Jordan Peterson

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Jordan Peterson (born June 12, 1962) is a clinical psychologist and Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Maps of Meaning: the Architecture of Belief.

Quotes[edit]

  • Everybody acts out a myth,
    but very few people know what their myth is.
    And you should know what your myth is,
    because it might be a tragedy.
    And maybe you don't want it to be.
  • Weak and miserable as I am, I can still stand up to the terrible tragedy of life and prevail!
    • Strengthen the Individual: A counterpoint to Post Modern Political Correctness [1]
  • The truth is something that burns, it burns off deadwood and people don't like having their deadwood burnt off often because they're 95% deadwood
    • Joe Rogan Experience #958 - Jordan Peterson [2]
  • Evil is the force that believes its knowledge is complete
  • The motivation that drives the commission of the worst human atrocities is an inevitable social consequence of the refusal of the self-conscious individual to make the sacrifices appropriate to establishing a harmonious life and their consequent degeneration into a kind of murderous and resentment filled raged rage propagating endlessly through its variations in society until everything comes to an end.
    • Tragedy vs Evil (5th Biennial International Conference on Personal Meaning, July 24-27, 2008). [3]
  • Do you want to be what you are or do you want to be what continually changes what you are?
    • 2017 Maps of Meaning 11: The Flood and the Tower. [4]
  • Why do dragons hoard gold? Because the things you most need is always to be found where you least want to look.
    • Slaying the Dragon Within Us. [5]
  • When you educate someone you teach them how to use language to arm them; straighten them out; organize them; elevate them and you ennoble them and then they're not misshapen half-carved blocks of humanity. People that can stand up; stand around and manoeuvre through the world; contribute properly to the community and keep the world oriented between chaos and order.
  • The story of Adam and Eve represents the fruit as producing a psychological transformation. So the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is an abstraction across trees, and it's trying to say: "Here's something that's common across trees, it's a fruit that's common across trees." The fruit that's common across trees is something that you might call food, fair enough. But here's something that's even more cool; food that's stable across the entire domain of food, isn't food, it's information. We use the same bloody circuits in our brain to forage for information that animals use to forage for information. Why is that? Because we figured out knowing where the food is, is more important than having the food... That's why we're information foragers."
    • Biblical Series IV: Adam and Eve: Self-Consciousness, Evil, and Death [6]
  • If they're on fire and you have water then you can sell it to them.
  • People do not care whether or not they succeed, they care about whether or not they fail.
  • To those whom have everything, everything will be given, and to those who have nothing, everything will be taken. 
  • Income inequality is increasing, and you might ask yourself why is that? Well that's what income does.
  • Look at you people in here, what the hell is wrong with you? Nothing. So you could probably have what you want, if you could figure out what the hell it was, and you diligently pursued it.
  • Here's how you can tell someone is your friend: A) You can tell them bad news, and they'll listen. B) You can tell them good news, and they'll help you celebrate.
    • Excerpt from 2017 Personality Lecture 21. [7]
  • Here's a rule for whether or not you should take an opportunity: Will taking that opportunity teach you something that you can use to get other opportunities?
  • Watch people like a hawk, and when they do something good, tell them.
  • People camouflage against the herd. People aren't after happiness, they're after not hurting.
    • 2017 Personality 21: Performance Prediction. [8]
  • When you tell a lie often enough, you become unable to distinguish it from the truth.
  • If you tell enough lies, often enough, the truth will become entirely hidden from you... and then you are in hell.
  • Morality, like politics, is the alternative to chaos and war.
  • Ideologues assume the problems of the world are someone else's fault. Or they assume that broadscale systemic change (according to their dictates) is a prerequisite to utopia. A truly religious person tries to change him or herself, which is a more difficult and less grand task.
  • Why do you think ideological thought is pushed so heavily at the universities? 1/3 laziness, 1/3 ignorance and 1/3 malevolence. Laziness: it's easier to apply a doctrine to everything at once than to think through complex issues; Ignorance: the less you know about a problem the easier you think it is to solve; Malevolence: it's great to find the enemy in others so that you have someone against who to direct your resentment.
