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Jordan Peterson's Flimsy Philosophy of Life

Peterson follows the existentialist philosopher Kierkegaard in insisting that the only way to make your life intelligible and avoid chaos is the "act of faith" that "Being can be corrected by becoming". But there are much better ideas to be gained from philosophy and positive psychology about how to live a valuable life, based on evidence and good theories rather than faith.

Peterson's allusive style makes critiquing him like trying to nail jelly to a cloud, but I have tried to indicate alternatives to his assumptions about morality, individualism, reality, and the meaning of life. If you go for Christian mythology, narrow-minded individualism, obscure metaphysics, and existentialist angst, then Jordan Peterson is the philosopher for you. But if you prefer evidence and reason, look elsewhere.  



Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Sat Nov 17th, 2018 at 12:14:18 AM EST
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Somehow people relentlessly reject "much better ideas": Enlightenment was met with various forms of Counter-Enlightenment; American rational open-mindedness is regularly followed by religious Great Awakenings and anti-intellectualism. Further back, Christianity prevailed in the declining Roman Empire as an anti-intellectual opposition to the Greek classics; and most dramatically, Islamic Golden age ended with a decisive victory of anti-intellectual Asharites.

I see two reasons for that. For one, Reason proved to be an awkward, stilted leader of human tribes. It had its best time in the 20th century, when progress was obvious and engaging. Somehow it was not rewarded gratefully, and its appreciation decreases further. Even in Ancient Greece, where gods and heroes had vulnerabilities and vices (which helped to define philosophy as critical inquiry), common Athenians looked at philosophers dismissively. It is hard to be a congruent leader by self-defeatingly questioning any authority. Can this classical philosophy take a critical view at its critical method? Perhaps reverence to authority in ancient Persian, Indian, Confusian doctrines was not a disqualifying error, after all.

Secondly, Reason effectively assumes utility of all choices known, or that "unknown unknowns" would not change epistemology and ethics. That is a haughty stance. Notice how anti-intellectual currents gain strength "just before" major social-political transformations. It is plausible that Reason knows (and will ever know) much less about dialectical resolutions of Chaos into Order than its opposition. Major upheavals (including the coming climate change, presumably ) are survived not by any Bayesian knowledge but by faith that is already present in communal joints, bones and genes.

Peterson apparently communicates in this venue, for better or worse.

by das monde on Sat Nov 17th, 2018 at 01:46:13 PM EST
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Here is a Peterson quorum by another name.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Nov 17th, 2018 at 07:26:58 PM EST
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And here is another.

And another.

And another.

And so on and so forth.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Nov 17th, 2018 at 07:31:26 PM EST
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According to Plato and Aristotle, a virtue is always something deliberate, and usually a restrain or some discomfort.
by das monde on Sat Nov 17th, 2018 at 08:27:12 PM EST
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primary source
citation?
preferably in context length > 25 words
from any translation you choose.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Nov 18th, 2018 at 04:14:37 PM EST
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Plato's "Protagoras", some context highlights:
[319a] What is to learn from a philosopher? Virtue
[329d] Virtue is a whole of being just, temperate, etc
[339b] Citing poet Simonides: It is hard to become/be good.
[340e] Is it hard to stay virtuous?
[342b] Praise of the Spartan character
[350b] The courageous know what they are doing
[353c] The vice of being overcome by pleasure
[354a] Painful goods
[356d] Knowledge by measure
[357d] Errors, vices by ignorance
[360e] The ignorant would not be virtuous
[361b] Expression of virtue presupposes knowledge

Similarly, the gist of Aristotle's ethics is that virtuous acts are those performed by virtuous people consciously (i.e., by deliberate choice, intention). They are defined by their character (the habit of virtue) rather than "mechanics". Good life involves good reasons for the acts, etc.

by das monde on Mon Nov 19th, 2018 at 04:51:54 PM EST
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So what you think of outraged students vandalizing prof's office door, and then the administration putting all responsibility on the prof?  Similarly, shouldn't people of Reason accept responsibility for massive anti-intellectual backlashes?
by das monde on Sat Nov 17th, 2018 at 08:31:27 PM EST
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