Just had occasion to hear, and read a bit, of Jordan Peterson, who’s made a great splash in public intellectual circles, especially right-wing circles, it appears. (Can a wing have a circle?)
He’s written several books, the first, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, an encyclopedic inquiry into the stories that identify and bind societies, and the second a lay reader’s approach to conduct, both personal and social, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
I read a sample of 12 Rules, the introduction to which, by a friend and fellow academic, made me feel uneasy, it was so laudatory, even sycophantic. Peterson’s own introduction was more interesting … and pretty compelling … until I got to the part about lobsters, hmmmm.
Seems in the dog-eat-dog and lobster-eat-lobster world, the alpha animal not only vanquishes the underdog (-lobster) in a fight, he causes the latter, the loser, to shed his macho brain and develop a sniveling and craven underling’s brain. Hoooo! Is that so?
If the example from the natural world is correct, still the question remains how far it applies to the human world. You can’t simply cite the lobster and say his story is the human story, can you, not without a whole lot of proof? Because loser lobsters sink in brain power and achievement, the same does not necessarily follow with human. Sorry, Jordan, that dog, or lobster, of an argument won’t hunt, not as it now stands.
(Who preeminently is it that cites this bullying language of winning and losing, winner take all, all the time, besides, hmmmm, Donald J. Trump? That loser!)
Googling Peterson, I got an academic paper on him from a distinctly Marxist point of view, and felt compelled in my usual diplomatic manner to write the author, who, I suspect, is very young and devoted to the overlord Herr Marx:
Really, how hard is it to write without recourse to cliches and jargon? To make intelligence itself, and writing skill, your MO? Come clean, Prof. Bellemare, come clean. Think for yourself.
So I responded to him, again in my usual diplomatic way: