All About Jordan Peterson (Guest Post by Nate Winchester)

This article is really for me to have a handy explanation ready for all the times I hear someone asking, “why this guy?”
For example:
There’s much irony in that article that I’m sure Sev will have a field day with (like its complaining of jargon), but let me quote one line from it.
 

“He can give people the most elementary fatherly life-advice (clean your room, stand up straight) while making it sound like Wisdom.”

Already we can see that the principal failing of the author is an inability to see fatherly advice as wisdom. Among my daddy’s sayings was “if you’re going to be dumb, you better be tough.”  Which is quite profound in wisdom when you think about it. (Feel free to share your own father’s wisdom in the comments.)  But beyond the author’s category error, if you want to understand “the deal” with JBP that’s the beginning and end of it right there:

Fatherly life-advice.

Nowadays there’s a lot of discussion about how much humans are born with – the blank slate view vs preloaded man view*.  How much do we know (or will know) purely because of our instinct or genes? There is a subset of human knowledge colloquially called “common sense” and it’s easy to assume that it just comes to us by instinct because it all seems so obvious in retrospect.  It’s not.  Common sense is the wisdom of our culture passed down to children most commonly by fathers and you don’t have to spend much time with children to find evidence of this – as the young are immensely illinformed. (Yes, mothers provide wisdom as well, but it’s not the same kind as fathers’,)

As a a thought experiment, imagine we plucked Mowgli from The Jungle Book and placed him in a modern-day city. How would this character function? Could he function in society? Or would this feral man be completely lacking in what we call Common Sense?

Well you don’t have to imagine too hard, they did a movie about such an experiment back in ’94.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110213/

And this one (kind of) in ’97.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119190/

Anyway, it is quite obvious on reflection that Mowgli would be lacking in basic understandings of society and much of what is called ‘Common Sense’.  Because that knowledge is imparted by parents to children.  With no parents, Mowgli would lack many functions that so many of us take for granted.

So is it any wonder that nowadays we have a bunch of feral children desperately seeking for someone to help them make sense of an environment they were under prepared for?  Is it any wonder they are so desperate for somebody to help them make sense and put into context a reality they have been poorly equipped to deal with?
 

That is the JBP key.  From almost every person I’ve heard wondering or complaining about Peterson, do you know what I’ve noticed they all had? Fathers. And what have I seen and heard from many, many fans of Peterson? That they have been missing FATHERS! You want an explanation for Jordan B Peterson? Conservatives have predicted for years that the dissolution of the nuclear family would have consequences.  Here they are now.  We have now two generations where a large portion of it was raised without fathers, and they are trying to find a masculine lodestar that can tell them that common sense wisdom which will bring a sense and order to the chaos of their lives. If you have a question about JBP, ask it in the context of a father.  For example: Why do some fans react so harshly to any critiques or criticism of JBP? Well just imagine if what was said about him was said about your own beloved father. How calmly would you react?  If people talked like they wanted your father to go away, what would you think of those people?

We should be so lucky that the father figure all these lost kids have latched onto at least seems to be a decent fellow.
Just imagine what would happen had it been someone worse.
*I myself see it in computer terms as people are born with a fairly complicated BIOS system that set ups some basic functions and operates the hardware, but we then spend the rest of their lives building and developing the operating system that becomes who we are.

8 thoughts on “All About Jordan Peterson (Guest Post by Nate Winchester)

  1. You want more evidence of this just look at what is considered porn nowadays…i will not go into details.
    The dissolution of the nuclear family has taken a toll on EVERYTHING.
    The 60’s got a lot wrong.

  2. Nate;
    Your linking of Peterson-approval to fatherlessness is a keen insight. I never saw the great attraction of the man myself before, but then I had a reasonably able father who love us and cared for us as best he could under the circumstances. So I have a new appreciation for him teaching things fathers used to teach their sons.

    Peterson’s public lecture snippets that I’ve seen looked a lot like many of the soft-subject business leadership training sessions we were treated to in the ’80s and early ’90s, but more unfocused. A few of those management development presentations were really helpful to most attendee’s. But, since these presentations were more focused, different ones were helpful to different people, depending on our own particular professional short-comings. For example, some were about time management, some were about setting work/life boundries, some were about keeping the main thing the main thing, etc. But almost all attendees then had in common an intact, traditional family structure during childhood.

    On reflection, one reason that Peterson is all over the place is that he is apparently trying to be all of those presentations all at once for attendee’s who mostly *don’t* have an intact family, traditional upbringing in common. And he’s (almost) smart enough to bring it off. But he apparently dares not cross the line into complete apostasy against the cultural Marxist Prog. religion. So he employs a folkloric structure to (sort-of) defend Western social and ‘family values’ against that Prog. religion (which denies that it is a religion but consistently acts like one).

    One reason that I can say that it is a religion is it’s all-persaviness these days. As evidence, the author of the linked criticism of Peterson, besides being at least as disorganized as he accuses Peterson of being, just assumes Prog. religion is the way everything has always been. But, believe it or not, in the maligned ’60s that I grew up and was educated in, the personal was *not* political for normal people. Life was not all politics all of the time. Thanks Feminism.

    What I see in Peterson now is a very smart guy who knows that Cloud religion sucks, probably knows why, who feels the strong pull of the timeless, non-mundane truths about the world and man’s nature, but he will not bend the knee to God. Possibly this is for reasons of intellectual pride, possibly for reasons of social acceptance in The Cloud. I can’t know but I can say that I was in that place too a long time ago. So, maybe like me then, he hopes to resolve his moral and intellectual dilemma by trying to revive Existentialism. I believe I heard him say so explicitly in at least one of this lectures.

    Existentialism was yet another, mostly French intellectual effort, mainly from the ’40s and ’50s to try to have everything desirable in life such as truth, beauty, order, happiness, etc. while, unlike Cloud religion, not denying the obvious about the fallen nature of man and the world. Yet at the same time, being French intellectuals, Existentialists stubbornly refused to bend the knee to God as the obvious alternative.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism

    Existentialism, IMO, is yet another modern attempt to revive a noted Classical Philosophy, in this case Stoicism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism.

    IMHO, Stoicism is actually superior to Existentialism as a philosophical system. It was popular among the pagan aristocracy and intellectuals of the Late Classic Period. But both are mentally exhausting and ultimately unsatisfying, at least for me. That Existentialism was beaten out in the suddenly wide-open intellectual bazaar of the late ’60s by such things as Mother Earth communal living and the Hari Krishna cult tells us all we need to know about its lasting popular appeal. Hence Peterson must resort to rhetorical subterfuge to sell it as both esoteric insights and also useful common truths that young men used to get from their families. It is the latter that resonates now as an understandable common appeal, causing the acolytes of Prog religion to scratch their collective heads over the former.

    • Nietzsche frequently referred to himself as a latter-day Stoic, FWIW.

      The problem with both Stoicism and Existentialism (and I am very, very fond of Stoicism) is that they require too much discipline. A true Stoic will not make any but certain judgments, which is no way to live in the real world (Aurelius wrestled with this at great length). Existentialists must constantly reinvent the wheel. “Isn’t that a pretty sunset?” Well, first start with a theory of aesthetics….

  3. My father was a devout atheist (as he put it, “I stopped believing in God when I let go of my mama’s ti**y.”). But he thought it was good for us kids to go to church.

    That’s truly objectivity and wisdom.

  4. Pingback: Specifics, Please | Rotten Chestnuts

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