Transcript of Episode 59 – Gregg Henriques on Unifying Psychology

The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show or by Gregg Henriques. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.

Jim: Today’s guest is Gregg Henriques, professor and core faculty member in James Madison University’s combined integrative clinical and school psychology doctoral program.

Gregg: Hey, Jim. Great to be here.

Jim: Hey, great to have you. We had a nice little chat, I don’t know, what, a month or two ago, and I’m glad to have you on the show and go into your work in more detail. Gregg is currently engaged in developing a systematic evaluation of character functioning and wellbeing, called the Wellbeing Checkup, and researching the college student mental health crisis, which a lot of us have heard about, what might be done about it. But today, we’re mostly going to focus on his work on a unified theory of psychology. You can find out more about his work on unified theory on his website, and his book, A New Unified Theory of Psychology, available on Amazon. As always, links to references mentioned on the show will be on the guest episode home page at

Jim: Before I hop in, I’m going to mention the book, while covers an unbelievable amount of ground from history to philosophy to many details of many different fields of psychology, it is actually surprisingly readable. So don’t be afraid of it. If you really want to understand Gregg’s work, get the book. I actually enjoyed reading it. So I give a thumbs up on that.

Gregg: Well, thank you so much. That’s good to hear.

Jim: Yeah, you obviously put a lot of work into it. I was like, wow, this thing covers a tremendous amount of ground, and yet it coheres, which the two are hard to do at the same time, to say the least.

Gregg: Amen.

Jim: So let’s jump into it. Let’s start with kind of an obvious question. What is psychology?

Gregg: That’s a great question, Jim. And that’s certainly one of the questions that launched me on this entire journey. I took 60 credits of psychology as an undergrad, actually went to James Madison as an undergrad, but I didn’t really realize that people didn’t really know what psychology was, until I got into graduate school. What do I mean by that? Well, you’re told as an undergraduate, that psychology is the science of behavior and mental processes. And then what you’re told is, hey, the real key thing is that we’re a science, and we ask scientific questions and employ the scientific method. But then if you go back and you look and say, well, do we actually mean by behavior and mental processes? What does that actually refer to in the world, and do we have a shared language for that? Well, then you realize that actually no, we don’t. And we actually really never have. The field has never been able to really define what its subject matter is.

Jim: Okay. And that seemed to be your starting point. So where do you get to? What is your definition of psychology?

Gregg: Right. So basically, it results in a bit of a switch in the simple way. My definition of basic psychology, and you’ll hear me make a distinction between what I call basic psychology, which is the science of mental behavior. What do I mean by mental behavior? Mental behavior refers to the behavior of animals, as a whole, mediated by the neurocognitive system. Okay. So anytime you would see an animal engaged in a particular kind of activity that’s being coordinated by the brain, that involves sort of a dynamic, complex, adaptive feedback loop. That is what I would consider to be mental behavior. And get into it, and there’s a thing I’ve developed called the tree of knowledge system, which specifies or argues that we should think about nature, the cosmic evolution, sort of the universe at large, from our human perspective, as existing in these planes of existence or dimensions of complexity.

Gregg: They’re labeled matter. That’s the base that comes out of the big bang and is our familiar dimensions of space and time and energy and matter, intermingling on the physical dimension. And then nested inside of that is the emergence of a complex adaptive dimension called life, which refers to cellular behaviors, regulated by genetic and epigenetic processes.

Gregg: Then what we get, certainly following, say, the Cambrian explosion, which is the occurrence evolution where we see really the animal kingdom come into being, that’s when we get the emergence of what I call mental behavior. And like I said, it’s really the behavior of complex animal bodies being regulated, mediated by neurocognitive processes. And then that’s a dimension of complexity. And then ultimately, the key to realize is that’s above life, or we can talk about what I mean by above, and then what also happens later down the road, about 100,000 years ago, we see the emergence of another dimension of complexity, what I call the person culture plane of complexity, and that involves the evolution of language and what I call processes of justification.

Gregg: And that gives rise to a whole nother complex adaptive plane. And the real important thing to realize, then, is that the mental corresponds to the animal, yet there’s a whole nother dimension. And so what that means is, is that psychology, with its definitional system, has really spanned the animal dimension and the person culture dimension, and has not clarified at all the distinction between those. And so that’s part of its really confusing language system.

Gregg: So we need a basic psychology that corresponds the world of the animal. In fact, we used to have that in what’s called comparative psychology. That should be the foundational base of the discipline. And then there should be a unique subdiscipline called human psychology, which applies our understanding of mental behavior to human persons. But they behave so differently than other animals, we need additional explanatory systems, things like sociology, anthropology, and really understanding how language and justification changes our behavior so radically from other animals.

Jim: Great. That’s a good start. We will get into the tree of life in some detail, I expect, along with the other parts of your unified theory, but I think that gives the people a flavor of where you’re heading. Another thing you talk about, which is that you compare and contrast scientific psychology, as it exists, with folk psychology, and you don’t necessarily denigrate the folk psychology. Can you say a little bit more about that?

Gregg: Yeah, that’s a great point. Some, actually many, sort of scientific psychological approaches, whether certainly Freud, Skinner, a number of sort of the eliminative material, approaches, really, disrespect folk psychology, or really dismiss it as having any causal relevance. I actually think that’s deeply wrong and argue that actually, we couldn’t get along in our lives with our children and our families, if it wasn’t the case that something, not just at the phenomenal, but real was happening in our conversations and in our dialogue.

Gregg: Now common folk psychology is really framed by what’s called belief desire. It’s kind of language and understanding. It means that we presume other people have beliefs, and we presume they have desires, and we operate in relationship to those. Essentially, what the unified theory does is it translates those concepts into more scientific concepts. We are investors. In fact, I argue that the essence of what an animal is, is a behavioral investor that seeks particular affordances, tries to avoid stressors. Indeed, the brilliant work of complex theorists and complex adaptive systems provides us excellent scientific models for how things will approach and avoid certain states. And I see animals, then, as investors, that then, in some ways, that would correspond to desires, motives, things to approach.

Gregg: And they also try to influence other individuals. I have a model called the influence matrix, which relates to how we relate to others. And then ultimately, there’s a self-awareness, self-justifying recursive part of our mind, that’s called justification. That corresponds to the dimension of sort of propositional beliefs. And so if you translate propositional beliefs into justifications and you translate desires into our basic motives and then our relational motives, in terms of influence, then you get a translation of belief, desire psychology into justification, investment and influence psychology. And the correspondence actually is quite close in many regards.

Jim: That’s actually interesting. And obviously, while we know there are some errors in our folk psychology, some famous logical, operational fallacies, but our folk psychology can’t be that bad, if we’ve gotten through 200,000 years with it. Right?

Gregg: That’s right. Right. But the argument that some people have made, that it’s sort of an epiphenomenon, as though somehow our brains are communicating independent of what we say and what we… that seems to me to be kind of silly, actually. So absolutely, there’s a real dynamic going on. A lot of it is constructed. And so how constructed dynamics actually influence us is a great question. It’s one of the things that the unified theory attempts to deal with.

Jim: Actually, our next question will actually get into the unified theory. Before we do that, let’s frame a little bit about where psychology sits in the academic disciplines. You talk about the fact that psychology has historically and even today kind of had a almost schizophrenic two points of view. One, people who think it’s no different than biology or physics, to people who think it’s almost entirely socially constructed with very little content of its own. Where do you come out on this? And where do you place psychology with respect to other academic disciplines that are relatively close neighbors?

Gregg: Yeah, no, that’s a great question. And certainly there is a view, I think an appropriate view, that when you look at the span of what psychology is, I think you called it schizophrenic. It is smeared. I sometimes say it’s smeared across the academy. There was a 24 chapter, three volume book called Psychology and Its Allied Disciplines. It links psychology into 23 different disciplines, starting with physics, getting all the way up to literature. So psychology’s relations in the academy is sort of central and also diffuse and confusing. So I’ll offer that.

Gregg: For me, what I wanted to understand was, it seemed like the natural science did pretty well. Certainly, they did brilliantly with physics, and then chemistry is very well aligned. And then biology gets placed on top of chemistry in a particular way that has coherence. What was really fascinating to me is then that coherence breaks down. So you get the problem of psychology. I have always seen psychology as sort of the next in line, following, say, biology and then into neuroscience. And that’s my version of natural science psychology, which corresponds to that animal mental behavioral aspects.

Gregg: However, it’s also the case, then, that psychology moves up into the human social sciences. It serves, in my model, serves as the base of the human social sciences. So human psychology would then be placed in relationship to the other classic social sciences. Like for example, sociology and anthropology on the one hand, and the political science doing its thing, and [inaudible 00:11:38] of course, economics is the science of markets and monetary flow. But those would then represent the macro level, sociological and cultural processes, with psychology, human psychology, really being the science of the individual and small group creating that bridge.

Gregg: The other thing that’s confusing about or interesting about psychology, in relationship to the sciences, is that it also has a very, very powerful, at least in terms of its institutional influence, an applied side and professional side. In fact, as a clinical psychologist, licensed clinical psychological practitioner, I train psychological doctors. And as you might guess, the problem of actually entering people’s spaces, meaning their psychological spaces, and dealing with their suffering, and working to help them and create adaptive lives that are fulfilling, that’s a radically different set of problems, of course, then trying to describe and explain animal and human behavior.

Gregg: So we have this issue of this whole other set, which really deals with the issues of suffering, issues of human value, really fundamental humanistic concerns that really blend right up into the humanities. And I often say, if you really want to understand people, I’d probably go to Shakespeare first. So there is [inaudible 00:12:52] juxtaposition in relationship to the field.

