Jordan Peterson - Political Correctness and Postmodernism

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over the years on this day Jed idea city I've had very many speakers address the issue of environmentalism the issue of the planet taking positions that are generally identified as progressive and and among them are very important people and I was pleased to have them here and in fact pleased to know them his friend Bobby Kennedy jr. came and spoke at least twice Wade Davis has been here twice Marc Matson who heads up the Ontario water keeper sapore Behrman who at the time was heading up a thing called forest ethics Rob Stewart who we memorialized earlier in the day speaking on behalf of sharks Jim Harris who spoke here yesterday and as a regular in our conference Rex weyler ex of Greenpeace Maude Barlow speaking on behalf of water Deepak Chopra and so on and in all that time I never once had anybody either by phone or by email or by letter or whatever object and immediately demand that the other side needed to be expressed or that these people should be suppressed and yet a couple years ago when I brought forward people who had I thought some legitimate skepticism about some of the positions that were being espoused when I had Patrick Moore one of the founders of Greenpeace when I had Lord Nigel Lawson very reasoned carefully thought through eminent personality from the United Kingdom Matt Ridley one of the finest writers I know for the tremendous book called rational optimism I can go on with this list suddenly the hectoring began suddenly I was getting the tweet suddenly there was all this outrage that not only were these people not correct but I shouldn't be letting them to speak and that's what got me going because I began to notice over time that increasingly the so-called progressives were increasingly unprogressive there are the people who didn't want to hear from anybody else and lately there appears to be a kind of momentum for this kind of thinking particularly present in our campuses over the years speaking on the question of sexual persona I've had any number of people who have spoken from the perspective of someone growing trends from female to male anybody remember buck yeah yeah buck angel when I had his name down here we've had I remember Nina Arsenault who I think was on the journey going in the other direction we've had various people speak about asexuality people speaking about hyper sexuality and so on interesting all of them but only recently with the discussion of trends and the appropriate etiquette in addressing trans people have we seen this new phenomenon of objecting to anybody's opinion other than these hallowed sacred cow like opinions so not a very elegant introduction but I'm trying to lead to the presence of dr. Jordan Peterson here a man who's been at the center of this kind of controversy for a while and it leads to a discussion of political correctness what has happened to our discourse in society in particular in our institutions of higher learning where we appear to have developed a form of student who never wants to hear a negative word and they have come to university to find a safe place not a place that opens up their minds and causes them to engage in ideas so we have two speakers who are going to pursue this theme the first is Jordi Peterson thank you for coming and then we'll hear from Barbara okay [Applause] so I want to talk to you about what is politically correct and what is politically incorrect by politically incorrect I mean wrong but we'll start with what is politically correct as far as I can tell political correctness is an a paradoxical amalgam of post-modernism which originated as a form of philosophy and literary criticism and Marxism or Neel Marxism and I'll explain why that's paradoxical I think all of the phenomena to which Moses was referring are a consequence of the juxtaposition of those two systems of ideas and so what I want to do too briefly is to explain both systems of ideas and then to critique both and their juxtaposition and so obviously I can only deal with the central claims and and hope to do that with any degree of clarity so let's start with post-modernism the first thing to understand about the post modernists are that they are by no means unintelligent quite the contrary Jacques Derrida for example and Michel Foucault for that matter two famous French public intellectuals who are both at or near the head of what you might describe as the postmodern intellectual revolution are extraordinarily intellectually capable that doesn't mean they're correct by any stretch of the imagination but it certainly means that they're more than able to put together a an argument that's difficult to disentangle and so we'll start with it what I think is the most central power the most powerful central claim of post-modernism a claim which i think is actually correct and which also has bedeviled many other fields including surprisingly enough artificial intelligence the claim is something like there is an infinite number of ways to interpret any even finite set of phenomena and and and that actually happens to be true it's part of the reason why it's been so difficult for human beings to develop artificial intelligence and for them to develop machines that could operate in real world environments because it turns out that the world is so complex that perceiving it appears virtually impossible technically speaking we heard a little bit earlier the previous talk about embodied cognition and one of the ways psychologists are trying to address the issue of the impossibility of perception is to note that perception is impossible without situating the mind in a body that has a certain set of constraints we also devote a tremendous amount of our neurological landscape to to sensory processing so that when we look at the world it can manifest itself in the self-evident way that it appears to but that doesn't mean that it's a simple problem it's a very complicated problem and the post modernists were technically correct there's there's a there's a near infinite number of ways to to perceive and interpret a finite number of phenomena now you see the thing that's interesting about that claim apart from the fact that it happens to be technically true is that you can use it to mount an assault on any interpretation of anything whatsoever because there is a tremendous variability in the number of interpretations that you could bring to bear on a situation then you can instantly jump to the conclusion or expound the proposition that none of those interpretations should be privileged amount above all above any others now that's actually wrong and this is why post-modernism is correct in its central assumption but incorrect in its secondary assumption now the reason it's wrong is because although there is a very large number of potential interpretations of the world that does not mean that there is an equally large number of viable interpretations of the world now you might say well what constitutes constraints on the viability of an interpretation and I would say well there's an um of them and I think you have to understand this in the context of living creatures viewing and interpreting the world and also within a broader evolutionary context the way that evolution solves the problem of the infinite number of potential interpretations is by killing every single thing that interprets things badly enough to die right and so on I mean this this is actually one of the most powerful arguments for the necessity of the evolutionary for the necessity of the accuracy of the evolutionary theory it's it's that you know it's taken three and a half billion years of evolution to produce creatures of our sort who can interpret the world which is impossible to interpret well enough to live for approximately 80 years and to have some reasonable chance of propagating during that period of time three and a half billion years and that's the best we've been able to do it's a very complicated problem and evolution solves that problem by producing a tremendous number of variants and then killing almost all of them and so death is the solution to the problem with interpretation and it's a terrible solution but the point I'm trying to make there is that interpretations are constrained by such things primary things that happen to be relevant to living beings like suffering and death so those are the first sets of constraints your interpretations of the world should shield you to the degree possible from excess suffering and death it doesn't seem to be too debatable of proposition unless you're aimed in the suicidal direction and so so we can start by merely pointing that out we also might point out that such things as the necessity for cooperating and competing with others also constrains the interpretations that you're allowed in the world especially given that not only do you have to cooperate and compete with people one time but that you have to cooperate and compete with often the same people many times in many different contexts and so that not only do you have to interpret the world so that you can cooperate and compete but those people you have to do it in a manner that can be iterated and repeated and that constitutes also an extraordinary series constraints so you don't want to suffer too much and you don't want to die and you want to be able to cooperate with people and you want to be able to compete with them and you want to be able to do that over long periods of time and then maybe you also want to do it with an aim in mind because generally we have aims in mind and so there are things that we like to have more than other things and so we aim at those and then we have to constrain our interpretation so that when we enact them in the world the probability that what we're aiming at is going to happen will improve and all of those constraints operates operate simultaneously and what that implies and I think Jean Piaget the developmental psychologist maybe went farther along this line of thinking than anyone else I know about anyways it's sort of an elaboration of Kant's fundamental ethical Maxim which was something like act as if the thing that you're doing will be done by everyone and but the piagetian sense was more like act as if the thing that you'll be doing needs to be repeated endlessly in a manner that moves up instead of down it's something like that but the point is is that there's there's tremendous constraints on the manner in which we can interpret the world from any realistic perspective so the criticism that there are an infinite number of interpretations falls apart on closer examination so that's that's the first place that the post modernists are seriously wrong they radically underestimated the intrinsic constraints on on on interpretation now the next so that so and then the central claim of Marxism and the post modernism and Marxism tend to be aligned which is very strange thing is that the best way to view the world is through the lens of oppressed and oppress a presser and oppressed now the funny thing about that is if you're a post modernist is that that's actually an interpretation right it's a Marxist interpretation and the interpretation is that the best way to look at the world is through the lens of oppressor versus oppressed but if you're a post modernist you don't get to have a canonical interpretation because your whole damn theory is predicated on the notion that you don't get to have a canonical interpretation because no interpretation is better than any other interpretation so then you might ask well apart from the fact that the infinite number of interpretations argument is wrong in any practical sense why in the world would you allow your postmodern deconstructionist philosophy to remain nested in Marxism so that's the next question because it certainly is and if you read Derrida for example or Foucault and if you look at the intellectual history of the postmodern movement which expanded Radek rapidly in the 1970s you find that it's no secret that the post modernists emerged out of an underlying Marxist framework and never they didn't abandon they merely modified it so it went from burgeois zi against proletariat to you know one identity group after against the other but it was still oppressor oppressed narrative it's just a sleight of hand so the question is well why in the world if you make the central claim that no narrative is to be privileged why in the world you would you accept your alliance with Marxism and so the first answer to that might be the optimistic one which is that the post modernists and the radicals who are driving the politically correct movement are actually sincere in their desire to help the oppressed and so we could say having established the fact that there's an absolute plethora of interpretations and dispensing with the notion that any of those are canonical or valued above any others we can still act like decent human beings and try to take care of people who are less fortunate than us now as an intellectual argument that's a really bad one because you don't get to have the first proposition and the second proposition simultaneously but I would also say that respect for coherence and logic is not the strong suit of post modernists and that's actually a technical part of their theory so but the problem with that theory as far as I can tell and this obviously