|Date of Birth:||June 12, 1962|
|Occupation:||Professor of Psychology|
|Ethnicity:||Irish, Norweigan, possibly other|
Jordan Bernt Peterson (born June 12, 1962) is a clinical psychologist, self-help guru and professor of psychology at University of Toronto. He describes himself as a classical liberal, centrist, and advocate for individualism and free speech. He has been labeled neoliberal on economics and traditionalist on social issues.
Peterson is sometimes blackpilled in that he says current trends may be fatal. However, different from most blackpillers, he does not support the complete reversal of female emancipation and has never discussed lookism or superficiality as urgent issues (as evidenced by or despite his hair transplant). Rather, he suggests to socialize people to be competitive and simply embrace natural human behaviors that decide hierarchies which he regards to be mainly decided by competence anyhow as long as they aren't corrupted. He also claims hierarchies are crucial for achieving well-being, monogamy, predictability and order, though not order so strict that it hinders the system's ability to change and adapt. He is critical of the New Left, radical leftism (especially Stalinism), identitarianism, authoritarianism, collectivism, social constructionism and identity politics.
His main area of study is personality psychology with a focus on the assessment and improvement of personality and performance, as well as the relation between religious and ideological beliefs and human conflict. He has an appreciation for Jungian psychology and for associating contemporary social phenomena with ancient fables and allegories.
Peterson on incels[edit | edit source]
Jordan Peterson has been very critical of incels who have committed violence, but he did give an affirmative nod to incels on the Joe Rogan podcast where he claimed the breakdown of monogamy may be a cause of inceldom, a point that was previously raised by various public intellectuals. Peterson addressed the motivation of incel mass murder Alek Minassian, saying, "he was angry at God because women were rejecting him", and that "the cure for that is enforced monogamy. That's actually why monogamy emerges." However, Minassian later admitted having largely used incel memes as a veneer and having lied about him being primarily motivated by serial rejection. His murder, he admitted, was rather motivated by notoriety realizing that he was unable to accomplish much in life otherwise. Though he did attribute 35% of his motivation to anger at women at one point in his testimony.
Peterson also addressed a video at school shooters titled "Message to the school shooters: past, present and future". His overall message is encouraging incels to set their lives in order beginning with small steps ("clean up your room"). He said, by putting one's life in order one can more accurately judge to which extent one's situation is self-inflicted and then question unreasonable systemic impediment from a stronger position.
Related to the social and sexual starvation that incels experience, Peterson mentioned evidence of babies dying when starved of physical touch and play and that adults probably also need long-term relationships and friends as emotional support. He said, if left to their own devices, women will choose a dominant man, which contradicts the goal of feminism of making men nicer because it will propagate the genes of aggressive high-testosterone men. He said the gentleman is "heading extinction" and men denied status and rough-and-tumble play become reclusive like Japan's hikikomoris. Peterson identified distinct sex roles in human folklore. He identified "the feminine" as "that which selects", hence nature and chaos are often depicted as feminine as they also select. He identified "the masculine" as the the hero who explores, creates order and competes for women. He also admitted that, being dependent on men due to high parental investment, women choose from the top of the hierarchy, are often hypergamous and "desire strong and competent men" which plausibly drove the evolution of human intelligence. He also identified a "terrible femininity" in modern culture that is "undermining the masculine power of the culture in a way that is fatal" and claimed that "men cannot control crazy women" as discourse between men and women lacks an underlying threat of violence that keeps discourse between males civilized. Peterson has also been critical of feminists, calling male feminists "sneaky" and "creepy" as they evade natural male dominance competitions, saying they "have no hope" competing in them. Peterson also said that "we live in the fantasy of a sheltered 13 year old girl", that "the idea that women were oppressed throughout history is an appalling theory", and that divorce laws are stacked against men.