  • I think that truth is the highest value, although it has to be embedded in love. What I mean by that is that truth should serve the highest good imaginable. For me, that is what is best for each individual, in the manner that is simultaneously best for the family, and the state, and nature itself. But you can only want that good if you love Being.
  • Speak the truth and see what happens.
  • You must fight or capitulate to those with whom you refuse to talk.
  • I think the idea of white privilege is absolutely reprehensible, and it's not because white people aren't privileged. You know, we have all sorts of privileges, and most people have privileges of all sorts, and you should be grateful for your privileges and work to deserve them, I would say. But, the idea that you can target an ethnic group with a collective crime, regardless of the specific innocence or guilt of the constituent elements of that group, there is absolutely nothing that's more racist than that. It's absolutely abhorrent.
    • Strengthen the Individual: Q & A Parts I & II [9]
  • If religion was the opium of the masses, then communism was the methamphetamine of the masses.
    • Biblical Series III: God and the Hierarchy of Authority [10]
  • Life is suffering.
    Love is the desire to see unnecessary suffering ameliorated.
    Truth is the handmaiden of love.
    Dialogue is the pathway to truth.
    Humility is recognition of personal insufficiency and the willingness to learn.
    To learn is to die voluntarily and be born again, in great ways and small.
    So speech must be untrammeled, so that dialogue can take place.
    So that we can all humbly learn.
    So that truth can serve love.
    So that suffering can be ameliorated.
    So that we can all stumble forward to the Kingdom of God.
    • Banned lecture at Linfield College: Ethics and Free Speech [11]
  • Don't sacrifice who you could be for who you are.
  • Love is something like the notion that despite its suffering Being is good and you should serve Being.
  • First stop lying, then start speaking the truth.
  • There is nothing more useful in combating the tragedy of life than to struggle with all your soul on behalf of the good.
  • You can't make rules for the exceptional.
  • There is no being without imperfection.
  • The human capacity for eternal transformation is the antidote to unbearable suffering and tragedy.
  • History is the biography of the human race.
  • Ruling hell might be better than being a subject in hell, but not by much.
  • What's better: to not be afraid or to know that you can handle being afraid?
  • Pain is the only thing that people will never deny.
  • We've discovered the future, as a place you can bargain with. [12]
  • 12 principles for a 21st century conservatism.
    1. The fundamental assumptions of Western civilization are valid.
    2. Peaceful social being is preferable to isolation and to war. In consequence, it justly and rightly demands some sacrifice of individual impulse and idiosyncrasy.
    3. Hierarchies of competence are desirable and should be promoted. 
    4. Borders are reasonable. Likewise, limits on immigration are reasonable. Furthermore, it should not be assumed that citizens of societies that have not evolved functional individual-rights predicated polities will hold values in keeping with such polities.
    5. People should be paid so that they are able and willing to perform socially useful and desirable duties. 
    6. Citizens have the inalienable right to benefit from the result of their own honest labor.
    7. It is more noble to teach young people about responsibilities than about rights. 
    8. It is better to do what everyone has always done, unless you have some extraordinarily valid reason to do otherwise.
    9. Radical change should be viewed with suspicion, particularly in a time of radical change.
    10. The government, local and distal, should leave people to their own devices as much as possible.
    11. Intact heterosexual two-parent families constitute the necessary bedrock for a stable polity. 
    12. We should judge our political system in comparison to other actual political systems and not to hypothetical utopias. 
    • Speech of Jordan Peterson at Carleton Place for the Conservative Party of Ontario [12]
  • I regard free speech as a prerequisite to a civilized society, because freedom of speech means that you can have combat with words. That's what it means. It doesn't mean that people can happily and gently exchange opinions. It means that we can engage in combat with words. In the battleground of ideas. And the reason that that's acceptable, and why it's acceptable that people's feelings get hurt during that combat, is that the combat of ideas is far preferable to actual combat.
