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    149. Phenomenology: Heidegger, Binswanger, Boss

    Dreams and imagination bridge the gap between the known and unknown, offering possibilities beyond our current understanding, and our response to the potential and challenges presented to us reflects our human freedom.

    enDecember 27, 2020

    About this Episode

    In this lecture, 12th in the 2017 series, I discuss Heidegger's phenomenological philosophy of Being, interpreted through the eyes of the psychotherapists Ludwig Binswanger and Medard Boss. The phenomenologists were attempting to reduce the painful separation between object and subject that has as one of its consequences the elimination of meaning from existence.

     

     

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    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Understanding how individuals perceive and define their reality is crucial in clinical psychology, rooted in Heidegger's phenomenology. Ethical and value-based field benefits from philosophical insights.
    • Heidegger's dasine concept emphasizes the role of subjective experience, including emotions and qualia, in shaping our understanding of reality. Past experiences influence present situations, while future possibilities unfold based on our actions.
    • Our perception of reality is not just a reflection of the world around us, but an active process shaped by our interactions and perspectives.
    • Our understanding and experience of the world is shaped by both our unique perspective and the objective reality around us, creating a dynamic and engaging environment
    • Our perception goes beyond passive observation; it's an active process shaped by values, meanings, and embodied experiences.
    • Our brains prioritize identifying meanings over recognizing objects for survival, shaping our perception of the world.
    • Our perception of reality is shaped by personal and cultural histories, and the meaning we extract from experiences can be more engaging and fulfilling than objective reality.
    • The Golden Snitch in Harry Potter represents the unity of reality and the things that make us curious, symbolizing the mercurial spirit and the infinite potential of curiosity.
    • Exploration and learning lead to personal growth, creating both inner and outer realities. Embrace limitations, understand their power, and transform through change.
    • Our perceptions and concepts limit our understanding of things, and dreams can reveal their hidden dimensions and unpredictability.
    • Dreams and imagination bridge the gap between the known and unknown, offering possibilities beyond our current understanding, and our response to the potential and challenges presented to us reflects our human freedom.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    Exploring Phenomenological Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

    Peterson Podcast is the exploration of phenomenological philosophy, specifically as interpreted by psychotherapists Ludwig Binswanger and Medard Boss, who were heavily influenced by the works of Martin Heidegger. This philosophical approach emphasizes the importance of understanding how individuals perceive and define their own reality. Clinical psychology, as a field, is not strictly scientific, but rather oriented towards values and ethics. As such, philosophical concepts play a significant role in understanding human behavior and living well. Heidegger's phenomenology is considered one of the most complex philosophies, but its insights into the human condition are valuable and useful. The episode also features a promotion for NordVPN, a virtual private network service that allows users to access content from different regions as if they were physically present there. NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and a special deal for Jordan Peterson Podcast listeners. The upcoming episode will feature Chris Voss, an FBI negotiator, and will be available in both audio and video formats. The discussion of philosophers in the course is not an accident, as the ethical and value-based nature of clinical psychology necessitates an engagement with philosophical concepts.

    Our perception of reality is shaped by past experiences and influences future actions

    Our perception of the world around us is not an infinite representation of every detail, but rather a constrained subset shaped by our past experiences and influencing our future actions. This concept, known as the dasine in Heidegger's philosophy, emphasizes the importance of the subjective experience, including emotions and qualia, in shaping our understanding of reality. The past and future are implicit in our current experience, with past interactions shaping present situations and future possibilities unfolding based on our actions. This perspective challenges our traditional understanding of objects as unidimensional and encourages us to consider the complex interplay between our past, present, and future in shaping our perception of reality.

    Perception of Reality: More Than Meets the Eye

    Our perception of reality is not as straightforward as it may seem. The world around us is not just a collection of independent objects, but rather a complex interplay between objects and subjects. An envelope, for instance, is not just a simple piece of paper, but a portal to different possibilities, a carrier of past experiences, and a reflection of our own identity. Similarly, the past and future are not fixed entities, but are implicit in the present and can be unfolded as needed. The object we interact with only reveals what it is based on how we engage with it. Even seemingly objective entities, like subatomic particles, defy simple definitions and require a specific frame of reference to be understood. Therefore, our understanding of reality is not a passive process, but an active one that depends on our interactions and perspectives.

    The Interplay of Subjective Perception and Objective Reality

    Our perception of the world around us is a complex interplay between subjective interpretation and objective reality. Whether it's looking at a piece of art or engaging in an argument, our understanding and experience of things is shaped by our unique perspective. Our brains narrow down the infinite possibilities of the world to manageable realities, and the space we inhabit (dazine) is defined by our current perception, aim, and emotions. This continual argument between subjective perception and objective reality is what makes our engagement with the world so rich and dynamic.

