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techstepgenr8tion
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24 Jun 2018, 10:22 pm

He actually does a good here of tackling some of the criticisms he's been getting lately, most notably the criticism that he's in a way using postmodernism himself in his own manner.


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25 Jun 2018, 2:21 am

I originally tried to skip ahead to the Q&A, but in the process of doing so I saw the end of Peterson's statement, which seems to rather misunderstand political correctness. Rather than categorising everyone by groups, political correctness is usually an individualist philosophy (although it doesn't have to be); when Peterson refuses to respect an individual's gender identity, he is insulting the individual rather than a mythical group. One could understand basic rules of political correctness (don't call black people the n-word, don't accuse Jewish people of trying to bring down society, etc.) as heurestics for individuality.

I agree with Peterson's criticisms of postmodernism, although I disagree with the tendency (not necessarily his) to group all modern left-ish philosophies as "postmodernism".

The next few questions seem to be about psychology, where Peterson is usually in his element - I skipped through these.

I think his reduction of politics to conservative vs liberal is simplistic and essentially a priori. Particularly when he conflates "liberal" with "left". What about people who want to reimpose hierarchy? What about people who want radically different hierarchies? I liked some of the ways he articulated the defence of offensive speech though. (I couldn't hear the next question but it seemed like he acknowledged that this was a limited... hang on... OK his response to the follow-up... that question seemed like it was supportive but it's actually... erm... and now he's going off on a tangent to avoid answering the question... and while I think he did a fairly good job he's ultimately not answered the question but he told a joke so he got a clap)

That bracket? That seems to be most people's reaction to Peterson. Guy's clearly quite smart but he often blatantly runs into a problem and just runs away from it (although I saw a good video recently where he went from supporting segregation to admitting he was wrong and opposing it in 20 seconds). Gay people aren't put into categories by gay rights activists - they're put into categories by those who wish them harm.

The conversation with the man of East Asian descent was good and again I thought pinned down some of the limits of Peterson's thinking. He essentially seems content for viewpoints to be sidelined, which is the thing he's arguing against.

It would be nice if Peterson had a better understanding of the British context when it comes to hate speech. We have laws which function fairly well, but have had a couple of recent examples which highlight the flaws in this approach in a better way than Peterson can hope to. How can a judge in their 60s understand the cultural context in which teenagers operate? Even lawyers in their 30s seem unable to do it. (Politicians seem quite good at crafting laws which aren't overbearing, but fringe interpretation is always going to be difficult). The theoretical result of a recent legal judgement is that there is now no circumstance in which it is acceptable to say the n-word; this is effectively a law which criminalises a large number of young black people, apparently in order to protect them from racism.

Measurement strategies, yep, need those. I wish he'd picked up a bit more on the "discuss ideas" thing, because to me it seems like the best way to cross the political divide if people took to discussing strengths and weaknesses of different approaches a bit more. Easy to advocate for but hard to put into practice!



techstepgenr8tion
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25 Jun 2018, 6:24 am

I'm increasingly seeing a lot of videos where people are making the case that a lot of identity politics is a reaction to a grouping that they really didn't want and that it's an attempt to actually pull back their individual rights from what might be considered a cultural belittling based on factors beyond their control. That particular area is something were I'm still trying to figure out my view on it, and what bothers me at least for right now is it gets nebulous enough that we don't really seem equipped to have fruitful conversations on it and about all we can go on for evidence is the number of clear-headed people offering the same experiences. Even there we're having a tough time pinpointing how consciously created these problems are, a lot of sensitivity training has attempted to root out unconscious bias - I think even that gets confounded by who has power over who, people making subtle decisions based on what they think the liabilities are per the parties that hold them responsible, and it's a place where a lot of very subtle effects get amplified even by people of minority groups. It's a bit like we have to think about the frailties of our system and how it can really amplify our unconscious or semi-conscious behaviors to have major impacts on other people.

On Peterson's categorizing, like conservative and liberal types, he does seem to rotate that in or out from issue to issue (at other times he might talk about conscientiousness or openness more for example) and I'd agree that on some issues it seems relevant, on others it seems like it would be less so. The point of wheeling out heuristics though seems to be medicinal. Ultimately heuristics do break down if taken to a perfect level of examination but they can help explain cultural dynamics, take apart how certain things are going awry, or explain how those things could work better if given the means.