  • “Everybody acts out a myth, but very few people know what their myth is.  And you should know what your myth is, Because it might be a tragedy. And maybe you don’t want it to be.
  • "You can't have the conversation about rights without the conversation about responsibility, because your rights are my responsibility. That's what they are technically. So, you just can't have only half of that discussion. And we're only having half of that discussion. Then the questions is, 'well what are you leaving out if you're only having that half of the discussion.' And the answer is, 'well, you're leaving out responsibility.' And then the questions is, 'Well, what are you leaving out if you're leaving out responsibility.' And the answer might be: 'Well maybe you're leaving out the meaning of life.' Here you are, suffering away. What makes it worthwhile? Rights? It's almost impossible to describe how bad an idea that is. Responsibility. That's what gives life meaning. Lift a load. Then you can tolerate yourself. Look at yourself. You're useless. Easily hurt. Easily killed. Why should you have any self-respect? Pick something up and carry it. Make it heavy enough so that you can think, yah, well, useless as I am, at least I can move that from there to there. For men, there's nothing but responsibility. Women have their sets of responsibilities. They're not the same. Women have to take primary responsibility for having infants at least, then also for caring for them. They're structured differently than men for biological necessity. Women know what they have to do. Men have to figure out what they have to do. And if they have nothing worth living for, then they stay Peter Pan. And why the hell not? The alternative to valued responsibility is low class pleasure. Why lift a load if there's nothing in it for you? And that's what we're doing to men and boys that's a very bad idea. Basically we give them the message, 'you're pathological and oppressive.' They often respond, 'fine then, why the tell should I play? If I get no credit for bearing responsibility, then you can be sure I won't bear any.' Then your life is useless and meaningless, and you're full of self contempt and nihilism, and that's not good. And so that's what I think is going on at a deeper level with regard to men needing this direction. A man has to decide that he's going to do something. He has to decide that."
  • "Partly what you need to do is decide what your highest value is. It's the star. What are you aiming for? You can decide. But there are some criteria. It should be good for you in a way that facilitates your moving forward. Maybe it should be good for you in a way that's also good for your family, as well as for the larger community. It should cover the domain of life. There's constraints on what you should regard as a value, but within those constraints you have the choice. You have choice. The thing is that people will carry a heavy load if they get to pick the load. And they think, 'well, I won't carry any load.' Ok, fine, but then you'll be like the slead dog that has nothing to pull. You'll get bored. People are pack animals. They need to pull against a wait. And that's not true for everyone. It's not true for conscientious people. For the typical person, they'll eat themselves up unless they have a load. This is why there's such an opiate epidemic among so many dispossessed white, middle aged, unemployed men in the U.S. They lose their job, and then they're done. They despise themselves. They develop chronic pain syndromes and depression. And the chronic pain is treated with opiates. That's what we're doing. And you should watch when you talk to young men about responsibility. They're so thrilled about it. It just blows me away. Really?! That's what the counter-culture is? Grow up and do something useful. Really? I can do that? Oh, I'm so excited by that idea. No one ever mentioned that before. Rights, rights, rights, rights. Jesus. It's appalling. People have had enough of that. And they better have, because it's a non-productive mode of being. Responsibility, man. That's where the meaning in life is."
  • "The idea of white privilege is absolutely reprehensible. And it's not because white people aren't privileged. We have all sorts of privileges, and most people have privileges of all sorts, and you should be grateful for your privileges and work to deserve them. But the idea that you can target an ethnic group with a collective crime, regardless of the specific innocence or guilt of the constituent elements of that group - there is absolutely nothing that's more racist than that. It's absolutely abhorrent. If you really want to know more about that sort of thing, you should read about the Kulaks in the Soviet Union in the 1920's. They were farmers who were very productive. They were the most productive element of the agricultural strata in Russia. And they were virtually all killed, raped, and robbed by the collectivists who insisted that because they showed signs of wealth, they were criminals and robbers. One of the consequences of the prosecution of the Kulaks was the death of six million Ukrainians from a famine in the 1930's. The idea of collectively held guilt at the level of the individual as a legal or philosophical principle is dangerous. It's precisely this sort of danger that people who are really looking for trouble would push. Just a cursory glance at 20th century history should teach anyone who wants to know exactly how unacceptable that is."