actually happens to be a big problem was that by the late late 1960s even French intellectuals as boneheaded as jean-paul Sartre finally had to agree that the evidence what pouring in from places like the Maoist China and Stella and stir the selling of Soviet Union or the post Ellyn Soviet Union were revealing abhorrent political practices on such and such an at such a level of magnitude and undeniable 'ti that even a French intellectual had to admit that there was something wrong and so by the end of the 1960s it became impossible to simultaneously claim that you actually had concern for the oppressed or even for the oppressor for that matter and also claimed that you would abide by the tenets of Marxism as a functional economic and political doctrine no one would do that and I think that the cap was put on that by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the mid 70s so I don't buy the postmodern argument that it's compassion that's driving the postmodern alliance with Marxism I don't buy that a bit because I think that if these if the postmodernists were compassionate and they were using that as the default aim in their life let's say because they don't have any other aim because of their postmodern relativism you'd have to accept the compassion idea but because they're ignoring the historical reality that the doctrines that they're trying to put into practice where murderous beyond beliefs and I can't accept the argument that it's compassion that's driving it so it's wrong that way too and then the next thing is that so what's the alternative I guess what's the alternative well Nietzsche interestingly enough I think figured out the alternative almost how long is it no more than 150 years ago now it's pretty damn amazing you know here's an amazing thinker Nietzsche knew for example and he wrote about this in his notebooks in will to power that the nihilistic doctrines that would emerge in the clock in in the aftermath of the demolition of the theological and philosophical substructure of the West that he associated with the revelation of the death of God would produce a form of political catastrophe and he identified it specifically believe it or not with communism and that was back in like 1850 1860 I can't believe he did it and that that would kill tens to hundreds of millions of people in the 20th century now Nietzsche also said well maybe that wouldn't be too hard too high a price to pay if we actually learn something from it but it isn't obvious that we have and it's certainly not obvious that the postmodernist said that let's say infest the modern universities have been willing to learn anything at all from 20th century history not least a lesson that the egalitarian and equality equity oriented doctrines that they're attempting to foist upon young people in this cult like educational manner or anything but murderous anyways here's what Nietzsche said he could really turn a phrase man for the man be delivered from revenge that is for me the bridge to the highest hope and a rainbow after long storms the tarantulas of course would have it otherwise quote what justice means to us is precisely that the world will be filled with the storms of our revenge end quote thus they speak to each other we shall wreak vengeance and abuse on all who's equals we are not thus do the tarantula hearts vow and will to equality shall henceforth be the name for virtue and against all that has power we want to raise our clamour you preachers of equality the tyrant mania of impotence clamors thus out of you for equality your most secret ambition is to be tyrants and shroud themselves shroud yourselves in words of virtue now you know that's a pretty major criticism and it's one that to me actually explains the paradoxical the perverse paradoxes that sit at the bottom of the otherwise understandable union between the post modernists and the marxist so you lay out the argument again like this the post modernists have it that there are no canonical interpretations of the world I already told you why that's a foolish foolish stance in my estimation but even assuming it's true then what that would mean is that you don't get to ally yourself with doctrines such as Marxism but of course the post modernists do and so what that means is because you can't come up with a logical explanation for that let's call it unholy Union you have to look elsewhere for an explanation but you can't look to compassion itself which is the explanation that's offered because the doctrines that are being promoted to be implemented in the service of mankind have demonstrated themselves as few other doctrines ever have as murderous and tyrannical beyond belief so you don't get that so then what what's left over well here's another thing that's interesting about the post modernists in their world there's nothing but power right nothing exists but power and so the landscape for the post modernists is that the world is a sequence of pyramids of hierarchies of power all of them equally unjust and unreliable let's say because there's an infinite number of interpretations and all that is establishing the relationship within those hierarchies in between those hierarchies is power now you know obviously that's a conclusion that is cynical beyond comprehension and reprehensible beyond belief not least because it's so it reduces a very complex reality to a very simple simple single cause but it also the thing is I've been trying to figure out why this emphasis on power above all else while you think well the basic claim of an infinite number of interpretations is incorrect there's no logical reason for the relationship between post-modernism and Marxism there's no logical reason to believe on the face of the evidence that that's driven by compassion its allied with this sense that nothing exists but power well that has returned to Nietzsche's explanation for resentment it's what's driving the entire enterprise is the fact that people in the Academy let's say intellectuals in the Academy look out at the world and they notice that there are others who are respected perhaps more than they are and there are others that have perhaps more than they are and that goods are in equitably distributed beyond them and the consequence of that is the emergence of the tremendous resentment that Nietzsche spoke of the desire of that resentment is to pull down the hierarchies by criticizing them that's the motivation for positing the infinite number of potential interpretations because if there's an infinite number of potential interpretations and your interpretation privileges you to a particular position of power and I can undermine the your claim to the validity of that interpretation then I can logically demolish your claim that you deserve whatever power authority privilege etc it goes along with that position well the other it also allows me to usurp it it allows me to use it for my own purposes it allows me to take power and control and since the post modernists have already claimed that all that exists is power why should we assume that there is anything whatsoever that motivates them especially given the other incoherent paradoxes that are that are a part and parcel of the doctrine and its alliance with Marxism why should we assume that it is anything at all other than the naked will to power that motivate it activates the doctrine well that's what I've been thinking about for like intensely more intensely than usual for about the last eight months you know when I've got it boiled down to something approximating 15 minutes which is a bit short a bit short a bit a period of time that's a bit short to deal with such things but I would certainly at least invite you to think about it because I don't see that I haven't been able to figure out any way out of the logical argument that I just presented to you and if that argument is correct then that's a diagnosis for why what's happening in the political correct world and actually what its motivations are and I believe that my argument is it's accurate it's accurate and it's destroying the universities and it's invading the rest of our society and the idea that there's something good behind it that's a dangerous idea I don't think so I think what's behind it is exactly what Nietzsche noted 150 years ago it's resentment and the demand for power disguising itself most reprehensibly as compassion and it's time for the mask of that to be taken off and things set straight before we walk further down a path that will lead to no good than we've already walked down thank you Jordan Jordan just just to help the audience I'd like to bring it back to the shitstorm that was created by the fact if I understood correctly that you refused to address trans people by the pronouns that they claimed to prefer that there are many such pronouns that there are suddenly many more genders than we have previously been familiar with and that you took a position that the language is based on him and her and that's how you were going to continue to talk to people is that an accurate description in Scituate home with all due respect it's not I mean it's it's it's it's approximately accurate but it's not accurate in the details when I made the first video criticizing Bill c16 which the Canadian Senate just approved yesterday by the way so now compelled speech by the way is a reality in Canada I will be soon when I made the first video what I said was that I objected to the legislated necessity to use a kind of language that had its roots in a philosophy that I regard as detestable and that would be the postmodern neo Marxist ideology and these pronouns the transgender issue is a sideshow as far as I'm concerned and believe me as far as many transgendered people are concerned too because many of them have written to me the issue isn't that it's that when you see the linguistic territory especially by legislative Fiat to your ideological opponents they win and as far as I'm concerned they're not going to win because I'm by getting me to say what they want me to say because I'm not going to say what they want me to say now I never refused to address any student whatsoever by any pronoun at all and what I said when I made the videos was not only was this bill producing a legislative structure especially when interpreted within the policy guidelines of the Ontario Human Rights Commission which is how it's going to be interpreted that that that legislated compelled speech had also instantiated a postmodern Neel Marxist social constructionist of gender into our legal fabric which is exactly what happened and if you think that's going to be good for transgender people or homosexual people you got a second thought coming because one of the things that's claimed in that legislation is that sexual identity in its various sorts it's purely socio culturally constructed which is what the right-wing conservatives have been telling the homosexuals since like 1920 so we just written a law that purports to protect people who very let's say in their gender identity and with by implication say their sexual identity we've just written in a dog a doctrine that the enemies of that idea would have been using for 60 years to say well if it's just so sealed culturally determined why don't you just stop doing it which is exactly the right response so anyways I made this video saying that I weren't wasn't going to use these words and what happened and why and what happened was well initially I was you know called out and perhaps rightly so because you should call out social critics right that's what you should do I was I was challenged with in relationship to my potential bigotry and racism and all the other things that are casually thrown at people when they make a public statement about such things but no it didn't have anything to do with actually refusing to to address any given student by any given pronoun I mean you never taught you never address people by third-person pronouns anyways right it's just not something that happens now one other thing sorry to be so lengthy in the answer but the other thing I would like to point out is that if this was about the pronouns that should be used to address transgender people like a thousand people would watch that video it would have bored most of them to death and it would have disappeared in about 15 seconds from the public imagination and that is not what's happened and that's because that's not what this is about so it's about I think you know I don't think I formulated my argument is perfectly as I could have today but I'm getting close to getting it down to like a 15 minute solid 15 minutes yeah
Channel: ideacity
Views: 913,810
Rating: 4.8779421 out of 5
Keywords: ZoomerMedia, ideacity, idea city, ideas, lectures, talks, moses znaimer, jordan peterson, political correctness, postmodernism, marxism, philosophy, language, psychology, clinical psychology, free speech, college campus, college, university, education, lindsay shephard, freedom of speech
Id: f5rUPatnXSE
Channel Id: undefined
Length: 27min 51sec (1671 seconds)
Published: Tue Sep 12 2017
Reddit Comments

I don't think that's very reasonable to expect people to watch a half hour video just to find fallacies in it. I don't even know who this person is. Do you perhaps have a specific statement you were curious about?

👍︎︎ 4 👤︎︎ u/onctech 📅︎︎ Mar 19 2018 🗫︎ replies
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