There are no facts, therefore I am right!

in politics •  last year 

Jordan Peterson seems to be on a roll. He seems to have a new lease of life and embracing his mantle as public philosopher. Recently gagged by Twattr, let's see how long YouLube will keep giving him a platform. What he talks about here drives a hot poker into the heart of the intellectual foundations of the engulfing global tyranny.

This isn't quite the gun, it is the muffler that makes most people deaf to what is going on.

This is an excerpt of a longer 2017 lecture.

These quotes are in the wrong order, but editing out the padding, I think they make more sense this way round.

Postmodernists don't believe in facts. They believe that the idea of fact is part of the power game that's played by the white dominated male patriarchy to impose the tyrannical structure of the patriarchy on the oppressors. It's like, I'm not making this stuff up! It's embedded right in the theory; all you have to do is read it and you find this out. So they don't believe in facts, while facts would constrain the use of power - at least that's how it looks to me.

The difference between an ideologue and the thinker is that a thinker knows the difference between things that are only partly true and things that are completely true. Things are complicated.

Then you might also ask,"Well why would you want to reduce all human motivations to power?" It's so you can use power. That's why you can justify the use of power, that's force! You don't have to engage in civilized debate, you don't have to give a damn about the facts, especially if you're not a postmodernist, because you don't believe in facts anyways!

And at the core of postmodernism:

There's an infinite number of interpretations of the world; you can't tell which of those are canonically correct - correct!

But I come to this from a different angle. This is relativism! Postmodernism is so infected with Marxism that it is easy to forget that it is the child of relativism. The term itself does a good job at obfuscating its roots as it is a meaningless word that merely signifies its relationship to modernism. Indeed, postmodernism is weaponised relativism.

Peterson doesn't mention that this philosophical position of relativism is far older than the modern science and philosophy he quotes, and can easily be seen in both Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta. However, neither of those two spiritual paths have weaponised the concept. Indeed, the concept is used in the opposite sense of being aware of the ultimate futility in attachments to ephemeral phenomena.

The infestation of weaponised relativism in modern social exchanges is alarming, as it is often used to show both ignorance and superiority at the same time. The inarticulate masses can smugly proclaim their prejudices as valid precisely due to the relativist claim that all such points of view are both valid and, as truth does not exist, such validity is the only measure used. I feel, therefore I am right.

It is even impossible to engage in an argument, as any such argument is assumed to be a power-play rather than seeking some shared truth because, and we come back to this trope, there are no truths. It strikes me as remarkable to have indoctrinated a species into being both stupid and superior - the ignorant narcissists.

Deep down, I have very little interest in groups, and that includes politics. For me, the atomic unit is the individual. And to think of such an individual that has been trained into blind obedience of these doctrines is to look into a mind of darkness. Sure, I must assume that many have gained great influence and power through this propaganda, and must be laughing insanely. But what about those who are believers?

Going back to power, if you truly believe that everything is about power, even relative power, then being a true believer you too wish to partake of such power - the power over others. The power to inform on your neighbours who you see as transgressing the new abnormal. There are no friends in such a world.

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Deep down, I have very little interest in groups, and that includes politics.

I think this is an expression of our time. The lack of interest in politics is probably an important aspect of why those who are very interested in politics get ahead. One could argue in this respect that it is precisely this lack of interest that leads to what you are rejecting. In fact, I see it similarly, politics in detail is boring as hell, you have to deal with countless texts, bureaucratic formalities etc., you take part in meetings that drag on endlessly, you have to write and read minutes and also deal with all the egocentric personalities you meet there. It is a tedious business that is not even particularly financially remunerated at the local level and you stand as the bogeyman for many decisions that those interested in politics make and are criticised by those who are not.

I agree with you, politics is uninteresting and groups in their dynamics can also be exhausting. However, you would then have to accept that this could also be seen as egoism or hedonism, which would be justified. Those who do not want to participate in the polis, who do not want to take part in citizens' forums and discussions, ultimately agree to what is decided there (without them).

Since this would be a somewhat harsh insinuation on my part, I would therefore like to formulate a question. Even if you are not currently a group person or interested in politics, was there a time in your life when you were both?

