Notes on Peterson, Shapiro, Facts, Feelings

by John Holbo on March 10, 2019

I teach Plato’s Meno. I emphasize that, despite it being a hard dialogue, Meno, the guy, isn’t hard to size up. ‘Virtue’ is success. Meno is a get-ahead guy. Are some guys born with it, do you get it by practice, is there intellectual secret sauce? I talk to my students about self-help books. What good, do you think, can a book like How To Win Friends and Influence People do you?

You can read my commentary chapter on Meno here. There’s quite a bit of self-help stuff in it. (You can always buy my book on Amazon! [Associates link.])

Since this is my angle, I should keep up with the self-help scene, shouldn’t I? But, I confess, I didn’t keep tabs on the meteoric rise of Jordan Peterson. At first, when I heard folks complaining, I thought: stern Canadian Jungian? Sweet Tiamat in Toronto, sounds Abzulutely fabulous! Like the premise for a Guy Madden film.

Recently I tried to find time to familiarize myself better. Let me share with you a bit from one exchange that struck me as especially … well, yes, funny. It’s from a 2-hour episode of the Rubin Report, from November 30, 2018. It’s Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro and Dave Rubin talking “religion, trans activism, censorship, the IDW and more.” (Hey. I study the metaphysics of self-help literature. I gotta dance with the one what brung me.)

Round about minute 52 it runs sort of like this. (Very rough transcript, not word-for-word. but I’ve tried to be fair, not omitting anything that changes the sense. You can check it against audio. If I have made transcription errors or left out any detail that changes the sense, I will correct.)

Rubin: People are going to ask, Why do these two guys think some guy is talking to them from the sky? … How do you get to those people? Shapiro love facts over feelings, but he’s talking about an imaginary sky guy. Is there a psychological trick to get people over that hump … ?

Peterson: That’s so hard to address, let me try this way. There’s a line in the New Testament. Christ says no one comes to the Father except through Him. Which is a hell of a thing for anyone to say. There are lots of statements in the New Testament that are strikingly strange in this manner. I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. What could that mean? Here’s the idea and it bears on your question. It’s as if there’s a spirit at the bottom of things, involved in the bringing-to-being of everything. For example, people talk about evolution as random. But it isn’t. Mutations are random. But the selection mechanisms are not random. So what are the selection mechanisms? Here is one. Human females are very sexually selective. Male reproductive failure rate twice that of females. How do males succeed differentially? On what basis do females reject? It’s something like competence. How is competence defined? Men put themselves in hierarchies and decide who is competent. Counter-intuitive, from an evolutionary perspective. Why would men put themselves in positions in a hierarchy, in which they are disadvantaged, and give some other man a reproductive advantage? But there are reasons. Let’s say you follow the best leader in battle. He might get all the women but you don’t die, so you are still in the game. Same for best hunter. Best at bringing down game but also at sharing and organizing. So men will organize themselves into groups and privilege certain men and that puts them ahead in the reproductive hierarchy. So what that means is that there is a spirit of masculinity that is shaping the entire structure of human evolutionary history. That’s what that means! That might just be a biological epiphenomenon. But it would be the spirit of positive masculinity, manifesting across epochal ages. Millions of years, perhaps. It actually has shaped our consciousness. Think about that as a figure, the figure that emerges – the essential spirit of all the great men who defined what greatness constitutes. That’s a spirit. That’s a purely biological explanation. That’s God, for all intents and purposes. You have an image of God built right into you. Even the sense that you can experience something divine and paternal might be merely a reflection of that evolutionary process. That would be a biologically reductive argument for what we experience as God. But there’s another possibility, too. That’s [the masculine image] actually reflective of a deeper metaphysical reality that has to do with the nature of consciousness itself. I think that’s true. I believe the biological case but I don’t think that exhausts it. I think there’s a metaphysical layer underneath that, that the biology is a genuine reflection of. The macrocosm above and the microcosm below. We are reflective, including in our consciousness, of something about the structure of reality in itself. That might involve whatever it is that God is.

Rubin: That’s so interesting, you are giving it a little room to say ‘I don’t know.’ …

Peterson: You have to. I’m not sure, I don’t claim certainty.

Rubin: What does [Shapiro] think?

Shapiro: I don’t think that’s severely problematic in terms of general religious thought, going back thousands of years. Look at Aquinas’ proofs of God. He says basically what you say. You go down deep enough and you get to something. There has to be a force that lies behind the combined logic of the universe. That thing must be what we call God. Reasoning back to first principles. The case for God, not as a jolly bearded guy in the sky, but a Logos, a fundamental structure, a reason, a purpose, what lies below that you can call ‘God’ … Your consciousness reflects God. This is Leibniz’ proof of God. Principle of sufficient reason. If you believe your mind is capable of grasping reality, then your mind is reflecting a greater mind … The proof for God is not supremely difficult. I think we all do have — either biologically sourced, or, I believe, logically sourced — a belief that there is a structure to the universe that didn’t emerge out of simple randomness, and there is a reason why things are the way they are.

Rubin: Would you then argue at a micro level, individual level, you could lead a perfectly decent life, with whatever moral subset you create. But at a macro level?

Peterson: A society can’t function without the Mythos? No, you are embedded in that. Think again about: No one comes to the Father except through me. What does that mean? … There is this notion that Haidt and Lukinoff are also pursuing … that you ennoble people, and encourage people, by challenging them. You ought to optimally challenge people, make them braver and stronger. Clinical evidence for that is overwhelming … Is there utility in having people get their ethical stories straight and face what they are avoiding? Yes.

Rubin: And we are doing the reverse of that at college.

Peterson: Here’s the idea. Imagine that you are in some sense the embodiment of that paternal spirit that has characterized mankind since the dawn of time. It’s locked in you, it’s part of your potential. That’s coded in part biologically, but it’s also coded sociologically, in the air and the mythos and the stories we tell each other … [snip out some stuff about Christianity]. It [the image] starts to force you to develop. The socialization. The stress of that transforms you biologically. That won’t be unlocked until you place yourself in the position … [snip more stuff about Christianity] … you actually produce a psycho-physiological-spiritual transformation that matures you into the representation of the Father on earth.

And Shapiro basically agrees.

The discussion concerns, so to speak, the status of certain feelings. You have a feeling that a certain image of positive masculinity (paternalistic, dominant) is valid, exemplary, normatively binding.

So: what is the status of this feeling?

Peterson speculates, on the basis of evolutionary psychology, that: facts care about his feeling. Shapiro backs him up by arguing that Aquinas and Leibniz concur. There has to be a reason why things are as they are, including our feelings about positive masculinity. There must be something underlying it! (My feeling can’t be resting on nothing. That would imply I am like a snowflake, liable to melt. Abzu forbid!)

Note: this is only masculine feelings. Facts care about guy feelings. It’s a priori!

To be fair, Peterson doesn’t claim certainty. But, to be fairer: the whole thing seems so transparently Just-So-Story-ish wishful and (to spin it in the most charitable way) wildly indulgent in rank speculation. (And Leibniz!) The conspicuously uncritical quality of it, especially in light of Shapiro’s famous catch-phrase?

Well, I thought it was funny.

But I don’t listen to Peterson just for the bank-shot Ben Shapiro jokes.

Let me finish on a Plato note. What I love about Plato’s Meno is the way in which we see abstract logic-chopping colliding with rules for life, self-help-style stuff. We start with very practical questions about how to get ahead, how to succeed, then we find ourselves spiraling off into religious mysteries, bizarre, loopy metaphysical speculations about learning and recollection and transformation, where ideas come from. And you are reading Meno, and thinking: those ancient Greeks must have been weird. But it’s no weirder than the Rubin Report, I swear to you. And, like, 2 million people have watched this YouTube video. Life is strange.

{ 82 comments }

1

novakant 03.10.19 at 9:34 am

That’s just another instance of the naturalistic fallacy / essentialism – these guys are so incredibly stupid. Unfortunately they seem to have millions of followers.

2

John Holbo 03.10.19 at 10:24 am

I guess I still have sort of a soft spot for Jung. But it is pretty dumb!

3

J-D 03.10.19 at 11:34 am

What that rank speculation reminded me of was the speech Weston makes to Ransom at their first encounter on Perelandra–which, finding it’s available online, I could quote chunks from; but, finding it’s available online, I won’t bother.

4

Adam Roberts 03.10.19 at 12:00 pm

Well, Plato’s ᾰ̓ρετή is pretty straightforwardly gendered: it means both ‘virtue, goodness, excellence’ and ‘manliness, prowess, rank, courage’. Not for girls. Perhaps Peter Jordanson, or whatever’s his name, is actually involved in a long-play covert critique of the sexism of Plato’s original position. Lots of potential for Zizekian game-playing in all those dialogues, don’t you think? After all, the word for ‘Forms’, ‘τᾰ̀ εἴδεᾰ’ literally means the things that are seen, although the Forms are precisely what we don’t see, stuck in our caves.

5

John Holbo 03.10.19 at 12:52 pm

It’s funny, though, Adam. Meno defines ‘arete’ in a masculine way (thinking of the adult male citizen paradigm) and Socrates corrects him, pointing out that the definition needs to fit everyone – women, children, slaves, old people.

6

Omega Centauri 03.10.19 at 3:32 pm

This is interesting timing, as I’ve gotten involved with a group of Nigerian American Christians, whom I have found to be such wonderful people, that I am helping them. So yesterday I was in a meeting room, that was essentially a self hep session, doubly the odd man out. The only pale face in a room of perhaps twenty people. But more consequentially, the only atheist among a group of true believers the majority of whom are pastors. I think Jordon is trying to think about religion in the right manner, the key question being “why do humans form and reinforce such beliefs”? I also think that such speculation is unlikely to get the details correct. We just can’t obtain the needed data to constrain the theory.

Now, I think a big part of the socio-cultural push towards religion is driven by consequential-ism. I think people have some sense of whose character is more admirable, and try to imitate in some way whatever it is that they think causes this. Certainly Kenny states this about his childhood in Nigeria, citing a whole host of ways that many of his peers ended up badly, but his family with their religiosity all turned out OK. So if certain cosmic-belief structures are seen as being related to better life-outcomes, I think the observation of that creates a strong attractions towards such cosmology.

In my case, I’m am trying in a very Buddhist sort of way, to improve my own character. So I find a certain propensity with people with similar goals, but different means. In some fundamental character-development sense I am closer to these people, than my intellectual peers. We can assist each other in our own character development, and in our efforts to improve the societies we live in. So thats very consequentialist. Having sung “Its who I am” last Sunday has helped me maintain my cool in situations that otherwise would have made my angry. There is a name for this Religious Fictionalism: pretending the mythology is true, because of the perceived benefits both internal and external of doing so. I’m trying to take that a step further, pretending to a belief that I think is frankly absurd would for me be a violation of my sense of intellectual integrity. So I have to proceed without the incentive of being watched by a higher being who actually cares what I think and what I do.

7

bianca steele 03.10.19 at 3:36 pm

Why no one in Plato or Aristotle (at least the texts I was assigned) says “let’s ask what an excellent woman would be” or “an excellent slave” says more, I think, about the conceptializatipn of “woman” and “slave” as negatively-human than about the concept of excellence. I was certainly never taught that Plato meant what we mean as “virtue” and would probably have failed a philosophy paper if I’d claimed he did.

Alastair MacIntyre argues “virtue” as “manliness” is an early modern conception. But I wouldn’t want to hurt the feelings of modern men told they’re synonyms by insisting on facts!

8

William Timberman 03.10.19 at 3:38 pm

Obscurantism can be such fun — to work oneself into a blather, and get paid for it too. Nice work if you can get it. As for the Žižek/Peterson comparison/caparison, my Scoring is Slovenia 1, Canada 0) (3/0 aggregate). Jung, of course, came by all of this naturally. That should give him the edge in the moral superiority sweepstakes, but since he had the misfortune to be working the crowd back before marketing had acquired such an armory of useful algorithms, he isn’t allowed the full advantage his innocence should have afforded him….

9

bianca steele 03.10.19 at 3:47 pm

It’s interesting, from a more theological, and Jewish direction, that Shapiro says you find facticity, essentially, and that’s God. Where a liberal Jew would say you find facticity but you know God transcends that.

And I suppose a Christian would point at the Trinity and say but . . . . Peterson doesn’t, though, does he? There’s some room for a jerk like him to make fun of the Jew who says things any boy who went to Sunday School would know is awful nonsense, but he doesn’t go that way. He just follows.

10

dilbert dogbert 03.10.19 at 3:48 pm

Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah then more Blah Blah Blah Blah going in circles.

11

Zbigniew Nowosielski 03.10.19 at 5:41 pm

#4 & 5

I’m not certain “success” is the right equivalent — it’s tainting. Excellence fits better.

12

BruceJ 03.10.19 at 5:42 pm

Peterson is so popular because he gives a “respectable academic” gloss to the rank misogyny of his fervent followers. “See my feelings are scientifical! Bitchez be denying me sex!! Make me a sammich!!”

Plus he’s Provocative! He’s Unafraid to Speak The Truth! He’s Not Politically Correct! Which gets al whole lot of people to swoon over his nonsense, which again is reducible to a single line “Suck it, libtards!”

He ratifies their tribalistic feelings.

The thing is, even if I’m not throughly grounded in philosophy, since virtually everything else he ever says (“Human sexual selections are jut like lobsters”) basically triggers a single response: “It doesn’t work like that! None of this works like that!” that it’s not hard to imagine that he’s globally incompetent and that his notions about philosophy are equally flawed…

13

Zbigniew Nowosielski 03.10.19 at 5:57 pm

# 4 and 5

“Success” is not a happy translation. How about “excellence”?

14

hal 03.10.19 at 6:34 pm

Sorry to say trained rhetoricians tend to keep a low profile (e.g. David Zarefsky and his peers who parse Presidential and other speeches) for career reasons, so amateurs (in a Humanities field, sometimes they’re better than professionals) have to take a stab at showing how absurd Peterson’s “thinking” is:

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2018/03/the-intellectual-we-deserve

15

Kiwanda 03.10.19 at 7:04 pm

To be fair, Peterson doesn’t claim certainty. But, to be fairer: the whole thing seems so transparently Just-So-Story-ish wishful and (to spin it in the most charitable way) wildly indulgent in rank speculation. (And Leibniz!) The conspicuously uncritical quality of it, especially in light of Shapiro’s famous catch-phrase?

Speaking of jumping to conclusions about masculinity, the APA Guidelines for Men and Boys are a more significant case, even if less grandiose.

Also: when it comes to speculations about the evolutionary origins and role of religion, I’ll take Robert Wright any day over these guys.

16

Peter Dorman 03.10.19 at 8:31 pm

Self-help is always on the cusp of the personal and the social, isn’t it? We live in a world that makes demands on us, which to some extent we internalize. And one route to self-help is to internalize even more fully and efficiently, to succeed on the basis of what’s handed to us. But of course the world’s demands are contradictory, and even if they aren’t they have contradictory effects. So another approach is about liberation from the demands of the world, or at least some of them or in some respects.

So there is a range of strategies. Jordan Peterson doubles down on competitive masculinity at a time when it has become common to dispute it on both self-help (is it really good for you, even if you’re male?) and social grounds. In this trialogue excerpt he gives us, as you say, a just-so evolutionary psych story that what’s real is rational. He does it one better by somehow splicing a leader-of-the-pack (eternal hero) myth to a metaphysical god-makes-sense-of-sense thing. And it is truly weird, but what needs to be explained is not its weirdness but its sense-making for his army of followers. (He has more divisions than any of us do.)

From a purely logical point of view, the eternal hero business runs up against the existence of each one of us who rejects it. How do you explain us?

Back to self-help: challenging oppressive norms and practices can also be a form of self-care, but when comparing the pros and cons of internalization of vs resistance to norms, it helps to think about the effects not only on yourself but also others, especially the others most circumscribed by them.

Thanks for giving us this slice of Petersoniana to think about.

17

LFC 03.10.19 at 8:39 pm

The Latin word ‘vir’ means ‘man’ (whence the English word “virility”) so for instance Machiavelli, who links virtue (‘virtu’) and masculinity, had the etymology in his corner. But although Machiavelli was right on the etymology, he was wrong on the substance. Or more precisely, his argument was circular: he defined virtue in terms of qualities that most women of his time, even if they possessed them, would not have had an opportunity to display, and then he concluded, in rather circular fashion, that ‘virtu’ is connected to men.

18

Orange Watch 03.10.19 at 9:06 pm

One thing that boggles me about just-so evo psych narratives about how modern (invariably male) psycho-social behaviors are biologically ordained is that they posit evolution forming social behaviors, yet also seem to posit that evolution ceased to exist among humans right around when humans ceased being hunter-gatherers. Domestic animals are radically differently socialized than undomesticated animals of the same species, and we know that domestication can occur in mere tens of generations. Yet we’re endlessly and breathlessly subjected to narratives rooted in alpha hunters and alpha warriors rather than alpha farmers or alpha toolmakers – let alone alpha merchants or cooperative betas. BruceJ@12 pretty much says all that can be said with “It doesn’t work like that! None of this works like that!”.

19

Fake Dave 03.10.19 at 9:24 pm

Maybe I’m just not a Philosopher, but Peterson’s statements never seem to have any bottom at all. I can’t parse his worldview in any terms other than pure sophistry. There’s a consistent pattern where he explains one thing by analogy to another thing that is also an analogy for another thing that is maybe an analogy for the first thing. It’s funny that a man who consistently hides behind scientism and the veneer of rational inquiry only seems capable of constructing his arguments in pre-Enlightenment terms. Everything comes back to metaphysics and the various Platonic and Judeo-Christian ideals that he has recoded as Jungian archetypes. He follows an ancient pattern of projecting his internal constructions of reality onto the material world, but transposes it into a modern language of scientific inquiry that insists that the external, material, and objective must trump the internal, ideal, and subjective. It’s completely incongruous, but people eat it up.

I’ve entertained various hypotheses on why he is like this. Maybe his battles with post-structuralists (who have been very up-front about challenging the boundaries between subjective and objective) prompted a “gaze into the abyss” moment where he adopted much of their style without grasping their substance. Maybe he’s a troll or provocateur deliberately spinning fallacies to see if people will catch him. Maybe he got sucked into a social sphere where everyone he respects agrees with his nonsense and his worst intellectual impulses are constantly rewarded. Maybe he’s just dense. Whatever happened to him, I think it’s made him worthy of study as a socio-political figure, but completely irrelevant as a public intellectual. I just don’t think he has anything new to say. All his “fresh” arguments come back to the same old dead white guys and only seem new or interesting because they’re so deeply reactionary that most intellectuals stopped using them a century ago.

20

Birdie 03.10.19 at 10:51 pm

These days (American popular Protestant) Christianity has become unmoored from ordinary reality, although people fearlessly take medicine and fly in airplanes. The idea that God is to be found in facticity is Deism, same as got Spinoza kicked out of the synagogue. The world as such is seen as spiritually empty, “mere” creation. I think that’s blasphemous, actually: God intended to make intentional beings, it’s been a tough slog but he hasn’t given up. [NB, Jordan should want to consider not the mere 1 million years of hominin evolution but the whole multi-billion year beeswax, which isn’t nearly done yet.]

So Jordan [being otherwise a straight-ahead MCP idiot] has got ahold of a Lost Key in that the best and only clues we have to the nature of how God is in Godself is by the structural choices he has made getting us to where we are, in psychology and sociology as well as physics, AND as the Buddhists and per Bianca the Jews say, there’s more to it than just that.

… but if you want to be a deist it’s ok, you can get to all the morality stuff without going large. Like, how species evolve to adapt is just shorthand, they don’t do it ON PURPOSE “really”. A systematic way to evaluate ordinary things.

21

Alan White 03.10.19 at 11:04 pm

Peterson is a smarter Trump, but only smarter because he has a larger vocabulary due to some real association with the history of ideas. His goal though is the same–produce attitudinal agreement with the audience, facts and ideas be damned. With that one can go ahead with the real project–furthering oneself in more pragmatic ways, like fame, fortune, and all things self-aggrandized. I have elsewhere called this functional emotivism in Charles Stevenson’s classic sense. Peterson uses what appear to be more sophisticated speech acts, but it’s all in service to him, just like Trump.

