“We can adjust our behavior, in the present, in order to maximize our probability of success in the future.”
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Biblical Series XII: The Great Sacrifice: Abraham and Isaac
Men & Women: Personality Differences | Discovering Personality with Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
Demix – No Surrender
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First acted out, then represented in ritual—those would be the rituals of sacrifice—then laid out in the story, then turned into a psychological phenomena, so that, now, we’re capable of making sacrifices in abstraction, to conceptualize a future that we want, to let go of the things that are stopping us from moving forward, and to free ourselves from the chains of our original preconceptions. That’s laid out in these old stories, as the optimal pathway of being.
There’s a philosopher of science named Karl Popper—a very sensible and down-to-earth person, who was talking about thinking, and its nature. He thought about thinking in a Darwinian fashion. He said that the purpose of thinking is to let your thoughts die instead of you. It’s a brilliant notion: You can conjure up a representation of yourself. You can conjure up a variety of potential representations of yourself, in the future. You can lay out how those future representations of yourself are likely to prevail or fail. You can cull the potential yous in the future that will fail, and then you can embody the ones that will succeed. You do that while, simultaneously, conjuring up a representation of your current state, and determining for yourself—because of your undo suffering—which elements of your pathetic being need to be given up, so that you can move forward into that future. What is it that you’re aiming at, with that work, and with that sacrifice? That’s the ultimate question. That’s the question I was trying to address, in that writing. What is it that you’re trying to do? You’re trying to improve the future. You believe that the future can be improved. You believe that it can be improved as a consequence of our sacrificial work. So, once again, what are the necessary limits to that? I would say that we don’t know. I would say, as well, that that’s actually something that the entire corpus of Biblical stories is desperately trying to figure out and articulate. We conjured up this remarkable idea: The future exists. We can see it, even though it’s only potential. We can adjust our behaviour, in the present, in order to maximize our probability of success in the future. How best to do that? Well, the idea is something like, don’t hesitate to offer the ultimate sacrifice, if you want the future to turn out ultimately well. Now, obviously, that idea is clothed in metaphysical speculation and religious imagery. But it still remains an intensely practical issue. What is it that you could contract for, let’s say, if you were willing to give up everything about you that’s weak and unworthy?
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Biblical Series XII: The Great Sacrifice: Abraham and Isaac Transcript
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