Jordan B. Peterson, professor of psychology, examines the pitfalls of modern political and philosophical ideologies & the corruption of the system
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Mike: How’s it been since you kinda poked the hornets nest later last year?

Jordan: Overwhelming. I certainly didn’t expect this sort of response. I made those videos [00:03:30]  which you may know about, 3 videos at the end of september objecting to some legislation in Canada that is now being debated at the senate. It hasn’t been completely passed at the federal level yet and actually the conservative party in Canada has started to rather vociferously oppose it so that’s very interesting. Another video was about my concerns about the Human Resources Department at the University of  Toronto using these bloody implicit association tests and this diagnosis of [00:04:00]  unconscious bias to determine if the whole structure was racist which is really appauling as far as I’m concerned and then when describing  politically correct game as a ideological algorythm that allows people to explain the whole world and feel morally superior. The first two of those in particular cause a lot fewer. [00:04:30]  There’s about 180 newspaper articles written about it by middle of December. The youtube response has been absolutelly overwhelming. So, what do I say about that. It’s been very strange and still continuing.

Mike: Has it brought a lot of stress into your life?

Jordan: Yeah, I would says so. I’m not complaining about it. It’s brought a lot of opportunity in my life. Now, I had to make a lot of adjustments because there have been a lot of different demands of my time. [00:05:00]  I was concerned from the perspective of being stressed for the first while because it wasn’t clear what was going to happen to my position at the university. What happened is that I’ve backed teaching undergraduates. I’ve allways teached all my courses in this semester. So i was just teaching my students and researching last semester in between this political furor. But the students have been very welcoming so that’s been great. [00:05:30]  The University has, I wouldn’t call it a truce exactly because that metaphor would imply that there’s actually a battle. I mean, the people that I was dealing with at the University were by no means malevolent or ignorant people. I was dealing primarily with one of the deans. He’s an older guy. He was mostly trying to make peace and got a lot of pressure from the social justice types who are very good at organizing. They are very professional organizers and activists fundamentally at the faculty level, [00:06:00]  at student level, even at the administrive level at some degree. So, they were claiming that I was causing an unsafe environments and all these typical tricks. Most people in the big organizations want to avoid trouble. You can’t believe how much people want to avoid trouble or at least they certainly want to avoid being targetet as the perpetrator of trouble. I’ve also had a tremendous amount of opportunities because of this.

Mike: What do you think is behind this whole social warrior movement, [00:06:30]  the censorship , controlled speech and all of this?

Jordan: Well, we’ve looked at that empyrically. It’s material that’s ought to be published and that’s being delayed because of whats happened. We look at the personality predictors of political beliefe in general quite extensively. Other labs have done this aswell, especially with regards of liberalism and conservatism. On the level of liberal conservatism demension, on the liberal side you have people who are high in big five trade openess [00:07:00]  which is a creativity dimension and more liberal people tend to be more interested in ideas than they tend to be in estethics. They like to explore domains that are new and they like to breakdown distinctions between categories to see what happens. They’re creative thinkers, they think in this associational way. So, on the liberal side you have more of the artists and philosophers, poets, writers, actors, the archetypes. Also entrepeneurs. [00:07:30]  But they’re also low on conscientousness, especially orderliness. That means they’re not really discussed sensed to begin with. They also don’t care if things are in their proper categories. They don’t do good at jobs with manageurial jobs or administrative jobs where you have to monitor and watch, keep track of things and organize and make sure things are done according to an algorythm. The conservatives are the opposite of that. They don’t get much of a kick by breaking down [00:08:00]  the distinctions between things because they’re not very interested in new ideas. They like the tried and the true. They also tend to be very orderly. That accounts for the difference between the liberals and the conservatives. So, liberals want to break down borders and the conservatives want to maintain them and that seems to be the fundamental political distinction. Borders between things. That can be countries, cows, people, sexual orientations, categories. It goes across every level of cognitive conceptualization. [00:08:30]  But the politically correct types, they’re different. They tend to be fairly high in openness like the liberals but they’re also high in another trait called agreablenesss. I think agreableness is basically the maternal dimension so the pc types tend to see the world as victimized children and predators. If you’re a victimized child, then the agreable empathy and the maternal compassions is directed strongly towards you. But if you’re in the predator category you better look the hell out. [00:09:00]  We also know of the more authoritarian politically correct type. Those are the ones that are really interested in linguic control and censorship. They tend to be less intelligent, techically speaking. They’re also high in orderliness like the conservatives. So the authoritarian pc types are a very strange hybrid of orderliness that is associated with the controling part of conservatism and the agreableness that’s part of maternal compassion. Compassion sounds strange [00:09:30]  in some sense because the sjw can be agressive towards those they put in the category of enemy. I still think it’s conceptualized as sending response and we also know they’re far more likely to be female.

Mike: Interesting you say this about the borders because it seems like people pay so much more attention to what’s happening within their little social dynamic or group without paying attention for you know, women rights. These sjw-s are completely ignoring what’s happening in the middle east [00:10:00]  to women rights.

Jordan: Well that’s a different issue i think. That’s a really interesting issue. It’s never easy to exactly tell what people are up to. Even yourself, right? Because people are full of mixed motivations. It’s in their paradoxes that people embrace where you can often see their true motivations. The fact that the social justice warrior types, the pc types alloy themselves or refuse to criticize the practices of countries like Saudi Arabia [00:10:30] or any other of the countries in that part of the world that extremely limit the rights of women and the rights of religious minorities. I think the reason they do that is because underneath a fair bit of the radical leftist dynamic isn’t care for opressed groups. It’s desire to tear down the current power structure at every level. That’s a post-modernist trope because they consider the current culture nothing but an opressing patriarchy. [00:11:00]  If the current culture is an opressive patriarchy, everything that opposes that culture is a friend. So, in their support for or refusal to criticize places like Saudi Arabia  you see their true motivation. It’s not the elevation of the status of women because if that was your true aim you would be protesting about Saudi Arabia non-stop. This idea I can’t understand at all. Why women as a political force [00:11:30]  in the USA in particular just dont demand that the US stops treating the saudis like an ally. What the hell, how are they an ally? They basically enslaved their women and they’re like: that’s ok, they’re still an ally. Well no, actually all logic would force you in the direction assuming that that actually constitutes quite a major problem. But you don’t see any of that and I think it’s the old idea – the enemy of my enemy is my friend. [00:12:00]

Euvie: That makes so much sense the way you put it and it explains why there’s so much fragmentation in these subcultures and subgroups and how they turn to each other so quickly. Once being gay became normal in the west and then they are subcategorizing it into trans and other kinful or whatever these other sub sub subgroups. Once something becomes mainstream then it becomes the status quo and that’s the oppressor, [00:12:30] the new opressor.

