The Importance of Being Ethical, with Jordan PetersonMay 01, 2022
if you're the prime minister of canada the man is a villain, but if you're a conservative, particularly a young conservative, chances are good that you think of him as a hero
petersonin uncommon knowledge now welcome to uncommon knowledge i'm peter robinson In 2016, the Trudeau government enacted legislation making it illegal to discriminate based on citing gender expression close quote Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto, was particularly opposed, adamantly refusing to use gender pronouns politically. correct, he said it in videos and it went viral in 2017 he started a podcast series called the psychological meaning of bible stories which has been watched by millions in 2018 he published a book 12 rules for life an antidote to chaos that became an international bestseller last year he published another bestseller beyond the order 12 more rules for life and then he quit college toronto ad will come to that to pursue lecturing and podcasting
petersonwelcome thank you thank you should know by the way we are filming today as part of the classical liberalism seminar at stanford ok question one february protest canadian truckers protest coveted restrictions some of them block the border crossings some of them growl the capital city of ottawa a quote and then a video clip here is the quote in a message he recorded for the protesters i would like to congratulate you all for your diligence and work in achieving what you they have in difficult conditions and also for keeping their heads in a way that has been a model for the whole world close quote now the clip has to stop the people of ottawa do not deserve to be harassed in their own neighborhoods do not deserve to be confronted the inherent violence of a swastika waving on a street corner or a Confederate flag or the slurs and mock just because they wear a mask that's not who canada who canadians are okay so here it's hard to even look at it here's the first question how is it possible that discourse in a large democracy has become so polarized that jordan peterson and the prime minister see exactly the same set of events and come to opposite conclusions about them? well he's lying and i'm not so that's a big part of that's a big part of the problem.
I don't think he'll ever say a word that's true from what I've been able to observe. has a particular instrumental goal in mind and everything is subservient to serve that why what is the motivation uh the same motivation that is generally typical of people who are narcissistic that must be credited with moral virtue in the absence of the work necessary to actually achieve all good for playing a role of, you know, the swastika thing is really untrue about Canadians, we're really going to be worried about the Nazis in Canada because I had protests, for example, where people accuse me of attracting Nazis, in the first place.
First of all, that's not a thing in Canada, there's no Nazi tradition, and I don't know anyone in Canada who's known someone who's known someone who was Canadian and who was a Nazi. and that's not a start and when that sort of thing creeps into the conversation early on you know that Canadians shouldn't be subjected to the inherent violence of a swastika in the first place, it's not even obvious what that swastika is. was doing there is there reasonable evidence to suggest that the person waving it was a plant or someone making the comment that that was what was characteristic of the government, not what they now believe nobody knows because the story around that event is messy and it's not like there were credible journalists going there to dig deep but using that and the confederate flag issue is exactly the same you know the story in canada our prime minister implemented the emergencies law so the question was why so i went on twitter when this was trending and i read at least 5000 twitter comments to try to get a sense that these were people supporting trudeau on his emergency call i acted and i was trying to figure out what they think is going on and the story seems to be and this is all i can say and maybe i'm wrong the story was sort of like making State s America is Great Again conservative republicans on the far right were trying to destabilize Canadian democracy so my question went well what makes you think they care about Canada and its democracy firstly and secondly Why in the world would they possibly make you need a motive for a crime?
And that was at the same time that the CBC was insisting that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which is subsidized by the Liberals to the tune of $1.2 billion a year, was insisting that most of the m The money the truckers raised it was foreign funded if it wasn't the fucking russians then it was american conservatives and it all turned out to be a complete lie and so good it's the republican right wingers trying to destabilize canadian democracy why nobody? has an answer for that because what's there for them and then okay, three days later, the emergency law was lifted, I thought, okay, what are they going to do with it?
It shows how effective it was, we had this coup ready to go that was apparently financed by the Americans and our prime minister was so outspoken that we only needed to be under the restrictions of the emergency law for three days. i know what kind of world i exist in where those things happen and then canadians why do canadians buy this to the extent that they do and i think they face a tough choice because in my country for 150 years you could trust the basic institutions you could trust the government no matter which political party was running it you could trust the political parties from the socialists over the conservatives the socialists were mostly union guys and they were trying to give the working class a voice and honestly you could trust the media even the canadian broadcasting corporation was a reliable source of news none of that is true now so canadians are
beingasked to make a tough choice or were they in the trucker convoy situation and the election was good either all your institutions are almost hopelessly corrupt or the truckers were funded by right wing republican americans both are ridiculous you better take whichever is less detrimental to your sense of security and i think that's what canadians did well for the most part i'll go back to the universities s from canada jordan peterson and the national publication the quote from last march i imagine myself teaching g and doing research at the university of toronto full time until they had to remove my skeleton from my office, yes yes instead you retired, well, it was impossible to go back, I mean, I couldn't think clearly about what I should do on the Pro Front for a long time because I was sick, but when I started to recover and looked at the situation in the first place, there was simply no going back.
