Mar 21st 2017 by czing • 48 Questions • 42 Points
Thank you! I'm signing off for the night. Hope to talk with you all again.
Here is a subReddit that might be of interest: https://www.reddit.com/r/JordanPeterson/
My short bio: He’s a Quora Most Viewed Writer in Values and Principles and Parenting and Education with 100,000 Twitter followers and 20000 Facebook likes. His YouTube channel’s 190 videos have 200,000 subscribers and 7,500,000 views, and his classroom lectures on mythology were turned into a popular 13-part TV series on TVO. Dr. Peterson’s online self-help program, The Self Authoring Suite, featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, CBC radio, and NPR’s national website, has helped tens of thousands of people resolve the problems of their past and radically improve their future.
Don't you mean it's a very 'abzurd' place?
I googled it, and it looks amazing. Will deifinately check it out. Thanks!
You say tomato, I say tomahtoe...
What are your top pieces of academic advice for university students?
Society grants you an acceptable and high-status identity as a student. It's a gift. You get four years, or more, to explore and learn. But it's your responsibility to learn. Everything you need to know, that people know, is in the library. Read great things. Don't waste time.
Consider your education a full-time job. Schedule your time. Discipline yourself. Learn to write. Learn to read. Make yourself powerful.
As a clinical psychologist and an all-around wise man, what advice do you have on social anxiety?
- Face it. Practice being in social situations.
- Concentrate on the other people. Every time you get anxious, you're falling inside yourself, and not paying attention to what is around you. Instead of worrying about how you are appearing, pay attention and try to make those around you comfortable.
- Listen to what people are saying, and ask them questions about it, or about themselves. Listen to their answers. They'll like you immediately. Hardly anyone listens.
I have often felt that the phrase "love the sinner, hate the sin" was imprecise, but could never put my finger on exactly how. Do you think it is an accurate statement of how we should treat each other and our actions, and if not, how then should we act?
"Love the sinner" is precisely what a good psychotherapist practices. When someone comes to see me, I am on that person's side (but not on the side of the part of them that is working towards destruction). I help people separate the wheat from the chaff -- not to eliminate the chaff so much as to gather the wheat.
You mentioned the current ideological war sitting atop the philosophical war, which may itself be atop a metaphysical, or theological war. Could this metaphysical war be contextualized as occurring within the psyche of all individuals? Like an ecosystem of archetypes or "egregores", nourished by the genetics and culture of the person in question in order to project themselves (the archetypes) through unconscious agencies in our brains? These archetypal thought-forms seem to make up the philosophical conflict at its deepest level. This model is a bit far-out, but seems to map very neatly onto the psychedelic experience, which demonstrates that you as a person are not "doing living", you are in a sense "being lived through" by some abstract life force outside yourself. Is your interpretation similar?
You would be interested in learning more about CG Jung's idea of the pleroma, which is roughly the meta-space inhabit by archetypes. If you can imagine ideas battling with one another across the centuries, and then posit a meta-space in which that battle is occurring, then you have conceptualized, to some degree, the pleroma.
Hello, Dr. Peterson,
How would you define your God? Do you believe in the supernatural? Do you pray?
My God is the spirit that is trying to elevate Being. My God is the spirit that makes everything come together. My God is the spirit that makes order out of chaos and then recasts order when it has become too limiting. My God is the spirit of truth incarnate.
None of that is supernatural. It is instead what is most real.
It depends on what you mean by pray.
I don't ask God for favors, if that's what you mean.
Dr. Peterson, huge fan, been binging on your lectures for a while. What is your opinion on pornography, and masturbation in general? A lot of your supporters are also members of the /r/nofap community that completely obstain from masturbation, as they see it as a part of sorting themselves out and becoming the best human being they can be. Just curious.
Also, if you, or anyone else is interested, there is a discord chat server dedicated to discussion you and your works, you can join with this link: https://discord.gg/RB5c5Bg
I think that pornography entices people away from life. So that's not good. It's a quick, easy, low quality solution to a complex problem. I can't see its use as something that increases integrity and promotes strength.