Jordan: Yeah, that’s it. That is also to some degree why these sorts of arguments will never stop. Because if you’re playing the oppressor vs the opressed game, all you have to do is continually fragment the opressed group. You will allways find someone else who is oppressed. My sense is that, that’s actually why the west evolved the concept of individualism. It’s because if you fragment the group far enough, in terms [00:13:00]  of oppressed categories you end up at the level of the individual. Then you say well yes, the individual should be given due consideration. Yeah, that solves the fragmentation problem because it’s the place where the fragmentation has to stop. So the left, you can see these two with the continual growth of the LGBT acronyms act. It will expand indefinatelly because you can continue to fragment the oppressed groups. There’s no end to it. Well, the individual is the end. Ideological systems get devoured by [00:13:30] their own internal contradictions. Even if they don’t believe in internal contradictions. The fight now that’s emerging between the more classical feminist and then the trans-activist community is a really good example of that. The trans-activist community has managed to redefine female as a whim. It’s just something that you can do. I can be a female when I want. That doesn’t work out so well with regards to the philosophy of the people who claim that women as biological entities have certain [00:14:00] concerns that need to be adressed politically. That’s a problem.

Euvie: That’s why they are about to lose abortion rights in the states. Hopefully not, but it’s a real danger.

Jordan: Yeah, you can’t make the oppressed into a homogenous group. It just doesn’t work out because they’re not. Partly because everyone is oppressed to some degree or other by the demand for adherence to normative standards which are necessary. That’s the price you pay [00:14:30] for social being. There’s no escape from it. But it’s still the case that every individual has both the sociological and the historical claim to being oppressed. Also, the same claim as individuals isn’t to say that some people are more soft than others because ofcourse they are.

Mike: It seems like noone is actually observing the statistical relevance of whether we have to adopt these new gender pronouns into our language. Is it that necesssary that we would be talking about all the different subgroups as a new normal in the language? [00:15:00]

Jordan: I think that’s another part of the attempt to breakdown the patriarchal structure, roughly speaking. I talked to a school teacher yesterday from British Colombia and they have been told to stop using the terms boys and girls and also the terms mothers and fathers. Really, they’ve been forbidden to do that. That’s part of the [inaudible] dissolved on normative standards I would say. Because the post modernist basically say, [00:15:30] it’s such a crazy philosophy, the post modernists, they have a point. They basically say that as soon as you construct a hierarchy of value and say that one thing is more important than another, then you automatically marginalize and exclude people using that categorical scheme. Which is to say that if you’re organizing a game some people have to win and some people lose. Now, what they fail to take into account is that there isn’t a single hierarchy value in complex society. [00:16:00] There’s lots of games and just because you win some things it doesn’t mean you win everything and because you lose one thing it doesn’t mean you lose everything. There’s lots of games to play. They just don’t take that into account at all. Now they think they don’t take into account and this is the real deathly error in post modernism. Unless you have a hierarchy of value so that one thing is more important than another you don’t have anything to do. Everything that you do, literally [00:16:30] everything, even the way you’re pointing your eye is predicated on your assumption that one thing is more important than another. Technically, it’s the construction of that value hierarchy and the differentiation of things into less value and more valuable. It gives your life meaning because you’re oriented towards things of higher value, allways. The reason that our eyes are making contact at the moment is because we’re making the presumption that the emotional information that we’re exchanging is a value and you can’t even organise your perceptions without [00:17:00] a value hierarchy. The postmodernists say with every value of hierarchy comes exclusion. Yeah, but without any value hierarchies there’s no positive meaning in life and they never adress that problem at all. What happens instead is they revert to their marxism and say we can’t have a value hierarchy within postmodernism because it’s exclusionary but without a value hierarchy we don’t know what to do so then we’ll just revert to marxism and neo-marxism and divide people into their identity groups and [00:17:30] call that meaningful. It’s a falling philosophy and it’s really hard on people.

Mike: Is marxism the seeming final resolution to this type of idologies? Is that where this results?

Jordan: Well, it’s postmodernism nested inside marxism. What happens is postmodernists basically make the claims that I’ve just described. Also, you can see the postmodernist influence in the way the social justice warriors act on campuses because postmodernists don’t believe in logic. They believe that logic is the tool the oppressive patriarchy uses [00:18:00] to justify it’s own claims to power. This is exactly what they think and it’s really important to understand this. They don’t believe in dialogue because dialogue is predicated on the exchange of logic. So, there’s no speaking between different power groups. That’s why they don’t allow people who don’t agree with them to come and talk. They don’t want to talk to them, they don’t believe in talking. They don’t believe in dialogue. They believe that the world is made out of competing power groups [00:18:30] who have nothing to say to one another. It’s just power struggle. Derrida , who’s the king the gestures, he’s the king of the postmodernists. He described western civilization as foul logocentric. Well faulas, that’s obvious, is the male dominated element. Logos, that’s the route of logic but it’s also the term in christian ideology used to describe the word that god used [00:19:00] at the beginning of time to transform chaos into order. It’s also embodied in the figure of Christ. Derrick was a very brilliant man. It’s not that he didn’t know these things. So foul logocentrics means male logic dominated. That’s what it means. The logos is a broader term than logic but we can leave it at that. They criticize all of that. So, there’s no dialuge with post modernists, that’s not how they look at the world. So, when they don’t want to have a debate, when they don’t want [00:19:30] to discuss, when they want to block other sepeakers, when they do their no-platforming, when they protest against people coming to campus to speak. It’s a perfect keeping of their philosophy. Outside of that the postmodernists who were all marxists before they became postmodernists, but it became intellectually untannible to be a radical left leaning communist/marxist by the end of the 1960’s because the data coming out of the Soviet Union and China [00:20:00] about what happened when those systems were implemented were so appauling that even people like Jean-Paul Sartre, who was a fervid supporter of the communists alltough never a communist card carrier. He even renounced communism by 1968 and then the postmodernist came along and said ok, we’re not going to play an economic game anymore. It’s not going to be the working class vs the bourgeoisie. We won’t talk about economics, we’ll talk about power. Which is the same old wolf in new sheeps clothing [00:20:30] and we’ll make it the oppressor vs the oppressed instead of the rich against the poor. All they did was take all of their bloody presuppositions, transform the terminology, shift it a little bit to a new linguistic area and keep on playing the same old tricks. So, here we are, thirty years later. They’ve been pushing radical activism for thirty years and people who have been trained in that capacity [00:21:00] have been increasingly infiltraded every level of organization. That’s also part of something that was clad that’s part of the long path to the institutions. So, here we are.

