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  • Welcome to the waking of podcast.

  • This is Sam Harris.

  • Okay, Well, today, back by popular demand, I have Jordan Peterson.

  • Jordan is a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto.

  • He formerly taught at Harvard University, and he has published articles on drug abuse and alcoholism and aggression.

  • But he has made a special focus on tyranny, and of late he has been fighting a pitched battle against political correctness up in Canada, and he's attracted a lot of support and criticism on that front.

  • As I said last time around, he is far and away the most requested guest I've ever had, And we did upon cast about four.

  • So episodes back entitled What is True podcast number 62 and that, to the disappointment of everyone, was, ah, fairly brutal slogs through differing conceptions of epistemology.

  • If ever the phrase bogged down applied to a podcast, it applied there.

  • Some people enjoyed it, but most of you didn't.

  • But as they say in the conversation today with Jordan, I did a poll on line and 30,000 of you responded and 81% wanted us to try again because there was much more to talk about.

  • And as it turns out, there was.

  • We had a much better conversation this time around.

  • It was very collegial.

  • And if you have anything to say about it, feel free to reach out to Jordan and me on Twitter or make noise wherever you want.

  • And now I bring you Jordan Peterson.

  • Uh, I'm back here with Jordan Peterson.

  • Jordan, Thanks for coming back on the podcast.

  • My pleasure.

  • Let's just take a moment to bring people up to speed.

  • While we can assume many have heard our previous effort at this all won't have.

  • So we did a podcast a little over a month ago.

  • It was podcast 62 I believe on my list and it went fairly haywire.

  • We intended to speak about many things, but got bogged down on the question of what it means to say that a proposition is true.

  • And I consider this actually a very interesting problem in philosophy.

  • But it seemed to me that we got stuck at a point that wasn't very interesting.

  • And many of our listeners I felt the same.

  • And at the time I didn't let the conversation proceed to other topics because I felt that it would just be pointless.

  • I knew you wanted to talk about things like the validity of religious faith and young in archetypes and many other controversial things.

  • And I felt if we couldn't agree on what separates fact from fantasy, we would just be doomed to talk past one another.

  • I think it's it's still possible we're doomed to talk past one another.

  • But we ran a ah Twitter poll after our first podcast, and despite all the complaints I received about our conversation, 81% of people wanted us to make a second attempt.

  • I think 30,000 people answer that pole.

  • So it was a considerable number of people.

  • I decided we should give our people what most of them claim to want.

  • And, um, we'll just see how it goes because I don't want us to fight the same battle all over again.

  • I think listeners who are curious about how that last conversation went can listen to it, and, uh, I'm sure the topic of truth and falsity will come up.

  • But if it does, I think the best thing to do is kind of flag it on the fly and move on, and I think this will be an exercise in seeing just how much can profitably be said across differing a pissed apologies with that warning about the various road hazards.

  • I think we should just see where we wind up.

  • And I think it could be someplace interesting because you and I appear to share many of the same concerns.

  • I think we both find the question of how to live in this world to be the most important one.

  • And I think we're equally concerned about some of the very well subscribed answers to that question that are obviously wrong.

  • And so I think we should just do our best to to make sense and see where it goes.

  • Well, I I hope so, too.

  • That seems right.

  • I mean, you place the tremendous emphasis on the moral necessity of the spoken truth, and that's certainly something that I'm in accord with, and you're also concerned with ethics in relationship to the alleviation of suffering.

  • From from what I've been able to understand from what I from what I've read of your writings, and you're also very much concerned with the relationship between scientific fact and value and So we do share this intense concern about the same domain, and I think for many of the same reasons, and I think that you're on outstanding exponents of your particular position and that makes you an excellent person to talk about these things with.

  • I was actually going to start with a bit of an apology because I listened to our talk twice, trying to figure out where it went off the rails.

  • It actually went okay for the first hour.

  • And then we got bogged down in the truth issue, and I think I made a couple of strategic errors, which I hope not to repeat.

  • The 1st 1 was that, um, I started the conversation by more or less accusing you of being insufficiently Darwinian, and that was designed to be, I thought, playful and provocative.

  • But when I listen to our conversation again, I thought that that wasn't a very wise strategic move.

  • That was one mistake I made in.

  • The second mistake I made was that I had just read a number of things that you had written, and I told you a lot about what you thought instead of letting you say it and I was doing that partly well, partly because there is an argument to be had here.

  • And I suppose partly because I was nervous, but also partly to demonstrate that I had actually familiarized myself with what you had read.

