I think this will be the last energy I spend on JP. The less energy given toward his name the better, I think. But one last thing…
I think we can have little more doubt that JP is supplying a new philosophical ground for Christianity; indeed, I might say that he is a theological philosopher. And in an even more honest light, that he is the example of what I call the Postmodern Religion: the manner that religion appears today, the way it behaves for the modern state.
Peterson at Liberty University and by the way, Liberty University is one of the largest Evangelical Christian Universities in the world (thats what the Wiki says).
We might wish to be carefully observant.
Peterson is not really understanding the philosophy that he sounds like he is. In particular, from what I’ve listened to of him, (which is about 4 hours all together) he is not really understanding the philosophy is poses to be, despite all his rhetoric, and in particular, the main antagonist of his position, Postmodernism. Specifically, he is taking general ideas of the subsequent postmodern distortions and stretched application and further misapplying them as he is indeed misunderstanding them. Yet, I am imagining that because he has a PhD and a nice suit, and can put sentences together about various abstract ideas to a certain sensibility, he then appears as though he is making sound judgements and assertions. In truth, though, it appears that he is overstepping his academic license in the name of the Postmodern privilege of subjective dishonesty, which he projects upon a straw man that he calls ‘Postmodernism’. He in indeed utilizing Postmodern methods of appropriating discourse for his own agenda, the exact theoretical method that he decries as belonging to his straw man Postmodernism. He is capitalizing upon his alienation from a theoretical space, and then using a rather “sewn-together” version of half-cognized meanings to assert the truth of his subjective power (white male) as though they indeed have valid theoretical bearings. As I said in my last post, this is a particularly postmodern (in the diminished sense that he uses and understands) maneuver.
This is why I am and have been beginning to elaborate upon the a kind of philosophical orientation which recognizes various types of philosophy. Peterson’s “type” of philosophy is one which demands that all conceptual paradigms must be able to be conceived by everyone who has a certain level of education. This coincides with his “absolutism” that seems to rise into everything he has to say; biological essentialism, nationalism, civilization, history –everything to him has an essential and eternal basis. I question this maxim for the exact reason that I am indicating here with Peterson: It is his inability and indeed insecurity around being an academic which does not allow him to admit nor even see that he is simply not comprehending the theoretical arena that he appropriates. Again; this is exactly the situation that the Postmodern authors warned us about; in particular, Jean-Francois Lyotard, who basically gave us the term postmodern, tells us that knowledge is no longer something that raises or falls upon its own merit, but indeed, knowledge is something that the experts prop up. Implicit in this description of our situation is that experts thus demand an equivocation of knowledge to the standards defined by the experts. Peterson, someone who has achieved the title of expert (PhD) does not have the (what one would figure accompanies advanced education, as much as it obviously does not) humility to view something he desires as outside of his conceptual register, because of the systemization of knowledge (technology).
We might look at who supports what he has to say. It appears that Nationalists, racists, white people, and hetero-normaitive Christians form the bulk of his supporters. If he is so concerned with people’s well-being, why does he decry government support for LBGTQ+ politically valid designations? Might we do well to look at what he considers “mental health” also? Reality and truth that he appears to promote likewise has little philosophical support beyond some sort of assumption of a common human who is civilized. And what history exactly is he drawing from to come to his conclusions about society and the human psyche? To me, it appears rather arbitrary and, to be frank, quite similar to the artistic latitude that Freud used for his speculations about the structure and history of the psyche, such as his infamous story of the progenitor. Also, I think it is kind of strange, like a psychoanalytical flashback to not-so-long-ago when homosexuality was officially listed in the DSM as a mental dysfunction., that Peterson advocates so liberally for the democratic tenet of free-speech, yet while also advocating that people have “responsibility” for their lives. It seems to me there is a therapeutic inconsistency somewhere in there. Let him be so free about the possibility that what he knows so surely could be wrong; let him take responsibility for the world and not just his world. hmm? Perhaps have some therapeutic care as a psychologist? Indeed, in my profession’s code of ethics as a counselor, and probably his as a psychologist, (maybe thats why I am not a psychologist: their ethics are a bit out dated maybe, but maybe not) it says that the psychologist shall not impose his or her biases upon the client. In my profession, I am not ethically nor legally allowed to impose my religious beliefs upon the client. If I do, I can lose my license. Likewise, if I am an atheist counseling a Christian, I must not treat the client as though they are stupid or something. And, if someone is Gay, trans or whatever, I am not to impose my sense of personal correctness, as Peterson’s “natural honesty for identity” which says that such people are being dishonest with themselves. If I do, then I can be sued and lose my license. Wow.
There are no free rides, nor simple ideological solutions — he even argues this himself !! (watch the video a few posts ago). It appears that he is advocating the very thing he argues against.
I think his intensions are in the spirit of helping people, which is good. But, when we notice how he draws from history to construct a sensible history — which, upon scrutiny, is filled with many philosophically inconsistent holes –we might want to reference a history somewhat recent to our knowledge, that of Nazi Germany.
Now, I do not mean to be alarmist. But it is well known that Hitler and his propaganda machine drew upon a distorted version of idealist philosophers such as Hegel and Nietzsche, and used this misappropriation of ideas with a particular analysis of history which might have made sense to many people of Northern Europe who were looking for some respite from the depression of the defeat from the First World War. Hitler and his minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels contrived a mash-up of Aryan, Nordic, and Christian myth, which served to unite the people of Germany under a kind of mass hysteria of national pride, all the while propping up straw men under pseudo-scientific “truth” who were identified responsible for the decline of the German Nation. Jews were made to be responsible mostly, along with their “degenerative democratic” news reporting, but all sorts of people who did not fit into the propped-up mythic ideal were seen to be less than human.
Now, of course, in the small of it, this is just another philosopher speaking his philosophical wares, so hey…
But we might want to learn from the past: so many people were taken for a ride and then found themselves in a terrible space of problem that they did not even know they were supporting.
Just be aware.
That said :
Part of the Two Routes is a suggestion that we admit that there is no common humanity, but that there is a humanity that needs such an ideal. I think perhaps Peterson is playing to this crowd. The issue , though, is to develop a philosophical understanding that understands this role, the responsibility Philosophy has to the actual truth of what humanity is by what it does: People need religion. And so the responsible thing seems to be to give it to them, but also to recognize that the religious ideas of “partial reasonings” are in the service of compassion for the common good, and less “true” about what is actually occurring. Less a patronizing, and more a recognition: most people simply do not wish to know, and to give them all the information sometimes just confuses people and makes life more difficult. I think it is possible Peterson is doing this, trying to supply a meaningful world to those who don’t want to really know, but without the awareness that this is what he is doing. We need people who are aware, not just in a power struggle for righteousness.