Ep. 1 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Introduction - Deepstash
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John Vervaeke's "Awakening from the Meaning Crisis"

John Vervaeke's "Awakening from the Meaning Crisis"

John Vervaeke teaches cognitive sciences University of Toronto. Similar to his Canadian colleague, Jordan Peterson, he became popular through his Youtube channel, where he explores deep philosophical ideas. 

In 50 hour-long episodes, Vervaeke analyses the crisis of meaning (which he describes as a pervasive feeling of alienation from the world and from each other). To get to the bottom of the meaning crisis he puts in context various historical philosophical schools of thought, combining them with cognitive sciences and much more.


200 reads

The meaning of life in the 21st century

The meaning of life in the 21st century

To seek our purpose in the world is a human pursuit for millennia. For Vervaeke, the meaning in life is found in wisdom. But the modern world has distanced us from the goalpost and Vervaeke points out spikes in depression, suicide rates, and social unrest.

But while things look bleak the public seems to be much more interested in topics related to meaning: mindfulness, stoicism, psychedelic ... all of these weird Hippie interests points to a revival of the meaning conversation.


94 reads

Upper Paleolithic Transition

Upper Paleolithic Transition

Humans existed for 200-300 thousand years. But 40,000 BC something happened. Humans started living in settlements. And they started to make ... art. Sculptures, paintings, and even music.

This is the period where humans have an upgrade to their cognitions. They invent abstract tools like the calendar or projectile weapons.

Meaning began when our ancestors started to complement their tech with psycho technologies to allow them to deal with the environment but also with others. Literacy or shamanic rituals are some early such technologies.


64 reads

Psycho Technology

We evolved to use tools. In that sense, we are natural-born cyborgs. Our clothes, our objects are tools we enhanced ourselves with biologically. 

Psycho technologies enhance our brain. Like literacy, which enhances our cognition by helping us to remember. Taking notes makes time obvious.

If we use a computer analogy: regular technology enhances our hardware, while psycho technology is like a software upgrade. Since humans operate on pretty much the same basic hardware it can be concluded all our major advances were psychological. 


163 reads



Saying "How are you?" was a huge leap fwd in the interaction between human beings: It shows you are interested in others. It allows relationships built on trust and ... trading. 

Mindsight is the ability to pick up on other people's mental states. It is a massive cognitive advancement of people from 40,000 years ago.

And once we started paying attention to others, we also started paying attention to our own mental state. 


64 reads

Shamanic rituals

Shamanic rituals

Shamanism is a cultivated ritual for altering your consciousness. It was so pervasive in prehistorical civilization, to today the shaman became an archetype: Yoda, Merlin, any old wise man are all Shamanic characters.

Shamans do this through sleep deprivation, imitation of animals, isolation, or psychedelics. The goal is to create awakening experiences by disrupting the normal patterns in the world, which trap you.


76 reads


When the shaman dresses like a deer, he is not imitating the deer. He is becoming the deer.



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Life-long learner. Passionate about leadership, entrepreneurship, philosophy, Buddhism & SF. Founder @deepstash.


A very long series of lectures about meaning from a Canadian cognitive academic. I plan to watch them all and will share my insights as I go.


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