Euvie: That seems to be common line that young people get carried away with these ideologies, with these utopian visions without understanding what actually happens if you implement utopian vision. That’s something you’ve talked about before also.

Jordan: It’s very strange. One of the things that was mysterious [00:21:30] to me for years. When i talked about the Soviet Union in my personality class psychology because i acknowledge Alexander Sassnitz who wrote extensively on this as an existentialist. I cover existentialism in my class and so I’m proned to use the best exponents of a given line of thinking as exemplars for teaching purpuses. I’ve been talking to my students about the gulag archipelago and the [00:22:00] forced labor camps in the Soviet Union for a very long time. One of the things that was very interesting is noone of my students have ever heard about it. Well, I shouldn’t say that, there was that odd kid obviously, but most of the time the first time anybody hears about this is in my class. What the hell? People know about world war 2 and they know about the holocaust, why in the world don’t they know about what happened in the Soviet Union? The answer is they were never taught it. The question is why not and I think that western intellectuals have never admited their complicity [00:22:30] in the Soviet catastrophe so they just hide the history. It was the most relevant thing that happened in the twentieth century I would say. In the ideological war between the west and the Soviet Union, world war 2 was like a sideshow in some sense compared to that.

Euvie:  [Yeah], how many people Stalin had killed is just insane.

Jordan: It’s unbelievable. And Lenin started it because, for a while the excuse of the western leftist was Stalin corrupted Lenins grand vision, but Lenin had set the murderous [00:23:00] path in motion well before he perished and Stalin was his greatest monster. The same thing happened with the Maoists. They were worshipped by the leftists in the 1960’s and maoists little red book people used to carry around was a fashion accessory. So, there’s a real question why children have no knowledge whatsoever on this massively important element of the twentieth century. But, it’s not a question because increasingly [00:23:30] the elementary school system, junior high school is completely dominated by social justice warriors. One of the most corrupt disciplines and there’s many corrupt disciplines at the university, but I would say that social work and education fighted out for most corrupt discipline. That and women studies, that whole ethnic women studies thing which is just a complete bloody catastrophe. It’s nothing but a cult. The universe is in many ways turned into cults, it’s crazy. [00:24:00] They do the university students such an injustice. They really are cults. The only thing that’s different is a cult has a central leader.

Mike: What do you think this whole safe space movement has come from? Why are people so protectionist of being offended or being hurt by facts?

Jordan:  That’s a good one. There’s a psychological answer to that I think. There’s a political answer, psychological answer and a demographic answer. I think we should start with the demographic answer. As you might ask what’s different about [00:24:30] kids today. You can’t say narcissm because it’s not like the baby boomers were narcissistic, thank god. You know, that was the Me generation, that was thier pejorative label and there was good reason for that. But I think one of the big differences is demographic shift in the way we structure our families. Two generations go, three generations go, there were still lots of kids in those families. When you’re the third kid among four, [00:25:00]that’s very different than being the first kid among one. You’re a lot less special if you have less siblings and the more siblings you have, less special you are. Then you add to that the fact that people are having their chidren later in life. It makes them much more prone to spend resources on them and much more cautious. If you’re in your twenty and have three kids, you’re still part a party animal you know. You’re not that much older than your kids either. You still kinda remember what it’s like to be a kid. So, that carelesssness [00:25:30] and selfcenteredness lets say, that is parcel of being young is actually a facilitator of being independant from children. Then, if you have multiple children they kind of raise eachother. It’s a roughness, if you’re narcissistic your siblings are going to pound you flat continually. I think that’s part of it. It’s smaller families to older parents so they’re much more sheltered, attended to and special. That’s the demographic issue. [00:26:00] The psychological issue is that I think we have a lot of students in university who have mental health problems, depression and anxiety. The rate of that has increased as the number of students enrolled have been female has increased. Because women are much more prone to depression and anxiety to negate emotional disorders. Men are more prone to anti-social beheviour and alcoholism. They have their own learning disabilities, they have their own canonical set of patology, [00:26:30] lets say. There’s a substantial number of students at universities who are very anxiety sensitive and overwhelmed with negative emotion. Some of them have also been traumatized. They are the ones that are pushing the “safe space” thing. It’s a personality disorder manifestation fundamentally. Because the real rule is if you can’t handle reading an upsetting book, you’re not ready yet for diversity. The fact that you need safe space actually is indicative of the fact that you could use some counsil. If you have a problem the question [00:27:00] allways is who has the problem. You or everybody else? Well, your first step should be you, but if you are a little on the narcissistic side and very prone to negative motion and someone keeps saying you’re victimized and you should be safe the logical conclusion is everyone else should adjust to your hyper-sensitive temperament. Now, that would be fine but the problem is if you protect people they get worse, not better. One of the fundamental axioms of clinical treatment for anxiety disorders [00:27:30] is that voluntary exposure to what you fear and are disgusted by is curative. So, building walls of protection around people is counter productive.

Mike: Yeah, it seems like people need to be building ressilience and they need to be doing that by exposure to “fire”. -Any number of things that will cause them pain, but give them scar tissue.

Jordan: Yeah well, voluntary exposure is the trick. Then there’s the political dimension which is the post modern neo marxists let’s say where they can utilize [00:28:00] these students as weapons in their war, and they do that. That’s another element that’s very cult-like. Because cult organizations tend to find damaged people and use them as pawns. There’s no shortage of that happening on univeristy campuses. It’s like the students are the avatars of the faculty possession. The faculty is ideologically possessed in then they produce these little puppets who are psychologically damaged to [00:28:30] go out and take the flack for the ideology, it’s appauling.

Mike: Whould you say that your courses and lectures produce more resilient students?