No. The closest I got, and the only interesting part is the formulation of policies - in this case was nuclear arms treaty, what became START. I was nowhere near it, just was allowed a glimpse at the process. But what struck me was not the process, but the political engineering that came from well above the physics and the scientists. So, although I didn't much like the bottom of the political heap, I didn't much like the top either!! One is not independent, whether inside or outside. ;-)

HaHa! :) right on. I see what you mean.
Formulation is a form of creation - I made the experience that when I REALLY try to formulate something around ethics, I am going to fail greatly. I then retreat to other sources and listen or read to get inspired again, because I become frustrated.

mmm... trying to think back - have never been attracted by the philosophy of ethics or morals; always struck me as synthetic constructs. My experience is that with correct perceptions then actions become self-evident - that obviously assumes correct perceptions, but that still strikes me as a stronger foundation compared to a kaleidoscope of shifting rules. If one can see clearly, there are no exceptions, as there are no predefined rules - "do what thou wilt" does not have to be evil ;-)

If one can see clearly, there are no exceptions, as there are no predefined rules -

I find it very easy to take and understand your statement. I hold this perspective very often myself. But an interesting observation is that when I meet myself (in you), so to speak, I find myself prompted to leave this position.
From this I conclude that we humans have a tendency to balance and are extremely capable of changing perspectives. At first this seems to be a contradiction (but only if we observe this contradiction in one and the same person).

What I tend to get at is the conditionality of one over the other. Rules can only be seen as such by the mind if it is able to imagine the ruleless. But this imagination has limits, and as I see it, human coexistence without rules is not conceivable at all, because man, I say, has always lived under a (changing) set of rules.

The exercise in detail - in asking "how can ethical coexistence be formulated?" (notice that I don't say "practised"), I realise every time anew that such formulation seeks to follow an ideal image but cannot really find it formulative. The writing down of rules through language comes up against limits ... to express what I mean by this, perhaps this statement by Alan Watts could serve:

“The observing self behind all our thoughts and feelings is itself a thought. That is to say when the police enters a house in which there are thieves, the thieves go up from the ground floor to the first floor. When the police arrive on the first floor, the thieves have gone up to the second—and so to the third and finally out to the roof. So, when the ego is about to be unmasked, it immediately identifies with a higher self. It goes up a level.

What other than my own perceptions, which I consider to be correct, can serve me in a moment where I act or react to something? I cannot tell myself that my perception is distorted. I need to think of myself as reasonable. But then, I do myself a favor when I leave room for doubts without losing myself in relativity.

"do what thou wilt" does not have to be evil ;-)

:) yes.

Again an interesting topic and one, of which I myself often deal with in- and externally. Peterson also is quite a character and many of his statements do make sense to me.

Though I would disagree about a clear definition of postmodernism. The academic environment has dealt with this term and in the German-speaking world alone one can find numerous and lengthy works on it that attempt a definition with the addition of countless sources. Without "modernity", a "post-modernity", for example, could not even be thought of.

For me, the term only became interesting after I tried to come to terms with the concepts of constructivism and cybernetics; also reading critics about all of those concepts. I agree to some degree with what is being critizised about it but would not overall drain it.

On my own, I would not be able to identify myself one hundred percent as "post-modern", because on the one hand the definitional space is very large and on the other hand it would be equally difficult for me to identify myself as conservative or liberal or anarchist. I recognise myself to some extent in all these attributions. Why I have a certain tendency to open up to different perspectives is an observation I made long before I knew about the concept of postmodernism.

One can now hastily interpret this as arbitrariness and "anything goes", but in my personal case this would be completely wrong. It is one thing to deal theoretically with concepts and to express facts that relativise social coexistence. It is another thing to decide situationally according to one's values and to decide questions that are actually undecidable nevertheless, where it is important for oneself and one's own conscience and dignity.

Insofar as I have a positive connotation of the postmodern attitude and recognise myself to some extent in it, I would like to say that this does not prevent me from being in dialogue and also in conflict with those who come my way and from clearly expressing my stance on totalitarian attitudes.

Insofar as it is assumed that postmodernists pave the way for those who want to impose totalitarianism, I would, and this is one among several aspects of postmodernism as I understand it, that I thereby make it too easy for myself and look for culprits (in order to cover up, for example, my own inability to stand up for myself).

Psychologically, one can suspect that the one who did not take a risk or make any sacrifices himself or kept a low profile (in the last two years, for example) was just not willing to take a pluralistic position (which for me is an important aspect of postmodernism). Which resulted in breaking off contact, silence and the discontinuation of relations. Where there is no more dialogue, where answers are owed and criticism came to nothing, the balls are still in the field. But they have to be thrown there first.