I can't speak for how liberalism and conservatism work in the UK but in the US at least we do have a problem of the sides not understanding each other, assuming the worst, and being able to say 'this is what this side is good for and this is what the other side is good for' does seem like it's a conversation that's been failing on our side of the Atlantic and does need clarification for a lot of people. Like anything I think people will fall into maybe a handful of major temperamental dispositions (that part seems to fit well) and the strength of those dispositions probably will vary between people and even across people's lifetimes. Regardless of how much gray scale there might be in that it's still really important to be able to diagnose a particular problem at a particular moment which to me at least keeps heuristics relevant if we're willing to always consider them low resolution and to be a better description of group dynamics more so than an accurate assessment of individuals.


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29 Jun 2018, 4:07 am

I know in the US you set up "liberal" and "conservative" as a dichotomy a lot of the time in your casual discourse, but in the wider world they're not the only two ideologies, and in fact liberalism is significantly less popular than social democracy for example. Most social democrats are only liberal in the broadest sense (they support democracy and free trials and such), just like most conservatives, while socdems aren't committed to conservativism.

Liberalism and conservativism are also not incompatible. There are liberal conservatives, and conservative liberals, who have rather different approaches but would ultimately agree on most things. Mitt Romney is probably fairly described as a liberal conservative (instinctively conservative, but takes quite a liberal approach to conservativism), although people like David Cameron and Angela Merkel are better examples. Prominent conservative liberals are somewhat rarer but maybe this is a fair description of some of the faux-libertarians in the US Freedom Caucus, as well as former Chancellor George Osborne.

It's reasonably common for liberals and conservatives to work together, particularly when the conservatives are somewhat liberal. If you look at the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition in the UK, or the relationship between the CDU/CSU and FDP in Germany, or how LREM has absorbed much of the liberal wing of the Republicans in France, or various Dutch coalitions, you'll see liberals and conservatives uniting over a shared commitment to the free market, a love of international institutions, action against climate change, and so forth; if the conservatives are fairly liberal then social progress will also be made.

Anyone commenting on politics from a position of authority should know this. I'm particularly surprised that a Canadian doesn't know it, given he comes from a three-party nation.



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29 Jun 2018, 6:39 am

Better way to ask maybe - what did he lose in translation by talking about liberalism and conservatism rather than also talking about other parts of the left and right? Is the suggestion that liberals and conservatives are so outnumbered in Europe and the UK to only be of marginal relevance?


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29 Jun 2018, 5:49 pm

Isn't part of the issue that liberalism and conservativism are basically only adressing surface issues, while there are larger, systemic issues to be adressed? ....
I have come to the impression that class has become a category that can't be discussed, and that we're watching people try to solve class issues by adressing race and gender.
I think at least that is what SJW-types are about...


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techstepgenr8tion
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29 Jun 2018, 6:45 pm

shlaifu wrote:
Isn't part of the issue that liberalism and conservativism are basically only adressing surface issues, while there are larger, systemic issues to be adressed? ....
I have come to the impression that class has become a category that can't be discussed, and that we're watching people try to solve class issues by adressing race and gender.
I think at least that is what SJW-types are about...

I remember Sam Harris nailing this one on one of his podcasts last year with some congressman from Michigan when he asked him expressly, after hearing him going on about race and intersectionality "Doesn't really all of this just boil down to class?". It seems like that analysis would fit because the way the world economy is changing we simply can't put our heads down and willpower our way through our economic problems. The whole world economy is slowly coming online rather than such a sharp first/second/third world dichotomy, it turns out that while the pie can grow it still is to a large degree zero sum unless we hit a real spurt of innovation, and the other obvious elephant in the room is automation and AI.

It's a bit like the powers that be don't know how to do anything that isn't in the second half of the 20th century playbook, and I like what John Michael Greer's said on this one as well - without actual solutions, or giving anything up, they've decided that they can white knight, be saviors on paper with a little virtue signalling, and get everyone to ignore the problem. Where I maybe disagree with him is I'm not quite as pessimistic about tech, at least understood in the right sense that if it's not about creating real efficiency in markets and other places (which yes - crushes the deliberate constant obsolescence and junk-sale for volume kind of capitalism) then it's really not good tech, and as clued in as this generation is on environmentalism AND the lack of need to overthrow everything in order to make significant positive impacts to that cause I think we're likely to find ways of solving a lot of our scarcity problems.

The biggest problem I still see is that crass aftertaste of protestant work ethic that, even without a belief in a god, would assume that anyone not working needs to be punished for some moral violation. At least in the US I think that's a large part of what makes things so foul, that foulness was at least restrained by a morality when it had the Sermon on the Mount and beatitudes keeping it in check, for right now it's an impulse devolved to atavistic sadism that needs to see roundly proven that it's day is over and that we have to actually pay attention to facts rather than simply standing on social positioning, social Darwinism, and whatever makes us feel superior to the next person - and as monkeys with millions of years of conditioning in that direction and wanting to see our genetic competition dead that's a really tough thing to give up.


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