John Holbo drills down to the contradiction in the Peterson/Shapiro axis


Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, and Dave Rubin walk into a podcast and…it’s all one big joke! John Holbo thinks it’s funny, anyway. The three of them engage in their usual pseudo-philosophical babble — I’ll include a tiny sample of their long-winded gassing here, but there’s more at the link. Even more if you go to the original source, but I wouldn’t want to inflict that kind of pain on anyone.

Peterson: Here’s the idea. Imagine that you are in some sense the embodiment of that paternal spirit that has characterized mankind since the dawn of time. It’s locked in you, it’s part of your potential. That’s coded in part biologically, but it’s also coded sociologically, in the air and the mythos and the stories we tell each other … [snip out some stuff about Christianity]. It [the image] starts to force you to develop. The socialization. The stress of that transforms you biologically. That won’t be unlocked until you place yourself in the position … [snip more stuff about Christianity] … you actually produce a psycho-physiological-spiritual transformation that matures you into the representation of the Father on earth.

It must be nice to just wave your hands and claim that some complex phenomenon is coded biologically, without ever having to do the work to justify it. But here, Holbo is more interested in that idea that you’re the embodiment of a paternal spirit that also isn’t justified with evidence. You’re expected to accept it because feelings, and of course Ben Feelings Don’t Care About Facts Shapiro concurs.

The discussion concerns, so to speak, the status of certain feelings. You have a feeling that a certain image of positive masculinity (paternalistic, dominant) is valid, exemplary, normatively binding.

So: what is the status of this feeling?

Peterson speculates, on the basis of evolutionary psychology, that: facts care about his feeling. Shapiro backs him up by arguing that Aquinas and Leibniz concur. There has to be a reason why things are as they are, including our feelings about positive masculinity. There must be something underlying it! (My feeling can’t be resting on nothing. That would imply I am like a snowflake, liable to melt. Abzu forbid!)

Note: this is only masculine feelings. Facts care about guy feelings. It’s a priori!

To be fair, Peterson doesn’t claim certainty. But, to be fairer: the whole thing seems so transparently Just-So-Story-ish wishful and (to spin it in the most charitable way) wildly indulgent in rank speculation. (And Leibniz!) The conspicuously uncritical quality of it, especially in light of Shapiro’s famous catch-phrase?

Well, I thought it was funny.

Hey, I thought it was hilarious! But then, if you find entertainment in contradictions and pretentious foolishness stated with pompous certainty, then Peterson and Shapiro are world-class comedians.

Comments

  1. raven says

    Peterson: Here’s the idea. Imagine that you are in some sense the embodiment of that paternal spirit that has characterized mankind since the dawn of time. It’s locked in you, it’s part of your potential. That’s coded in part biologically, but it’s also coded sociologically, in the air and the mythos and the stories we tell each other … [snip out some stuff about Christianity]. It [the image] starts to force you to develop. The socialization. The stress of that transforms you biologically. That won’t be unlocked until you place yourself in the position … [snip more stuff about Christianity] … you actually produce a psycho-physiological-spiritual transformation that matures you into the representation of the Father on earth.

    .1. This is gibberish.
    .2. I could try to translate it from Gibberish into English.
    .3. I think Peterson is saying that becoming the father to a child changes you.
    Well, duh.
    This is trivial and obvious.
    And, so what.
    That he can’t just explain this in one sentence is an example of warped thinking on his part.

    And oh yeah, becoming the mother of a child also changes you.

  2. raven says

    Peterson the idiot:
    you actually produce a psycho-physiological-spiritual transformation that matures you into the representation of the Father on earth.

    Cthulhu, when Peterson isn’t being incoherent, he is just plain dumb.

    What Father in heaven?
    He means the xian Sky Monster gods I guess.

    But he has it backwards.
    We humans aren’t representations or copies of the gods.
    The gods are copies of us because we made them up.

    There is even hard science data on this, a PNAS paper.
    The gods are just sock puppets that exist only in people’s brains.
    As good sock puppets do, they hate what we hate and want for us, what we want for ourselves.

