Jordan Peterson

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Perhaps this is a function of modern life; every time Peterson posts a lecture, it is watched by millions of people. This is a highly intelligent, eccentric and (by his own admission) fragile person. It is foolish to think this kind of attention would not be difficult to adjust to, and put a profound strain on his character.

Peterson himself talks about Nietzche and how it would be very foolish to throw out all of Nietzche’s writings on the basis of his unattractive and unflattering comments about women, with whom he was clearly unsuccessful.

As far as Peterson’s body of thought is concerned, what I understand it to be – and find useful for myself – is that we are all part of something greater than ourselves and we belong to it. We have to honour that and by doing so, we will find meaning and satisfaction in our lives.

He advocates that the meaning of life for men is a willing sacrifice of freedom, a voluntary sacrifice, through the acceptance of responsibility. Doing so brings a sense of fulfilment and happiness.

His criticism of leftist politics and the willingness for people to ignore the millions of people slaughtered in the name of Communist and Marxist ideology is profound.

Having pursued a humanities education with leftist and feminist subjects, I was often on the receiving end of all kinds of criticism and insults and derogations referring to my physical appearance.

I agree with his comments about patriarchy made in the GQ interview with Helen Lewis: he says that more men are murdered, more men are imprisoned, die in wars, live on the street, die by suicide and do worse at school than women.

“What you’re doing is taking a tiny substrata of highly successful men and using that to represent the entire structure of Western society. To take a tiny substrate of the population and say this characterises all men and their advantages… there is nothing about that that’s vaguely appropriate.’

His criticism of identity politics is, to my mind, also right on the money. He says the right dislike him as much as the left because he refuses to classify individuals as anything other than themselves, rather than aggregates of their social position and class.

He says that identity politics leads to industrial scale murder and is the most profound lesson of the twentieth century.

The idea that Eurydice Dixon was killed as a result of patriarchy is a grievous abuse of any man who is a victim of rape, which so many men are, even if they only live with the victim. That’s a crime that reaches into the future of both parties, corrupting both the petals of that flower and its geometry.

I am overwhelmingly surprised how many of the articles written about Peterson appear to be  criticisms of his character rather than his ideas, lampooning him as an individual rather than engaging with his comments. The more I read and watched of him, the less I saw that I disagreed with.

Personally, I do believe in ‘patriarchy’ and I find his ideas about climate change morally objectionable, but when he says that 90% of his patients need to be told ‘to take some responsibility and grow the hell up,’ my instinct is that he’s absolutely right.

And I know that, because I need to hear it. Probably every day.

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