The Jordan Peterson discussion thread

konfab

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#1
I don't know if any of you have noticed, but I have been posting a lot of references to a canadian professor called Jordan Peterson.
Dr Peterson has talked about a wide range of political and social problems that are very closely linked to what is going in in the world at the moment.

Because of this I thought it would be nice to have a thread where we can chat about the many things that he discusses in his work.

Relevant links:
Maps of Meaning: This is a lecture series where Dr Peterson looks at the different belief systems around the world and compares them to each other to find out what the creators of such systems were intending to say.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8Xc2_FtpHI&list=PL22J3VaeABQAT-0aSPq-OKOpQlHyR4k5h

For the people with less time on their hands, there is a channel that has a bunch of short extracts of Dr Peterson's lectures pertaining to certain topics.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo9QgwWCNEhDxL1gH-jxa8Q/featured

For the haters:
photo_2018-01-22_08-33-38.jpg
 

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Idiosyncratic

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#5
I don't know if any of you have noticed, but I have been posting a lot of references to a canadian professor called Jordan Peterson.
Dr Peterson has talked about a wide range of political and social problems that are very closely linked to what is going in in the world at the moment.

Because of this I thought it would be nice to have a thread where we can chat about the many things that he discusses in his work.
Don't have time this week to discuss aspects of his work, but he has got to be my all time favourite guy in the field. Level-headed, and has a great take on these things. Unlike many others in his field, he lives on planet earth mentally and emotionally also, and his way of reasoning is great. I have to say that some criticise his way of explaining things - he does at times make something which isn't all the complex to him sound complex through the way he expresses himself, but I haven't found myself struggling to follow. We need more guys like him in his line of work.
 

konfab

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#6
Don't have time this week to discuss aspects of his work, but he has got to be my all time favourite guy in the field. Level-headed, and has a great take on these things. Unlike many others in his field, he lives on planet earth mentally and emotionally also, and his way of reasoning is great. I have to say that some criticise his way of explaining things - he does at times make something which isn't all the complex to him sound complex through the way he expresses himself, but I haven't found myself struggling to follow. We need more guys like him in his line of work.
Have you been listening to his podcasts, they are very well explained IMO.
 

Idiosyncratic

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#8
Have you been listening to his podcasts, they are very well explained IMO.
I think so too, just voicing criticism from others (and I get where they're coming from to some extent, but that's not good enough reason not to listen to his material) :)
 

Conack

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#10
When I listened to Joe's podcasts with Jordan he really sounded highly educated and came forth with some thought provoking ideas, but then I went on to Sam Harris' podcast with Jordan and Sam ripped him entirely apart, no survivors...

Sam pointed out that for all his eloquence and citing the "old masters", he's simply relying on word play to make many of his points. I'm surprised that Jordan is still relevant and taken seriously at all after this podcast.

Please listen to both of Sam Harris' podcasts, especially this one below and decide for yourself.

Waking Up With Sam Harris #62 - What is True? (with Jordan B. Peterson)
 

Johnatan56

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#11
When I listened to Joe's podcasts with Jordan he really sounded highly educated and came forth with some thought provoking ideas, but then I went on to Sam Harris' podcast with Jordan and Sam ripped him entirely apart, no survivors...

Sam pointed out that for all his eloquence and citing the "old masters", he's simply relying on word play to make many of his points. I'm surprised that Jordan is still relevant and taken seriously at all after this podcast.

Please listen to both of Sam Harris' podcasts, especially this one below and decide for yourself.

Waking Up With Sam Harris #62 - What is True? (with Jordan B. Peterson)
Going through comments, one is:
In every single comment I read by a Harris supporter, there is always expressed a complete (dare I say wilful) misunderstanding of Prof. Peterson's position, which actually ironically reflects Sam's own inability to grasp the point.

So here is Peterson's thesis summarised: There is scientific fact and there is human truth. The two are not the same thing. And the moment people start to believe that they are the same thing is when things go horribly wrong. The evidence from recent experience bears this proposition out. Every gulag and death camp in history was set up by groups of people (religious and irreligious - although more often irreligious) who were convinced that their version of the truth was irrefutable fact. When people believe that they are the fortunate recipient of this irrefutable truth, it is only too easy to slaughter people who disagree with you in large numbers.

If on the other hand you approach truth as Peterson describes it; as something that might be informed by science but is, at root, far too nebulous for complete human comprehension (which is why we need allegories to help us understand them) then you escape from this vicious circle of hubris. But to do so of course takes the admission of a mystery which is not accessible to science alone, which is tantamount to an act of Faith.