    We actively constitute our reality through embodied experiences

    According to phenomenologists like Medard Boss, influenced by Heidegger and Husserl, our perception of reality is not just about objects and passive observation. Instead, we actively constitute our reality through our embodied experiences, including perception, which is an active motor act determined by our values and hierarchy of meanings. This means that our interactions with the world and with others are complex and multifaceted, involving both conscious and unconscious processes. Ben Swanger, another influential figure, claimed that what we perceive are not just impressions of taste, touch, smell, or objects, but meanings, which aligns with this active, embodied perspective on perception. Our interactions with the world exist at multiple levels, from reflexive responses to conscious thought and planning.

    Our brains perceive meaning before objects

    Our perception of the world starts with the identification of meanings before recognizing objects. This is demonstrated by cases of blindsight, where individuals with damaged visual cortexes can still react to angry faces based on emotional meaning, even without object recognition. Meanings are crucial for survival, and our brains are wired to perceive them first. For instance, a baby won't crawl across a seemingly empty space due to the perception of a potential fall, demonstrating the implicit understanding of meaning in our actions. The way we perceive objects is intertwined with their meaning, and it's impossible to separate the two completely. Science, by tearing objects away from their meanings, can appear value-free, but in reality, we always perceive the meaning of what we observe. Even in shocking events like the collapse of the Twin Towers, the initial perception is of the indeterminate meaning of the event, which can be overwhelming and disorienting.

    The meaning we derive from experiences can be more real than objective reality

    The perception of meaning and reality are interconnected and subjective. The meaning we derive from our experiences can be more real to us than the objective reality itself. This is because our perception of reality is shaped by our individual and cultural histories, and the meaning we extract from our experiences can provide a sense of engagement and fulfillment. From a phenomenological perspective, the phenomena we encounter "shine forth" and reveal themselves to us, rather than being simply filtered through our perceptions. Ultimately, the reality we experience is a result of the interaction between objective reality and the meaning we derive from it. This concept challenges the traditional notion of reality as something separate and objective, and instead highlights the importance of subjective experience and meaning in shaping our understanding of the world.

    The Golden Snitch: A Symbol of Curiosity

    Our curiosity is not random but a manifestation of ourselves and the world around us. The symbol of this curiosity is the Golden Snitch in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. It represents the unity of reality before it's fractionated and the things that make us curious. The snitch is a symbol of the mercurial spirit, the messenger of the gods, which pulls us forward towards new discoveries. Our curiosity is not under our control, but it's not random either. It's alive and dynamic, and it has an orientation towards something. The ancient representation of the snitch, with the dragon of chaos and the round chaos, symbolizes the union of matter and spirit, and the dragon's infinite tail represents the infinite potential of curiosity. So, the next time you find yourself curious about something, remember that it's not just you, but the manifestation of the living, dynamic world around you.

    The power of exploration and learning in personal growth

    Exploration and learning lead to personal growth and the creation of both inner and outer realities. This idea is represented in the dream of a powerful, pulsing object that is both alive and encapsulated in a categorized system. The dream also emphasizes the importance of understanding and accepting the limitations that come with categorization and order, while recognizing the inherent power and potential for growth within these constraints. The use of symbols such as Stephen Hawking and the American president highlights the tension between intellectual understanding and social order. The object's transformation into a chrysalis and pipe symbolizes the potential for change and the importance of embracing the unknown. Overall, the dream reflects the idea that the process of exploration and learning leads to personal growth and the creation of both inner and outer realities.

    The dream as a reminder of the complexities and unpredictability of things

    Our perceptions and concepts can limit our understanding of the true complexities and potential of things. The speaker's dream of a powerful, transformative entity breaking through walls and disappearing like a stream, reminded them of Dante's description of a storm heralding the arrival of a messenger in Inferno. This realization led them to understand that the dream was trying to convey the intrinsic complexity and unpredictability of things, which can only be partially grasped and controlled by our perceptions and concepts. The speaker also drew parallels to Magritte's painting "The Treachery of Images" and the limitations of our understanding of even familiar objects. Ultimately, the dream was a reminder that things have hidden dimensions and the ability to surprise us, and our perceptions and concepts can only offer a limited understanding.

    The role of dreams and imagination in shaping our perception of the world

    Our dreams and imagination play a significant role in shaping our perception of the world and our ability to create new concepts. The world we encounter is not just a collection of objects, but a vast potential for interaction and creation. Dreams and imagination act as a bridge between the known and the unknown, offering us possibilities beyond our current understanding. Phenomenology suggests that humans carry a sense of responsibility to address the problems in our lives, and failure to do so can result in existential guilt and fear, which can be conceptualized as an unpaid debt to existence. Ultimately, our response to the potential and challenges presented to us is a reflection of our human freedom.

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