I am wondering how you typically address motivational issues that stem from chronic depression. Is there a real answer on how to create meaning, enthusiasm, and inspiration in your life in spite of the apathy and numbness that comes from depression, or is this a simple matter of biting the bullet and getting things done through diligence and willpower and hoping everything else will fall into place?
And a follow up: How do you feel about using psychedelic drugs (psilocybin mushrooms in particular) for introspective purposes in order to get a leg up on depression?
The depression question is a very difficult one to answer. It requires careful diagnostic interviewing. I would ask, first, what have you tried to treat your depression? I would never say that mere "biting the bullet" is sufficient, although maintaining what structure you can in your life despite your pain and immobility is generally for the best.
Doctor Peterson, I have watched many of your lectures and videos, and I find your material to be excellent, encouraging and should be shared as much as possible. However, from a philosophical perspective, why do you believe that what you're teaching is correct? What proof do we, as students, have? Further, as you gain more and more popularity, support and admirers, do you feel at risk of becoming a demagogue of your own ideas, or a self-absorbed "prophet"? It's an archetype that is prevalent throughout history.
It depends on what you mean by "teaching" and "correct." I certainly do not think that I am providing any final answers. But I think I am correct in the manner that I teach. When I lecture, I am not saying what I believe to be the case but thinking on my feet, trying to extend and clarify my knowledge while also communicating. To the degree that I do that properly, I am modeling how to learn -- how to become wise. To the degree that I do that properly, what I am doing is "correct."
The danger of become your own imitator is clear. I think I would be more prone to becoming a demagogue if I wanted to be a demagogue -- if I wanted power of that sort. I don't. I could have had a successful political career, and people still call on me to do so. But I am more interested in sorting things out and helping other people do the same thing. I know there is danger in popularity. I try not to confuse myself with who people think I am or might be. I try not to make a fatal mistake and consider it a miracle currently that the house is not falling apart in pieces around me. I am grateful that people find what I am doing useful. That's what I was hoping for. Hopefully the monster that is forming around me -- so to speak -- won't eat me.
How do you feel about how online communities bearing your name have understood and disseminated your ideas? What instances of your name or arguments made have you come across that you find disagreeable?
Kudos and thanks for inspiring so many buckos to sort themselves out!
I don't really feel anything about such things, in a determinate sense. I'm exceptionally curious about it. It's as if I have launched a thousand messages in a thousand bottles. They drift where they will, and land where they will. I watch from a distance and see what will happen. I don't know enough yet about what any of this means to draw a conclusion.
Apart from that, I find it amazing, and absurd, and ridiculous, and embarassing. It leaves me speechless at times.
Doctor, you know your wife for a long time. At some point you decided to always speak the truth.
The question is: did you tell your wife about the decision at once, or after some time?
We knew each other as children. When we met up again as young adults, I talked to her about this decision right away. She decided that she would do the same thing, and as far as I can tell, she always has. I trust her as much as it is possible to trust anyone.
Do you believe in the supernatural and specifically the god of Christianity? I don't mean as a metaphorical concept or mythical ideal. I mean a being somewhere in the "heavens" that watches people and is omniscient and omnipotent? That Jesus was this being and had powers that allowed him to walk on water, turn water to wine, and resurrect himself? I've seen forms of this question asked in multiple interviews with you but haven't seen, what I understood as, a clear and direct answer.
Yes. I've met Him. He put me into a Roman coliseum with Satan himself, who I defeated. When I asked why He would do such a thing, He said, "because I knew you could win." He's a tough dude. Mess with Him at your peril.
Am I serious? That's up to you to decide.
I also want to know about this question, and as a a follow-up: how do you conceive the ontological basis of being? Do you agree with Christian theology, that God is the "backbone" of everything that is, or do you conceptualize this somewhat differently
I believe that Being is potential actualized by Logos.
Hello Dr. Peterson,
How would you differentiate someone being part of a movement, religion or someone other comprehensive belief-system versus succumbing to ideology?