I am too well known and too provocative. I guess I never really thought about myself. that way, but it seems to have turned out that way, I couldn't just go back to the classroom and then there were other issues as well, there's no way I'm writing a diversity, inclusion and equity statement for a grant. I would not do it. I can't imagine the circumstances under which you would do that and that is absolutely crucial now in Canada and increasingly in the US. To get any kind of research grant you have to write a diversity statement and it has to be the right kind of statement I read the national science a and engineering research councils were asking frequently asked questions about how to prepare a diversity statement and you couldn't you couldn't write a more reprehensible paper from the ideological perspective if you set out for the purpose of writing a reprehensible paper and so there is no way I could get funding for my research and then my students, what are their chances of
beinghired in an academic setting today?
You know perfectly well that those of you who served on faculty hiring committees. Your basic decision right away is fine. Who we are? delete because you have too many candidates and you are looking for reasons to get rid of people and I don't mean that as criticism even if it's just a reality and any hint of scandal of any kind is like well we have 10 other people we could see why we would bother with the problem and then I just couldn't see my students having any future and then I also thought I could go lecture wherever I want to whoever I want to with virtually any size audience with no restrictions whatsoever.
Why would I go back to teaching in a small class in college? so that was why again from you in the national publication exactly what am i supposed to do when i meet a graduate student or young professor recruited for diversity reasons instant skepticism what a slap in the face the ideology of diversity is not a friend of peace and tolerance is absolutely and completely an enemy of competition and justice close quote what happened how we woke up we can get to this in no time also universities in fact university faculty survey after survey of party affiliation in this country I'm sure it's the same in Canada, the university faculty has been on the left for a long time, but this awakening is something new.
What is the transmission mechanism? What happened and how did it happen? It's still a little sin. gle digit number of years yeah well that's a tough question you know I mean I've tried to put my finger on the nitty gritty of what you might describe as political correctness or awakening and I've done it in a number of ways. student for example this is a pretty promising line of research her name christine brophy was was her name um we the first thing we wanted to find out was if there really is such a thing as political correctness or awakening because it's vague can you identify it? yeah yeah and I meant that psychometrically because psychologists for 40 years have been dealing with one of the things that psychologists have been struggling with is construct validation that's the technical issue is how do you know when you're presenting a concept if it has some relationship with some underlying reality and so that you can think well, is there emotional intelligence?
Is there self-esteem? Is there political correctness and So the correct answer is what we don't know, but there are ways to find out, so one of the ways you find out is if you want to see if the construct evaluates something that's unique and does it accordingly. a separate way. of other similar constructs in a revealing and important way, there is a whole theory of methodology that should inform your efforts to answer such questions, for example, if you are a doctor, you might want to differentiate between depression and anxiety by keeping the concepts separate. they separate in important ways so that they have functional utility, but they also explain the overlap because they are both negative emotions, for example, it's part of epistemological mapping, so we ask a large number of people a large number of political questions trying to to oversample questions that had been presented in the media and in the public sphere as indicative of politically correct beliefs and then we did the appropriate statistical analysis to see if the questions are together and therefore they are together if question a is politically correct, let's say that you answer it positively and question b is politically correct and you answer it positively if there is a strong correlation between those two questions then you think they are testing well some underlying i don't have to tell you all this but you know this if you know anything about statistics then you know there is something underlying that holds them together and we identified a set of beliefs that they were observable or identifiable easily identifiable as politically correct so the question for it to exist then the question is where it comes from and we haven't done an empirical analysis of that but I think if you're reasonably familiar with the history of ideas you can see two streams , two broad streams, one is a postmodern stream that basically grew out of literary criticism and is based on what I think is actually a fundamental and valid criticism which is that it's very, very difficult to design a description of the world without that description. is informed by some value structure that is at the center of the usefulness of postmodern critique. modern I think that is in the center and in fact I think that I do not believe that you can look at the world except through a value structure, the question then is what is the value structure and also what do you mean by a value structure and that's where the postmodernists went wrong and where I think our whole society went wrong because radical left types who were simultaneously postmodernists turned to marxismto answer that question and they said well we organize our perceptions as a consequence of the will to power and I think that's an awful doctrine I think it's technically incorrect for all sorts of reasons that we could get into partly because power, if the power is my ability to force you to do things against your own interest or your own desire, perhaps I can organize my social interactions on the basis of that willingness to express power that I think is a very unstable means of social organization and, hence the notion that it is his power that structures our relationships. big but it's kind of a recurring temptation though im just thinking now gibbons says rome falls because christianity rises soft somehow by some horrible historical accident misplaced power nietzsche beyond good and evil christianity belief attacks christianity specifically but again