  • "It's not the state that's the place of salvation, it's the individual psyche. There's an ethic that goes along with that. It's within the individual that redemption is manifested."
  • "The proper functioning of the state is dependent on the proper functioning of the individual, rather than the reverse. And the proper mode of individual Being that's redemptive is Truth. Truth is the antidote to the suffering that emerges with the fall of man in the story of Adam and Eve."
  • "There's an insistence that the Being that's spoken into being through Truth is Good. This is the most profound ever. It is also the most believable idea ever. What cures in therapy is Truth. Of course, you must encounter the things that you're afraid of, but this is enacted Truth, because if you know that there's something you need to do by your own set of rules and you're avoiding it, then you're enacting a lie. You're not speaking the lie, but you're enacting it, and that's the same thing: untruth. If you can confront If I can get you to face what it is that you know you shouldn't be avoiding, then what's happening is that we're both partaking in the process of you attempting to act out your deepest truth. That improves people's lives radically. The clinical evidence for that is overwhelming. We know that if you expose people to the things that they're afraid of and are avoiding, they get better. You have to do it carefully, cautiously, and with their approval and participation. Of all the things that clinicians have established that's credible, that's #1.It's redemptive insofar as both people are telling the truth. The difference between deception and repression is very small. People can handle earthquakes and cancer and even death, but they can't handle deception. They can't handle the rug being pulled out from underneath them by people who they love and trust. This does them in. It makes them ill, it hurts them psycho-physiologically, and worse than that it makes them cynical, bitter, vicious, and resentful. And then they also start to act all that out in the world, and that makes it worse.”
  • "Your values have to be hierarchically organized with something absolute at the top, because otherwise they do nothing but war. You have to organize your values hierarchically or else you stay confused. This is true if you're an individual and it's true if you're a state. If you don't know what the next thing you should do is, then there are fifty things you should do. Then, how are you doing to do any of them. You can't. You have to prioritize. Something has to be above something else. It has to be arranged in a hierarchy for it not to be chaotic. So there is some principle at the top of the hierarchy." 
  • "That's a way that you can tell if you got an argument right: it's communicable, understandable, and memorable."
  • "When you think that the ground of consciousness is the most complex thing we know of, then it's not so unsophisticated to assume that the most complex thing that there might be is like that. Or at least that's as good as we can do with our imaginations. I don't think that's unsophisticated."
  • "You can kill people with compassion. That's the Freudian Oedipal situation. Think about working in a nursing home. There's a rule of thumb that we can use as a guide when interacting with people in general. It is this: Do not do anything for anyone that they can do themselves. You just steal it from them. Imagine that you're working with elderly people. It might be easier to do something for them than to let them struggle through it. You just speed their demise by taking away their last vestiges of independence. People do the same thing with kids. The answer is: struggle through it. When people struggle through things on their own, using their own abilities - they learn how to live. You have to be one heard-hearted sonofabitch to allow this, but it's what's best for people. Think about that. What's the alternative? If we cater to people all the time, then we end up becoming a major cause of them becoming people who are always catered to. This is an incredibly important lesson in the triumph of fostering independence over casual compassion." 