I have done what I could, I have taken on my clients, official authorities etc., I have put my views and questions there. In most cases they remained unanswered and those involved shied away from conflict. Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that what I left behind in addressing them (also in personal letters) or in thought will have had an effect. Even if the very certainty was not given to me by the very people I confronted.

I often wonder what personal anecdotes are behind the articles on these topics, and so my question would be to you, who raise the criticism of postmodernism: What exactly was your own reaction, what story can you tell your readers in which you broke free from a relativising position, sought to support your point of view in work and relationship life in the way you did without making a total enemy of the recipient of your words?

That's why I mentioned that the term itself, "postmodernism", has no self-referential etymology, so can be twisted around - hence, also, why I would focus on relativism, especially as the definition Peterson uses is the same as relativism!

That it is being used to confuse people, and hence push a totalitarian world through sheer ignorance plus the psychological incapacity to stand up and be a perceptive being, is where relativism puts on a political armour. I hold no political position, as none of them work so long as individuals are merely following rules.

I also don't think this is a new position. As I said, the same can be found in many esoteric schools, from the Eastern "not-this not-that" to a via negativa; even Descartes Meditations, Nietzsche's "overman" going back to Socratic dialogues, all end up in a relativist position. The difference, is that these trains of thought are all aiming to overcome that relativist (nihilist even?) dead end!

In esoterism, that dead end is overcome through some transcendental experience. And THAT is what is deeply missing in the vast majority of humans. (Actually, research shows this is more common than culture admits, but most people only reveal this in the anonymity of a questionnaire; and herein lies the tyranny of political relativism - it is not seeking human enlightenment, but enslavement.)

So here we have two things (maybe three!): philosophical relativism and psychological relativism (and the third would be political relativism). I see them as different.

I don't wish to write an essay - however interesting that might be - but the psychological relativism can be overcome through transcendence. This serves as a kind of mental reboot, clearing out the horrible network of conflicting and plain bad ideas that have been held together by indoctrination. The fear of death also seems to largely disappear (apart from a small minority of poor souls who seem to have had "bad experiences"). Transcendence is beyond mystical experiences, so I wonder if the two sometimes get conflated.

So the experience should be one of clarity and hence correct perceptions. Unfortunately, this does not seem to also equip most people with the scalpel of logical reasoning, but it does change their relationships with others - becoming more genuine. Now, if that became a human research project, rather than fucking humans with different forms of enslavement, then humanity may be a more interesting species.

Transcendence is beyond mystical experiences, so I wonder if the two sometimes get conflated.

I think they can be confused, though I wouldn't know exactly what a mystical experience might have been one in my own experiential space.

An example of a profound experience (for lack of other vocabulary) was when my mother died. I felt, besides sadness, a kind of great serenity in the face of seeing my mother dying and how she made me and my sister laugh in her last days. I felt imbued with a coherence when she consciously refused further food in a moment of clarity, although she was already very confused in parts by then, her determination for this declaration of will returned.

I experienced many feelings, including a certain joy at my mother's decision that it was time to let go of life and my ability to see it not as "unacceptable" to me, but for what it was.

To keep it with Eastern wisdom, I cannot say what it was, it was neither this nor that and ultimately cannot be conveyed to anyone else who has not experienced it for themselves. However, the strength I felt in not being afraid of my mother's death compared to being afraid has remained in my memory in an impressive way.

Experiences I had under the influence of consciousness-altering substances were of an entirely different kind, although there was an interface that I call "astonishment". What these experiences have in common is that they can hardly be put into words and only the best poets can come close to touching them poetically. Other arts also come close.

Personal anecdotes I find important to tell.

I had something similar, was my father-in-law. Never die in a hospital, as they won't let you!! Honestly, was slightly tragicomic as he had visions of people "beyond" asking as to what's keeping him! Why are you keeping us waiting!? lol. He was ready and lucid, but the machines kept him alive. Not as close to me as a mother, but he appreciated my presence, as I also understood his "preparedness". In the end, was a peaceful passing away.

My mom died in hospital (she was 86) and we did not switch her onto machines. We knew she wouldn't have wanted it and if I remember correctly, we told the staff so. I would have preferred it to be at home with her. That was, what made me particularly uneasy, that we could not take her home...

:) I liked to hear about the tragicomic aspect within the process of the dying of your father-in-law, thank you. It is such a taboo otherwise.
For a dying human, I find it important that at least some one is around who understands the preparedness.

