Oxford Union: Jordan Peterson

If you are new to Peterson, this appearance at the Oxford Union, is the best summary, and done within an hour, of everything Peterson believes, stands for, and has accomplished.

My notes:

my notes

  • 2:00 - complex and simple biological creatures have to move forward in the world. (approach and avoidance.) To move forward means that we value something, and it also means we exist within a world of things of value.
  • 4:00 - to move towards the better place, requires effort, thus, life is essentially suffering.
  • 5:00 - people that have no aim in their life become bitter, resentful, revengeful, cruel, and past cruel.
  • 5:30 - you and the other people will range in competency for attaining the thing that is of value, so a hierarchy (of competence) will form.
  • 6:30 - if you have value, and hierarchy, inequality is going to come about, which is a problem. (the people at the bottom will become resentful if the divide is too great, untenable.
  • 10:00 - a society of only conservatives becomes static (which is a problem with a transforming environment.) Whereas a liberal society is very good at coming up with loads of possibilities, but bad at bringing for actualities.
  • 12:30 - (Political correctness) to act and perceive the world you need to be able to describe the world at differing levels of resolution. ‘Never use a high-resolution theory when a low resolution theory will do.’ And you need a low-resolution narrative to interact with your fellow humans. Tribal identity narratives tend toward mayhem. Most effective thumbnail is you and everyone else is a sovereign individual in regards to your rights and responsibilities.
  • 19:30 - (your definition of truth post-modern?) no grand narrative (and I suppose factual reality is narrative-free) Trust in regards to ethics, and truth in regards to description of the material world. And the ethics have progress over time from our animal-history. Truth is that which succeeds in reality in and across iterative games in piagetian concentric circles. Ethic is acted out before it’s articulated (the stories of ancient heroes were written down because their verbal passing was dying out.
  • 29:00 - (what is the source of meaning, especially if there is no God) Nietzsche quote, we would have to make our own values, then he died, freud: people had no control over their own selves, playthings of the gods (after they depopulated the cosmos, Jung) Human beings cannot create our own values. We might be able to participate in the creation of the values if we take into account our own nature (the Shadow). Jung was interested in how those internal forces (personalities, gods) expressed themselves in hierarchies and across time (memes overtaking individuals). The sense of Self as an emergent consequence of hierarchializing our internal drives (food, sex, etc), Christ, the Self, at the top of that hierarchy, both as a internal organization, as well as a cultural pressure. (piaget also showing that) An abstraction of those inner drives merging together into a unity that is viable across time. The orienting reflex is the reflex that orients you TOWARD what you don’t understand. Towards anomaly. It grips you and surprises you. (one of the older reflexes) And you might spend a year thinking about something that startles you, or confuses you for that entire time, all part of the orienting reflex, and that’s a deep source of meaning. Imagination is the practice of trying to deal with what you don’t understand. That’s where things reside within metaphor. You can derive meaning from existing just outside of your area of expertise. Heidegger: Meaning is the most real thing that we experience, not a secondary epiphenomena. (The symbolic language of myths) Back to the darwinian idea,: you’re not just a ‘describer of the world’ you’re trying to live within it and propagate within it, so we’re tuned towards that being the most fundamental thing. (Heidegger saw the description of an object as a lower perspective of reality, that when we are using objects in line with their (and our own) meaning, we lose self-awareness and simply ARE, to step out of that is when we can describe a thing in its material form.) Meaning is what is real in the darwinian sense, but not the newtonian viewpoint.
  • 39:00 - (Is there an impending impasse between the hierarchy not wanting to budge, and the expanders unwilling to join, always questioning?) Danger from too much order, too much chaos. Most creative ideas are most likely wrong or deadly. How do we know how much of each is needed? The environment is always changing, so we need to always be keeping up. If we don’t disagree and speak with each other, or else we’re going to act out things that kill us.
  • 46:00 - (the classification between left and right is similarly tribalizing individuals) …The greatest differences exist within the tails of the extremes.
  • 52:00 - (free speech being suppressed by people being too uncomfortable to be able to speak without being harassed.) If you’ve ever been in a very serious argument, you’ve utter hate-speech. (our logos should be used to clarify the unknown) Leave free speech alone, because anything that you do is more likely to make it worse than to make it better. How to regulate hate-speech, allow people to speak so that hateful things can be rejected (of course that assumes that the society is smart enough to know how and when to do that). To ask a question that is going to be offensive is the job of the journalists and comics. To discuss something important, you have to go over the various options, and who you’re talking to are already wanting one of those options, and not the others.
  • 1:07:00 - (Car metaphor as heidegger’s Being) When dealing with disagreements it’s better to separate out the argument away from the individual person (for both sides)
  • 1:11:00 - (Trudeau) “It’s useful if you have a theory to think through the worst possible consequences from of its application. It’s a great solution to ideological disposition.” The probability your solution will have a good outcome, the likelihood is zero.