Incels on Peterson[edit | edit source]
Despite his short rhetoric on 'enforced monogamy', Jordan's ideas and lectures had poor reception on various incel communities. Mostly because of his 'muh bootstraps' and chadsplaining rhetoric, blaming MGTOWs and incels for their own sexual failure (most of the time), even when incels have tried what society has offered them to improve themselves. After a few years of blaming people individually for societal failures, Jordan promoted psychiatry as a solution to societal problems for a bit, and then ended up in drug rehab for a brutal physical dependence to psychiatric medication taken as prescribed.
Jordan is similar to an early Tucker Carlson in many respects with regards to women and dating, as both implied that female nature is a just/rational sorter of male character, and that it is unmanly and hence bad to complain. Tucker has turned 180 degrees on this rhetoric since his first statements, and Jordan about 90 degrees.
Nevertheless, many incels like him for his blunt takes on sexual dynamics, and many incels (among other groups of people) are extreme fans of his.
Beliefs and philosophy[edit | edit source]
Classical liberalism[edit | edit source]
Peterson claims that states and people cannot be united by merely forcing them to be nice to one another. Rather, states need an overarching goal that motivates cooperation, such as economic growth, religious/transcendental goals, or restoration/achievement/maintenance of national pride, a "grand narrative". Peterson is a "classical liberal", meaning he believes country borders, social norms, hierarchies and laws are fundamental for a functioning state, but there still needs to be some flexibility, flow of information, freedom of speech and economic freedom to avoid totalitarianism. A system that is too rigid will fail when the world changes, but a system that is too loose is not a system at all. Hence, there is a trade-off between "order" and "chaos", which can be identified with the political right and the political left, respectively. It would be naive and ideological to assume there is a definite set of rules for ideally structuring a state in a changing and uncertain world, except for leaving up the determination of the rules to a competitive, democratic process, a free market of ideas. For this reason, Peterson is a free speech advocate.
Hierarchies[edit | edit source]
Peterson sees hierarchies to be inevitable because humans evolved to organize in hierarchies and people also differ in their ability, so someone will inevitably end up dominating. The modern left, he claims, maintains a too negative and tyrannical picture of hierarchies, which mismatches observations in nature and in humans. In truth, hierarchies enable cooperation and are necessary to maximize human well-being as everyone has a status drive and people take comfort in knowing their place. When uncorrupted by ideology, he expects rules for fair play to naturally emerge in hierarchies (a Piagetian idea), especially as alphas benefit from maintaining relationships with subordinates, drawing from research on e.g. monkeys by De Waals and other animals in which the alphas can be observed to groom subordinates at times to avoid beta uprisings. Hierarchies also yield a strong incentive for status ascension which furthers cooperation because ascension can for the most part, only occurs as compensation for one's contributions to the system. Peterson claims people have innate tendencies that make them suitable for different positions within the hierarchy, e.g. progressives as pioneers and conservatives as those who keep things running, so everyone can partake in them. Hierarchies are mostly useful and leftists should urgently discard the stereotype of people who ascend hierarchies as corrupted opportunists.
Corruption and creative destruction[edit | edit source]
Even though hierarchies are a good thing, the top of the hierarchy is bound to corrupt over time as it lacks corrective feedback from someone even more powerful (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?). The solution to this problem, he claims, was rediscovered throughout human history, namely the top of the hierarchy needs to be replaced from time to time and hierarchies need to be made flat by decentralization such that the damage by a corrupt leader is limited.
A free market (imperfectly) ensures that best players prevail and inefficient, corrupt and misaligned players get outcompeted and destroyed by better ones. This requires men to be socialized to be competitive and to take on responsibility, not only because of female hypergamy and to be able to outcompete psychopaths who would otherwise claim power. This competition is essentially democracy (free market of ideas & policies), and capitalism (free market of goods & values), which determine policy, value and distribution of goods in a decentralized and hence less corruptible manner than alternatives. A religious/transcendental goal/norm can even give the top some guidance and make it less corruptible.