he's drawn to power at will and then of course we don't have to talk about uh hitler and nuremberg marx and marx so there's something there's something you're a psychologist which means you spend a lot of time probing human nature there is a kind of recurring temptation there, in other words, it doesn't make sense to me that this thing that has wreaked havoc on these great and magnificent institutions these universities that our grandparents and great grandparents sacrificed themselves to give money to these magnificent citadels of learning this corruption is going wait it doesn't make sense that it arose from literary criticism it doesn't make sense for me to assume that the departments English rts suddenly took over well unless they're onto something yeah they know no they're onto something they're onto something that's why I emphasized in my comments above what I think is the core of the criticism postmodern, um i don't think you can look at the world except through a value structure and english and so you think well how literary criticism why is it so relevant well or does it become so relevant and so powerful and i think well i think we seeing the world through a narrative framework and if that's true we could talk about that a little bit what I mean by that I think you need a mechanism to prioritize your attention and because attention is an infinite resource and it's expensive so you have to prioritize it and there is no difference between prioritizing your attention and imposing a structure of values they are the same and then I think that the mechanisms we use to prioritize our attention are stories and that means that the people who criticize our stories actually have a lot more power than you might think because they're actually criticizing the mechanism through which we look at the world, so postmodernists would say look at, even look at the scientific world through a value-laden lens. and I think so, they're right, but what they're not right about is that the lens is one of power and now, for someone like Nietzsche, what happens with a word like power is that you can expand the boundaries of the word. to encompass pretty much any phenomenon you want and so i tried to define power as my willingness to use compulsion on you or other people because power can be authority power can be competition i don't mean any of that i mean you don't understand what that you have to do what you want i can tell you coercion exactly and i think marxist types see the willingness to use coercion as the driving force of human history and that's really saying something because that means it's the fundamental motivation and uh that it's a very caustic critique and it's easy to push people back from the fact that you know one of the things you see about capitalists because I've been shocked to see CEOs of big corporations like turn on these activists of dei , I think what the hell is wrong with you people, you know you're not even making use of your privilege and why are you doing it, well it's not very powerful if it's the CEO of a major corporation, he can't even stand some interns who have the ideology of dei, it's like it's doing him a lot of good, and so why would he produce a fifth column within his organization that is the complete opposite of the the way it does business and the capitalist company as such and an answer would be nice we don't think much of the ideas it's like ok maybe you should and you know you can be cynical about it and say well it's just a gloss to keep the capitalist enterprise going on while appearing To know you know the new demands of the ethics of the new
ethicalreality, which I think is also a bad argument, but more importantly, the people are guilty and the radicals who accuse us all historically and as individuals to be motivated by nothing more than the desire for power strikes a chord especially with people who are conscientious, you know because if you are a c conscientious and someone comes up to you and says like a small crowd of 30 people says you know you can be a little more careful what you say and do on the racist and sexist etc front you probably think well I'm not perfect, I could probably be a little more careful and there is no doubt that people have been oppressed in the past and there is also no doubt that in a sense I am the undeserved beneficiary of historical atrocity and therefore maybe I should looking at myself and that's weaponizing guilt and it's very effective and it's not surprising but it's not helpful so there's a resentment that drives this like a corrosive resentment that's capable of weaponizing guilt and it's very difficult for people to put up with it listen i asked my friends what was the question they would most like me to hear and they all said the same thing and then i came across you in a video saying that a few years ago people often ask me if i believe in god i don't like that question so i won't ask that question but the paper you just talked about values so here's a question i want to know how you think about this this is a question that sounds like philosophy 101 to me though i have to admit there are other people who just see that they see no traction on this at all my late friend christopher hitchens just bat deleted this and here's the question if there isn't a standard we don't have to rise up to call it god but if there isn't an objective standard of reason outside and above us ourselves, if everything is just matter, how can we think?
How can we do it? science this is c.s lewis this is c.s lewis and hitchens just thought this didn't make any sense but sorry c.s lewis if i swallow scientific cosmology as a whole which means only that all that exists is what we can perceive through our senses then not only can i not fit into religion i cant even fit into science if minds totally depend on brains and brains on biochemistry and biochemistry in the long run on the meaningless flow of atoms i cant understand how the minds thought should have more
importancethan the sound of the wind in the trees you feel it too yeah well that's a tricky problem that first of all I think I don't think science is possible outside of a comprehensive Judeo-Christian ethic , so for example, I don't think you can be a scientist without believing as an axiom of faith that the truth will set you free or that it will set us free, so we don't know the conditions under which is science is possible, you know that and we tend to overestimate its epistemological potency, it's only been around, I mean, you can extend it to the Greeks if you're inclined, but in a formal sense, it's only been around for about five centuries and it's only thrived for a very short period of time and it is perfectly reasonable to assume that there were particular preconditions that made his rise and ascendancy possible.
