Jordan Peterson is trying to save the Western civilization by devising a post-Christian system of ethics

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Tanner Greer totally reevaluated everything he said about Jordan Peterson and now argues that Jordan Peterson is trying to save Western civilization by devising a post-Christian system of ethics:

The spectacular rise of Jordan Peterson has caught much of the world flat-footed. Discussions of the psychology professor from the University of Toronto tend to focus on the enormous popular movement his lectures have spawned, rather than the actual ideas presented in the lectures themselves. As a result, no one seems to know who the “real” Jordan Peterson is.

In a way, this is understandable. Peterson is a man of several personae. One Peterson is the inventor of an innovative and compelling neuropsychological model of human behavior. This is the Peterson presented in a dozen research articles reviewed and published by his academic peers.

Another Peterson dispenses pieces of practical advice and dispels progressive dogmas with a quiet, fatherly charisma. This is the Peterson made famous in podcasts, television interviews, and his best selling self-help book.

And this project is grand. It is nothing less than the revitalization of Western civilization itself.

Read the whole thing, of course.


  1. Alrenous says:

    Peterson’s ethics are grounded in things even official philosophy has debunked. We’ve played this tape before, we know how it ends.

  2. Slovenian Guest says:

    Or it may be something much simpler:

    “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?”

  3. Ted says:

    But Post-Christian may not negate Christianity, and I think Peterson even sees this.

  4. Graham says:

    Hmmm. Odd timing, this post, for me.

    I have not been following him. My sporadic impressions have I think shown points of disagreement for me, though not immediately recalling what those are.

    I have liked his resistance to the use of linguistic and conceptual manipulation in the alleged cause of liberation, particularly where said manipulation is so obviously unnecessary EXCEPT as a power move.

    His formulation here is pretty good, if that is a reasonable summary of him on this. Although less pithy than “kto, ktogo” [who. whom], it’s a more explicative listing of the techniques of power.

    His attempt to formulate a post-Christian ethics seems to not forego or preclude Christian concepts. If he also makes room for some pre-Christian concepts, I’m probably OK with him.

  5. Graham says:

    No idea what he says about manhood or fatherhood.

    One despairs anyway, on three counts.

    1. Every 3rd wave feminist list of toxic masculinity includes many elements of just plain masculinity that strike me as virtues.

    Stoicism, mission-focus, a bias for action.

    Men can and obviously do have and express feelings. Their bias should be to discipline and to the expression of those feelings where really warranted, to those who should hear them and are entitled to know them, and in the most constructive way available in the moment. Men can and should have and cherish relationships, but their bias should be to do things. Men can and should have introspection, but their bias should be to act. I would say that allows for women to exercise the male traits when it is their nature, but they tend to the opposite biases and even some strains of 3rd wave feminism would have agreed. None of that formulation should be a problem, and none of it is out of synch with ‘traditional masculinity’ as we knew and inherited it. Pointedly, it is a formulation which if followed precludes extreme forms of the cynicism of Game, the absurd manchildism of nerd culture, the equally manchildish gush that leads folks like Ben Sasse to proclaim that women as a class should be ‘loved, cherished and revered’, and indeed the sort of bizarre OCD mindset that produces murderous self-identified ‘niceguys’ like Elliot Rodger. Or annoying but harmless versions like fictional Ross Geller on Friends long ago. [That was once me, to a lesser extent...]

    For the record, I don’t claim my triune formulation above is complete. I made that up last night. Neither do I live up to it all that well. A man need not lose sleep over such weaknesses. There are real problems to deny one sleep.

    2. Every identification of the problem with boys and men, [if such there is as such... ], as in the NYT a few weeks ago, fails to note that progressives have controlled education and media for kids and to a lesser extent adults for 50 years. The message that boys have to be more like girls and release their feelings all over the place at all times has been the dominant message for all that time- so far from a cure, it is the problem. Give boys time for physical action in schools, whether its sports or not. [I hated both gym and organized sports and am no fitter now. But even I loved running around and playing unstructured games out of doors. Or self-structured or ad-hoc structured.] Give them reading work that isn’t so heavily about the experience of women. In a Canadian high school 30 years ago Shakespeare was our only assigned English Lit reading that was not. Let them have both. In retrospect, I learned a few things about one woman’s take on women and aging from reading Canadian writer Margaret Laurence, but it was a slog and I could have done with variety.