You mentioned during the Resurrection of Logos talk that you study the Sermon on the Mount quite a bit, what is your favourite excerpt?
Also, what is your favourite cookie?
Thank you for your answers, this AMA and all your work.
I can't eat cookies. But if I could, my favorite cookie would be 100% dark chocolate chips. But I can't eat chocolate either.
Ideologues assume the problems of the world are someone else's fault. Or they assume that broadscale systemic change (according to their dictates) is a prerequisite to utopia. A truly religious person tries to change him or herself, which is a more difficult and less grand task.
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this! It is a real joy for many here. :)
i) I recently had the either revelation or strong illusion that my personal character was in such disarray, it was truly beyond repair. I simply have too many deeply seeded and complicated bad "habits", ill call them, and they have affected my surroundings in so many ways, that i couldnt even hope to ever identify them all, let alone fix them. What are we to do when we find ourselves in this situation? Practically speaking
1) Can you comment on the inversion of the Judeo-Christian myth, espoused by Satanists and various esoteric groups, where God is depicted as an Evil Tyrant/Demiurge, and Satan the great emancipator, who gave us free will via the tree of knowledge?
2) When someone "accepts Christ into their heart" (in conjunction with the beleif that Jesus was a historical figure who was also God, rose from the dead, and has personal relationship with them), what is really taking place?
3) How can we best protect our future chldren from post modernism, without being overprotective?
It is very frequently the case that someone's personal character is in terrible disarray. That's what Jung described when he discussed the confrontation with the shadow side of the psyche. It's no laughing matter. It's a terrible realization.
Start by fixing the things about yourself that you can fix. Pick the low-hanging fruit. Even if you can't put yourself back together completely, you might be able to generate a functional wreck out of the pieces. That's better than nothing.
It's also the case that improvement begets improvement. So even if you are in a deep hole, you might be able to escape faster than you think, if you are willing to let go of the things that are holding you down.
Dig up, stupid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b97zJxKEqAk
In my experience, having ambitious, meaningful plans often generates stress and overexcitement that interfere with their realization. What would you recommend as a remedy to that and, in general, what is your advice on actual day-to-day carrying out of such plans?
In your lectures, you often talk about the importance of paying attention. Attention is also an important theme in Buddhism, and in fact developing attention through meditation (shamatha) and then applying it to aspects of one's experience in order to gain insight (vipassana) is said to be a key factor in achieving enlightenment. What are your thoughts on that and were you aware of this connection?
Another theme that you often return to in your lectures is the phenomenological manifestation of meaning. How in your experience does one distinguish between what is genuinely meaningful and what is simply beautiful, or just makes a particular strong impression on the mind? Is it primarily a matter of ethics?
I was and am aware of the connection. If you pay attention to something, you allow it to speak to you. That will change the way you see the world. Each change in the way you see the world is, however, a little death (and sometimes more than a little). So it's easy to be resistant to it. But it's better to prune your own branches. You'll bear more fruit that way.
Thank you for doing this AMA! Can you go into detail about what you find objectionable about moral relativism? Secondly, can you describe how you see post-modernism and what its biggest faults are? Thank you!
I believe in the existence of evil.
Postmodernists notice the complex problem of the ever-present subjective interpretive framework and then, instead of facing the problem squarely, assume that there is no world. They take the easy way out, intellectually. Then second-rate intellects hijack their work to justify their refusal to take responsibility as individuals.
Dr. Peterson, are there ever moments where one should lie? Or is it best to sometimes say, "I'd rather not discuss that" than to lie?
"I'd rather not discuss that" is a good way to not lie. You also aren't required to break confidence or reveal anything private. Telling the truth (or not lying) is complicated.
To tell the truth you have to have decided that (1) that truth will in fact save the world and (2) that the world is in fact worth saving.
How can I learn to raise my children properly or wisely? What books or lectures are useful?
In my new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos I have a chapter called "Don't let your children do anything that makes you dislike them." It will be available in January.
