A summary of Bonnita Roy’s ‘Six ways to go meta’

Jakub Simek
Sep 1, 2019 · 2 min read

We live in fascinating times, where all this global political turmoil motivates various new ways of thinking and solving problems.

There is a growing acknowledgement that our technology and economy got us far and helped us to achieve unprecedented levels of progress and wellbeing, but more of the same will not get us through the bottleneck of dozens of existential risks that threaten the survival of humanity past 21st century.

This Emerge podcast episode with Bonnita Roy explains six different ways to go meta and their pros and cons if taken too far individually and not being accompanied by others:

1. Meta-synthesis — transcending and integrating various theories — but this can get too abstract and overwhelming quickly.

2. Deconstruction — pioneered in the West by some postmodernists and applied to texts, but being present in Eastern thinking for a long and in a more embodied way- analyzing and taking things apart until one arrives at nothingness or empty form — the drawback is navel-gazing, nihilism and inaction.

3. Meta-cognition by role-playing (deep play) or taking outside view by e.g. looking at Earth from space (overview effect). Since not everyone can travel to space we might need more “psychonauts” (see point 6).

4. Orthogonal approaches — kind of meta-metaphysics — creating new metaphysics by tweaking some aspects — e.g. viewing people as processes and not as objects or instruments, “new animism” (coffee makes millions of people move each day).

5. Simplexity — this is my favorite area of current explorations — here are approaches in *mapping* or searching for a source code of civilizations and various simple heuristics (all-win solutions) and generator functions (rivalry) (Daniel Schmachtenberger — Civilization Emerging, Jordan Hall — Deep Code); *sensing* (Dave Snowden and his Cynefin framework and tools for weak signals detection); and *hacking* (Bonnita Roy puts herself in both mapping and hacking area).

6. Holistic participation — more embodied practices where one tries to gain new energy, inspiration and mental capacity by embodied training, e.g. meditation, breathing techniques, creating new micro-habits and discarding old ones. Here the work of John Vervaeke fits (Awakening from the Meaning Crisis series) — combining cutting edge neuroscience with liberal arts education and ancient wisdom. Or various “group flow” projects and biohackers — e.g. Jamie Wheal and Flow Genome Project.


In another article, I also tried to divide four modes of thinking in the context of “cause prioritization” in effective altruism and came up with combining *synthetic thinking* vs *analytical thinking* on vertical axis, and *cluster thinking* versus *sequence thinking* on horizontal axis. I guess this can be expanded and reconciled with Bonnita Roy’s work.

You can support my writing and videos on these topics and my small podcasting project Between Ideas & Subcultures through Patreon or PayPal.

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