Long post incoming; long story short I've been around the demographics of people who get sucked into this stuff, and I enjoy reading about academic philosophy and enjoy looking at the standards of intellectualism on popular platforms like youtube, so this intersects with my interests enough that I've spent a decent amount of time looking into it. Hopefully someone finds it interesting enough to read, if not, I'll propably have enjoyed crystalizing my thoughts anyway.
I have no beef with Peterson's psychology, like his self-help guides. For all I know, they're perfectly fine. His philosophy however is another story.
Peterson's is a standard story where the media, old or social doesn't care about academics talking about subjects they know about, about expert consensus, nor about popularizers who educate people on those topics responsibly.
Instead, they love these renegade scholars
, people rejected by the mainstream, who usually go out of their discipline and start talking about stuff they don't understand. Perhaps some people don't notice it not being familiar with the topics, but once again Peterson isn't famous for his psychology, not at all. It's the commentary about disciplines he doesn't know he spreads surrounding it that catches people's attention.
His ideas about religion are perhaps interesting, but to think that it's a metatruth that is more real than truth, and to use it to go to such certain conclusions? It's hard to believe for me anyone falls for that, and yet they do, perhaps because they like the conclusions. Listen to his podcast on Joe Rogan Experience for his explanation of these "hypertruths", and don't forget to pause and think how these (often) atheist, rationalist fans of his can take this stuff in and not wonder if they've been bamboozled somehow.
His ideas about dominance hierarchies are once again just some basic intuitions about evolution that allow him to get into absurdly certain conclusions, like that feminists are there to destroy the proper meritocratic dominance hierarchies that are there for a reason. Well then, why isn't it the other way around, why after he was rejected by academia didn't he decide that perhaps the oldest meritocratic dominance hierarchy rejected him? You see, there's little reason to go one way or the other, it's just using this vague intuition to support whatever he wants. Much easier to pull this in the space of youtube where nobody even knows any philosophers who would disagree with him; he's can just be another one of those youtubers that make self-encompassing content and rant about debate and dialectic while enjoying fandom which largely doesn't engage with their detractors, and feeding them stuff that wouldn't pass a critical mind.
Next up he is a hardcore pragmatist, listen to the pianful Sam Harris podcast with him on this. For all of his views about horrible truth rejecting postmodernists, he rejects the idea of truth that nearly all of us take in favor of a murky view of truth that allows him to take his conservative positions and go to where he wants with his rants. What a surprise.
Note how most of what he says that is relevant is actually philosophy, even if a lot of it is based on psychology underneath. I would generally celebrate scientists who read philosophy, however you must approach it with humility, not just reference it a bit and go into your baseless rants to justify whatever views you want to have. Furthermore, it is ironic that he bases nearly everything on philosophy, including stuff where scientific data could be of use (like student radicalism, how dangerous is it, how many radicals are there etc - in his thought that is mostly based on philosophy); that is because he has himself criticized other strands of psychologists and scientists for not being scientific
In terms of postmodernism, it has been well covered that he has no idea what is going on, he is yet another bullshit about postmodernism dealer
online. Just read wokeupabug's comments in that thread M1zzu recently linked
, as well as so many others
- it explains how his main source is not at all one you should trust. The forum there is askphilosophy, the user linked has a PhD in philosophy. I wish I could link famous philosophers for this kind of stuff, but they don't like giving these youtube intellectuals and renegade scholars recognition too much. The more I hear of Peterson, the more I wonder if he read anything of postmodernist philosophy, since the only views he seems to espouse perfectly match bullshit dealers like Hicks, and he NEVER EVER seems to properly engage Derrida, Lyotard etc.
For all I know, he could be reading neofeudalist conspiracy nuts like Dugin as well. For all of his love of debate and challenge, I would be interested to see him discuss postmodernism with someone who has read the actual books, yet I cannot find that. The worst thing about these people is that there is no way anyone with even the most cursory understanding of postmodernism would mistake Hicks or Peterson as knowledgeable about it; yet it spreads like wildfire. Some of the most dumb misunderstanding of it is perfectly incapsulated in this comic
- note the explanation below the comic. The comic itself satirizes the fact that postmodernism is literally the opposite of feminism or marxism, it is as sceptical of metanarratives like them as it is of scientism or judaism. So blaming it for marxism is the dumbest thing you can do. I've personally had this conversation with Peterson's disciples like 50 times; none of them know the first thing about postmodernism and are stumped by these basic questions. This is concerning a school of thought that many of them are sure is trying to bring the downfall of western civilization, mind you - and few if any of them know the most basic things about it.
