Great stuff! The thought that came to me, due to my own biases, is that sometimes the force pushing you out of a basin is emergence. It is therefore not random, it is something you can sense and orient towards. You detect it in the call to adventure.

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Instability preceeding phase change sounds a lot like Kuhn in Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Increasing complexity is inevitable under certain conditions, but only to a point, and so the only thing I disagree (mildly) with is point 2.

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Mar 29Liked by Brett Andersen

As if clicking on "Like" could even begin to be anywhere near adequate to express the respect and admiration I feel for this writer, and the depth of thinking he both utilises and inspires. I had been thinking that my current "Holy Trinity" of influences is Dr Jordan Peterson, Dr Iain McGilchrist, and Professor John Vervaeke, for writing more about what really matters than everyone else. I don't like the word "Quaternity" (!) but Brett Andersen is right up there with my favourites.

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Mar 30Liked by Brett Andersen

Great post, Brett. I studied screenwriting and filmmaking for several years. And I used to draw a very similar chart (inverted) to describe the main character's arc in the Three Act Structure. I had a bit more science training than the typical screenwriter, and I always conceptualized it in terms of activation energy in chemical reactions. A satisfying ending is one in which the main character ends up in a lower-energy state than he/she started. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activation_energy

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Oh dear, dear, dear. So much to wade through. I wonder about reducing everything to the here and now in citing the Universe Story -- from Teilhard to Thomas Berry to Brian Swimme, the lineage holder now -- as the evolutionary process we are in that would frame all of this detail to make the sense we need about who we are and what we're doing here. Thanks to what Hubble showed us not that long ago, our context changed to being part of an evolutionary process that impels us to care for the Earth rather than being on a dead rock, using it. Check my Substack for how that understanding would be our salvation.

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Apr 19Liked by Brett Andersen

Really like this analysis! I took notes, so many great references. I found it from this article which cites your work: https://www.climateandcapitalmedia.com/oppenheimer-knew-better-than-anyone-about-the-danger-of-global-existential-threats/

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Another stimulating article - thanks.

Forgive me being critical but I enjoy exploring alternatives so here goes:

As you point out, phase changes are normally changes from one stable state to another. In thermodynamics a phase is an arrangement with a different entropy at a given temperature. Energy gain or loss is required for a phase change. Phase changes go in both directions - in the simplest example, from solid to liquid or liquid to solid. It is the available external energy that dictates the direction of the change. Living organisms use selection to obtain the energy for phase changes - either selection by the environment such as a plant seed growing in good soil and light or selection by internal processing such as a wolf pack finding a sick deer.

Any system of parts could involve the stickiness that creates a phase. The key feature of a phase is that it does not easily get destroyed, destruction needs more energy or loss of energy than normal change.

An ionised plasma is a phase of matter that is not usually attained at ambient temperatures, to maintain that phase we would either need to live in the sun or consume all the energy available on Earth. In the context of the global ecosystem the maintenance of a huge plasma expanding over the planet would be a zero sum game.

In the case of Buddhism does enlightenment represent a new phase? If it is the passing from a battle with intrusive input to Experience containing an effortless void then it might well be a phase transition. Perhaps the creation of an Experience that acts as a whole?

In the case of environmentalism does coming together solve the problem of environmental destruction? If achieving a globally united phase for humanity involves the energy and resource input that has been required for "development" then it is clear that our coming together is the cause of environmental destruction. New phases are not always benign. Human development, being in an interdependent relationship with every other human on the planet, might be like the huge plasma. If this is true then "development" will collapse. See https://therenwhere.substack.com/p/climate-change-just-another-canard

Evolution only avoids the zero sum game if it is in harmony with the ecosystem.

PS: The required phase change is probably the relinquishing of "development" (ie: a decrease in complexity). If we do not do this for ourselves the ecosystem changes may impose the change. Alternatively we might use our cunning to destroy this planet then move on to desertify the galaxy.

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Have you read Maslow’s Farther Reaches of Human Nature? Bvalue v Dvalue theory?

Also, no twitter?

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