22

Dr. Hilarius 03.11.19 at 12:14 am

Peterson doesn’t even manage to build a coherent Just So Story to justify his version of masculinity as biologically ordained. He invokes natural selection but his male hierarchies require an impossible form of group selection. He recognizes the existence of female sexual selection but has his male hierarchies defining female wants without any input from females. And of course there’s no reference to anything recognizable as population genetics, it’s evolution at the level of a poorly written grade school text.

What I find interesting is that Peterson’s argument defines most of his followers as beta-males at best. Why do they shower him with money and adulation? It’s way more P.T. Barnum than Darwin. As other posters have noted, in the end it’s just gibberish.

23

J-D 03.11.19 at 12:19 am

Some people approach religion as a way of trying to change their own behaviour. Some people approach religion as a way of trying to change the behaviour of others. Of these, the first obviously smacks of self-help, but the second doesn’t, at least not in the same sense of self-help. When taking the first approach, religion can be something each uses on the own self: I on myself, you on yourself. When taking the second approach, religion can be something that some use on others: I or we on them. When Peterson says ‘There is this notion that Haidt and Lukinoff are also pursuing … that you ennoble people, and encourage people, by challenging them. You ought to optimally challenge people, make them braver and stronger’, it seems he’s talking about the second and not the first.

24

Gabriel 03.11.19 at 12:55 am

I also still have a soft spot for Jung. But Peterson is doing his best to cure me of that.

25

Faustusnotes 03.11.19 at 1:05 am

These people are so stupid, and yet so many young men love them. Our culture is so fucked…

26

nnyhav 03.11.19 at 1:45 am

“As for the Žižek/Peterson comparison/caparison, my Scoring is Slovenia 1, Canada 0) (3/0 aggregate).” WmT @ 8

Nothing Is a Greater Waste of Time Than the Planned Debate Between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Zizek April 19, Sony Centre, Toronto

27

Collin Street 03.11.19 at 1:47 am

On religion.

I remember an sf short story where people on a distant planet used psychically controlled corpses to do civil engineering: one of the workers went to a corpse brothel where they became convinced that their corpse-fuck-machine still displayed sentience.

No, you’re the operator, say the other workers. It’s just your own thought reflected back at yourself.

28

Alan White 03.11.19 at 2:12 am

In my parse of Peterson and Trump as functional emotivists, I should have cited a significant difference in targeted audiences. Peterson targets those who consider themselves educated and savvy to an extent; Trump targets anyone who is substantially unconcerned with that as central to to self-perceived identity (which includes a lot of people primarily obsessed with their lot as some kind of non-elite “outsider”, even if they in fact are nowhere near being real outsiders). But the driving force of Trumpian politics is maximizing cohorts of feelers, not genuinely self-reflective thinkers, and the majority of the Republican party has apparently felt “the force”. (Is this not much like Yoda’s take?) This is precisely why the David Brooks of the world–who are at least in part driven by genuine self-reflection–are left out for their ink to dry in desolate isolation from that force.

29

Robert Zannelli 03.11.19 at 2:16 am

Peterson: That’s so hard to address, let me try this way. There’s a line in the New Testament. Christ says no one comes to the Father except through Him. Which is a hell of a thing for anyone to say. There are lots of statements in the New Testament that are strikingly strange in this manner. I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. What could that mean? Here’s the idea and it bears on your question. It’s as if there’s a spirit at the bottom of things, involved in the bringing-to-being of everything. For example, people talk about evolution as random. But it isn’t. Mutations are random. But the selection mechanisms are not random. So what are the selection mechanisms? Here is one. Human females are very sexually selective. Male reproductive failure rate twice that of females. How do males succeed differentially? On what basis do females reject? It’s something like competence. How is competence defined? Men put themselves in hierarchies and decide who is competent. Counter-intuitive, from an evolutionary perspective. Why would men put themselves in positions in a hierarchy, in which they are disadvantaged, and give some other man a reproductive advantage? But there are reasons. Let’s say you follow the best leader in battle. He might get all the women but you don’t die, so you are still in the game. Same for best hunter. Best at bringing down game but also at sharing and organizing. So men will organize themselves into groups and privilege certain men and that puts them ahead in the reproductive hierarchy. So what that means is that there is a spirit of masculinity that is shaping the entire structure of human evolutionary history. That’s what that means! That might just be a biological epiphenomenon. But it would be the spirit of positive masculinity, manifesting across epochal ages. Millions of years, perhaps. It actually has shaped our consciousness. Think about that as a figure, the figure that emerges – the essential spirit of all the great men who defined what greatness constitutes. That’s a spirit. That’s a purely biological explanation. That’s God, for all intents and purposes. You have an image of God built right into you. Even the sense that you can experience something divine and paternal might be merely a reflection of that evolutionary process. That would be a biologically reductive argument for what we experience as God. But there’s another possibility, too. That’s [the masculine image] actually reflective of a deeper metaphysical reality that has to do with the nature of consciousness itself. I think that’s true. I believe the biological case but I don’t think that exhausts it. I think there’s a metaphysical layer underneath that, that the biology is a genuine reflection of. The macrocosm above and the microcosm below. We are reflective, including in our consciousness, of something about the structure of reality in itself. That might involve whatever it is that God is.

Really? Sounds pretty addled to me.

30

J-D 03.11.19 at 2:51 am

Collin Street

‘Meathouse Man’, by George RR Martin, ending with the line ‘Of all the bright cruel lies they tell you, the cruelest is the one called love’. He was feeling bitter about his own personal life at the time he wrote it.

31

bad Jim 03.11.19 at 7:07 am

Of all the articles I’ve read about Peterson, the most damning merely quoted him at length. As best I can recall he talked at length about moistness and witches.

32

Adam Roberts 03.11.19 at 10:22 am

Faustusnotes #25: “These people are so stupid, and yet so many young men love them. Our culture is so fucked…”

This is the keynote, though, isn’t it? I don’t say so to try and twit Faustusnotes, since God knows I’m as much a hands-up-in-despair-thrower as he is. But Peterson’s appeal is overwhelmingly to adolescent and young men who are aware the world around them has changed from the way it was (before they were born) but don’t know how to fit in to this new world, don’t know how to build their dignity and sense of self-worth in the new landscape. It’s all happening online, and in that metaphorical Go game the left are hunkering down around their already-captured territory and simply ceding these guys (a large demographic) to the alt-right with a “but what can we do?” Why isn’t there a woke Peterson giving young men the steer that could save them from all this Jungian-patriachal-evopsych-incel bullshit? Genuine question.

33

Omega Centauri 03.11.19 at 1:32 pm

Robert I don’t think I’d call it addled, but it is a string of uncertain inferences, and the probability that all of the elements of that string are true is the product of the probabilities of the individual inferences being correct. So the final result is highly likely wrong, but a description of the real truth, if it were attainable might not ring too differently.

I think something missing is the fact that these evolutionary pressures are dependent of the external environment and the social structure of the society. What would have been selected for when the struggle was sinew against nature raw in tooth and claw, is likely quite different from what is was in an early agrarian society, which differs quite substantially from what the majority of our species has experienced during the last few hundred years. Now that social environment, especially as regards what it takes for male reproductive success is again changing.

34

bianca steele 03.11.19 at 2:18 pm

I think Alan White has it @ 21. Peterson is selling chunks of credibility for people who already agree with what he’s pretending to “prove.”

He’s not even trying to persuade. Or teach. He says A. Then he says B. A & B contradict each other but are both true. OK. That’s how you’re supposed to read him: say, “Yes.” It induces a dreamy sense, like holding your breath, and that’s how you know.

The kind of people who read this blog think you’re supposed to *actually* think about how A and B could both be true. Maybe they’re metaphors! Maybe Peterson has an ironic meaning! Maybe it’s important to find out why he thinks A when it’s so obviously false! You’re not. That’s saying, “No,” and if you’re on the right track, you should be saying, “Yes.” You’re supposed to watch the videos over and over until they start to make sense to you.

Or you’re “not his target audience,” in which case you’re not supposed to view them or have an opinion about them. And in which case he does not ask you to pay him the money at all.

35

stevelaudig 03.11.19 at 4:43 pm

After giving Peterson’s ‘thinking’ my version of a fair hearing, I rubbished him as a Tony Robbins-type salesman who had found the marks for his con, anxious white men of a certain demographic and, not to knowingly break any rules of this forum, but, and I’d understand someone ‘slapping me about abit’ for this link, this person, took him apart in a way that he can’t be put back together except by an apologist for him. The point being anything Peterson talks about is always better in the classic original that he is distorting….
Cheers……. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LqZdkkBDas

36

Chip Daniels 03.11.19 at 7:16 pm

Peterson always sets off my BS flags because he is an academic who aims his words at laypeople who can’t possibly understand them, but see in them something they want affirmed with the imprimatur of priestly authority.

37

J-D 03.11.19 at 11:44 pm

hal

I liked one of the comments under that Youtube video:

“Dr Peterson, what’s your favorite color?”
“Well that depends on what you mean by favorite. And it also depends on what you mean by color. This is a very difficult question. One must acknowledge the underlying verisimilitude that is irrevocably nested within a multi-layered metaphysical substrate that many people fundamentally conflate with their ideological presuppositions with no uncertain irregularity, and not dissimilar to Jung’s extrapolation of the archetypal and axiomatic juxtaposition of Raskolnikov’s Neo-Marxist existential nihilism…”

38

bianca steele 03.12.19 at 12:34 am

Adam Roberts @ 32: Another question might be why it’s so common to frame depression, drug addiction, and mental health issues—for young men and young men only—and (often) for white men only at that—as a question that always has the same answer, that society has changed and left them clueless about how to “grow up to be men”? And that always has the same answer: liberals have betrayed your kind and hidden the secrets of the universe from you.

And maybe the answer is actually that there’s lots of quiet work being done, all over, to help people in more actually helpful ways, but it doesn’t get clicks.

39

Raven Onthill 03.12.19 at 12:42 am

“So what that means is that there is a spirit of masculinity that is shaping the entire structure of human evolutionary history. “

And, also, there is a spirit of femininity. A god and a goddess. Obviously he is a neo-pagan.

No?

40

J-D 03.12.19 at 4:15 am

Adam Roberts

But Peterson’s appeal is overwhelmingly to adolescent and young men who are aware the world around them has changed from the way it was (before they were born) but don’t know how to fit in to this new world, don’t know how to build their dignity and sense of self-worth in the new landscape.

There’s something strange going on in that sentence. I think maybe I can grasp the idea that some people feel they don’t know how to fit into this world. I think maybe I can grasp the idea that people find themselves living in a world different from the way it was before they were born. But to me there’s a problem in linking those two suggestions.

Interviewer: You say you don’t know how to fit into the world, the way it is now?
Interviewee: Yeah!
Interviewer: And you say that’s because the way the world is now is different from the way it used to be, before you were born?
Interviewee: Yeah!
Interviewer: So the way the world was before you were born, that you knew how to fit into?
Interviewee: Yeah!
Interviewer: But how can you possibly know that? You never actually had to fit into the world the way it was before you were born, because that was before you were born, when you weren’t around. I mean, I could understand if you told me that there was a time in the past when you knew how to fit in, but you can’t any more because things have changed since then. But the time in the past when you knew how to fit in, that can’t have been before your birth!

41

eg 03.12.19 at 4:23 am

I actually read his “Maps of Meaning” about a decade ago, long before any of this current nonsense could ever have been anticipated. It was interesting, and not wholly without merit, but if I recall correctly, in it he admits to some challenges with mental instability in his youth.

He was also a recurrent guest on TVO’s “The Agenda” where he came across as earnest, if somewhat brittle or rigid. Almost suddenly he disappeared from regular appearances there, and then when he did appear one time it was remotely from his home, where he was visibly unwell.

I believe that both he and his daughter have undertaken a very stringent diet to address aspects of their health issues.

All of which is to say that I suspect the muddled nature of his thinking in evidence of late, despite its success in attracting a large, if less than critically capable audience, may be associated with less than optimal physical and mental health.

42

Alan White 03.12.19 at 4:45 am

Thank you bianca steele @ 34. I press the functional emotivist explanation of Trumpism–which best explains his selfish motives and effective actions, I think–so that people might better see that those traditional factions of the Right like Evangelicals support someone who is devoid of any moral principles whatsoever just based on identifying with him on some emotional level. They might try to soothe themselves with the further thought that their god is using him to support their goals, but such a god who favors a morally nihilistic manipulator is not one I would deem worthy of worship. They have just been caught up in the same tsunami of feeling that this is all right. I don’t know how to try and restore public debate to something like reasonable standards, but to call out selfishly-motivated functional emotivism seems a start at least.

43

Avram 03.12.19 at 5:14 am

Is it my imagination, or are Peerson and Shapiro saying opposite things in that excerpt?

Peterson seems to be saying that his God-figure is the result of iterated biological functions. He even calls it “a biological epiphenomenon.”

Shapiro, on the other hand, says his (and Aquinas’s) God is “a force that lies behind the combined logic of the universe.” Shapiro’s God is the force that causes biology, while Peterson’s is caused by biology.

44

Orange Watch 03.12.19 at 5:43 am

Adam Roberts@32:
Part of it has to be the individualistic orientation of identity politics, which remains the dominant mainstream left-leaning paradigm for analyzing social activism. If you are to center on your own struggle, and ally yourself to the struggles of other marginalised groups, any group you seek to specifically aid must be identified in terms of a marginal identity. Young white cis straight able Xian Euro male does not fit into any orthodox identitarian class. Intersectionalism, when it was fresh and young and an insurgent critique of entrenched postmodern academic and activist theory and their promulgators, vigorously asserted “poor” as a relevant intersecting identity. But when intersectionalism was tamed and housebroken, that identity vanished – if you tacitly accept hierarchies, and want to invert them rather than flatten them, you’re better off trading in inherent, immutable identities – and in any case, you don’t want to give credence to an identity which is defined explicitly by being hierarchically inferior. Better to ignore that sort of marginalization, deem its victims victims of themselves or even of their biology, dismiss them as irredeemable, and assert that anyways when the immanent woke utopia arises, all boats will rise naturally.

As bianca steele mentions, this sort of work is done in a small-scale, quiet, unglamorous way. It’s hard to see a possible popular pushback to Peterson and his ilk that involves offering a positive alternative rather than just tearing down the shibboleths and leaving nothing to replace them – there’s too much collective guilt, emphasis on atomic identity, and hierarchical framing of social activism as zero-sum for that to gain large-scale public traction on the mainstream left. I may be excessively cynical on this score, but it looks like something that’s unlikely to be addressed except by low-key, thankless disjointed pushback any time soon because too many on the left are too willing to cede this field, or even crow at the plight of its occupants as self-inflicted or karmically just, even though doing so leaves us with implacable enemies once the wavering youths are embraced and indoctrinated by the Jordan Petersons and Christina Hoff Sommers of the world with pat answers for sale.

45

bad Jim 03.12.19 at 7:32 am

Thank you, Raven Onthill. There’s no better way to mock him than to quote him.

That’s a spirit. That’s a purely biological explanation. That’s God, for all intents and purposes. You have an image of God built right into you.

I try to keep up with the fire hose of biological discovery, our genome, our microbiome. I subscribe to Science, but I don’t read every issue cover to cover. God must have been in one I missed.

46

nastywoman 03.12.19 at 9:02 am

but, but, but – this Peterson-Dude and the others dudes tried to answer ”the essential question of life”:
”How do males succeed differentially? On what basis do females reject”?

And as I’m in Miami Beach right now I have found the answer and it just ain’t some:
”I have found god” thingy –
even that I yesterday walked by another guy who hold up a sign which read:
”Jesus is the answer” –
but he just wasn’t ”attractive” enough NOT to be rejected by probably every ”female” that walked by – and that’s the… the ”thing” –
(which probably drives dudes like this ”Person-dude” and many of his (young) followers… completely crazy?) –
and it might be brutal TOO – for all these other ”males” out there – who try to ”succeed differentially”? – the ”philosopher” -(or ”god” or ”Platoshtick” ) might only work when it comes with a minimum of ”physical attractiveness” -(If allowed to call it as sillily simplistic like that) –
sooo –
Shape up guys!

Go to the Beach!
-(and get a good tan BUT not as fake as the Von Clownstick one…)

47

Gabriel 03.12.19 at 9:58 am

@39

No. All of the neo-pagans I’ve spent time around laugh. And dance.

48

Patrick 03.12.19 at 6:02 pm

Adam Roberts wrote: “Why isn’t there a woke Peterson giving young men the steer that could save them from all this Jungian-patriachal-evopsych-incel bullshit? Genuine question.”

Because the woke left is structurally incapable of offering positive meaning making to which young straight white men can relate without offending existing constituencies or upending cherished shibboleths.

I grew up around fundamentalist Christians. They would often bemoan their inability to reach certain groups. They would have told you that they tried very hard. But their efforts were carefully circumscribed. They had a vision of what they believed their target audience was like. They were very committed to this vision and used it to direct their efforts. But their vision wasn’t true so the inevitably ended up haranguing confused teenagers about things that weren’t true, guilt tripping teenagers about things the trend had the sense not to accept guilt over, and offering solutions teens didn’t want to problems the teens didn’t have.

“You need to stop going to sex parties and stop masturbating and let me tell you about this Jesus guy you’ve obviously never heard of” doesn’t work on teenagers who haven’t ever been to a sex party, don’t feel guilt about masturbation, and know full well what a Jesus is.

This very blog has repeatedly hosted conversations on the percentile of well off young men who are rapists (high, per the common wisdom, not just in the sense of any amount is high but in actual numbers), on how it’s ok to presume negative things about individual members of groups based on stereotypes so long as you believe your stereotype is based on numbers and so long as the group is privileged, and a variety of other topics. I can assure you, any effort they make to reach out to young men is going to come off as a mixture of hate filled and nonsensical. The young men will not recognize themselves in the vision on offer, will not want or need the proffered solutions, and will feel the hate peaking through the assumptions behind the outreach.

Same as the last dozen times someone tried this, and the same as every time any other group has tried the same thing.

49

b9n10nt 03.13.19 at 6:01 am

I really like the idea that we are biologically determined to stress about status. seems highly plausible and pleasantly depersonalizes my own experience with bullies bosses and buddies. That our notions of god(s) might be projections of this neural program about top to bottom who does rule who should rule what should ruling consist of. So culture then becomes a way to relieve (or exacerbate) the stress.

I would just go in the exact opposite direction of JP. what i can get from his council boils down to “masculine doing will lead to mens’ success quicker and better than reflection and support” (in my figuring, therapy is the contemporary institution which most closely resembles a socially relevant manifestation of feminist threat to people. NOT college.) I just think JP’s is disastrous advice for both healthy and psychologically-suffering people…pouring cultural flame on the biological fire.

I think nowadays alot of people could do early modern european natural philosophy as good as JP if they tried, and get to very different places politically. but JP’s relevance needs to show up empirically to really move the debate forward. Like, can we test out therapy modules that are explicitly masculine and/or petersonian and use current standard of care for depressions and anxieties as the control?

Is there any way out of this speculative muck? what’s the empirical import of “a masculine spirit has guided us, and is now under attack”? doesn’t the question itself reveal a degree of vapidness, when applied as analysis, at the very time when we are faced with the subtlety and complexity of neurology, psychology and sociology?

50

faustusnotes 03.13.19 at 6:04 am

Adam, your comment would work better if you replaced “don’t know how to” with “don’t want to.” There are plenty of guides out there for how to be a good man, but these guys don’t want to follow them. But in looking for justification for not following the obvious principles for being a good man in modern life, they are buying into increasingly fabulous bullshit. I mean, compared to Jordan Peterson Roozh V is a genius, but the whole PUA worldview – that the world has moved on around you but you can use some psychological tricks to convince women to have sex with you even though you’re a wastrel – fell apart when people realized that it didn’t work, and when the outside world discovered what was going on and rumbled the tricks. So now men who don’t want to admit the world has moved on around them have to buy into this Peterson-level junk.

