Monthly Archives: July 2014

Ultimate Satisfaction in Everyday Life

This is the sixth in a planned series of posts on Worlds, as understood by Descriptive Psychologists.

So far we have been talking as if a person has one and only one community in which they participate and thus only one world to make sense of.

Ah, if only everyday life were that simple! In fact, each of us participates in multiple communities, each with its own world that makes sense in its own particular way. Usually we switch from one community to another smoothly, without much effort, and we have no trouble keeping track of who we are in which world – that’s part of our core competence as persons and we’re mostly really good at it. Sometimes the shift is incomplete; we find ourselves a bit wrong-footed and have to focus more to make sense of what we’re up to right now. And from time to time we find ourselves in an impossible situation, called upon to participate in two communities simultaneously. This can require a quick and sometimes hard choice – which comes first? Or can you literally live in both worlds at once? Continue reading Ultimate Satisfaction in Everyday Life

More Varieties of Ultimate Satisfaction

This is the fifth in a planned series of posts on Worlds, as understood by Descriptive Psychologists.

We have seen examples of ultimate satisfaction involving appraisals of “fittingness” from conceptual-aesthetic, natural-aesthetic, artistic-aesthetic and moral perspectives. Notice something interesting here: in each case, the individual whose world is held together by this ultimate satisfaction had a breakthrough or initiation experience in which the world suddenly made sense in this new and fundamental way:

  • Russell’s experience of Euclid’s proof and my own experience of elegance in Cantor’s proof are clear examples of the world suddenly making sense in a new, conceptual-aesthetic way.
  • Recognizing deep unity with nature is frequently the result of a nature-based rite of passage, or a spiritual practice of an ecstatic tradition.
  • Virtually every artist, musician or performer has a story of their first encounter with their art, when they experienced its creativity directly and knew “this is what I’m here to do.”
  • Most spiritual paths have practices of initiation in which the new member of the community experiences what it’s like to be “one of us.”

Note that each of these involves direct encounter with community members who already see the world as this community does, and experience directly how this world makes sense. Ultimate Satisfaction is connected to a specific world, of a particular community – no exceptions.

But many people have no memory of experiencing breakthrough into a new world – and it’s not the sort of thing one is inclined to forget. Continue reading More Varieties of Ultimate Satisfaction

Varieties of Ultimate Satisfaction

This is the fourth in a planned series of posts on Worlds, as understood by Descriptive Psychologists.

So far we have encountered two varieties of ultimate satisfaction:

  1. Bertrand Russell’s “delicious experience of knowing something with total certainly”;
  2. The mathematician’s experience of the “elegance” of a great proof.

These two seem very similar, both in their content and in the kind of person who experiences them; if they were wines, they would be French syrah and Australian shiraz – same grape, with subtle differences.

But just as there are many varieties of wine, which vary greatly one from the other, ultimate satisfaction comes in many varieties. Let’s take a deeper dive into this; you may well recognize what ultimate satisfaction is for you as we do. Continue reading Varieties of Ultimate Satisfaction