Sam spends 2 hours belabouring this one point because he does not acknowledge the distinction. He believes every proposition can be tested and proven. Once you believe "Science has the answer to all things", the leap to "All MY beliefs are scientific" is is only too easy. That's why Sam wrote a book called "The End of Faith". His position is clear; HIS beliefs are not faith-based, but factual. This of course is absurd. And that is why people who think the way he thinks are dangerous.
Starting it, but if that summary is accurate, then I agree with Peterson.
 

Conack

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#12
Please do watch/listen to the podcast for yourself as well, even if only to understand Jordan at a more granular level. The comments on the video doesn't do the podcast any justice at all.

For the record, I disagree with Harris on several points in general, especially his political stance and "anti-conspiracy"/pro establishment thoughts, however, on merit I do believe this podcast is a must listen for anyone who enjoys Jordan's podcasts.
 

Johnatan56

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#13
Please do watch/listen to the podcast for yourself as well, even if only to understand Jordan at a more granular level. The comments on the video doesn't do the podcast any justice at all.

For the record, I disagree with Harris on several points in general, especially his political stance and "anti-conspiracy"/pro establishment thoughts, however, on merit I do believe this podcast is a must listen for anyone who enjoys Jordan's podcasts.
Podcast starts at 5 mins, at 15 min so far basically a summary of previous events/how Jordan got there.

EDIT:
As an aside, I am happy that Jordan speaks more so far, Sam Harris has too many pauses while speaking, annoys me. Just my opinion, not talking about content.

EDIT2:
Wow that argument of truth from Sam is dumb, Jordan just explained what he meant for about 15 minutes, why he says that religious truth and scientific truth is different.
I agree with the summarized post. I am at 50 minutes, stopping it now, Sam Harris just argues in a circle of a basic point and applies it wrongly from what Jordan said. Sam just totally missed the point or is purposefully doing so to extend the podcast.
 
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Park@82

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#14
Been listening to Jordan for a while now. I discovered him trough a link that someone posted to his 1st youtube interview with Joe Rogan - enjoyed their exchange. He has some very interesting insights/theories/views.
 
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saor

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#15
When I listened to Joe's podcasts with Jordan he really sounded highly educated and came forth with some thought provoking ideas, but then I went on to Sam Harris' podcast with Jordan and Sam ripped him entirely apart, no survivors...

Sam pointed out that for all his eloquence and citing the "old masters", he's simply relying on word play to make many of his points. I'm surprised that Jordan is still relevant and taken seriously at all after this podcast.

Please listen to both of Sam Harris' podcasts, especially this one below and decide for yourself.

Waking Up With Sam Harris #62 - What is True? (with Jordan B. Peterson)
Probably my least favorite Sam Harris episode because he get's stuck on Petersons idea that Truth is somehow tied to Darwinian evolution: That which is true is that which ensures fitness. And yeah - I haven't spent enough time listening to Petersons thoughts on this to understand it myself, but Harris got too caught up by it and just wouldn't let the conversation progress. Peterson is also guilty of trying to re-frame concepts (like truth) in ways that are very non-intuitive at first. Anyway - I found it a a tiresome episode that doesn't go anywhere.
 

Conack

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#16
Probably my least favorite Sam Harris episode because he get's stuck on Petersons idea that Truth is somehow tied to Darwinian evolution: That which is true is that which ensures fitness. And yeah - I haven't spent enough time listening to Petersons thoughts on this to understand it myself, but Harris got too caught up by it and just wouldn't let the conversation progress. Peterson is also guilty of trying to re-frame concepts (like truth) in ways that are very non-intuitive at first. Anyway - I found it a a tiresome episode that doesn't go anywhere.
Certainly, but I do think Sam eventually gets to a point where Peterson has to spell out exactly what he believes "Truth" is, where he usually wouldn't go into that much detail in any other podcast. Under scrutiny his ideas about truth seems bizarre and falls apart.
 

Xarog

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#17
When I listened to Joe's podcasts with Jordan he really sounded highly educated and came forth with some thought provoking ideas, but then I went on to Sam Harris' podcast with Jordan and Sam ripped him entirely apart, no survivors...

Sam pointed out that for all his eloquence and citing the "old masters", he's simply relying on word play to make many of his points. I'm surprised that Jordan is still relevant and taken seriously at all after this podcast.

Please listen to both of Sam Harris' podcasts, especially this one below and decide for yourself.

