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  • Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, my name is David Theroux, and I'm the president of the independent Institute

  • We're especially delighted to welcome you to this

  • Evening our special program is entitled the meaning and reality of individual sovereignty

  • with a renowned scholar and best-selling author

  • Jordan B. Peterson

  • For those of you who may be new to the independent Institute, you'll find information on us in the printed program that hopefully you received

  • The independent Institute is a nonprofit nonpartisan

  • public policy research organization that sponsors in-depth studies of major social and economic issues

  • The purpose is to bowl the advance peaceful prosperous and free societies

  • grounded in a commitment to human dignity

  • In the process we seek robust dialogue of key issues and we stand against efforts to shut down the free exchange of ideas

  • The results of our work are published as books and form the basis for numerous conference and media programs

  • Neither seeking nor accepting government funding. We hope that you will join our lighthouse society

  • Within just a couple years Jordan Peterson has taken the world by storm

  • Indeed he's become a profound and powerful phenomenon in the midst of the cultural confusion of our age a

  • A courageous articulate and sparkling champion of free speech

  • individual liberty personal responsibility

  • Free markets civic virtue the rule of law and the judeo-christian values that underpin Western civilization

  • Dr. Peterson has burst onto the public scene with his incisive critiques of political correctness

  • identity politics

  • moral relativism

  • post-modernism and

  • collectivism and statism on the left and right

  • Here's just a sampling of the many memorable quotes by him quote

  • Don't compare yourself with other people

  • compare yourself with who you were yesterday unquote or

  • Free speech is not just another value is the foundation of Western civilization

  • Don't lie about ANYTHING, EVER. lying leads to hell

  • We have to rediscover the eternal values that... and then live them out

  • No one gets away with anything ever

  • So take responsibility for your own life

  • Now what is remarkable is that such common sense and enduring wisdom

  • Has been so sadly lacking in the public square

  • But what is also so astounding and encouraging

  • is the enormous interest Dr. Peterson is generating globally in restoring first principles

  • Author the number 1 international bestseller 12 rules for life an antidote to chaos

  • Jordan Peterson is professor of psychology at the University of Toronto

  • He is also author of the book maps of meaning the architecture of belief

  • Plus over 100 scientific papers and he has almost 2 million subscribers to his YouTube channel

  • His work explores the modern world by combining the hard-won truths of ancient tradition

  • With the stunning revelations of cutting-edge science

  • now you can read further details about his background on the program that hopefully you got

  • But I will just add one additional

  • note

  • He's a native of North Western Canada

  • (in) 2016 he was inducted as an honorary member of the quack-e-to-tell tribe in the Pacific Northwest and

  • given the name alestalagie

  • meaning great seeker

  • Please join me in welcoming Jordan B Peterson

  • Well, thank you all for coming. it's good to see you here

  • The meaning and reality of individual sovereignty

  • That's a fundamental question as far as I'm concerned

  • Because it's by no means

  • self-evident

  • Why?

  • the idea of individual sovereignty should be

  • granted the

  • primacy of place that it

  • Has been granted or you could say it another way the

  • The reasons that that proposition have been deemed self-evident are not obvious

  • so

  • When I was just backstage, I was looking at the Declaration of Independence, which I do quite regularly make sure that I've got that

  • especially the introductory

  • Statements formulated properly and the introductory statements. I won't quote them precisely but

  • They lay out a series of propositions

  • And the first is that we hold these truths to be self-evident

  • and that people are

  • endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights that

  • they're equal and that

  • Government is to govern bike by the consent of individuals and

  • Those are axiomatic statements, right?

