Facing the Metacrisis: Conflict, Metamodernity, and Construct Awareness

Jonathan Rowson, brilliant, driven, articulate, shines a bright light of understanding on the metacrisis we face today, what feeds it, and what could help us find our way through. What is metamodernity and what does it have to offer? Is the ecological crisis fundamentally an educational crisis? Can we grow into our problem rather than thinking of ourselves as “failing beings” as the climate collapses around us? From the metaperspective to the deeply personal, Rowson shares his wisdom, including life lessons he gleaned from being a chess Grandmaster, before becoming a philosopher, research fellow, nonprofit director, and author.

Recorded on November 17, 2021.

Topics & Timestamps: Part 1

  • What are Jonathan’s daily practices (while also being very much “in the world” these days)? (05:37)
  • Being a cartological hedonist: intellectual mapmaking (10:27)
  • What does Christianity have to offer that we should be paying attention to? (11:58)
  • Becoming “construct aware” in the political spectrum and elsewhere: cultural progress depends on it (14:29)
  • The UK Brexit quagmire: what are we talking about when we say democracy? (18:32)
  • Why developmental psychology may not be the best lens to look at our culture and politics (20:15)
  • What is the most strategic contribution you can make? (29:45)
  • Progressive imperialism: assuming everyone is or could be on the same page—but conflict and opposition will always be a feature of the world (32:04)
  • Who is included in the word “we,” getting people to face up to the fallen nature of the world, and the Manichaean worldview (34:51)
  • The contemplative perspective and our fundamental state of delusion (36:30)
  • Underlying delusion in the progressive community that there is a fundamental “right” way or that we will come to a common agreement on issues like climate (38:28)
  • The imperative to mobilize to face the epistemic crisis as well as the environmental crisis (40:23)
  • How do we work together in a context where we may disagree and dislike each other: making friends with conflict (42:05)
  • The metacrisis, confusion, and the bottomless mystery: a time between worlds (45:08)
  • Carlos Castenada’s 4 traps for the person of knowledge: fear, power, clarity, old age (47:57)
  • Confusion is not necessarily a bad thing (48:35)
Topics & Timestamps: Part 2
  • What is metamodernity and what does it have to offer us? (01:04)
  • The “cultural between”: serious about the meaning of life (04:48)
  • The political “after”: an antidote to hyper modernity, returning to basic human sensibilities and a time-rich relationship with life (06:22)
  • The mystic beyond: a return to metaphysics (08:28)
  • What does “a time between worlds” mean? (09:32)
  • We’ve got to perceive the context clearly in order to orient ourselves: our interiors, our capacity for growth, bio precarity, technology innovation, and more (12:50)
  • On the nuances of confusion (14:27)
  • Can we grow into our climate collapse problem rather than thinking of ourselves as “failing beings”? (17:07)
  • The importance of Bildung = transformative, civic, and aesthetic education (18:17)
  • Is the ecological crisis fundamentally an educational crisis? (20:18)
  • What chess taught Jonathan about life: jewels of wisdom from The Moves That Matter (23:42)
  • Concentration = freedom (25:31)
  • Making peace with our struggles: we’re always going to be a work in progress (30:38)
  • Successful underachievement and living with regret (35:42)
  • Living in an algorithm-driven culture (40:52)
  • Longing for a clearer sense of relationship with the divine, the cosmopoetics of life (43:59)
  • Our unbidden tears are the best of us (46:03)
Resources & References