Comments on “Desiderata for any future mode of meaningness”

Add new comment

Quite the challenge

shane 2017-04-09

Thanks David, this is very helpful to get an overview of the project and thought provoking. It is quite the challenge! Looking forward to seeing your future ideas on meeting it - particularly interested in the role corporations and universities might play.

Hi David,

Alex 2017-05-28

Hi David,

Trained but not practicing mathematical logician here, I get a kick out of your blog. I was inspired by your blog to read Kegan, and that plus this has been a revelation in my thinking in the last year.

Have you thought about the role of data in all of this? There’s some interesting angles. First, data as a thing, meaning, concept can’t really exist until a certain sophistication of concepts has arisen. I would say the concerted collection and use of data points to an actor of level 4 (intellectually) at least. Diving deep into data reveals gaps, missing data, things that cannot be captured by the current schema. Anyone who has tried to build predictive models knows how short data falls of ideal. So in that sense, a close relationship with data can push one to stage 4.5, and living with the above data problems harmoniously probably requires stage 5 development.

Further, some assumptions of classical science break down badly in data in a way that is very concrete. I love that mathematical logic breaks down classical science, exposing it’s imperfections as systemic. But it is not very accessible. However, give me a petabyte of data points, and I can no longer find a median in a reasonable time. This is a concrete breakdown in an underlying unexpressed notion that one can always get simple summary statistics like max/min/median etc. The world of AI presents another concrete breakdown, where designing an autonomous car or NLP system reveals that fundamental human concepts are far more nebulous and complex than most people realize.

In general, you might think of the arise of vast quantities of data, the ability to quantify many things, etc, as ranking with the advent of computing, or the invention of calculus in it’s impact.

It would be interesting to add the intellectual relationship with data to your mega chart.

Something I would love to see discussed is the difference between realizing the Kegan stages of development intellectually vs emotionally. I was probably onto Stage 5 before I could vote, but emotionally, I was still spending my days in Stage 3. I’d love to think that I’m at an emotional Stage 4 now, but I’ll bet that’s not true a good portion of the time. Am I missing a place where you or Kegan give a clear discussion about the difference between being at a given stage in an intellectual capacity, vs that stage being emotionally integrated?

Thx - Alex

A Connection to Dabrowski

Dan 2018-01-20

Hi. Your blog is incredible. I’m in high school, and am underwhelmed with the philosophy class (yes, one measly epistemology class) offered there, so Meaningness is my go-to for deep thinking.

I’ve been pondering the breakdown of systems of meaning, and drew a parallel between this phenomenon and Dabrowski’s theory of development. He’s a psychologist who posited that in order to proceed to a “higher” level of existence, you have to undergo periods of disintegration. Then you have to reintegrate to either your current state, or to a higher level of functioning. I don’t know how well this may inform your current theory (it only covered individuals and not a society), but I thought it was interesting. Here’s a link. It’s mostly concerned with existential depression in gifted people, but it also gives a good summary of Dabrowski’s ideas: (

Please keep writing. I’ll keep reading.


David Chapman 2018-02-12

Hi, Dan, sorry to be so to reply; I’ve gotten way behind.

Dabrowski looks very interesting. Thank you for the link! I haven’t had time to read it, but will do when I get a chance.

Add new comment:

You can use some Markdown and/or HTML formatting here.

Optional, but required if you want follow-up notifications. Used to show your Gravatar if you have one. Address will not be shown publicly.

If you check this box, you will get an email whenever there’s a new comment on this page. The emails include a link to unsubscribe.