Jim: It’s funny you should mention Shakespeare. This morning, my wife and I were discussing our kind of intrigued, but repulsed reaction to watching the first season of the Sopranos. I pointed out to her, Sopranos are very Shakespearian. Humans get themselves into jams and then act very badly to get themselves back out of them. Particularly the tragedies, and she agreed. And you’re right that you can learn a shit load about human nature by reading Shakespeare. And as we both know, since we both live not too far from Stanton, Virginia, we can both enjoy one of the world’s great Shakespeare theaters right there at the American Shakespeare Center. I don’t know if you’ve taken advantage of that, but if you haven’t, I’d highly recommend it.

Gregg: I have indeed. I’ve been there twice. It’s beautiful and really gives you the rich, full-blooded experience.

Jim: All right, let’s hop back into the distinction you made. I will simplify it a little bit, between the scientific and the clinical aspects of psychology. And when I go and visit psychology departments, I often see that distinction. Sometimes it’s real clear. Sometimes it’s less clear. Is your unified theory going to try to address both sides or just the scientific side of that fork?

Gregg: No, actually it does. It’s directly related to both sides of it. In fact, the original impetus… So I’m getting trained as a clinician. I’m learning a number of different approaches, which I think, when they’re done very well, all have value. So the updated Freudian approach, the modern ones that are statistically grounded in relationships and underlying motivation and how humans rationalize, those provide very, very powerful models. I was always learned and oriented towards more of a social cognitive view. So if I learn a Beck approach or Albert Ellis, these are major figures who want to call cognitive therapy. I’ve had an appreciation for the behavioral approach and its scientific analysis of learning. I have an appreciation for the humanistic approach, especially when we’re actually talking about real people encountering each other, and try to create an authentic relationship that actually is conducive to healing. I’ve got appreciation for family systems use and for multicultural systems use, like orientive issues of justice and fairness. Those can empower.

Gregg: So what you see in all of these different approaches are a lot of really good key insights. My mind, I’m sort of a coherentist, as you might’ve gotten. I really seek big picture coherence, and it bothered me. It really just bothered me that you had all these different paradigms that had key insights, but to me, they were like different instruments playing important parts of the tune, but there was no orchestra. There was no real music. And then I said, well, if it is the case that there are these key insights, then why shouldn’t they actually be anchored to our scientific understanding, which should at least be able to elucidate those insights. And so it was the problem with psychotherapy that got me then wondering whether or not there was… shouldn’t this all be anchored to human psychology?

Gregg: And then when I sort of asked that question, that’s when really, I returned to graduate school to this issue of, well, what is psychology? And that’s when it really dawned on me. No, psychology can’t provide it because it’s a fragmented mess. There is no singular psychology. It’s really a bunch of empirical enterprises on different slices of the human condition, but it has no position to provide an overarching understanding either. So then I was like, oh, well, then that drew my attention, and I got into that. We can talk some about that history. But it was always in the service of coming back to generate a picture of understanding that could inform what I call psychological doctors, just so people can be clear about the clinical side. If you’re going to do a psychological doctoring, we want a good model of human psychology to the science.

Gregg: So I’m always working, thinking about what’s my model of the science, and then how do I apply that, ethically and effectively, in the real world? And so that’s what I actually… for 12 years I was director of the combined integrated doctoral program at JMU. It’s a primarily practitioner-oriented program. So the vast majority of my students are really learning from me mostly how to do work in the clinical room, and the unified theory serves as a backdrop, to inform us ways to weave together the key insights, so that we can be the best practitioners that we can be, and be informed by evidence-based principles, but know how to apply them because we have a sophisticated understanding of the science.

Jim: Okay. So the unified theory itself is aiming at unifying the components of the science, but always with having in mind the clinical potential. Is that a fair way to say it, or did I over say it?

Gregg: No, that’s exactly right. And in fact, I’ll say that what happens, once you sort of learn how to speak the language of the unified theory of psychology, what gives rise to then is the unified approach. I’ll give you a really quick synopsis of exactly how that bridge is made.

Gregg: So one of the things that unified theory oriented me towards is how to build a model of human mental systems. And what emerged out of that is that there actually… We can look at human mental systems, in terms of evolutionary, layered systems of adaptation. And anybody thinks in terms of complex adaptive systems should appreciate the word adaptation here. And what we get, actually, is essentially what I call the procedural habit system basically gets laid down first. Then what emerges out of that is really a perceptual, emotional feeling system, that guides the organ animal and learning environments.

Gregg: Then what evolves out of that as a relationship system, that really focuses on things like attachment and your drives for power, love, and freedom. And then on top of that, you get first an imagining cortical system that runs through various situations. And then finally, a justification system on top of that.

Gregg: Well, if that’s a unified theory approach, then we look at those different systems. See, the behaviors were really basically focused on how people formed habits and engaged in sort of automatic responses, given the environmental contingencies. The humanists were actually focused, and indeed more modern humanists are called emotion-focused therapists. They focus on the core of your emotional experience, and how that organizes your psyche. Or if you don’t know how to process your feelings, how you get all tangled up inside. This modern psychodynamic people focus on relationships like attachment, and how you get anxious in relationship to attachment. And then you start engaging in psychological defenses.

Gregg: And then finally, people like Beck, the cognitive therapists, as well as the existential philosophers, they really focused on the system of justification, that language-based meaning making system.

Gregg: So the unified theory divides the human mental system up into these systems of adaptation. And then it basically says, hey, what has been focused on by the paradigms in psychotherapy, really are these different systems of adaptation. So we can draw an analogy with modern medicine. Modern medicine, Western medicine, is relatively well unified. And the reason is we have a basically decent model, and I mean decent in a scientific sense, of human biology. We recognize that it’s nested into these various hierarchies. You start at cells, cells organize into organ systems, and all these organ systems coordinate to create the organism as a whole. And that’s what human biology does. And if you go see a generalist biological practitioner, he assesses your systems. And then if you have a specific deficit, you might see a specialist.

Gregg: Well, the analogy in psychology is, we never would see a cardiologist coming out and saying, “Hey, the key to human health is cardiology.” And no, the endocrinologist says, “No, the key is all in your hormones.” Nobody thinks like that because we recognize it’s the whole system. Well, the same basic analogy holds, what I’m arguing here in psychology, is that what the paradigms have done, the behaviorists, for the cognitivists, the humanists, they have focused on domains of adaptation without being able to see the whole. The unified theory sees the whole. And then it sees how these different key insights can go together with a picture. And that creates that bridge between the unified theory and at least a key aspect of practice, which is how do you actually understand individual’s problems and how are they getting trapped in the maladaptive cycle?

Jim: Okay, well, that’s a very good introduction. So, and you started to answer this, but I’ll give you a chance to go into a little bit more detail on it. Why do we need a unified theory of psychology? You mentioned biology, and it’s an area I know more about than I… Well, I don’t know. I probably know more psychology these days than biology, but I used to know more biology. And one of the things about biology is there’s still not really a deep theory of biology. And many biology departments don’t even have any theorists, though they’re starting to get them. And they’re often ostracized and made fun of by other biologists, who of course, the theorists refer to them as the button counters. So even in biology, it’s not so for as long as you might think. So first, why do you think we need a unified theory of psychology, and what are possible risks? Or why not go after a unified theory? Maybe it’s too early, maybe it could have some bad effects, et cetera. To take on both of those questions kind of together.

Gregg: Sure. So the first thing I’ll say is absolutely. I don’t really… There isn’t a complete, by any stretch, unified theory of biology. However, if you go to the history of biology, you see a dramatic emergence that happened in the 1920s and ’30s. What was that? It’s called the modern evolutionary synthesis, where biologists put together natural selection with genetics, in particular population genetics, to give rise to the idea that natural selection operated on genetic combinations over generations, to give rise to the complexity we see emerging through the evolutionary process. That modern evolutionary synthesis, the transition from when you had sort of macro mutation genetics and gradualist natural selectionists working in naturalistic settings, that there was this chaos between those systems. Well, that modern unification happened. And there was an enormous amount of advances.

Gregg: Now I believe that there’s a lot more advances to occur. I don’t believe that really self physiology… I think epigenetics is going to teach us a lot about biology. And I think that that we’re still in sort of some major discoveries to give rise to… And we still don’t really understand what gave rise to the actual origin of life. So don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of confusion still to be had, but if you put together self physiology, genetics, and natural selection, and you think about the concept of life, corresponding to biology, what you see is a lot more consensus, coherence, and organizing around the core of the discipline. And in fact, sociology of scientific knowledge will tell you, actually, consensual core is a really, really important thing, in terms of what science actually produces. Periodic table of the elements, unbelievably powerful in terms of its consensual [inaudible 00:23:27]. Natural selection, genetics, cell theory, very, very powerful. And it’s a partially unified framework. We’ll call it that way, the modern synthesis.

Gregg: Then you get into a psychology, and you see, basically, chaos. At the level of very little, let’s say, 10 psychologists would agree on as the core. Now what’s actually happened, your point about the concern about this, is actually rampant in psychology. There was actually a study that did, in terms of people’s disposition on how much they hated authority, how independent they were, how autonomous, and psychologists actually scored the highest of any discipline in their-

Gregg: Autonomous. And psychologists actually scored the highest of any discipline in their resistance to authority, and I certainly can relate to that, I’m pretty resistant to authority. So, what do I actually mean? Why do I bring this up? It’s because everybody’s afraid. In fact, this has been the primary reaction to my theories. Oh no, there will be a dominant hegemony that will create, sort of, an insistence that anybody that questions it, or if you don’t use the language, you will be controlled.