Jordan: I have to say that that would be my opinion, but over the thirty years of teaching I recieved comments, written comments at the end of courses from thousands of students I guess. The overwhelming majority of those say the same thing which is that the courses changed their lived and made them stronger. That was the case in Boston when i talked there and [00:29:00] it’s been the case when i talked in Toronto on a year basis.

Mike: How would you say you do that, how do you accomplish that increasing resilience?

Jordan: Part of it is, I regard my courses at least in part as an inculcation vs indoctrination. You might say how do I know I’m not indoctrinating my students myself. Now, that’s a very hard question. What I try to do is to provide my students with an overview ov idological thinking. [00:29:30] That overview is basically predicated on my analysis of mythological stories. The mythological universe I think is a balanced universe. Like the Freudean universe is actually a balanced universe. I’ll talk about Freud first and then we can switch to the mythological ideas. For Freud human beeings had 3 levels of being. There was a super ego and you can think of that as society or as internalization of society. Freud [00:30:00] knew there was a positive super ego and a negative super ego. The positive super ego kept you in line and made you acceptible socially and the negative super ego criticized you to death and oppressed you. Fine, it’s balanced, we have a good side and a bad side. Then there was the ego. That would be you and it had good side and a bad side too. Then there was the id which was nature. So the super ego was culture, the id was nature and then there was you the individual sort of crushed between those titanic forces. That’s the freudian view. [00:30:30] The id also had a positive and a negative element. The negative element would be untrammeled sexuality and aggression, roughly speaking. The positive would be that all the energy that comes from biological, dynamical biological motivation. So, Freud’s theory is a modernized update mythological representation. Because, in classic narrative you have six sets of characters, roughly speaking. There’s a seventh that i will describe briefly later but there’s six. [00:31:00] There’s nature that’s usually female in this representation and it’s blood and destruction on one hand, that’s the terrible face of mother nature and the fact that everything eats everything to survive. It’s positive on the other because you’re a child of nature and nature, allthough had been destroying you is also the predicative of your existence. You’ve got this terrible dichotomy. Then there’s you, you’re the individual. There a heroic element [00:31:30] to the individual that makes people noble, mysterious, productive, kind and good. Then there’s another ceremony element which is satanic in its intensity. It’s tortureous, destructive, revengful, ungrateful, deceitful, all of that. Thats a war, that’s a bad guy and the good guy in the movie. And then there’s the society, that’s the wise king and the tyrant. The wise king is the fact that we’re all sharing the same language [00:32:00] and that we’re sitting here in our warm houses having this nice discussion. The tyrant is the fact that system can turn on you at any moment and tear you to shreds. Thats the mythoological universe. Monsters, nature, positive and negative, on top of that there’s culture that protects you from nature but also has it’s own terrible element and then there’s you. It’s like you standing on an island in an ocean. Or it’s two of you locked in combat on an island, [00:32:30] half tyranny and half order in an ocean that’s full of things you need and sharks. It’s the world and that’s the mythological world. I can give you a great example of it in the ideological representation of that and that would be the environmental myth. Environmentalists say mother nature is wonderful and beautiful, culture is repassious and destructive and human beings are cruel and destructive. It’s true, human beings are cruel and destructive, [00:33:00] culture is repassious and nature is beautiful but it’s only half the story because nature is doing it’s best to kill you, constantly. Culture protects you from freezing and starving, and human beings are just struggling to survive aswell as throwing plastic everywhere and being messy. So, that’s actually the frontier myth versus the environmentalist myth because the frontier myth was nature as an untamed wild [00:33:30] frontier, the pioneer as bearer of culture into the wilderness and the heroic individual. If you put that together with the environmentalist story, because they match, they’re the exact opposite. They make a comprehensive story and what ideologies do is they tell half the story. So, the ideologies carry the power of the mythological understructure and that’s why they can possess people. They’re fragments of religious beliefs. That’s a good way of thinking about them. Unless you know the other half of the story [00:34:00] you can’t withstand them. So, what I do is teach my students the whole story. Yes, you can complain about culture. We can use the university as an example. You’re just a number at the University of Toronto. There’s sixty thousand of you. You can drown in anonimity and the university doesn’t care about you, you’re a number. On the other hand, how privileged do you want to be? You have an identity that’s respective-you’re a student, you have more free time than you will ever have in your life, you’ve got money, [00:34:30] at least enough to survive. It’s culture, have some gratitude for your tyrant. That’s the thing about bloody sjw-s. -They don’t have gratitude. It’s partly because they’re resentfull, and that’s not limited to the left. You see resentment, as the political process polarizes you see resentment built more and more on each side and that’s a terrible thing. Resentment is unbelievably dangerous. So, I also try to teach my [00:35:00] students some gratitude and some respect for themselves. Yeah, you’re a horrible and repatious monster and at a moment you can be a nazi. But, that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to you and it doesn’t mean that’s all there is to other people. The other thing I teach students is you’re a lot worse than you think. Way worse than you think and you should have some respect for yourself because you know you’re a monster. That makes you a whole different category of person as soon as you know that. If you have any sense, you’re going to be a lot more carefull.

Mike: So I got two [00:35:30] questions here. How has Jung influence your conceptions of duality and how has religion informed that?