Truly we are fucked.

51

ThatGuy 03.13.19 at 8:51 am

I wouldn’t say this exchange is like anything I’ve seen from Shapiro and it’s quite baffling.

It’s silly to call Shapiro stupid. Unfortunately, Shapiro is amazing at being completely logical and rational but basing it on one non-logical and irrational premise.
Start from ‘God exists and is fair’ and his whole neo-con framework becomes entirely logical and rational.
Why pay taxes if everything is fair?
Why promote equality if god created inequality (apparently for a reason)?

52

J-D 03.13.19 at 10:03 am

Orange Watch

If you are to center on your own struggle, and ally yourself to the struggles of other marginalised groups, …

If!

Who says that you are to center on your own struggle? Does anybody say that?

I worry that you’re just making stuff up. The world’s bad enough as it is without making up more of it.

Patrick

This very blog has repeatedly hosted conversations on the percentile of well off young men who are rapists (high, per the common wisdom, not just in the sense of any amount is high but in actual numbers), on how it’s ok to presume negative things about individual members of groups based on stereotypes so long as you believe your stereotype is based on numbers and so long as the group is privileged, and a variety of other topics.

I worry also that you’re just making stuff up (and the world’s still bad enough as it is without making up any more of it). I think I follow this blog fairly closely, and your description isn’t one I recognise as matching what I’ve read here.

53

nastywoman 03.13.19 at 10:48 am

@48
”Because the woke left is structurally incapable of offering positive meaning making to which young straight white men can relate without offending existing constituencies or upending cherished shibboleths”.

WHAT??!

”The Left” –
(at least ”The Left” of my parents generation) –
invented the ”Kommune 1” with – supposedly – inventing all kind of ”positive meaning to which young straight white men can relate to – and the ”offending existing constituencies or upending cherished shibboleths” was an important part of it.

And can you imagine??!
I read your:
”But their efforts were carefully circumscribed”
as…
But their efforts were carefully ”circumcised”?

That could have something to do – that you really – REALLY seem to confuse ”fundamentalist Christians” with ”the Left”?

You know ”fundamentalist Christians” tend to tell young men:
“You need to stop going to sex parties and stop masturbating and let me tell you about this Jesus guy you’ve obviously never heard of” doesn’t work on teenagers who haven’t ever been to a sex party, don’t feel guilt about masturbation, and know full well what a Jesus is”.

”The Left DOES NOT DO THAT”!
-(at least ”the Left” that I know)
”The Left” that I know tells young men:
”Go to the Beach” – and please without being a ”mixture of hate filled and nonsensical”.

AND – please – PLEASE:

”Don’t be a… rapist”!

54

Adam Roberts 03.13.19 at 6:35 pm

JD @40: I’m not sure your logical gotcha is quite as nice-knockdown-argument as you, perhaps, think. Things have changed in many ways since (say) the 1950s, particularly on the level, and interconnectedness, of discourse, but we’re still living in a world where being straight, white and male entails enormous privilege. Aren’t we? I fight shy of the term “patriarchy” for several reasons, but it does still basically describe 21st century society.

faustusnotes @50: I don’t think you and I are in that much disagreement, except maybe I’m less inclined to heap so much contumely on young men today. Maybe they don’t know how to change, maybe they know very well but don’t want to because they enjoy being entitled arseholes, we can argue the toss. My experience of young people is that the percentage of them who actually enjoy being entitled arseholes is very small. Mostly they are, male and female, painfully nice and desirous of being liked. Maybe your mileage varies there. But I’m not convinced the way we frame the larger question is helping. I’m a straight white male myself, and I’m well aware how enormously privileged my whole life has been. OK: so the message we’re putting out is: “straight white dudes need to relinquish some of their privilege, let women, POCs and LGBT folk have some”. But why should straight white dudes do this? Because it’s the right thing to do, though it has the appearance of moral force, has no practical force at all. Better would be “relinquish some of your privilege because then society as a whole will be more equitable and better and you yourself would see the following tangible benfits from that state of affairs …”, much as a good accountant always promises to save you more than s/he costs you. But this message needs to be practical, specific, achievable and to speak to actual people, or otherwise, as Patrick @48 suggets, it’s not going to reach its audience—a situation made more acute by the fact that Professor Tidy-Your-Room-and-Stand-Up-Straight-And You’ll-Have-EARNED-Your-Rightful-Privilege-My-Precious-Little-Lobster is already reaching that audience, and in large numbers.

55

Orange Watch 03.13.19 at 8:48 pm

Patrick@48:

Thank you for articulating what I was also trying to say in a far more succinct and frank manner.

JD@40

It’s actually quite easy to see how someone could hold both points of view without requiring cognitive dissonance.

If you’re expected to fulfill a particular social role, and the parameters and expectations of that role were defined before you were born but in accordance with the structure of society at that time, and you live in a time when society has changed and is visibly changing in ways that make those roles less viable, you can understand that the role you are expected to fit into fit into the world that you never lived in even if you have no way of knowing whether you personally would fit in.

When your role model for masculine behavior is your father, but your father is wants his wife to be “more traditional” than he wants his daughters to be, there’s going to be problems. Young men can see roles and expectations for young women changing to reflect social changes, but they do not see clearly articulated changes to their own roles and expectations – and “traditional” roles and expectations for men prominently included assumptions about female roles being subordinate in a social hierarchy. The mainstream proposal for young men is a vague”don’t be ‘traditional'” even as their fathers and grandfathers are still trying to be “traditional”. The JPs and other IDW types recognize this is not a stable situation and something must change, but their solution is to double down and re-affirm the correctness of traditional roles, and argue that the change needs to be in social structure (back to how it’s “meant to be”) rather than in social roles (to reflect how it actually is).

56

Ogden Wernstrom 03.13.19 at 8:49 pm

The case for God, not as a jolly bearded guy in the sky…

Not jolly? Does this mean that life is to be taken seriously?

It’s a little late in my life to have that revealed to me. Forced upon me, even. I guess that reincarnation may be my only option.

Or I could fix this part of it:

Here’s the idea. Imagine that you are in some sense the embodiment of that comedic spirit that has characterized mankind since the dawn of time. It’s locked in you, it’s part of your potential. That’s coded in part biologically, but it’s also coded sociologically, in the air and the mythos and the stories we tell each other … [snip out some stuff about Christianity]. It [teh comedy] starts to force you to develop. The socialization. The stress of that transforms you biologically. That won’t be unlocked until you place yourself in the position … [snip more stuff about Christianity] … you actually produce a psycho-gelotological-spiritual transformation that immatures you into the representation of the Child on earth.

57

Raven Onthill 03.14.19 at 5:08 am

b9n10nt, #39: “I really like the idea that we are biologically determined to stress about status.”

Studies of non-sapient social apes seem to show this. I caution, though, against taking instinctive ape tribalism as a model for human ethics. Instinct is a brutal teacher. This doesn’t mean sapient apes can or “should” ignore their heritage but ideally they would strive to add something to it.

Me, I go as the crow flies.

58

J-D 03.14.19 at 5:59 am

Adam Roberts

Things have changed in many ways since (say) the 1950s, particularly on the level, and interconnectedness, of discourse, but we’re still living in a world where being straight, white and male entails enormous privilege. Aren’t we?

Well, I would have said so, which makes me puzzled about why you are taking the trouble to point this out to me. What was there in my previous comments which suggested to you that I thought any differently from you on that point? I can’t figure how that point is supposed to be relevant to what was at issue in the previous discussion. In the comment of mine to which you were responding, I wrote:

I think maybe I can grasp the idea that some people feel they don’t know how to fit into this world. I think maybe I can grasp the idea that people find themselves living in a world different from the way it was before they were born. But to me there’s a problem in linking those two suggestions.

I explained above why it seemed to me to be difficult to link people’s difficulty in fitting in with the fact that the world has changed from the way it was before they were born; but it’s even more difficult for me to figure how people’s difficulty in fitting in could be supposed to be a consequence of the world’s not having changed.

Orange Watch

Sure, I can see how it could make people feel that it was difficult to fit in if they were getting inconsistent messages from their role models. Also, I can see how it might be that the reason the role models are giving out inconsistent messages is because the world has changed and they have been affected both by how it was when they were growing up (at a time before the people for whom they are role models were born) and by how it is now. But the direct source of the difficulty is the awareness of inconsistent messages from role models, and the difficulty is independent of any awareness of the world having changed since before the people affected were born.

More specifically, if young men find that their fathers are telling them things about how they should treat women which are inconsistent with the way the fathers themselves are actually treating women, it may well be disorienting for them, but the disorientation is independent of what caused the inconsistency and also independent of whether the young men are aware of the reasons for the inconsistency.

59

faustusnotes 03.14.19 at 6:30 am

Adam Roberts, i really don’t understand why you think it’s harder for young men today to agree to do things a certain way “because it’s the right thing to do” than it was for young men in previous generations. Young (Aussie) men of my generation would prowl the streets looking for gay men to beat up, and would joke about it openly; now they don’t do it or joke about it. Young men of my generation thought rape in marriage was impossible, and now they don’t. The fact that a small (?) group of (apparently primarily American) men can’t get with whatever the latest “right thing to do” isn’t the fault of the left. And are you arguing that it is only left wing people who are arguing men shouldn’t rape? Because that’s a big tell right there, isn’t it?

We see this vagueness from idiots like Shapiro all the time: “the left” somehow has the power to enforce a new norm on all of society, and all of society accepts this new norm, but somehow “the left” has failed to teach young men why they should do this thing that they have forced on society. How exactly does this work? That only old people accept “the left”‘s new norm? That only young women do? How is “the left” simultaneously so all-encompassing and omniscient, yet so weak?