  • And I wanted to indicate or what you had written, and I wanted to indicate to you that I was taking it seriously.

  • But I'm going to try to not be the least that provocative in that manner during this conversation, because I really do think that we have something important to talk about.

  • And I think that that's why so many people actually want to listen to us talk.

  • So anyways, hopefully we get bogged down.

  • Yeah, just in the interest of completing that bit of housekeeping, I don't think the first was an error at all.

  • I mean, to say that I'm insufficiently Darwinian is provocative, and I don't take it in the least bit.

  • Personally, we just didn't find a path through that particular thesis that we could converge on as far as the second point, telling me what I think in advance of our actually hitting that topic.

  • I think that is, that's almost certainly a mistake with me or anyone, and that's fine that you did that postmortem and and I agree with that bit.

  • So let's just start with a clean slate here.

  • And I think kind of a natural starting point would be to ask you and I have heard a few of the things you've said on this topic, but I'll just let you invent yourself a new however it strikes you.

  • What is the relationship, in your view between science and religion?

  • Well, I think the religious systems are descriptions of how people onto air.

  • And I think that the way that I think that those arose in a quasi evolutionary manner and so imagine.

  • Imagine the dominance hierarchy, structure of a chimpanzee troupe or a wolf pack.

  • Okay, so we'll we'll use the wolf idea first and then switch if it's okay to the chimpanzee idea.

  • So, as a consequence of the behavioral actions and interactions among social animals, you could think of something as a something that might be described as a procedural covenant arising, and that would be the animals knowledge of the structure of the dominance hierarchy, which is kind of ill named.

  • But we'll use that for now.

  • So they there's Ah, there's a hierarchy of, of, of rank.

  • And every animal in the social community understands that hierarchy of rank.

  • That's essentially the culture of the of the of the truth or the or the pack.

  • And there's an implicit recognition off the value of each individual within that that true or pack such that.

  • For example, if two wolves square off in a dominance dispute course, they puff themselves up to make to make themselves look large, and they growl at each other, and they engage in ferociously threatening displays and generally speaking, the wolf that that has the lowest threshold for anxiety activation will capitulate first, generally without much more than the pose of a fight and roll over and expose his neck.

  • And then the dominant wolves will not deigned to tear it out.

  • Basically, And you could think of the wolves acting out what you would describe Proposition Lee as respect for each individual's value and then in the Champ Troops, Franz DWells.

  • Research has indicated, for example, that if the dominant turkey is only based on brute force and the chimp out, the talk who's generally male is there because He's a barbarian dictator.

  • Let's say then he's very likely to be taken out by two male chimps, 3/4 his power, who are much better at social bonding and who made a very tight compact between one another, and and so that the chimp truth that's based on a tyranny is unstable.

  • What the wall indicated was that the chip troops to tend to be more stable, are run by dominant males who actually are very good at social bonding and reciprocity and who pay a fair bit of attention to the females and infants in the troupe.

  • So the dominance isn't power so much as as it might, as you might think of as good politics.

  • So there's an emergent ethic that, and I truly believe it's emergent ethic.

  • That's very similar to what PJ described as emerging among Children when they play games.

  • That not only specifies the nature of the social contract, let's say, but also is structured as if the individuals within the social contract have some implicit value.

  • So imagine that as human beings diverged away from their chimpanzee progenitors there, you know, the common ancestor we have with chimpanzees.

  • We already started to act out this ethic.

  • It was coated in our procedures to speak technically because we have a procedural memory.

  • And then as we develop cortical e, we watched each other and and ourselves very, very intently.

  • And once we developed language, we were able to start encapsulating that procedural ethic first in stories and that story.

  • Those stories were partly about what a very well structured procedural ethic might be and how it might go wrong, but also about how an individual within that procedural ethic should be treated and should act.

  • And the storytelling, which was the mapping of that procedure, was the birthplace of the image and story basis of religious aviation, as far as I can tell.

  • So that's the basic thesis.

  • It's like PJ's notion that Children, when they first come together, toe learn a game if they're if they're young enough, they can play the game when they're together.

  • But if you take them out of the game and asked them individually about the rules, they give widely disparate accounts, so they've got the procedure in place, but they haven't got the episodic representation.

  • 10 speaking.

  • It's only it's only once they become more linguistically sophisticated that they can actually come up with a coherent representation of the rules.

  • And then it's only later when they start to construe themselves, not merely as followers of the rules but also as originators of the rules.

