22 episodes

Conversations about consciousness, culture, and how we might live in the 21st century. The podcast blends contemplative practice with cultural theory, exploring everything from radical economics, meditation & psychedelics, to philosophy, all in service of exploring the full spectrum of existential possibilities.

Musing Mind Podcast Oshan Jarow

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 39 Ratings

Conversations about consciousness, culture, and how we might live in the 21st century. The podcast blends contemplative practice with cultural theory, exploring everything from radical economics, meditation & psychedelics, to philosophy, all in service of exploring the full spectrum of existential possibilities.

    [Unlocked] Reflections & Extras from Michael Levin Podcast

    [Unlocked] Reflections & Extras from Michael Levin Podcast

    An unlocked, patreon-only episode where I reflect on the process at the heart of my conversation with Michael Levin, the evolutionary process through which little selves integrate into larger collective intelligences.

    Also incudes a fun experiment where I splice in audio clips from a prior conversation – with Ruben Laukkonen – to show themes that run across episodes.

    If you'd like access to past & future reflection episodes, consider becoming a Patreon supporter, which also has the fun byproduct of helping the project continue existing. Thank you!

    • 41 min
    Scaling Selfhood: Collective Intelligence from Cells to Economies, with Michael Levin

    Scaling Selfhood: Collective Intelligence from Cells to Economies, with Michael Levin

    How does collective intelligence emerge? How do parts get integrated into larger wholes? How can we increase the intelligence and agency of collective systems? Are cities, economies, or even societies intelligent systems of which humans are unwitting parts?

    On this episode, I'm joined by Michael Levin to discuss how his research in the collective intelligence of biological systems might help us think through larger collective systems, like the economy.

    Michael is a professor of biology at Tufts University, director of both the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology and the Allen Discovery Center, an editor of three academic journals, and so on. His pioneering research has direct applications in regenerative medicine, cancer research, and artificial general intelligence.

    I wanted to speak with him for two reasons. First, for all the theory and philosophy we've covered about 'selfhood' on this show, Michael's work brings a refreshingly concrete perspective, offering a 'biology of the self'. He provides a story of how selfhood emerges via evolution, which is really a story of how collective intelligences emerge.

    Second, Michael thinks about collective intelligence in a way that is 'substrate-independent'. That is, his research on collective intelligence should apply to any intelligent system, whether it's made of flesh, metal, or anything else. This allows us to apply principles he's researched that scale up agency in biological systems, and apply them to larger systems, like an economy. If we understand the economy as a system of collective intelligence, can we apply the same principles that worked for evolution in biological systems, to increase the intelligence and agency of the economic system?

    A few more themes we explore:

    Why are "goals" the fundamental ingredient that identifies a system as intelligent?
    How do little selves (like cells) combine into larger selves (like...me)?
    Are humans parts of larger systems of collective intelligence, and could we even know if we were?
    Should we have concerns about what happens to use as we become more deeply embedded in increasingly vast, planetary systems of collective intelligence?

    The first hour of the conversation explores his research within biological systems. The final 45 minutes uses that as a foundation to explore systems that are larger than humans. Even if you find the first hour rather technical, I highly recommend at least checking out the final 45 minutes.

    Enjoy!

    • 1 hr 56 min
    Meditation & Predictive Processing: Ruben Laukkonen

    Meditation & Predictive Processing: Ruben Laukkonen

    On this episode, I'm joined by Ruben Laukkonen to describe his new model that makes sense of what meditation does to the mind, through the lens of predictive processing.


    Ruben is a post-doc cognitive scientist at the University of Amsterdam, a contemplative with experience in traditions like Advaita and Therevada, has consulted for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, and writes on topics ranging from education, artificial intelligence, to psychedelics.


    We cover:


    Predictive processing, meditation, and counterfactual depth

    How meditation affects precision weighting, leading to changes in phenomenology

    How deconstructive practices like meditation need guiding frameworks to support reconstruction

    Some differences between meditation and psychedelics

    How social institutions, like education, might change if we value things like cognitive flexibility


    Enjoy!

    • 1 hr 51 min
    Digital Capitalism to Acid Communism, with Emma Stamm

    Digital Capitalism to Acid Communism, with Emma Stamm

    On this episode, I explore data capitalism, acid communism, and the psychedelic ties between them, with Emma Stamm.


    Emma holds a PhD in cultural & social thought, and works at the intersections of the philosophy of technology, critical theory, and science and technology studies. She has taught at both NYU & Virginia Tech, and is now a professor in the philosophy department at Villanova University.


    Our conversation explores the relationship between data capitalism & consciousness, using psychedelic science as a way of illuminating those aspects of consciousness that cannot be rendered via data's language.


    Enjoy!

    • 1 hr 44 min
    Unselfing: Philosophy of Psychedelics w/ Chris Letheby

    Unselfing: Philosophy of Psychedelics w/ Chris Letheby

    In this episode, I’m joined by Dr. Chris Letheby: a philosopher of cognitive science who focuses on psychedelic experience & its implications for our understanding of consciousness.


    Chris is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Western Australia and a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Adelaide. He has a soon-to-be-published book: Philosophy of Psychedelics.


    Along with Philip Gerrans, Chris is behind one of the most interesting theories of what the self is, a theory that explains why the sensation of being a ‘self’ arises in consciousness, which they call the “predictive self-binding account”.


    His work goes on to study how high-dose psychedelic experiences disrupt this model of self-consciousness, and weaves the implications into a broader project he calls Naturalizing Spirituality.


    Our conversation follows three main topics:



    What is the predictive self-binding account of self-consciousness?





    How do psychedelics disrupt self-consciousness?





    What can these psychedelic experiences that alter our self-consciousness tell us about the prospects of a naturalized spirituality suited for the 21st century?




    This was such a fun conversation, & I find Chris’ work absolutely brilliant. Cannot wait to see his work evolve.


    Enjoy!

    • 1 hr 38 min
    Consciousness & Fiction: Erik Hoel

    Consciousness & Fiction: Erik Hoel

    My guest in this episode is (once again!) Erik Hoel: PhD in neuroscience, research assistant professor at Tufts University studying consciousness, and author of the upcoming (phenomenal) novel, The Revelations.


    We center the conversation around themes from his novel, which lead us into:



    How fiction, as a form of “intrinsic media”, offers a unique approach for exploring consciousness that non-fiction and TV can’t





    The theories and potentialities at the frontiers of consciousness research





    The relationship between evolution, complexity, consciousness, and emergence





    Some limits of the scientific study of consciousness





    Why we’d better hope that if aliens are out there, they’re more like mammals than insects





    If you enjoy this episode, check out my previous conversation with Erik, his stupidly-good essay titled ‘Enter the Supersensorium’, or you can preorder his book here.


    Enjoy!

    • 2 hr 17 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
39 Ratings

39 Ratings

brain of zed zed ,

Smart, interesting, wise, deep, reflective

Love the content. Please keep it coming!

stevencan ,

Exceptional

OJ is always well prepared, has an exceptional knowledge base and is a natural in the interview process. He is a rising star in podcast land.

eleanor watkins ,

a must listen

fantastic podcast! the host is incredibly thoughtful, asks unique questions, and facilitates engaging conversations with a diverse list of guests. give it a listen, you won’t regret it

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