I remember 25 years ago when feminists were winning battles about the right for women to wear short skirts, to work and send their children to childcare, to not be raped or beaten by their husbands/boyfriends, and to love who they want, and idiots of that generation like Bettina Arndt and Camille Paglia were whining on about how this meant men couldn’t be men anymore and feminists need to do more to convince young men not to rape their wives and harass women in short skirts. Fast forward 25 years and those battles have been (mostly) won but we have a new battle about asking young (American) men not to rape strangers or first dates, and we have a new generation of concern trolls whining that feminists aren’t telling young men why they should follow these new and super challenging rules. The answer is simple: don’t be a dick. The people turning to charlatans like Peterson and Shapiro are doing so because they want to keep being dicks. Peterson and Shapiro, obviously, are utter dicks. None of this is complicated and none of it is feminists’ fault.

60

Adam Roberts 03.14.19 at 7:52 am

faustusnotes @59: ” And are you arguing that it is only left wing people who are arguing men shouldn’t rape?”

No, I’m not arguing this, and if I’m honest I don’t believe you truly think I’m arguing this. We’re talking (aren’t we?) about white male privilege. Privilege is not “men can rape with impunity” and “straight men can beat up gay men with impunity”, such that changing culture to make those things unacceptable does not mean privilege has been eliminated.

“None of it is feminists’ fault”: I agree heartily that none of it is feminists’ fault, whilst also insisting upon the point that at no point have I ever claimed that any of it is feminists’ fault.

61

Orange Watch 03.14.19 at 9:43 am

JD@52:

Stating things you don’t readily see must be made up is an odd strategy, and adds nothing to the conversation. Here, it suggests a lack of candid exposure to activists WRT my statement you find incredible, and a lack of close reading of posts related to the subject under discussion WRT the statement of Patrick’s you find incredible.

JD@58:

You’re simultaneously being too literal and engaging in all-or-nothing thinking. It is possible to understand something without having first-hand knowledge of it. Imperfect knowledge is almost always a necessary component of social discourse. Being born after the era when the role you are expected to follow was predominant does not make it necessarily inconsistent to conclude that the role worked better in the bygone era.

I will say your incredulity at the idea that activists center on issues that directly impact them is odd in light of this assertion, though – if one must have first-hand knowledge to be able to meaningfully appraise something, then of course activists will center their activism on personally impactful issues. This is a straightforward logical corollary of standpoint epistemology, and it’s one that is borne out in practice by adherents thereof, but also quite frequently by identitarian activists even when they don’t explicitly embrace standpoint epistomology.

62

J-D 03.14.19 at 9:43 am

Adam Roberts

It’s all happening online, and in that metaphorical Go game the left are hunkering down around their already-captured territory and simply ceding these guys (a large demographic) to the alt-right with a “but what can we do?” Why isn’t there a woke Peterson giving young men the steer that could save them from all this Jungian-patriachal-evopsych-incel bullshit?

What leads you to the conclusion that there isn’t? There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world: a lot of stuff that hasn’t come to my attention, and a lot of stuff that hasn’t come to your attention.

63

Faustusnotes 03.14.19 at 10:30 am

Adam you said repeatedly that the left has to offer men a way to “do the right thing”. Why are you suddenly pretending you don’t think it’s feminists fault?

64

J-D 03.14.19 at 10:43 am

Orange Watch

Stating things you don’t readily see must be made up …

I very carefully did not affirm that you were making stuff up, or that Patrick was making stuff up. I referred to my worry that you (both, or either one) were making stuff up. Neither one of you is under any obligation to concern yourself with my worries. However, if you choose to respond to me and want to assuage my worries, what you need to do is direct my attention to specific examples. If you respond to me without producing specific examples, the effect on me will not be to assuage my worries but to tend to confirm them. I could have written ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’: would you have found that style of response more or less palatable?

It is possible to understand something without having first-hand knowledge of it. Imperfect knowledge is almost always a necessary component of social discourse. Being born after the era when the role you are expected to follow was predominant does not make it necessarily inconsistent to conclude that the role worked better in the bygone era.

Yes, of course it’s possible that young men will be aware of historical change (starting before they were born) which explains inconsistent behaviour by their paternal role models: that doesn’t alter the fact that inconsistent behaviour by role models is liable to be disorienting regardless of awareness of its historical background.

I will say your incredulity at the idea that activists center on issues that directly impact them is odd in light of this assertion, though – if one must have first-hand knowledge to be able to meaningfully appraise something, then of course activists will center their activism on personally impactful issues.

Of course it’s likely in general that activists will focus primarily on those problems whose impact they feel personally. That’s what I expect: I’m not incredulous about that as an empirical observation. What I’m dubious about is the idea of explicit normative advocacy of that as an exclusive strategy. If you want to dispel that incredulity, you should (again) be directing my attention to specific examples (or again, if you prefer, it’s ‘pics or it didn’t happen’).

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bianca steele 03.14.19 at 11:23 am

The bad rhetoric is a power play. It’s like a speaker who mumbles and then berates the audience for not getting it, but on an unthinkably vast scale and over unbroachable distances. It also lets a select group of listeners believe that, if they met the speaker in person, he’d be as indulgent of them as they imagine him to be.

What pulls in the supposedly neutral, rational observers, most likely, is how effortlessly Peterson manages to have it both ways. The way I suspect it goes is something like this:

JP: Hello, young man! I surmise you’d like some advice?

YM: I like to sit in my pajamas and play video games, and people don’t respect me.

JP: No, you have to get a job. In our society, men are expected to earn a living. Only liberals think it’s okay not to have a real job. People who deserve respect have jobs and aren’t liberals.

YM: OK, I got a job, but my boss keeps telling me what to do. It seems like he doesn’t respect me.

JP: No, you have to listen to your boss. In our society, men are expected to earn a living, and that means obeying the boss and not worrying about feelings. Only liberals think it’s okay not to obey your boss as if he were God.

YM: That’s really hard and it makes me feel like less of a man. Someone I think is a homosexual told me I had to do the job even though it makes me feel bad, and that felt so hateful.

JP: Yes, it sounds hateful. A man does his job, and it should make you feel like more of a man. In our society, men form hierarchies, because that’s how women like it. Your manager should be like Christ in your life and in a few years you’ll have become him. Women will recognize you as the Father’s representative in this world. Women and black people have to follow instructions because they’re not awesome. You have to follow instructions because you *are* awesome. That gay person should not have made you feel bad by treating you like a woman or a black person.

YM: I’ve been in this job three years and I only got a minor promotion and they still expect me to follow instructions and they put a woman over me. They don’t respect me even though I did everything right.

JP: You need to learn something about how the world works. Masculinity is power and when women have more power than men the system is out of whack. Women are swampy witches and all progress is due to men. People who don’t share the dominant culture’s Mythos are a danger to everyone around them. When things don’t seem right, you have to break everything down and start again. People who say bad things about me are especially bad people.

YM: Yeah, that makes sense.

Supposedly neutral observer: Isn’t it terrific that Peterson got that young man off the Internet, where he could only meet hateful feminists and liberal activists, and channeled his innate sense that men are awesome onto a productive path? We should really make sure we only hire people who follow his rules from now on, though we’ll whine about mean liberals who think “karmic justice” should be inflicted on us unmercifully if they do the opposite. It’s unpossible after all that our rules don’t actually work. After all, when I bully someone enough, they do what I want! Q.E.D

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TM 03.14.19 at 12:27 pm

J-D at 40 is of course logically correct but I’m interested in a factual question: is there any evidence that “Peterson’s appeal is overwhelmingly to adolescent and young men”, or that a large fraction of young men are drawn to misogyny? Btw what percentage of young men voted for Trump?

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KG 03.14.19 at 1:14 pm

Yet we’re endlessly and breathlessly subjected to narratives rooted in alpha hunters and alpha warriors – Orange Watch@18

Which are themselves completely without evidence. Current and recent foragers (hunter-gatherers) appear mostly to be rather non-hierarchical or even anti-hierarchical, and don’t go in for war, although interpersonal violence is not rare. We don’t of course know that ancient foragers were the same – and very likely, they themselves encompassed a wide range of social setups.

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KG 03.14.19 at 1:18 pm

Why isn’t there a woke Peterson giving young men the steer that could save them from all this Jungian-patriachal-evopsych-incel bullshit? – Adam Roberts@32

Possibly because such a leader/hero figure would inevitably be part of the problem rather than the solution.

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Raven Onthill 03.14.19 at 4:02 pm

To which I will add that, if one models ones ethics or conduct on non-sapient behavior, one is discarding sapience, and what’s the point of sapience, then?

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Adam Roberts 03.14.19 at 6:11 pm

J-D @62 Of course you’re right that there a lot of stuff that hasn’t come to my attention. My ignorant blinkeredness is prodigious, I’m not proud to say. What led me to the conclusion that there isn’t a woke internet/media superstar with the brand recognition, and audience-reach, of Peterson is that I’m not aware of any where I am aware of him. His ‘fame’ has reached me, despite me in no way seeking him or his ideas out. I spend a lot of time online, but don’t know of a left-wing equivalent. If your point is that this is because I’m a ostrich with my head in the eSand I’m obviously not in a position to deny it, although I might suggest a simpler way to falsify my statement would be to name a few names.

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bekabot 03.14.19 at 6:20 pm

From a purely logical point of view, the eternal hero business runs up against the existence of each one of us who rejects it. How do you explain us?

He might explain you by saying that although you appear to exist, you really don’t exist because you lack the proper metaphysical foundations. I’m not saying he would do that, but he might.

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Orange Watch 03.14.19 at 6:28 pm

J-D@62:

It’s fairly safe to conclude there isn’t a “woke Peterson” because part of being a parallel to Peterson would be to be high-profile with a significant and visible body of followers. Obscurantism is not a good refutation of things that by their nature are not obscure. And if you mean that there might be low-profile would-be woke Petersons who haven’t gained enough traction to become high-profile woke Petersons… then your question becomes meaningless, because it is irrelevant to the question of why there aren’t successful “woke” alternatives to Peterson’s just-so-ish Jungian gender BS.

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BruceJ 03.14.19 at 7:49 pm

Adam @64

The reason there is no “woke” Peterson of such notoriety is entirely rooted in Peterson’s wide divergence from just about everyone else.

The whole of the so-called “Intellectual Dark Web” like Peterson, Sam Harris and the rest of that sorry crew is widely known because it’s pretty much them versus everyone else in their fields.