    It should not be difficult. But it begins with the left recognizing that their prescription has been implemented by co-religionists, and it is the problem.

    3. As above, the psychology of idiots like Elliot Rodger seems to me to be constantly misattributed.

    Whatever else one might say about the cynicism and utilitarianism of the Game people and their idea that “women are interchangeable”, guys like Rodger could do with hearing a somewhat gentler version of that. Men who believe that can do a lot of ill but they won’t turn into Elliott Rodger.

    I have been a romantic in my day and quite believe in the idea of love and the idea of finding a match, but teen boys who get into that OCD headspace about the one particular girl who ignores their niceness and supplication need a smack. I was once on the borders of that mindset. My mother gave me that smack, verbally. Women can cut through the crap of young, obsessive love. Fathers should be able to, too. And society should know the difference.

    Clearly no one was available to tell him it doesn’t work the way he thought, to go make something useful of himself, and find someone else.

    FWIW, all that strikes me as extraordinarily trad masculinity, and I see nothing in today’s world, technology, or what have you, that in any way renders it outdated.

  6. Graham says:

    Anyway… strange to find a Peterson post here as both he and these topics were oddly current for me this week. As evidenced.

    I’d like to think an ethics that roughly equates to the classical west on some level, with some of the softening provided by Christianity and a realist’s awareness of modern science, is a possible fusion. If it also allows for both sexes to pursue all career avenues and relate to one another honestly, we’re good.

  7. Kirk says:

    Was discussing this sort of thing just today, and what I think is going on here is that we’re still living in the lag time between “Change” and “Cultural adaptation”.

    Cultures change very, very slowly. You have a new “fact of life”, and it takes generations before that fact is integrated and routed around, in terms of cultural “software”.

    The male/female societal role issue here is a major one. Not so long ago, the attrition rate for young people was horrendous. Young men died in job lots, due to the risky nature of life and primitive medicine, while young women died for parallel reasons–Childbirth was once horrendously risky, and it was the rare woman who had easy, trouble-free births for multiple kids. Go out into the old graveyards, and look at the family plots–The number of women with large families who made it into old age were few and far between.

    This created a lot of effects in society, not the least of which was the role of women, which centered on producing the next generation. Educating them past a certain point was senseless; all that fine time and effort honing their minds at an institution like Harvard would have likely been wasted effort, the moment they got pregnant and died of childbed fevers. So, they mostly didn’t get educated, and the older men who they were married to generally did their best to make their short, circumscribed lives as pleasant as possible.

    That’s an effect of the conditions that were prevalent, back when. And, since those conditions changed…? Hoo-boy, have we had problems dealing with the implications and ramifications. Pregnancy no longer means you’re very likely to die; indeed, the few women we do lose in childbirth are seen as some sort of hugely unfair transgression against what is right, instead of the usual risks of the game working out. We still haven’t digested this fact, or compensated for it. Women have the primacy and role they had then, while the reasons have evaporated.

    We’re still in the lag time betwixt flash and bang; how long it will take to adapt to the actual conditions of our times? You have me, there, because I cannot tell you. But, I can point to where the problems lie, and why they’re still there, generations after they were last valid reasons for doing things the way we did them.

  8. Wang Wei Lin says:

    Without Christianity there is no Western civilization. Will there be a civilization? Of course, but without enlightenment.

  9. Bob Sykes says:

    There is no natural ethics to fall back on. The classical world Christianity arose in was a stew of corruption and violence, both public and private. For every Seneca there were a thousand Neros. Christianity did not merely moderate a few excesses; it imposed a moral vision on the whole society. And the great majority of people in the classical world that were its victims welcomed the change.

    The underlying problem, of course, is natural selection. What is selected for is reproductive success, and any attribute that promotes reproductive success becomes common in the species. This includes both altruistic behaviors that promote the group’s success, and selfish behaviors that exploit the group.

    With the general spread of atheism throughout the West, there is no countervailing power to suppress the brutes among us, and so we drift into the same world of corruption and violence that marked classical civilization.

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