Jordan:  We’ll start with Jung. I really like the psychoanalysts because the psychoanalysts have established a lot of interesting things. One of the most interesting is the conception of the human being as a disc integrated collection of some personalities. I really like that. I think it’s biologically accurate. Because if you are [00:36:00] an aggregation of a set of very fundamentally motivated system, we know these systems. There’s a seeking system for exploration, that’s the system that drugs like cocaine affects. There’s a play system, there’s a defense system, a predatory aggression system, there’s a hunger system, there’s a thirst system, there’s a sexual system, there’s a temperature regulation system and there’s an affiliation system. Each of those systems, you can think of them as cognitive modules but that’s wrong, they’re personalities, sub-personalities [00:36:30] and you know that. Think about the last time you got angry on someone, you get possessed by it and it unidimensionally wants to destroy, wants you to be right and wants to destroy. You say all sorts of things when you’re angry and you might regret fifteen minutes later. It’s like this underlying system which is actually grounded in your hypothalamus, an ancient, powerful brain area. It leaps up, alteres your perceptions, changes the structure in within which you experience demolitions, directs your attention, has access [00:37:00] to your cognitive content, formulates your words. In some sense what you do is you jump from being inhabited by one of these systems into being inhabited in another. Now, it’s more complicated than that because these systems also get integrated across time and Freud would have described that as ego development, but I like the description of Jean Piaget who is the worlds foremost developmental psychologist. I like his description better because Freud basically said super ego forces you to inhibit [00:37:30] the manifestation of these subgroup personalities. I only think that’s really true if you grew up in a patological family. If you grew up in a family that was functioning properly what happens is you integrate all those subpersonalities into a high order game. For example, you don’t want your child to inhibit aggression. You want them to make their agression sophisticated. For example when they go out play hockey or soccer or whatever or chess. Who cares. Their agression is part of the drive to win, to master [00:38:00] and win. That actually makes them better, not worse. Like I said, the sophisticated kid has got all those subpersonalities integrated into a higer order game. That’s their identity. But more importantly doing that in parallel with learning how to play games with other people. So, what you do is, you’re a mess of subpersonalities and I’m a mess of subpersonalities so we have to integrate those into a structure that allows the gratification of all those systems. Today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, so across time. [00:38:30] In a space that is occupied by a whole bunch of other creatures that are doing the same thing. So what happens is that it all wovens together to a higher and higher order game. It’s that game that religious belief systems try to represent and tell you how to play. Here’s an example, I’ll tell you a story. One day I was watching my son play hockey when he was a kid and it was their final. He was about ten or eleven and they played just down the street. It’s a good league, a no-contact league and [00:39:00] the kids were randomly distributed to teams. Then they’d let the kids play a bit and if one team was reall dominating, then they re-scatter the kids so that the competition levels were pretty equal. That was good. Anyways, it’s the final and my son is a pretty good hockey player, but there’s this one kid on his team that was a better player. But he was a diva, he would’nt pass when he got the puck. It was all about him, but he was a really good player. They were winning  3-2 or something and then in the last [00:39:30] two minutes the other team score two goals. It was a really good game though. It was fun to watch and the teams played well. Then the star kid came stomping off the ice and he wacked his stick down on the ground when his father came over to him and said : “ Yeah, you got robbed, it was really unfair and the referee was unfair, it was bad. You guys should’ve won.”. I was watching this guy who i kinda knew and I thought you’re such an idiot that it is almost uncomprehensible. It’s almost incomprehensible that you can be that stupid. You just went and saw [00:40:00] a good hockey game, your son played well except the fact that he’s a diva and would’nt pass and all that. Despite the fact that it was a good game and he gets all narcissistic about it has his little fit and you tell him that’s perfectly justified. What kind of moron are you?. I allready had some idea at that point what kind of moron he was, but then you think about that. When your kid is playing a game you say to him/her it isn’t if you play or lose, it’s how you play the game and the kid doesn’t have a clue what you mean because you dont know what you mean. You mean [00:40:30] something like don’t be a pain in the neck, dont be a diva, dont be narcissistic and something like that. But you actually mean something really important. What you mean is life isn’t a game, it’s a large set of games. One way of conducting yourself is winning the current game at all cost. Another way of conducting yourself is to play the current game in a way that it makes much more likely for people to ask you to play more games in the future. [00:41:00] The rule is never win the current game at the cost of being invited to play future games. Then you think there’s the game and then there’s the set of all possible games. What you want to do is win the set of all possible games, that’s the mythological hero. The mythological hero is the person who wins the set of all possible games.

Mike: That’s almost making a logical case for people who don’t experience or excercise empathy to start learning how to experience and [00:41:30] show empathy.

Jordan: That’s a good observation. Empathy is probably not the right word. Because empathy actually has I would say a technical definition. Empathy is associated with that trait of agreableness and empathy has a sort of problem. What empathy does is it makes you preferentially value kin and that’s fine, but, it doesnt work in the broader world. That’s why you need conscientiousness for example. Because conscientiousness is kind of a cold virtue, it means i’m going to treat you and you only [00:42:00] as a consequence of your own productivity and utility. Your emotional tyranny is irrellevant. It’s cold but if you’re trying to run something larger than a family, empathy is the wrong moral dimension.

Mike: Interesting

Jordan: And it’s important for people to get this right because one of the things you allways get called out on by social justice types is you should have more empathy. It’s like when a mother bear grizzly eats you because you got in the way of her cubs-that’s empathy. [00:42:30] So, what you’re thinking of in terms of empathy is a higher order virtue that consists of the integration of multiple virtues and it produces this metagame attitude. I might say, for example if I’m having a conversation with someone i might say i wanna’ win, i want to make my point, enforce my value structure because that’s what a point is. I want to convince you that I’m right, it’s like ok I win the game. But, let’s say i want to play a metagame with you, what i’m going to do is listen to you [00:43:00] in case you know something that will enable me to behave better in the future. I’ll win and you’ll win with the conversation like that because we’re trying to make eachother into metagame victors. It’s what a meaningful conversation does. In a meaningful conversation you treat each person as if they’re a player at a metagame and so each person is exchange information sa that they expand, that their capability expands so that they’re more productive and more acceptible to people simultaneously.

Mike: So where is the cut-off point [00:43:30] with the utility of empathy? Is it just at the immediate family level?