You might as well ask where is the ‘woke’ PUA, or InCel folks on the left. Peterson has set himself aside from the mainstream of thought, which actually tracks fairly well with so-called ‘woke’ viewpoints, there are a multitude of people on the other side; so it’s not entirely surprising that there isn’t one with the same kind of name recognitions…

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Patrick 03.14.19 at 7:59 pm

Adam Roberts- I think the message of “relinquish privilege because it’s the right thing to do” is saleable without the “and you’ll benefit in the end” part. But I think that only works if you still follow through on focusing your pitch upon specific, achievable things that also appear to common social norms of fairness and reciprocity.

Making orchestra auditions blind is said to be the cause of the dramatic increase in female performers in professional orchestras. But you don’t need a big long just so story about how this helps men on the down low to convince men to be ok with this. The social norms of fairness and reciprocity do that. People reason that it’s fair for the best musician to get the job, and if they’re the best they’ll get the job too.

This isn’t to say that all jobs would benefit from or ought to adopt gender blinded hiring. Music is fairly specific in that it allows for straight forward meritocratic judgment of potential hires’ work product in a way that many other jobs cannot. I think affirmative action in hiring can play a useful role in many contexts. This example was selected because it’s so stark- a zero sum game in which measurable privilege was surrendered with nary a pip because social norms regular people care about justified it. So apparently that’s possible!

We all can, with a few clicks, access 1) angry feminists insisting that misogyny is the only possible explanation for why men sometimes don’t realize that women are sometimes afraid to be unexpectedly alone with them, such as on elevators or on secluded streets, and 2) comedy sketches and other media mocking white women as racist for being afraid when they’re unexpectedly alone with black men, such as on elevators and secluded streets.

And both arguments stem from understandable impulses, but they both ignore the understandable impulses behind the other. And the arguments are prosecuted selectively and via shaming and by papering over the conflict by pretending it’s not there and going after anyone who mentions it.

What Jordan Peterson taps into is the very human, very real fact that it is uncomfortable to feel sandwiched between things like this- between conflicting social norms policed by shaming by people who often seem to be driven more by the visceral thrill of shaming than by any desire to improve the world. That’s a bad feeling! And it’s a normal feeling.

So Peterson tells young men that what society is telling them about how to be a good person isn’t worth caring about (like I used to tell Christians, YOU ARE NOT AS COUNTER CULTURAL AS YOU TELL YOURSELF YOU ARE, ESPECIALLY WITH RESPECT TO YOUNG PEOPLE IN YOUR POWER), and instead they should care about a bunch of hybridized cultural conservatism and Jungianism (hey, Academy- why is this still a thing, and does the fact that it’s still a thing suggest any structural deficiencies you might have that relate to these culture wars in a broader sense?).

And importantly he offers them a community of people who will affirm them, at a time when the biggest cultural competition among young people is offering only an ever shifting target of privilege policing that is so disconnected from real life impacts that it neither produces measurable value nor has any capacity to tell someone that they’ve done their fair part, or are doing it, and can stop feeling insecure. It just offers endless memes and shareable clickbait about how this or that disfavored group is trash for ever more difficult to follow reasons.

Just try to put yourself in other peoples shoes without presupposing that they’re trash. Maybe they are in the end but at least try, because sometimes they’re wrestling with real situations and issues that are actually very understandable if you quit trying not to.

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Lee A. Arnold 03.14.19 at 9:19 pm

As a psychedelic relic and modern meta-mystic, I have a different view. I think there is a wordless transcendent state of being that lies underneath religion that Peterson hasn’t experienced and that Plato did. Most people today are unaware of this, or have a vague imagination, or pass it off the reports as hallucination. Unfortunately Peterson relies upon an ur-text (the Bible) that isn’t very direct and then brings in his own “scientistic” observations from psychology and anthropology, leading to the sort of gobbledegook quoted in John’s OP.

The holy books of the various religions contain differing amounts of direct instruction in the basic mystical path which underlies their chiefest experience. The path and its end-state are more or less the same of course. There are emotional or intellectual instructions in it, but they all lead to more or less the same wordless experience: It transcends the individual’s everyday state of being; it is ego-less; there is an enhancement in the individual’s perceptual field; the new state may be transient, but there is a lasting change in the individual’s felt relationship to the world.

The holy books themselves differ in the amounts of direct instruction because the societies which produced the books had different cultural knowledge and expectation of the experience. For example, some early Buddhist texts are wholly concerned with explicit instruction in the transcendent path, perhaps because Gautama was a radical reformer of the entire method; indeed he threw out any reference to divinity. On the other hand, there is very little instruction in the Old Testament (although that function was sometimes claimed to be present in the heavily affective Song of Songs), perhaps because that culture assumed that the experience was possible and took its occurrences for granted, and so the Bible’s narrative is of the cultural pronouncements of prophets, coming as transmissions (“the Lord said”) from the experience, which are accompanied in the other books by the history of the corresponding travails of the desert and of political bondage. Later Jesus was cast from the same tradition as the actual messiah (the ultimate prophet who would deliver the Jews from bondage) in a renewal, and this helped to differentiate the accompanying freedom movement from the polytheistic “civil religion” of the Romans (see the first ten books of Augustine’s The City of God, a strange amalgam of sociology, politics and theology).

In another example, I imagine Plato to have written his works in order to piece together the shape of plain Greek knowledge after his own transcendent experience. The Greeks are assumed to have been less religious and more scientific than other ancients, but I suspect that this is a big mistake. Historians of religious ecstasy may not possess a lot of evidence for the cultural status of transcendent mystical experience in ancient Greece, but the “allegory of the cave” suggests that it may have been as commonly acknowledged and integrated into society as in ancient Judaism or in medieval Christendom. Each era and locale puts it into a different language of course. Accordingly Greek “virtue” always strikes me as referring to an attribute that inheres in the individual after the wordless change in being. It is not knowledge that can be taught. It is knowledge of how to act, on account of having experienced the state of grace. So the Meno is about how such a word as “virtue” must apply to its referents in order that anyone else, even an inexperienced person, can form, and will form, an exoteric inkling of what the word means, in order to continue participating in a verbal conversation. It is apt and clever to link this to our inherent knowledge of the attributes of geometrical figures in order to explore the epistemology of absolute, perfect ideas. Even in a nameless boy who was an uneducated slave (yet via Plato, now immortalized).

Our ability to understand the inklings of absolute ideas allows us to latch onto, say, the Bible, and to start our own interpretations. But it also allows an inexperienced person to self-invent the path to higher consciousness without knowing the whole idea or what he is doing or how to get there, and therein lies danger. A person who comes as a scientist with psychological lab results, but unaware of the well-established mystical paths, can be most dangerous to himself and to others.

Peterson is undoubtedly helping some young people to straighten up and to become good producers and consumers. But he risks harming some others because he self-reinvents only a few steps of the mystical path, and then cuts it short and brings things to a conclusion when he falls back upon clinical psychology and the discourses of archetypes and self-improvement. This could, for some of his auditors, amount to bad and confusing advice. In a video conversation with Russell Brand, Peterson discusses Jung’s interpretation of the call to “more consciousness” beyond pleasure and pain that is implied in the story of Job — but he doesn’t emphasize and perhaps doesn’t know the primary, and finally stand-alone, necessity of the personal practice of wordless contemplation that leads to more consciousness (yet to which the Bible alludes in about a thousand ways). Finally, meditation and contemplation discard all word structure; there is no gabbling on about clinical psychology. The full path has been trod many times to this destination and there is clarity to be gained from the best expositions in full, some of them quite short, by writers such as Patanjali, Buddhaghosa, Shankara, Ibn Arabi, John of the Cross, Shunru Suzuki. Not mention these writers is tantamount to malpractice.

Indeed Peterson’s discussion of story, archetypes and hierarchy ought to be recognized as standard introductory mystical preparation. Between the wordy baloney of our daily lives and the moment of ineffable change, there is the mid-level work of ideoplastic unification to be performed in the brain. (For the mystic writers listed just above, it is an implicit and minor stage of the path.) This work is performed both emotionally and intellectually. Intellectually it looks like archetypes when ascending, and it looks like the necessity of hierarchy when descending. Archetype & hierarchy are opposite directions on the same transformative ladder. From this discourse a modern audience will feel plenty of inklings of course. However, taking hierarchy for the natural order of the world, or of the sexes, or making it an excuse for the sorry condition of the economic system, is just wrong, though a common and typical reification error of mystical seekers.

Peterson implicitly adopts Jung’s therapeutic separation of the cosmos into pleroma and creatura, the inert and the living (although I am not sure that Peterson ever uses these words). But to go further in a scientific way, a discussion of archetypes and their cultural transmission must make use of all the biological and social sciences from embryo ontogeny up to anthropology. Because it is all about the transmission and transformation of pattern. You have to find someone who has attempted to study it all, and the first and perhaps still the only scientist who attempted it and indeed addressed rather directly the connection between lobster physiology and archetype generation is Gregory Bateson. (He used crabs.) Bateson found himself developing a new set of scientific fundamentals (concerning the concept of “information”) to cover the empirical observations in a new pattern science for creatura, to stand alongside the matter-and-energy physics of pleroma. As a good scientist he was careful and hesitant about taking such a bold new direction. It placed him outside the contemporary academy, yet everyone who now tries to think synthetically about these questions appears to reinvent his wheels. Bateson went further and started to assemble a whole vehicle from the wheels upward. His observations of the formal similarities of the “two great stochastic processes” of learning and evolution, and of the tandem hierarchy of calibration-and-feedback that is immanent in all forms of explanation and interaction, are chapters in his book, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. Peterson would do well to memorize them before commenting further.

