Monday, January 31, 2005

The participatory edge of meaning making

Yesterday, (Sun, Jan 30) I went to a session of UofT 's Sunday Philosophy Cafe. This session was titled "Mythological Representation of the Person", the speaker was Dr. Jordan Peterson who wrote the book "Maps of Meaning". He told the story of how he got interested in myths as a process to understand his recurring nightmare during his 20s of a nuclear holocaust. In our currently secure environment of post cold war era, it was odd to hear someone's personal experience of a time when we weren't so sure of the future. Dr. Peterson posed some very strong questions about human nature. What is it in us that doesn't stop us from tearing ourselves and each other apart? He recounted a Mesopotamian myth of their God Murdoch who won a battle over Chaos. What was most enlightening was his conclusion that Chaos could not be overcome by primordial archetypal forces such as anger, but could be overcome by voluntarily engaging in its chaotic nature thus transforming it into new "worlds". Participation is the process in which we personally come about making sense or meaning out of that encounter.

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