Reweaving ‘The Web of Meaning’

February 4, 2021

On December 15th I had one of the most enjoyable conversations of this year with de delightfully polymathic Jeremy Lent about his path towards becoming one of the most elegant voices of humanity’s search for new and at the same time very ancient meaning.

With his 2017 published masterpiece The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning, Jeremy made a strong opening for a project that has always been a trilogy in his mind.

In our conversation we explored Jeremy’s own story and his personal search that led him to both deep study and deep practice. Some of the issues we talk about:

— Jeremy’s work on The Patterning Instinct

— “Culture shapes values, & those values shape history.” J.L.

— “Design follows Worldview, and worldview follows design.” D.W.

— Choosing our future (Collapse? Techno-Dystopian evolutionary bifurcation? Diverse Regenerative Cultures aligning with the way life creates conditions conducive to life?

— integrating science & traditional wisdom

— the story of interbeing

— ‘all our relations’

— science comes with values

— the beautiful parallels in Jeremy’s & my own journey of learning and integration of different sources

— unpredictability & appropriate participation — ‘animate intelligence’ & Jung’s ‘four ways of knowing’

— ‘Deep Adaptation’ — resilience, persistence, adaptation, transformation

— The 3 Horizons pathways practice …

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His forthcoming The Web of Meaning: Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find Our Place in the Universe will be published by New Society Publishers in mid 2021. Here is how Jeremy describes what the book is about:

“We need a new story. Our civilization is careening rapidly toward a precipice. Climate breakdown, ecological degradation, and gaping inequalities are symptoms of an underlying pathology: the worldview of the dominant culture that has brought us to this crisis. It’s a worldview based on disconnection, telling us that we’re each split within ourselves between mind and body; that as individuals we’re separate from each other; and that a fundamental gap exists between humans and the rest of the natural world.

This worldview has passed its expiration date. It was formed in seventeenth-century Europe, and is based on a series of flawed myths that have been superseded by modern findings in science. It is causing enormous unnecessary suffering throughout the globe and driving our civilization toward collapse. The Web of Meaning offers a rigorous and intellectually solid foundation for an alternative worldview based on connectedness, showing how modern scientific knowledge echoes the ancient wisdom of earlier cultures. Weaving together findings from modern systems thinking, evolutionary biology, and cognitive neuroscience with insights from Buddhism, Taoism, and indigenous wisdom, it offers a coherent and integrated worldview that could enable humanity to flourish on the Earth harmoniously into the future.

The book presents a new story of meaning, pointing to a central core of wisdom that people have known throughout history but was obliterated by the mainstream European tradition — the understanding that, at the deepest levels, we are all interconnected. It lays out the framework for a new integrated global consciousness, based on an underlying and all-infusing recognition of connectedness: within ourselves, with other humans, and with the entire natural world. Living with this deep realization, we are truly “at home in the universe” — and are naturally driven to engage in the transformation our civilization desperately needs.”

Here is the recording of our conversation:

1:47 hrs of a wonderful exchange between Jeremy Lent and Daniel Wahl — well, I enjoyed it immensely!

More about Jeremy:

“Jeremy Lent is an author whose writings investigate the patterns of thought that have led our civilization to its current crisis of sustainability. He is founder of the nonprofit Liology Institute, dedicated to fostering an integrated worldview, both scientifically rigorous and intrinsically meaningful, that could enable humanity to thrive sustainably on the Earth. Born in London, England, Lent received a BA in English Literature from Cambridge University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He initially pursued a career in business, founding an internet startup and taking it public. Beginning around 2005, Lent began an inquiry into the various constructions of meaning formed by cultures around the world and throughout history. His award-winning book, The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning, published in 2017, traces the deep historical foundations of our modern worldview. Lent’s upcoming book, The Web of Meaning: Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find Our Place in the Universe, offers a coherent and intellectually solid foundation for a worldview based on connectedness that could lead humanity to a sustainable, flourishing future.”

Jeremy’s website:

Teaser photo credit: By Mariano – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Daniel Christian Wahl

I have a passion for building bridges between diverse stakeholders, perspectives, disciplines, and worldviews. I bring innovation, creativity, and whole systems design to enterprises, projects, and educational programmes that foster effective collaboration in the transition towards a thriving and innovative culture of sustainability, resilience, and wellbeing. I look forward to collaborating with you.

Tags: connection to nature, cultural stories, regenerative cultures, web of life