An interview with Jordan Peterson, who believes in witches and dragons

Ok, so graphed into a sphere then, rather than a 2-dimensional circle?

I like that. I’ll have to think about it some more.

So would feudalism be the point where the axes meet?
What defines the axes in the chart you’re showing me? (What is the null point?)

No, the sphere is my own addition to address your second question (an old and often-contested one called “horseshoe theory”).

There are no real end-points defined, although when politicians are placed on the compass the arrows at the end of each axis usually indicate a hard limit (difficult to go further “northeast” than Hitler, for example). I’d stretch those limits a bit to wrap the compass around a sphere, but it wouldn’t have to be much of stretch to get the quadrants to enter the territory of feudalism.


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In the one-dimensional “left/right” model it has a lot of flaws, which are often exploited in critiques by extremists. This is becoming a bit of a derail from the main topic so you’d be better off reading up on it yourself now that you understand the formal terminology.


The best answer I’ve seen to that question is that Peterson isn’t an intellectual, he’s a prophet. For a certain kind of individual, he makes the old, obvious advice suddenly feel real/important/exciting/actionable. See here.

Note also that for almost any advice, there is a population that needs to hear it, and a population that needs to hear its opposite, so it’s not usually possible to say if advice is “good” or “bad” except in reference to a given target population, and it’s impossible to make sure only the target population hears it.


A self-described skeptic skeptical of thought that is skeptical of the status-quo. How daring.


That is one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time.

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True enough in many cases, but in Peterson’s case, I’ve yet to find followers who, for all the good they may have adopted from it, haven’t also absorbed a good deal of its toxicity. And so, I think it’s far to say that Peterson’s Bag O’ Grand Advice just doesn’t qualify as “good.” (At least not in my book, and no thanks to any offers of debate regarding the ultimately subjective nature of “good” and “bad.”)


It reminds me a lot of Aristotle’s virtue ethics (Nicomachean Ethics). You can’t really be specific about what it is to be virtuous as it differs in each situation.

That Jordan Peterson tries to teach people how to live right by his own standards is commendable in theory. But in practice he should already realize that what he is doing is ultimately flawed. Firstly because he himself is flawed. But secondly because his advice can’t be applied to all situations and he failed to explain that important point to his listeners.

I’ve listened to Peterson on and off for a few years or maybe a dozen or so videos on YouTube. I think you can get closer to enlightenment, or at least self-improvement, with 45 minutes of Aristotle than you could with a 100 hours of Peterson.


I kant believe you


Ah, if we all had the time and tuition fees to pursue a minor in philosophy.


And I have more important things in my life than spending it all on this:




Yes, that is the traditional complaint about virtue ethics,isn’t it? But while I agree, I think the problem is worse/more fundamental than that. 45 minutes of Aristotle will get you the golden mean. But then other people talking about different virtues will get you Voltaire on free speech and Barry Goldwater on “extremism in defense of liberty,” and why should someone assume Aristotle’s model is better? I mean, it is, but why?

Sounding meaningful is just an extremely poor signal when it comes to advice. I can’t find the original page where I first saw this quote, and I don’t know if the attribution is right, but I like it:

The tautological emptiness of a Master’s Wisdom is exemplified in the inherent stupidity of proverbs. Let us engage in a mental experiment by way of trying to construct proverbial wisdom out of the relationship between terrestrial life, its pleasures, and its Beyond. If ones says, “Forget about the afterlife, about the Elsewhere, seize the day, enjoy life fully here and now, it’s the only life you’ve got!” it sounds deep. If one says exactly the opposite (“Do not get trapped in the illusory and vain pleasures of earthly life; money, power, and passions are all destined to vanish into thin air - think about eternity!”), it also sounds deep. If one combines the two sides (“Bring Eternity into your everyday life, live your life on this earth as if it is already permeated by Eternity!”), we get another profound thought. Needless to add, the same goes for it’s inversion: “Do not try in vain to bring together Eternity and your terrestrial life, accept humbly that you are forever split between Heaven and Earth!” If, finally, one simply gets perplexed by all these reversals and claims: “Life is an enigma, do not try to penetrate its secrets, accept the beauty of its unfathomable mystery!” the result is, again, no less profound than its reversal: “Do not allow yourself to be distracted by false mysteries that just dissimulate the fact that, ultimately, life is very simple - it is what it is, it is simply here without reason and rhyme!” Needless to add that, by uniting mystery and simplicity, one again obtains a wisdom: “The ultimate, unfathomable mystery of life resides in its very simplicity, in the simple fact that there is life.”
Slavoj Zizek

At some level I wonder if having a system of values, (almost) any system, is better than not having one. But that doesn’t seem to work either until you somehow account for which systems will work for which people, which is basically only knowable by trying them out and seeing, which society really doesn’t want anyone to get away with.


Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.


A horrifically inhumane and antisocial one.


Fuck Jordan Peterson, let’s go bowling!




great quote, I like it too!

Pop-philosophy and vapid truism are disappointing if that is all a person consumes. But I am satisfied if people are at least looking for answers, even if they started looking in the wrong places.

The problem with self-help scam artists that have a book to sell, or worse, an ideology to sell is that people looking for life’s answers can waste their time. As I strongly suspect effective answers aren’t the same for every person. And looking for answers is perhaps the more rewarding than finding them.

I don’t have ANY answers, but I iterate and improve. Which is progress I guess.


I wouldn’t know, I’m minoring in urban planning. :thinking: I did take an ethics class as a pre-req however. In terms of affect it was much like reading Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird, so I’d imagine the concept can be learnt on the cheap.