It is a historical phenomenon, yes, it happened at a specific moment in time, correct and for and at least for particular reasons. Yes, and I think one of the conditions, well, there are a lot. of them, one is, for example, there's an intense insistence in the Christian tradition that the mind of God, in a certain sense, can be known, yes, so we could well say the structure of the cosmos and you have to believe Even if that's If that is the case, before embarking on a scientific endeavor, you must believe that there is some relationship between the logic of logos, let's say, but logos is a much broader concept than logic, that's for sure, you must believe that there is some relationship between that and the structure of the cosmos you have to believe that the search for truth is itself an
ethicalgood because otherwise why would you bother?
You have to believe that there is an ethical good and those are not scientific those are not scientific questions so I think the arguments of people like hitchens are weak it's like yeah hitchens dawkins people like that they have a metaphysics they don't know about and they assume metaphysics is self-evident, well sorry guys it's not really. self-evident and they assume that it can be derived from observations of empirical reality and the answer to that is no, there will be axioms of your perceptual system that are not derivable from the contents of your perceptual system and you might think that that it's not very scientific and i would say talk to roger penrose and see what he thinks because i just talked to him for about three hours partly on this topic about saying the role of consciousness and the structure of consciousness and it's in no way It's obvious that materialistic reductionists have the correct theory about the nature of consciousness and it's not surprising that we don't understand the relationship between consciousness and being at all and So you know these are hard questions, well they are the hardest, the Difficult question for consciousness researchers is: why is your consciousness rather than why aren't we just unconscious mechanisms acting deterministically?
I don't think that's the hard question. I think the hard question is what is the relationship between consciousness and being itself and because I don't know, I can't. understand what it means for something to be in the absence of some awareness of that being, so when we say being, there is a component of awareness implicit in the idea of being itself, awareness is integrally linked to being in some mysterious way, etc. . Also don't think that most sophisticated scientists are by necessity reductionist materialists how to go as far as you can with that, no problem, it's very clear if you can reduce and account deterministically, no problem, but don't think that explains everything because I don't think that there is no evidence that it does, from science to politics to quotes jordan peterson this is a tweet from last month does more than axiomatic acceptance of the divine worth of the individual makes slavery a self-evident rule, well , that's a good one yeah yeah well you know it's my friend Jordan Peterson who tweeted it after yeah yeah well yeah I was thinking about that. i'm thinking wait i want to give you i'm going to put you in an august company here's ok that's you here's gk chesterton the declaration of independence bases all rights on the fact that god created all men equal there is no basis for democracy except on the divine origin of man so these are very similar thoughts and the notion here is if we can't do science without some notion I'm allowed to call it if the divi well let's just say Judeo-Christians no no divine divine technically is alright, oh, can you be alright?
That might get us out of a bit of an awkward bind here talking about icky things like religion, but if we can't do science without a notion of the divine, can we participate in self-government? One of the things that I've been talking about with my audience is the right to freedom of expression and how it might be conceptualized because you can think of it as a right among other rights, let's say it's just one of a list of rights and you can also think in rights as granted to you, say in some sense by the social contract and so uh, which is a different theory than the notion that rights stem from some underlying religious insistence on the divine worth of the individual the problem with the right there is a lots of problems with rights among other rights argument I don't think free speech is a right among other rights I don't think there's any difference between free speech and it has to be free because if it's not free it's not like that who imagines that you have to think mainly about difficult things because why think otherwise?
If everything goes well you don't have a problem when you have a problem you have to think and if you have a problem thinking it will be problematic because you will think things that bother you and that bother other people it is part of the need it is part of what will necessarily happen if you're thinking um i just want you to have said something that stopped me i'm sorry because i actually stopped so completely that i missed a bit of what followed i just want to repeat it there is no difference between speech and thought if you have freedom of thought you should have freedom of expression that's the argument yeah yeah okay me I'll unpack that first and then come back to the other one well there's a lot of reasons for that I mean first of all most of the time you think in words Now people also think in images, but I'm not going to go into that. let's put that aside, but we mostly think in words and use a mechanism that sociologically constructed the world of speech to organize our own psyches andwe do with speech and basically when you think there are two components that are internal in a sense when you think you have a problem so you ask yourself a question and then the answers appear in the theater of your imagination usually verbally so it would be like the revealing element of thoughtand that's very much like prayer in a fundamental sense because it's so mysterious you know the fact that you can ask yourself a question and then you can generate answers is like well why did you have the question if you can generate the answers if the answers are simply there and where do the answers come from well you can give a materialistic explanation to an extraordinarily limited degree but phenomenologically it is still the case that you ask yourself a question in speech and receive an answer in speech now too it can be a picture forget about it then the next question is what do you do once you get the answer and the answer e It's good if you can think, so you use inner speech to dissect the answer, which is what you do, for example, you encourage your students to do if they're writing an essay, you know they're presenting a proposal, and then you hope they can take the proposal apart and, essentially, if what they're doing is transforming themselves. it's in avatars that speak avatars of two different points of view, so you have the speaker for the proposal and then you have the critic and maybe you establish the dialogue between them and that constitutes the body of the essay and you have to be very sophisticated to handle that because it means you have to sort of split yourself into two avatars that are opposites and then you have to allow yourself to be the battleground between them, and people have to be trained to do that, that's what universities are supposed to do . really hard what people usually do instead is talk to other people and that's how they organize by talking to other people and then the