Gregg: And so, there’s a real concern that this hegemony would emerge, and then everyone would have to be submitting to some authority that gets institutionalized with power. And that’s a very real concern. Listen, I think it happens somewhat in economics. I think economics and their desire for mathematization hooked onto rational economic man, and created mathematical models, that actually then became the core of the discipline that we’re… But that was problematic, in some ways, because it’s idealized a thing that actually wasn’t true and then forced individuals into a particular model which is potentially problematic.

Gregg: Anyway, the point is, is that psychologists argue for a lot of concern about unification. They’re terrified that it will create a totalitarian, sort of, institutionalized, top-down hill. My reaction to that is, well, just look around. Clearly, you’re always going to have issues everywhere you look as anybody from a complexity background would know. You have the dialectical tension between order and chaos. And certainly we don’t want so much order that everybody has to submit to some unified theory. That’s obviously antithetical to all the principles of science. But at the same time, if there’s so much chaos and so much fragmentation that there’s no consensual core of the discipline, well, then we got a problem on the chaos side. And I think that there’s really a thrust, a warranted thrust to look for more integrated unifying proposals.

Jim: Okay. Let me get a little sidebar topic that regular listeners to this show know that I’m interested in is, while it’s less infiltrated than some other disciplines, particularly those further into the social sciences and humanities, there is a non-trivial postmodernist group in psychology as well, who are in principle, highly skeptical of foundational type theories. Could you talk about that a little bit?

Gregg: Yeah, actually they’ve completely infiltrated the practice side of the house, in many ways. I would argue that the dominant mentality of individuals in the practice world, that is individuals inside of academia, there’s what’s called the clinical science mentality. The clinical science mentality remains a modernist empiricists view of the world, but you get outside of that and you get into the practice domains, and the amount of emphasis on social justice issues, the amount of emphasis on diversity of approaches in terms of the way models for how the world works, the idea that this is a cultural construction, indigenous psychology, the entire actually real thrust of what’s called theoretical and philosophical psychology, is essentially committed to a critical theory postmodern view. So, in the field of practice and in the field of, sort of, outside of the Academy, the dominant view I would say, is a postmodern sensibility.

Jim: Gotcha. Well, people who listen to my show, know that I am highly skeptical of postmodernism, particularly if one tries to put it into practice. As a critical stance, it had some benefit. I mean, there are certainly some things wrong with modernism that need to be corrected. But to my mind, trying to turn postmodernism into a way of behaving will be like hiring a academic literary critic to run a movie studio, is just like, what the fuck? Right? Anyway-

Gregg: You and I have very similar views on that, in the sense that I’m actually, I learned and I know you’ve had Hanzi Freinacht on your show now. I think several times. I actually, a year or so ago, I discovered the metamodern version of reality that spoke to me very, very deeply. At least in the sense that, what I call my system was an integral pluralism. And I realized I was essentially transcending what I thought was a strict empiricism, which really was, at least in psychology, a modernist sensibility on the science side of the house. And then you had this massive critical view, which was very important to have, believe me. I can articulate a lot of good reasons to be critical. And I think I just heard you say that, but as a constructive vantage point, it breaks down really quick.

Jim: Exactly!

Gregg: What we need is an integrative holistic view that takes the criticism, associated with postmodern view, but also anchors it to some coherent view that says, “Hey, no, there’s an accurate way to build models of reality.” Which is of course the essential feature of a scientific view is that, yes, there’s reality out there. We can build models and we make them better through the empirical methodologies that we construct.

Jim: Sounds exactly right to me. I mean, my objection is particularly to the extreme postmodernists who will tell you, “Oh, astrology and astronomy, they’re both points of view, right? Which doctors and Johns Hopkins? Aha! Which one’s better, a matter of opinion and perspective, right?” And how people can get such, I don’t know what you’d call it, syphilis of the brain, I don’t know. But there are actually people out there that believe such things, right?

Gregg: Right.

Jim: Let me get off my hobby horse there, bashing postmodernism a little bit. Let’s get back to your theory. Now, one of the things I thought was very interesting as you’re talking about how you came up with the theory, I think I called it, my notes, signs of the utility of a unified theory. Maybe that was your words, I don’t remember. That you actually started seeing that these different perspectives started seeing similar things if you could get their verbiage out of the way. Right? Could you talk a little bit about this, how you started seeing the fact that these perspectives were actually saying a lot of things that overlapped?

Gregg: Yeah. I started to feel that way in relationship, although they were singing different tunes, I started to feel that way when I was doing the psychotherapy kind of angle and experiencing this in the room and saying, “Well, okay, I can emphasize this a little bit, but man, they really do say lot of the similar things, just using different verbiage.” So, that set me up to be seeking, and then the other thing, which by the way, this connects to the postmodern dynamic, the really transformational moment that happened to me was, so then I now moved over and asked what psychology really might be. My first love in this, when I was in this quest, was with an evolutionary, psychological view, which I was very fascinated about. And then I started to read lots of big picture thinkers, Steve Pinker, and other individuals that were blending evolutionary, and Neo-Darwinian and cognitive science used together.

Gregg: But I started to feel that they didn’t quite have the whole picture. And then I had my first real light bulb moment, late 1996, into 1997, which would become what I call now, justification systems theory. So justification systems theory is an idea which helps us understand how we went from primates, which we basically were. I mean, we use tools, all right, but say a million years ago, we’re basically very similar to other primates. And even up to maybe 150,000 years ago, we’re very similar. And really over the last 50,000 years, we have seen just dramatic change in our mentation and our tool use and what we’re doing to the planet. And of course, every year that change seems to accelerate. But what I realized with the justification hypothesis, and we can get into some of the details, but basically the argument was, oh my gosh, language gives rise to this problem of justification. And then inside of that, there’s an even more important problem or really very relevant problem for our human psychology called the problem social justification, which basically refers to how do you explain to important others, why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Gregg: And that sets up all sorts of different, interesting both problems. And what I thought were very profound selection pressures on our self-consciousness system. And I believe, I argue that the problem of social justification really shapes our self-consciousness system, both in terms of evolution and actually in terms of how we learn to be who we are. But what that did, that language, this idea of justifications systems, actually all of a sudden, what that does is when you start to think about what humans produce in these different paradigms, as different systems of justification, that gives rise to a way of thinking about things that allows us to see parallels.

Gregg: So, if we go back to postmodernism, not to get back on the hobby horse there, but what I tell everybody is, “Yes! There are different systems of justification.” That’s what you’re identifying. And people are embedded in different systems of justification. Now, the idea that we can then not judge whether or not certain systems of justification have better coherence and correspondence, an accuracy relative to reality, well, that’s where I would differ dramatically. But I would say that, “Yes, we are all operating under different systems of justification.” And I argued my unified theory and indeed scientific knowledge can be thought of as a system of justification. It just has a different epistemology and ontology in terms of how it is built. But once you introduce this language of justification systems, then you actually move to a metal-level around human belief, that I find to be very useful in juxtaposing and corresponding different belief systems together to see how they both overlap and to see where the real differences are as well.

Jim: Very good. We’ll get into justification hypothesis in a little bit more detail, but before we go there, let’s go with, from my reading of what appears to be the foundation that you can apply to non-humans. And again, some of the things I liked about your theory is that it relatively, seamlessly applied to both non-humans and humans, but without trivializing the gigantic Gulf between them, right?

Gregg: Yup!

Jim: This is one of things I’ve argued fair amounts at Santa Fe Institute, that there is a bright line between advanced homo sapiens, whatever that means exactly, and everything that came before that. While there are a number of people who say that’s horseshit, it’s more or less continuously variable, but I don’t think so. There is something that happened when we got the full symbolic, maybe recursive, if you take Chomsky, his point of view, and before and after, or just different universes. Know, by the way, [inaudible 00:34:04] hypothesis, I think I’ve actually narrowed down the time when it must have happened, a little bit better than some.

Gregg: Okay.

Jim: I say it happened, no later than 65,000 years ago. I should say, no earlier than 65,000 years ago. Some people say 40,000. And here’s my argument for 65 to 67,000 as the earliest that could have occurred which is, that’s when the Out of Africa event occurred. At least the last Out of Africa event occurred, which almost all non-African people are descended. When a single group, probably an extended family crossed down at the bottom of Saudi Arabia from Somalia, and then moved along the coast, populate the whole world. Well, guess what? People on both sides of that divide appeared to have fully modern brains with full language and syntax. So therefore, I don’t know why this theory hadn’t been figured out by somebody who knows more than I do, my view is therefore, wherever this fixing of the modern mind occurred, it had to happen before the Out of Africa event, which is around 65, 67,000 years ago, depending on who you talk to. So, that’s just sort of a FYI. So anyway, let’s jump into your behavioral investment theory and then we’ll come back and talk some more about justification hypothesis.

Gregg: Perfect. Yeah so, this is a behavioral investment theory so, and all of this sits in the architecture of what’s called the tree of knowledge, which will include, too. But anyway, the argument is here, is that there’s a fundamental difference in the kind of behavior that we see exhibited by animals relative to the rest of the living world. So animals are radically different. They are, of course, organisms, so they carry all of what we see in plants and cells, but they do this other thing. Aristotle identified it a long time ago, in terms of some sensory motor functional awareness and response basically, that animals engage in. And so I argue that what happened, and then we could really see it in the evolution of this, we see the Cambrian explosion. So then the issue is, well, what really is going on in relationship to this?

Gregg: And I go straight back into things like energy economics and movement and argue basically what you see with animals is that they’re, heterotrophs. Heterotrophs means that they have to actually eat other things. They don’t get their energy directly and that makes them motile. They have to move around. And this problem of movement is enormous. And ultimately what you get is you get the nervous system and muscular control system and a complex body system that is good for approaching that which is good and avoiding that which is bad, to put it in the most simple terms. And what behavioral investment theory is then is, it’s actually it’s a metatheory. By a metatheory, I mean, it has a set of six principles, principle of energy economics, the principle of evolution, meaning that it happened via natural selection, principle of behavioral genetics, meaning that there’re genetic influences or individual differences.

Gregg: The principle of computational control, which is that the nervous system operates as an information system, the principle of learning and adaptation, which is basically how the organism adjust based on feedback and contingency over time. And then finally, the principle of development, which is what is its life stage history? And adolescents are going to have different patterns of investment than adults and youth. So, depending on where you are in your developmental stage. So, you put those six principles together and then you organize it. You say, “Well, what actually is the nervous system trying to do?” The nervous system evolves as an investment value system, that’s trying to predict contingency use and guide the system for particular kinds of outcomes. That’s basically what it says. So it’s called behavioral investment theory, and that basically emphasizes that the behavior of the animal as a whole is an investment.

Gregg: And what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to control resources, control the flow of resources, and then you’re regulating investment, and what that means is we should see the patterns of animal investment really understood as a function of phylogeny, meaning the evolutionary history of the species, the unique genetic predispositions that that particular animal has, and then it’s epigenetic. And I mean that in the broad sense, epigenetic life history in relationship to contingencies and cost benefits, and then how’s it makes a decision in the moment based on rewards, costs, opportunity costs, things along those lines. And that creates a metatheoretical framework for I argue, anthology, sociobiology, behavioral ecology, comparative psychology, and the like, and it provides a framework for us to really think about what I would like to call the animal mind sciences.

Jim: Let me give you an example, and let you apply the theory. Happened today. My wife and I were going out to eat lunch on our beautiful front porch here at the farm. And I’ve been trying to get a beat out of goddamn groundhog that’s been hitting the edges of our guard. And over the last few years, wife and I basically wiped out the groundhogs out to a distance of at least 250 yards from our core homestead, but they inevitably sneak back in. And so I saw one a few days ago, and so I’ve been on the warpath trying to catch him. So I go out to sit down outside, get my lunch and go, “Goddammit! There’s a groundhog!” Run in the house, get my rifle and crank around in the magazine and get out there. And it doesn’t see me, I get out slowly. My wife comes from the other side, the damn groundhog sees it, flies off deep into the woods.

Jim: So, this is something I’ve put in some of my own models of cognition and even models of consciousness that animals have this very interesting trade off of wariness versus eating, right?

Gregg: Oh yeah.

Jim: So what was the groundhog doing? It was munching on some plants, right? And if you run off every time you see anything move, you’re not going to eat enough, you’re going to starve to death. On the other hand, if you don’t run off, with the man with the gun shows up, you’re going to die, right? So, and there’s a balance, and individuals vary on where they are. I mean, some groundhogs just sit there and you shoot them. Boom! Though, I imagine we cleaned up that part of the gene pool with our multi-year war on groundhogs. But this guy seemed to be pretty well balanced, right? He didn’t react to the first signal of me opening the doors slowly, so I could come out with my rifle, but then he did react to my wife coming around from the other side. So, just for fun, see if you can apply your behavioral investment theory to this groundhog.

Gregg: Absolutely. So what it basically, what the groundhog is going to have, it’s got a perceptual system, okay? That’s detecting affordances. All right? And a drive system that then identifies those as affordances. So, affordance is something in the environment that grants you some resource, some benefit, okay? And then it’s tracking stressors. A stressor is something that’s going to injure you or threaten you, damage you in particular ways. Okay? And what it’s got basically in response to what it sees as a possible approach system, that’s a perception relative to its motion, it then primes its emotional reaction. So an emotion is an energized motivational set, a response set. As it goes off to hunt something say, especially if it also feels like it then can become a prey, it will have both a positive affect system of desire that moves towards the food and the seeking and consumption it’s trying to optimally forge. And it’s also then activating a potential threat.

Gregg: So you’re going to see as it moves out, it’s moving toward an acting approach. However, what’s going to happen is it’s also going to be tracking potential threats. So it’s going to be skittish, it’ll move. And then it’ll stop, hunt around, get the negative ethics system activated, and then it will move around in that dialectic. Something like a groundhog probably has pretty decent, especially maybe it’ll identify individuals who died, maybe it’ll identify an association with a gunshot, things like that. In other words, it would potentially be able identify a gun as a threat, pretty tickled, and certainly humans in general, which of course their size and other kinds of history.

Gregg: So, it’s scanning, and I would actually argue if we measured its brain activity, it’s right brain, okay, would be more on the negative emotion and avoidance side. It will be scanning it’s place in gestalt and be more oriented to predation. And its left brain would be more oriented to honing in on figures in its relationship, to what it might eat and oriented towards approach. And so you could probably actually see the orchestra of its brain in terms of approach avoidance of gestalt and no honing in. But when it picked you up, then all of a sudden it could become prey. It’s going to obviously forego the food immediately once it identifies the particular risk, and then seek safety virtually at all costs.

Jim: As I mentioned, interestingly, my experience is the individuals vary, right, in how wary they are.

Gregg: Yeah.

Jim: Which makes sense for a population that’s exposed, because frankly, there’s a lot of houses you can afford that you go to the suburbs, you can hang out and eat the vegetables all day, no one’s going to shoot you. Come out here to the farm, well, it’s a different story entirely, right? And there’s places that are near the edge of the farm that are more like suburbia. So, that’s kind of interesting.

Gregg: Yeah. And in fact, we know that actually the unified theory actually cut lines directly up with us. So if you’d look at mammals and you can go further down, if you want to use that term, down the file [inaudible 00:43:14] the mammals, but definitely with mammals, you see extroversion, neuroticism and agreeableness with social animals. And I don’t know exactly how sociable groundhogs are, but you would certainly see extroversion, that’s going to align with its positive ethics system. It’s risk-taking and it’s energy directed toward, and then neuroticism is it’s negative affects sensitivity. So the skittish ones are going to be basically translated into higher eroticism and low extroversion will be particularly skittish.

Gregg: Whereas high extroversion, low neuroticism will be the ones that are casual. And you’re absolutely right. You would expect a frequency distribution along those lines because the cost benefit lineup depends tremendously on the situation, and that can vary. So nature’s going to basically give rise to a wide variety of different behavioral genetic tendencies and different environments. And indeed different changes in environment will make one advantageous in one context and another advantageous in another.

Jim: Makes perfect sense to me. Let’s move on a little bit. You take your behavioral investment theory and then you add onto it for humans, what you call the influence matrix.

Gregg: That’s right.

Jim: Could you talk about that a little bit?

Gregg: Yeah. So essentially, so now you have this push-pull perception motivation emotion system, as you’re managing things like prey and predation and build-in territory. And then you get into the social mammals. And I certainly did organize the influence matrix based on humans because it’s actually particularly relevant for a lot of the clinical work we do and understanding human social motivation. So it is a map of that. I also want to say that the influence matrix does correspond to a lot of the social motives that we see, especially in our primate cousins. So there’s an enormous amount of overlap. So what is the influence matrix? Well, the influence matrix basically is the idea that we have an architecture for the social world. That is that we come born seeking attachment. What is attachment? We’re very, very dependent creatures and attachment refers to the dance and the cycle that an individual, a dependent has with their caregivers.

Gregg: And what we look for, from right now I say a clinical perspective, is what ideally what you want us to secure attachment. What does that mean? It means that the infant is tracking the caregiver and the caregiver is tracking the infant in the core in relationship to a dance of reciprocity. So if the infant has a need, how quickly does the caregiver respond to that need? What’s the eye contact? How much cuddling and holding is the need? How well does the caretaker track distress signals and meet those needs? Or conversely, how neglected or even abused might the infant be? Indeed, we learned about the attachment system from John Bowlby, who’s a psychiatrist who saw orphaned, infants basically get fed and protected physically from temperature and other kinds of things. But many, many of these orphans infants basically struggled enormously. They had failure to thrive. And we realized that actually crucial to the human condition is a need for socioemotional attachment. Okay?

Gregg: So that’s an articulation of, attachment theory is a great articulation of animals or mammals in general, and certainly humans in particular have a relationship system. The influence matrix combines attachment theory and what’s called the interpersonal circumplex. This was actually developed mostly by Timothy Leary. He was informed by some of the psychodynamic work by Harry Stack Sullivan. Timothy Leary argued that, this was before he went on to his LSD world, he was a Harvard professor, argued that really we could see relationships along these two axes. There’s a vertical axis of competition, dominance and submission where there’s a power ranked social status dynamic. And then there’s a horizontal axis associated with being affiliative and connected and giving and warm, or being cold and distant and moving away.

Gregg: And this interpersonal circumplex really has been a foundation and a subset of psychology for a long time called interpersonal psychology. And it’s a whole set of organized arguments that says, “Hey, how do we understand human behavior through this?” All right. So the influence matrix basically takes behavioral investment theory, and then it places us in a relational context and then uses attachment theory sort of, in some ways as a foundation, and the interpersonal circumplex. It blends those and then says, “Okay, now we have a framework for understanding this relationship system.” Okay? And it’s a diagram. And the first thing that I highlight to people is what’s called a black line on the diagram. But basically what it suggests is that there’s a template that we have for high social influence. That is, “Hey, am I able to get other people to work for me in relationship to resources compared to how I’ve been in the past and how I would and how other people are. And to what extent do I feel known and valued by important others?” So we call this social …

Gregg: So known and valued by important others. So we call this social influence and relational value or [ESSA 00:48:06] RVSI. So your experience of relational value, that’s being known and valued by important others. And to what extent do you have social influence? And what the argument is, is that we have intuitive templates for when we have high relational value in social influence, and we’re constantly regulating and guiding our behavior toward that. So that’s one of the things we try to approach and when we achieve it, we get positive emotion.

