About John Vervaeke


John Vervaeke, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychology & Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto.


Early Roots and Education

John grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home. As a precocious teenager, he read books on Jungian, Hindu, and Buddhist philosophy. These opened a world to him beyond Christianity but also left him with a profound loss of meaning in his life. He hoped university would help him find a solution. There, he was introduced to the great Greek philosopher Socrates who provided him with a path forward. It was during his philosophy BA at McMaster University that he found his life purpose pursuing wisdom as a response to the Meaning Crisis. 

Prof. Vervaeke went on to get his Masters in Philosophy, BSc in Cognitive Science, and a philosophy Ph.D. from the University of Toronto following which he joined the faculty. He is now the director of the Cognitive Science program and the Consciousness and Wisdom Studies Lab. 

He has received numerous awards for his lecturing.


Published Work

Prov. Vervaekehas published numerous papers. For a list of highlights please download his Curriculum Vitae.

John wrote Zombies in Western Culture: A Twenty-First Century Crisis with  Christopher Mastropietro and Filip Miscevic which you can read for free. 


The Consciousness and Wisdom Studies Lab

Dr. Vervaeke is director of the Consciousness & Wisdom Studies Lab (CWSL) at the University of Toronto that conducts research on the nature of and possible solutions to the Meaning Crisis.

One of the goals of the CWSL is to move the field of consciousness studies to better understand consciousness. The research aims to create new concepts and technologies for understanding and altering consciousness. 

The CWSL works to understand not only the phenomenon of consciousness itself but also the perspectives and processes that yield alternate states of consciousness. Higher states of consciousness, lower states of consciousness, and the spectral range in between furnish our conceptualization of how the mind and the world are intimately connected. 

The CWSL examines the development of wisdom as progressive, rational development of one’s cognitive faculties through which one attains a deeper understanding of the world and one's self. To be able to overcome self-deception and see beyond it involves change on the behavioural level down to even the neural level. From practices to processes, the CWSL looks deeper into our concept of wisdom.

The CWSL seamlessly weaves together science and philosophy in coming up with new theories and practices aimed at bringing the effects of their research into the real world. 

The Vervaeke Foundation

The Vervaeke Foundation (TVF) is a not-for-profit organization formed in 2019 dedicated to responses to The Meaning Crisis, as identified by John Vervaeke, Ph.D.

The Foundation is driven by a strong belief in the powerful role of robust scientific research applied to everyday life. As such, the Foundation empowers people by supporting a broad range of research, innovation, and outreach initiatives.

The Foundation is based out of Toronto, Canada, however, it has a global scope seeking a better world.The Vervaeke Foundation draws together passionate, dedicated individuals from a diverse variety of professions and backgrounds.

The Kairos Grant

The TVF Kairos Grant is an annual funding opportunity for researchers and innovators to pursue a deeper understanding of, and solutions towards, these complex interdisciplinary issues. Successful applicants will demonstrate the importance of their prospective research or outreach project to addressing one or more aspects of The Meaning Crisis.

Potential topics include:

  • Insight & Flow
  • Relevance Realization
  • Practical Psychotechnology
  • Science of Wisdom

The Vervaeke Foundation also supports the production of Prof. Vervaeke’s YouTube series’ including the flagship Awakening from the Meaning Crisis and the upcoming Beyond Socrates. 

The Awakening from the Meaning Crisis YouTube Series

As we have left the axial age towards the secular present we have lost the connection to ourselves, to each other, to the world and our sense of purpose. This has been called the meaning crisis.  In his Awakening from the Meaning Crisis YouTube series Prof. Vervaeke takes us on a journey from ancient Israel and Greece through to the modern age, documenting the history of the meaning crisis and the problems it has caused us presenting the wisdom of the great philosophers from Socrates to Heidegger. Prof. Vervaeke  presents possible solutions through carrying out practices aimed at cultivating insight and wisdom, cultivating secular spirituality, sacredness and awe, and presenting the idea of the Religion that’s Not a Religion, all based on modern science.  In doing so giving us a rich new vocabulary to help us communicate about the meaning crisis and our possible way out.

Welcome to The Meaning Community Website

Hello all! 

Welcome to The Meaning Community website!  

This site is currently under development. We are in our soft launch phase. Please come back often to see what we've added. There will be much more to see!

if you register with the site you will receive an email to be notified of our official launch. 

We are so happy to have you with us in our collective journey to seek meaning in the modern world!


Why do we care about the 4 Ps?

A good question. Our model is different from the model John Vervaeke puts forth because we started this quest by trying to reverse engineer the meaning crisis. Our view is purely practical in nature and we need a model that will allow us to act in the world. Since we had some idea of how these things might have come about, we needed a model that would accommodate an approach that fit the hypothesis about what the meaning crisis actually is.

To that end, we used a signalling paradigm to relate to what we think is going on to a set of components which would allow some level of manipulation.  Thus, our model is all about understanding the meaning crisis in terms that intersect psychologically and practically.

Having said all of this, the 4 types of knowing, for us, is a small (but key) part of our overall approach and work product. We hope to be sharing more about the intersection of the 4P model with hypothesis around various ways of addressing the meaning crisis as we relate this work to our larger body of work.

If you are looking for a slide outlining the model, please go here:

Meaning Community 4 Types of Knowing

Thank you for your interest, I hope this providing some insight into our motives, methods and goal.