I also don't think this is a new position. As I said, the same can be found in many esoteric schools, from the Eastern "not-this not-that" to a via negativa; even Descartes Meditations, Nietzsche's "overman" going back to Socratic dialogues, all end up in a relativist position.

But do they stay there?

I agree with your answer on this:

The difference, is that these trains of thought are all aiming to overcome that relativist (nihilist even?) dead end!

To end up in a relativist position: This is quite logical. Whoever deals with a problem in depth and breadth and is not afraid to illuminate several perspectives will inevitably relativise. I consider this a perfectly normal consequence of reflection. If it were not so, if one did not make a personal effort to recognise plurality and see positions relative to others, we would not be people endowed with reason. It is only the ability to relativise that leads one to the conclusion that this ability is not inherent only in oneself, but must be something that is common to all human beings.

For this, however, it is necessary not to resign, to maintain dialogue instead of completely breaking off contact. I consider this a very difficult task in life. Braking off contact, as I see it, is the forego of escalation. The conflict then continues to go on in ones mind and imagination. And from there, everything can be thought and made up about "the enemy".

You ask about personal experiences; I had such transcendental experiences when quite young, about 7 years old, and could repeat them - until I couldn't! Then I forgot about them and delved into science. Later, perhaps early 20s, the two strands came together as I recalled those early experiences. Maybe the most public figure with a similar "scientific mysticism" is Sam Harris, but there are a few other people who have gone down this similar path of "scientific esoterism" and attempt to combine it with exoteric objective science.

I suspect many children are able to have mystical and transcendental experiences and, unless in a culture that supports and nourishes these, they tend to be dismissed by ignorant parents - and hence buried. IMO this is where the psychological damage starts. I find the propaganda of materialism pathetic - physics abandoned this over 100 years ago. Indeed, it could be argued that even Newton abandoned it by postulating a gravitational field - a ghostly action-at-a-distance that many of his contemporaries laughed at. The writings of Kepler are fascinating as a mix of mathematics and cosmic mysticism. Newton kept his own mysticism as separate to his physics.

How does this affect the current world? Well, I'd start by taking down every single phone mast and wifi set!

I don't suppose you would want to tell about this mystical experience here in public, or give a brief outline of what it was? I myself have no memory of mystical experiences or, as I said, I'm not sure what they are. Maybe still in a border field where we used witch boards for a while as young adults. However, I did not consider that to be paranormal, but rather normal. I gave myself an amateurish physical as well as psychological explanation for it, but found it fascinating (whereas I never believed in ghosts).

The fact that children do not pursue such experiences further, or that parents and other adults encourage such things, is probably also due to the disappearance of the mystical in general. Or certain spiritual or religious practices.

In films and books, the longing for mystical experiences is all the more strongly thematised, I observe a great desire for it.

taking down every single phone mast and wifi set!

that probably won't happen until it comes in company with other forms of destruction and change.

  ·  last year (edited)

So many labels - relativism, post-modernist but aren't they just the devils spawn of collectivism? The thing I don't care for about 'intellectuals' like Peterson is their use of word salad. It excludes a LOT of people. I am a lover of simplicity like the 'plain English' movement. (Whatever happened to them?) Why do these people talk like they swallowed a thesaurus. They are not speaking to the masses. They are excluding them. Why? Common sense doesn't need word salad.
Peterson and his ilk are akin to Jazz in my book, which I also like to term 'musical masturbation'.

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I have yet to purchase one of his books. Do you have any recommendations to start with? Or have you read any of his works? I only have heard his voice through youtube. Never once read any of his books. Yet.

Interesting. IMO his best book is the "Maps of Meaning, The Architecture of Belief". Possibly the topic is of more interest to me, as I've been working in the same field. It is over 20 years old and his 2 more recent books are more populist. One thing I've found with Peterson is that the greatest insights are somehow in the middle of his essays, rather than being the conclusions. So, I suspect each individual takes from them whichever sentences leap out at him or her.

I find the comments in his YT videos fascinating - often long and personal, there are many people who have become more genuine to themselves. I don't even care about his politics or religion, as the issues relate to something more fundamental: how to have correct perceptions.

Ok, writing that down. I'll get it when I can. Hopefully soon. Also will be getting his lobster book

Thats the reason why i want to get his books:

there are many people who have become more genuine to themselves.

I am interested in the psychology of human behavior. I feel I will learn much from this man. And also self improvement. I know I still have demons that need exposing.