reason you have the right to free speech is not so you can say whatever you want getting a hedonistic advantage, which is one way of thinking about it, you just get that you have the right to say what you want like you have the right to do what you want you to know subject to certain limits so it's like it's a hedonic freedom it's since that is not why you have the right to freedom of expression you have the right to freedom of expression because the whole of society depends on this its ability to adapt to the changing horizon of the future depends on the free thought of the individuals that compose it, it is like a free market in a certain sense is a free market argument in relation to thought we have to compute well this transformative horizon how we do it well committed consciously coming to terms with the possibility well how do we do that well it's mediated through speech so societies that are going to function for a reasonable amount of time have to leave their citizens alone to stupidly deal with complexity, so that out of that stupid standoff that's offensive and difficult and annoying, we can collectively grope towards the truth before we take steps to implement those truths before they've been proven and then you could do it for free argument of speech argument of divinity is that while you are that locus of consciousness that is what you fundamentally are and why it is associated with divinity that is a very, very complicated question, but part of the reason I outlined this in my series. about the biblical about the biblical series in genesis is at the beginning of genesis, for example, so imagine this divinity of individuals rooted in the conception As a narrative option that is integral to the Judeo-Christian tradition, you have god at the beginning of time in whose image men and women are made to act as the agent who transforms the chaos of potential into the habitable reality that is good and uses the word the divine word logos to do that and what that implies is that the word that is truthful is more than that, but the word that is truthful is the word that extracts habitable order from chaos and that is what characterizes human beings that ability and I think so, that's right, and then you m May I ask if you think that I would say that's what your culture is based on, so you could say that I don't think it's fair enough to say what you want, but try to act, try basing your personal relationships on any concept other than that and look what happens you know people are so desperate to be treated that way that it's their main motivation you want other people to treat you like you have When you have something to say that is worth attending to, you know that you have the opportunity to express yourself no matter how badly you do it and if they are willing to give you their attention and time to help you clarify that there is nothing out there that you want more than that and if you try structure your social relationships over any other on the basis that intrinsic respect for their intrinsic value is going to fail, okay, we've talked about college students, kids, a couple of statistics according to Gallup, the proportion of Americans who they claim to have no religious affiliation with each other. g Americans 76 and older only seven percent 93 percent of the old shakes claim a religious affiliation the youngest group Gallup surveyed are Americans between the ages of 26 and 41 nearly a third say they have no religious affiliation item one item two i am reasonably sure this is the same in canada at least in eastern canada but certainly in the united states poll after poll after poll shows young people are much more open to socialism or at least what we would say further away, not just from the center left, but further to the political left. he points out they are the most ardent supporters of this by the way this is a reversal of the Reagan years in the 80's when kids were more conservative than grown ups that's not the case now and then we add my personal observation , which is that during covid during the lockdowns for me personally, almost more shocking than anything else was the indolence, the passivity of the children, uh, except it was established very, very early, that if you are young you are at no risk serious about this you will get sick maybe it's the flu but you're more likely to die in a car crash until you're 20 and something than die of greed that set in right away and universities closed down and made kids take tests or they took their classes on zoom and i couldn't detect any backtracking no kid was talking trying to dissuade the man in general they were saying yes dominate him like igors to dr frankenstein so all these are very bad s news why do you think the first part of that question is importantly related to the second?
I guess let's just say this is extremely crude and it feels even cruder now that I've heard you talk so sophisticatedly for a while, but here's the team. The raw point is raw suspicion. that if you don't have some notion of the transcendent ent if you don't have some notion of the divine then you'll believe any damn thing yeah yeah right i think that's right and that's what the kids are doing yeah well i mean dostoevsky's comment on that was if there is no god everything is allowed you know and he did a lovely job breaking that down in Crime and Punishment and the karamazov brothers huh and i think that's true i think if you don't believe in anything you'll fall in love with anything and i really think that's the case and you know you could well say what do you mean you mentioned earlier that people like to ask me if i believe in god and i always think well who are you to ask that question in the first place do you have any notion of what you mean by believing that you believe that is accurate because you know what it means to believe, so you have an a priori theory about belief and now you ask me if my belief in god fits into your a priori theory how about we start by questioning r your priority theory of belief because I don't even know what you mean by believe and neither do you especially when we ask such a profound question because you know if you believe in God there are two mysteries there well three do you believe in God all three they are open to question i think people act on what they believe so when people ask me if i believe in god i usually say i act like god exists or i try to act like god exists and they are not very happy about it because you want me to abide by the rules of the implicit rules of your question, which is no, you believe in the religious view as a pseudoscientific description of the structure of reality, it's like well I don't even know how to answer that question because it's so wrong formulated that i can't figure it out do you think there is something divine good let's try to define divine here we can do that for a moment most of us have a feeling that literary stories differ in their depth I don't think that's war stripped down proposition some stories are shallow and some stories are deep some stories are fleeting and some move you deeply whatever that means it's a metaphor but we understand what it means imagine there are layers of depth literary and one way of conceptualizing the layers of literary depth is that the deeper an idea is, the more idea other ideas depend on it, so you have foundational ideas that are foundational because if you shake that idea, you shake all the ideas that depend on it. and then I would say well the realm of the divine is the realm of the most fundamental ideas and you can't believe in that or not because the alternative is to say well all ideas have equal value ok then try to act and you can't because you can.
