Who is Jordan Peterson?

Jordan Peterson has attracted a lot of media attention. I have no interest in discussing his views on gender pronouns. And I’m not going to write a hit piece on him. But I was curious to understand where he is coming from. I looked at a bunch of articles and videos about him along with some of his talks and interviews. A few things stood out to me. Here is how he identifies himself:

“Politically, I am a classic British liberal. Temperamentally, I am high in openness, which tilts me to the left, although I am also conscientious, which tilts me to the right. Philosophically I am an individualist, not a collectivist, of the right or the left. Metaphisically, I am an American pragmatist, who has been strongly influenced by the psychoanalytic and clinical thinking of Freud, Jung and the psychotherapists who have followed in their wake.”

This makes me think of a classical liberal like Edmund Burke but not classical liberal like Thomas Paine. In the American tradition, Peterson might be more in line with Russel Kirk, what some would now call paleoconservative, expressing a dislike of libertarians (“chirping sectaries“) and mistrust of laissez faire capitalism — having written the most famous book on American conservatism, Kirk once voted for a socialist candidate for president rather than voting for the imperialists in either of the two main parties (this relates to Kirk’s ‘conservativsm’ having prioritized moral character over political ideology). Burke has been claimed by both the right and the left for he offers much to choose from: politician of the liberal party, anti-corporatist, progressive reformer, willing to challenge established authority,  and critic of imperialism; yet also traditionalist of sorts by way of moral imagination, British nationalist, anti-radical, reactionary tendencies, fear of revolution (although initially supported American Revolution), and suspicion toward abstract ideology.

Peterson likewise has much that appeals to people across the political spectrum. But maybe like Burke, he dislikes what he perceives as the extremists at both ends of the spectrum. At the moment, it’s his more conservative-sounding positions that are getting all the media attention. Here is an example from his popular book, 12 Rules for Life (p. 156):

“Don’t blame capitalism, the radical left, or the iniquity of your enemies. Don’t reorganize the state until you have ordered your own experience. Have some humility. If you cannot bring peace to your household, how dare you try to rule a city?”

This is the whole focus on individualism and meritocracy, a major strain within classical liberalism that is presently advocated most loudly by conservatives and right-wingers, although much of it still fits within the contemporary liberal worldview (this post began as a comment responding to a Canadian friend who, as a progressive liberal, recommended Peterson to me). He seems to be of the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps school of thought, which is a mainstay of American ideology — and even though a Canadian, Peterson admits to being influenced by American thought. Those on the political right eat up that rhetoric of hyper-individualism, as it fits into the ideological worldview of social Darwinism and capitalist realism.

Having recently watched an interview with Johann Hari about his new book on depression, I would note that what Peterson says is the complete opposite message. Hari’s view is based on the idea that there is no way for us to reorder our experience without also reordering our lives, our relationships, our communities, and our society, not to mention maybe also our economy and government. And this might be where Peterson diverges from paleoconservatism which heavily emphasizes the social aspect of social conservatism. Russell Kirk, in this area of thought, would more likely agree with Hari than Peterson. When Peterson calls himself a classical liberal or British liberal, this expresses a turning away from the traditional aspects of social conservatism that put the social before the individual.

I would argue that, as individuals in this society, the worst problems and greatest challenges we are facing are systemic and not individual. There has been worsening inequality, decreasing mobility, and and increasing mental illness (at least in the US) for generations (e.g., higher rates of urbanization has been strongly correlated to higher rates of schizophrenia). I could go on and on about all of that, as I’ve done many times before. The younger generation are experiencing pressure like no generation ever has before and so Peterson’s traditional(-sounding) advice designed from a simpler era is probably not all that helpful in these complex times — for, even if we were to agree that he points to enduring truths, the context of changing conditions would change the significance and applicability of those truths.

Many have noted that Peterson isn’t saying anything new, the comforting familiarity of his message being part of the attraction, but many of the struggles right now are new or else are taking different form and greater severity. Yet if Peterson offers nothing original, then how is he genuinely challenging anyone, either in how we act as individuals or in how we relate as a society. Harkening back to supposed traditional wisdom maybe misses the point, especially when it ends up offering further support for the anti-traditional social order defended by the modern reactionary mind. All that this does is feed into pseudo-nostalgic fantasies, as preached by a professor playing the role of a stern father figure. That is assuming my assessment of his message is correct.

Ignoring that, Peterson is quite liberal in other ways. He supposedly is fine with abortion, supports public healthcare, etc (then again, even American right-libertarians like Charles Murray, infamous for the racist book he co-authored, will support some liberal positions such as basic income). And it seems many on the political left have been drawn to his more academic views on psychology, religion, and such. I kept coming across people, often students and colleagues, who said they agreed with and appreciated much that he has taught and so respected and supported him but thought he went off the rails on issues of gender realism, racialism, genetic determinism, and evolutionary psychology — topics outside of his main area of expertise, clinical psychology.

Those latter issues are why he has gained support from the reactionary alt-right that also supports Steve Bannon and Donald Trump. Peterson distances himself from his alt-right supporters and yet he has done multiple video talks with Stefan Molyneux, an alt-right cult figure (anarcho-capitalist turned white nationalist and well known Trump supporter). Out of curiosity some years back, I spent months watching Molyneux’s videos and debating his followers and so I know what kind of person he is (see here for my posts about him). James Damore who was interviewed by Peterson also did an interview with Molyneux, the initial two interviews he did after being fired by Google.

Peterson apparently has said he would talk to anyone and this includes the bigoted and wacky right (Sargon, Mark Steyn, Laura Southern, etc). That is fine and even maybe admirable, specifically if, as he claims, his goal is to reach out to different audiences. But he sends mixed messages by associating with such people on a regular basis, even moreso when he doesn’t challenge their reactionary beliefs and so could be interpreted as offering them cover. That is no reason by itself to judge him guilty by association, though. Just something to keep in mind, considering there does appear to be a clear pattern of associations, potentially implying an intention or sympathy. It makes my Spidey sense tingle, but others can judge for themselves.

I’ll end with a discussion about this issue:

djakoeba
“[Stefan Molyneux] is a maniac, crazy dude who thinks he has all the answers. Still don’t know why Jordan Peterson engages in long interviews with people like Stefan, Sargon, Mark Steyn, The reality call show (tara or something – a racist 22 year old with 11k subscribers) and even Laura Southern. Each and everyone of them is an absolute low life with “racist tendencies” to put it mildly and they have no problem twisting facts and lying.”
“Why does JP engages with these people?”

knowthyself2000
“Let me answer this JBP question with a JBP reference: The hero returns to resurrect his dead culture.
“It’s not in the Doc’s nature to withhold himself from anyone, particularly these kids who need rescuing from Neverland so badly.
“He’s doing them a service, and you can be sure he’s softened them up and they’ll all mature because of him.
“Would you rather these people go without a compassionate sensible voice to interrupt their radicalization?”

djakoeba
“I was thinking along the same lines but it seems nonsense if you look at how it plays out. JP defended Laura Southern when she was banned by patreon for giving out instructions which endangered refugees. That is absolutely horrible and despicable but JP never said anything about that. JP tweets about patreon and how they are “censoring” her. What??
“He is only empowering these people. I never heard him directly challenging the idea’s of them in their interviews. He is definitely doing them a service. A legit professor is talking to them? One of the most popular guys on the biggest podcast in the world is obviously doing a service to them by coming on their show and talking about “western civilization”. JP isn’t interrupting them, he is empowering them. They will use what they need from him and move on.”

knowthyself2000
“They never dare bring up that shit around him. Talking to them is not a service. He’ll talk to anyone and that’s part of his reputation.”

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14 thoughts on “Who is Jordan Peterson?

  1. I’m just not big on blaming the young. I don’t get the point of telling them to get their act together and take care of their own problems. They are inheriting the problems of the older generations that never got their act together.

    Someone like Peterson tells other people to remove the log from their own eye before pointing out the speck in someone else’s eye, to change themselves before changing society. But what critics like Peterson forget is others can say the same thing about him and his peers. If his generation had gotten their house in order, we wouldn’t now be seeing the problems with climate change, Western militarism, worsening mental health, continuing racism, out-of-control neoliberal corporatism, etc.

