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  • Yeah, well, on behalf Off Roast in college on the Cambridge Center for the Study of Clayton is, um it's an immense honor to introduce two of the foremost intellectuals of our age.

  • These thinkers warn a philosopher, the other psychologist, our spiritual writers addressing the Malays of the soul in our culture.

  • Don't Stuart Mill in his magnificent essay on Cola Ridge route of Benton, Jeremy Benton, who above all others men have been led to ask themselves in regards to any ancient or received opinion.

  • Is it true on by Cola Ridge?

  • What is the meaning with Coleridge?

  • In contrast to the utility of Benton, the very fact that any doctrine had been believed by thoughtful men and received by whole nations and generations of mankind was part of the problem.

  • To be solved was one of the phenomena to be accounted for.

  • This, I think, is true of both Roger Scrutiny and Jordan Peterson, and I'd like to mention just a couple of points of convergence.

  • One is an insistence on the importance of imagination as conversion to truth in opposition to a mere fantasy and the opposition to idolatry, ideology as well as idolatry, especially the idolatrous ideology of the postmodern for call derived consensus andan urgent return to questions about truth, beauty and goodness.

  • And of course, part of this is linked to what both perceive as the perilous position of the modern university.

  • They both argue that continuity of esteem needs to be regained in the humanities.

  • On that, the dominant strands of the humanities are leading to an impoverishment of the soles off students.

  • Narratives, both argue, are not just stories of power, but these narratives persist because of that truth.

  • So the importance for both Ralston College and indeed, for the Cambridge Center for the Study of Clayton is, um, of both of these thinkers is their insistence upon the relationship between Methos and Lagos between story and reason, insistence upon a hierarchy of values and their vision off education as conversion to truth.

  • This conversation will be moderated by the president of Ralston College, Steven Blackwood.

  • Thank you, Douglas, for those inspiring and grounding words, starting us off right in relation to the past that we wish to recover.

  • Let me start, I think, with a very straightforward but perhaps difficult question.

  • Where were you gathered around the theme apprehending the transcendent loosely to gather this conversation.

  • And I'd like to begin by asking each of you what is the transcendent?

  • What does it mean for something to be transcendent?

  • Well, if you let me start, I take a position which I attribute also to can't that that we have a very clear negative understanding of it.

  • We were advanced to the edge of our thinking in so many areas, knowing that although there's nothing further that we can say that somehow the truth has not have nevertheless not run out on DDE.

  • That negative view, I think needs to be combined with a more positive view which tells us that there are other ways not just maybe not thinking, but some other way of crossing that boundary on does it?

  • We're landing in the realm of the transcendent and knowing it from inside, I think on that this is something that we I understand very quickly in personal relations, that when I when I address you, I know that I'm addressing something which addresses me too.

  • But from a place where I could never be I couldn't look at myself from those eyes on.

  • Guy can't capture the thing that is looking at me from those eyes.

  • But nevertheless, there are leaps of the imagination which can put me in your point of view on Dhe from that point who I can come to understand exactly what I am, but in a completely different way from simply the ordinary empirical knowledge that I have of myself.

  • And I think that that sort of interpersonal understanding, I would say we can adapt to a ll the other aspects of our world, which is mysterious to us music, for instance.

  • But that's a beginning, and I want to return to music a bit a bit later.

  • Jordan.

  • Well, I think it's useful as an adjunct to that.

  • So So that's a Roger mentioned that transcendent is what we bump up against when we realize our ignorance.

  • And so it's that which transcends our ignorance, and and that in itself makes it on implacable fact.

  • Unless you believe that you have no ignorance, in which case there's no point furthering a discussion with you.

  • So the transcendent is the fact in so far as it's that which transcends our ignorance.

  • But you can also think about it technically so, and I think we know enough about how the brain works now, so that not that we know much so that useful things can be said about that.

  • I you tend to represent the world in the simplest manner that you possibly can that works for what you're doing, and so you don't actually see the world you see sufficiently useful, low represent low resolution representations of the world.

  • And if they work, then that's fine.

  • There's no need to adjust them, and they're relatively easy to remember and to manipulate.

  • But now and then you have a misapprehension about someone, let's say, and you have a conversation with them and the conversation goes sideways.

  • And what that means is that the the thing that you thought you were conversing with is not the thing that you're conversing with and that manifests itself in error, right?

  • So error is the place where the transcendent reveals itself, and what is actually revealing itself is the reality that's outside and underneath your perceptions.

  • And so what you see in the world in some senses, a set of animated cartoons and a lot of that is actually a consequence of you seeing nothing but your memory because your brain is organized so that instead of going through all of the difficulty of having to look at the thing in itself, you look at what you assume to be there, and if you could get away with that, so much the better.

  • But the thing in itself is always much reacher richer than your apprehension of it, which is partly why you make mistakes, but also partly why you can continue to garner wisdom in the world.