  3. raven says

    Ben Shapiro with the toxic personality:
    The discussion concerns, so to speak, the status of certain feelings.
    You have a feeling that a certain image of positive masculinity (paternalistic, dominant) is valid, exemplary, normatively binding.

    This is just sick in the head right wingnut troll stuff.
    Ben Shapiro’s dream is normal people’s nightmares.

    It is also an assertion without proof or data and may be dismissed without proof or data.
    It is just wrong.
    Ben Shapiro is a creepy troll that anyone who values their life and sanity would run away from.

  4. Jeremy Shaffer says

    The stress of that transforms you biologically.

    Funny, I thought Peterson and Shapiro were all about biology being undoubtably absolute, and incapable of transformation… or, should I say, transitioning. Though, as PZ notes, it’s all based on feelings, which Shapiro should have something to say about but as he and his fellow pseudo-intellectuals have demonstrated before feelings and facts are one and the same; the distinction, as with all other matters, merely depends on the principles from which they’re borne out.

  5. Artor says

    “The stress of that transforms you biologically.”

    It’s true! As I have grown into being a dominant male, the pelt on my back has turned silver, just like in my near relatives, the gorillas. Or maybe that’s just a result of pushing 50?

  6. hemidactylus says

    Trying to decipher Peterson here I am so glad to be reading Pinker instead. Clear, crisp, though not so concise.

    This very slanted article on Pinker sets the tone well for figuring out Peterson:
    https://jacobinmag.com/2018/10/steven-pinker-enlightenment-now-review

    “For on the entropic, fallen worldview, order must be created ex nihilo. Pinker’s technocratic liberalism is inadequate to this task; this is a premodern, even mystical affair. For the creation of values, what is required is some transcendent authority, a law-giving Father to rule and to judge us. The liberal will tell us that the self-organization of the masses is both futile and dangerous. But this is merely a negative warning. The reactionary will positively insist that the masses must be ruled with a firm hand, and that hierarchy is a good in itself.”

    So Peterson supplies the rules for life as conduit from some law giving Father figure lest chaos (feminine of course) rules? And bring on the hierarchy.

    From Holbo’s article quoting Peterson:

    “A society can’t function without the Mythos? No, you are embedded in that. Think again about: No one comes to the Father except through me. What does that mean?”

    So we need myth? Or taking an argument from Pinker, is that instead just a susceptibility? Let’s get all Euthyphro on his ass contra his stupid argument that we are not atheists because we are not murderers. Maybe we find narrative useful in codifying societal rules, but can leave God and Christ out of the mix.

    “There is this notion that Haidt and Lukinoff are also pursuing … that you ennoble people, and encourage people, by challenging them. You ought to optimally challenge people, make them braver and stronger. Clinical evidence for that is overwhelming … Is there utility in having people get their ethical stories straight and face what they are avoiding? Yes.”

    Haidt and Lukinoff follow Nietzsche’s (whom Pinker hates) “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” quip. If an individual wanted to assert strength and independence, shouldn’t they kick away the scaffolding of God the father?

    And given the alleged female choosiness that undergirds this hierarchical masculinity fest, females in the real world have a say. It’s not archetypal feminine (Tiamat slain by Daddy Marduk) for mom’s to set rules or give advice.

    I just gave Peterson more thought than he deserves.

  7. triagian says

    You’re expected to accept it because feelings,

    How is that any different from us being expected to accept a prick with a cock is a woman because feelz?

  8. triagian says

    Ägree, Kip, because nothing expresses Free Thought as much as conforming to the latest fashionable nonsense.

  9. raven says

    Triagain gets a 1/10. Boring, no effort into their trolling.

    The Peterson fanboy trolls have gone from cosmically dumb to whatever is below that.
    All but unimaginably dumb???

    There aren’t many left online.
    I’m betting the ones left have trouble with things like turning on their computers and writing one syllable words.

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