Gregg: So we set up a podcast and I get to say, “Hey, I’m going to be on Jim Rutt’s podcast.” How’s that for social influence and relational value, that’s great, right? Or if we get rejected, we get ignored, nobody pays attention to us. And we see this, of course, when kids are three, four or five years old. They have a real sense about what their status is, whether they’re cared for and to be rejected, to be ignored, to be criticized, to be put down all of these are signals of low relational value, low social influence and they’re very adversive.

Gregg: And what the influence matrix says is that we’re tracking our dimensions of power. That’s that vertical dimension or dimensions of love. That’s the horizontal dimension from the circumplex. It also adds an autonomy and freedom dimension, which actually other people have noted like Pincus and others. But anyway, and it says, “Hey, what we’re trying to do is we’re engaged in relational processes of power, love, and freedom around this need for social influence and relational value.” And the influence matrix maps, it also shows how some of the real powerful emotions that we have, like shame and guilt and hate and pride can all be understood in relationship to changes in our self/other dynamics.

Gregg: So for example, if we achieve a higher rank, we feel pride. If we get defeated and are forced into an involuntary submissive stance, we then often feel weak and shameful or humiliated. So it provides a framework for understanding of the social emotions, which again are energized motivational responses out of the goals that we have. And this emphasizes the fundamental goal state in terms of relational goal state, in terms of our need for relational value and social influence.

Jim: That’s really good. Now that actually, it’s more clear to me now that you described it, then when I read it. So I’m going to run a really stupid analogy by you and tell me if I hit it. One could say that for humans, the interactive social and higher value realm is not that different than eating grass and getting shot by me is for the Groundhog in the case of the poor Schmo out in the world, doing his job, the man with the gun is the asshole boss.

Gregg: Yes, absolutely. So, if you understand our Hunter gatherer past him, we lived in these very, very tight knit groups, okay. Where we were highly interdependent upon one another, they emphasize both affiliation and autonomy, and your place in the group was central, especially in terms of famine or difficulty. And it’s always the case that you’re a higher social influence has been associated with more survival, more reproductive success, more success of your offspring. So it’s fundamentally related to our core biological needs. That’s why nature built it into us. And then we carry this around with us. You know, kids intuitively learn, they want the high status position or reversed to be damaged, to be degraded, to compare yourself to all the people in Hollywood that have 6 million followers and now get all this attention. Well, these are all social comparison dynamics that make us feel weak.

Gregg: Unfortunately we’ve created an environment or one of the complexities of our environment is we create all these potential signals that aren’t really… They’re novel signals that aren’t really corresponding to what our genuine survival and reproductive needs and more core needs for happiness are, but people will chase them. Like people will chase likes on Facebook because they’ll get paired with this jolt feeling of status and achievement, even though they’re actually sort of like empty social calories, they don’t really translate into something that’d be fundamentally nourishing. So a lot of people are chasing that, but you’re absolutely right to make that connection. It’s a core aspect of what we’re working on in terms of our basic relational system machinery and how we perceive the world and ourselves in relationship to others in it.

Jim: Hmm. That makes a lot of sense. Actually I light is coming on for me. This will be very helpful for my own work in thinking about alternative social operating systems. We may talk about that later offline,

Gregg: Right, well actually it does have lots of implications for Game B.

Jim: Exactly. That was an aha in the Game B, like, hell, we’ll talk about it. Why not? People are interested in Game B. It’s a hypothesized alternative social operating system that emphasizes human wellbeing over time and longterm survival of humanity in the ecosystem without wrecking it. And you know, one of the things that’s becoming clear as we explore what is Game B, and it’s not yet clear what it is we’re still exploring it. Is that navigating in these human values spaces is really important.

Jim: And in particular, I kind of leaped to one particular point, which now your theory may allow me to pull back into a more systematic explanation, which is when I look at our Game A the way we live today, one of the cores of its rottenness and that drives it continuously is that status is determined by possessions. And so that puts people on this strange treadmill of having to work harder and harder, get deeper in debt, put both parents to work so there’s no social capital creation in the family, et cetera, just so they can move up from a Toyota to a Lexus, which is basically a same goddamn thing, but with fancier trim and some leather on the seats, right.

Jim: And that is just bizarre to me. And yet a huge amount of the badness of our society flows from that. And your theory, the little leap, little small leap I had was that, Oh yeah, wait a minute. This is really just the human extension of all the Mr. Groundhog or Mr. White tail deer, which is actually the model animal I use for most of my actual cognitive science AI work. That is our environment. That’s our woods and water and Hunter and salt block. Right?

Gregg: Yeah.

Jim: And I suppose I should have known that, but this conversation kind of connected the two.

Gregg: Cool.

Jim: So thank you for that.

Gregg: Yeah. Well, I’m happy to do so. And so yeah, let’s think about, so the issue is what we get here is you have the issue of capitalism and what I mean by that is basically, okay, people are going out and build capital, capitalism has done an unbelievable number of good things in my opinion. But it has also created this machine where everybody’s seeking more and more capital and then more and more consumerism, right? And it’s also the enlightenment’s also built on a massively individualistic and self-interested model, which is valid at some level.

Gregg: But if you take the influence matrix, seriously, you realize that actually Aristotle gets it, right. We’re an unbelievably social animal. And we are unbelievably defined by our relational systems and our place. And so what I argue is essentially the modernist thing, what it did was it emphasized the blue line individualism of rank and achievement, and it connected it to consumerism just as you said, and it’s that value system that we’re feeding people off.

Gregg: Now, we’re basically prepared to seek those because of the influence matrix, but it’s actually the case. We’re also prepared if we cultivated it right. And this is why I do believe that Game B, if it’s done right from a developmental standpoint, an educational developmental standpoint, we can develop the care of the universal care element and we can emphasize what’s the relational value.

Gregg: You mentioned the word social capital, in fact, this is what I call it. If we understood that what we actually really seek is to be known and valued by important others and realize that that is the ultimate status. And if we do that with integrity, man, we can create different kinds of social systems. We are pointing the power of the capitalistic engine at consumerism and the rank, the blue line that climbing, if we pointed actually at social capital defined in terms of mutual relational value, and really that’s actually where we should grant status.

Gregg: In other words, “Hey, are you committed to the communal good? Are you doing so in a way that is creative and true to yourself?” If you look at Hunter gatherers, what they actually did. So the Hunter gatherers, there are anti dominant systems. All right. The Hunter gatherers are really, really keen on regulating that blue line and we humans have it. That’s why there’s so many anti dominance. What they emphasize is autonomy and communion. And so what we did, the capitalist trajectory is basically the reverse. We basically said, “Here’s your materialistic capital, run out and get it, compare yourself to your neighbors. And the more shit you add, the higher up the rank, you have it.”

Gregg: So we inverted the Hunter gatherer strategy and certainly had a lot of good, but as you and so many other people that understand the Game B system, man, that train is heading for a wall or a cliff. And if we don’t turn it around, it’s just going to chew everything up and then we’ll fall right off and collapse at whatever level of disaster that would be hold.

Jim: Yep, indeed. In fact, it’s interesting you touch on the Hunter gatherers. One of my favorite bits of anthropology is by Chris Boehm, a book called Hierarchy In The Forest. It really should have been called Anti Hierarchy In The Forest because what it really talks about is how forager level homosapiens were able to defeat their probable genetic programming.

Jim: He went back a lot of care and made some estimates on what came from chimps. What came from bonobos and the level of dominance hierarchies both have, and even bonobos are usually thought of as the good guys of our ancestors were way more dominance hierarchy oriented than foragers were and so our forager hunter gatherer people developed a social operating system, and it’s actually one of the… Surprisingly one of the antecedents to our Game B thinking where attempts for strong men to bully the other folks were defeated by a whole series of social agreements and some of them were actually technologically enabled. You know, his view is for instance, the development of weapons made a big difference because in Chimp world, even a bunch of betas, can’t beat up the alpha typically. But two guys with even wooden Spears can kill the alpha human. So even small sub coalitions could, could expel the people that tried to dictate.

Jim: So it’s extraordinarily interesting that humans at the earliest stage were able to throw off oppressive hierarchy. But then once we developed agriculture, we fairly soon thereafter fell into a trap of institution and hierarchy, which is oppressed people for for 10,000 years. And Game B is an attempt to end that 10,000 year of oppression and return us to something that’s much better without the stupidities of things like Marxism-Leninism, which just make completely absurd at multiple levels, both mathematically and anything you know about human nature. So anyway, that’s quite a little sidebar there, but you know, people who are interested in Game B, they should check it out at the Game B group on Facebook. And there’s about 15 other associated groups on things like Game B parenting, upgrading sovereignty, Game B community building, et cetera.

Gregg: Yeah. I’m hopeful for Game B. Part of it, I hope is that actually, if you really want to hack the human psychological system, it’s good to have a theory about how it works. So…

Jim: In fact, I’m going to promote this in Game B. I’m going to promote this episode in the Game B group, and I’m going to encourage people to take a look into it and see if people can find more touch points than my little one that I just found that I’m going to do some thinking about it too.