  • There's always more there than meets the eye, and God only knows how much more there is there that meets the eye.

  • And you can show this even in the religious sense to some degree, because you could say that there's an element to the transcendent that instills people with a sense of religious significance.

  • You can do that by immediately, scientifically, by feeding people chemicals, for example, that disrupt the inhibition of perception by memory.

  • And then that puts them in a place where the transcendent tends to reveal itself, sometimes an overwhelming force.

  • So this it is not some fiction that this exists, it's what's transcendent is more real than the reality that you perceive Well, let's pick this pick up on that because the ancients in the mid evils had a clear sense that it wasn't the world that was changing.

  • It was we ourselves.

  • As we make an ascent towards deeper truths, higher forms of the beautiful a cz, we ourselves become more self conscious.

  • So it's not the world that's changing, but but us.

  • I wonder if you could say how you understand the nature of that ascent, that that movement and what brings it about I would be a bit wary of the metaphor of ascent.

  • You know, I think in Plato is quite clear what he meant, that he wanted us to actually to transcend our earthly perceptions and our earthly way of seeing things on Look on the world from from a God's eye perspective on dhe, this could be done if we enter the world of the pure forms on DSO on leave empirical reality behind.

  • I think, actually, in so far as to experience that the transcendent that I, as I understand it, is available to us modern people.

  • It's not that way that we get it.

  • Perhaps that's, um, Jordan might be right that that there are these drug induced experiences where things open up to us because old barriers are suddenly swept away.

  • But in my own case, it is the concentration on the empirical reality, which at a certain point flips from mere sensory understanding Thio vision in that of its communicating something to me.

  • And I think this is what the literature and art and music do.

  • At their best, they re describe reality so that it is actually communicating something to you.

  • It's not just there as an inert object before you on that sense of the transcendence is like discovering yourself in a mirror, seeing in the world as a whole that thing in you that you could never identify in words.

  • You know the subject, which is looking at it on.

  • It's not a mistake mystery, but it's something that you can't then explain as the difference between a good writer and a bad writer, of course, is that a good writer will describe something in such a way that the thing described has the soul of the reader in it.

  • So so that might be that distinction in part between the thing and the meaningful thing, right, And that's a that's a very mysterious phenomenon.

  • In fact, in some sense that the essence of phenomenon because that means to shine forth know is we're surrounded by empirical facts.

  • They're everywhere.

  • There's more of them than we can possibly count.

  • But some of them do emerge and manifest themselves as that as that conjunction between the factual and the meaningful.

  • And then that's what's gripping.

  • And if you're fortunate, mean to me, that's also partly what what leads us onward, maybe something approximating.

  • The ascent that you described is that the set of facts manifests itself as implicitly meaningful.

  • And that means, in some sense, that there is a call to you that isn't from within you.

  • I mean, I don't know how else to put it exactly, because you walk into a bookstore in a book.

  • Will Will will reveal itself to you, you know, or or you have a conversation, and part of the conversation will trigger something in you or your reading a scientific paper and much of its dull.

  • And then all of a sudden, there's something that sparks outward that's like a port that's a portal into the transcendent, and that is a place where the fact and the meaning converge.

  • And that's a phenomenon we don't understand very well has something to do with its convergence with the narrative that drives us whatever that happens to be.

  • Yeah, I think that's a good way of putting it.

  • Actually, it connects with them the general problem off what the humanities are in the university.

  • I I've always assumed that in somewhere another.

  • If you're teaching literature or musicology or or history of art or anything, you are opening young people to those moments when the world ceases to be a mere accumulation of facts.

  • Onda, as it were, addresses you on DDE that requires literary criticism.

  • It requires opening yourself to experience in a way that it requires a serious education of a special kind.

  • And I think that if we thought of the humanities as directed towards that, we can see why they might be one way to fill the the moral void that grows so easily in people's lives.

  • So young had this idea, which I really love.

  • It's a very sophisticated idea.

  • It's it's his idea of how the self, first of all, so the self for young, this Christ was a symbol of the self so the logos was a symbol of the self.

  • So that's sort of what would you say?

  • It's the divine essence of humanity, and the image of that is a symbol of the self.

  • And for you, the self was the totality of the individual across time and space.

  • So it's whatever you are as as a transcendent object.

  • That's a good way of thinking about it and then can imagine that that transcendent object also has to interact with you and the world moment by moment.

  • And his belief was that those times when that space of meaning opened up so there is that convergence between the fact and and the gripping of the fact was the manifestation of the self, which is this transcendent object in the specific moment of time and space, and therefore a call forward to move towards revealing that totality as much as it can be revealed, and so that it would be partly and that would be partly revealed by then following a meaningful pathway.

  • And it would be the case that if you're engaged in the teaching of humanities and literature that you are trying to engage exactly that part of the person.

  • It's to pull them into the story and to and have that open up to them.

  • And then that's a portal.