In the meantime, that's a good thing to know. Don't pretend with your children. Don't let them to things that are humiliating to you (or to them). If you don't like them, neither will anyone else. That's a start.
Hello Dr. Peterson,
Two questions if I may:
If Jesus is the archetypal hero, whom which there is no person more heroic, then who is the antithesis? This question stems from my having read just a chapter into M.o.M and derived it from the concept of existence as a forum for action. Should the historical Jesus have actually acted as the most-hero, then I imagine the most-villain must also exist to act out the part.
Edit: DO you believe this antithesis will manifest itself as Jesus may have?
2nd question: Is Jesus Lord?
Thank you for your time
And it depends on how you define "Lord."
Archetypally? By definition. Hence the mythologizing of the historical figure.
What five books have been most influential to how you view the world today?
Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment Solzhenitsyn Gulag Archipelago CG Jung Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious Jeffrey Gray Neuropsychology of Anxiety Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil
Do what you have to do.
Hey was a very effective popularizer of Jung's ideas. Over-rated, if considered as the original source, which he was most definitely not. Under-rated, as effective popularization is extraordinarily difficult.
One of my favourite topics that you cover is your interpretation of the story of Cain & Abel. You’ve said that: “Before a creature becomes self-conscious there is no distinction between good and evil... With the dawning of self-consciousness, there seems to be the emergence of a moral sense that’s essentially unique to human beings.”
You’ve referenced in another video the phenomenon of wolves exhibiting something to the effect of mercy when an alpha ‘defeats’ a wolf that contests his position as the pack leader. Do you think that what appears to be this sort of ‘moral compass’ in wolf culture is then an emergent property of self-consciousness? Or, perhaps, something more like proto-rationality? Neither? What do you think this phenomenon says about human morality considering we often attribute our morality to our rationality (perhaps incorrectly)?
I think it is a behavioral proto-morality. The wolves act "as if" they recognize each others' value. But they are not following a rule, or abiding by a principle. They are manifesting a behavioral regularity. It is in the observation of such regularities, within their own species, that human beings have "discovered" morality proper (and were therefore able to represent that morality in story and with lists of rules).
It is a great mistake to assume that morality was derived from rationality. It built itself from the bottom up over hundreds of millions of years. Rationality played its part, but certainly did not serve as the fundamental source.
What concepts of Nietzsche's writings are the most important or useful to your thinking?
Last answer: Nietzsche's realization that the death of God would necessitate the utter collapse of Western values.
90% Male - 10% Female visit your You Tube videos. What type of female do you think make up that 10%?
Amazing, beautiful accomplished women with impeccable taste in lecturers.
Can you clarify if and how what you propose is different to polytheism? Why or why not is it valuable to label oneself "Christian" or "Religious" to practice what you preach?
The logos occupies the pinnacle of the value structure, in my understanding. That's a monotheistic view. The utility of the label Christian (for example) depends on the context. Sometimes it's helpful; other times, it's not. People often ask me if I'm a Christian. But I can't answer that because I don't know what they mean, and neither do they. The same applies when they ask "Do you believe in God?" It's not a question: it's a trap. So what's the proper answer? I don't know. "You have no business setting a trap for me?" That's probably the right answer.
So how can I answer? Do I believe that Christ died for the sins of man? Yes. But I don't think that what I mean by that is what people typically mean when they say they believe it.
Do I believe that Christ was the Son of God? Yes. But the same restriction applies.
It takes me forty hours of lectures to explain what I mean. Compacting all that into a single sentence cannot be done without fatal loss.
Why do you think ideological thought is pushed so heavily at the universities?
1/3 laziness, 1/3 ignorance and 1/3 malevolence. Laziness: it's easier to apply a doctrine to everything at once than to think through complex issues; Ignorance: the less you know about a problem the easier you think it is to solve; Malevolence: it's great to find the enemy in others so that you have someone against who to direct your resentment.