  • "One of the things you want to do with a conception like compassion is that you want to start thinking about it like a psychologist, or like a scientist, because compassion is actually definable. The easiest way to approach it is to think about it in Big-5 terms, because it maps onto Agreeableness, which you can break down into Compassion and Politeness. The liberal types, especially the Social Justice types, are way higher in Compassion. It's actually their fundamental characteristic. You might think, 'well, compassion is a virtue.' Yes, it's a virtue, but any uni-dimensional virtue immediately becomes a vice, because real virtue is the intermingling of a number of virtues and their integration into a functional identity that can be expressed socially. Compassion can be great if you happen to be the entity towards which it is directed. But compassion tends to divide the world into crying children and predatory snakes. So if you're a crying child, hey great. But if you happen to be identified as one of the predatory snakes, you better look the hell out. Compassion is what the mother grizzly bear feels for her cubs while she eats you because you got in the way. We don't want to be thinking for a second that compassion isn't a virtue that can lead to violence, because it certainly can. The other problem with compassion - this is why we have conscientiousness - there's five canonical personality dimensions. Agreeableness is good if you are functioning in a kin system. You want to distribute resources equally for example among your children, because you want all of them to have the same chance, and even roughly the same outcome. That is, a good one. But the problem is that you can't extend that moral network to larger groups. As far as I can tell, you need conscientiousness, which is a much colder virtue. It's also a virtue that is much more concerned with larger structures over the longer period of time. And you can think about conscientiousness as a form of compassion too. It's like: 'straighten the hell out, and work hard and your life will go well. I don't care how you feel about that right now.' Someone who's cold, that is, low in agreeableness and high in conscientiousness, will tell you every time. 'Don't come whining to me. I don't care about your hurt feelings. Do your goddamn job or you're going to be out on the street.' One might think, 'Oh that person is being really hard on me.' Not necessarily. They might have your long term best interest in mind. You're fortunate if you come across someone who is disagreeable. Not tyrannically disagreeable, but moderately disagreeable and high in conscientiousness because they will whip you into shape. And that's really helpful. You'll admire people like that. You won't be able to help it. You'll feel like, 'Oh wow, this person has actually given me good information, even though you will feel like a slug after they have taken you apart.' That's the compassion issue. You can't just transform that into a political stance. I think part of what we're seeing is actually the rise of a form of female totalitarianism, because we have no idea what totalitarianism would be like if women ran it, because that's never happened before in the history of the planet. And so, we've introduced women into the political sphere radically over the past fifty years. We have no idea what the consequence of that is going to be. But we do know from our research, which is preliminary, that agreeableness really predicts political correctness, but female gender predicts over and above the personality trait, and that's something we found very rarely in our research. Usually the sex differences are wiped out by the personality differences, but not in this particular case. On top of that, women are getting married later, and they're having children much later, and they're having fewer of them, and so you also have to wonder what their feminine orientation is doing with itself in the interim, roughly speaking. A lot of it is being expressed as political opinion. Fair enough. That's fine. But it's not fine when it starts to shut down discussion."
  • "I also don't think it's unsophisticated to think of God the Father as the spirit that arises from the crowd that exists into the future. You make sacrifices in the present so that the future is happy with you. The question is, then, what is that future that would be happy with you? It's the spirit of humanity. That's who you're negotiating with, because you make the assumption that if you forgo impulsive pleasure and get your medical degree, that when you're done in ten years and when you're a physician, humanity as such will honor your sacrifice and commitment, and it will open the doors to you. So you're treating the future as if it's a single being, and you're also treating it as if it's a compassionate judge. You're acting that out. And maybe, once we figured out that there is a future, we needed to imagine God in that form in order to concretize something that we could bargain with so that we could figure out how to use sacrifice so that we could guide ourselves into the future. Because if sacrifice is a contract with the future, but not with any particular person, then it is a contract with the spirit of humanity as such. It's something like that. To come up with the idea that you can bargain with the future is THE major idea of humankind. We suffer. What do we do about it? We figure out how to bargain with the future. And we minimize suffering in that manner."
  • "The lion laying with the lamb is the idea that is either projected back in time, saying that there was a time, or maybe that there will be a time when the horrors of life are no longer necessary for life itself to exist. And the horrors of life are of course that everything eats everything else, and that everything dies, and that everything is born, and that the whole place is a charnal house. It's a catastrophe from beginning to end. This is the vision of it being other than that. There's a strong idea that human beings can interact with reality in such a way so that the tragic and evil elements of it can be mitigated, so that we can move closer to a state of being where we have the benefits of existence without the catastrophe that seems to go along with it." 