Don't act unless you prioritize your beliefs and if you prioritize them you organize them into a hierarchy and if you organize them into a hierarchy you accept the notion of depth and that's a no-go when we use the language of divine we are talking about the most profound ideas And I think the notion that each individual is characterized by a consciousness that transforms the horizon of the future into the present, that's a divine idea, it's so deep, and our cultures necessarily I think functional cultures are necessarily based on that idea. , so I don't think it's just a Western idea, I don't think you can have a functioning culture that doesn't, in a sense, exemplify that idea because it interferes with the adaptation mechanism itself by not allowing you freedom of expression you know and you can be like my prime minister and you can say well i really admire the chinese communist party because when it comes to environmental issues they get things done and i think i couldn't start to tell you how many things are wrong with that statement it would take like 15 years to tell you why you are an inexcusably narcissistic jerk but we can just start if you know what you are doing and have power if you know what you are doing maybe you can be more efficient in your exercise or in your control over the movement towards that goal, let's assume for a minute that you know what you're doing right, maybe if you have power then you're Efficient, fair, man, what happens when you don't know what you're doing ?
What happens then where do you turn? What that means is that your ideology failed you and do you have a mechanism to operate when you don't know what you're doing? we are doing it right no because we always know what we are doing because we are totalitarian and have a complete theory of everything and say nothing against it or have it all wrapped up yes except when you don't and what do we do in free societies when we don't know what what we're doing right we let people talk and out of that chatter of that noise and American culture is particularly notable in this sense you have this immense diversity of opinions, most of which are completely useless and some of which are absolutely untrue. redemptive and one of the things that is so remarkable as a Canadian looking at your particular culture is that you know that you guys veer off in strange directions quite often and things look quite shaky and then there is a glimmer of hope somewhere that it breaks into a whole new mode of adaptation and you're gone again and it just happens over and over again and that's a consequence of the div real ersity of real diversity and it's definitely a consequence of freedom of association and freedom of expression because it allows all of that for sure so okay that's optimistic and I always want to end a show on a positive note here but I don't agree all set to show you so i want to keep that, put a pin in the optimism you mentioned. trudeau and trudeau's admiration for the chinese communist party. ray dalio billionaire in china empires grow when productive financially sound earn more than they spend and grow assets faster than their liabilities objectively compare china in the usa on these measures and fundamentals clearly favor china close appointment now is jordan peterson writing about communism in his introduction to the gulag archipelago 50th anniversary issue the 50th anniversary of the publication of that in the west takes place next year jordan peterson no political experiment has been tested so widely with so many disparate people in so many different countries and it has failed so utterly and catastrophically how many tests do we need why do we still look away from the truth now i have onei'm setting this up because the next quote i think is quite beautiful and i really want to see what you do with it ray dalio gives voice to this nagging temptation jordan peter says why why are we still tempted and dostoyevsky in the legend of the grand inquisitor the grand inquisitor he is speaking to christ and tells christ that you are wrong to receive your bread from us people will clearly see that we took their bread to give it back to them and they will be very glad to have it for us to release them from their greatest anxiety and torture of having They freely decide for themselves.
There has never been anything more unbearable for the human race than personal freedom to close an appointment is too difficult. dr peterson it's too hard canada had a good run america had a good run but maintaining free societies over the decades and over the generations is too hard for human nature to bear no you're not supposed to agree I agree with that well two two things you know, the first is that man does not live on bread alone, so that is the first retort and the second is regarding the difficulty, well, the only thing more difficult than fighting directly with the Existence is not to do it, I am I.
I am not suggesting for a moment that this is not difficult. I mean, part of what the Western religious tradition has done in religious traditions in general to some degree is to try to give people support from what is divine in their incalculably difficult efforts to deal with the unknown, let's say the unknowable. , know that if you are ethically oriented in the most fundamental sense, then in some sense you have the strength of god on your side and then maybe you can prevail despite the difficulty and I think it is I think it is true I think it is true then and you may ask yourself i try to ask these questions seriously you know and i would also say i have been led to my religious beliefs as it is out of necessity not desire what do you want to have on your side when you are struggling with the unknowable future and its wackiness what what about truth what about beauty what about justice you want allies those are powerful allies that's what college is supposed to teach Young people, it's like you need some allies, while how about the search for the truth?
Well then the scientists have their say and I would say on the economic front how about free trade between autonomous individuals free trade in goods of value between autonomous individuals it's not that bad to have these eternal truths on your side and then we can say that maybe well there is a set of eternal truths but they are all eternal truths so they share something in common something good in common all good things share something good in common well what is the good they share in common well for all intents and purposes that is god and you could say well i don't believe in that it's like well i don't know what you mean you don't believe there is good you don't believe there is the highest good i am not trying to make an ontological statement about an old man who lives in heaven though i believe which is a much more sophisticated concept than people generally realize.
That is not my point. My point is that you have a belief system whether you know it or not. It is a system of ethics. You know it or not. There is something deep down that either unifies you or it isn't, which means you are aimless, hopeless, depressed, anxious and confused because those are the only other options and you may not know what that unifying belief is, but that doesn't it means it's not there. it just means you don't know what it is so I'm trying to figure out what it is you know I can give you a couple of examples very very briefly because I won't so I already mentioned genesis. story in genesis associates god with the process of force that generates habitable order out of chaos and attributes that nature in some sense to human beings um in the next part of the story in the story of adam and eve god is what the people selflessly walk consciously in the garden so that adam doesn't because now he is ashamed and no longer walks with god, but then what is god? god manifesting let's say in noah's story and that's the intuition that hard times are coming and you better get your house in order and think well that takes that intuition well certainly sometimes if you have any sense it's like well what is the nature of intuition is that a spirit that animates you well obviously because there you are acting and then you are acting according to a pattern it is a spirit that animates you and then there is the story of the tower of babel what is god there good god is that you replace at your own risk because it will all come crashing down that's the tower of babel it's like well is it true or you don't think about it for a week especially in that light you think oh definitely if we put the wrong thing on top like stalin for example then be careful and we've done this plenty of times in the 20th century i think you know milton conceptualized lucifer as something like the spirit of unbridled intellectual arrogance it's something just as lucifer is the bearer of light and he's involved in a conflict with god trying to replace the divine and that's pretty explicit in the story and i look at him and think oh that's a poetic insight into the battle between secular intelligence and the religious structure that is milton's pro-droma and what you see happening is that the intellect has become so arrogant that it will try to replace the divine and rule hell i think so well that's the union man soviet that's mao that's china we know we know we have our theory is total we've solved the problem and nothing's going to change well enough if you want to rule hell and you think these societies succeed a pretty weird definition of success in as far as i'm concerned you want to succeed as a china you know that's why it's true that man doesn't live on bread alone you know a rich slave that's not life man last question and again i'm going to take a moment to set this up and i'm going to fumble i'm going to fumble i'm going to stumble on this question but here i am i find myself thinking about the 1970s canada is a part of this but i know american history better and in the 1970s everything goes wrong deadlock economic loss of morale in this country because we lose in vietnam watergate scandal we are on the defensive while the sodium soviets advance in africa latin america and then in the 1980s in every way and we go from 1979 and the soviet in the national humiliation of the the iranian hostage crisis and this soviet invasion of afghanistan until 1989, a decade, only 10 years later, the berlin wall falls, so the question here is the loss of free speech, the corruption of universities, the rise of china, which is in all sorts of ways a more formidable opponent than the soviet union in all sorts of ways, it could be argued that we are in a worse position now than in the 70's and so what I want to know is is he talking to the few who have eyes to see?
E and ears to listen Do you think we are capable? Are you hoping to fuel another kind of restoration, or is Jordan Peterson the fascinating, eloquent and compelling champion of a lost cause? Well, I mean, when I spit, I spent a lot of time at various universities. I was associated with the study of motivation for atrocity because I was very curious that as a psychologist, not a sociologist, an economic economist, or a political scientist, you're a guard at Auschwitz, okay, what motivates you as an individual, and I wanted to understand that? well enough to be able to understand how I could do that because a response to that is good, that kind of behavior is so unacceptable it's completely incomprehensible, it's just a manifestation of let's say intense psychopathy and a normal person can't even imagine it. and I think not, that evidence doesn't really suggest that because it's not obvious that all the people involved in the Nazi movement, for example, were criminally pathological. that they were deviations like what would be incomprehensible deviations from the norm.
It would be wonderful to think that and it would make the world a lot simpler but I think the evidence mostly suggests no, you can make ordinary people do that kind of thing and maybe even enjoy it and that's pretty scary so I tried to understand that and I think I did to some degree, although we can't go into that, a little bit of that is a consequence of envy, it's the spirit of Cain, I would. Let's say if I had to sum it up in one sentence, but that's not the problem, the problem is how to prevent it from happening again and why is that supposed to be what we're concentrating on, let's say after the second world war never forget which should mean something like what if we don't do this again?