Dear Dr. Peterson,
In my literature of the mind class we are beginning a discussion on fairy tales. The first question we were confronted with was "are fairy tales misogynistic?" The majority of the class responded in the affirmative, citing the frequent depiction of women in a helpless or lower stance compare to the man. I responded in the negative, with several claims as to the great goals of different stories. My question to you is: are fairy tales misogynist? And if so, should authors restructure these tales to reflect different, arguably more contemporary structures of society? Thank you very much.
Don't discuss the deeper meaning of literature with people whose primary concern is whether or not the literature in question conforms to this week's obsession with identity politics.
That's the correct answer to your question.
Authors should leave stories they didn't write alone and go write their own classics -- if they can. Some fairy tales are ten thousand years old. Anyone who thinks they can write something for the ages is welcome to try.
Do you feel that people should show up prepared to defend themselves if they are going to an event where they suspect radical activists, like antifa, will assault people?
That's a great question. I think you have the right to act in self-defense, and in the defense of others, when they require it. But you shouldn't go looking for trouble. It's far too easy to justify acting with resentment and hatred and to tell yourself that you are merely defending what is right. Perhaps you are. But you better be sure about that or you will stir up some terrible variant of hell that will rapidly move beyond your control.
Another issue: What you do will be multiplied many times. This is self-evident in the modern age, where any extreme action you undertake is likely to be filmed and distributed online. Go where you have to go. Do what you have to do. But have yourself in check. If you can't do so, then stay home and clean up your room. That's probably a better thing to do anyway. It's less publicly heroic, and therefore less likely to be driven unconsciously by the shadow and by egotism.
Good evening Dr. Peterson.
In a previous AMA (on youtube) you've called Frozen - and other later era Disney movies - "propaganda" - that is, only half the truth. This probably has to do with the presentation of masculine/feminine achetypes. Can you expand?
How does one choose, and adhere to, transcendent values without falling into ideological possession? It seems to me both things involve service to a higher value.
It depends, I suppose, on the transcendent value. I think that truth is the highest value, although it has to be embedded in love. What I mean by that is that truth should serve the highest good imaginable. For me, that is what is best for each individual, in the manner that is simultaneously best for the family, and the state, and nature itself. But you can only want that good if you love Being.
I pray that I don't make a fatal mistake.
No. In my experience, the ministers are too-frequently lying. I can't stand to hear them say words they don't believe. Not when I know what the words mean.
Before I get to the question I just wanted to say thank you. I think what you have to say about open discourse and totalitarianism is extremely important, especially given the widening gap between the left and the right. You've also helped me out of a slump of rather life-destroying nihilism, so I can't express my gratitude enough with regards to that.
In this video (I lost the time stamp of the specific quote, I apologize) you give a Nietzschean/Darwinian definition of truth: "truth serves life." When you elaborated on this definition of truth, you said "if a truth makes you insane, then it's not a truth - there is something wrong with it." Given this definition, if refusing to use gender-neutral pronouns makes somebody's mental state deteriorate to the point of insanity or suicide, does it follow that refusing to use gender-neutral pronouns is not acting in accordance with truth?
I wanted to ask you that question in the spirit of challenging all ideas when you came to McMaster last week, but I was unfortunately prevented from doing so.
If you have time for a second question, I have one about the people that influenced your thoughts on totalitarianism. Could you explain what led you to take Hannah Arendt's definition of totalitarianism - as well as the charges she makes against Stalinism - and apply it to all of Marxism? Are ideological Marxists inherently totalitarian because their belief system commands them to serve the law of history?
Edit: damn, I should have put the totalitarianism question first
I'm glad to hear that you've escaped the purgatory of nihilism. It's a very difficult trap for intelligent, critically minded people to avoid. But it's a cop-out, too, because nihilism means that you don't have to take responsibility for anything.
Generally, I can't answer questions that involve very detailed hypotheticals, because the Devils always in the details. So I could say, if I refused to use a gender-neutral pronoun and that made someone's mental state deteriorate to the point of insanity then it would be a mistake, in all likelihood. But that's a very unlikely outcome, and I presume I would be perspicacious enough to pick that up when I was communicating with the person, who would likely be in a substantial amount of distress, if they he or she (or they) were that fragile.
