Dying to Live: The Cost of Finding Purpose in the Post-Outcomes Modern World (Hardcover)
Maslow's hierarchy defined the literal physical and base esoteric needs which every human on average needs to satisfy in order to remain alive. As a species, we have grown and contracted, evolved and devolved, generally in pursuit of those basic requirements. As civilizations or epochs approach their zeniths, the balance of needs shifts and skews, since our base-level needs are often no longer a factor in our day-to-day lives. As life becomes easier-as we become more successful collectively-the original mechanisms for existential validation and purpose generation recede and we are often left struggling to find meaning in a world that no longer causes us to suffer as we used to.
Enter the modern Western democratic world, a society experiencing a peak like few others have before it, and a time of unparalleled technological growth and progress.
In a period when we have never had so much available to us-food, water, shelter, education, mobility, medicine, intelligent machines, universal access to knowledge, constant entertainment, and on average nearly no individual existential threats- why is it that we've never been more at war with ourselves and each other? How is it that we are arguably the most divided, militarized, radicalized, ideologically captured, and outcome-independent we have ever been as a species?
Dying to Live explores some of the root causes of our societal entropy, existential malaise, and the divisive ideological extremism that permeates nearly every facet of our lives. We explore how the nexus of a type of "novel hierarchy of needs" that exists in an advanced civilization plays a central role in explaining, causing, or solving the crises we find ourselves in. Humans need certain things to simply remain biologically alive, but in the twilight of an apex civilization, we are only now beginning to reckon with what we need to truly live. Drawing on insights from his childhood, military service, and central position within the bleeding-edge technologies of our time, author Jeff Watson seeks not to tell you what or how to think, but to challenge you to introspectively analyze your life to better understand why you think, believe, say, and do what you do. As we approach cataclysmic levels of disunity and hatred within our societies, Watson offers a glimpse into the unconscious mechanisms that drive us into ever more tribal and isolated places. The hope for this book is to shine a light on the existential deficiencies and proclivities of modern humans in order to allow for de-escalation and deradicalization. This is not about a specific ideology, but rather the mechanism through which we become vulnerable and ultimately captured and radicalized by different ideologies.
There is so little that actually divides us, and yet those tiny differences, real or imagined, dominate our realities in ways that may soon be unrecoverable.