  • And that's akin to the recognition of I would say, constructive individuality in relationship to the state.

  • So I see these things is very, very, very deeply biologically predicated.

  • Where's the concept of an archetype come into this picture?

  • Well, okay.

  • Imagine this, Sam.

  • You tell me what you think about this.

  • So you know how if you if you have Ah, can I tell you just a two minute star?

  • Sure.

  • So Okay, so one time I was at the hockey rink with my son and he was playing.

  • He was young, he was about 12.

  • They were playing his championship game in this Little league that they have.

  • And, uh, my son was pretty good hockey player, but there was a kid on the team who was better than him, who was kind of a star.

  • But he was He was ah, diva, you know, And even though he would score goals and all of that, he wouldn't pass and he wouldn't.

  • He wasn't facilitating the development of any of the other team members.

  • And so anyways, we watched this game and it was very close.

  • It was a very exciting game, and in the final few minutes of the last period, the other team scored and my son's team and this Starr's team lost.

  • And so then the kids went off the ice, and then and the diva kid smashed his hockey stick on the cement and started to complain bitterly about how unfair the game is.

  • And then his his idiot father came running up to him and told him how unfair the rafting had being, how and how it was stolen from them and how catastrophic all of that was.

  • And I thought it was one of the most Highness displays of or parenting that I never seen now, So there's there that there's a moral of that story, So his kid was very good at playing Harkey, but he wasn't very good at being a good player.

  • And so, you know, he always tell your kids doesn't matter whether you win or lose.

  • It matters how you play the game and of course you don't know what that means, and neither does the kid.

  • And it's often a mystery to the kid what that means, because obviously you're tryingto win.

  • But but imagine it this way.

  • Imagine that human beings that the goal of human life isn't toe win the game.

  • The goal of human life, in some sense, is to win the set of all possible games.

  • And in order to win the set of all possible games, you don't need to win any particular game.

  • You have to play in a manner that ensures that you will be invited to play more and more games.

  • And so when you tell your Children to be good sports to play properly, what you mean is play to win.

  • But Plato win in such a way that people on your team are happy to play with you, and people on the other teams are happy to play with you and so that you keep get invite getting invited to games.

  • Now, if you think of each game as ah as, ah small hierarchy of value or dominance, then obviously the appropriate thing is to move up the hierarchy.

  • But and that's what animals do is they move up in their specific hierarchy.

  • But because human beings are capable of abstraction, we've been able to conceptualize the hierarchy as such, rather than any specific one, and then also to characterize a mode of being that is most likely to move you up the hierarchy, no matter what that hierarchy is.

  • And as far as I can tell, that's the archetype of the hero.

  • The hero is the person who is most likely to move up any given dominance hierarchy at any time, in any place.

  • And the hero is also and then so that the nature of that Arkad Temple hero first was acted out.

  • It was it was laid out in procedure, and then it was acted out, and then it was described.

  • But it's also it's multi dimensional.

  • It's not on Lee he who plays to be invited to play again, but also he who goes out into the great unknown to face chaos and the dangers there, but to gather what's valuable as a consequence and to bring it back to the community.

  • And that's the that's the basis of the Dragon myth archetype, which is, of course, plays out in art literature, throat while throughout recorded history.

  • The oldest story we have, which is the new model ish from Mesopotamia, is a a story about Marduk, who's the culture hero and also the the highest guard in the message.

  • Damian Pantheon.

  • He confronts the Dragon of Chaos, cuts her into pieces and makes the world.

  • In fact, one of his names was Nam.

  • I can't remember the name unfortunate, but it meant he who creates ingenious things as a consequence of the combat with Ty Amount, who's the dragon of Chaos.

  • So he cuts off.

  • He cuts up the unknown into pieces and makes ingenious things out of them.

  • And it's a perfect description of of the human archetype, of the fact that we are hyper exploratory and that we use our capacity to explore the dangerous unknown, to gather the treasure that lies there and then to distribute it to the community so and that in terms of the evolution of that archetype, Sam, think about it this way.

  • Okay, again, you could tell me what you what you think about this So we know that roughly speaking, that human females made across and up dominance hierarchies.

  • Where's chimpanzee females are non selective maters.

  • The dominant chimps.

  • Males will chase away the subordinate chimps from the females in estrus, and so they're more likely to have offspring.

  • But the females will mate with anyone, whereas human females are very selective and they have hidden ovulation.

  • And they made across an up dominance hierarchy.

  • So imagine the woman wants the man who's most capable of rising up the set of all dominance hierarchies.

  • So what happens is she outsources that problem to the computational capacity of the male hierarchy, and she lets the man fight it out among themselves, compete and cooperate to determine who the best man is.

  • He's provided with the majority of the mating opportunities.

  • And so that's how the extended religious Fino type manifests itself in evolutionary space, which was something that you and Richard Dawkins were wondering about the last time that you talked like it's not psychopathy, which was in some sense, you know, you were thinking about the charismatic liar, but really, what's being selected for is the the consciousness, because that's the right way of thinking about it that's best able to rise across the set of all dominance.

  • Hierarchies and females are selecting very hard for that, which is, at least in part, why we've had this tremendously expanded cortical capacity.

  • Well, let me see if I can wade into this picture and fine places of agreement and disagreement for clarity's sake.

  • I think it's useful to distinguish between two different intellectual projects here, with respect to values and morality and and the question of just howto live in this world, which is our police nominal starting point.

  • First, there's the description of how we got here right in.

  • This captures all of evolutionary psychology and much of what you just began to say about selection pressures with respect to dominance, hierarchies.

  • And do you know the kind of heroic male mate that female apes will find attractive and all that.

  • Then you can add religion to that as perhaps an extended FINA type or the possibility of group selection pressure.

  • More religious tribes have a way of organizing themselves in a more durable way than than less religious tribes, and therefore we have.

  • There's something in our evolutionary history that has selected for religiosity, say a no overarching story that unites non kin in a way that is more energizing than some other story.

  • You know, I don't really have much of a dog in that fight.

  • I think some of that is plausible.

  • Some of it isn't, I think group selection.

  • So you haven't mentioned it is working to some degree in the background of this way of talking about religion in evolutionary terms.

  • And at the moment I happen to be convinced that group selection is implausible and based on some bad analogies.

  • But again, this is not.

  • This doesn't strike me as important for this conversation.

  • For really, for anything that I've written about the relationship between morality and science or fax and values.

  • Because I view this problem of describing how we got here.

  • How is it that apes like ourselves have the moral attitudes and concerns that we have?

  • That's a distinct project which is quite separate from the question of deciding how we should live now, given what we are and given the opportunities available to us and given the way in which we're continually flying the perch that has been prepared for us by evolution, with our technology and with our institutions and with our new moral norms that have absolutely nothing to do with ancient selection pressures, and this is even true in a religious context.

  • So you have in many religions, perhaps even most you have certain ideals that could never have been selected for, because they are the antithesis of anything that would offer an adaptive advantage.

  • Celibacy, for instance, Anyone who was committed to celibacy in our ancient past, by definition didn't breed.

  • You could say that they might have helped their kin, But still, celibacy is not an ideal that you could make much Darwinian sense of.

  • And yet you can have the most committed adherents of any faith tending toward a life of celibacy.

  • At the very least, promiscuity is taboo and most religious traditions.

  • I'm not taking a position that that's a good thing or a bad thing.

  • I'm just saying that this is where evolution is no longer relevant to a discussion of how people should live.

  • And as I think, I said in a blogger response to some of the things you said after our first podcast, if you wanted to just take a jeans, I view of how human beings should live, especially how men should live.

  • Well, then you you would conclude that given current opportunities.

  • Every man should be passionately committed to doing more or less nothing but donate his sperm to a sperm bank because then he would could father, possibly tens of thousands of offspring for whom he would have no financial or emotional responsibility.

  • From a Darwinian perspective, that should be every guy's deepest dream.

  • You should just get up in the morning with just a commitment to that project, unlike any other that could be discovered in life.

  • So we have motives and norms and concerns that don't narrowly track gene level analysis of what we should be doing.

  • So I just put that out there.

  • I think the more interesting conversation is not to talk about how apes like ourselves could have gotten religion, but to talk about what we should do, given the way the world is now and what we seem to know about it through science.

  • Well, that that that's fine.

  • I just want to make a couple of comments about that.

  • I mean, the hypotheses that I'm proposing is certainly not dependent on group selection, so so we can leave that one aside a ce faras I I you know, I think the jury's out on the ultimate validity of the idea of group selection.

  • But I'm not interested in going down that rabbit hole because it doesn't matter to me one way or another, really, how that's resolved with regards to the potential validity of evolutionarily derived motivations to the present day.

  • I think I think that's more complicated.

  • So the first thing I would say is that I believe there has been a central march forward with a set of very productive ideas, as human beings have evolved their morality.