psychology

Why Jordan Peterson is Not Profound – “Comrade” Hakim

Hakim

Hakim identifies as an Iraqi Marxist who makes social commentary videos from time to time. He has a Patreon which you can contribute to you if you appreciate his sentiments.


Before I start this, I want to note that I will be quoting heavily from a Current Affairs article that I found about Jordan Peterson, called, ‘The Intellectual We Deserve‘.

Jordan Peterson has seen huge success. Some people think he is very profound, and has convinced people to take him seriously – but all of this is even more interesting when you realise that he actually has almost nothing of value to say.

If you want to communicate like Jordan Peterson, it’s easy. You can do it like this:

  1. Make vague statements that are technically right
  2. Restate what you say
  3. Borrow terminology
  4. Make up theories with many interesting components
  5. Draw diagrams
  6. Always use italics, so you sound smarter
  7. Never be too specific
  8. Preach! Only you have the total truth!
  9. Never admit that you are wrong
  10. Never stop talking
  11. Be a white male – that definitely helps.

This becomes very evident after just a basic look through his work. His writing and speeches are confused, pretentious, or just plain bullsh*t.

Now if this were all really true, then why do people think he has something deep and ingightful to say?

A claim that surrounds him online, is that he is constantly misunderstood – as in in a UK Channel 4 news interview with Cathy Newman, where she is “constantly putting words in his mouth”, confirming the impression to those that view Peterson’s profundity is denigrated by “leftist media” — whatever that is — is collectively trying to smear Peterson by accusing him of ‘holding beliefs that he does not hold.’

OK. We need to take a look at his writing.

If his writing is profound and insightful, then Jordan must be profound and insightful…right?

Peterson’s fans say that those who do not like him, simply “do not understand what he is saying”. Taking a looks at this idea more closely, this misunderstanding happens because people – particularly on the left – are really trying to pin where he is ideologically.

Where does he fit into the overall scheme of things?

The reason why that is so difficult to accomplish is that he is constantly, consistently vague, so that is is actually difficult to understand what he is “actually saying”.

The Current Affairs article said it best: we can take his 1999 book ‘Maps of Meaning’, a 600-page summary of his basic theories that took Peterson 15 YEARS to complete. Maps of Meaning. Maps of Meaning talking about how human generate meaning, i.e., how a person figures out how to behave or act.

OK.

So let’s blow this open wide. Meaning to Peterson is:

“Meaning is the manifestation of the divine individual adaptive path. The lie is abandonment of individual interest – hence meaning, hence divinity – for safety and security; is sacrifice of the individual to appease the Great Mother and Great Father… Meaning is the ultimate balance between, on the one hand, the chaos of transformation and on the other, the discipline of pristine order.”

Dr. Jordan Peterson – ‘Maps of Meaning’

Peterson’s answer is that people figure out how to act by turning to a common set of stories which contain archetypes. These archetypes have developed over the course of our species’ evolution. Myths show values that have stood through the test of time and sustained throughout cultures, and can therefore inform the structures that guide people, generally speaking.

What he’s saying — if he really does mean ‘many human stories have common moral lessons’ — is essentially: common sense.

Common sense.

Nobody would think that to be particularly profound.

Hakim

As in the Current Affairs article, this actually gives his book a more coherent summary than it deserves.

Being vague is pretentious and makes it easy to sound profound:

“The multiplicity of possible interpretations is very important. It makes it almost impossible to beat Peterson in an argument, because every time one attempts to force him to defend a proposition, he can insist he means something else.”

Nathan J Robinson, ‘The Intellectual We All Deserve’

Being vague all the time means you’ll always win inside someone’s subjective reality

So he takes basic notions and extrapolates the meaning of life, ethics, law…and so much more. Let’s see:

“The individual, once capable of coherently integrating competing motivational demands in the pirate sphere, nonetheless remains destined for conflict with the other, in the course of the inevitable transformation of person experience…the person who has come to terms with him- or herself –at least in principle– is still subject to the affective dysregulation inevitably produced by interpersonal interaction.”

Oh my, what a word salad.

It sounds almost deep, or almost like a sacred text with hidden truths. Now he isn’t saying nothing. There is some truth to be found here; that some procedures [behaviours] are appropriate in one context, and not the other. That is not a particularly profound idea. So how does Peterson get around this? Well – it’s in abstract language. I believe it’s Einstein who said “if you can’t explain something simply, then you don’t understand it well enough’.

It’s not that Jordan Peterson doesn’t understand what he’s saying; it’s that he’s not saying much at all.

Vague, unfalsifiable and again – seemingly profound.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: