Jordan Peterson and Camille Paglia – A Marathon of Academic Incompetence 108


  • REASONED CRITICISM OF JORDAN PETERSON AND CAMILLE PAGLIA
  • HANZI GOES THROUGH THEIR 1h:40m LONG YOUTUBE TALK ABOUT FEMINISM AND POSTMODERNISM, BEGINNING TO END
  • TOTAL PARTY KILL
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  • MERCY LEVEL SET TO: 0.00%

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Prologue

So when the Prophet was asked about what the most sacred of struggles is, he responded that a word of truth in the face of an unjust ruler is the highest form of Jihad (Musnad Aḥmad 18449)

Ladies and gentlemen, somebody needs to speak out against the emperor. He is naked. And so is the empress.

And another prophet, the one we call Jacques Lacan, pointed out that the street bum madman who thinks he is emperor isn’t necessarily any more mad than the emperor who thinks he’s emperor. The only difference is that other people share the latter’s belief.

If you’re a follower and worshipper of Jordan Peterson on his anti-postmodern anti-feminism, shared by Camille Paglia, you have been worshipping a false god, an idol. You have been sold a golden bull. But Moses is here to cast it into the fire.

Gifted but Highly Over-rated

In my opinion, nobody is more over-valued than the great internet phenomenon Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychology professor. As a psychologist and university teacher he is pretty good, even great. As a political commentator and interpreter of our time, he is simply not. Camille Paglia, who joins him for this talk, is also talented and interesting, but ultimately a poor and unreliable guide to understanding culture, politics and society of today.

So here’s the talk I want to comment upon, where JP and CP discuss for about 1h 40m. They talk mostly about postmodernism, social justice warriors, political correctness, feminism and university life.

Here is the talk in text if you don’t have the time to watch the video.

I’ll comment and show you they’re wrong about most things they are saying – including almost all of their central arguments. Some good stuff is in there, but most of it is just plain wrong, incoherent, and very poorly argued.

I’m going to use a somewhat mean method to get my message across here: machine-gunning a recorded talk with text. I realize that this isn’t 100% fair, and it can come across as overly antagonistic or even caustic. They get to talk and I get to think and write before I comment.

But since these thinkers have gained great influence, becoming some of the most dominant intellectual voices on the internet, they should be able to take it. If they want, they are free to respond in text with clarifications or counter-arguments, as can others who might want to rush to their defense.

My Main Point

So before we go, here’s my claim in four points:

  • Both JP and CP misdiagnose the current social justice and postmodern movements, describing the key insights and social dynamics of these incorrectly.
  • Both fail to take the perspectives from which these social, cultural, and political currents emerge, and thus they also fail to present solutions to very real problems. In effect, they deny very real problems.
  • Both fall into the exact same traps that they accuse their adversaries of: collective blame, essentialism – and here and there you can even find clear cases of misogyny, exactly corresponding to the bitter, antagonistic feminism they try to critique. There is essentially good feminism (smart, balanced, science-based) and bad feminism (antagonistic, bitter, sloppy, male-bashing), just as there is good anti-feminism (seeing men’s interests, looking at things more psychologically, checking facts) and bad anti-feminism (antagonistic, bitter, sloppy, female-bashing). JP and CP represent bad anti-feminism. They think that if you just remove the evil and inexplicable abomination of postmodern neomarxist politically correct feminism, all will be well.
  • Both make clearly false and incoherent statements, many times, and in general – which shows that the high claims to intellectual authority of these two figures should not be taken seriously. In some cases, they reveal outrageous incompetence. At the risk of being tedious, I’ve gone through many of their mistakes, 47 to be precise. This is because I have been asked to be specific about my refusal to share in the choir of praise.

One thing I do like about JP is that he urges people – and men in particular – to toughen up and speak their truth, clearly and directly. A sound advice.

A pro-JP friend, who I told about some of the arguments I’m going to present, actually asked me to have some mercy and not criticize without also lifting Peterson’s strong points. And of course, there are strong points. I have positively referenced JP in this earlier post, where I bash some of the sicknesses of political correctness and feminism.

But if JP and CP are flat out wrong about most of what they’re saying, should I refrain from pointing it out, in order to protect the frailty of their message? No. That’s not how this works. Their stuff should be robust enough to survive a critical listening. If it’s not, it’s not.

When someone is on the wrong side of the truth, when someone is deep into falsehood and distortion, as Jordan Peterson and Camille Paglia manifestly are, the truth can show no mercy.

Here’s my truth about Peterson.

Alright, are you ready?

Marathon of Academic Incompetence

Let’s start here: poorly concealed misogyny. Listen through the whole talk and count the negative statements about women as a collective, and the negative statements about men. The results are staggering and terrifying – and this can hardly be a coincidence. There are many more negative statements about women.

Now, I’ll go through the talk in sequence. It’s going to be a marathon, so keep up. The reason it’s long is simply that they make so many mistakes. Just saying, I had to skip about half of my objections just to keep the text from swelling.

In the first part, they make mistakes, but it’s more about pomo (postmodernism) and the universities than about gender issues. If you want the juiciest stuff, where they talk more gender and reveal their misogyny, you can scroll down to Part 2 two directly.

Part 1.

  1. Paglia, 4-6 min. She tells us that a “foreign French import” of poststructuralist thinking came into American campuses, and that this had nothing to do with the “authentic” 1960’s revolution, which was closer to the movement known as “New Age”. “Careerists” became the poststructuralist university professors.
    1. If the original movement didn’t last, there may be a reason for it. If it devolved into New Age madness, maybe it wasn’t such a good legacy. And if the ideas first expressed by French intellectuals caught on among the post-war generations, it probably was because these ideas resonated with the social and cultural currents of the 1960s and beyond.
    2. Argument of authority, and false inference: if pomo is not 1960’s revolution, and the latter is good, then the former must be bad.
    3. This is also a “bad-guy theory” about a foreign invader, not a sociological explanation.
    4. Besides, it’s simply incorrect; there are many real connections, in Europe especially, between e.g. Foucault and the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Wiki: “Lectures began at the university in January 1969, and straight away its students and staff, including Foucault, were involved in occupations and clashes with police, resulting in arrests. In February, Foucault gave a speech denouncing police provocation to protesters at the Latin Quarter of the Mutualité”. Eribon 1991, p. 201 and 206.
    5. She says: “It was elitist, not progressive” – These are not opposites. False inference.
    6. So: false authority, false inference, false facts. Low quality stuff.
  2. Paglia: 9:20-10:00. She tells us that because she teaches at art schools, she knows that not all of cognitive reality is linguistically mediated as the postmodernists claim, for instance ceramics isn’t, it’s more bodily and visceral. This is used as an argument against the postmodern position that language is fundamental to human activity and understanding.
    1. If you look at the new research presented in Lisa Feldman Barrett’s How Emotions Are Made, you see that “concept formation” is more primary and neurologically generalized than formerly assumed. In other words, even deep inside our brains, even at level of emotions and sensations, we are linguistic creatures. True story, empirically speaking.
    2. She needs to read up.
  3. (Some due credit: Paglia is right about “the end of oppositional art”. And about bureaucratization of academia. And about fragmentation of teaching, to some extent. These are commonly held positions, which I also share.)
  4. Peterson: 15-16 min. He suggests that pomo is a radical relativism and interpretationalism and the only thing that is real to pomos (postmoderns) is power. He wonders what the connection between pomo and neomarxism really is, given that pomo is relativist and neomarxism has some rather absolute values.
    1. Roughly correct, but a bit of a strawman. Pomo is not really about relativism, but about the fact that all knowledge shows up in a context, and that you may uncover hidden or implicit structures to that knowledge. The structure of the knowledge claim tends to follower cruder rules that have to do more with power relations than what is presented at surface level.
    2. By the way, the connection he is looking for between pomo and neomarxism, and which Paglia fails to provide, is that both are moral-critical projects which speak to a fairness-seeking mind: one looks at cultural injustices and inequalities, the other at economic ones. To the pomos, the point is that we should be suspicious of modernist narratives and if we demask and criticize them, there may be new emancipations – cultural, economic or both.
    3. Paglia goes on to say these people are poorly educated, but obviously these are the folks with degrees in history and anthropology, and these people are often very well read. I dare you to try me on this one: we can find many very well educated academic pomos.
  5. Paglia: 21:00. She claims that one must understand neoclassicism and classical theory in order to write about Western society (which she says Foucault didn’t).
    1. No argument is made for why this is the case. There are always a thousand categories of knowledge that can be claimed as “necessary”.
    2. So this is Bildung snobbism, which would be OK if it weren’t for the fact that this is her own main charge against the pomos.
    3. Also, it would exclude her interlocutor, Jordan Peterson, who isn’t so big on neoclassicism – correct me if I’m wrong.
  6. Peterson: 21:30-22:30. He tells us that psychology is science-based and thus protected from the madness of pomo and neomarxism, which makes no quality distinctions.
    1. It should be noted that sociological, critical, and analytical understanding are not simply reducible to scientific methods. These categories involve critical re-evaluations of everyday life, social ontology, and so forth. They have a spiritual or existential undercurrent.
    2. Hence, he is measuring a distinct social category by the standards of another field. The sociological imagination includes some deeply counter-intuitive understandings that are easy to grasp conceptually, but difficult to follow in practice.
  7. Peterson: 24:30. He tells us he learned from Robert Zapolsky (the Stanford primatologist and behavioral biologist) that zebras are black and white, mainly using camouflage stripes to hide in the herd, not hiding in grass (being visible from miles away). He means that pomos are like these zebras; they hide in the herd from lions like himself.
    1. He fails to point out that lions, the main predator of zebras, are colorblind, which makes the example less relevant. Lions cannot see the difference between the whiteness of the zebras and the pale grass.
    2. Also, he gets the pomo logic exactly wrong: pomo is about trying to claim uniqueness, to stand out, which is one of the main reasons why it’s linked to narcissism. To quote the über proto-pomo of all time, Rousseau: “I may be no better, but at least I am different.”
  8. Paglia: 27:40. She says that you shouldn’t do French Lacan in English, because English doesn’t need it, it being a richer language than French.
    1. Contradicts her former (manifestly incorrect) statement that language doesn’t need to structure the contents of experience.
    2. English doesn’t need to look at its underlying structures and assumptions? Why ever not?
  9. Paglia: 28:00. She says that the US universities should be more like the British departments and that separate departments are “totalitarian”.
    1. Totalitarianism means something else. She’s making some inference here she needs to clarify. Sloppy.
    2. British faculties are also pomo and PC (politically correct), so her proposed solution does not solve her supposed problem.
  10. Peterson: 32:00. He says he doesn’t understand the hatred from which pomo critique stems and why they just want to “demolish” patriarchy, etc.
    1. This isn’t hard to answer. It’s from experienced racism, sexism, social degradation, unfairly stacked games, and other developmental cluster-fucks that wound people, hold people back, and create resentment. In their experience, pomo critique offers a tool for resistance and self-empowerment.
    2. The fact that he doesn’t understand this shows that he fails to see the fundamental source of social movements, described in so many social theorists, notably Jürgen Habermas.
    3. He also fails to understand the positive “punk” current to this culture, how these ideas and perspectives soothe aching hearts and give hope and a sense of strength, meaning, and rebellion to the people who feel society is too harsh and unfair.
    4. As I argue in The Listening Society, people often tend towards simplistic bad-guy models to channel our resentment if we’re not sufficiently cognitively complex, and if we lack access to sufficiently correct explanatory mental models of the injustices. So hurt feelings, plus insufficient cognitive stage, plus flattened or over-simplified theories explain the pomo critique and its pathologies.
    5. Hence, he misreads the social forces in play, which causes him to misdiagnose the pomo critique of society, its genesis, and its pathologies.
    6. The PC leftwing pomos are indirect followers of Rousseau; they believe that if life isn’t good, it’s because there is something that stops people from the natural state of being good: capitalism, patriarchy, etc. which is why they want to tear these structures down.
    7. On a side note, I agree with him that resentment is a bad place to start if you want to change the world for the better, or to know the truth for that matter. But to counter resentment, you must understand what causes it and keeps it going, and offer other options. Simply telling the resenting party to stop being wounded doesn’t help. Evidently.
  11. Peterson: 33:30. He tells us there is no sense of bad motherhood and no sense of good fatherhood in today’s society (referring to generalized, abstracted archetypes), which means that we’re stuck with overprotective institutions.
    1. Google the phrase – in quotation marks – “nanny state”. You get lots of hits. Read the wiki article if you like.
    2. Google a corresponding popular term for bad fatherhood on a political level, one used all the time.
    3. What? Why aren’t you doing it? How come you cannot find a term like that?
    4. Because he’s plain wrong: the current dominant discourse is one against the nanny state (the bad mother in his own theory of archetypes), not against the paternalistic, strict society.
    5. He also claims that this explains why boys do poorly in school, but the line of reasoning is very unclear. A more down-to-earth explanation may be that boys on average have a harder time sitting still and concentrating.
    6. Sloppy reasoning. Incorrect inference.
  12. Paglia: 35:50. She thinks there’s no cure for the culture’s ills, except if men start demanding respect as men.
    1. Unclear what this means in practical terms. Maybe it means something clever, but we’re not let in on it.
    2. She’s being a poor sociologist here: saying that a collective group’s (“men”) ascribed agency (which is fictional) can be transposed to the illness of “culture”, and that they can salvage it. This is collective messianism, nothing more.
    3. This is an exact inversion of the bad kind of feminism. This is bad anti-feminism.
  13. Peterson: 36:15. He and others have shown that pomo PC values correspond with both femininity (high agreeableness), negative emotions, and personality disorders, and goes on to note that women with harmful relations to men may dislike all masculinity because they can’t distinguish between its positive and negative types.
    1. Yes, feminism is often a trojan horse for good old bitterness.
    2. But then again, he fails to point out that the majority of PC is explained by high agreeableness and higher social concern, also being linked to higher stages of personal development and post-conventional moral development.
    3. He wants to pin an “evil essence” to pomo, but fails to see that it’s a broad phenomenon where many different psychological mechanisms are gathered under one banner.
    4. There are other bodies of research which show unflattering traits in other collective categories of people as well. The folks who are authoritarian have higher level of psychopathy and sadism, meat eaters have lower empathy, people of the Christian faith (like Peterson) have lower IQ (even if he happens to have a high IQ). Suddenly, a few negative traits in feminist social justice warriors don’t seem so spectacular in comparison.

Part 2.

And then they start to talk more about women and gender – this will be the main focus of the comments from here on. There’s lots of other preposterous stuff going on, but let’s skip past most of it for the sake of brevity. After all, you get the picture from Part 1.

  1. Peterson: 39:10. He says he feels helpless because he cannot hit women, or implicitly threaten to hit them.
    1. Yes, really, this is what your hero says. Go listen to it again a few times and let it sink in. And then go get yourself a new hero, if you still need one.
    2. But to get at his underlying argument, that physical threats between men temper discourse and makes it flow more naturally, this is a completely incorrect claim. If it were the case, then discourse would be most functional where violence is most present, like in criminal gangs.
  2. Peterson: 39:30. He says it’s the responsibility of the collective category “women” to tell off their “crazy harpy sisters”. These purportedly undermine the masculinity of culture, which “really is fatal”.
    1. Doesn’t make sense to give collective responsibility to broad categories.
    2. How exactly is “the masculinity of culture” undermined? Are there any ways to measure this variable and can he show this is happening?
    3. Fatal? That’s a pretty strong claim, on pretty weak basis. Aren’t we owed a better explanation? After all, the modern hypermasculine cultures, like Nazi Germany or ISIS, seem pretty short-lived.
    4. Peterson sounds like… a fanatic – of the kind he accuses pomos of being.
  3. Paglia: 40:15. She says that the fall of masculinity leads to the decline of Western culture.
    1. Are there other cultures that are doing much better? By what measures exactly? It is clear that this is vague and empty speculation. She mentions ISIS but I don’t think she means it as a positive example in this regard.
  4. Paglia: 43:40. She says women of today are unhappier because of lacking traditional roles.
    1. In statistical terms, this isn’t true. Men and women are both happier today than before, even if the increase is bigger in men.
    2. It goes for a developmental axis as well, more modern countries having happier women.
    3. More gender-equal countries have happier women. Japan and Korea’s keeping of traditional gender roles under modern circumstances have proven extremely detrimental to mental health, gender relations, and family relations.
    4. She may still be right that women are unhappy about this part of their lives, but she owes us better evidence, or at least better reasoning.
    5. We shouldn’t do guilt-by-association, but it should be pointed out that her argument is identical to that of Nazis. That doesn’t make her a Nazi; it just means she reasons like one on this topic, which might make us think twice about where following this line of reasoning might lead us. See here for (almost) identical structure of argument, an essay called “Women and National Socialism“.
  5. Peterson: 46:20. He says that gender differences, according to research, are maximized in the Scandinavian countries, where equality has progressed the farthest.
    1. So basically, he just killed their whole argument that PC gender equality means that masculinity is undermined. The most feminist countries get more masculine guys and more feminine women, who are freed from oppressive norms.
    2. Seriously, he just ignored the fact that his and Paglia’s main argument against feminism is wrong.
    3. Also, he should point out that men and women in Scandinavian countries are also more androgynous in their expressions and demeanors; it’s just the character traits that diverge.
    4. Also, he should point out that the increased gender gaps have to do primarily with statistical measures of which jobs people choose, and that Scandinavian countries are full of initiatives for women engineers and tech startups, which is very good for the economy.
  6. (Due credit: The thing Peterson says about male and female dominance hierarchies and the differences between them is true and important.)
  7. Paglia: 49:00. She says she likes a TV show where women have toxic arguments and guys settle the matter with a good fistfight and then they’re friends.
    1. No, physical violence creates infected, sickly, and sad relationships between men.
    2. She was probably never in a fistfight, which is likely why she references what she saw on TV. I was in a lot of fistfights when I was a kid and I saw a lot of them and I can tell you that 99% of them happen when bigger guys pick on smaller or younger ones, or when robbers smack people in the head to grab their cell phone and wallet.
    3. And then there’s night-life violence, in which very drunk, very hurt people get in pathetic and sad situations and have to be dragged off by security guards. I’ve studied police interactions in nightclubs, and all I can say is that violence isn’t very pretty and only rarely catharsis-inducing.
    4. If a grown man actually hits another seriously, the risks of severe injuries or even death are very tangible. Her violence romance is deluded. And it is, unfortunately, another clear link to Nazism.
    5. Besides, this is an overtly misogynous and sexist remark. It says she prefers guys to girls.
  8. Peterson: 49:35. He says that girls are mean bullies because they go after the reputation of the victim, as happened to his daughter.
    1. First of all, most bullying among guys follows a similar pattern: teasing, freeze-out, etc.
    2. Secondly, he implies that he would have preferred a physical male bullying treatment of his daughter, to the “annoying” female one.
    3. I’m not saying he prefers his daughter to be hit with fists and physically abused. I’m just saying he might not have thought this through.
    4. And here he joins Paglia in overt misogyny.
  9. Paglia: 50:40. She says that men tease one another and this toughens them, so they don’t take things so seriously, whereas women are over-sensitive.
    1. Might be true to some extent, but again, a generalized, loaded, misogynist remark.
    2. Fails to point out that men tease each other less if they have healthier relations. Insecure 13-year-olds tease the most and pretend they think it’s fun, as do gang members. Mature, well-developed, functioning guys tease only a tad, and only in sensitive, good-spirited ways. And they apologize if anything is taken the wrong way.
    3. She clearly has a false, romanticized view of male ball-busting. Most of it is insecure and insincere.
  10. Paglia: 52:10. She says that everybody should be better educated and learn about the Stone Age, etc., in which case we’d come closer to her conclusions.
    1. First of all: People with in-depth knowledge about our Paleolithic ancestors, historians, archaeologists, anthropologist etc., generally don’t share her ideas.
    2. Secondly: We should always be suspicious when someone says that everybody should learn something. Why this particular thing, instead of say physics, complexity, self-knowledge, social intelligence, mindfulness, or basic computer programming?
    3. Of course, this is a game played by many or even most academics. If the particular knowledge they possess is what constitutes the definition of “education”, this means that they are also the “most educated” person, and thus that everyone should learn from them, and thus that they are at the top of the hierarchy. I’ve seen too much such academic bullshit.
    4. But if she wants to make an argument that “everyone” must learn something, she needs a very strong, generalizable argument, and a falsifiable theory for why this is the case. Otherwise, she’s just saying that if people read what she read they would think more like she does (tautological), effectively telling the world to be more like herself.
    5. … the pathology of which is self-evident: it’s narcissistic to force one’s own truth down everybody’s throats. Another claim for power.
  11. Paglia & Peterson: 54:20-55:50. She says that we should appreciate the development that has happened throughout history, and the sacrifices made by men. Peterson joins her and says men’s sacrifices made progress possible and that we have a great society.
    1. This is classical conservatism. Nothing wrong with that, but it should be called for what it is.
    2. If she wanted to balance the argument out, she might also have mentioned the other side of the argument, the radical side; that there is no logically conceivable reason to believe that today’s society cannot be improved upon.
    3. But she doesn’t.
    4. Peterson fails to mention that women make many sacrifices corresponding to those of men. He goes on to restate the classical conservative argument: the unlikely wonder of society not falling apart.
    5. It’s simply an invalid argument that we should stop making further changes to our society, which has been characterized by constant change, out of fear that it will fall apart. Historically, societies have more often collapsed from the reluctance to change than the opposite.
  12. Paglia: 56:15. She says our culture is falling apart because a strength or spirit has been lost.
    1. First of all, this is poor social science: Talking about spirit or strength without reference to the exact societal mechanisms, discourses, or any other observable factors to affect human behaviors, leaves us with nothing but invisible free-floating ghosts that can neither be verified nor falsified.
    2. Secondly, this is just more classical conservatism. Compare to fin de siècle, the “spirit” around the late 1800s, where writers such as Oswald Spengler inspired the far right.
    3. This flow of classical conservatism goes on for a while on both sides…
    4. Let’s call these two what they are; classical conservatives. Clever ones, updated ones, but still.
  13. Peterson: 01:01:55. He says that most people who were abused as children don’t spread the abuse to their children. This proves, he says, that patriarchy doesn’t exist, because if it did it would spread exponentially until all people were abused by bad fathers and men.
    1. Basic logics fail. His conclusion doesn’t in any way follow from his stated facts.
    2. I also think “patriarchy” is a pretty weak theory, but his reasoning doesn’t touch upon it at all. No one has claimed that child abuse and patriarchy are synonymous.
    3. And even if patriarchy was reducible to child abuse, which no one has ever claimed to my knowledge, his line of reasoning is entirely illogical. Just because child abuse isn’t inherited in most cases, this doesn’t mean that new child abuse can’t show up for other reasons and thus be reproduced.
    4. The fact that child abuse has declined is of course due to the many social and cultural advances of society, and not an inherent tendency for it do peter out – in which case it should have petered out when humans had already been around for over 15 000 years at the onset of the Neolithic Age.
    5. I think he just managed a triple non-sequitur, which may be a record in academic incompetence. He made an argument that doesn’t compute, about a topic that doesn’t relate to what he’s trying to prove, through an analogy that doesn’t hold.
    6. Not sloppy. This is incompetent. Painfully, inexcusably incompetent.
  14. Paglia: 01:02:50. She says that it’s important to examine the transfer from the traditional extended family structure to the modern nuclear family. She thinks Freud is a good place to start.
    1. No, no. This is a common Marxist mainstream cliché, but it has been more or less disproven for decades.
    2. Historians like Peter Laslett and Alan MacFarlane have proven that the nuclear family – a mother, father and child(ren) in a “simple house,” as Laslett put it – was the dominant arrangement in England stretching back to the thirteenth century.
    3. It’s not a grave mistake, if it weren’t for her own insistence on historical knowledge and her claim that the transition from collective household to nuclear family is so central.
    4. In addition, the sociologist Birgitte Berger has argued in her 2002 book that the nuclear family is actually psychologically superior for the development of children, turning a lot of the Freudian critique on its head.
  15. Paglia: 01:03:55. She says that contemporary therapeutic psychology doesn’t talk enough about childhood, as psychoanalysts used to back in the good old days.
    1. She fails to point out that talk therapy has dramatically increased its evidence-based effectiveness since people stopped talking about their childhoods and began focusing on the here and now.
    2. Therapeutic psychology of today is also more science-based and effective than during the mid-20th This is largely because Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other related therapies don’t over-complicate things and focus on what can be done here and now. They are also easier to learn, repeat, and make reliable tests upon.
    3. If some issue is deeper and you need to talk about your childhood, that’s a large investment in time and energy. It’s smarter not to make that investment into a default, but to calibrate when to talk about childhood and when not to.
    4. … and why doesn’t Peterson point out this obvious mistake, seeing as this is his field of expertise?
  16. Paglia: 01:04:35. She say that it’s taboo today to ask about how childhood experiences may play a part in causing homosexuality.
    1. It is widely accepted praxis within the sciences to investigate the ways that sexuality may be formed by an interplay of genetic and environmental factors.
  17. Peterson & Paglia: 01:05:30. He says that he opposed a legislation which said you had to call transgender people by their preferred pronoun, which he thinks is “compelled speech”. Paglia thinks that is “absolutely Orwellian”.
    1. We have many other forms of “compelled speech” that JP does not oppose. For instance, we’re not allowed to call one another bitch, nigger, “it”, and legally we’re not allowed to tell somebody to commit murder. And we can be compelled to speak when asked about our earnings by the tax authorities.
    2. Besides, we are still allowed to say what we want about the gender pronoun if we don’t like it. We just need to respect transgender persons’ wishes, or refrain from talking to them in pronouns, opting for using their name, etc. So it’s not actually compelled speech. That’s just his exaggerated misnomer.
    3. If asking people to show common courtesy and mildly penalize failure to do so is “absolutely Orwellian” to Paglia, I don’t think she has read George Orwell’s 1984.
    4. Will they mind if we call Peterson a girl and Paglia a boy?
  18. Paglia: 01:05:55. She says that her own writing of a book was “the greatest sex change in history” and that this justifies that there should be no regulations on uses of the English language. True story, that’s what she says. Go back and listen.
    1. No, that wasn’t the biggest sex change in history.
    2. She means that because it meant so much to her to use the English language in her book, she thinks it is “evil” for someone to tell her how to use it.
    3. She fails to point out that nobody would stop her from writing her book however she wants, using the beauty of the English language (with as many “okaaay?s” as she likes), but that she’s simply expected to show common courtesy.
    4. What about grammar; grammar does tell her how to use language? Does she hate that too?
    5. What about all the language academies in other countries, institutions regulating spelling and grammar, are all of these “pure evil” and their populations stuck in purely evil and Orwellian states?
    6. Let’s be clear: Peterson and Paglia find reasons to feel terribly affronted, but it simply doesn’t make sense and they have nothing to be upset about, and they are hysterically focusing on details. Sounds a lot like… bad feminism. Except this is bad anti-feminism.
    7. Paglia’s statement is an affront not only to the very real struggle of transgender people, but also to the legacy of George Orwell. Which is just sad, for a literature professor who claims to defend the English heritage and being transgender.
  19. Peterson: 01:07:30. He says that having older parents with more resources makes people spoiled, which is psychologically harmful.
    1. This may be true in part, but the research consensus is that having parents with more resources is better in so many ways.
    2. So all in all, even if he’s right about something in part, he is still wrong overall.
  20. Paglia: 01:09:15. She says that it’s the upper middle class who institute hyper-sensitivity and inject it into universities.
    1. Working class people aren’t as sensitive? She probably doesn’t hang out very much with working class folks. I grew up working-class, without a dad who was college professor by the time he was 35 (which is her idea of a working-class background, her own). Two of my brothers were so hurt in life they both died early from drinking and smoking. People are always in minor family feuds, always conflicts about who did or didn’t do what, who owes who, who was insulted, etc.
    2. Such family feuds between neighbors and cousins simply aren’t as prevalent in the “yoga bourgeoise” (you know, folks who are rich and meditate and have higher class) where people are sometimes annoyingly sensitive towards one another, yes, but more socially apt and functional, and thus in a much less emotionally precarious position.
    3. Working class are just bourgeois waiting to be born. Bourgeois are just upper middle class waiting to be born. So the increased sensitivity she describes is simply what dialectically emerges as people have more of their wants and needs met.
    4. A smarter way ahead is to deal with this sensitivity, rather than to mock people for it and say it isn’t allowed (and to deny it in ourselves), as Paglia does.
  21. (Intermezzo: they say smart and good things about child development).
  22. Peterson: 01:13:30. He says that women are bitter about the role they have in modern life and jumps to remembering that many cultures have had bride abduction as part of the marriage ritual.
    1. Bride abduction still goes on in some places, like Kyrgyzstan, watch this short Vice documentary.
    2. It leads to women killing themselves in misery. It’s a huge problem over there.
    3. If Peterson is to suggest women secretly long for this, that “this fundamental feminine role is being denied to them” he might have to sharpen his argument.
  23. Paglia: 1:15:00. She argues for “the freedom to risk rape”.
    1. This shows a basic lack of understanding of rights and liberties. There are negative freedoms (freedom from) and positive freedoms (freedom to). The freedom to risk rape isn’t a concept that makes sense.
    2. You can be free from rape, and free from excessive control – but freedom to be raped, now that’s Orwell’s 1984 (“Freedom is slavery”).
  24. Paglia: 01:17:00. She argues that men hunt women and want sex, which she says women do not understand.
    1. Misogynistic comment that says women are stupid. I’ve never met a woman who didn’t understand what she’s saying.
    2. I think she means to say that it’s difficult for women to take the male perspective, as men are simply more immediate and visual in their sexuality.
  25. Paglia: 01:19:00. Paglia says American society has a chaos in the sexual realm.
    1. Meanwhile, rape statistics have slumped, and a very large portion of the women who are raped are students, which says that the counter-measures with on-campus support mechanisms of universities – which Paglia is against – may be effective after all. This is in an era where many more of the occurring rapes are reported as taboos are lessened, so the fall of sexual violence is actually much greater than the fall in statistics.
    2. She’s wrong.
    3. A country comparison of rape and sexual assault rate trends, per 100000 people, 2003 - 2011, United Nations.png
      By M Tracy HunterOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

  26. Paglia & Peterson: 01h 19-21 min. They talk about consent and emphasize the responsibility of women to understand that men may want to rape them.
    1. This of course puts the responsibility of men’s actions on women’s shoulders.
    2. In a fair society, wouldn’t it make more sense to put the responsibility of one’s own actions on each person?
    3. Here, they are mixing up sociology and behavioral science with ideas about personal responsibility. It’s true that we cannot have poor social institutions and then say that “it’s up to the individual” to not make mistakes. So we cannot put the sociological issue of sexual violence on the shoulders of an individual young man; we have to figure out ways to make it less prevalent in society at large. But Peterson and Paglia are taking the burden off the man’s shoulder and putting it on the woman’s: “the right to risk being raped”.
    4. The recent #metoo social media campaign and its massive response around the world serves to underscore that women have too often carried the responsibility for the actions of men and for their transgressions.
  27. Paglia: 01:21:50. She want to stop all interference of universities into what students do with one another. That, she adds, is “fascism of the worst kind”.
    1. It should be pointed out that Peterson and Paglia both viewed comparisons between themselves and fascism as unacceptable, and that Peterson said that he would physically threaten any male who said such things about him.
    2. Apparently, they don’t hold themselves to the same standards.
    3. Besides, having a system for investigating sexual misconduct is “fascism of the worst kind”? I guess mass-murdering people of differing opinion gets second place?
  28. Peterson agrees to this phrasing, “fascism of the worst kind” specifically, arguing that it is a new kind of fascism.
    1. From dictionary definition of fascism: “Fascism /ˈfæʃɪzəm/ is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and control of industry and commerce that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I before it spread to other European countries. Opposed to liberalism, Marxism and anarchism, fascism is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.”
    2. Neofascism, from dictionary: “Neofascism is the practice of university administrations to offer supportive structures for the psychological and social wellbeing and health of their students, such as investigations in cases of sexual violence or misconduct, as well as working against excessive partying at fraternity clubs by means of information, counselling, and giving condoms.”
    3. I’m not going to tell you which one of these two I made up. You will have to guess.
  29. Peterson: 1:23:00. He wonders how anyone could be naive enough to create parallel “legal systems” at the universities, because it obviously wouldn’t work.
    1. Social work, it works the same way.
    2. Psychiatric care, it works the same way.
    3. Union rights, it works the same way.
    4. Civil society committees, it works the same way.
    5. In churches and major corporations, it works the same way.
    6. Just saying.
    7. On a more serious note, when Peterson repeatedly returns to claiming that present-day society is “naïve”, he aims to critique what I have earlier called “game denial”, which is a core feature of classical conservative sentiments.
    8. Both he and Paglia fail to make the analytical synthesis and offer a path towards “game change”, hence they end up de facto defending the status quo of women being sexually abused. They go against “game denial” but end up in the position of “game acceptance”, which means to implicitly defend injustice.
    9. The correct answer is to refute “game denial” as well as “game acceptance” and to offer paths towards transformations of everyday life, taking the perspectives of all parties seriously.
    10. We hear very little such alternatives.
  30. Peterson: 1:23:25. He says the legal system is awesome because it evolved over a long time.
    1. There are many things that evolved over a long time that aren’t very good.
    2. The legal system is one of them. The way it deals with sexual violence is catastrophic, and it is a too heavy weight system for these matters, dealing in too binary terms.
    3. That’s why sexual misconduct is being transposed to other realms than the strictly legal one.
    4. You can read this article on how the justice system fails rape victims, if you like.
  31. Paglia: 1:24:10. She says that it’s taboo to say that women should be responsible for their own choices.
    1. Implying, then, choices that lead up to someone else raping them.
    2. Implying, then, that she wants women to be responsible for the choices of male rapists.
    3. It doesn’t make sense.
  32. Paglia & Peterson: 1:24:10. They agree that the refusal to hold women responsible for risking being raped is “such a betrayal of authentic feminism”.
    1. I disagree.
    2. The right to being raped is not authentic feminism.
  33. Paglia & Peterson: 1:25:00. They argue against verbal consent because sex is not a verbal thing.
    1. Would it be so bad if people talked a little more about it? Might avoid some misunderstandings.
    2. If people have verbal consent – more of the kind in the BDSM community, which is hardly known for lacking spice – then the responsibility is shared more equally.
    3. With a light-weight consent policy, you are still free to have sex with someone without asking, but then you risk that they will flip out and raise charges. So you have responsibility for your own sexual actions, not those of another.
    4. Can Peterson and Paglia offer another venue for legal protection for rape victims? Do they at all recognize the fact that the vast majority of all rape cases are never dealt with, the victims never vindicated?
  34. Peterson: 01:32:00. He says that, for feminists, the patriarchy is evil and so is traditional motherhood, which leaves women only with the professional role, which then is patriarchy, just run by women.
    1. Reveals lack of basic understanding of feminism.
    2. The idea with “patriarchy” is that women become the bitches of guys in different aspects of life and thus less free to live their life as they want.
    3. Patriarchy in this sense doesn’t have anything to do with guys being bad, just with the persistence of norms, habits, and prejudices that no longer make sense in modern society.
    4. Almost no feminists argue that women should run society, only that they should have a more equal share in its power.
  35. Paglia: 01:34:15. She argues that the West is like ancient Rome, which she claims fell to bureaucratic control and multiculturalism.
    1. The Roman Empire fell because of its inability to sustain bureaucratic control. Imperial overstretch, poor fiscal policies, military challengers, growing inequalities in a largely socially unsustainable system, and long-standing ecological crises brought the Roman Empire to its knees – not too much bureaucratic control or the fact that the Roman Empire consisted of different ethnicities (as was the case in all of the large agrarian empires of the time).
    2. This wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for her bragging and insistence upon historical understanding as mandatory. Apparently, she miserably fails at it herself.
  36. Peterson: 01:39:30. He says that victimization of groups may cause them to commit genocide. This is said in the context that pomo PC culture creates new venues of victimization and blaming.
    1. He fails to point out that pomo culture also creates venues for expressing shame, resentment, and frustrations in non-violent ways, allowing for cultural struggle to take the place of violent struggle.
    2. Does he really mean to say that the places in the world that have most ethnic conflicts also have the most pomo feminists? I think the opposite case can be made rather easily.
  37. On the closing note Paglia calls out: “We agreed on everything! I knew it!”
    1. They may have nodded and agreed, but this shows only lacking rigor. Upon closer inspection, they don’t agree on everything.

-

And that, my friend, closes this marathon of harrowing academic incompetence. All in all, these were 47 points pf critique, a handful of which would have shot dead an academic discussion of normal standards. (13 + 37 points, but three were interludes with due credits).

Forty-seven points of severe, fundamental faults. That’s either incompetence, dishonesty or the tunnel vision of the fanatic. You decide which one, or which combination of the three.

If you’re one of the many people who have been unable to see through the thin veneer, unable to see these people for what they are – standard conservatives, misogynists, hysterical anti-feminists – this means that your critical thinking has also been curtailed.

So do the right thing and say a painful goodbye to your YouTube father figure, Jordan Peterson. He told you to speak the truth. But he doesn’t tell you the truth, not even close. And neither does Paglia.

-

By the way, the correct answer to their question, what comes next, after this wave of pomo?

It’s that you accept good feminism, make sure none of it is driven by blame or hatred, and then add another layer to it: masculinism. Then you proceed with a both-and perspective. And you use developmental psychology to get at the core of the issues, reducing the gender antagonism in society, as discussed in my upcoming book, Nordic Ideology.

The core failure of the intellectual projects of Peterson and Paglia comes from a lack of understanding of developmental sociology. They have both failed to see the simple and fundamental progression: from traditional, to modern, to postmodern, to metamodern.

None of these positions (modern, pomo, etc.) are perfect. They all have pathologies and sicknesses of their own. Pomo has sicknesses. But Peterson and Paglia think that pomo itself is a sickness. To them, if people just “stop doing it”, stop being pomo, everything is going to be fine. But that’s not going to happen, as society developmentally generates a huge onslaught of pomo in late modernity. You can’t tell someone to stop being at a certain developmental stage.

So basically, Peterson and Paglia offer us no path ahead.

What’s next? Metamodernism is next.

-

Hanzi Freinacht is a political philosopher, historian and sociologist, author of ‘The Listening Society’, and the upcoming books ‘Nordic Ideology’ and ‘The 6 Hidden Patterns of World History’. Much of his time is spent alone in the Swiss Alps. You can follow Hanzi on his Facebook profile here.


108 thoughts on “Jordan Peterson and Camille Paglia – A Marathon of Academic Incompetence

  • Generatilon_man

    “…count the negative collective statements about women as a collective…” Dumb non-argument. Misogyny is a buzzword. Stopped reading after that. Challenge him for a debate.

    • Stephen Sharper

      It never occurred to him that women having their asses kissed since the day they were born (if they were born after the 2nd wave) is cause for them to be more full of shit in general and maybe that’s why they got criticized more

        • AenSiddhe

          How so? In my country for example, that’s how it is. Back in school, girls would commit various acts of adulation to achieve higher grades which, if done by guys, would hardly ever lead to a similar result. The way I see it, that’s how we raise them — to lie and cheat and use your looks to achieve your goals regardless of the circumstances. And I’m not saying that men don’t have that (some clearly do), but when it comes to women, for some reason it’s not viewed as a pathology like with the latter. Although it seems like postmodern culture seems to be doing pretty well on eradicating that.

  • Trillion

    Why is it that Noam Chomsky shares a very similar opinion to Peterson and Paglia about Postmodernism and its effects on academia?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjQA0e0UYzI

    “..It has served as a way to isolate sectors of an elite radical intelligentsia from popular struggle and it has served as an instrument of power, that’s why it’s so tolerated in universities…”

    “..What it seems to me is a bunch of people talking to each other in very obscure ways, and most of the time I can’t understand what they’re talking about, and I’m not sure if anyone else can..”

    “..Postmodern views of science are very embarrassing..”

  • Tom

    This article is pure garbage and lies, created just to slander a man who stands against leftist lies and stupidity.

    Your news outlet has just plummeted in credibility, and proven you are just one more FAKE NEWS OUTLET. Just one more leftist stooge.
    Epic fail.

    Better luck next time bucko!

    • Darren

      I would respectfully recommend the article author (Hanzi) delete comments like this one. The “fake news” moniker clearly marks this comment as pure rhetoric. It is dismissive and discrediting without providing a single shred of actual, substantial critique. I applaud the author (Hanzi) for being willing to include critical comments. I agree with this policy. However, the entire discourse is helped by separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to actual critiques vs. rhetorical propaganda.

      • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

        Hi Darren.

        We generally let everything but pure abuse through, in order to give people’s honest responses their place. This one was on the fence.

  • Generatilon_man

    I do not even agree with Peterson on usage of Young’s psychology as a bases. But this leftist garbage, counting words to determine non-existent misogyny, is an exceptional example of stupidity.

      • Generation_man

        LMFAO? If you gave it a thought for a second, you would’ve guest, that i am not an English speaking person and writing his family name in a phonetic way, how it sounds in my language. I have a degree in psychology and know pretty well what I am talking about. Take care of your ass, it is the most important part of your body, apparently.

  • Dayne Hutchinson

    I think you tried to tackle too many points, and showed shallowness in your arguments, which makes me quickly dismiss your objections. It makes you feel untrustworthy.

    I feel as though you made objections before really considering the claim and giving it some charity.

    • AFH

      You don’t see to be offering a lot of charity yourself, or seeking it from JB/CP? This request for consideration and generosity feels arbitrary .

    • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

      Read beginning section for summary and end section for conclusion and there is some more in-depth thinking. Some of the points are also more in-depth.

  • K. M.

    “Google the phrase – in quotation marks – “nanny state”. You get lots of hits. Read the wiki article if you like.
    Google a corresponding popular term for bad fatherhood on a political level, one used all the time.
    What? Why aren’t you doing it? How come you cannot find a term like that?”

    1. I see where you’re going with this, but it really is not an argument. If you can “tear down” Peterson and Paglia for their supposedly poorly phrased or incomplete arguments, then guess what can be done to arguments like yours? You didn’t consider that your arguments also have to be solid and COMPLETE, did you? No, you just assumed the role of the critic, didn’t you haha

    2. You’re assuming Peterson’s context. You don’t know the angle from which he’s reporting.
    See, being able to write well-thought out responses with a lot of time on your hands also has its downsides — in this scenario you don’t get to ask Peterson to clarify his position.
    No, you’re stuck with assuming in which context he sees this unfolding and decides to criticize it. That makes you play a guessing game, and that weakens your position immensely — and this I am saying in your defense. It is harder to work with fragments of an idea instead of having a clear representation of what x and y stands for in given context.

    Also… you’re offering a COUNTER-ARGUMENT not a CRITIQUE…. So as a counter-argument, while still not irrefutable, it’s okay. As a critique it’s so-so. As a statement itself – it’s bullshit.
    You’re not dumb but the lines you draw in order to decide what’s solid and what’s not — in regards to their, but also your own argumentation — seem arbitrary and therefore also very weak. I don’t think this this was a bad job, but I don’t think you achieved what you’ve set out to do.

    This makes it transparent what kind of mindset you had while doing this. I already gave you more attention than I should have, seeing as we’re from different ends of this spectrum. I hope your school of thought fails so fucking hard in the face of people like Peterson. Or, rather individually than collectively, that some of you come to find the empowerment in Peterson’s message — one that doesn’t shy away from societal problems but instead chooses TO NOT PLAY YOUR VICTIM GAMES. Because, my friend, this is what your side of the aisle, and by extension you, are enabling.

  • Filippo Medas

    This criticism is partly well and partly badly written in my view. Hanzi in some instances focused more on what they said “literally” and not what they actually meant, which was cleared up by the context of what they were taking about, in other cases he clearly didn’t understand what was said in certain sections of the talk. For example he wrote…

    “She claims that one must understand neoclassicism and classical theory in order to write about Western society (which she says Foucault didn’t)”

    …but what I got is something entirely different: her point is that Foucault doesn’t seem to go beyond neoclassicism in his historical analysis and her accusation is that he “knew nothing of ancient history”, and that if he knew he wouldn’t have held certain positions. She said this repeatedly multiple times and this critique can be found pretty much anywhere on the web. The confusion might have arisen because of Paglia’s gasping style of conversation, but yet, this is one of those examples in which looking at a single source doesn’t give you a well rounded idea of what the thoughts of a certain thinker actually are.

    Mainly, I agree that both JP and CP are too aggressive against post modernism. Their critique works against low-level activists but not very much for high-level thinkers/activists/scientists. They both tend towards dramatization which doesn’t help the conversation. Overall I tended to like that talk, although I disagreed with the tone and certain specific points.

    Lastly, I disagree that Jordan Peterson is overrated. Just as Hanzi wrote about the point Paglia did with the “New Age” currents…

    “If the original movement didn’t last, there may be a reason for it. If it devolved into New Age madness, maybe it wasn’t such a good legacy.
    (this in particular): And if the ideas first expressed by French intellectuals caught on among the post-war generations, it probably was because these ideas resonated with the social and cultural currents of the 1960s and beyond.”

    Exactly the same goes for Dr Jordan B Peterson. If his ideas catch the attention of a portion of millennials and Zers, probably it’s because his ideas resonate with the social and cultural currents of our age. He is bringing out a lot of good from many people, he transformed many lives in just a 1 year timespan. How many others can say the same?

    The last part of the article, which I didn’t read yesterday, is probably the only part that I think undermines this already impulsive critique.

    “So basically, Peterson and Paglia offer us no path ahead.

    What’s next? Metamodernism is next.”

    Makes the whole article sound like a self-serving character assassination. “Don’t buy his set of knives, buy MY set of knives for your kitchen”. I think it kind of goes against the principles of metamodernism itself, if I truly got where its spirit lies.

    • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

      Hello Filippo.

      We already had some exchange on Facebook. Here I’d just like to say: Yes, being self-serving is the whole point. If by self, we mean the intellectual project I work with; I think that JP is influential in a way that is sure to backfire as it fails to include and transcend the pomo perspectives and the social tensions that feed them.

  • Bernard Brandt

    1. TL:DR

    2. Actually, I did read it: verbose, jejune, and replete with fallacies such as begging the question. It reminded me of a sophomore philosophy student’s attempts to tear down, say, Plato’s ‘Republic’, because it was ‘fascist’.

    3. Next time, consider replacing the potshots with writing a precis of your opponents’ statements into one or several theses, with a few examples from their actual statements. Then critique the theses. It would save you, and your three or four readers, a great deal of time and trouble.

    • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

      JP followers are slippery lot. If you don’t pin down the criticism very specifically, they dodge. For a summary, read the beginning and end of the article.

      PS. I think you mean 10 000 readers, which this post has.

      • Andy

        I agree with these critiques of your piece. I also found it very hard to read with your clear disdain for Dr. Peterson. The fact that I could hear your angry typing as I read and your use of “pomo” made it extremely distracting and difficult to take you seriously.

        Also, I think this post has 10k readers because you invoked the name of Dr Peterson. I came here to try and see arguments to his points to understand his ideas better because I disagree with some of his latest actions but you just reaffirmed my love for his arguments and strengthened them.

  • Giulio

    About as sound and fair an evisceration of these two dangerous public intellectuals as it’s possible to be. I’ve had some doubts about some of your earlier writings but this is superb and necessary. Thank you.

  • Andrew

    In part 2, point 5, section 4, you don’t realise part of his argument is that those Nordic countries have the lowest number of female engineers, in spite if all of those initiatives. Just some context , doesn’t detract from your argument other than it’s probably doing nothing for the economy as it doesn’t work

  • Sam Hallett

    I felt like most of these points were refutable (or at least contestable) with a few seconds musing.I think this has been picked up by others. Especially the counting – very silly.

    • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

      The counting is a bad idea? What is someone makes many negative comments about an ethnic group — isn’t that racism?

      • Rich Seera

        Overall this article repeatedly shape the context to fit a preconcieved critique.
        Stop abusing the word racism. If it is relevant to the discussion and is backed by facts it is not racism. But using your own POMO methods i’m sure you can invent contexts which make any claim racist and sexist.

  • sdenheyer

    You said: “I also think “patriarchy” is a pretty weak theory, but his reasoning doesn’t touch upon it at all. No one has claimed that child abuse and patriarchy are synonymous.”

    The Duluth Model pretty much says exactly that. From it’s wikipedia entry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duluth_model):

    “The feminist theory underlying the Duluth Model is that men use violence within relationships to exercise power and control. This is illustrated by the “Power and Control Wheel,” a graphic typically displayed as a poster in participating locations.[5][6] According to the Duluth Model, “women and children are vulnerable to violence because of their unequal social, economic, and political status in society.”[7] Treatment of abusive men is focused on re-education, as “we do not see men’s violence against women as stemming from individual pathology, but rather from a socially reinforced sense of entitlement.” [8] The program’s philosophy is intended to help batterers work to change their attitudes and personal behavior so they would learn to be nonviolent in any relationship.”

    • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

      OK, I’ll have to back down on this one. There are fringe crazy folks who have made claims that are roughly corresponding to this claim.

  • Allen

    Great critique, thank you deeply for the time you took to do this. It’s nice to read a moderate, thinking person’s views on these topics.
    Also, I’ll buy your book.

  • Chris

    I wonder if you are familiar with Ken Wilber’s ideas? Your framing of human evolution from premodern to modern to meta modern sounds very much like Wilber’s integral evolutionary approach. If you are indebted to him you should acknowledge that debt. He is, like JP and CP, a staunch critic of PoMo. All three recognise the serious challenge PoMo represents: language is fundamental (though not quite as fundamental as you claim – ethnomusicologists have tied themselves in knots trying to find a linguistic basis for music, for example); all truths are context bound and contingent; we should examine the structures that benefit from contemporary truth claims because these claims can be used merely to defend unjust structures. This is a perfectly coherent critique. But PoMo goes beyond this to claim that, therefore, nothing has value, nothing is true, it’s all just power games to serve elite interests. This ignores it’s own truth claim: “all truths are context bound and contingent”. PoMo fails on its own grounds. “Everyone else’s truth claims are corrupt, except ours, which are true.” You misrepresent these two titans of contemporary thought trying to pretend otherwise. You make some good points. And you are clever and apparently well-read. But you overreach yourself and come off like a self-satisfied postgrad tearing down his master’s house for the pure glee of it – classic PoMo deconstructionist intellectual vandalism. There’s a reason JP and CP are world famous and no-one has heard of you. Try building your own house instead of inflating yourself by trying (and failing) to tear down others.

    • AFH

      Hasn’t JP inflated himself by tearing down others?

      “PoMo fails on its own grounds.”

      Yes, sure – that’s why it’s best done with a certain level of irony, and why there’s a need for a response: metamodernism. That doesn’t render it incapable of critiquing modernity tho. You’re guilty of exactly what you accuse Heinz of: he’s more famous than you. See my point about irony.

      • AFH

        I want to attempt a better response to the whole ‘saying ‘there are no facts’ is a performative contradiction’ contradiction argument.

        Saying ‘there are no facts’ in a post-modern context is not equivalent to saying ‘it is a fact that there are no facts’. It is saying something much closer to ‘calling something a fact implies a finality that can never really be there, and yeah you can apply that to what I’m saying too if you want’. It’s true that some people are doing applied post-modernism without much/any grasp of subtlety/nuance/irony required i.e. the classic SJW figure of fun. But to think that such a statement blows away postmodernism in its entirety is an act of intellectual arrogance, Wilber or no Wilber – though I think his critique of Po-Mo is likely subtler than you imply. tl:dr – Postmodernism doesn’t make truth claims even when it’s making truth claims. And that’s a fact ;-)

    • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

      Yes, I am very familiar with Ken Wilber’s work. It is significantly critiqued and updated in my first book, The Listening Society.

      I don’t think JP and CP are on the right track, which is why I criticize them.

  • Kirby

    The person that wrote this article has a shallow understanding of what they were talking about. Example: When Paglia said that society was in chaos in the sexual realm and the author thought that using declining rape accusations as a rebuttal they played themselves, she in no way insinuated that the confusion had to do with crime or violence, but about having so much sexual liberty we don’t know what to do with it. The author makes a lot of false equivalencies like that or many arguments that change the subject, not to be rude, but it’s a pretty bad rebuttal.

    I do agree with how hard they go against post-modernism, I look towards the United States from Mexico and see that entire fields have been completely beaten or hijacked, especially structuralist ones, I hear no mention of semiotics in the debate, despite the fact that it should be the center of many fields to do with linguistics and art

  • Spengler

    It seems like the author of this critique has not read Nietzsche or any of the existentialists… Peterson and Paglia primarily went over topics in existentialism that the author completely glanced over or misinterpreted. Peterson and Paglia do misrepresent certain postmodernist points, but not the overall cultural results of it. Postmodernism stemmed from existentialism, but lost the practicality and introduced obfuscation. The rejection of postmodernism is actually a defense of earlier existentialist thought.

  • Simon Kielczewski

    So essentially the author is upset that other people’s ideas don’t fit into their victim-olympic world, and he is having a literary tantrum because people he doesn’t like are doing better at life than him?….

  • Mt

    I like JP and I thought this talk was great.

    He has a lot of fans so it’s nice to hear someone criticizing his arguments. You make a lot of good points, though i think they also do.

    Thanks for pulling this apart and showing a different side.

  • MadC

    Wow there is a lot to dispute here. Well I’m particularly curious how the answer would answer/counterpoint [Part 2 point 1] if they understood it properly.

    This was supposed to be an article logically debunking Peterson’s ideas. Instead here they strawman his point implying that he is suggesting violence is an acceptable problem solving method. That’s totally missing the point. Perhaps Peterson phrased himself badly in this particular video. I don’t remember. The point he was going for is that when civil discourse breaks down violence is eagerly waiting to take its place. Look at antifa for example: look what happens when two sides of a political spectrum reach an impasse and begin to revile each other, just look how gleefully eager they are to “punch nazis”. Because those nazis are acting beyond unreasonably. (Assuming antifa isn’t misjudging its targets in the field, which is not a safe assumption)

    Knowing this, most of us try to be at least a little bit reasonable, because most of us don’t want to resolve problems violently. It’s a last resort. But what happens when a woman acts beyond unreasonably? There exists some small vocal minority of toxic females, who when disagreeing face to face, especially in informal social spaces, will physically challenge men by violating their personal space, pushing, slapping, etc. them in an attempt to provoke a response, knowing if the man touches her back, she instantly wins all sympathy. More commonly unreasonable women will intentionally seek to push a man’s buttons in every way possible that does not cross over any physical boundaries, but is beyond infuriating by design. How the hell is a man supposed to deal with that?

    Do you understand the point properly now?

      • Matthew

        Yeah exactly. If a man is a threat to your life or your property, or to your loved ones, you have the right to initiate force against them.

        The problem is that if a woman is acting in the same way, you can’t, because the law will end up blaming you.

      • Steven Denheyer

        Respectfully, I think that’s a principle of charity fail on your part.

        A wish to hit women would look more like: “There are some cultures in which it’s acceptable to hit women – in limited contexts. And women are quite civil to men in those culture! I think we should adopt those norms.”

        Here’s my attempt at a charitable interpretation: “We have a strict prohibition on hitting women in our culture. And that’s good! But it has the knock-on effect of giving women carte blanche to act aggressively. This is not so good. What’s the solution? Well, maybe good women should be obligated to stick up for men…” He pretty much says exactly that.

        • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

          You’re right, he doesn’t want to hit women, of course. But he does say that he feels powerless about not being able to use physical and dominance intimidation, which is a kind of complaint about the fact. The obvious answer is that he should be able to reasonably argue against the accusations that others make, and that the problem is that people (like far-left students) *are* reducing discourse to violent conflicts.

    • Liselotte Jetzinger

      How is anybody supposed to respond, when someone pushes his/ her buttons…..well hitting doesn´t seem to be the solution, strange, that we have to discuss that here….
      maybe look, why there is a button, that can be pushed ?….and if the argument really is nonsense , address it in a reasonable way?
      But as there are still so many men with the hitting option, I think it´s true, what I use to say about being taken serious as a woman:
      As long as men think they are in any case superior in a physical fight with a woman, we can study as much as we want, they wont take us seriously (on a very basic, existential level ).

      • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

        Great point, Liselotte — this is, if we take off the edges of what I wrote perhaps too provocatively, the real point I was making.

  • Buford T. Justice

    Freinacht writes “Paglia: 21:00. She claims that one must understand neoclassicism and classical theory in order to write about Western society (which she says Foucault didn’t).”

    Paglia actually says “Foucault is absolutely a joke before the Enlightenment. Perhaps he might be useful to talk about what happened after neoclassicism which, by the way, he failed to notice… he knew absolutely nothing about antiquity. How can you make any sort of large structure to analyse western culture without knowing about classical antiquity? This is a person who had no business making large theoretical statements about anything.”

    So her criticism of Foucault is both vastly larger and more damning. To dismiss it as “Bildung snobbism”, as Freinacht does, is rather silly.

  • Decreasing Entropy

    Hanzi, I like your writing a lot and I plan to buy your book eventually, but I have to take issue with this article, it’s petty, and a waste of your time. I agree with some of your criticisms of Peterson, he’s got a huge conservative bias, and is irrationally afraid of society changing. I also disagree with a lot of your criticisms. You are very uncharitable with your interpretations of their points, and sometimes manage to completely misunderstand their context and meaning, as is demonstrated in some of the other comments. Regardless, this kind of attack isn’t going to change anyone’s mind; it’s too antagonistic and sloppy. This whole article feels decidedly postmodern, not metamodern.

    • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

      I’m very glad to hear.

      I admit to making some mistakes and would be happy to back on points that people show are misunderstandings. I still think it’s important, however, to see that JP and CP are getting pomo wrong and throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  • Cameron Rogers

    Thanks a lot for this. I have been pretty opposed to Peterson for awhile and this more or less reiterates my justification for opposing him on multiple issues.

  • Jasper

    I have serious questions regarding your motivation for this article – which is, let’s be honest, poorly written, especially by academic standards.
    I would advise you to see a psychologist.
    May I recommend Jordan Peterson?

    • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

      Jasper, asking questions about motivation is likely a way of dodging having to face the content and truth value of my claims.

      Let’s make a deal and treat the content of what we’re saying, rather than making guesses about one another.

  • Vishal

    Honestly, it’s like midnight here in India as I started reading this piece of yours. I had like only just started when I saw this,
    “Lions cannot see the difference between the whiteness of the zebras and the pale grass.”

    And then I reflected, “didn’t this guy read this thing through once again before posting it..?” And the answer was a conclusive “No” in my mind.

    So well, I will try to adress all of your critique tomorrow once I’m back from office. Also proof read things before posting them. It would help you avoid such glaring mistakes alluding to simple old ‘common sense’ next time around. Thanks

  • Matthew

    1. His point about zebras was about camouflage against the herd not the grass.

    2. The negative masculine political term is patriarchy, and it’s used way more than nanny state. Nanny state was more something people said a lot in the 80s and 90s.

    3. Pomos behave in weird (unique, I suppose) ways but they all think exactly the same, and shame and shutdown people who think differently. On hair color, they are not a herd. But in terms of ideas, they are. Remember when Occupy had everyone repeating exactly what the speaker said? Terrifying.

    4. English does need to look at it’s underlying structure and assumptions. In fact, Paglia does this all the time in her own work. But translating a French deconstructionist into English is meaningless because French and English are not the same and don’t have have the same structure and assumptions. It just turns into gibberish.

    5. Regarding happiness and CBT. It is my opinion that CBT is very shallow and makes people tell themselves they are happy and put on a facade of happiness. I think our current culture convinces people to do that in general and that explains the statistics of happiness going up more than people actually becoming happier. CBT is vapid compared to something enthralling like Jung or Freud. Even if we all become mindless, well-functioning consumerist robots through CBT, I would not trade choose it because it’s beneath human dignity.

    6. The point about sexual chaos is not specific to rape. She’s saying that there’s a breakdown of how men and women relate to each other. Without defined norms, there is chaos and confusion, and lots of misunderstanding.

    7. The freedom to risk rape bit. I think you’re misunderstanding. Paglia’s point is that the threat of risk is real and transcends society or culture. Their point is not that men in general are dangerous rapists, but rather that a small percentage of men are ruthless or deranged rapists, and will be no matter what the sexual culture of a society is like. Even if this is a small percentage, which it is, they can still go out and rape, say, 5 women each, and all of a sudden a lot of women are raped. Knowing this, it makes sense to either do the safe thing and stay home — or take responsibility for the risk you are taking, if you so choose, just like if you choose to ride a motorcycle. Her point is like, “hey man/woman, I respect your choice to take this risk, but know that there is a risk, and that that risk exists not because of a patriarchical culture, but because there are a few psychopaths around.”

  • Ubermensch in Training

    Hanzi,

    I wanted to thank you for this. You’re the first person I have read in quite a long time with a well-reasoned “left” perspective. I’ve been riding on the Peterson train for quite a long time: I’ve watched almost all of his biblical lectures and a substantial portion of his other work. I know his worldview pretty damn well, and you’ve done a good job pointing out the faults in this collaboration Peterson did with Paglia. Peterson’s understanding of how human beings create meaning in their lives has been intellectually invaluable to me, but you’re correct in that many of his social criticisms are sometimes not as well thought out as they could be. I think this comes from how quickly he has been thrust into the public sphere and how rapidly every social issue is accelerating and feeding on itself and morphing; it’s hard for anyone to keep up and analyze it all, particularly someone who is branching quite a bit beyond his field. I don’t think everything he says is completely off base, though; I think it’s probably something like partly-true: a viewpoint that needs to be held in dialectic with others in order to gain a full perspective.

    But the reason I’m thanking you for this is that the left as a whole has yet to truly respond to Peterson. They’ve adopted the strategy of shutting down in discourse and just throwing out accusations of racism and bigotry, so all you’re left with is the conservative part of the conversation. There’s been no dialectic, just a complete refusal to engage on the part of the left. Maybe Peterson is grasping and fumbling like an idiot trying to figure out society’s problems (he’s self-aware enough to know that he probably is doing that just like everyone else!), but it’s better to make mistakes working towards solutions than just taking the ball and going home. I see that lack of engagement on the left slowly changing and it’s encouraging. I used to be quite a lefty; Peterson might say that’s because of my extremely high levels of Openness. But that openness led me to nihilism. I needed to sort myself out, and hard, conservative-leaning perspectives like Peterson or, even more extreme, The Red Pill helped me do that. So I looked at a lot of that stuff for a while, but now I’m trying to find a more balanced approach to my intellectual consumption. You’re giving people a reasonable other side to look at, and I commend you for it. I’ll definitely be reading your other articles; your post-Marxist economic ideas are very intriguing.

    • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

      Thanks for your comment. I feel the same about how the Left has largely failed to respond to the rise of Jordan Peterson, and perhaps I should have emphasized this in the article. Good point.

      • JT

        Hanzi, I cant really comment on many of your critiques because, quite frankly, its past my pay grade. :)
        I will say this though, many of the thoughts expressed by the duo are felt by a large part of the men in the western world. I will agree they worded it poorly in many instances but the essence of what they were trying to express is quite accurate for myself and others. I think the reason why the left is silent is because a large part of them only see one side of the victimization going on in our culture. We seem to have forgotten that it is Fathers and Mothers creating this society we live in.

    • Matt

      “Peterson’s understanding of how human beings create meaning in their lives has been intellectually invaluable to me, but you’re correct in that many of his social criticisms are sometimes not as well thought out as they could be. I think this comes from how quickly he has been thrust into the public sphere and how rapidly every social issue is accelerating and feeding on itself and morphing; it’s hard for anyone to keep up and analyze it all, particularly someone who is branching quite a bit beyond his field.”

      My thoughts exactly

  • Liselotte Jetzinger

    Interesting, Matthew, in witch country do you live?
    In Austria -and I would assume in Europe generally- we have equality in front of the law for everybody and that includes gender …..so no woman can go around and do things -threaten your life or family, BTW what is she doing e.g. ?- and will be treated differently than a man doing the same things……
    the problem with both sexes and everybody who is a threat is that it´s difficult for the police to intervene before anything happened , but vigilantism is not tolerated anyway, be it against man or woman.
    Different where you live?

        • JT

          Liselotte, there are laws like that in Canada too but that isnt the issue. It is how they are applied and presently they do seem to be applied harsher to men in many regards. The pendulum swings both ways, it will be nice when it slows to the middle.

          • Liselotte Jetzinger

            JT……so there IS equality in front of the law, but of course there is always some interpretation possible, at the moment to the disadvantage of men, do I get you right ?

          • JT

            Yes, it is enshrined in our laws. Interpretations are a concern sometimes. I would say women, on average, get the benefit of the doubt before men. As in, viewed as the victim rather than the perp.

          • Liselotte Jetzinger

            thanks, JT, find it rather disconcerting , that it is put by JBP and some men in the discussion, as if it was the law, that women were preferred…and I certainly am for equality, but must say, that situation gives men a faint impression of what women have endured since millennia and are enduring in may countries until today!! Would be great, if this sensitivity would spill over and make men help women e.g. in Arabia to gain equal rights.

          • JT

            Lisolette. What is disconcerting for me is the reality that there has been suffering on both sides. Though that reality seems to get lost when we have these discussions.

          • Liselotte Jetzinger

            …..no doubt about suffering from both sides JT…and I wasn´t addressing you BTW…..
            I was referring to the inequality in front of the law, that was and partly still is the case. In parts of Arabia women never get the status of a grown up , lifelong under custodianship and no decision can be made without the consent of a male family member …to name some of the worst examples.
            But also in Europe / the West , as we know , many of the basic female rights were achieved only within the last century.
            I don´t think though it is about who is the poorer one, I just would like to discuss on basis of reality as you suggest, and not disinformation.

        • Matthew

          I explained already that if a man and woman get into a confrontation, even if the woman initiates it, the man gets charged. So it basicaly allows women to do whatever they want to men.

          On another note, yes, in North America we are a bit more rough-and-tumble and individualistic than in Europe — and we often do opt to take things into our own hands in a vigilante way. And the law and society generally support you if you protect yourself against a violent or unreasonable person. We prefer not to depend as much on the police because we tend to value individualistic freedom and integrity more than conformity and harmony. Just a difference in culture that goes back hundreds of years.

          The problem, though, is that the courts always take the side of the woman in violent disputes, leaving men with no protection. This is what Jordan Peterson is talking about.

          • Liselotte Jetzinger

            well, you said that , I couldn´t imagine anyway….:-) and never herd about it, that the man gets charged , no matter what….. ; and yes I know there is the different culture of historical reasons….I prefer our´s :-) , and the fact, that there are less guns out there , but depends on personal taste and probably conditioning. Thanks for Info!

  • Lyrebird

    I have some interest in Peterson and Paglia. Paglia mainly for her rough, inapologetic yet researched works on aesthetics and sexuality. Peterson for his outspoken trend of conservatism, in an age where conservative movements are structured like countercultures. I don’t always agree on their statements, but they feel refreshing and insightful, which is reason enough for a well thought-out critique of their thought. Though there were some spot-on arguments in your analysis, though at times painfully politically correct rhetoric seemed miles away from the existential and mythic roots of JP and CP. Especially the right to risk and the preference for one archetypal gender-related way of dealing with to another could not be further away from the misogyny you claim it to be.

  • judas

    I don’t think I canprovide the kind of response this blog post deserves. Partly I don’t want to, partly nothing matters on the internet and it isn’t worth my effort.

    I definite disagree with your stereotypical political correctness but I also very much agree with your rejection of JP/CP inherent reactionary conservatism. I admire your drive and your marathon level stamina to post something this long as just anohter post among many on this blog.

    Early in the article you state that “”””tually linguistic thinking is the basis of our mind” or something to that efffet. And you cite a recent book on the topic. I’m sorry, thisi s more than vaguely authrotiy based. Furrrther, nobody is going to bother “reading up” on that book and you know it. If you found it so convincing (no, we know you learned and took unquestioningly that words and concepts are the basis of our brains), then you should have shared some of the evidence anywhere that you espouse it.
    As Gore Vidal said, “nobody but your mother cares about your opinion….just tell us what you experienced”.

    If you are going to pretend to be evidence based, and pedantically “I am a social SCIENTIST” too, then you should live up to it.

    This would be one reason why conservatives and normal people reject post modernism. But let’s e honest, this concern is so rarefied that it has no effect either way. It is really a truly internal battle on campuses. And that is the primary appeal from these kinds of conservative commentators to more elite intellectual dissident liberals: shit that doesn’t matter to anyone else but us nerds.

    The reason I find Peterson so disgusting, and to a lesser extent Paglia, si because they lie and strawmen their opponents. I don’t know why you said Jordan Peterson is a talented etc kind of guy. He has no significant achievement to his name. A totally generrrrri psychology professor in a pretty reactionary pseudo science field.
    His fame today is entirely based on appeals to the deplorable conservatives, in the manner of a Stefan Molyneux or Mike Cernovich or the much more successful Alex Jones. Seething resentment of racists and reactionaries who for some reason enjoy having unpleasant nerds be their voice.

    II think paglia has some very libertine, anarchist, freedom embracing views on sex in some ways, and so it is odd that she also embraces th “men will just rape you if you don’t watch it” ultra conservative misandry and misogyny.
    I erally don’t understand why every voice against these conservatives tends to be victim centered and fixated on the perfection of third wave feminism, which was a itself a reactionary mess in many ways. Dworkin is both too hated and too beloved, as are other icons of the time. There is no critical attitude towards them of any balance. They either have cultish followers or deranged haters.

    I would love to say and believe that CP/JP and their ilk only have a following because there is no well balanced voice to dsicuss modern gender politics and art politics. But that would be deluded. Many people have a balanced view and they have no audience. You have to be extreme today to capture an audience and tell them what they want to hear.

    A lot of what these conservatives say, especially Paglia, is also slanted just to make a point.
    We don’t need word play like the Frenhc post modernists use, is very much such a point. Really stupid. What aboutt poets then, don’t they use wordplay?

    Peterson has the distinction of being such a repulsive liar as to suggest that the new Canadian law that recommends sensitivity to all identities including ender, is a law that will fine or jail you for not using someone’s chosen pronouns. Get it? The TRANS ARE COMING FOR YOUR FREEDOMS!!! He is especially repulsive because he lies like this after researching an issue. Paglia just makes up shit like this when asked, without having full information.

    There is also no denying that mmmmmoleft wing activists sharethe generally conservative view of everything that JP and that whole constituency espouse. Trump type conservatives hypocr. But they have some issue or other that puts them on “the left”. Any serious post modernist would see that these categories are ripe for deconstrution and dismissal.

    Much of the appeal of Paglia’s critique of academia is also, or used to be, based on the idea that most opst modern academics are phnies who are simply not interested in anything ahnd have learned to walk the walk and talk the talk of some precious word play and jargon, in the worst tradition of conttttteporary PhD office politics. The idea of an intolerant jargon juggling professor dismissing well reasoned arguments from students because they didn’t pass a jargon litmus test comes to mind.

    My experience of university was that either you had post modern professors who forcedou to dance a jargon without any real knowledge, oooor ery conservative professors who ha helf a very limited country bumpkin view of social sciences and humanities. THOSE ones could have used a good dose of post modernist jargon to open their minds. Or they should have been never hired.

    I don’t think aglia or Peterson are even slightly influential today. The internet is dominated by much more than them and they are marginal voices. I think you will only finid Paglia a presence at book tours for middle class clueless folk who go to see whatever is presented at that membership series or event. She is a content filler as well for libertarian outlets like Breitbart and AEI.
    The same conservaates who link to her on Twitter saying “this is really great, you learn a lot”, will also link to to some Fox news article and say the exact same thing.

    Peterson is basically a non-entity even at that level. What tours does he attend?

    The conservative criticism of post modern academia is not based on such sophisticated conserdation even. They just see some intellectuals who make a good livign (the tenured professors) and they resent . It actually lends respectability and authority to so many lightweight neoliberal academics as subversive post modern leftist warriors, to be hated by such scuuuuuzzy types. They all deserve each other.

    I could write much much more but it makes me tired. Maybe some day I will do a real take down of Paglia and all the current alt right, dissident feminist, dissident conservatives. They are just careerists like a lot of leftists, who found a niche. If you look a bit more deeply into any of them, you find they are all hypocrites and ignorant and self serving. It’s prety bad all around.

    I think the kind of post modernism you should be defending would be something like Fassbinder. But I suspect you are more keen to take the side of a bore like Foucault or even more likely, one your many post modern professors. IIIIon’t know. Life is pretty depressing. That’s why I’m so impressed with your detailed effort here.

    • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

      Dear Judas, there’s a lot here and I am not sure I understand all of your twists and turns. Just to note: I wouldn’t actually suggest that Peterson and Paglia are liars, only that they have gotten stuck in limited perspectives of allergy. But I do agree it’s disconcerting that Peterson has talks with e.g. Stefan Molyneux.

      I am not sure how you link Metamodernism to Fassbinder (do you mean the movie director?) but you are welcome to expand a bit.

  • judas

    “A marxist cliche” on the advent of the nuclear family. That is awful, man. Marxists aren’t even interested in that. Or anything else.

    You cite books as authorities, which are awful books of no objective value. Nuclear family is good. Nuclear family was the norm.
    The point was not that you had multiple generations and extended family under one roof but that a child had access to the extended family. Other members of the extended family would have an influence on the child and look after them, taking pressure off the parents.
    This is still true today for families that don’t migrate.

    Your faith in psychology for a post modernist is admirable and puzzling. One suspects you have not yet read Deleuze and Guattari.

    I could also say that this take down of Paglia and JP, exposing them as classical conservaitves, is music to the ears of their remaining fans.
    Paglia USED TO be a tolerant hippie libertarian but she became a far right conservative in past years. Today you will not find anyone who likes her except people who haven’t followed the news or out and out far right who discovered her now, in her far right voice.

    That’s why all the haters in comments are all calling you a Marxist, lefttist social justice warrior. Those are the only kind of fans these two have today. Paglia’s comments are partly distorted without the context of her past. Jordan Peterson’s comments are perfectly reflective of who he is today, a bigot and an authoritarian.

  • Matt

    Hmm.

    I’ve been a big fan of Peterson and in the name of moderation I have been looking for criticism against his ideas. Some things he says gets me really scratching my head. There seems to be a lot of gaps in his otherwise very moving talks. I feel as if he makes points that leave much to be explained, but due to his amazing conviction and sincere belief in what he is saying, he and his audience nod in approval, especially because he is often dropping many interesting gems around the point which takes attention away.

    Some of your points had me scratching my head too and a little bit critical, but some were very spot on. A few points were worded in a way that made me assume for a moment you have an annoying, smug tone. I hope I am wrong.