Jordan: Yeah i think so, I think it’s within the family ethic. Kind, to be kind to someone is to treat them like kin. It’s the same word. If you’re speaking with someone individually. You can certainly develop a kin like relationship with individuals but you can’t develop a kin like relationship with the crowd. Not only that, it’s wrong. It isn’t the right ethic. [00:44:00] The ethic that’s  necessary to maintain social structures is way more sophisticated than mere empathy. Here’s an example, a decision you might make.  Let’s say that there’s a hundred kids and they’re all ill and they’re waiting for a rare surgery. Some of them are going to die while they wait because there just aren’t enough people to undertake the surgery. So there’s a waiting list and it’s horrible because the further down you are on the waiting list the higher the probability that you’re going to die is. So I tell you this and I ask you if, now people have got on the waiting list merely as [00:44:30] a consequence of when their diseased imerged. So the persons who had it longest were at the front of the line. Now, if I pick a child from that group and I tell you along story about them so that you start to empathise with them as individuals and then I ask you if they should be moved up the waiting list and you say yes. Great, but they should’nt be moved up the waiting list. Now, what happens is that because you know their individual story they emerge to you from some background of strangers as something akin to kin. Then your emotion [00:45:00] will get activated and you’ll say this poor child has this terrible situation. I’d do anything i could to help her. So, yeah you bump her up the waiting list. You need a cold virtue to response properly in a situation like that. It’s harsh man, your empathy is just going to get in the way. It also happens in companies so here’s a funy story. I have a friend who is one of the most disagreable on one dimension you’ll ever meet. He actually fairly compassionate but he’s very low in politeness which is part [00:45:30] of this agreableness dimension. He’s like the most ornery guy. He was often sent to corporations to clean them up when they become stupid and corrupt. Part of that involved firing people. Now, I’ve had to let a few students go. I’m very bad at that because I don’t like to hurt peoples feelings. I would consider that in some sense a characterological weakness by the way, instead of something being proud of. Anyway, I said how can you stand firing people? He said I enjoy it! And i thought, well I’ve never [00:46:00] heard of anyone say that so ok, why? Well, most of these people bloody well deserve it. They’re in a group, they’re not pulling their weight. They’re pulling down the performance of the entire group, they’re whining about how they cant do their work, they call in too many sick days, they take advantage of other people constantly. I’m in there to fix that up. You’re not pulling your weight, you’re dragging down these other people who are working hard and being straightforward. It’s like outta’ here, go find something else to do because you’ve got things to learn. I thought, actually that’s right. [00:46:30] Well, you can say he took it to the extreme and that’s certainly possible. He’s gotten in trouble for being disagreable but that’s absolutely necessary because lots of times productivity and also the willingness to cooperate and compete properly with your team. That’s the standard by which you should be judged. The social justice warriors are allways saying things like “don’t be judgemental”. It’s wrong. Be  judgemental, separate the weak from the chaff. It’s important to be judgemental. Now, [00:47:00] arbitrarily judgemental, that’s a whole other issue.

Mike:  Yeah it’s almost like people have got the definition of psychopath wrong that it’s lacking empathy.

Jordan: Definitely. Let’s take this agreableness trait again. Here’s a way of conceptualizing it. You’re in a negotiation with someone and they’re going to care about themselves and they’re going to care about you. The more agreable they are, the more they’re going to care about you. The less agreable they are, the less they are going to care about themselves. Now, two disagreable people will face eachother and say you’re out for yourself and I’m out for myself. [00:47:30] We’ll butt our heads untill we come to an agreement, but both know where we bloody well stand. Whereas two agreable people are going to be trying to make eachother happy. You might say that’s good except an agreable person almost allways walks away from a negotiation feeling that they got screwed. And they did. It’s because they don’t know how to stand up for themselves. If you’re in a familyand you have kids, you want everybodies outcome to be good. If you’re a parent you want to be self sacrificing. Not too much but a fair bit especially if it’s in for the right because they’re allways right and [00:48:00] you’re allways wrong. A six month old is allways right. You have to take care of them. If they have a problem it’s your problem. But to operate like that in the world of adults just means that you’re constantly being taken advantage of because that isn’t how adults work. And that isn’t how they should work. So, what happens to agreable people is they get resentfull. It’s like i’m allways doing things for other people and I don’t get any risk pro states .- Yeah well, thoughen up a bit. Quit sacrificing yourself. Put out some demands. One of the reasons women get paid less [00:48:30] is because they’re more agreable. You go to your boss, you say I need some money and your boss says well get in line because everybody needs money. Or if you’re agreable you don’t even go to your boss in the first place. You think oh well, I’ll just keep working hard and they’ll notice. -No they won’t. It isn’t how it works. Money is a finite resource, people fight for it. So, how do people fight for money? That’s easy. You can say ok, what do I have for options? [00:49:00] I can leave this job so than you start looking for another job. You think like I can’t leave, everybody depends on me. -No, wrong that’s the wrong attitude. The right attitude is I’m valuable, I could go somewhere else and I’m usefull here. You go to your boss and say look, I need some more money and this is what’s going to happen if I don’t get it. And your boss says well, we can’t let that happen so here’s more money. He’s not going to come to your office like here’s a thousand dollar a month raise. That’s not gonna’ happen. You have to fight for it and agreable people dont fight [00:49:30] because they’re conflict-averse. You might say it’s paradoxical to call social justice warriors conflict-averse, but this is why it’s so tricky.  A mother isn’t conflict averse if she’s fighting for her children. She’s anything but conflict averse. Agreable people can fight on the behalf of other people if they consider them victimized infants. They’ll fight like mad for them and they’l think you’re snake littering through the grass that’s going to eat their child. That’s what you are. They even use the same circuitry to categorize you. I can give you a classical mythological example. [00:50:00] There’s endless representations of Mary, mother of Christ holding her infant up in the air with her foot on, often a snake or sometimes a lizard, a predatory lizard. Ok forget christianity, you’re a biologist. Look at that picture. What does it say? It says that the good mother protects it’s infants from reptilian predators. We’ve been doing that for 16 million years. That’s a deep category. That’s the snake in the garden [00:50:30] of eden. And the snake is also satan, and that’s a mythological idea. It’s an unbelievably idea, that’s why we still know the story. So, the idea is that people live in bounded worlds. That’s the garden of eden. Paradise means walled garden and eden mean well watered place. So that’s a human environment. Human environment is a garden. What’s a garden? Half culture-half nature productively engaged. What’s in the garden? Trees, food and snake. Why? Well, there allways is [00:51:00] a snake in the  garden. Now why, first of all because they we’re one of our predators forever and more importantly because no matter how safe a space you make something will sneak into it. And it will make you self consciouss about that thing. It will make you both consciouss and self consciouss because when a thread emerges that’s what happens. Then you think ok, that’s the snake, the snake wakes people up for sure. It’s still a snake well, what’s the worst snake? You can think there’s a snake that’s bad, there’s a whole nest of snakes [00:51:30] that’s even worse. What about the snakes in other people? Those are pretty bad, those are worse snakes. What about the snake in yourself? That’s the worst one. No one knows this. Over thousands of years the idea emerged that the snake was guarded by satan. What the hell, what does that mean? Well, that’s what it means. It’s brilliant, it’s unbelievably brilliant and noone knows we even discovered it.These are deep ideas, these old ideas. So deep they’ll just [00:52:00] blow you into pieces when you encounter them. That’s Carl Jung, read Carl Jung if you want to be terrified to the depths of your soul. Read Jung man, he’s one scary dude. He’s often accused of starting a cult. What people accused Jung of doing is so much less horrible than what he actually did. It’s like accusing a serial killer of jaywalking.