Waking Up With Sam Harris #62 - What is True? (with Jordan B. Peterson)
En guarde.

I am going to challenge your assertion.

https://www.samharris.org/blog/item/clarifying-the-landscape

The problem is Sam's. Sam assumes that one can get to objective facts through a subjective process and makes this an article of faith in the way that he operates, and you can see that in action in the way he reasons in the link above. Because of this assumption, his hypothetical situations always allow one to arrive at a perfect conclusion of the truth, while the underlying assumption of how one knows one isn't deluding oneself never gets addressed.

https://www.scribd.com/document/337709796/Sam-Harris-Jordan-B-Peterson-What-is-Truth-Transcript

Peterson: No, but that's the thing I don't agree with, because I think that that's the kind of conception of what constitutes a fact that does in fact present a moral danger to people, a mortal danger to people. And I also think that's partly why this scientific endeavor as it's demolished the traditional underpinnings of our moral systems, has produced an emergent nihilism and hopelessness among people that makes them more susceptible to ideological possession. I think it's a fundamental problem and I do believe that the highest truths, let's put it that way, the highest truths are moral truths. I'm thinking of that from a Darwinian perspective.

1:01:13

Harris: I want to get there with you, because I think that that's the center of the bull's eye, but we we have to nail down some epistemology here so I will state…

Peterson: Or even some ontology.

Harris: Yes, so I just wanna make a few claims which I think are unobjectionable and I can see whether we're on the same page here.

Peterson: Yes

Harris: I'm gonna probe you from my epistemology to yours.
Epistemology is the study of how one knows something, whereas ontology is the study of the being of a thing, and it's not clear that our conceptions of reality are in fact legitimate, and no attempt to arrive at a truthful statement should behave as if our conceptualisation process is reliable in this manner. Knowledge of your limitations and therefore your own ignorance forces you to be circumspect in the way you approach the truth. Harris never let go of the epistemological issue, so Peterson never actually got the opportunity to make the proper ontological argument that in fact justifies his position magnificently.
 

Conack

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#18
The transcription link you shared is a great help, thanks a lot for posting that.

As for the discussion: I primarily take issue with the claim that "Truth" is linked to Survival.

Excerpt: [I'll shorten it somewhat so we don't lose all the readers]

Peterson: Okay, well then I would say that I don't think facts are necessarily true (laughs). So I don't think this scientific facts, even if they're correct from within the domain that they were generated, I don't think that that necessarily makes them true. And I know that I am gerrymandering the definition of truth, but I'm doing that on purpose, because I'm trying to nest truth within the Darwinian framework which I think is a moral framework and I think that your, the logic of your argument about morality is going to push you in the same direction inevitably.

Harris: You’re choosing to use the word "true", you're choosing to freight it with some moral concerns that will make it very difficult for people to understand what you mean and for you to understand what they mean when you use “truth” as a synonym for, as you just said, “correct.” A fact may be “correct” but it's not “true.”

Peterson: Right.

Harris: It seems to me this is this is counterproductive, and you lose nothing by granting that the truth value of a proposition can be evaluated whether or not this is a fact worth knowing or whether or not it's dangerous to know.

Peterson: No, but that's the thing I don't agree with, because I think that that's the kind of conception of what constitutes a fact that does in fact present a moral danger to people, a mortal danger to people. And I also think that's partly why this scientific endeavor as it's demolished the traditional underpinnings of our moral systems, has produced an emergent nihilism and hopelessness among people that makes them more susceptible to ideological possession. I think it's a fundamental problem and I do believe that the highest truths, let's put it that way, the highest truths are moral truths. I'm thinking of that from a Darwinian perspective.
All of the examples that Harris makes are labeled "micro examples" by Peterson, but isn't a macro example basically a string of micro examples all combined? How then are we to question Peterson if we're not allowed to bore down to specific examples to help us understand his points.
One can create limitless moral conundrums which Peterson cannot deal with, constrained in what he believes the "truth" is. "Because they're not questions worth knowing the answer to" he says.

Harris:

It is intelligible to say that in one lab they have a true theory, factually accurate which is allowing them to do all kinds of things that they wouldn't be able to do if they were mistaken about what they believed, but they're doing things that are harmful because they're bad people, right, or negligent people. That is unfortunately an all too common situation that we are in…

Peterson: Then their theory about what they're doing is wrong. You think that you can take their theory of smallpox independently of their nefariousness. And I would say no you can’t. You can’t. Because you're willing, there's an archaeological dig that's going on here, we’ll say there's a proximal claim and then there's a claim underneath that, and then there is a claim underneath that, and then there's a claim underneath that which might be a moral claim, which I would say it's something like at the bottom, and I would say well nefarious people can't have a truthful view of the smallpox virus, it's not possible
Perhaps if there's a different word to use other than what we know in English to be "Truth" it might clear up a few things. Peterson's dictionary appears to have a different meaning for the word "truth" - which I believe is the crux of the matter causing confusion and where Harris' "playing a language game" statement originates from.
 