(Question at the bottom in bold. Top part is to see where I am coming from.)
I am a scientist and an atheist, but not a radical one. If I understand correctly, your access to religion is through a set of stories, ultimately composing the holy book of the religion in question. And these stories serve as moral guidance system to society. They tell us how to be a decent person and how to live a meaningful live.
I like this because it doesn't rely on many of the aspects of 'old-school religion' which atheists commonly object to, such as the literal existence of god, a creation, etc., while at the same time allowing religion to be adopted as moral guidance system. Formulated a bit sharper: it doesn't need any backwards aspects of religion, but still allows for holding up those aspects for which there is no alternative from science yet, nor from elsewhere.
Now while I like it that you do hold up these parts of religion, I do not like that you do not explicitly reject the backward parts - or at least I didn't see you do that. And who guarantees that society and the church would not fall back into the middle ages? Who would guarantee that people wouldn't pick up again the backwards aspects of religion, if we don't explicitly reject them? I do not trust society in this matter.
Would you put more emphasis in the future on explicitly stating those aspects of religion which you would feel comfortable to leave behind? If not so, why not?
Let me conclude with a quote by a Chinese guy named Kong Deyong, who is just a common Joe, but also a descendant of Kong Zi, i.e. of Confucius:
Our morals are decaying. Mao beat Buddha, Laozi and Confucius to death. And in Jesus we don't believe. So what do we have left?
The quote is out of the German book "Gebrauchsanweisung für China" by Kai Strittmacher.
It is not obvious to me, precisely, what constitutes the "backwards" part of religious belief. Is it the ritual? The stories? Religion has to appeal to all people, regardless of their intellectual capacity, and it has to do that simultaneously. So what appears backward to one person may be absolutely necessary for another. There are simple paths, for example, to Christianity, and paths that are sophisticated beyond understanding. But both are necessary.
That does not mean that religious truth and scientific truth should be confused with one another. That is simply a category error, and it is certainly one made by religious fundamentalist (but no more frequently than committed atheists, who merely reverse the error).
Both confuse religious accounts of Being with scientific accounts of objective reality.
Dr. Peterson sorry if this query sounds a tad bit too technical but there are very less people who advice young upcoming psychologists on these matters, so i am writing to you. I am 24 years old and I have recently completed my Masters in Social and Personality Psychology and i want to pursue my PhD. from a university in U.S. or Canada. I have been interested in the exact topics that you discuss in your personality and maps of meaning classes since i was 18 (that's when i had found Frankl and Camus and also found social psychological studies like Milgram experiments and Zimbardo prisoner-guard studies). As someone who is obsessed with these topics i want to pursue it as an active research interest and also maybe translate it into a PhD. degree. But do you think it's worth pursuing a PhD. in an U.S. or Canadian universities anymore ? (I live i an another country..so going and studying in an U.S. or Cannadian University is mostly likely going to cost me a considerable amount too..) And also what advice would you give to people like me, who are interested exclusively in the topics that you discuss and want to pursue academic research projects on these very topics ? Thank you
The utility of pursuing a Ph.D. depends to a great degree on the knowledge, intelligence and integrity of your advisor. Find someone who is doing great work. Work with him or her. Read everything you can. Make yourself into a credible researcher. All of that is certainly still possible. But the advisor/student relationship is paramount.
Welcome to reddit!
With your rare outspoken expressions of truth from your position as a professor I am curious to know how you are seen by the other faculty at UoT and in the eyes of other academics. Is there support behind the frontlines of this recent SJW war waged on you? Because I seldom see others in your profession rise to defend your truth.
Love and support from Eastern Canada.
Now and then a colleague rises to support me, at least privately. Not very often, however. More frequently, I hear that I have support, but that it would be better if I was being nicer while I'm doing what I'm doing.