Saturday, December 31, 2011

Professor Jordan B. Peterson On Virtue

Updated: grammar ;)

TVO's "Big Ideas" series is currently showcasing an interesting talk from University of Toronto professor, Jordan Peterson - from his 2010 Hancock Lecture at Hart House, University of Toronto.

It ran twice last night; the first time through "The Necessity of Virtue" was enlightening - on the second listen I was enlightened all over again - I heard more layers and perceived more of the whole.

His multi-layered thinking is communicated clearly in a precise and sometimes amusing presentation. A great thinker AND a great communicator - a treasure to this world.

As such I'll be sure to listen to it again - so the embed here.

I think the practice method he lays out for connecting to your spiritual 'third eye' - through self-honesty, in order to "Be" in the world, and thus see it clearly, and act in it sensibly - is going to be very important as I continue to try to overcome Periodic Clinical Depression - with out medication via therapy and self learning.


Another element of the talk that has got me re-thinking some core beliefs is the idea that humans are as capable of 'evil' as they are of acting towards the common good.  Professor Peterson says his evidence is the record of the last 100 years - two World Wars and two political leaders - Hitler and Stalin he high-lights, who convinced whole populations to tolerate genocide and mass political murder and torture.

Key to his argument are the results of the Stanford Prison Experiment -

Somehow I have not thought through the evidence at at hand - I have erred in my world view. I have over emphasized the good in everyone with out looking very deeply at the instances of brutal savagery that we are capable of.

I think my error is that I have always felt it was important to emphasize that there is always a way to bring out the good in Anyone. I guess this comes from a great fear of the Mob that was instilled in me growing up by my parents who were greatly effected by the zeitgeist of the McCarthyist era anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950's. That's not to say that some people's behaviour is not on balance 'evil' - but that if the good in anyone is nurtured, it will over-come 'evil' behaviour. Thus it is the best defence against a return of such political movements.

I believe that the 18 years of nurturing which modern children require guarantees that the social is a powerful part of our nature. But Professor Peterson has made me reconsider the balance of my view - as it is also very true that that same social imperative can be twisted through organized human institutions to exploit great evil.

I've posted here at FilterBlogs on Professor Jordan B. Peterson before - "Jordan Peterson explains the ancient hard wired human brain in a material world" -


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