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Xarog

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#19
All of the examples that Harris makes are labeled "micro examples" by Peterson, but isn't a macro example basically a string of micro examples all combined? How then are we to question Peterson if we're not allowed to bore down to specific examples to help us understand his points.
Just because you make a symbol on a page that says "infinity" does not mean you have in fact achieved that state. And yet it is quite easy to make a macro example of infinity by simply saying that you get to it by adding one to another one without limit. It's wrong to pretend that the representation of the thing is the same as the actual thing, because it's not.

One can create limitless moral conundrums which Peterson cannot deal with, constrained in what he believes the "truth" is. "Because they're not questions worth knowing the answer to" he says.
Actually, the moral conundrums are pretty easy to deal with, it's the question of whether or not the solution was a true one that's the issue at stake.

Harris: It seems to me this is this is counterproductive, and you lose nothing by granting that the truth value of a proposition can be evaluated whether or not this is a fact worth knowing or whether or not it's dangerous to know.
I've bolded the part that Peterson was taking issue with as far as I can tell, and I think it is a fair one because you can't make your decision about how you should act from the facts alone.

Perhaps if there's a different word to use other than what we know in English to be "Truth" it might clear up a few things. Peterson's dictionary appears to have a different meaning for the word "truth" - which I believe is the crux of the matter causing confusion and where Harris' "playing a language game" statement originates from.
It's a really old debate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Form_of_the_Good

Aristotle discusses the Forms of Good in critical terms several times in both of his major surviving ethical works, the Eudemian and Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle argues that Plato’s Form of the Good does not apply to the physical world, for Plato does not assign “goodness” to anything in the existing world. Because Plato’s Form of the Good does not explain events in the physical world, humans have no reason to believe that the Form of the Good exists and the Form of the Good is thereby irrelevant to human ethics.[3]
Basically, you don't get to have a claim of a rational objective morality without invoking something essentially similar to Plato's Form of the Good. But as you can see from what Aristotle said, there's no fact to ground this goodness in. So that begs the question, how do we know morality is even true if we can't objectively determine what morality even is?

I agree with you that Peterson's approach is less than ideal, but this particular issue over how we go about deciding how we ought to behave is a very old one, and Harris blithely assumes there isn't a problem to resolve.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amicus_Plato,_sed_magis_amica_veritas

Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas is a Latin phrase, translating to "Plato is my friend, but truth is a better friend (literally: Plato is friend, but truth is more friend (to me than he is))." The maxim is often attributed to Aristotle, as a paraphrase of the Nicomachean Ethics 1096a11-15:

But perhaps it is desirable that we should examine the notion of a Universal Good, and review the difficulties that it involves, although such an inquiry goes against the grain because of our friendship for the authors of the Theory of Ideas. Still perhaps it would appear desirable, and indeed it would seem to be obligatory, especially for a philosopher, to sacrifice even one's closest personal ties in defense of the truth. Both are dear to us, yet 'tis our duty to prefer the truth.
Bacon's reference to the Nicomachean Ethics and a book of secrets is the pseudo-Aristotelian compilation, the Secretum Secretorum, translated into Latin from the Arabic in the twelfth or early thirteenth century. Henry Guerlac points out that the proverb appears in differing forms in a Life of Aristotle [2] found in three distinct mediaeval manuscripts, two Greek and one Latin. Thomas Aquinas relies on the same source while proving the point in Sententia libri Ethicorum, Liber 1, Lectio 6, n. 4-5:[3]

That truth should be preferred to friends he proves in this way. He is the greater friend for whom we ought to have the greater consideration. Although we should have friendship for both truth and our fellow man, we ought rather to love truth because we should love our fellow man especially on account of truth and virtue, as will be shown in the eighth book (1575-1577). Now truth is a most excellent friend of the sort to whom the homage of honor is due. Besides truth is a divine thing, for it is found first and chiefly in God. He concludes, therefore, that it is virtuous to honor truth above friends.
If you do the historical research you'll find that Thomas Aquinas basically created the idea of a natural and supernatural world to put Plato's and Aristotle's worldviews together in such a way that Christianity could make use of both groups of philosophies.


