Clickbait: A thought about Jordan Peterson

Recently, I fell for the hype and listened to some interviews with the Canadian professor of psychology Jordan Peterson. I don’t find him controversial and his appeal to a healthy debate bypassing the left-right dichotomy sounds healthy. In the videos I watched, he often stressed scientific and statistical rigor, and I like that.

Jordan likes to makes controversial claims and seems to enjoy the relatively sudden fame the Internet has bestowed upon him. His view of religion (in his debate with people like Sam Harris) is informed by a radical relativism (which is to say: it will pop up as absolutist claim further on). Peterson follows Carl Gustav Jung when he talks about archetypes of religion and considers every axiomatic belief system, with or without deities and diets, a religion. Presenting religion as something we cannot live without is the first step in an argumentation that defends any and all religion.

Peterson says he is against any type of ideology (pop! there you have it). His reasons are the laudable core of what we call the Enlightenment, but I wish his art of suspicion (as Paul Ricœur said about Marx, Nietzsche and Freud) doesn’t stop there. We must also ask ourselves if we are completely free of ideology (free of sin… the parallel to Christian ethics is obvious) and when we come to the conclusion that we might be the vehicle of our own implicit ideology, we should adjust our anti-ideology motto.

Peterson could try to make his own ideology explicit. This might be less exciting than his vitriol, but it could introduce a more or less scientific way of thinking into the emerging political middle.

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