    Considering the conditions, I think younger generations these days are doing amazingly well. Rather than telling the young what to do, older people would be wiser and less hypocritical to teach by example. It’s not too late for the older generations to clean up their own mess before handing it off to their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

    Even when Millennials have done everything right (low rates of premarital sex and drug use, on average saving more for retirement than have Boomers and GenXers at the same age, etc), they still face insurmountable problems: high education costs, fewer dependable jobs with good benefits, growing inequality, shrinking middle class, lessening economic mobility, and on and on. Why are they getting blamed for the world they were born into?

    I’m an ornery GenXer. I grew up hearing old people constantly complain about the youth. It’s something I have little tolerance for. That isn’t to say good advice isn’t still good advice, no matter who is doling it out, but let’s get our priorities straight. If the conditions are shitty, we shouldn’t be shocked that people experience all kinds of challenges and problems. That is no excuse to scapegoat those who are bearing the brunt of costs externalized onto them.

    Maybe Peterson doesn’t deserve my suspicion, but I must admit his being a privileged middle class white guy who seems to be getting all condescendingly paternalistic doesn’t lead me to feel generous toward him, although I’ll try to give him the benefit of the doubt. Yet I have too much experience of annoying opinionated older people to throw my suspicions aside. If I am being unfair, then I apologize. Still, I have good reason for being defensive of the underdogs, especially in a dysfunctional and oppressive society like the US. I can’t speak for Canada.

    Anyway, I’d rather err on the side of compassion than judgment. There is already too much blaming of victims. Millennials already know they have a tough road ahead of them. If some Millennials find comfort in a fatherly figure giving them advice as the world turns to hell, then who am I to deny them that small comfort. Maybe he is saying something that is genuinely helpful. I sure hope so.

    http://time.com/money/4882463/millennials-saving-retirement-genx-baby-boomers/

    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2015/11/09/from-bad-to-worse-trends-across-generations/

    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/01/17/fearful-perceptions/

    “Consider another aspect of perception, that of generations over time. Most people, especially as they age, look to the past with nostalgia. The world used to be a better place and the people were better too.

    “I’ve explored this before with the rates of teen sexuality and all that goes with it. Many older people assume that a generation of sluts has emerged. It is true that kids now talk more openly about sex and no doubt sexual imagery is more easily accessible in movies and on the web.

    “Even so, it turns out the kids these days are prudes compared to past generations. Abortion rates are going down not just because of improved sex education and increased use of birth control. It’s simply less of an issue because the young’uns apparently are having less sex and it sure is hard to get pregnant without sex. To emphasize this point, they also have lower rates of STDs, another hard thing to get without sex.

    “On top of that, they are “partaking in less alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.” Not just prudes, but “boring prudes.”

    “None of that fits public perception, though. Everyone seems to know the world is getting worse. I’m not necessarily one to argue against the claim that the world is going to shit. There is no doubt plenty going wrong. Still, I do try to not generalize too much.”

  2. To be fair to Jordan Peterson, I wanted to read more of his psychological work. That is his area of expertise. And that seems to be the area where some on the political left find his views insightful, worthy, and useful. Plus, he is into Jungian thought which is also a longtime interest of mine.

    It was fortuitous that I came across an excerpt (from Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief). I’m not sure what to think of it, as I’d need more context, but it doesn’t come across as dogmatic or reactionary. It does give hint to his mistrust of ‘collectivism’, whatever that means in his mind, especially considering he supports the public health system in Canada.

    https://teethfeetandfingers.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/hemispheric-difference-as-archetypes-of-the-collective-unconscious/

    “The world can be validly construed as a forum for action, as well as a place of things. We describe the world as a place of things, using the formal methods of science. The techniques of narrative, however – myth, literature, and drama – portray the world as a forum for action. The two forms of representation have been unnecessarily set at odds, because we have not yet formed a clear picture of their respective domains. The domain of the former is the “objective world” – what is, from the perspective of intersubjective perception. The domain of the latter is “the world of value” – what is and what should be, from the perspective of emotion and action.

    “The world as forum for action is “composed,” essentially, of three constituent elements, which tend to manifest themselves in typical patterns of metaphoric representation. First is unexplored territory – the Great Mother, nature, creative and destructive, source and final resting place of all determinate things. Second is explored territory – the Great Father, culture, protective and tyrannical, cumulative ancestral wisdom. Third is the process that mediates between unexplored and explored territory – the Divine Son, the archetypal individual, creative exploratory “Word” and vengeful adversary. We are adapted to this “world of divine characters,” much as the “objective world.” The fact of this adaptation implies that the environment is in “reality” a forum for action, as well as a place of things.

    “Unprotected exposure to unexplored territory produces fear. The individual is protected from such fear as a consequence of “ritual imitation of the Great Father” – as a consequence of the adoption of group identity, which restricts the meaning of things, and confers predictability on social interactions. When identification with the group is made absolute, however – when everything has to be controlled, when the unknown is no longer allowed to exist – the creative exploratory process that updates the group can no longer manifest itself. This “restriction of adaptive capacity” dramatically increases the probability of social aggression and chaos.

    “Rejection of the unknown is tantamount to “identification with the devil,” the mythological counterpart and eternal adversary of the world-creating exploratory hero. Such rejection and identification is a consequence of Luciferian pride, which states: all that I know is all that is necessary to know. This pride is totalitarian assumption of omniscience – is adoption of “God’s place” by “reason” – is something that inevitably generates a state of personal and social being indistinguishable from hell. This hell develops because creative exploration – impossible, without (humble) acknowledgment of the unknown – constitutes the process that constructs and maintains the protective adaptive structure that gives life much of its acceptable meaning.

    ““Identification with the devil” amplifies the dangers inherent in group identification, which tends of its own accord towards pathological stultification. Loyalty to personal interest – subjective meaning – can serve as an antidote to the overwhelming temptation constantly posed by the possibility of denying anomaly. Personal interest – subjective meaning – reveals itself at the juncture of explored and unexplored territory, and is indicative of participation in the process that ensures continued healthy individual and societal adaptation.

    “Loyalty to personal interest is equivalent to identification with the archetypal hero – the “savior” – who upholds his association with the creative “Word” in the face of death, and in spite of group pressure to conform. Identification with the hero serves to decrease the unbearable motivational valence of the unknown; furthermore, provides the individual with a standpoint that simultaneously transcends and maintains the group.”

  3. The problem I have with Peterson is ultimately this. It worries me how much overlap he has with the reactionary right. He promotes cultural Marxism conspiracies, genetic determinism, IQ fatalism, gender absolutism, dogmatic realism, etc. He does so by denying, dismissing, or downplaying white privilege, social construction, and environmental influences. Consider the title of a video from his Youtube channel: “Identity politics and the Marxist lie of white privilege.”

    Still, he isn’t so much like the alt-right. His views are more akin to Charles Murray with the same concern with how as a society we should deal with genetically determined low IQ people. There is a compassionate attitude such as in Murray’s advocacy of a basic income and Peterson’s support of public health care, but there is a great danger when this is based on a support of right-wing ideology.

    We on the political left can find some common ground. I too want policies like basic income and public health care. That doesn’t stop me from seeing the battle of ideas behind these policies being as or more important. Even authoritarian regimes, from the Soviets to the Nazis, supported aspects of the welfare state.

    The point isn’t supporting the welfare state by any means and to any end. A welfare state is only useful to the degree that it is part of a healthy and well-functioning social democracy. That is precisely where Murray and Peterson go in an entirely different direction. They don’t want social democracy because, even if they want the government to take care of the inferior people, they don’t want those supposed inferior people to have real power to govern themselves.

    This paternalism isn’t entirely bad, but it has a dark side. Part of the dark side is the sacrifice or dumbing down of truth itself. For anyone who has researched such things as IQ and gender, the shallowness and misleading nature of Peterson’s ideology is disturbing. For example, whatever one may think about gender pronouns, science is so far beyond the point of the old simplistic views of binary gender ideology — from the large number of people carrying genetics of both sexes to the large numbers of people born with mixed genitalia.

    That isn’t to say he doesn’t still have interesting things to say. It’s not surprising that he has simplistic views on areas of knowledge outside his expertise. So, his views within his expertise should be judged separately. Besides, for all the racism and classism that Charles Murray expresses, I nonetheless found his paternalist book Coming Apart to be a good read when paired with Robert Putnam’s Our Kids. His explanations may be wrong and yet the problems he points remain real. I’m fine with views I disagree with being part of the larger dialogue, but I always want to make the facts as clear as possible for how claims of facts can be misused and abused toward undesirable ends.

    With someone like Peterson, let’s be careful to sift the good from the bad. But also let’s be careful of how the bad elements can filter into what otherwise might be good. I’m sure that his psychological views form an ideological basis for his reactionary views on IQ, gender, and such. Even as I’m a fan of Jung, I also keep in mind that Jung has often attracted the interest of many reactionaries, since archetypies can easily be used to justify all kinds of dogmatic ideologies. Jung courted some dangerous territory at times (e.g., racial memory). These kinds of ideas need to be handled with care.

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2017/11/29/jordan-peterson-is-peddling-iq-myths-and-fallacies/

    “In the tradition of nineteenth-and early twentieth-century pseudo-scientists, phrenologists, quacks, and scientific racists, Peterson’s commitment to IQ is simply the reflection of his commitment to an unalterable hierarchy of human beings. And this is why his dismissal of “unnatural” and “made up” gender pronouns, alongside his casual sexism—his belief that women would be better served by having babies than careers and that male feminists are “creepy”—turns out to be central to his intellectual project, which seeks to resurrect the conventional patriarchal pecking order. For Peterson, transgender people and powerful women upset the “male dominance hierarchy” that forms the centerpiece of his thought. His world view is predicated on the promise of restoring authority to those who feel disempowered by the globalism, feminism, and social-justice movements he derides.”

    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/is-the-tide-starting-to-turn-on-genetics-and-culture/

    “Recent research has taken this even further in showing that neither sex nor gender is binary (1, 2, 3, 4, & 5), as genetics and its relationship to environment, epigenetics, and culture is more complex than was previously realized. It’s far from uncommon for people to carry genetics of both sexes, even multiple DNA.”

  4. Here is a video someone shared with me. That person apparently like it. I had a different response (see below).

    I’m sorry to be a Debbie downer, but I’m less impressed. I’ve heard these kinds of arguments many times before. It’s fairly standard conservative rhetoric. After all, he identifies as a classical liberal which is just another way of saying conservative. I cut my intellectual teeth on debates with my father, a fiscally conservative business professor. I know the style of argument and the kind of data used.

    He speaks confidently and bluffs his way through by playing the role of an authority figure, specifically of the stern father variety, something conservatives are fond of doing. But when you look closely at his argument and the data it is based on, it falls apart. Maybe for personal reasons, this really hits a raw nerve for me. I’m not overly submissive to authority and arguments from authority, quite the opposite. This kind of thing brings out strong opinions from me and puts me in an argumentative mood — let me apologize for that, in advance.

    He offers no evidence that people are less mature than in the past. He just assumes it as true, I guess as an article of faith or stereotypical generational bias (kids these days!). The younger generations show a higher average IQ, education, training, and self-control (the latter seen with higher rates of savings than previous generations at same age along with lower rates of illegal drug use, addiction, and premarital sex early in life). Anyway, what is a “real man” — such a description is ludicrous to those who have studied anthropology and so are familiar with the diverse expression of gender in various cultures.

    He also makes false arguments such as claiming the problem of college degrees is that everyone has them. This is blatantly wrong since the vast majority of Millennials (at least in the US, between 2/3 and 3/4) lack college degrees, even as they have relatively higher rates compared to past generations. His argument is mostly directed to the privileged middle-to-upper class that does have a majority that goes to college, but it’s unclear that anything he says is even useful for them.

    It remains true that between someone with a degree (even in English literature or art history) and someone with no degree at all the former are prioritized by employers. Millennials with college degrees have higher rates of employment and make more money, as compared to Millennials without college degrees. Sure, it’s bad that many Millennials graduated just as the economy tanked, but GenXers experienced the same thing with a recession that targeted only their generation as they were hitting the job market — in fact, back in the 1990s there was an even higher rate of young GenX college grads working low wage jobs.

    So, this isn’t a new issue. The problem isn’t college, not to say it can’t be improved as every aspect of our society could (and should) be improved. Yeah, the job market does suck, but it’s much worse for those without degrees. If we want to discuss the failures and dysfunction of the economy, it’s not useful blaming the young as individuals for the problems they collectively inherited from the older generations, blaming them for the world they were born into and the job market that was forced upon them.

    Sure, after college graduates are hired, the employer might do further training, but that was also true in the past. It used to be standard that corporations would do most of their own training of employees (my grandfather without a high school degree was trained on the job and made more money than my mother as a public school teacher). Then corporations found it cheaper to externalize the costs of training onto individuals and society. They maybe have now reached the limit of how much they can externalize costs and that might be a good thing, as it means they are being forced to re-internalize those costs.

    Of course, we could do what some other countries do such as the Nordic. They simply make it a public cost (paid by high corporate tax rates) in their heavily funding education and training (when Norwegian citizens lose a job the government makes sure that, if needed, they get retraining to find new work). There is nothing stopping Canada and the US from doing the same by having publicly-funded education and training. Then the entire dilemma would be moot. It simply depends on whether we prefer public good and social democracy or capitalist realism and social Darwinism.

    Maybe I’m missing something of value in what he said. I do have my biases. As someone without a college degree, it’s not as if I’d argue that everyone needs to go to college. It just seems irrelevant, since most people in all generations don’t go to college. A college education remains a privilege. Very few poor people get the opportunity, but their lack of a college education in no way helps them out in life. There are bigger problems that get ignored, such as how growing inequality of wealth correlates with growing inequality of higher education.

    https://www.alternet.org/education/surprise-majority-millennials-dont-have-college-degree-thats-going-cost-everybody

    https://qz.com/787448/millennials-with-college-degrees-actually-have-it-better-in-the-job-market-than-generation-x/

    https://qz.com/721854/why-everyone-is-so-mad-99-of-post-recession-jobs-went-to-those-who-went-to-college/

  5. Another video was recommended to me. It is a long lecture and quite rambling, disorganized, and full of tangents.

    The problem with that is that he has limited area of expertise and so ends up falling into the smart idiot effect as he ranges widely. As a psychology professor, he is woefully uninformed and misinformed about IQ, inequality, economics, Marxism, postmodernism, history, hard science, etc. But unless someone is well informed about these topics, they would be impressed by all the constant references to names, examples, and factoids he throws out.

    When he talks about psychology, it is fairly straightforward stuff than any reasonable person that is well read could follow. He isn’t really saying anything new, an observation many make. He relies heavily on Jungian thought, although as someone already familiar he doesn’t offer any profound insights. There are dozens of Jungian thinkers who I’d recommend before this guy. But to give him the benefit of the doubt, this is an introductory lecture.

    He did make some valid points. He stated that high income inequality, not poverty alone, is associated with increased aggression in low status males. If he were more informed on inequality, he would broaden the scope of this. Everyone (including women and the high status) acts more aggressively in a high inequality society, as stress and anxiety increases. People start acting weird under such extreme, unnatural conditions. That is where Peterson misses the point, in that he is prone to naturalize and normalize inequality by making a defense of capitalist realism. He never fully acknowledges the systemic and structural nature of environmental conditions and how they influence people.

    So-called ‘capitalist’ societies like the US are only capitalism for the poor while socialism for the rich. They are some combination of plutocracy, cronyism, corporatism, neoliberalism, and inverted totalitarianism. Of course, he definitely never talks about that. His attacks on the left-wing economics are Cold War boilerplate.

    eric blair
    1 year ago
    Not sure about pain being at the “bedrock” – Hasn’t open heart surgery and much dentistry, been done with the patient “conscious,” but under hypnosis? Wouldn’t that negate the idea that pain and consciousness are intimately associated?

    startanewlife
    10 months ago (edited)
    Incidental know-it-all remark that does NOT make Mr Peterson’s conclusions wrong:
    As a Buddhist I feel the need to point out to a very common mistake as to the fundamental doctrine of the so called first Noble Truth (at 1:31:07). The Buddha never maintained that “life is suffering”, although this is stated everyhwhere, even in Buddhist teaching books. This equation of suffering and life is a quite wrong simplification of the 1st Noble Truth which is mostly due to translation problems from Pali to other languages. The Buddha observed that “there is suffering in life”, though. Of course, we enjoy a good meal, for example, or music, sex, a sunset, our families etc. These are enjoyments are way too often our “pursuits of happiness.” So life is not just suffering but there exists the potential of happiness in life, too. If it did not, the Buddhists’ aim of the Noble Eightfold Path would not be possible, i. e. supreme contentment and happiness or Nibbāna, which is the end of all suffering contained in life, could never be reached. However, that’s exactly what the Buddha achieved and all who practice the Eightfold Path can achieve that as well.
    To wrap it up, it is that pain, stress and suffering IN life that propels all human beings to seek ways out of suffering, to end that suffering, whether they know it or not and with many different tools, be it training of mind or drugs etc. And that’s where Professor Peterson is very right :-)

