How Metahistory Works

How Metahistory Works
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Socrates was no scholastic. He was a loner who questioned the common sense of his time. Yet he did not try to spell out a vision of his own. He made a point of not being a visionary and of being, in effect, antischolastic. He examined the faith and morals of his time, riciduled claims to knowledge that were based on uncritical reliance on consensus, and exerted himself to show how ignorant, confused, and credulous most people are… Walter Kaufmann, The Future of the Humanities

To foster free and conscious choice of beliefs, rather than unconscious enactment of them, metahistory.org offers two tools: metacritique, the radical analysis of beliefs and belief systems, and an open source narrative for evolving a different story of what it means to be human.

It is now widely recognized that human beings in all times and cultures enact stories (scripts, or agendas) of six recurrent types: religious, racial, national, sexual, political, and familial. We look into the content and composition of these stories to see how they drive behavior. The power of stories is universally appealing, but even more powerful is the transmission of fundamental beliefs in story form.

We behave as we believe.

The effect of a story or script is to produce identification, but usually this happens in an unconscious way. We adapt the beliefs encoded in story form without a truth-testing process, or a clear awareness of what the beliefs actually entail.

Once the beliefs carried in stories are exposed, their motivational force can be examined and the behaviors driven by them changed. The blind enactment of scripts at personal and collective levels is typical of human history, but beyond history there is another way to manage the power of beliefs, a path of reasoned choice and enlightened response. A path of alignment.

Belief Change

The motto of Bioneers, who collaborate with the Marion Institute to offer the annual conference, Bioneers by the Bay, is “connecting for change.” The mix and merge of our different realities induces a sharper, more compassionate sense of our common reality. Beliefs that we have acquired through others can be changed by dialogue with others (but not without confronting fear and attachment, emotions that link us to unsustainable beliefs). Belief-change is the single most revolutionary action leading to a sane and sustainable future for human life on earth. On this site we examine beliefs to discover what guides the human animal, for better or worse. Belief-change enables us to make personal and social commitments freed of blind conformity to received stories, imposed rules, and unexamined agendas. 

It is easy to talk about change, but more difficult to change the way we talk about ourselves and our experiences in the first place. To make the shift toward more cogent and effective language, a syntax for optimal living, metahistory considers different expressions of belief found in stories of all kinds, from Biblical tales to news reports. This process invites dialogue, shared explorations of our collective and personal scripts. Because we all enact scripts of the six types, often in tight combinations (familial and religious scripts, for instance), we are all qualified to detect how the power of stories is demonstrated in our lives and in the world at large. Participation is the essence of the journey that takes us beyond the conditioning of history.

Beliefs inherent to science, religion and culture (the three formats) can drive human behavior in blind and harmful ways. Metahistory assesses the hidden dynamics of motivation to determine what is insane and inhumane in human belief-systems. The insights so gained applied in a direct way to personal release and realignment. The most potent way to change behavior is to change the beliefs that drive it, but to do so one must courageously and honestly investigate and evaluate our innermost convictions.

Metahistory is a pro-active discipline for radical change in personal, social, and collective terms. Through the open narrative, it offers a framework for commitment to a shared planetary vision. Metahistory goes beyond a mere recounting of facts and events, and even beyond the interpretation of these facts and events. It goes beyond debating about ideas because beliefs, rather than ideas per se, determine the ultimate background of everything conceived and achieved by human beings. Belief is the matrix from which ideas emerge, even when those ideas eventually lead to liberation from specific beliefs.

To detect belief is to discern the hidden dynamics of history, as well as what frees us from history.

Faith in the Species 

In this site we propose living without faith based on unverifiable beliefs and propositions, but we encourage faith that can be tested by real-life experience. Faith is a huge concern for many people because, as noted above, the most essential questions of life seem to be unanswered, or answerable: Does God exist? Why are we born? What happens when we die? Is the soul immortal? Will we see those we love after death? Does chance exist? Who guides us, or judges us, throughout life? What power directs the course of history? How will this world end?
It is easy to leave these questions to faith, but who provides the answers and beliefs to be taken on faith? No matter what the issues, faith always comes down to trust in sources believed to lie outside or beyond our innate capacities. Although it seems to confer power—due to the way it allows us to face the unanswerable issues of life—faith is futile and disempowering.

Above and beyond all else, metahistory poses the question:

If our faith were invested in lies and delusions, how would we know?

The very nature of faith blinds us to the veracity of what we embrace on faith—unless it can be personally tested. We affirm that the authenticity of individual experience is superior to any faith, except faith in humanity itself. Thus, Metahistory encourages faith in the species, in human potential, but not excluding the spiritual and supernatural dimension of human experience, either. It is not a form of secular humanism, but it addresses the key problems that humanism fails to solve.

Going beyond history means initiating a different story, the adventure of our shared liberation from imposed scripts. As the process unfolds, all our beliefs are brought into focus in the single and ultimate issue: our belief in humanity itself, in the potential of the human species to realize its mysterious role in the cosmos. Gnostics taught that human life is this adventure in learning, an experiment in novelty. Guided by faith in human potential and a Gaian story for all species, metahistory provides a visionary path toward all that is truly excellent, and truly humane, in the ageless striving of the human spirit. http://www.metahistory.org/

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