Jim: But anyway, let’s get back to you. This episode is really about your theory and it was going to hop over to justification hypothesis, which is to my mind, one of the most interesting parts of the theory. But before we do that, I know you’ve been kind of tugging to do that a couple of times, let’s talk about the Tree of Knowledge. There’s actually a full chapter of it, late in the book, but also a little introduction to it in the beginning. So why don’t we kind of mash those two things together and talk about the Tree of Knowledge system before we jump back and talk about the justification hypothesis.

Gregg: Yeah. Well, this is great. I appreciate the setup. This is really helpful in terms of if you’re really wanting to understand the theory, it is the juxtaposition of these two ideas. We’ve laid the groundwork for it. But a lot of the groundwork that we’ve been dialoguing really about is actually after the fact that these two ideas emerge. In fact, the Tree of Knowledge popped out of my head in 1997 in a night and just a moment of insight.

Gregg: What is it? If you look at it, you’ll see, it’s basically for upside down cones identified on the dimension of time. That starts with the beginning, the big bang, the cosmic singularity or whatever primordial Atom is. You want to call it in terms of… And out of that. I call that the pure energy singularity, and we can get into the metaphysics of that physical claim. But anyway, we’ll say that. And then out of that, whatever, at the level of the inflationary big bang moment, that then started a chain reaction in the energy singularity. So that energy began to freeze into chunks of matter and we get the explosion of what we have mapped in the standard model of elementary particle physics in terms of quirks and leptons, and fermions those, and then photons and all of that.

Gregg: But essentially what you get then is the emergence of what I call the matter or material dimension of complexity. That’s are three dimensions of space in our normal size and of course, obviously quantum mechanics and general relativity, you know it’s turned out to make that more complicated, at least in a non-Euclidean sense. And on time, and then the evolution then of a material complexity and emergence of different kinds of properties that happen through time and arranger.

Gregg: So we get stars, we get galaxies, we get different chemicals then as stars produce more and more different kinds of atoms, we then get the periodic table of the elements and lo and behold on our little branch of the Milky Way on a medium sized planet on a medium sized star om one of the little arms in the Milky Way, we get the emergence of life that happens approximately 3.87 billion years ago. And the Tree of Knowledge shows sort of the evolution of the material universe up to say 4 billion years ago. And then over the last from 4 billion to 700 million years, we see the evolution of life.

Gregg: Now what gave rise to the actual spark of life. I like Lane’s alkaline vent hypothesis, but that’s a real mystery. You get lipids, you get a membrane on the inside, outside, but exactly how you get a coding system and how that actually creates an RNA protein system all sorts of good questions and we can dialogue about that.

Gregg: But really the argument is that life really represents a strong emergence. What do I mean by emergence? I mean that if we go back and think about how we understand things and actually from a justification hypothesis, the idea is that we humans, they build these systems of justification. And a lot of our understanding then is defined against other systems. So actually modern science’s understanding of matter, is many ways to find against Aristotle’s understanding.

Gregg: And I would argue that what, what Galileo and then Newton did was really took Aristotle’s metaphysics and tried to make it as empirical as possible. And they basically took substance and kinetic cause and argued, “Hey, here’s your material dimension and you don’t need formal or final causation. You just look at matter and motion and you can describe it. You can experiment on that.” And actually I do believe that that forms a pretty good articulation of how matter actually behaves.

Gregg: But what Galileo others really haven’t realized is we actually need formal and final causes to understand the way cells behave. In fact, Jessica flack was talking about this in relationship to what do cells do? Cells actually process information. They detect particular kinds of informational forms. They use that information to guide their actions. Certainly trees do this. All sorts of living organisms are processing information and what are they doing? They’re guiding their responses toward particular kinds of outcomes. And of course we know this has been emergent as a function of at least the basic ingredients, natural selection operating on genetic combinations gives us an idea about how these complex adaptive systems emerge.

Gregg: But the argument is that actually now on top of substance and kinetic causation descriptively, and I mean that just in terms of to describe the behavior of living systems, we actually formal and final causation. And what the Tree of Knowledge shows is that actually what you’re getting is a novel emerging, complex, adaptive plane of existence. So you get the biological landscape with organisms, navigating the fitness landscape in a way that’s radically different than what we see at the chemistry level at the behavior of planets. In other words, that the material dimension, so the tree of knowledge then depicts the emergence of that dimension of complexity.

Gregg: And then what it does is says, “Hey, 700 million years ago, we had seen now the emergence of cellular life and plant life.” And then somewhere between 700 million years and over the last time span to say up to 5 million years ago, we see the explosion in the emergence of the evolution of mind, what I call mind, which is really the set of mental behavior, which we can observe through the way animals engage in sensory motor activity, mediated by the nervous system and of course we talked about behavioral investment theory. So you see the emergence of the animal kingdom. And then over the last hundred thousand years or so ago, we see the emergence of the fourth dimension of complexity culture and that is how language and justification and other aspects of human toolmaking and whatnot, but really give rise to the, in which humans build what I call intersubjective systems of justification.

Gregg: In other words, how we’re talking right now, how we build those knowledge systems, that’s the person culture, plane of existence. And the Tree of Knowledge also said, then trails that system of justification and argues that over the last 400 years, a really unique system of justification has emerged, which we call science. Science not only had a philosophy, but it has an empirical method and a particular way then of mapping the emergence of evolution of complexity and out of culture, emerges science and scientific knowledge to then proceed to give us an ontological epistemological map of the ontic reality.

Gregg: So that then you see science emerging out of culture. And if you get the physical sciences mapping matter, the material dimension, you get the biological sciences mapping life, you get what I want to call the basic psychological sciences, or just call them the mind brain behavior sciences, if you’d want, mapping the dimension of animal behavior, what I call mind and you get the social sciences, then mapping the emergence of the person-culture dimension. And so the Tree of Knowledge, then it gives us a picture of reality on the one hand, in a new light in terms of these different frequencies of behavioral complexity. And then it also tells us these are the dimensions of science. And one other thing I want to connect to, because this is the complex adaptive systems, people were unbelievable [inaudible 01:07:12] to me in thinking about the way that works.

Gregg: But one of the things the Tree of Knowledge says is these different landscapes emerge as a function of different information processing systems and communication between complex adaptive agents. So you get cells communicating with each other as genes store and process information across time. And then you get nervous systems which are processing information and animals communicating with each other that gives rise to that mind dimension. Then you get linguistic cognition and of course human language where humans are coordinating with each other. So each system, each dimension has given rise to as a function of information processing and communication systems at the genetic, neuronal, and linguistic level. And that is what gives rise to these different dimensions. And that’s the Tree of Knowledge, most obvious feature. When you look at it, these four upside down cones and that’s a cornerstone of the proposal.

Jim: Yeah, very good. It’s a very interesting theory. It corresponds relatively well to how I might cut it. Of course, there are many levels of emergence. My good friend, rest in peace. Harold Morowitz wrote a great book on emergence. I think it’s called Emergence. And he laid out 27 levels of emergence from the big bang to let’s say, advanced economics or some such. And of course you can cut it lots of different ways into lots more than 27. They’ll probably not too many less than these four. These four are pretty close to my bright lines.

Jim: You know, I’ve always said there’s a bright line between matter in life between life and mind. And I suppose I have not been so clear about between mind and culture, but that makes good sense too. So as long as we keep in mind that this is just one cut of the emergent stack, but it seems to be one that’s particularly useful for developing theory. Well, with that very good description of the Tree of Life system, let’s now go on to the fairly purely human aspect. And you can talk about how it happened to be that this would be emergent in humans, but not in other levels, your theory of the justification hypothesis and your whole justification systems thinking.

Gregg: Great. Yes, actually the big picture model is the Tree of Knowledge as opposed to Tree of Life. So just make that comment.

Jim: I’m sorry. Did I say Tree of Life should have been Tree of Knowledge?

Gregg: Yeah.

Jim: Brain fart.

Gregg: That’s fine. Right. And then it is an allusion to the Tree of Knowledge in Genesis. And I can, I could explain why I am trying to connect our scientific models to our mytho-poetic novels in a way, but that’s a whole other story. Let me talk about the Justification Hypothesis and what my friend, Joe Mickalski convinced me, I should really have called Justification Systems Theory, which is a broader idea. So it’s multilayered ideas, a lot of mine tend to be, but I’m going to start… I’ll start with the Justification Hypothesis.

Gregg: What is that? The justification hypothesis is an idea that connects the evolution of language to our human ego, our self-consciousness system, what I call the ego or the mental organ of justification, if you use the model. So the idea is, if you know of… if we go straight to say, neuro-psychological research with Michael [Kazantic 01:10:29] and others, We know that the left hemisphere, at least in most people really can be thought of as an interpretive system and fascinating research on split brain individuals, has shown that that left hemisphere system left on its own device will simply generate socially acceptable rationales for what’s going on even if it has been sort of isolated because of the Corpus callosum getting cut, even if has been isolated from having access to information. Okay.

Gregg: So if we see what [Kazantic 01:11:00] called the interpreter function, which is that we have a tendency, all things being equal when we’re sort of on automatic pilot, to generate socially acceptable rationales for our behavior. Now let’s go back in time and let’s start to imagine what changes… You talked about sort of a real speciation, maybe event and language. Let’s talk about that. Okay. Because I believe that human language is a game changer.

