/necessary it is that abstract concepts have good definitions? How is it a problem that they don't?

I cannot speak for Tom, but if i feel that "abstract concepts don't have good definitions" is problematic, that triggers my LH too much.

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yes! I feel the same way. I think it's because we are both too dependent on LH, that is why we have difficulty with abstract concepts.

That's why I like this via negativa method. You go out and try to use RH to explore the abstract concept but you always have a LH "Touchstone" (the inverted concept) to fall back on.

Going a little further on RH, I wonder if there's an element of faith and surrender. Do I have difficulty accessing RH because I'm hesitant to have faith and surrender?

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I took oliver burkeman's seminar titled art of imperfect action in Jan 2023.

in it, he introduced this distinction.

he called it reassurance model vs surrender model.

reassurance model is the typical american, yes, you can do it, encouragement, gung-ho, hopeful, model.

surrender model is (surrender here does not mean resignation) more like a radical acceptance.

In the surrender model, there's no final victory to be had that will end all problems. There's only a final defeat.

Both models can work. But personally, now that the surrender model works better for me. Or I have reached a stage where reassurance model is no longer effective.

I am not sure why exactly, but I am sure that a) it is true it works better for me now and b) the why doesn't matter as much.

Asking me to go back to the reassurance model is like asking a tiger to be vegetarian. It's against my nature now.

i don't know about your case, but having read a bit on Clean Language, I am hesistant to give you my MAPS (*M*etaphors, *A*ssumptions, *P*erceptions, *S*ensations).

It's better you try to develop your own MAPS.

I am not trained therapist, but I don't think it's necessary either.

I just finished Death: The end of self-improvement by Joan Tollifson. And that book definitely falls into the Surrender Model category. I highly enjoyed it.

Maybe i find it easier to go into the surrender model because i learned how i finally learned how to snowboard (on the 4th try!) via relaxing recently that made me far easier to accept this surrender. So that bodily understanding became a new MAPS that made it that extra 1% easier for me to take on the surrender model.

Another possibility is that you're now crossing the rubicon in life.

What got you here cannot get you there.

Like Reassurance model worked very well for you in the past, because it was easier for simpler issues. Now the low hanging fruits no more, it doesn't work as well as Surrender model and you being too conditioned to the Reassurance model is finding the transition challenging.

Diagram here => https://share.cleanshot.com/Rd8jh6XQ

I am not exactly sure myself. but I consider that me sharing this despite me not 100% sure as yet another sign I'm personally embracing surrender model.

In the past, i would be less free to express a < 100% certain opinion. Now I am more zen about it. 🧘🏻‍♂️

If i get hated, i get hated. If i get ignored, i get ignored. If i am wrong, I am wrong.

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So well said!!

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Thank you for letting me know this resonates

Which part specifically, if I may ask?

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