With regards to globalism, Peterson said there is a danger in making hierarchies too steep, i.e. too centralized and controlled from “above” as the bottom end will become disenfranchised bearing little or no responsibility. With this he criticized, e.g. the European Union.
Individualism vs collectivism[edit | edit source]
Collectivism and individualism are two antithetical ways of structuring a society. Collectivism emphasizes group goals whereas individualism emphasizes individual goals and freedom. People in individualist countries more frequently seek uniqueness and believe shaming is unnecessary as people are expected to know when they are guilty of violating the law. Collectivism rather uses shaming to achieve group goals at the cost of limiting individual freedom. Even though collectivism and individualism are antithetical, they are not mutually exclusive, e.g. any state needs the group goal to continue to exist, otherwise it would dissolve and surrender to a more vigorous group taking over.
Peterson warns that excessive collectivism (e.g. shaming culture) is highly corruptible because it tends to admit too much power to centralized institutions enforcing the group goals and these institutions typically enable entryism by the worst ideologically driven bureaucrats imaginable. Collectivism becomes especially dangerous when the group goals are not attainable at all. This is the case in extreme forms of Marxism which claims all humans must be exactly equal. This goal is likely unattainable because people are inherently unequal and slight inequalities tend to get amplified by Metthew effects. Peterson draws on historical evidence that inequality has always existed. More attainable alternative goals are for example reducing poverty to avoid social unrest and enabling equal opportunity (rather than equal outcome).
Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.
Exclusively collectivist systems have never produced prosperity. Peterson draws analogies to communist systems that he sees to have repeatedly failed due to excessive collectivism based on unattainable group goals. Similar to Steven Pinker, Peterson reminds of the fact that current capitalist systems have reduced poverty more than any other economic systems. He accuses Marxism of resentment, claiming that Marxists tend to ignore the fact that life is suffering and that rich people are not much happier. Rather, progress towards wealth or any goal is what provides meaning and positive emotion. For example, lottery winners do not tend to become happier and there is no meaningful increase in life satisfaction beyond an income of USD 60K / yr. Marxists, he says, are primarily driven by a hatred for the rich and a sense of moral superiority. The declaration of victim groups and overemphasis on compensation and redistribution also fuels resentment and deprives the individual from becoming active themselves. Equality of opportunity, instead, holds people responsible, provides a sense of accomplishment and real status in proportion to their contributions. It encourages people to "bear their own cross" and to accept that "life is suffering" and gain positive emotion bearing this suffering and making the best of it.
As with chaos vs order, left vs right, freedoms vs rules, the Goldilock principle applies to collectivism and individualism, meaning the optimum is somewhere in between. Peterson says, "the group must unite, but under the banner of the individual", i.e. the group needs to have a common goal that motivates their cohesion (collectivism), but admit the individual primacy at the same time (individualism).
Value of the individual and the truth[edit | edit source]
Peterson sees cultural norms for honesty and the primacy of the individual as essential for social trust and stability, and as main reason for the success of Western civilization since this enables cooperation and economic growth. For this reason, Peterson is wary of automation, fearing it could diminish the value of the individual, being outcompeted by machines, bereaving men of opportunities to become responsible and prove their worth.
Evolution and culture[edit | edit source]
Peterson opposes the blank slate view and claims our genes are finely attuned to cultural and religious practices in terms of a stock of innate psychological/Jungian archetypes, drawing on Jung's concept of the collective unconscious. He sees e.g. the primacy of the individual in Western culture and social norms for honesty to have emerged by such evolutionary processes. Drawing on James J. Gibson, Peterson claims this evolution determined all our meanings (Darwinian truth) and values, from personal to cultural values, which are all necessarily aimed at promoting survival and hence may in part be useful for informing contemporary culture. For this reason, traditions may actually have important purposes and may be worth preserving.
He concludes the blackpill that culture may be what protects us from unknown ways of organizing society that could potentially throw us into chaos by mechanisms that are too complex for us to figure out by other means but cultural evolution:
Something we cannot see protects us from something we do not understand. The thing we cannot see is culture, in its intrapsychic or internal manifestation. The thing we do not understand is the chaos that gave rise to culture. If the structure of culture is disrupted, unwittingly, chaos returns. We will do anything–anything–to defend ourselves against that return.
—Jordan Peterson, 1998 (Descensus ad Inferos)
In essence, he claims it may be impossible for humans to live out of tune with our eternal archetypes. This bears resemblance to the traditionalist argument by the English Catholic writer G.K Chesteron, that one should know the purpose a tradition or cultural institution was originally intended to fulfill before one demolishes or reforms it. Thus, one could view traditions as a form of "cultural technology". This is known as Chesterton's Fence.
You should do what other people do, unless you have a very good reason not to.
Since values are largely determined by evolution and as values necessarily give rise to a hierarchy as some people are more competent than others and some things are more valuable than others, the dominance hierarchy is central and essential to human existence. Peterson's critiques who typically want to get rid of hierarchies, see this as naturalist fallacy, i.e. they disagree that that which evolved is always good/necessary.
Drivers of conflict[edit | edit source]
A main mechanism by which Peterson believes "chaos" to occur is when important beliefs are suddenly challenged (e.g. during a loss of culture or religion). Then the negative human emotional response to this tends to be externalized as aggression, since people "prefer war to be something external, than re-forming [their] challenged beliefs". He sees this to be driven by the most fundamental drive of human cognition, especially male cognition, which is the drive to transform chaos into order. (In this case, people attempt to restore order in the world by force, rather than in their belief system.) He sees much of the world wars and cold wars to be driven by this mechanism, with people externalizing their disagreement about collectivist vs individualist orders of society as aggression. Of course other things cause chaos and conflict as well, e.g. when people cease to have incentives to cooperate and end up in downward spiral of resentment, blaming and revenge, often based on group affiliation tying into our tribal instincts (identity politics). In major situations of conflict, he says, people value the group over the individual and thereby justify the value of "dead matter" over living matter. He claims all major atrocities in human history have been committed by ordinary people who would have been honorable in different historic contexts and with incentives that encourage cooperation.
Criticism[edit | edit source]
MGTOWs on Peterson[edit | edit source]
Peterson offended MGTOWs by calling them "pathetic weasels" for avoiding women and complaining about divorce laws. Peterson later sort of apologized for this, when asked if there was anything he regretted saying in the past. Most manospherian anti-Peterson memes originate in the MGTOW circles.
Other people on Peterson[edit | edit source]
Jordan gained criticism from other academics with regards to his narrative about broad philosophical schools that emerged during a time when there was a decline in the institutional foundations of moral objectivism among the Western population. Philosophers who agree with Jordan about college-campus New Left types and political correctness, such as Hegelian philosopher Slajov Zizek were the most prominent in their criticism. In a broadcasted debate, Zizek accused Peterson of a-historical alarmism. He accused Jordan of injecting motives and beliefs into philosophies where there are none, ignoring the contempt post-modernists had towards Marxists, and propagating false conspiracy theories about constructionism and relativism being a Marxist or, "radical leftist", plot to destabilize the West. Jordan is criticized as confusing opinions of, "is", with, "ought". He is criticized as mis-characterizing philosophical schools which address widespread non-objectivity as saying there should be widespread non-objectivity, or that there should be a death of God. Entire left-leaning internet forums have organized around hating on Peterson, e.g. /r/enoughpetersonspam. However, Jordan is now under attack from the racialist right now as well, due to his professed individualism and opposition to white ethnocentrism.
Some female critics of fairly high academic status have accused Peterson of being an incel himself (which is of course impossible in the years he had his two children), in response to which Peterson threatened to sue on grounds of libel, in response to which some of them apologized for fear of legal action against them. This suggests Peterson is extremely secure in his noncel status.