  • There are this sort of statements that you build a system from you have to accept the statements first before you can build the system

  • And it's analogous in some sense to Euclidean geometry, right? There's a

  • Set of axioms and you accept them and then you can build a system, but you have to accept the axioms

  • But you don't have to accept the axioms. That's the thing and one of the things that's very much worth understanding is that

  • the current culture war that we're

  • Embroiled in which really has been going on for in some ways

  • For thousands of years, but in other ways for

  • More specifically political ways. I suppose since the rise of Marxism about a hundred and fifty years ago

  • It depends on how you analyze it whether you think about it as political or psychological because as a psychological phenomena, it's much older

  • The the proposition that

  • Those truths that are laid out in the Declaration of Independence are self-evident is

  • No longer accepted by a large number of people

  • Let's say in the intellectual academy and I would say that's particularly true of the post modernists. It's also true of the

  • Marxists and

  • the post modernists and the Marxists have

  • United in a very strange

  • manner because their

  • Philosophies are not really commensurate with one another the post modernists profess

  • Skepticism about meta-narratives

  • large-scale stories that perhaps might

  • Might serve as uniting

  • structures for people's own cognitive

  • Contents but also that unite

  • groups of people across large swaths of territory they profess

  • skepticism about the validity of those narratives and yet

  • well, the problem with that is it leaves you nowhere because if you don't have a

  • Uniting narrative a uniting story of uniting ethos. You don't have an explanation for

  • Your existence in the world and you don't have a direction

  • And that's not helpful

  • Because you can't live without an explanation for your existence in the world and a direction or if you do live under those conditions

  • You're bound to be miserable. And the reason you're bound to be miserable is because

  • And I would say that this is technically true

  • That almost all the positive emotion that you're going to experience in your life is a consequence of pursuing valuable goals

  • It's not a consequence of attaining them

  • It's a consequence of positing them

  • aiming at them and then observing yourself moving towards them and that... the sense that

  • accompanies that and we know the neurobiology of this sense actually quite well. the sense of that is one of

  • Forward movement and engagement and meaning and accomplishment. It's something like that

  • Hope that's another way of thinking about it. And it's the antidote in some sense to the

  • flip side of life which is the fact that it's

  • nasty brutish and short

  • as Thomas Hobbes put it

  • And that's inalienable as well

  • there's no escape from the

  • limitations and suffering of life

  • And so in order for that not to become overwhelming and then that can easily become overwhelming and often does in people's lives

  • Then you need a countervailing

  • Set of propositions that you can act out and embody

  • to endow that-

  • Limitation with worth and that's a not a trivial

  • Problem. I was just debating... Not really

  • Slavoj Žižek

  • about a week ago and

  • two weeks ago maybe and I was debating him because he had been advertised to me and

  • many others as sort of the world's foremost Marxist scholar and it turned out that

  • He really was not much of a Marxist at all. And so I ended up criticizing the communist manifesto

  • which

  • Deserves criticism and and then I expected him to defend

  • it but he didn't and so that was

  • Sort of

  • Interesting but non blessing um

  • But he said something very interesting during that debate and it came all of a sudden it came out of the blue, you know

  • And I think it was the most

  • striking part of the entire discussion

  • And then this is just a strange segue, but I'm trying I want to I need to

  • Discuss this because it struck me so hard because I think it's such an important point

  • I'd never thought about it before so he told me something I'd never thought about before at all

  • He was talking about the Christian passion

  • and he said that his

  • Sense was that the most important part of it was

  • The scene let's say where Christ is crucified and cries out to God that he's been Forsaken

  • And he said look you gotta think about what that means. I'm paraphrasing him. He said that

  • the suffering that characterizes individual human life is so intense that even if God Himself

  • Dane's to undergo it it will test his faith to the point where he will not believe in his own existence

  • That's really something and I thought wow, that's such a brilliant. That's such a brilliant observation. Is that

  • Because it's definitely the case, you know, if you if you if you interact with people in any manner, that's the least bit

  • Below the surface you find out that most people are carrying

  • A relatively heavy existential burden of one form or another, you know, I mean most people

  • many people have a physical illness that they're dealing with or a mental illness that they're dealing with and if

  • You're in a fortunate position where you're not dealing with either of those you probably have a family member that does and if you don't

  • have either of those you will that's for sure and

  • And you know, that's just one of many

  • terrible catastrophes that are

  • certain to visit you and

  • That

  • terrible catastrophe is

  • A challenge to us in many ways. It's a challenge to us because it forces us to look

  • deeply for a countervailing meaning that can make sense out of that and then maybe more than makes sense out of it and

  • And so I've been curious about whether or not that countervailing meaning exists, you know the post modernists

  • The first thing about them especially the identity politics types

  • I never know really what to call this group of people because if I call them postmodern

  • Neo-marxists then I'm accused of being alt right conspiracy theorists and if if I if I call them

  • Collectivists well that's accurate in some sense

  • But not not precisely and I could call them identity politics players and that happens on the right and the left but that's the basic

  • Rubric, I would say that uniting

  • Idea is that the individual is that... the individual's a fiction

  • in some sense and the right level of analysis

  • for...

  • Society and the political scene and and the economic scene is the group right is

  • Who you are as an individual is well, first of all, perhaps that's just an illusory category altogether

  • But who you are is going to be defined

  • essentially in terms of your group identity

  • your gender

  • Your sex that's already 70 different things

  • Your your that'd be funny if it wasn't true

  • Your your

  • Maybe your socioeconomic status your class. That was the original Marxist

  • Definition of identity right because Marx believed that history was a war between two classes and that your fundamental

  • Being was established by your class identity

  • Or it's your

  • Ethnicity or your race? Those are two other

  • Fundamental group identities or it's some combination of them all which is

  • Intersectionality, which is something that sort of devours itself and I've done a little bit of mathematics

  • It's like if you could imagine that you belong to ten groups, you know ten canonical groups

  • there's probably like one of you and so if you get intersectional enough

  • one of the things that happens is that you break the group's all the way down to the level of the individual if you're gonna

  • take

  • someone's

  • group centered peculiarities entirely into account you end up with ends of one and

  • I actually think that that's what the West figured out thousands of years ago was that if you were gonna take everyone's

  • Uniqueness into account in the way the intersectionalists appear to want to do with the plethora of group

  • identities that you end up at the individual and so

  • But it but there's no

  • requirement for coherency on the part of the postmodernists and in fact

  • They believe that coherency is actually I would say something akin to a conspiracy theory. That's part

  • I'm dead serious. I'm absolutely dead serious about this. It's a it's a conspiracy theory on the part of

  • the modernists who invented or elaborated the oppressive

  • Patriarchy that we all exist under which is something akin, I suppose to Marx's

  • Proletariat versus Bourgeoisie, it's some mishmash of idiocy like that and

  • But you know, I mean it's there's a question there that that's worth

  • Answering it's like well

  • Why do we believe in the individual?

  • You know the founders of the people who wrote the Declaration of Independence know it's like they justified it

  • Right. They said we hold these truths as self-evident like that's not an argument

  • That's just a statement. It's like and it starts a statement like a game in some sense

  • It's like well, let's assume these things are true and move on from there and see what happens now

  • They had their reasons, you know, like from a Canadian perspective

  • The people who

  • The Americ... you Americans who

  • Ran a revolution against England. You're just Englishmen that we're after their own rights and and

  • And had been denied by by

  • By your colonial status, but the American system is deeply embedded in the English common law system, and it's deeply embedded in

  • Well, whatever gave rise to the English common law system and certainly part of that is

  • the Judeo-Christian tradition

  • I don't I don't think any of that's particularly debatable and and so I've been very interested in what makes these propositions

  • self-evident

  • to look to see if there's any truth in the

  • sub structure that makes

  • For the self evidence and so I'm gonna lay out some propositions

  • For you today. We'll see how many I can get to

  • As there's a number of them that are important

  • I think I'll start first of all with a little discussion of Genesis

  • I did a biblical series in 2017

  • on Genesis which some of you might be interested in either watching or listening to. it's actually being very popular

  • Which is very peculiar

  • I rented a theater of about this size to give the lectures and it sold out

  • 15 lectures on Genesis and almost all the people who came were men

  • which is completely incomprehensible because you can't get men near a church and

  • you know and and they were usually men and I would say between about 28 and

  • 40 25 and 40 something like that