Gregg: So, and here’s how I hear the basic phases of evolution of language. So I think that you’re getting big changes in terms of our brain size. I think you’re getting big changes in relationship to our social coordination. You are seeing tool use the evolution of fire makes a big difference, how we hunt. So there are a lot of social coordination changes. And I think that what initially is happening all sorts of memetic processing and intuition aspects of pre-verbal intersubjective of coordination of hunting and you get gesturing and what I would say pre language system-

Gregg: And what I would get, I would say, pre language systems that are not full, but partial. Okay. And if you read Merlin Donald’s origin of the human mind, he has a really, really…the modern mind I think it is, a really brilliant articulation. What do you call mimetics, which is basically miming each other and coordinating around broken language. So here you’d have a situation where you’d say things like antelope there and make a gesture and other people would gesture. And I have an intuitive understanding of what the intent was and what the meaning was. Okay. And what I argue here is what you have going on with the cognitive system. You have the system being able to really represent objects like antelope and their position in space and how they might change. That’s going to give rise to things like verbs and adjectives, and you start to have a symbolic tagging capacity.

Gregg: And then there’s some sort of miracle of grammar that happens. And whether this is a something that happens sort of with a Fox to gene and happens immediately or something that happens over a long period of time. You know, this is kind of very difficult question to answer, but I do believe that very dramatic changes happen. Although I really find animal language and communication research interesting, I see a gulf, a major gulf. And most people then say, well, if you get this communication capacity, you have this higher cognitive capacity. We’re already engaged in some toolmaking. Now you add language to it. We can build these cognitive gadgets through language in a way that other animals can’t. We can feedback and dialogue with each other. Man, Isn’t that an unbelievable advantage? And the answer to me is yes.

Gregg: However, here’s my big insight. And that is, is that language, and we deal with this every day, all the time, is language gives rise to the problem, what I call the problem of justification. Okay. And that is if I’m going to…once you get full language, you have a propositional statement. So now I can say the antelope are over there. All right. When I just say antelope in there, I can’t engage that. But while I have a statement which now can correspond or not, prepositionally in terms of its meaning to the actual state of affairs. And this gives rise to the question capacity, well, how the hell do you know that? Okay, how do you know that’s over there? All right. And that’s the problem of justification where you actually start to legitimize and this gives rise to reason giving and reason analysis. All right. There’s actually been a recent book, the Enigma of Reason, well actually seems to draw on many of the same ideas that I developed, by Sperber and Hugo Mercier.

Gregg: And they try to argue that actually generating statements and then justifying reasoning and arguing played a big role. I agree with that. And I build after that further. So I also articulate, not only do we get the problem of justification, which by the way, this concept of justification becomes a central idea and how we think about human knowledge, at least propositional knowledge. In fact, I always translate propositional knowledge into justification because it’s actually much more socially relevant. You talk about propositions. Yeah, We can debate them, but what do they actually mean? You get into justifications and you say, well, what am I legitimizing about, What is, and what ought to be. Well, that’s actually, now you’re engaged in the actual. You Know, is it legitimate to vote for Trump? I mean, that’s a justification and that’s really the way we live in the world.

Gregg: Okay. So now you got the language, you got this emerging problem of justification. This gives rise to question and answer dynamics and reasoning and reason giving. And then you dig a little deeper and then you get into what I call the problem of social justification. Now, social justification is this issue about how the hell do you explain your actions to other people in a way that manages your social influences. Remember, the influence matrix says, Hey, your social influence is really important. Right? And so now, so here’s the example I’d always use. It’s sort of like, okay, let’s say I’m pair bonded with somebody and I’m unfairly big and strong. All right. And let’s say, you’re really interested in my mate. All right. And I go off on a hunt and you start hanging around her. Okay. And then I come back and I notice you’re around.

Gregg: I say, Hey, Jim, what are you doing? You, the last thing you want to say is actually, I want to separate the two of you and take her as my mate, but that’s actually inside your knowledge system. Okay. So what do you actually say is actually, Hey, she’s just teaching me, teaching me to plant seeds. You know, I’m just hanging around here. So in other words, what this says is that, actually our core motives, to the extent that they’re socially unacceptable, to the extent that they would cost us to create conflict, make us judge other people, be the kinds of things that would be outside of convention, to the extent that those things, we are actually not going to have nearly as good access to that. And our mental organ of justification is actually going to be organized. So they have a lot of press secretary like functions in it, so that we legitimize ourselves and give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.

Gregg: When shit goes bad, we start to look for external explanations when shit goes well it’s yeah, because I’m competent. When our friends do good stuff, hey, it’s cause they’re competent. When our friends do lousy stuff, flip it around our enemies, they’re always to blame for anything that bad happens. Okay. So we have this natural social justification tendency that ties our reason giving to social influence dynamics. And I actually generated this hypothesis when I was learning about Freudian therapy and theory. Okay. And if you put it in this term, you basically get, a evolutionary reverse engineering explanation for furrowing. Meaning that, what for exploration, what fundamentally did he see? Now Freud’s a lot of crazy shit, but what if he was a brilliant observer of human behavior. And what he saw is that people had these core bio-psychological drives. They lived in a social environment that told them and dictated them what was appropriate and what was not.

Gregg: And they operated off of a social reality principle that tried to rationalize what it is that they did as they regulated the drives that were threatening to the social environment. That’s, that’s what Freud observed. And he built a whole theory around it. Well, this says, that’s exactly right. It’s the actual dilemma of being a self conscious being that lives in a culture of justification. And you have your selfish, primitive desires, and you have to figure out how to tell a story about what’s happening in a way that doesn’t cost you. And so this creates this idea that there’s a real self-conscious design feature towards justifying, that’s the justification hypothesis. And ultimately that’s part of justification systems theory. I’ll pause there and see if that makes sense to you. But the hypothesis is that we have a mental organ of justification that evolved in response to the problem of social justification that comes along with propositional language.

Jim: Well, one could cook it down is that we have..Once we realized that we can create false statements, we can navigate in strategy space by lying.

Gregg: Right, right, right. There’s a book..there’s a movie on the invention of lying. And this is the affirmative side I often talk about people feeling vulnerable and sort of defensive. And then of course, now you have the strategic side of this equation too, which you just alluded to, which you can now engage in misinformation, disinformation, actual lying. And of course that’s what all part of the, absolutely the landscape now of deceit, deception. Whether it’s active or subconsciously biased, but that’s all part of the game absolutely.

Jim: Yeah lying to yourself, lying to others, two different sets. Right. Yeah, you give the example of the dude hanging around the sweet chick while the bulky husband is off hunting and then saying, Hmm. Yeah. That was just here to learn about her, a planting of seed. I wasn’t actually thinking about planting my own seed. Ha ha ha you know, is that concept, you know, is that self-deception or lying or can you not tell the difference or does it even matter? Right. I think perhaps on there, on, at the broadest level of justification hypothesis, one might say, well, it doesn’t really matter. There are a way to embed in a cultural matrix that doesn’t upset the matrix too much. And yet you’re essentially navigating a personal trajectory. You’re building a personal story. I’m just thinking out loud here. So this might be ridiculous. That’s right. You’re navigating a personal journey in a social context with stakes, both low and high, you have this thing called language, which you both consciously and unconsciously know can be misleading or outright faults. And so part of this navigation is using that capability to your best advice.

Gregg: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it does say certainly that we have…that there are certain domains of mind that we will have much more readily access to. And there are good reasons to actually…so the idea of self deception, my self-consciousness may be, have ready access to certain kinds of domains of knowledge that are embedded in my more subconscious systems in ways that I don’t have access to. So all of that is true. Absolutely.

Jim: In fact, actually getting back to our game B world, one of the things we push is called sovereignty, which is to be able to get a level of view on our own psychological machinery. So that at least with other people that are in sovereignty, we can all agree to operate with honesty and good faith at all times. And that, that’s a kind of a hack on some of the misuses of our capability of navigating in a justification space.

Gregg: Absolutely. A hundred percent. And what this says is in fact, I label and one of the other parts of the justification, the overall justification system series, it gives what’s called the updated tripartite model of human consciousness. And it identifies the core nonverbal, phenomenological experience, portion of consciousness. Then the self-conscious narrator, the internal private part, and then the public, what do you publicly justify to others. Okay. And then what it says is that there’s, there’s what I call the Freudian filter. The Freudian filter is that space in between your phenomenological and your private narrator. And what ha…what do you filter out will at a personal dynamic level. You also filter out all your narcissistic nasty shit that you don’t want to allow other people to know. We call that the personal shadow in the clinic world in terms of like Carl Young and other people, what is your shadow?

Gregg: So if you wanted sovereignty, you got to do your shadow work. You got to know where do you think you’re all that shit. And where are you actually really vulnerable that you try to hide it from yourself? And how do you actually manipulate people even while you’re trying to say, you’re being helpful, that shadow dynamic. If you want to get a group of individuals that have sovereignty, you got to get each of them working through their shadow. And part of the justification I bought this is tells you, yeah, you’re actually going to, you’re designed to have a shadow and we know how to read a shine, the light on that. And if you want to have authentic communication through your heart, through your head and into the public sphere, we have to understand that filtering process.

Jim: Yeah. Very good point. I just, for my benefit, I hear people talk about shadow and shadow work, and frankly, it sounds like just, I have no idea what they’re fucking talking about. Sounds like horseshit, right? It sounds like you actually have a pretty clear definition of what is shadow and what is shadow work. Just for my benefit, could you give us a minute or two on that?

Gregg: Sure. So basically what this argues is that you have a self consciousness system that wants to see yourself as good, wants to see yourself as useful, wants to see yourself as strong, that’s its attractor state. Okay. So if you start..what if you start acting in a particular way. So that here’s the classic shadow is a narcissist or one classic…there’s lots of them. One would be an individual go around bragging all the time. Hey, I did this cause I’m super good. And I did this cause I’m super. Hey, come hang with me. Well, what’s underneath that is, there’s a subtype of narcissists that clearly have this dynamic. And what’s underneath that at the phenomenological level. In other words, the subconscious experience level, is a fear and insecurity that they’re really have low social influence, low relational value.