Here's the preface to Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil (my bold):
SUPPOSING that Truth is a woman—what then? Is there not ground for suspecting that all philosophers, in so far as they have been dogmatists, have failed to understand women—that the terrible seriousness and clumsy importunity with which they have usually paid their addresses to Truth, have been unskilled and unseemly methods for winning a woman? Certainly she has never allowed herself to be won; and at present every kind of dogma stands with sad and discouraged mien—IF, indeed, it stands at all! For there are scoffers who maintain that it has fallen, that all dogma lies on the ground—nay more, that it is at its last gasp. But to speak seriously, there are good grounds for hoping that all dogmatizing in philosophy, whatever solemn, whatever conclusive and decided airs it has assumed, may have been only a noble puerilism and tyronism; and probably the time is at hand when it will be once and again understood WHAT has actually sufficed for the basis of such imposing and absolute philosophical edifices as the dogmatists have hitherto reared: perhaps some popular superstition of immemorial time (such as the soul-superstition, which, in the form of subject- and ego-superstition, has not yet ceased doing mischief): perhaps some play upon words, a deception on the part of grammar, or an audacious generalization of very restricted, very personal, very human—all-too-human facts. The philosophy of the dogmatists, it is to be hoped, was only a promise for thousands of years afterwards, as was astrology in still earlier times, in the service of which probably more labour, gold, acuteness, and patience have been spent than on any actual science hitherto: we owe to it, and to its "super-terrestrial" pretensions in Asia and Egypt, the grand style of architecture. It seems that in order to inscribe themselves upon the heart of humanity with everlasting claims, all great things have first to wander about the earth as enormous and awe-inspiring caricatures: dogmatic philosophy has been a caricature of this kind—for instance, the Vedanta doctrine in Asia, and Platonism in Europe. Let us not be ungrateful to it, although it must certainly be confessed that the worst, the most tiresome, and the most dangerous of errors hitherto has been a dogmatist error—namely, Plato's invention of Pure Spirit and the Good in Itself. But now when it has been surmounted, when Europe, rid of this nightmare, can again draw breath freely and at least enjoy a healthier—sleep, we, WHOSE DUTY IS WAKEFULNESS ITSELF, are the heirs of all the strength which the struggle against this error has fostered. It amounted to the very inversion of truth, and the denial of the PERSPECTIVE—the fundamental condition—of life, to speak of Spirit and the Good as Plato spoke of them; indeed one might ask, as a physician: "How did such a malady attack that finest product of antiquity, Plato? Had the wicked Socrates really corrupted him? Was Socrates after all a corrupter of youths, and deserved his hemlock?" But the struggle against Plato, or—to speak plainer, and for the "people"—the struggle against the ecclesiastical oppression of millenniums of Christianity (FOR CHRISTIANITY IS PLATONISM FOR THE "PEOPLE"), produced in Europe a magnificent tension of soul, such as had not existed anywhere previously; with such a tensely strained bow one can now aim at the furthest goals.
Because really, what is an 'objective moral truth' but another way to talk about a 'universal good'?

If you don't believe me, just look at how mathematics still reveres Plato. If you deny the objectivity of mathematics, every piece of science must become subjective because it rests upon a subjective system of describing things, but if you accept the objectivity of mathematics despite the fact that you could never prove this objectivity, then you may just as well have faith in an objective moral intention in the universe, too. For this reason I have a really low view of Harris' philosophical framework, but a really high regard for Peterson's because he's consistent despite the fact that jumping on the Platonism train would serve his position eminently.

[video=youtube;jjYQ48t4C8U]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjYQ48t4C8U[/video]
 

Bobbin

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#20
Going through comments, one is:
Starting it, but if that summary is accurate, then I agree with Peterson.
Sam spends 2 hours belabouring this one point because he does not acknowledge the distinction. He believes every proposition can be tested and proven. Once you believe "Science has the answer to all things", the leap to "All MY beliefs are scientific" is is only too easy. That's why Sam wrote a book called "The End of Faith". His position is clear; HIS beliefs are not faith-based, but factual. This of course is absurd. And that is why people who think the way he thinks are dangerous.
Is that what Sam says? :crylaugh: I'm with you on that one John.

In theory everything 'may' ultimately be tested and proven. In practicality, no... just no dude. And there's a reason we act on emotion. This Sam dude must go find a baby coloring book to play with :p hahaha!

Not even sure I should bother with that podcast... meh, maybe I will at some point.
 
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