Euvie: So,what was he actually doing?

Jordan: He was trying to answer Nietzsche’s question. Nietzsche’s question was [00:52:30] – When God dies, what should we do? Because Nietzsche said God has died and what he meant by that is the entire value structure of western civilization is going to fall apart. He knew that, we wasn’t celebrating when he announced the death of God. He said when he announced the death of God that we’ll never find enough water to wash away the blood. He knew what was going to come. He said look, here’s what’s going to happen. In the next two centuries we’ll fight a battle between nihilsm and totalitarianism. Because those are the alternatives that await. [00:53:00] He knew that, Dostojevski knew that. They prophecized that very cleary. So Nietzsche said well, how are we going to get out of this? We’re going to have to invent new values. Jung came along and studied Nietzsche intensely and said we can’t invent values because you can’t invent them. You don’t have that control. Like when you decide on new years eve that you’ll go to the gym every week. Do you? -No. Why? -Because you cant control yourself, you can’t just tell yourself what to do. So Jung gave in an exploration [00:53:00] of the imagination I would say, dreams in part, myths in part and said no no, we have to haul up our value system once again from the depths and find out what they are instead of implicit. The value structure in the symbolic system like Christianity is mostly implicit. What does it mean is that there’s a redeemer. One of the things Jung said and what Nietzsche pointed out too is that we lvied inside this rich symbolic system and one day we woke up and saw oh, this is symbolic. We have no idea what it means. [00:54:00] though it can’t be right. No it isn’t that it wasn’t right it’s just that we didn’t know what it meant. What does Mary the virgin, mother of God mean? Is it a scientific idea? It’s not. It’s that a mother is sacred and allways gives birth to the hero ifs she’s treated properly. And the hero is the child that can redeem the world. That’s every child. No wonder an infant is special to the mother. That child is the world redeeming hero. That’s true. It’s not the whole story, but it’s true. Societies that don’t value that, [00:54:30] don’t hold that as sacred, they dissapear. That’s what’s happening in the west.We’re way below our rate in terms of birth rate. That’s because the mother and child isn’t sacred.

Jordan Peterson on Future Thinkers PodcastIn this episode we talk to Dr. Jordan Peterson who is a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. His thinking was informed by some of the most influential figures in the fields of psychology, philosophy and biology, from Nietzsche to Darwin to Jung.

Controversy Surrounding Dr. Jordan Peterson

Dr. Jordan Peterson has been receiving a lot of attention in the past year because of his strong opposition to gender neutral pronouns.

In this interview, he explains how people’s personalities predict their political belief, and what the driving factors behind all the recent social justice warrior and political correctness movements are.

If you have a problem, the question always is: Who has the problem, you or everybody else? Click To Tweet

In his dissection of ideologies he examines and explains some of the pitfalls of post-modernism, environmentalism, and other failed utopias.

He then goes into explaining some of the basics of Jungian and Freudian psychology, after which he talks about the tools for reasoning that he equips his students with.

By the end of the episode Peterson goes deep into the mythological frameworks, which most of his lectures and studies are based around.

Listen to the 2nd half of this Jordan Peterson interview.

One of the reasons women get paid less is because they're more agreeable Click To Tweet

In This Episode of Future Thinkers Podcast:

  • [06:43] – Personality predictors of political belief
  • [12:39] – The increasing fragmentation of sub groups
  • [21:26] – Examining failed utopias
  • [24:07] – Why is everyone so offended?
  • [32:46] – Can environmentalism be harmful?
  • [35:58] – We all have multiple personalities
  • [42:30] – Winning the meta game, not an argument
  • [52:28] – What do we do now that God has died
An agreeable person always walks off with a feeling they got screwed, and they did! Click To Tweet


“You can’t make the oppressed into a homogenous group, in part because everyone is oppressed to some degree by the demand for adherence to normative standards. Which are necessary – that’s the price you pay for social being .” – Dr. Jordan Peterson


“It’s the construction of the value hierarchy and the differentiation of things into less valuable and more valuable that gives your life meaning ” – Dr. Jordan Peterson 

Mentions and Resources:

Recommended Books:

More From Future Thinkers:

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Comments are closed.

  1. James Lott 7 years ago

    I have listened to your podcast for years and have very much enjoyed it until now. This man is an idiot with decent vocabulary. I will never visit your website again. Trans people are not a sub-category of gay people. Are you kidding me right now? I’m so furious. Furious because I really thought you folks were “future thinkers”. Gendered pronouns serve NO PURPOSE.

  2. Mike Gilliland 7 years ago

    Hey James,
    Sorry to hear that you’re giving up on our show because of this one episode. It is unfortunate that when we say something that you disagree with, you would choose to disregard everything we say forever, instead of continuing the conversation with us. Did you listen to the whole interview before you posted this comment?

    We’ve had many people on our show who challenge our thinking, including Jordan. That’s what the show is for. I personally have never grown as a person when I’ve sought out people to join my own echo chamber. Rather, I read about people and subjects I disagree with to build up a better case on both sides of the argument.

    To elaborate on our position on this topic: our argument is not to take away the gender pronouns, it is to stop people who would make it compulsory to use them by threat of prosecution. It is insanity to make the refusal of use of specific language illegal. This kind of thinking is disastrous and the perfect tool of totalitarian regimes. Euvie witnessed this first hand as the Soviet Union collapsed around her. People in her country were often “disappeared” for saying the wrong thing about the wrong person. How easy would these types of laws make it for a despot to solidify his power over a state by making certain types of speech illegal? Not a far stretch when the legal groundwork has already been laid by well-meaning, left wing, political correctness supporters.

    Jordan’s career has been threatened, not because he says things that people disagree with, but because he refuses to say things that people are attempting to compel him say. This is why we invited him on the podcast.

    I could spend a lot more time criticizing people like yourself who choose to so fervently pursue issues like transgender bathrooms or gender pronouns, over resource depletion, climate change, economic disparity, or the persecution of women and gays in the middle east. But the real issue I take with your comment is that rather than continue the conversation, you’ve chosen to turn your back on it.

    I’m completely open to the idea I could be dead wrong about EVERYTHING I believe about this subject, but it is nearly impossible to have a discussion with people from your side because they refuse to engage in rational debate.

  3. Mike Gilliland 7 years ago

    btw, I don’t believe any of us said anything to the effect of trans people being a sub-category of gay people.