    Thanks anyways, I was looking for something like this.

    • Ivan

      This discussion is surely one his lesser good videos. Yes, some things he says are badly articulated and in 1-2 examples somewhat cringy.
      If you go however critical through the criticism, you will find that it is in many aspects wrong or even tries to put wrong words in his mouth.
      I did an review of that below.
      I agree that it is good to get critical input and some here is justified.
      But it is highly subjective and I would say quite resentful. Read the last part. I would say it sounds very spiteful and jealous. And he tries to promote his book here. If someone wants to sell you something, be alert. I would be careful to take any of it at face value.
      As always, form your own opinion!
      Good luck with that my friend.

  • z

    Somewhere in the middle of the discussion Camille and Jordan seems to agree that there’s only existed patriarchy maybe once or twice in history (might be wrong on the frequency since I haven’t gone back and re-watched the entire video again so correct me if I’m wrong).

    I’d love to understand more where they’re coming from – anyone with an idea of what they mean and the logic behind it?

  • Ivan

    Well first, I was like some others here looking for a good criticism of Peterson.
    To be honest, I have found that only in some bits.

    I will not go into everything as your argumentation is at least as much of a marathon as the video itself.
    And I am not that much interested in Paglia, so I focused more on arguments about JP.

    Some of your points

    To1.7: Peterson is right here that camouflage does not help against lions. They might be colour blind, but it does not help nevertheless as this study shows: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0145679

    To 1.10: You are right that it would be nice if he would name what alternatives you have to decrease the suffering. On the other hand, only because they have not discussed it, does not mean that he does not think that this is a problem that should be solved. In other videos he named for example Capitalism a bad system (but one that at least works). He is not blind to the problems. He just points out that just going on a blind physical or intellectual rampage is unlikely to make anything better.

    To 1.13: “he fails to point out that the majority of PC is explained by high agreeableness and higher social concern, also being linked to higher stages of personal development and post-conventional moral development.” Well that is your opinion. Fair enough. But as with many other aspects, it gives no prove whatsoever. Especially after you do not explain why PC should be a higher a stage of personal development. A statement I would strongly contradict at least as in its general claim. Being seriously hurt by statements which are harmless to other people with the same background seems to me hardly a higher stage, but simply at least on the first level an increased sensitivity. And those PC persons who call for violence because of Micro Aggressions seems to me pretty close to a hatred filled mob.

    To 2.1: “He says he feels helpless because he cannot hit women, or implicitly threaten to hit them.”

    I do agree that the way Peterson is stating is argument here is cringy. I do think his choice of words is not good. Which is something that can happen in a spoken argument as you pointed out in the beginning (not that it mattered later).

    You are however warp what he is saying. Stating YOUR interpretation as a pseudo quote: “Yes, really, this is what your hero says.” is really off, if not manipulatory. And adding a smirk that shows quite some resentment here. Which makes it even harder to believe that this is in any way an objective review.

    What he said is: “When man are talking to each other that UNDERLYING threat of physicality is always there.”
    As he stated often enough the importance of communicating in a civilized manner, I do not think that he is so much missing the chance to actual threaten somebody. What he means is as far as I understand it a general aggressiveness when it comes to argumentation. He is not lamenting that he cannot be violent against woman, but that he cannot answer in such an aggressive manner as he is verbally attacked. And that is at least to some degree true. A man screaming at a woman is far less tolerated as the other way around. I really don’t think this is about actual violence or the threat of it. It is about defending yourself against some when with the same means he or she attacks. The concept of violence is just the background. And just to mention this, he has stated often enough that real violence is something that should be avoided at all costs. And especially violence against woman.

    To 2.5: “So basically, he just killed their whole argument that PC gender equality means that masculinity is undermined.”
    Well, not really. His point was never that “men are not men anymore”, but that men are more and more giving up their role as caretakers in society. He sees the positive role models of man and woman in danger (yes, he is conservative. buhu). By the way, he is also seeing hyper-masculinity as a problem. Therefore, a stronger trait diversity is not the point he is worry about. He is worried about people losing their faith in acting out positive roles.

    To 2.7: Point taken. What she says is taken at face value absolutely stupid. Fist fights are almost always stupid. I do believe both meant probably a more direct communication, because seriously, how often will have those two observed fist fights, being okay with it. But it is a poor intellectual argument. Sure.

    To 2.8: He is NOT stating to prefer a physical bullying. He is stating that his daughter has observed that her brother has more direct confrontations with his friends. DO you really believe they beat each other up constantly? Seriously… That means that you TALK to the face of the other person, instead of behind their backs. Sure, Paglia was mentioning stupid fist fights before, but that does not mean that when JP talks about arguments between men, this automatically involves bloodshed. Who do you think he is? Attila? Conan the barbarian?

    To 2.17: Regarding compelled speech: “We have many other forms of “compelled speech” that JP does not oppose. For instance, we’re not allowed to call one another bitch, nigger, “it”, and legally we’re not allowed to tell somebody to commit murder. And we can be compelled to speak when asked about our earnings by the tax authorities.”

    Sorry, but all these examples are off. First, it is a difference if you are forbidden to do something or forced to do something. He is only against enforced usage of words. In a liberal democracy there are things you are always forbidden to do, in a tyranny there are things you are always forced to do. Think about the difference of military service as a job and being forced by the threat of death to go to war. Therefore, your first two are off. And regarding the last, when are you forced to tell a random person about your earnings? This only happens when you have a job and profit from society. It is a deal. The moment you are entitled to profit from tax money and have a job, you agreed to pay taxes. You can leave society if you dont agree with its very basic rules.

    “If asking people to show common courtesy and mildly penalize failure” Mildly penalizing? Jordan was threatened to lose his job and his licence. Which can easily destroy a persons live. If this is mildly to you, I don’t want to know what something harsh would be… Concentration camp?

    To 2.22: You are right there. Stupid point of him.

    Overall, at least for Peterson standards, this was not a very good discussion. I wonder if he was really satisfied with it. And yes, they agreed too much to each other. And some of JPs points were not very well argued. But, it is a discussion. As you mentioned, it is much harder to get things straigt in such as when writing something.

    And yes. Peterson is conservative. I still dont see why this is a problem or why he should be in any way far right or racist or really sexist. Some of his views on woman are borderline. Ok. But in no way extreme.
    He is not the Messia. But who but some fanboys have said that? He surely not.
    He is not without faults, but overall he still seems to me genuine in his attempt to be truthful and compassionate.
    If you listen to him without hate, you should be able to realize that he is compassionate about people and that what he wants is to prevent harm. You don’t have to agree with him. But looking at everything through a lens of resentment and spite is not helpful. And that is what I get out your comments.

    To sum up. You are in no way fair to what they say.
    You have some points, yes. But most are coming from what you want to understand and some are simply wrong. You lose yourself in your subjective interpretation. Such as criticizing Paglia for saying that PMs are “poorly educated”, pointing out that “these are the folks with degrees in history and anthropology”. Well, you can understand poorly educated either as someone had little education or that the education was bad. She surely meant the second. Not understanding what the person you criticize means is not a legit basis for deconstructing them.

    And what kind of self-promotion is the end?
    “By the way, the correct answer to their question, what comes next, after this wave of pomo?
    It’s that you accept good feminism, make sure none of it is driven by blame or hatred, and then add another layer to it: masculinism. Then you proceed with a both-and perspective. And you use developmental psychology to get at the core of the issues, reducing the gender antagonism in society, as discussed in my upcoming book, Nordic Ideology.”

    So what has to be done? All in your book? You are the big prophet who knows everything? (Except regarding zebras)
    How humble… And all you say in between. Sorry, but that means basically “something between the extremes…” Oh wow. We never thought about a “both-and perspective”! O.O (actually Jordan points out that conservatives and liberals have both their merits and that you should take both their opinions into account, but whatever…)

    To be honest, your arguments seem to me in their sum a marathon of self-righteous profiling.
    You go in harsh and praise yourself at the end. At the same time you make a lot of mistakes yourself.
    This seems narcissistic and hypocritical to me. If you are harsh with others, you should at least be harsh to yourself.
    Regarding the amount of stuff you get wrong (at least with the zebras there is a clear publication, so no argumentation there ;-) ) you should be really critical about yourself. If you want to be a real intelectual, correct some errors or at least consider things again more sober…

    • Hanzi Freinacht Post author

      Hello Ivan,

      Thanks for engaging closely with the post. I don’t agree with all of your counter-arguments, but some of them would make me reconsider what I have written. Take care

      • Ivan

        Well, despite my counter-criticisim, I have to say that it is honourable that you allow it and seem to actually consider it.
        This is for sure nothing granted. So my respect for that.

        As said. I think you have some true points there and you made me rethink some of Peterson arguments.
        I do still agree with most of what he is saying (not in this discussion though). And I do think he is a genuine and smart person. More conservative than I will probably ever be, but that does not mean he is wrong. I like to match his ideas with my more liberal mindset and see where what seems more useful.
        And if you think he is overated, I would recommend his maps of meaning lecture, which is way better material than this discussion.

        Further, I countered maybe a bit too gleeful myself, because I felt the same in your criticism. I have to admit that.

        I wish you good luck with finding truth. Take care as well!

  • Eric

    “He says he feels helpless because he cannot hit women, or implicitly threaten to hit them.”

    No, he doesn’t say that or even suggest that he wants to hit women.

    Rather, he explains how there is a dynamic between men where a healthy civility is maintained *because* there is an implicit assumption that the disagreement could escalate to violence. And then he says no such dynamic exists between women and men (without passing judgement on it, contrary to your smear) and says that *women* must hold other women accountable.

    • Andrew Cone

      Yeah, I have to say Hanzi, that was a pretty slanderous misreading of what JP was saying. Saying he longs for a more full-contact style of argumentation, in which an implicit sense of “we could get into a fight” regulates the discourse, is not at all the same as saying “I want to hit women.”

      This proclivity in your article to ferret out and prove that JP and CP are misogynist really weakens the piece as a whole. Like, I’m a reader of both CP and JP (thought not 100% a fan), and I really appreciate your meatier critiques of their crazier claims. It’s really important that people like you take the time to hold them to account. But it is super stupid to engage in this sort of character assassination. It really discredits your overall project here, at least it does to me.

      I honestly don’t give a rat’s ass who is a misogynist or a classical conservative or whatever. I care whether what people say is true and useful. I think you should too.

  • James

    I thought this was a quite dishonest read of the conversation.

    You made several large, inferential leaps based on a casual conversation and a poor understanding of the two speakers. Then, you repeatedly criticized it because it doesn’t live up to your invented, arbitrary, ever-changing standard of academic rigor.

    It’s like looking at a large, vast forest from afar and calling it ugly because you found a couple funny looking trees. These sorts of sneering “nits” are *not* substantive or rigorous.

    Next time, attack the strong version of their arguments (rather than the artificially weak versions you keep conjuring up).

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