Thursday, July 20, 2017

Some Thoughts from Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist who has won a huge internet popularity through posting videos on YouTube that address some of the important issues of the day. Doesn't that sound boring! But not at all. It happens to be the case that if you actually talk about things that are significant, a lot of people simply want you to shut up. The reason is that a great deal of our public discourse is dominated by people who are enslaved by one or another ideology. And as he says in the video I am going to embed below "there are no innocuous ideologies." I want to put this up, even though it might seem to be both too political (though nothing he says is actually in the domain of politics) or too unrelated to the realm of music.

I have a good reason for posting this, though, and that is because some of the ideologies invading the world of music come from another place entirely and it is one that I am far from expert in. Jordan Peterson, on the other hand, has thought through these things pretty thoroughly, so I think that he can be of considerable help to us in this area. I hope you will take the time to watch this video, it is only 25 minutes long and contains a lot of important stuff.


Anonymous said...

Lots of interesting thoughts. One thing that bothered me, though, is when he said that we all strive to do well in order to get ahead; that is, in order to establish inequality. He is profoundly wrong. Inequality is a side-effect. It cannot and should not be our goal. Is the reason you work so hard on your symphonies that you want to be regarded as better than other composers? I find this a very sterile rationale. The Greeks had it right and insisted that what moves us is not to "beat the others" but to cultivate virtues of excellence. I believe your ultimate goal is to produce the most beautiful symphony you can. It is a dialogue with the world of aesthetics, not a boxing match.

Bryan Townsend said...

Yes, I find I learn something interesting every time I watch a Jordan Peterson video.

You make a very interesting point. It reminds me of a section of the book by Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia where he discusses how a free market always results in huge pay differentials. His example was that of a famous basketball player who always attracted large crowds and who was therefore paid a large amount of money. It's been a while, but I think Nozick's point was that the only way to "fix" inequalities like this would involve some form of tyranny.

But you are right, the goal is not inequality, the goal is the cultivation of excellence. You must be an Aristotelian! I will have to go back and re-listen to that section again. Usually Peterson is fairly careful with his wording, but these talks are very spontaneous, so...