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In the previous post, I summarized a set of ideas advocated by Dr. Jordan Peterson and their relations and interdependencies. Here I will lay out my questions and suspicion about some of his presuppositions. And at the end, I provide a list of personal lessons I learned by listening to his interviews and lectures and reading his book.

Questions, Issues & Concerns

Organize your room

JP believes that if you can’t manage to get your room or generally speaking your own private life in order, you have no place in participating in solving more complex problems including climate change or inequality, etc. I agree with the premise of his belief that if people have not yet learned necessary competencies and problem solving and organizational techniques to tackle easy problems (e.g. cleaning up your room), they are not qualified to engage with movements to solve more complex problems, since they will be either easily fooled by opportunists or political hacks or inevitably fuck it up and make things worse. So I have no problem with this assertion. My problem lies with its practicality.

There are a few issues to be considered when advicing young ignorant generation to train themselves first before following a cause:

  • The energy and fuel of reforming movements such as women’s rights, anti-apartheid or anti-war demonstrations has primarily provided by young people (I’m assuming, maybe there are statistics showing otherwise). What would have happened in history if under-educated and disorganized students – or generally young people – wouldn’t have entered the political realm? Is real and necessary change possible by only admitting 30+ or 40+ bulk of the population to be activists?
  • As JP pointed out brilliantly in his Munk debate in response to the idiotic and racist comments of Dyson: let’s get precise! If you start setting a bar for people to be involved in any topic they care for, where is this bar precisely? How can they know whether they are now “allowed” to be an activist?
  • Following up on the previous issue, do many people even achieve this qualification? I consider myself a person who has a very good education (two Master’s and one PhD from the best technical university of Germany), reads a lot of books, has a considerable number of friends with different cultural and educational backgrounds and travels frequently (so far to 60+ countries). I also keep my apartment in a relatively good shape. HOWEVER, even I had some wrong or misleading ideas about how the world should work until a year ago. I supported equity, believed in the existence of patriarchy (a light version at least), I tried to be politically correct although I didn’t enjoy it, and I avoided responding to woke fanaticism because I didn’t notice how corrupt their ideology is. Now imagine a large part of population who didn’t have the opportunities I had and the necessary curiosity to hear to different sides and not be bamboozled into believing a dangerous ideology. Considering that, what percentage of the population “precisely” achieve the level of qualification that Dr. Peterson is suggesting to be mandatory before one participates in solving complex problems?
  • Lastly, is it productive to tell young and inexperienced people to get their hands off politics, since they still don’t understand the complexity of the system? First of all, is it realistic? Would they listen? And secondly, is it helpful?

My suggestion would be: maybe we should consider activism as random genetic mutations, that generally brings us forward in the long-term, despite the chaos they may inevitably create, when they pursue wrong measures or go down dangerous paths. It is better to try to guide  and steer them and educate them along the way, instead of prohibiting them from being active in the first place.

How to Fight Tyranny when the Pyramid is already Corrupted

Considering the pyramid of wealth and power is biologically and socially inevitable, as JP suggests, what is the remedy if one side gets corrupt (due to lack of proper interactions and constructive debates) and a large part of society gets fucked over by a very small minority? And what is the acceptable gap between the top and bottom 5% of the distribution? In other words, what is the best strategy to follow when a system has become too unstable and corrupt due to mind-blowing gaps in both wealth and power? Is chaos and downfall inevitable? Or is there a way to stabilize the system?

It seems things in the US have got out of hand, since a very small minority has an enormous amount of wealth of power. How can they dodge a civil war? Or is it too late?

Where to draw the line between evolution and humanity

This is not a new question, but I still haven’t found any acceptable answers: if we reference lobsters and chimpanzees and rats to justify certain biological traits and behavior or some social structures (e.g. dominance hierarchy), where do we draw a line between hardwired “animalty” and human virtues?

Let me formulate it more clearly: There are certain moral actions and rules we have adopted that are in contrast to evolution and animal kingdom. These are values that “elevate” us, as Jonothan Haidt points out in his wonderful book “The Happiness Hypothesis“. We do certain things that are in contrast to our hardwired biological attributes: we don’t eat our children even in time of desperation (well, mostly at least), we do not kill the weak in a society to be more productive, we do not rape randomly in order to spread our genes. We do not abandon the sick when they are of no use anymore. We enforce monogamy. We believe in karma and morality. So the argument of “suck it up since it has been like this for the past 350 million years” doesn’t seem very strong to me. JP described these biological traits as the rule of a chess game, when one can still make some moves and decide freely how to pursue the game. The question is, when does something hardwired become a chess rule, and when is it a chess move?

Sanctity of Ancient Texts

My observations indicate that JP believes that ancient text, particularly Bible are true and full of wisdom, if seen from a mythological and symbolic perspective. The relatively persuasive argument is that if there were no truth in these texts, they wouldn’t have survived the time and passed on from generation to generation. Fair enough. But this presupposition contradicts itself when he dismissed Islam as a valuable religion, because of its advocacy of violence or harsh reactions to certain activities (e.g. you get killed if you leave Islam and convert to something else).

If we accept his argument that a text has undeniable truth because it has survived history, we should accept Quran as a source of truth as well. Which is fine, until we notice the obvious contradictions between Christianity and Islam. I don’t have an answer for this conundrum, but I would be eager to know his response.

Polyamory and Communes

JP constantly points out immense value of starting a family and see monogamy as a suitable utility to ensure the sustainability of its structure. The arguments are fair and understandable, and I totally agree. Two parents is better than one, as the data on education, career success, happiness and health suggests. And there is risk in jeopardizing the entity of family by being promiscuous. Fair enough. I would like to know his idea on multi-parents families, the so-called communes. I tried polyamory for a while a few years back and figured out it’s not a good approach for a sustainable relationship for me. However, I assume it works for some people with different interests and needs. I was discussing the issue of polyamory and its practicality for a better life. The conclusion was that polyamory could only be a viable option in one particular setting: when more than two people are in relationship with all others in the group, an all of them compatible (very unlikely to happen, but possible). It doesn’t mean that other forms of polyamory suck, they are simply too likely to fail in the long run due to the practical aspect and lack of resources, even if we ignore biology-based jealousy and competition.

Would he see a commune-like family an extension of the family construct, or a threat to it? Probably his answer would be that there is not enough empirical data on it to draw a conclusion. But I’m still curious about his personal opinion on the subject. 🙂

Well I guess that was it. You can also read my review of 12 Rules for Life. Peace.

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