    Mathias Bachmann
    3 months ago
    Being a natural scientist myself, i’m going to deny that in a scientist worldview there is a conceptual framework in which “matter” is the most “real” thing.
    (he states that at about 1:46 )
    At least “energy”, maybe even entropy, would be as much “real” as “matter”.
    And then, the fundamental “laws” thet reign the world are as real as the “matter” or elements inside it that are reigned by these laws, even if the Laws as we know them may be only aproximations of the real laws as they exist .
    In that way of worldview, science is the seeking for the “truth” (or “reality”) by trying to find out the real laws that rule the world.
    In that world, matter is just one kind of manifestation that can be observed to find out more about the “reality”.
    So his statement is an oversimplification, although i get the point what he means when he concludes: “maybe we need more than one set of tools to operate the world.”

    clockworkoj
    8 months ago
    Hey Doc, Dolphins have a sense of the future. Kelly, a dolphin at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, figured out how to “delay gratification” to get more fish out of the trainers. Look it up.

    Jony
    8 months ago
    1:32:34
    “As far as I can tell human beings are the only ones that have disovered the future”
    A few years ago I was watching videos on primate cognition. I remember watching something about either a chimp or orangutan, that was hiding a tool from his supervisors (hammer? not sure) to use it later. Anyone seen it or knows what I’m talking about?

    shodanxx
    8 months ago
    At 1:11:25 I’m sorry Jordan but I don’t believe that tabula rasa isn’t a “post modernist idea” unless by “post modernist” you mean a grab bag of every idea you dislike. And at any rate, taking sides in the nature vs nurture debate is just painting yourself into a corner, you should know better.

    Shawn S
    1 year ago
    Jordan, did you ever answer the common student question you get at the end this class? “How do you keep this from becoming ideology?” I see a lot of people using your ideas as ideological weapons, and most can’t articulate any aspect of your views. Isn’t that just a reverse SJW?

    Karl Toth
    1 month ago
    I find it interesting that his criticism of Marxism is that its based on a “presupposition” of how people should behave, which required absolutist totalitaranism to implement. He also seems to argue that the benefit of christianity is that is was a universal moral code people adhered to for 1,500 years (thanks to the absolutism of feudal monarchy) and laments that with the decline of christianity people don’t have a consensus on how to behave anymore. Is the fundamental difference simply the amount of time that has lapsed? Perhaps marxists simply haven’t had a long enough time enforcing their ideas in order for them to be fully adopted and accepted as part of western culture.

    Josh H
    1 week ago
    Increasing IQ is easy. Education + time. African Americans are example. In 1850 with no education they were completely illiterate. In only 2 generations by 1950 over half we’re literate. I don’t think there was standard IQ but I would guess it increase from 60-80 in 100 years.

    kangzosa Vegan MGTOW
    1 year ago
    I don’t have a problem with someone putting up their hand and saying I’m an idiot I can’t think for myself and I need someone to lead me and make decisions for me.

    But if you’re going to talk about justification for tyranny this has to be it. Of course inequality occurs naturally it’s not the same as the kind of inequality we see in society that is set by people with a particular idea of how the world should be rather than letting society naturally unfold.

    Unequal power differences occur naturally, but power is also self preserving. When there is social mobility and a guy moves up in the world if he subscribes to do this hierarchy power justification theory he is not going to leave the same opportunity that he had for others. As soon as he’s climbed to the top he’s going to kick the ladder out from him so that no one can follow. And why would you? why would you want the extra competition? you don’t. Power is self preserving and in society it does create unnatural institutions for it’s preservation. But to say or imply as peterson does that these institutions of capitalism and competition are natural because inequality is natural, is the greatest pseudo justification for tyranny and power distance I can imagine.

    Nima Darabi
    2 weeks ago (edited)
    Pareto distribution is very common in nature and society or any other self-similar phenomenon where similar dynamics rules across a wide range of scales; several orders of magnitudel; however:

    1. It’s not quite true: A couple of decades ago it became popular that from book sales distribution to the size of trees or mamals or the number of links to the web pages, a lot of phenomena follow a Pareto distribution. Deeper reseearch and larger datasets have shown that in any of these scenarios (due to many reasons including the exhaustion of finite resrouces), if you zoom out enough, or wait enough, or collect data larger enough, the log-linear curves will always bend down and other skewed distributions such as log-normal or double-Pareto fit better.
    2. Even if something has a Pareto (powerlaw) distribution, that does not necessarily make its implementation on a finite scale inequal. It completely depends on the value of “alpha (aka “Pareto index”, “powerlaw component” or “scaling factor”, they are different names for the same thing).

    For these two reasons, the case for inequality is not justfied simply because “Pareto distribution governs a lot of things”.

    PS. The rich get richer effect is also called “preferential attachment”.

    painterQjensen
    10 months ago (edited)
    – In the west, the working force is kept at a near stable minimum, the extreme top, exploits a waster % of the rest of the globe, both in resourses and population. that way the graph for one nation is many graphs ( via lobbyism also, more and more nations, share the top that exploits the rest of the nation ), where the many graphs share the extreme top. – Regarding the 1917 revolution in russia and forward. Would it bee wrong to read into it as changing out who was where, but not the problem of lack of equality, no real fight agianst unequality and abuse by the top, now a new top. -Prison slave, cottonfield slave, slave worker/capitalist version slavery ( getting paid less than the cost of staying alive, or not getting paid at all, but surviving on aid from the state (state funded slave work, for a company where the company pay either nothing, or close to nothing ) ) There is a problem that arises both if you call the former ussr, marxistic or communistic, and if you call u.s.a. capitalistic. Wee in the west are condoning the abuse of humans outside our mirror imaged group. why? international solidarity is to fight agianst ones own norm, a part of what is human nature at its core, an attempt to evolve past what is currently the norm. Sometimes a new norm is set, but the current direction for our species is that of multi negative.

    nothing at all
    1 year ago (edited)
    The problem is, success doesn’t equate to intelligence. And a lack of intelligence shouldn’t mean you starve and die. The only reason capitalism survived in the west was Marxist inspired worker’s movements, and linking paranoid police state and forced industrialization with communism is over-simplifying the failure of the system, not to mention the fact that Russia was forced to turn its smaller economy to military production due to competition with the US, and Russia went directly from a feudal system onto a path to communism, and from what I last read, 80% of people wanted to continue the Soviet system at the point of its ‘collapse’, and over 50% of Russians today want to go back.

    Of course capitalism is more efficient. It follows natural selection. It sacrifices the weak, enslaves the weak (sometimes literally) in order to create progress. Communism was never intended to be more efficient than capitalism, it was meant to be more humane. I think communism and socialism are very flawed for plenty of reasons, but you really have to stop being so one-sided in your arguments, or you run the risk of just creating division instead of argument, because you outright deny the reasonable points of your ideological opponents. That’s what really caused the Cold War. Neither side would listen to the other.

    Cole Matthews
    10 months ago
    I wouldn’t be so quick to glorify capitalism, Dr. Peterson. Perhaps it has served a few of us as far as creature comforts are concerned (for the time being), but unlike Marxism, unfettered capitalism has opened the gateway of corruption to all, on a massively augmented scale. Coupled with technology, this system has endowed the most competitive of our species (the psychopaths) fundamental control of our planet, which they have capitalized upon in every which-way possible as means to expand their control. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, centralized fractional reserve banking, incitement of hate and ignorance among the masses through technology, propaganda, and pharmaceuticals, polluted food, and environment.

    We are lucky if we haven’t already killed 30 million in the middle east alone, Dr. Peterson. Good day.

    JOE BLOGGS
    1 month ago
    my grandfather was a coal miner in the north of england (whitehaven cumbria) @ william pit……he never crawled 2 miles to the pit face they rode trains and he bought his own home with his pay had 6 kids, but sadly yes he did die from silicocis (black lung) @ 89 years of age so still not bad….remember jordan is only human,
    i also doubt his human meat for sale story most likely its just a left over from the anti communist era during the cold war.

    Jason Carr
    10 months ago
    Why would we focus on the economic institutions of soviet Russia instead of its failed democratic institutions? Democracy was a critical component to Marx’s vision.

    Alexander Wills
    1 year ago
    “Property is theft…” comes from Proudhon, not Marx. Marx doesn’t not equal Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, Maoism either. Marx wrote a critique of the capitalist economic arrangement. Marxian analysis is just that, an analysis. Marx never put forth actual solutions to his critique. However, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, Castro, Chavez, they tragically attempted to interpret Marx’s critique into their own solutions. Marx was inspired by the French Revolution of democracy, and it seems Marx felt that worker associations were the way forward to end the tragedy of capitalisms business cycle. I’m a conservative here in the United States, and I took the time to actually read all of Marx’s writings. Marx was a philosopher turned economist. What we conservatives should be horrified about is the solutions, both economic and cultural, that the Soviets, Chinese, Cubans, and Koreans put forth from Marx’s writings, not Marx’s economic analysis and insight to capitalism. Joseph Schumpeter, the Austrian economist, was heavily influenced by Marx, and he was extremely conservative. Peterson is right, the belief system surrounding Marx’s writings have become extremely inhumane and odd. I just don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water, or else we’re blind to valuable analysis.

    Yauheni Pyrkh
    3 months ago (edited)
    From someone who actually grew up in a soviet union, i”d have to say he is overdramatizing the last years before the collapse. Sure it was pretty bad in many ways, but it wasn’t as bad as he pictures it, at least not in the part i lived. As for the people got fed up with the system, as far as i remember there was a referendum on the dissolution of the union and the majority of the people actually voted against, but but the political leaders went with that anyway, the agreement on dissolution was signed by the leaders of the 3 most prominent republics of the 15: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, so there’s the question about the will of the people and the democratic process

    Dragan Milivojević
    11 months ago
    For a man of your intellect who has some extraordinary deep understanding of human nature you are amazingly ignorant about USSR, Russia, Eastern Europe etc. When you mentioned fall of communism and Eastern Europe wars I had to stop watching and I love your lectures but I have to wonder if you are so brainwashed by USA and western propaganda about our recent history how brainwashed are you on other matters? And this pattern repeats from time to time. I watch a few videos and those are great and then you start spewing this kind of nonsense. My comment is a bit incoherent but this kind of BS gets my blood boiling.

    Dragan Milivojević
    8 months ago
    Don’t remember what was exactly stated in this video. It has been a while. Small sample of my regular grievances with JP: he keeps changing the numbers, highest quoted so far, for deaths in USSR, is 50M. That’s actually a sinister part of the western propaganda, assigning the blame for victims of German atrocities to Stalin. The famine in Ukraine, inflated numbers and rarely mentioning the victims of famine in the rest of the USSR. No mention of what happened before or any frame of reference like famines in the same period.
    Equating the flag of USSR to Nazi swastika flag, “communism” to Nazism etc.
    The Eastern Europe wars, I better not get into it, he is obviously clueless about that and got his “information” by watching CNN.

    The most frustrating part about JP: he has a goal of exposing the crimes of Stalin and communism which I support 100% but he keeps doing it by quoting outright lies and using the obvious western propaganda. That shows how lacking his historical knowledge is and that also brings in another question that is quite disturbing to me: If he is so clueless about this how valid are his interpretations about culture and mythology that I find so inspiring?

    Keter
    1 day ago
    While i do enjoy these talks and admire Jordan for his contributions, it irks me when he is speaking about Russia and the Soviets. While, of course i am biased, being a russian, but he always paints russia as this horrible place made for slaves and where there was no happiness and only suffering, misery and death. And this utterly false view is just..well unfair. There ware many good things, and you can’t judge a nation by some dissident works and a few scraps of paper that could (and probably ware, considering that there was an anti-stalin propaganda campaign) be falsified. The flats ware bad? But at least almost everyone had a home. And we worked for something, not just our personal wealth. And ask anyone who is not a public speaker or some pissed of writer, and they would tell you that soviet union was the greatest and most pleasant place to live in. So what that we didn’t have coke, or some fancy foods? Working under limitations can provide great results for your development and for overall productivity.

    I would say, for the past 30 years russia is much, much worse that in soviet times (at least after 1950s). Recently it got better, but not that much. At least we don’t have university professors going around selling clothes for a living, because the country doesn’t need education anymore =( Capitalism brought so much pain and suffering to my country like you wouldn’t believe it.

    But losers are losers, nothing to be done about it.

    Alexander L
    1 week ago (edited)
    That “The Day After” influenced Reagan for disarmament is a nice fairy tale from PR agents of his White House. Actually the US threw away only very old rockets, labeled it pragmatically as “peaceful disarmament” and made the way free for their military-industrial complex to waste even more taxpayers money for new and modern atomic rockets. And also the Iran-Contra-Affair of Reagans government made it necessary that the Republican Party and especially Reagan get a new image, cos Reagan was almost close to impeachment – only one decade after the republican Nixon resigned from office. So the disarmament was also helpful to repair the broken image of Reagan and his party: official message though: they take care of the fear of the voters . But interesting that the teacher spreads these official government fairy tales in kinda innocent way without ever requesting it. Especially conc the aspect that this is obviously a lecture also about the spreading of myths.

    jm galar
    8 months ago
    I’m not sure that Peterson’s views on Stalin really represent what actually happened at least insofar as his views on trying to destroy the world go (39:00 or so). If anything, Stalin along with Roosevelt and Churchill were trying to avoid destroying the world; it is Truman under the influence of Byrnes who violated the agreements made between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt.

  6. I only meant to address the first part of this post, but I ended up with a response that could be its own post; I’ve learned to edit after typing; I’ll try for brevity.

    My objection to Peterson is that he wants the practical sciences to line up with spiritual wisdom or visionary art, but he ends up with EvPsych and IQ studies (which deny the creative, as opposed to absolutely free, human Will, which should be championed in the far West since we have little to no traditional teaching we could return to for guidance) and an ethos that is basically Western Confucianism, concerned with administrative duties and the work ethic (which, as you point out, is reasonably well-off in younger generations). This is the basic division between me and the modern worldview– it is solely concerned with the structures that further practical life; I want to explore what the mind can do regardless of the structures it exists in, and borrowing from Croce (who was something like a non-materialist non-Christian in a Western mold ) the mind is an enduring reality, while the material world is contingent and constantly fading.

    Your view of Peterson might have something to do with where you live, since he’s responding to trends in the culturally liberal, 60’s legacy tinged West Coast and Canada, whereas the Midwest might be more traditionally Christian ( whether the “feed and clothe the poor” or social conservative type). To me, sometimes what drives the culture fight isn’t race or gender , it’s related to larger ideas going back to the Reformation and its developments, whether as Puritansim or the romantic infatuation with a “pure” natural world ( and Self) . The response to this explains some of Paglia’s more outlandish ideas, like her impatience and disdain for climate change activism; in her mind, humanity is almost completely helpless before Mother Nature, and the climate is always a capricious element that threatens civilization. I appreciate her history of ideas, and she is unique as an atheist who genuinely respects religion, although her vision of nature and the radical nature of imagination is closer to Blake than Dawkins .

    I like that you mention that progressive crusades for speech codes and the #MeToo movement could reflect many things beyond their surface; I think it’s unfortunate that political interests are advanced through the media and lawsuits but maybe this is where we are as a culture and it will be this way until something changes in the faltering political system. A similar thing is happening with the drug war, where the system stalls as long as possible to avoid any congressional action. It can lead to someone looking beyond status quo realism or embracing a conspiratorial worldview.

    I’ve encountered “PC tyranny” from Western Buddhists ,where something like mentioning my enjoyment of an author who held racist opinions (like Lovecraft) can lead to insinuations of racism unless prefaced with tortured disclaimers that resemble a masochist’s verbal abuse fantasy. This is insane and misguided, but its also the only tyranny in history that can be countered by simply laughing at how ridiculous it is. Degrading my own speech as a reaction is one of the dangers here; my only response is that reactions to stupid trends are likely to be stupid ( with me the intention is humorous; I regret silence more than failed comedy) .

    The excesses of progressive liberalism lie in its fussy disdain for masculine heroic virtues and the cultures that birthed them ( I believe these should be appropriated by anyone who wants to live a more free life, and this would make life better ) on the one hand, and an idealized view of nature and history that dismisses the need for that discipline. In a small way, it’s reflected in the disdain for sport culture ( I understand people not loving the macho side and the extravagance, but Peterson is right to point out that the competition is more than simple brutishness, and includes its own cooperative side . I’ve known highly liberal people who loved sports until the second Bush term, which is giving political affiliation far too much importance ) .

    This is closer to class snobbery than any coherent position; the upper classes tend toward an effete and prissy demeanor that they come to view as natural and right ( and since the 60’s, any challenge to this is chalked up to malevolent paternalist instincts; not that American conservatives do much good there ). It should also be noted ( somewhat in line with your previous posts on odd conservatives ) that Burke’s aristocracy included teachers as well as the trades and eminent statesmen ( that’s an idea that could be called “deeper liberalism”, since it cuts across the conservative/liberal divide in America).

    I think Peterson and Paglia go off the rails when they identify gender bending as the greatest threat to our world, as opposed to bad economic decisions and institutional momentum; the Roman Empire had far more gender theatrics and perversity in its early leaders after Augustus than right before the collapse; that view is mostly from Edward Gibbon and they could do much better.

    • “I only meant to address the first part of this post, but I ended up with a response that could be its own post; I’ve learned to edit after typing; I’ll try for brevity.”

      No worries. I’m not known for being overly concerned about brevity. If anything, I prefer people who can go into detail. Only be brief when your message is simple and straightforward or when you’re short on time. Otherwise, please feel free to take the time and effort to offer a longer response.

      “This is the basic division between me and the modern worldview– it is solely concerned with the structures that further practical life; I want to explore what the mind can do regardless of the structures it exists in, and borrowing from Croce (who was something like a non-materialist non-Christian in a Western mold ) the mind is an enduring reality, while the material world is contingent and constantly fading.”

      I’m not sure what my worldview is. But I sort of get where you’re coming from, I think. I’m definitely in line with you about certain criticisms of the modern worldview or one variety thereof, especially the American strain. As for what the mind can do regardless of whatever else, that is an interesting topic. I can’t say I have a strong opinion. I’m a bit of a weirdo myself and willing to entertain almost anything, but I can also be capable of hard-nosed skepticism — both inclinations originating in how I was raised, a combination of the woo of my childhood New Agey church and my conservative-minded professorial father. I’m not sure where that leaves me, although your hinting at some thoughts here does pique my curiosity. I hope you write further about Croce.

      “Your view of Peterson might have something to do with where you live, since he’s responding to trends in the culturally liberal, 60’s legacy tinged West Coast and Canada, whereas the Midwest might be more traditionally Christian ( whether the “feed and clothe the poor” or social conservative type).”

      Yes, it’s true that I live in the Midwest. And Iowa is a mildly conservative state, although not really in any overt way — Iowans don’t talk much about religion, as outward religiosity is not the culture of the northern Europeans that settled here. But anyway, I’ve spent most of my life specifically in Iowa City, something like the West Coast of the Midwest. It’s a rather liberal college town, one of those infamous multicultural creative hubs.

      I’m surrounded by the world of the liberal class. There is all the standard university crap, from political correctness to protest marches, and there were destructive riots in the ’60s with tear gas and all that. As it is a smaller town, all of it is on a smaller scale. We don’t get the national attention that some West Coast college towns do. But it’s basically the same thing. I’ve butted heads with liberals around here, in a way that would be indistinguishable from butting heads with liberals anywhere.

      Still, it’s not like the liberals overly bother me. As a local yokel, I don’t have to interact with the university population all that much, at least not in a direct and extended way. My customers include many university workers and students, but my interactions are limited and formal. But I have participated in activism in the past and did attend the UU for a time. I’m used to liberals, though. They don’t really bother me. Maybe it’s because being raised in an extremely liberal church inoculated me to it. I know liberalism from the inside out. And the fact of the matter, for much of my life I identified as a liberal.

      Besides, my experience of college life is from my years of having lived in the conservative Deep South and having been raised by my conservative father who was a professor. I don’t automatically conflate higher education and liberalism. My dad’s field, business management, has been both one of the most dominated by conservatives and one of the fastest growing in terms of college majors — even university themselves are increasingly being run by those coming out of the business world. The new university president here is a businessman. Much of the political correctness comes from university leadership who, because of a conservative-minded attitude, are seeking to avoid negative publicity. Their lack of concern about total free speech doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with liberalism. There is even less respect for free speech at conservative colleges.

      “To me, sometimes what drives the culture fight isn’t race or gender , it’s related to larger ideas going back to the Reformation and its developments, whether as Puritansim or the romantic infatuation with a “pure” natural world ( and Self) .”

      That is what I’m always returning to. Everything has to do with the past. And often the distant past. We are creatures of the world that has been created over not just generations or centuries but millennia. If you really want to understand such things as political correctness, I’d argue you need to go back to its origins in the Axial Age when rhetoric came to the forefront. I consider the Axial Age to be the source of all of modernity, which to my mind means liberalism. You might enjoy my series on Harry Frankfurt’s “On Bullshit”:
      https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/tag/harry-frankfurt/

      “The response to this explains some of Paglia’s more outlandish ideas, like her impatience and disdain for climate change activism; in her mind, humanity is almost completely helpless before Mother Nature, and the climate is always a capricious element that threatens civilization. I appreciate her history of ideas, and she is unique as an atheist who genuinely respects religion, although her vision of nature and the radical nature of imagination is closer to Blake than Dawkins .”

      I’ve come across her name, maybe in relation to Edmund Burke’s moral imagination. She did catch my attention and I thought of looking further into her ideas. But I never got around to it because I already have too much on my plate. Her view about humanity’s helplessness before the natural world is one I’ve seen many times before. It’s common among a certain kind of conservative.

      “I like that you mention that progressive crusades for speech codes and the #MeToo movement could reflect many things beyond their surface; I think it’s unfortunate that political interests are advanced through the media and lawsuits but maybe this is where we are as a culture and it will be this way until something changes in the faltering political system. A similar thing is happening with the drug war, where the system stalls as long as possible to avoid any congressional action. It can lead to someone looking beyond status quo realism or embracing a conspiratorial worldview.”

      I see all of these public debates as mostly missing the point. They are distractions. And I suspect the distractions are at least partly intentional, one more example of political spectacle. It does make me feel conspiratorial-minded at times. There is another part of me, however, that is more accepting and doesn’t want to get all wound up about it. In the end, maybe it’s simply the moment we find ourselves in and this moment will eventually past.

      “I’ve encountered “PC tyranny” from Western Buddhists ,where something like mentioning my enjoyment of an author who held racist opinions (like Lovecraft) can lead to insinuations of racism unless prefaced with tortured disclaimers that resemble a masochist’s verbal abuse fantasy. This is insane and misguided, but its also the only tyranny in history that can be countered by simply laughing at how ridiculous it is. Degrading my own speech as a reaction is one of the dangers here; my only response is that reactions to stupid trends are likely to be stupid ( with me the intention is humorous; I regret silence more than failed comedy) .”

      My solution to that would be to either avoid such people or tell them to fuck off. I don’t have much patience for bullshit from anywhere across the political spectrum (I blame it on my uppity poor white trash ancestry). This attitude doesn’t win me many friends, but I’m fine with that. I only need a few good friends in life. As long as they don’t imprison me for my opinions, then I’ll go my own way. And if one day they do imprison me, I guess that will give me plenty of time to relax and think about life.

      “The excesses of progressive liberalism lie in its fussy disdain for masculine heroic virtues and the cultures that birthed them ( I believe these should be appropriated by anyone who wants to live a more free life, and this would make life better ) on the one hand, and an idealized view of nature and history that dismisses the need for that discipline. In a small way, it’s reflected in the disdain for sport culture ( I understand people not loving the macho side and the extravagance, but Peterson is right to point out that the competition is more than simple brutishness, and includes its own cooperative side . I’ve known highly liberal people who loved sports until the second Bush term, which is giving political affiliation far too much importance ) .”

      From a historical perspective, this is more complicated. Liberalism has always been caught up in the masculine heroic virutes — imperialism and ethno-nationalism came out of liberalism, as did Manifest Destiny and White Man’s Burden. And progressivism was very much embraced by those like Theodore Roosevelt who created a macho, patriotic self-image and pushed for American strength and greatness. Or take Thomas Paine, the prototypical progressive liberal in the Anglo-American tradition, who was always a man ready for a fight by both words and weapons.

      There is nothing inherent about progressive liberalism that forces it toward fussy disdain of such a worldview. Then again, as someone who is extremely liberal-minded (both psychologically and socially), I must admit that I have an indifference toward sports. I played soccer for about a decade growing up, but I never really cared about the team aspect of it. I was a good team player while not caring whether my team won or lost. Group-mindedness and submission of self to anything or anyone else has not been compelling to me. Like the famous study, if asked about slapping my father, I’d be fine with that… assuming he deserved it.

      “This is closer to class snobbery than any coherent position; the upper classes tend toward an effete and prissy demeanor that they come to view as natural and right ( and since the 60’s, any challenge to this is chalked up to malevolent paternalist instincts; not that American conservatives do much good there ). It should also be noted ( somewhat in line with your previous posts on odd conservatives ) that Burke’s aristocracy included teachers as well as the trades and eminent statesmen ( that’s an idea that could be called “deeper liberalism”, since it cuts across the conservative/liberal divide in America).”

      I suspect it has more to do with class. That is precisely what is meant by the liberal class. As I see it, many conservatives of the middle-to-upper class fit perfectly well within the liberal class world. That is because the middle-to-upper class, across the political spectrum, tends to hold socially liberal views in a general sense such as on gay marriage (at least, toward themselves and people like themselves, even as they can be socially conservative toward the lower classes). This does fit into Burke’s broader aristocracy and the deeper liberalism.

      “I think Peterson and Paglia go off the rails when they identify gender bending as the greatest threat to our world, as opposed to bad economic decisions and institutional momentum; the Roman Empire had far more gender theatrics and perversity in its early leaders after Augustus than right before the collapse; that view is mostly from Edward Gibbon and they could do much better.”

      They are cranky conservatives. They have their opinions that are strongly held. I remember my dad talking about sexual perversity and homosexuality in relation to the fall of the Roman Empire. That was probably back when I was in high school in the early ’90s. I didn’t understand such things at the time and, living in South Carolina, there was no liberal critique to balance it out. I took it in without much question.

      I totally understand what it is like to be trapped in that kind of worldview where it makes sense. After so many influential years in the conservative Deep South, it required me to spend even more years in the ‘liberal’ Midwest before I was fully deprogrammed from that right-wing worldview. The seed of liberalism was in me from a young age, but it would have been much harder to have developed my liberal-mindedness further if I had remained in the Deep South. I sometimes imagine my alternative identities if my life had gone other directions. There is little doubt that I could have become a good conservative. And at the right moment of tender vulnerability, Peterson might have converted me.

  7. I should mention that he’s probably a good resource for someone foundering in college; and no one was talking much about these things 10 years ago. The above comments about Marx being an analyst of capitalism’s problems, not a man-with-answers was well-written.

    • That might be true. Peterson has talked about reaching out to young men who need guidance. And I have come across comments where someone expresses that he kept them from falling into extremism or hopelessness. Maybe it’s hard for me to connect with what some young men are experiencing today and why he resonates for them.

      It is true that I was once a young lost soul foundering in college, to such an extent that I dropped out. But I don’t know that listening to someone like him would have saved me. Instead, I was influenced by the likes of Henry David Thoreau who made me want to escape civilization and live in a small cabin by a lake. I did discover Ayn Rand while in college and she certainly was of no help.

      I wish Peterson stuck closer to the psychological insights of a learned professor and the wise advice of a fatherly figure. He too often goes off the rail with his commentary on everything under the sun. I suspect he has something worthy to say, but I must admit that I get lost in his unfocused endless digressions. I get to the end of some of his talks and I have no clue what the central point was supposed to be. I’m sure there is an intended takeaway, if I could figure out how to filter out all of the extraneous opinionating.

      He seems to think that cultural Marxism or neo-Marxist postmodernism is one of the greatest threats facing young men today. Is that supposed to be the main message? How is that helpful in any practical way? That seems plain loony to me. As for his advice about cleaning up one’s room and such, that is fine as far as it goes, not that it embodies any great wisdom. I was told to clean up my room growing up and I’m not sure it was overly helpful. My depression has deeper causes than that.

  8. Here is a dialogue Peterson had with a thinker I’m interested in:

    https://www.perspectiva-insideout.com/home/as-deep-a-question-as-you-can-possibly-ask-jordan-peterson-in-conversation-with-iain-mcgilchrist

    In that dialogue, I identify with McGilchrist. He is more liberal-minded. The difference with Peterson is, in describing the human attitude toward the unexpected, he talked of defensiveness as the first response. But the more liberal-minded would be just as likely to respond with curiosity. That was emphasized by their differing emphasis on the relationship each perceived between chaos and order.

    And here is a short interview that gets right to the point:

    https://www.perspectiva-insideout.com/home/jordan-peterson-on-the-logos-piaget-jung-and-ideology

    That one is also good. It begins to turn into a heated debate but remains constructive.

    This finally helped me to understand where Peterson is coming from. And it also clarified the precise limitations in his worldview, specifically the standard inability of conservatives to see their own ideology as an ideology — that is the ideological belief that only other people have ideologies.

    It’s understandable that, as an anti-Marxist, Peterson could deny having an ideology. It is precisely a Marxist conception of ideology that posits we all have ideologies, what Althusser basically meant as a worldview. This might be a greater threat to Peterson than anything else, the notion that he too may be under sway of ideology.

    It’s maybe along the lines of idios kosmos (private world), in being opposed koinos kosmos (shared world). But it has been noted it can be hard to differentiate them, as an private ideology that is enforced as politics or becomes the dominant paradigm becomes a shared ideology. That is what Marxists understood for an ideology can shape the world, not merely reflect it.

    • There is a connection. From the reactionary emotional response (as explained by Corey Robin), what I call the haunted moral imagination, fear of chaos (as anxiety of existential threat) motivates the enforcement of order, specifically social order which is the battlefield of ideology. Oddly, this is how conservatives can deny having ideology while fighting so fiercely over ideas.

      Ideology is the frame that conservatives don’t want to acknowledge, having to do with the symbolic conflation they are ever trying to hide and obscure. The denial of abstractions is simply burying them deeper where they can’t be found. This is their Achille’s heel because, on some level, they recognize how mired they are in abstractions and so they project outward this sense of internal conflict.

      The political left is needed, if only to be a repository and carrier of of the reactionary’s shadow. They are shadowboxing and the punches land on anyone who gets in their way or else whoever is conveniently nearby or can’t fight back. But no matter how often they sacrifice scapegoats, ideology ever returns from the dead. It can’t be escaped, even as it can be temporarily shut out from consciousness.

  9. https://openwidezine.com/2017/03/18/peterson-gets-played/

    About half a decade ago, Jordan Peterson was a psychology professor at the University of Toronto and clinical psychologist with little international fame and even less infamy. A talented teacher and skilled speaker, he conveyed expertise within his domain and gave prestigious lectures like “The Necessity of Virtue,” which is how I first encountered him. Like any professor, he wasn’t perfect, but largely credible.