Peterson also puts himself at self-developmental risk, because he has acquired an audience. Expatiating upon the ineffable is always a social phenomenon, insofar as there is always a portion of the population that is in the same boat, i.e. is looking for a change in life. He starts with assertiveness training so you can find a good job and a good mate. He goes further to reinvent fragments of the mystic path while zinging his audience with the thrash of ideas. In essence he is collecting an audience while collecting his own thoughts. But such transmissions to other individuals are unreliably received even from the better expositors, always spurring more questions and more extrapolations. An unremarked lost virtue of the old established religions was that the archetypes came prepackaged in story structures that were tested and elaborated by very long empirical experience, and also there were preachers and counselors TRAINED in the tradition. This was far, far from perfect, and none of us would want to go back in time to the accompanying fear and abuse, but the good idea in it was to keep things unified in an inclusive path that was tailored to many different individual circumstances. What we have nowadays, at best, are clinical psychologists who themselves are without full experience (and/or mistake the results from statistics and psychology to be steps toward complete knowledge). And at worst we have individual proprietors who self-invent or reinvent the archetypes and practices in a smorgasbord of ideas. Given the social need, the thrashing spiritual entrepreneur of the smorgasbord can gain an audience and even gain big box office at Ticketmaster. This might appear to that entrepreneur to be truth validation. But spiritual guidance from someone who is not Self-realized (to use a Vedantist term), i.e. who has not left all the words behind, is far more dangerous than guidance from an old religion, however much it is scientized with lobster dramas etc. Peterson runs the grave risk of finally misleading himself and others in an epidemic of explosive logorrhea.

Peterson should get out of the lecture racket. The best route forward at this point in time is to study a short manual of mystical practice such as the Yoga Sutras or The Cloud of Unknowing, followed by a few stiff doses of psychedelic therapy with an experienced guide (do NOT do this by yourself !) in proper set and setting, followed by lifelong Zen meditation. And it has to be lifelong: people think they know something, but then they lose it again, in fact can be unaware of the loss within a few weeks. Then, maybe, come back and lecture in about 5 years.

Asked why he stopped writing, Aquinas is reputed to have said, “Everything that I have written seems like straw to me compared to those things that I have seen and have been revealed to me.”

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b9n10nt 03.14.19 at 10:27 pm

Raven Onthill @57: This doesn’t mean sapient apes can or “should” ignore their heritage but ideally they would strive to add something to it.

exactly. we have meaningful choices that are naturally (biologically) constrained. We do not have the choice to NOT meddle with our pre-sapiens heritage.

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J-D 03.15.19 at 12:32 am

Adam Roberts
Orange Watch
My apologies. I did not consider the possibility that ‘a … Peterson’ should be interpreted as meaning somebody who has achieved the same prominence as Peterson. On reflection, that’s an obvious interpretation which could have occurred to me. But it didn’t. Now that it has, I agree that there is nobody with the same prominence and who otherwise matches the description given in an earlier comment. I have no answer to the interesting question of why this should be so.

I do notice that BruceJ has suggested an answer to the question, which might be the correct one.

Also, although it doesn’t answer the question in this specific case, there is nothing novel about the general phenomenon of mountebanks, charlatans, and quacks achieving more prominence, and receiving more credit, than people who better deserve it, although I don’t have an answer to the general question of why this should happen as often as it does. Is it because there’s one born every minute? or because a lie travels halfway round the world while truth is putting on her boots?

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faustusnotes 03.15.19 at 1:44 am

Adam Roberts, perhaps you’re unaware of Joss Whedon and the entire arc of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was a long series of lessons in not being a dick (the creepy episode where the nerds built a buffy sex robot is an example of a lesson in wokeness). There’s plenty of this kind of stuff in popular culture. But what happens is that when things get mainstreamed, these IDW folks come out and pretend that this was a conservative achievement all along, and then attack the next step in the process of unraveling centuries of misogyny. So Queer as Folk gets dismissed as having been always part of the mainstream, and suddenly arseholes like Peterson are complaining that the “SJWs” are making them use the wrong pronouns, as if Queer as Folk wasn’t subject to the same kinds of complaints and campaigns 20 years ago. This is why these idiots always lead with “[insert left wing movement] has gone too far!” Because they want to pretend that the previous gains were always there, and this new step forward is radical and unheard of, when it’s a natural progression.

This is also why we don’t have “woke heroes” on the left – because the left is constantly campaigning and subtly changing things, and they get lost in the melange of mainstream culture and quietly accepted until some insecure dickhead comes along and complains that he’s not allowed to use qualudes to get laid anymore. Nobody notices how it got to the point where he has to complain that his bro-rights are being infringed upon, and nobody can pin down the person who finally successfully got date rape consigned to the dustbin of history.

Peterson’s not new, he’s just orders of magnitude dumber than the previous generation’s campaigners. And this stands to reason: as more and more dickish behavior gets accepted as dickish and moved out of mainstream thought, the people who cling to it have to come up with weirder and dumber arguments, because their devotion to dickishness seems ever weirder and dumber. Two generations ago the Petersons of the world were arguing that rape in marriage is cool because women are inferior to men and exist to serve. Now that nobody (except Mike Pence and Donald Trump) believes this anymore, they have to come up with weirder arguments in favour of smaller infractions. So we have a Jungian word salad in support of manspreading. And when you’re coming up with Jungian arguments in favour of manspreading, you’re on pretty thin intellectual ice!

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J-D 03.15.19 at 8:00 am

Patrick

We all can, with a few clicks, access 1) angry feminists insisting that misogyny is the only possible explanation for why men sometimes don’t realize that women are sometimes afraid to be unexpectedly alone with them, such as on elevators or on secluded streets, and 2) comedy sketches and other media mocking white women as racist for being afraid when they’re unexpectedly alone with black men, such as on elevators and secluded streets.

Can we? Pics or it didn’t happen.

And the arguments are prosecuted selectively and via shaming and by papering over the conflict by pretending it’s not there and going after anyone who mentions it.

Are they? Pics or it didn’t happen.

So Peterson tells young men that what society is telling them about how to be a good person isn’t worth caring about (like I used to tell Christians, YOU ARE NOT AS COUNTER CULTURAL AS YOU TELL YOURSELF YOU ARE, ESPECIALLY WITH RESPECT TO YOUNG PEOPLE IN YOUR POWER), and instead they should care about a bunch of hybridized cultural conservatism and Jungianism (hey, Academy- why is this still a thing, and does the fact that it’s still a thing suggest any structural deficiencies you might have that relate to these culture wars in a broader sense?).

Is the Academy promoting Jungianism? Pics or it didn’t happen.

And importantly he offers them a community of people who will affirm them, at a time when the biggest cultural competition among young people is offering only an ever shifting target of privilege policing that is so disconnected from real life impacts that it neither produces measurable value nor has any capacity to tell someone that they’ve done their fair part, or are doing it, and can stop feeling insecure. It just offers endless memes and shareable clickbait about how this or that disfavored group is trash for ever more difficult to follow reasons.

Is that the biggest cultural competition among young people? Pics or it didn’t happen.

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nastywoman 03.15.19 at 11:00 am

@
”Peterson discusses Jung’s interpretation of the call to “more consciousness” beyond pleasure and pain that is implied in the story of Job — but he doesn’t emphasize and perhaps doesn’t know the primary, and finally stand-alone, necessity of the personal practice of wordless contemplation that leads to more consciousness (yet to which the Bible alludes in about a thousand ways)

Yeah – ”wordless contemplation” can be ”cool” to – by trying to ”succeed differentially” by being… male?

BUT as the (only) question which interests Peterson -(and his fans) IS:
”On what basis do females reject” there is very little advise from this blog (yet)

So – if I may?

See – guys – on Saturday is St- Patricks day and I bought a bright green wig and look absolutely terrible in it – and I was inspired in buying this wig by one of my fellow sisters – who – the other day at a restaurant in Coral Gables bought a very obvious (red-haired) ”nerd” a drink just because he was wearing a green T-shirt – and so – Mr. Peterson IF you are reading –
and you better be? –
here is my advice for YOU –

IF ”young male nerds” are really ”your fans” – and they really come to you for advice about NOT getting rejected by females – they really, REALLY should NOT consider a Swiss dude from the last century who believed ”that the psyche is a self-regulating – but interacting systems of them ego -(I love eggo’s) – the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious.”

It isn’t anymore –
and don’t ”nerds” who even (still) know who this Jung-Dude was actually WANT to be rejected by ”females” who know who this Jung-Dude was?

BE-cause – that’s the thing – that these nerds are far – faaaar too much interested in females – who don’t know who this Jung-Dude was/is and that they really get pissed off IF they can’t date ME -(or Gigi Hadid)
BUT NOT everybody can date Gig Hadid! and there is absolutely NO reason to mad about.

GOT THIS – finally?

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Heshel 03.15.19 at 9:04 pm

@Patrick #74

I was with you until…

And importantly he offers them a community of people who will affirm them, at a time when the biggest cultural competition among young people is offering only an ever shifting target of privilege policing that is so disconnected from real life impacts that it neither produces measurable value nor has any capacity to tell someone that they’ve done their fair part, or are doing it, and can stop feeling insecure. It just offers endless memes and shareable clickbait about how this or that disfavored group is trash for ever more difficult to follow reasons.

I don’t think that the environment you describe is as hegemonic as you characterize. In fact, I think to the extent that your description holds true one would do well to ask why individuals (young and male or not) choose to spend their time in a way that is easy to characterize so glibly. Isn’t the internet vast enough to include spaces that satisfy the myriad human interests without also incentivizing terrible behavior? Is there something about this particular landscape that makes it very difficult for a young white man not to be regularly exposed to the extremities of the overzealous enforcers of particular social norms, on the one hand, and the overzealous breachers of those norms on the other? Are there reasonable choices that a young white man could make to enjoy the internet more eudaimonically? Why instead of staring at pictures of puppies do they choose to stare at the Peterson inkblot and see in it a self-gratifying narrative consistent with the overzealous breachers crowd?

Perhaps I’ve meandered a bit.

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jack lecou 03.16.19 at 12:41 am

I feel like 78 is pretty insightful.
There is a missing phenomenon though, which is where segments of the population apparently internalize the mainstream message on the surface, without remotely understanding what it means. As in, “Can you believe that crazy antifa lady called me a racist? Racism is the worst, everyone knows that. How could anyone call me a racist. Oh, by the way, are you coming down to the rally on Sunday? What do you think I should put on my sign – I was thinking of going with either ‘Build the Wall’ or ‘Stop the White Genocide’…”

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