Cribbing conspiracy theories[edit | edit source]
When Peterson first mentioned "enforced monogamy" in early May 2018, incels.co user NKL (pronounced "nickel") insinuated Peterson had been "directly cribbing from him" this talking point as NKL had mentioned it prior to Peterson in a now deleted episode of the Incelcast which was viewed enough to be heavily cited by digital media. Online media have also accused Peterson of borrowing common talking points directly from the internet manosphere, e.g. about hypergamy.
Even though Peterson may have been inspired by the manosphere, both enforced monogamy and hypergamy are established terms in sociology and public intellectuals like Angela Nagle and Roger Devlin have publicly addressed the importance of monogamy before him and is by no means a novel idea. In one YouTube video from new year 2017, Peterson claimed "women and men alike" need to take responsibility for their promiscuity and reject the "misbegotted idea of casual sexual gratification". Peterson has also been close to traditionalism for much of his academic career.
[edit | edit source]
Peterson hypothesized that contemporary inceldom is partly caused by denying men rough and tumble play, inhibiting their status drive, treating them like children when men rather desire stoicism and proving themselves. The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), a nationally representative survey in the U.S., as well as other sources, however, suggest there is at best a weak relation between what might be considered "beta traits" such as niceness, vulnerability, crying proneness etc. and men's sexual success. Dominance, risk-proneness etc. do predict sexual success, especially during adolescence, but these are, however, rather fast life history traits and they concern casual sexual activity more than they do long-term bonding behavior. The link between social dominance and reproductive success is much weaker in humans than in nonhuman primates (r = .19 vs r = .8). Men's copulation opportunities (rather than reproductive success) is more strongly linked to their status, however, evidently, various factors (probably including adaptations to refrain from promiscuity) drive down the link between status and RS.
The actual evolutionary mismatches explaining inceldom may rather lie in the absence of arranged marriage than in male competitiveness being inhibited, especially considering that humans are a highly self-domesticated species where blending in with the collective is much more important for survival than social dominance. Peterson does, however, strike a nerve regarding the overmothering and overemphasis of mental fragility in contemporary culture when, in fact, human psychological functioning appears to be even anti-fragile, i.e. it benefits from perturbations to some extent. The inhibition of any negative feedback or critique may also inhibit important corrective signals.
Tying into Peterson's emphasis on dominance behavior, he also argued that, as hypergamous maters, most women naturally prefer to date up in the social hierarchy. However, only few women date up beyond what is expected by the income gap between the sexes with the incidence of such marriages even declining, and evidence suggests women's sexuality is highly malleable by social norms (see Roy Baumeister's research). An alternative explanation for the cross-cultural phenomenon high status women not marrying (down) may be the principle of least interest, or evolutionary mismatches such as being too busy, not being forced to marry or not finding motivation to trade orgasms for resources, rather than such women desiring a partner with higher social dominance status. It is also implausible that much of inceldom is explained by a rise of polygamy and Chads monopolizing a greater fraction of women. While a minority of fast life history Chads does appear to be having more sex than ever, there is evidence of sexlessness increasing for women as well (see the demographics article).
Further, Peterson's critiques are suspicious of his claims that large socioeconomic hierarchies would be grounded in natural human dominance behavior or would even be a transcendental inevitability, and regard this as an attempt to justify the existing system rather than truly investigating the causes of inceldom. Natural human dominance hierarchies seem unlikely a good model for large modern hierarchical systems as natural hierarchies are smaller and much less strict and formal.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Mike Cernovich
- Coach Redpill
- Franco Basaglia
- Camille Paglia
- Dominance hierarchies
- New Age Movement
References[edit | edit source]
- The relation between lack of monogamy norms and inceldom was e.g. discussed by left-wing cultural critic Angela Nagle (, ), white nationalist Roger Devlin (, ), French author Michel Houellebecq, American bishop Erastus Otis Haven () and plausibly many others.