  • It's not.

  • It's not words on paper, it's a It's a portal to their To their further development towards this, this the manifestation of this higher and more transcendent motive being that, like the Hindu idea of the transition from Sam Saretta Brahman, isn't it that you said you passed through?

  • Ah, a barrier that can't actually be described because you can only know it when you're on the other side of it, but when you're on the other side of it, you're looking back at the thing that you've left and seeing it as it were for the first time on knowing what it means.

  • I guess that's a little connects little bit with what Douglas was saying about about code a ridge.

  • You know that Coleridge was an advocate of a form of education, a form of knowledge which shows the meaning of things as opposed to the mere facts accumulated by Bentham and people like that.

  • Both of you have done quite deep dives into 20th century totalitarian ideologies at both of you have been very trenchant critics of the ideology, the various forms of nihilism in in our own culture.

  • But I think all of us tire of of, uh, a kind of negativity that has come to be very prevalent in our culture, not simply the nihilism, but then weaken, criticize the nihilism.

  • We ought to criticize it.

  • Both of you have been have been brilliant critics of it.

  • But what I take to be at work in both of your, uh, in the work that both of you do is is not fundamentally criticism but a turn towards something positive.

  • A recovery of a sense of the transcendent.

  • I'd like to have that ever turn for a moment to what does that recovery look like?

  • Where do we start?

  • Well, if we're thinking intellectually world of scholarship, Andi education that we both belong to has turned, as you say in this negative direction, always preferring debunking explanations of everything, show reducing them to the lowest motive Uh, the that it's not truth but power that we pursue Enel that threw Cody in nonsense on I think the only response that is to come up with bunking explanations of, so to speak, trying to put back into the subject matter one's own inherent belief in it.

  • On to recognize that that we're we're not around on this Earth for very long on we do have an obligation to find the things that we love and not the things that we reject on that those things that we love.

  • The best way towards them is to look at the things that other people have loved.

  • That's what a culture is.

  • It's the residue of all the things that people have thought worthwhile to preserve.

  • And teaching that well, well again reconnect us to what matters.

  • Mmm one.

  • And there's There's also ways of, of, of providing a pathway forward by making the focal Ian arguments, Let's say about power, more high resolution and one of the things that I do in my lectures and my public lectures that I think it's rather comical, is to take and poked fun in some sense about the idea of power as the fundamental foundation for the hierarchal structures of the West.

  • I think well, you can think of the West is one large scale, low resolution totalitarian tyranny, the tyranny of the patriarchy, or you can decompose that which is in some sense, is to transcend the concept.

  • And I think, Well, I I asked my audiences what they think about the tyranny of plumbers or the tyranny of massage therapists.

  • Well, because it's dead relevant.

  • It's like, Let's say you need a plumber and you do need a plumber.

  • Everyone agrees that you need a plumber and because there's hell to pay otherwise.

  • And so and then the question is, Well, how is it that you go about selecting a plumber?

  • And the answer isn't that there are roving bands of tyrannical plumbers that go door to door telling housewives that if they don't, uh, use their service is the service of the most tyrannical plumber that they'll be mafia like consequences.

  • What what happens instead is that you look for the plumber who is most able in your estimation and in the in the, uh, in his reputation has distributed through the community for being able to fix pipes and run the business and engage in enormous transaction with you.

  • And that's competence.

  • That's not power, You see, in what I see as most corrosive about the post modern types, especially those who have derived themselves from Cho, Let's say, is that the idea that every hierarchy or the hierarchy is such is predicated on power is actually an assault on the idea of competence itself.

  • And that, in turn, is an assault on the idea that there are real problems that can actually be solved.

  • Well, then, if you dispense with all that and it's only power, there's no real problems to be solved.

  • And there's no noble ways of solving them, even even as in even in as concrete a manner as a good plumber would solve them, which is not not a trivial thing.

  • And so then you deprive people of you deprive people of that of that sense of purpose in their life, even even at the high resolution levels.

  • You know, I've insisted in my lectures that, you know, if you're the sort of person who runs a small diner, that it's incumbent on you to run the highest quality small diner that you possibly can because what you're doing there is not merely providing people with basic nutrition.

  • There's way more to the space than meets the eye and your noble what would you say?

  • Acceptance of your limited responsibility is also simultaneously away to transcend that, that could be a place where the neighborhood meets.

  • That could be a place where tired people revivify themselves before they go off to do their difficult work.

  • That could be a place where you can mentor your employees and help them develop their life like it's a rich.

  • It's an unbelievably rich microcosm.

  • And to take on the the care and intending of that microcosm as a responsibility is also a great pathway to meaning and unnecessary.

  • And meaning is something that's, well, not epithet, nominal and not dispensable, but absolutely central to human, thriving in the psychological and practical sense, Yeah, but we do have to try and understand why it is that there is such a charm in the flu.

  • Cody in position.

  • Why