January 31, 2018

TAKING GOD SERIOUSLY IS THE ONE UNFORGIVABLE INTELLECTUAL SIN:

JORDAN PETERSON: POLITICAL SAVIOUR OR FALSE GOD? (Andrew Doyle, 31 JANUARY 2018, spiked!)

One of the most common charges against Peterson is that his style is too evangelical. He has been variously termed a 'crusader', a 'false messiah', and the 'new prophet' of the defenders of free speech. He seems to attract the kind of fanaticism more typical of rock stars than clinical psychologists. When I attended his recent talk at the Emmanuel Centre in London, he was greeted with a standing ovation before he had even opened his mouth.

Peterson's new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, owes a great debt to the stories of the Bible, and there is a patent religiosity to much of his rhetoric. 'Who knows what eternal heavens might be established by our spirits', he writes, 'purified by truth, aiming skyward, right here on the fallen Earth?'. Moreover, Peterson's emphasis on individual redemption has an undeniably spiritual quality, not unlike the Christian conception of metanoia.

Some will doubtless find this approach off-putting, but it's worth considering Peterson's rationale. He sees value in acting 'as if God exists', invoking scripture out of a belief in the wisdom of our ancestors and the Christian foundations of Western society. From this perspective, the truths to be found in Christian doctrine are unrelated to the matter of whether or not Jesus Christ was an authentic historical figure. If God is conceived as the principle of a transcendent morality, faith in the supernatural is beside the point.

12 Rules for Life is, as the title implies, a self-help book. It is deliberately accessible, mercifully avoiding the kind of obfuscating jargon that characterises so much academic writing. Peterson's 'rules' each provide a springboard from which he can dive into one of his preferred topics. For example, his first rule - 'Stand up straight with your shoulders back' - forms the basis of a discussion about human hierarchical structures and their origins in evolutionary history. His seventh rule - 'Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)' - becomes a meditation on the nature of evil and what Peterson describes as 'the tragedy of self-conscious being'.



Posted by at January 31, 2018 5:49 AM

  

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