So my question was ok how can we do it? and because it wasn't because it was fundamentally a matter of individual psychology more fundamentally more than economics more than sociology all of that is the cure is that individual people have to act as ethically as they are powerful or else I've been trying to convince people to do that I guess or present not to convince them precisely, but to present an argument about why this is necessary and why it is in them it is like no, this is in you you do not have to understand this problem it is you you do not understand ok it's not going to work so how do you get it right?
Start with what you have under control in your own life because where else are you going to start? See for yourself, put your house in order, don't worry. about someone else walking the satanic path and that's what activists do all the time right it's you it's the corporations like it's someone else no no it's you and I think that's critical too for the Judeo-Christian doctrine, it is that it is you, it depends on your redemption. ' It's an individual matter, so my hope is that if enough people take themselves seriously enough we won't end up in hell because we certainly could, it's a high probability and therefore I don't think you can either. be. you may be motivated enough to put your house in order to the extent necessary simply by being drawn to, say, the potential utopia that could arise as a consequence of that, so that would be a vision of heaven, let's just say no, you need to be too terrified of hell i think there's no such thing it's like just because you haven't been there doesn't mean there's no such thing it's like you have to be pretty naive to think there's no such thing as how much evidence do you need and how is it it produces good it occurs at least as a partial consequence of the sins of men and i think that's true so i go around and talk to people i say look there's not only there's more to you than you know there's more to you than What can you imagine you have an ethical responsibility to act in that light and you could say you don't believe that, but I would say that your whole culture is based on that belief and to the extent that you are an active member of it. to culture and a believer in its structure, then you believe if you're not very good at believing it, you may be full of conflict and doubt and you may not be able to articulate it, but it's still at the base of your culture, this notion of what the divine sovereign individual is, that is not what you are. the culture is based on that idea the logo inherent in each person is something more than that I have never seen a credible argument to show that it is something more than that you know you can say that the rights are attributed to you by the state that's how I feel, that's a weak argument because the state depends on your actions, so you have to believe that you have to believe that the state is the entity and that individuals are subservient in some fundamental ways.
As for the state, it's as if not, the state depends on the individual to exactly the same extent, so we are the active agent of the state in some sense where the seeing eye of the state is the speaking mouth of the state because the state is dead. without the people that make it up can you fool the freshmen coming in next year the university of toronto stanford university 18 year olds going into this we've spent three years undercover i won't rehearse not at all a sentence would you say to them when they start college at the age of 18 or 19. the restorative sentence the redeemer what should they do do not think that their ambition is corrupt they know it because that is part of the message now human beings are a cancer on the planet, we are heading towards an environmental apocalypse, the entire historical structure is nothing more than a atrocity etc rt the patriarchal structure exploits the environment you have to crush yourself you shouldn't even have kids it's like no there's no excuse for it there's no excuse for it i saw a teacher at an event something like this came out and hawked this fucking respectful house the environment that he built and you know, man, it was a pretty interesting house, but not everyone had the four million dollars that it cost him to build it and I'm not criticizing his money, even if it's like he's had some good money for him.
He built a house, okay, but then to proclaim that it's a moral virtue, well, you're pushing it in there and then he went up to all the kids and said, "you know, my wife and I decided that we're just going to have a child and I think it's one of the most ethical things we could possibly have done and I encourage youI strongly encourage you to do the same I thought son of you stood up in front of these young people many of these children were the children of first generation immigrants from China and showed all these images you know of these terrible factories in china these endless rows of sterile mechanisms that they were subservient to to all the Chinese people to this terrible capitalist machine and I thought you didn't understand half the audience is looking at those factories and thinking it's a hell of a lot better than fighting in the mud under Mao Buddy and he don't know where he thought he was, but to go out in front of all those kids and basically tell them that the entire human enterprise is so damn corrupt that the best thing they could possibly do is limit their multiplication and think of themselves as a scholar and an educator, I just said something by the way, it was rather awkward and walked off stage. but that is not a message for young people that is not there is no excuse for that you think well you know that we are going to destroy the planet we have to do this we have to demoralize young people to be ethical it is as if that is really your theory you are going to demoralizing young people to be ethical that's your theory you should go and think about it for a year and I'm passionate about this you know because you have no idea how many people are killing you you have no idea I see people everywhere of the world are so demoralized, especially the young, especially the young with a conscience because they have been told since they were little that there is nothing in them but corruption and power, it's like the hell you expect them to react to you I know well, I shouldn't do anything man you know dr jordan peterson what was the phrase the sovereign individual divine sovereign individual thank you for the uncommon knowledge the hoover institution and the fox nation i am p ether robinson you
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