  4. John 7 years ago

    When will part 2 be posted? I don’t see it on futurethinkers community

  5. Ferrell 7 years ago

    Great interview. Was there supposed to be a second part to this?

  6. Euvie Ivanova 7 years ago
  7. Narmii 7 years ago

    Just listened to the podcast and I’m puzzled by this choice of guest. He makes some insightful social commentary with regards the state of affairs today but I found his ideas to be the antithesis of future thinking! As a society, we have overvalued masculine traits such as competition and aggression while continually undervaluing feminine traits.

    In a future society based on the enlightened values of mutual respect, harmony, love and individual liberty, more agreeableness is needed and not less. The readiness and ease with which people exploit agreeableness today is ultimately a symptom of an unnecessarily competitive and selfish capitalist system that has over privileged masculine traits (and I use this with the understanding that both the masculine and feminine are present in all beings and am not pointing the finger solely at men), and which has led to much of the injustice and destruction we see today. I’d like to think that in future societies, those who take advantage of other people’s agreeableness to advance their own self interests are not the heros but the villains.

  8. Andrew C 7 years ago

    Thank you for doing this interview. It was generally informative and interesting.

    It is good to have differing points of view on this podcast, though I don’t think Peterson’s views (based off this interview) are radically different from my experiences in mainstream academia. He explains his points well often utilizing Big 5 and other psychology ideas.

    Also, to the person complaining about the future-ness of his views, I didn’t find his views pointedly regressive.

    However, there was a moment of flat out intellectual brainlessness and ignorance displayed near the beginning of the podcast that I hope you all pay attention to. (I assume it is okay to use this harsh language since Peterson does so himself with no complaints from the interviewers). There were no qualms (from Mike, Euvie, or Jordan) about using the common right-wing echo chamber argument that if SJWs protest so much for women’s rights (and Muslim rights) in America that they should protest the more egregious infringements in the Middle East. This argument really just amounts to a false equivalency, and is perpetuated likely often to feel freely dismissive of SJW efforts. In general, people tend to care about things closer to home that they feel they can have influence over (American culture and federal/local policy). Similarly, people care more about their home than they would a neighbor. Even Peterson talks about this idea of distance near the end of this podcast. It’s not entirely the same concept, but Peterson talks about how it is difficult to have empathy for things outside of your family (traditional definition of family notwithstanding). Peterson continues pointing out that one can develop kin-like relationship with individuals but not with the “crowd”. So if even Peterson himself discusses how much more difficult it is to care about things that are further outside of ourselves, why the heck use this stupid argument? When was the last time there was a significant movement or protest in the US that had little direct bearing on the lives or identity of Americans? Come ON seriously?

    Furthermore, a lot of liberals (and SJWs) publicly and openly do happen to discuss advancing women’s rights throughout the world. From Clinton to Emma Watson to the thousands of individuals who give public speeches at international organizations such as the UN and the thousands of individuals who are actually doing nonprofit work internationally, these people are alleviating international women’s issues; thus, this argument is completely ignorant and disrespectful to their efforts of raising awareness of infringements of women’s issues and changing the culture in these countries around women’s rights. Heck, go to any academic or perhaps almost any technology conference on futures or global issues and the topic of international women’s issues will likely come up. Even last week at the Singularity University Global Summit, a presenter (I can’t remember the name) brought up inadequate women’s education as one of the main influences behind global warming after a thorough analysis and the crowd went wild.

    So please STOP USING THIS ARGUMENT because 1) rights and livelihood of individuals/groups outside of one’s country are much different to people than the rights and liveilhood of individuals within one’s country especially when one’s country is not actively engaged in conflict with such nation 2) it IS talked about and people are doing things about it and have been doing so for some time now.

    If you EVER notice some common argument thrown around without any further analysis, please have the common decency to at least look at the other side of that argument for the sake of your listeners. I sincerely hope you aim to stop perpetuating the use of this argument and correct anyone who uses it.


    So some smaller things… I was taking some notes on my phone while I was listening to this so here I go… Also as a point of disclosure, I would fall under as being a liberal but not a SJW.

    I can’t really speak for others, but I did learn about communism and stalinism in school. It should be noted I went to a good public school in America and am in my early 30s, so I don’t know what youth are learning nowadays… But perhaps part of the reason why Americans care more about WWII than the strife of the USSR… social movements and regimes are a lot more complex and less visceral than all out conflict-centric war… ie WWII, a violent war which America participated in, is more memorable than the drawn out Cold War and the more distant Soviet strife and expansionism. Even though more people died,
    Similarly, the notion of race/religious supremacy is more akin to the correction of American slavery.

    On postmodernism…
    A lot of SJWs do take into account complex values and systems and usually call it intersectionality.

    Since Peterson constantly brought up postmodernism, I think it would have been a good opportunity to ask him a question about integral theory.

    Similarly, since Peterson talks a lot about mythologies, it may have been a good opportunity to ask his views on the other levels of Causal Layered Analysis as described by Inayatullah.

    Thanks for letting me share my thoughts!

  9. Andrew C 7 years ago

    Also something else I forgot to mention, that is, I don’t think the LGBT acronym is ever-expanding. I think it will stop at LGBTQIA.

    Most LGBT(QIA) are okay with just using LGBT.

  10. Andrew C 7 years ago

    Not sure if it just isn’t posting or if it is just too long, but in case my super-long comment doesn’t get posted…

    I will summarize: I would be weary of using the argument that SJWs don’t protest the status of women’s rights and gays in the Middle East even though they advocate for women’s and LGBT rights in the US because 1) it is false equivalency, 2) there are numerous organizations and individuals (many of which are SJWs) who actively speak out on these issues at conferences and international organizations, and actually do nonprofit work in this area and have been doing so for a very long period of time. It is actually quite common to work to alleviate women’s status internationally in the nonprofit sector.

    Please do not perpetuate this right-wing echo chamber comment that has no logical merit.

  11. Andrew C 7 years ago

    Peterson himself discusses the issue of empathy and distance in the end of the podcast so it is odd of him to be perplexed as to why there are no American protests on women’s rights in the Middle East, especially when there has been no significant movement or protest for issues that are far removed from the American identity or livelihood in the course of American history. People naturally care about things they have more influence over (American and local culture/policy) and that they have greater stake in (closer to home, and closer to family).


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