Evening Lectures - Ocala

Andrew Taggart

THE TALK: Psychotechnologies of Self-Transformation

December 10, 2019


Predicaments we currently face range from questions concerning the legitimacy of nation-states and the viability of liberal democracy to the intensification of social alienation and atomism to the loss of plant and animal species to–in the words of the cognitive scientist John Vervaeke–the experience of our “meaning crisis.” It is ordinarily believed that these predicaments arise from political and economic causes alone. In this talk, I’ll be arguing that their chief source is spiritual in nature, provided, in this case, that the word “spiritual” be understood in a very wide sense.

After tracing back the spiritual crisis back to its source in humanism, I’ll suggest that the human species, at its current stage of cultural development, is simply not up to the task and, what’s more, that our educational institutions are only equipped to train our powers of intellection and competency. For these reasons, if the human species is to flourish, we’ll need to engage in “psychotechnologies of self-transformation”: that is, in practices intending, at a more than cognitive level, to profoundly alter our felt understanding as well as the ways we conduct ourselves. At the center of this transformation should be the cultivation of what I’ll be calling “living wisdom.”


Andrew Taggart is a founder of Askole and a Ph.D.-trained practical philosopher. In both capacities, he speaks with executives, founders, and technologists about matters of ultimate concern. Together he and his conversation partners ask and seek to answer the most basic questions of human existence. According to Quartz and Forbes, he could be regarded as a kind of Chief Philosophy Officer for Silicon Valley executives, someone who helps them to examine what they’re taking for granted and, by this means, to become wiser leaders. A former resident of New York City, he currently lives with his wife Alexandra in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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