    Yet after spending many, many hours watching new and old footage of him, I am forced to conclude that his recent messianic quest to “defend free speech”—which, in its purest form, is noble—has destroyed his previous credibility by amassing paranoid and shoddy “evidence” at a great distance from his home domain of psychology (where he has merits). Though he remains an engaging public speaker with certain worthy insights, his recent claims about the nature of oppression, ideological language, and social justice are often baseless, tendentious, and would never be corroborated by scholars in the appropriate field from across the political spectrum (history, sociology, linguistics, anthropology, law, etc.). His mistakes here are so egregious that even though I share and affirm certain values with him (pro-dialogue, pro-dissent, pro-viewpoint-diversity), and though I will take care to point out his wiser ideas, I cannot possibly trust him to advocate for these issues in a rigorous way. The incredibly sloppy and inflammatory arguments he now employs befit a YouTube celebrity or provocateur—but not a scholar. And now that he’s increasingly being played by the alt-right and right-wing media, and craves exposure more than rigour, this is precisely what he’s become. My purpose here is to separate the scholarly Peterson from the conspiratorial Peterson, a balance which has unfortunately shifted towards the paranoid since I first encountered him many years ago. Regardless of his moral and intellectual failings—or merits, depending on one’s view—we need to understand how he represents much larger political and philosophical forces. These, I argue, have played Peterson, while he has indeed played himself. […]

    If we consider ourselves students or scholars, then ultimately we must heed and affirm part of Peterson’s recent message, which is that dissent and debate are crucial pathways to the truth, and that truth can be disturbing, uncomfortable, and even terrifying; kneejerk reactions are bad news (I’d invite his critics to watch his videos without prejudice). Yet out of this same spirit, we must also condemn the willful ignorance, reactionary invectives, and conspiratorial delusions Peterson flaunts when he leaves his area of expertise. Speaking freely is only one of the many values essential to academia; respect and intellectual integrity will be difficult for him to regain. It is disheartening to see him admired and played by right-wing opportunists who are only interested in freedom of speech to the extent that they can advance authoritarian ideas that ultimately result in the suppression of dissent and the end of diversity. If he’s eventually able to heed his own advice—taking to heart opposing viewpoints to improve our grasp on reality—he will inevitably reverse some of his more outrageous and harmful positions. But this will require the judicious and generous use of the same principle where I most agree with Peterson: the necessity of virtue.

    http://dailycampus.com/stories/2017/11/28/jordan-peterson-the-academic-who-will-believe-anything

    To put it plainly, Dr. Peterson’s belief that the victory of fascism was driven by the rejection of God could not be further from the truth. Fascism and Nazism did not come about because of atheism. It is ahistorical to believe otherwise. Christian apologists cannot blame fascism on atheism, just as atheists cannot blame Stalinism on Christianity. When Dr. Peterson says fascism came as a result of secularism, he obfuscates the history of political extremism with a gauze of personal bias.

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Jordan_Peterson

    Reactionary fans
    Given that his objections to C-16 resonate with many people, including transphobic individuals, it is unsurprising that some of Peterson’s fans are reactionaries. Such fans like and support Peterson for his opposition stance to the bill but also due to his views on the psychological differences between men and women[17] (which the sexist reactionaries all love), sympathetic views towards conservative values,[18] being hugely anti-Marxist[19][20] and for defending Christianity.[21][22][23] On more than one occasion, Peterson has retweeted fans of his who were discovered to be alt-right or neo-Nazis.[24][25][26][27] Peterson has lectured extensively, often speaking to conservatives, on the need to reject both far left and far right views and in particular on the need to dismantle political tribalism,[28] on the problems with the alt-right[29], and on his claim that liberals and conservatives need each other.[30]

    His popularity with the right has led Peterson to be interviewed by a whole slew of famous anti-leftist stars, including Tara McCarthy,[31] Sargon of Akkad,[32] Stefan Molyneux,[33] Dave Rubin,[34] and Theryn Meyer.[35] Peterson has also appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience[36] and the H3 Podcast.[37] […]

    Religion provides meaning, atheism provides totalitarianism
    See the main article on this topic: Belief in belief
    Peterson was a Christian in the past, but as of 2018, has admitted that he no longer believes in God. However, he has presented himself in the past as a theistic Cultural Christian – he doesn’t believe in the Bible, but believes atheism leads to meaningless societies.

    In a 2011 debate with various atheists, Peterson argued that Stalin’s atheism and alleged pessimistic outlook motivated his mass-murders

    https://www.earthli.com/news/view_article.php?id=3347

    Marxism is the root of all evil

    OK, so the sentiment is interesting and well-intentioned, but upon rereading Peterson, we see that he goes from a standpoint of “be careful what you wish for”/”be careful that you don’t end up being what you’re fighting” to bundling any request to veer from the current social and prejudicial paradigms we have right now with Marxism/Socialism/Communism/Totalitarianism, consigning them all to the “ultimate evil” trashbin, wiping his hands and walking off into the sunset with a smug look on his face and his spurs jingling. Too often, I feel that he’s done learning. He already knows everything.

    This is unfortunately a not-uncommon attitude. The world of reason divides itself into those smart people who think they can solve everything with reason, analyzing every new concept into components to which they already have answers—and those who admit their increasing unsurety with each increase in knowledge. It’s not binary, of course, but those two groups are well-represented when painting in broad strokes (which I admittedly am).

    And it’s not an accusation I feel I’m making: Peterson makes it himself. Listen to his interview with Joe Rogan (YouTube) (3hrs). Several times, he draws a direct line from the misguided stridency of SJWs to the killing fields of Cambodia (Pol Pot) and Ukraine (Stalin) with no apparent awareness or admission of hyperbole. […]

    The common thread I see is the love of the straw-man. He seems to love to cite the biggest idiots in opposition, as if there is literally no-one who disagrees with him who is making a worthwhile point. Sure, some of these people are professors, and it’s embarrassing that they’ve risen to where they are with clearly retrograde logical skills, but still avoid basing his arguments on opposition to these people. I think he’s shell-shocked. I also feel like he’s misrepresenting what’s legal and not—and he certainly doesn’t point out what’s legal in which countries.

    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/the-jordan-peterson-paradox-high-intellect-or-just-another-angry-white-guy/article37806524/

    https://gynocentrism.com/2017/08/19/a-brief-critique-of-jordan-petersons-use-of-jungian-sources/

    https://gynocentrism.com/2017/10/01/more-on-jordan-peterson/

    http://alexanderofford.com/the-intellectual-fraudulence-of-jordan-peterson-apropos-of-daniel-karasik/

  10. I was waiting for people in the biological sciences to begin critiquing Peterson’s lobster arguments. I read that and got the impression that he’s misconstruing scientific methods ( lobsters are far different from the human animal; we can’t study human behaviors by looking at lobsters) and degrading a theological view of humans ( traditional division of people into different vocations, functions of different hierarchies like spiritual and temporal authority ). I’d also take issue with the comments about the Buddha that are thrown out there in the other video. Did he conflate “The Enlightenment” with Buddha’s “Enlightenment” ?

    Paglia relies on Jung and makes some woolly claims about male and female archetypes, goes too far with psychologizing art ( is everything scary in literature about toothed vaginas? ) and provocation for outrage ichor ( defending pederasty) , but I don’t think she’d make mistakes like that. For me his main error is in collapsing the distinction between practical data and hypothesis ( psychological studies, economics and biology ), into moral knowledge and aesthetics. The “unification of science and religion” he speaks of could easily be applied to any ideology born from German Idealism, like Marxism ( Marx started as a poet ). Newton was investigating a practical science on one hand while also fervently dedicated to Biblical sacred geometry and esoteric number studies. This could relate to some of Jaynes’ theory on pre-moderns (and early moderns, apparently!) understanding of contradiction ( though perhaps Newton saw no contradiction, and thus no need for a reconciliation, or they were two domains of material science and spiritual truths).

    • Obviously, not all criticisms of Peterson (or Paglia) are correct, valid, and worthy. I don’t know if he actually conflated “The Enlightenment” with Buddha’s “Enlightenment”. I don’t feel overly motivated to dig through it all. What bothers me more than some of the criticisms are some of the praise, such as from alt-righters who sense implications in Peterson’s words that he himself can’t see or admit.

      Some would dismiss Jung himself because of claims of mystical woo, accusations of Nazi sympathies, or whatever. Jung has long been a favorite target of certain intellectuals. But for me, Jung is the last reason in the world I would criticize Peterson or Paglia. Rather, I’d criticize their maybe heavy-handed use of Jungian ideas, as I doubt Jung himself would ultimately agree with them. Jung had a way of holding ideas lightly and an ability to change his views over time, and so I doubt Jung would appreciate the politicized use of his ideas to defend a rigid social conservatism.

      I like your thought that, “The “unification of science and religion” he speaks of could easily be applied to any ideology born from German Idealism, like Marxism ( Marx started as a poet ).” Peterson and gang like to complain about secularism, SJW activism, etc as religion. The argument is laughable in one sense while maybe unintentionally being on the mark. I was writing a post about this.

      Many of our modern liberal and progressive ideologies came out of the Protestant Reformation and the religious dissenter traditions. It is odd for the socially conservative to dismiss the religious origins or religious impulse behind historical progressivism that has defined the entirety of modern Western civilization. But Peterson has this weird distinction between real and false religion, not unlike those who obsess about who is a real conservative, a real Republican, and a real American — an idiotic mentality to the extreme. Yet there is an underlying point that should be carefully unpacked, a point that if taken seriously would make some leftists uncomfortable.

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