Gregg: And if the other person knew who they really were, they would abandon them. So they’re constantly justifying why they deserve attention. All right. Well, if you get them into therapy and what you try to do is you shine the light and you realize that, okay, this important person, classically the father, ignored me. And I felt weak in relationship to this. And I’ve been compensating for that underlying weakness by trying to prove to myself and others that I’m actually valuable. Well underneath all of that is, that this shitty feeling, that I’m actually a low relational value, low self worth person. And that’s the shadow side of the advanced pride that everybody sees and really can see a sort of shallow and an ineffective and a classic portrayal of that. So the underlying shame would be hidden from this person’s initial consciousness.

Gregg: And then in the therapy room, what you do. In fact, there’s a whole..I can share with you a very classic, its called the Mahlon trial of conflict. What happens is people get initial impulses and then they have what are called secondary anxiety inhibitor responses to that initial impulse. And then they develop rationalizing basically bullshit mechanisms. So they don’t attend to the original impulse. And what will happen is it’s organized by emotion and image, and it will build inside of people. And so that you can see that there’s actually parts of their sub personality that doesn’t have ready access. They have intuitive access cause it makes them really anxious.

Gregg: And the whole or much of the therapy work is shining the light on that shadow, which they blocked off based on cognitive dissonance. I mean cognitive distance, a very, very documentable phenomenon of the interpreter function the left hemisphere. Then the therapy process is figuring out ways in which you could integrate those senses of vulnerability and make them whole, and then if you actually do that, then we can achieve sovereignty within ourselves and between ourselves, because we’re not trying to bullshit anymore. We actually have a holistic picture of what our heart wants and what our, what we believe and what we say to other people. That’s what we want. We don’t want a bunch of bullshitters to themselves and other people

Jim: That makes sense. And then those are the shadow work is then getting those things out of the shadow. So you can see them and do something about them. Is that right?

Gregg: That’s right. Exactly. Then you try to have corrective emotional experiences where you help people both empathize, why they blocked them off originally and, sort of deconstruct their beliefs about why they had to. And then what does it mean. Make them feel a little less defensive, integrate the pain, which is always painful when it happens. But if you’re able to hold that pain and be aware and attuned to it and then recognize that you can adaptively grow from it. Well, then you integrate that weakness and then ultimately do this. That’s doing the shadow work and you become a whole or stronger person. Who’s actually able to learn and grow because if you’re not a lot of shadow shit, you actually can’t learn and grow because you’re constantly defending, pretending of the way the world has to be, because you’re afraid that if you’ve discovered what it really is, then everything’s going to come crashing.

Jim: That makes perfectly good sense. Good. This is the clearest definition I’ve ever heard about it. Now, another question I had when I was reading about your justification hypothesis and how in this room I was thinking about how it worked, et cetera. Could you describe how it works? Inter works part is part of and is different somehow then culture itself. So the relationship between the justification hypothesis and culture. Seems like they’re very similar concepts.

Gregg: All right, so the hypothesis, and then, I wasn’t always super clear in my mind and I appreciate that. And especially back in 2011, I was less clear. So here’s the deal. The hypothesis is the idea about what happened with language that reaches a tipping point in the propositions. Okay. And question and answer dynamics. And then all of a sudden that question and answer dynamics gives rise to the social justification problem. Then that shapes the mental organ of the self-consciousness system into this mental organ of justification. That’s the hypothesis. Then what happens is that this really shapes the model of human consciousness, which I was talking about, which is a private experiential, the private narrator and the public. Okay. Those three domains. And then this is the third part of the idea of justification systems, which is, and this was, should be familiar to you.

Gregg: This is idea then that these belief systems can be thought of as language based means, okay. That then start to grow and replicate as ideas of what is legitimate and what is not. So they then start to take off as systems of justification. These become the ideologies norms, rules of a house rules of a tribe rules of culture. What then is actually legitimate.

Gregg: And so what Culture is with a capital C, I want to be clear because I’m using a technical definition. Some people say, well, animals have culture. And it really depends on how you find it’s like, that’s true. How I’m defining culture are these large scale systems of justification, language-based beliefs and values that legitimize isn’t all across a wide variety of different contexts. So they organize our institutions. You think about the institutional law, you think about the institution of the universities, what is legitimate. Well, how are they fine. Then out of that core then becomes a hierarchy of statements that are more or less central. And those could become organizing systems, cultural codes that give us the rules and regulations. And so culture then is those systems higher order, large scale systems or justification, give us norms, ideologies, networks of propositions that allow us to make meaning out of a world, things along those lines.

Jim: Yeah. And then presumably our culture builds in us, some of our justifications, right? You’re trained as a little kid, not to spit on the sidewalk cause it’s rude and you see somebody else spit on the sidewalk. Do you have some rule, why they’re bad, right? Essentially, or, you don’t do it because you know that it sends a bad signal about you being rude. So there’s a feedback, obviously between culture and the justifications that one has built into one’s own system,

Gregg: Complete, so complete iterative feedback loop. So normally we get born into the large scale systems justification. I would say obviously, if I were born in Saudi Arabia before I born 5,000 years ago, my belief value system may be radically different because my parents and, the civilization cultures that we are around would have given me radically different ideologies. And at first we are social actors. That’s a term that sort of absorbs the scripts, the rules, the regulations as kids of what’s appropriate. And then we just deploy those. And then we to come as adolescents, we become agents where we start to actually get some ways of thinking about these rules. Anybody that’s raised teenagers knows that actually they can say, Hey, mom and dad F you, you know, you know, you know, who gives you the right? And by that time, they’ve got…they’ve internalized the convention. And now starting to challenge where that authority comes from. And ultimately we want individuals to reclaim and full adulthood, their own narrative and see the narrative arc of their lives in relationship to culture.

Gregg: And of course, sophisticated people that do that, but then live lies a, say a Martin Luther King, but then lives lives that feed back onto the culture and says, Hey, no, this justification system about Jim Crow laws and black white segregation, that’s all, that’s horribly unfair. And here’s an exemplar of a wonderful human being. And if what you said about black people was true, how is this possible. And here’s another narrative justification for how we can live. And it’s a higher close to ethical, more universal, ethical principles. Well, that reasoning process kicks in and people justify particular ways and viola you get then individuals leading the edge of culture and creating transformations back into the system. So it’s a complete iterative process. Kids get socialized into it, and then people start to challenge it some and find their place in it. And a couple of people end up really shooting into the world and changing the systems of justification radically.

Jim: Very good. Well, I think we’re getting kind of close on our time here. Is there anything else you want to say to wrap up your theory?

Gregg: Yeah. What I’d like to bring it back to game B and also let us think a little bit about where we are at this moment. Number of the circles that I’ve been listening to and hanging out and doing podcasts and talk about the Kairos of the moment, of course, with the COVID 19 crisis. And I know you’ve been talking a lot about many people thinking about the globally stacked interdependencies that make our system very, very fragile. And what kinds of systems can we hope for in terms of achieving a better understanding so that we can move towards a much more sustainable, robust anti-fragile future? I think the tree of knowledge and the unified theory, psychology provides a piece of this puzzle. First, the unified theory of psychology actually tries to help us understand what kind of creatures we are both in terms of our primate natures and our cultural natures. So if we’re going to hack the human condition, it’s good to have a good map of that.

Gregg: And the other thing that the tree of knowledge says, which I think is reasonable to take very, very seriously in the context of the 21st century. And what is happening to us is each one of these complex adaptive planes life, mind, culture is a function of an information processing and communication system. Okay. So what it says is, if a novel information processing system were to merge, if those things were to get connected together and networked together, then all of a sudden you could give rise to a whole new dimension of complexity. This is by the way, what I call the fifth joint point. Okay. So the fifth joint point is the idea that actually we may be in the process of an emergent evolution of a whole new complex adaptive plane.

Gregg: Indeed. The idea that we’re in the, in the exist of a shift into the world of the digital, whereby over the 20th century, we built these computers. We built artificial intelligence systems that we’re going to interact with, with increasing degrees of interface that we connected in our networks, the internet, of course, the internet of things. We are fusing with the digital, and this is an entirely new information processing communication system. A futurist by the name of Oliver Riser called this the world sanctorium and back in 1958, which I thought was [inaudible 01:34:01] notion. So here’s my pitch is that I think we’re at a very, very complicated phase where our old institutional systems, that were built on different kinds of information processing communication really are getting deeply depressed. The world that we live is very complicated, and we’re seeing a lot of chaotic flux with a lot of fragility.

Gregg: I think we need some seriously new thinking. I think you’ve been leading the way on some of that thinking. Absolutely. And I think what we need essentially is to ..a language like game B, a language like the fifth joint point and say, Hey, this 21st century is going to be a massive flux. We have to think wisely about this. We can’t expect the world just to continue the way it’s been going. We have to think seriously about how to understand our natures, understand the environment, the tech that we’re in and merge those together into a sustainable wise ecology going forward. And the tree of knowledge provides an angle on that as well.

Jim: Wow. I love it. Well, I think we’re going to wrap it up right there. I don’t think we could go any further or say much more. Thank you, Greg, for extraordinarily deep, interesting and fun exercise.

Gregg: Hey man, I really appreciate it. You’re a wonderful interview. I’ve enjoyed your show.

Production services and audio editing by Jared Janes Consulting. Music by Tom Mahler at