Cultural marxism is more of the same, it's a repeat of an old nazi conspiracy theory called cultural bolshevism that has to do with a real term... Only the term is about an obscure school of thought that is not even related to any of the claims people make about cultural marxism. It's just another nonsense term to throw around and talk about as much as you want, with no basis. Once again you have to wonder how many of these youtube intellectuals boil down to reading conspriacy theorists to get this stuff
. However by now it is a real industry of people repeating the same shit and explaining it as the cause of feminism or transgenderism or whatever they like, with their viewers gobbling it up without any regard for going to the sources which couldn't possibly show anything like it. Makes you wonder how they can doublethink their way into doing that while still considerig themselves intellectuals. Very few people repeating this nonsense even know what critical theory is, yet they're sure as it is bringing the downfall of western civilization. Talk about drinking the kool-aid.
Perhaps the worst is his rejection of academia, although this story is as old and unsurprising as academia itself. I won't go into it too much, just point out that after all he has said on the limited basis he has said it, he also uses to reject like half of academia. Here's a link, onwards for like 3 minutes. Like every other time a person rejects academia, you have to wonder about their standards of evidence. What makes him say what academia gives is worse than what he is teaching, under what standard of evidence, what kind of people accept this, and what makes them do that? The story of anti-intellectualism (and this is cookie-cutter anti-intellectualism at that) is old as time, so I hope it doesn't need repeating. For more ridiculousness, look at his online university project.
From all I've learned about his ideas on law, on C16, they seem to be wrong
as well, but this is largely outside this context so I won't go into it other than dropping a link.
Note how all of this connects. Peterson goes outside of his field, talks of things that have nothing to do with his own research. Starts talking philosophy without having any proper expertise of it. Shows no proper capacity to understanding it; simply repeats some basic talking points he got out of secondary sources at best. Gets rejected by all academics I could find that comment on his expertise wrt it. Yet still repeats it and draws conclusions based on it. Adds some metaphorical religion hypertruths, lobster dominance hierarchy memes, completes it with hardcore pragmatism that rejects truth as we know it in favor of what HE considers practical truth. All of these are used to get at his conclusions, which are for the most part just conservative talking points - responsibility, respect your superiors, whatever we have is good don't go around messing with it, hardcore traditionalism, religion, anti-feminism, anti-socialism, the left has gone mad, the left hates debate and free speech, one could go on and on. So he makes a bunch of typical claims for a very traditionalist conservative, that's fine, he's allowed to be rightwing. But once someone makes that many different haphazard, sly, shitty rationales for the same positions, you have to wonder how they were arrived at. Perhaps he just uses whatever philosophy he could find to attack leftwing views and defend christian, conservative, traditionalist views.
Now, I know he has some centre-leftwing positions... But note how they're quite limited, he really doesn't focus on them. The standard 'I guess gay people are okay' stuff. I quite strongly dislike this nonsense where every rightwinger has to be a leftist or ex-leftist in this shitty media landscape we live in. Just own your views, stop trying to deligimaze your opponents in a sly way by pretending to be one of them while really not bein one of them. He's not a prime example of this, but I already suspect that someone will point this out to me so I had to type it out.
Another curious point is how these religious metaphorical metatruths as well as these views on evolutionary pragmatism limit one's certainty of their own views. You could apply the same to his ideas about dominance hierarchies (basically lobsters) and traditionalism as well. Evolutionary pragmatism especially is known within philosophy to give you a very pessimistic view of human knowledge, since humans are only need to understand whatever evolution needed us to understand. Under such views, we should consider ourselves extremely lucky to know as much as we do about science and math, we should forever doubt it. We should certainly be careful about having very clear, bold conclusions about social science, or especially ones about politics and where certain schools of thought will lead. That drives a sharp contrast with Peterson's views about where feminism or socialism would lead, as well as his views on how authoritarianism works that he explains in his lectures (available on his youtube). His views are incredibly ambitious and certain, going from people's honesty with themselves into entire political regimes, going from one honest person to a fall of entire regimes. Sure, these could be interesting metaphors to be explored... But he goes well beyond what I would consider reasonable standards of doubt, arrives at very ambitious conclusions, let alone one's that you'd be supposed to have with this pragmatist, traditionalist, evolutionary-biology informed philosophy. Once again, makes you wonder how he manages to arrive at these ;)
Since I assume that a lof of you might be sceptical of this, go ahead and ask for more sources if you want in terms of something more particular. So there's that. Thanks for reading.