  • "Jung said that science is nested in a dream. The dream is that if we investigated the structures of material reality with sufficient attention and truth, that we could then learn enough about material reality to then alleviate suffering: To produce the philosopher's stone - to make everybody wealthy, to make everybody healthy, to make everyone live as long as they wanted to live or perhaps forever. That's the goal - to alleviate the catastrophe of existence. The idea that the solutions to the mysteries of life that enable us to develop such a substance, or multitude of substances, provided the motive force for the development of science. Jung traced that development of the motive force to over the period of 1,000 years. Jung went back into alchemical texts and interpreted them as if they were the dream upon which science was founded. Newton was an alchemist, by the way. Science did emerge of out alchemy. The question is, what were the alchemists up to? They were trying to produce the philosopher's stone, which was the universal medicament for mankind's pathology."
  • "Jung thought that Christianity had promised the cessation of suffering for 1,000 years, yet suffering went on unabated. At the same time, Christianity had put a lot of emphasis on spiritual development at the expense of material development."
  • "The idea that paradise, the proper habitat of a human being, is a walled garden - is a good one. It's an echo back to the chaos/order idea. Walls: culture. Garden: nature. The proper human habitat is a properly tended garden."
  • "The radical left thinks that the lines in Genesis about dominating the animals and plants has given rise to the environmental degradation that we are facing today. I disagree with that. I think that is the wrong interpretation of the text. It tells us to 'tend' the garden, which means to make the proper decisions that will be good for the things that are living there that aren't people, and also that will be good for the people too. This is a different take on the text than the ultimately cynical take that is often discussed today."
  • "A thing isn't quite real until you name it."
  • "Without that forward going, courageous consciousness, a woman herself will drift into unconsciousness and terror. It's the sleep of the naive and damned. She needs to wake herself up and bring her own masculine consciousness into the forefront so she can survive in the world. Unless woman is taken out of man, then she isn't a human being, she's just a creature."
  • "Snake predation was no joke. It shaped our evolutionary past. We're attuned to snakes. We are really good at detecting the camouflage pattern of snakes in the lower half of our visual field. There's evidence that the reason human beings have such acute vision, which means that our eyes were opened, is because we co-evolved with snakes and we learned how to see them. And then the price we paid for seeing was that our brain grew, because you need a lot of brainpower to see. And the consequence of our brain growing was that one day we woke up and discovered the future. And the future is where all the snakes might live, instead of where they live right now. I already made the case that there's a tight link between what you eat and information - conceptual link as well as a practical link. But it's also the case that we can see colors. The question is: why? The answer is: we evolved to see ripe fruit. In the story of Adam and Eve human beings are given vision by the snake and the fruit. That turns out to be correct." 
  • "The woman offers the man fruit. Maybe that's how our female ancestors enticed males to join them in caring for offspring. 'I'll offer you food, and in response we're going to make a team. That's the deal.'  And that's the human deal. That's why we're more or less monogamous and why we more or less pair-bond, and why something approximating marriage is a human universal. You can find exceptions, but who cares? Look at the vast pattern. The price we pay for having very large brains is that we're very dependent, and it takes a long time for us to get programmed, and because of that we need relatively stable family bonding, and that's basically what we've evolved. You don't get that without making males self conscious. Why not impregnate and run. It's not 'why do men abandon their children?' that's the mystery. It's 'why do any men ever stick with them?' Just look at the animal kingdom. The simple and easiest thing is always the most likely thing to occur. It's the exception - the long term commitment - that needs explanation."
  • "It's the invention of: work. What do people do that animals don't? Work. What does work mean: It means you sacrifice the present for the future. Why do you do that? Because you know that you're vulnerable, and because you're awake. From here on in, from this point forward, there's no return to unconscious paradise. I don't care how many problems you've solved so that today's okay. You have a lot of problems coming up. No matter how much you work, you're never going to work enough to solve all the problems. All you're going to do from here on in is be terrified of the future. That's the price of waking up. It's the end of paradise, and that's the beginning of history." 
  • "What does opening your eyes and realizing your vulnerability have to do with the knowledge of good and evil? Here's the key: You know you're vulnerable. No other animal knows that. You know what hurts you, because you're vulnerable. And now that you know what hurts you, you can figure out what hurts someone else. And as soon as you know what can hurt someone as, and you can use that, then you have the knowledge of good and evil. Well it's a pretty good trick that the snake pulled because it doesn't seem like the thing that we would have exactly wanted if we knew what the consequence was going to be. As soon as a human being is self conscious and aware of his nakedness, then he has the capacity for evil. That's introduced into the world right at that point."
  • "What's the enemy? It's the snake. Fair enough. That's good if you're a tree dwelling primate. But for a sophisticated human being with six million years of additional evolution, and you're really trying to solve the problem of what it is that's the great enemy of mankind, well it's the human propensity for evil...as such. Well, that's the figure of Satan. That's what that figure means. Just like there's a Logos that's the Truth that speaks order out of chaos at the beginning of time, there's an antithetical spirit - the hostile brother...that's Cain to Abel - that's doing exactly the opposite. It's  motivated by absolutely nothing but malevolence and the willingness to destroy. And it has every reason for doing so. That's what's revealed in the next story in Cain and Abel. In one paragraph, the first glimmerings of that - outside of the strange insistence by the Christian mystics - on the identity of the snake in the Garden of Eden and the author of all evil himself."
  • "Lies and deception destroy people's lives. When they start telling the truth and acting it out, things get a lot better."
  • "Women are attracted to men's ability to generate, to be productive, and to share. These qualities transcend wealth, which can disappear."
  • "The selection pressure that women placed on men developed the entire species. There's two things that happened. The men competed for competence, since the male hierarchy is a mechanism that pushes the best men to the top. The effect of that is multiplied by the fact that women who are hypergamous peel from the top. And so the males who are the most competent are much more likely to leave offspring, which seems to have driven cortical expansion."
  • "The Bible is a collective attempt by humanity to solve the deepest problems that we have. The deepest of all problems that we have is the problem of self-consciousness. The unique predicament of human beings is that we are self-conscious. Not only is it true that we are mortal and that we die, but most crucial is the reality that we know we will die. That's the unique predicament of human beings. And that's laid out in the story of Adam and Eve."
  • "The pride of the intellect: The intellect is the most incredible human capacity. It is the highest of all human capacities, actually. However, it is also the thing that can go most terribly wrong because the intellect can become arrogant about its own existence and its accomplishments, and it can fall in love with its own products. That's what happens with ideologies. You become obsessed with a human-constructed dogma of which you believe is 100% right, and it eradicates the necessity of anything transcendent." 
  • "The Bible presents a cataclysm at the beginning of time, which is the emergence of self-consciousness in human beings, which puts a rift in the structure of Being. That's the right way to think about it. That's given cosmic significance. You can dispense with that and say that nothing that happens to human beings is of cosmic significance, that we're these short lived, mold-like entities that are like cancers on this tiny little planet, rotating out in the middle of nowhere, on the edge of some unknown galaxy in the middle of infinite space, and nothing that happens to us matters. This is not a road that you can walk down, and live well. For all intents and purposes, it's untrue. If fact, if you really walk down that road, and you take it really seriously, you end up not living at all. The kind of conclusions suicidal people draw about the utility of life prior to wishing for its cessation, are very much like the conclusions that you draw if you walk down that particular line of reasoning long enough."
  • "There are only three options in dealing with people. It will either be slavery, tyranny, or negotiation."
  • "The worship of the rational mind makes you prone to totalitarian ideology. The Catholic Church always warned against this. The warning was that the rational mind always falls in love with its own creations. The intellect is raised to the status of highest god. The highest ideal that a person holds - consciously or unconsciously - that's their god. It functions precisely in that manner. It exists forever, it exists in all people, it takes them over and exists in their behavior. That's a god. We have to think about that idea functionally." 
  • "Life is suffering, and suffering can make you resentful, murderous, and then genocidal if you take it far enough. So you need an antidote to suffering. And maybe you think that you can build walls of luxury around yourself, and that that will protect you from the suffering. Good luck with that. That isn't going to work. Maybe you think that you could build a delusion and live inside that. Well, that's going to fall apart. What is there, then, that's going to help you fight against suffering? That's easy: It's the Truth. The Truth is the antidote to suffering. The reason for that is because the Truth puts reality behind you, so that you can face the reality that's coming straight at you without becoming weak and degenerating and becoming resentful, and wishing for the destruction of Being, because that's the final Hell. The final Hell is your soul wishing for the destruction of everything, because it's too painful, and you're too bitter. And that happens to people all the time." 
  • "Ideology is a parasite on religious substructures. A religious narrative has a particular set of characteristics. It's very balanced. So for example there's the feminist idea of the patriarchy. Well the religious idea of society has a patriarchal notion built into it. That would be the dying king. The once great dying king. In a religious story, there's the natural world, the chaotic world - there's a positive element and a negative element. Then there's the social world - there's the wise king and the tyrannical king. Then there's the individual world - that's the adversary and the hero. There's always a positive and a negative at each level. And it stops it from being an over simplification."
  • “The dominance hierarchy is a mechanism that selects heroes and breeds them. And so then we watch that for six million years. We start to understand what it means to be the hero. We start to tell stories about that, and so then not only are we genetically aiming at that with the dominance hierarchies - the selection mechanism mediated by female choice - but our stories are trying to push us in that direction. And so then we say, 'Well, look, that person is admirable.' We tell a story about him. And then we say, 'This person is admirable,' and we tell a story about him. And at the same time we talk about the people who aren't admirable. And then we start having admirable and non-admirable as categories. And out of that you get something like good and evil. And then you can start to imagine the perfect person. You take ten admirable people and you pull out someone who is meta-admirable. And that's a hero. That becomes a religious figure across time. That becomes a savior or a messiah across time as we conceptualize what the ideal person is. In the West here's how we figured it out: we said that the ideal man is the person that tells the truth. And what that means is that it's the best way of climbing up any possible dominance hierarchy in the way that's most stable and most lasting. That's the conclusion of Western culture."
  • "The frontier is the edge between what you know and what you don't know. You want to put yourself on that edge."
  • "When you know that the snake is in you. That's wisdom."
  • "The Word that speaks Truth into Chaos at the beginning of time to generate habitable order that is Good. That's the story."
  • "It's the ultimate chaos that generates partial chaos, but that chaos also is what revivifies life, because otherwise it would just be static."
  • "Human beings are the sort of creature who has to know what to do when they don't know what to do. That's very paradoxical, and what we do is: we prepare to do everything. We're on guard, and we prepare to do everything. It's very very stressful, but also something that's very engaging. It's something that heightens consciousness."
  • "Dragon is the category of primate predator. Predator is a weird category, right? Because there's crocodiles in it, and then there's lions. And they don't have much in common except that they eat you. So it's a functional category. So the dragon is the imagistic representation of the functional category of predator. It's like this: If you're a monkey, then a bird will pick you off, like an eagle. That's the wings. If it wasn't an eagle, then it was a cat (dragon claws), because they climb trees and give you a good chomping. And if it wasn't a cat, then you go down to the ground and a snake would get you, or maybe the snake would climb up the tree. So a dragon is a cat-snake-bird. And that's the thing that you really want to avoid. An the other thing is that it breathes fire, which is interesting because fire was both greatest friend and greatest enemy of humanity."
  • "The eternal dragon is always giving our fallen down castles a rough time. Always."
  • "St. George is the hero who goes out to confront the dragon, and he frees the virgin from its grasp. I would say that's a pretty straight forward story about the sexual attractiveness of the masculine spirit that's willing to forthrightly encounter the unknown. It is a straight biological representation to me, and it's a really, really old story. It's the oldest written story we have, and it's basically the ancient Mesopotamian creation myth, the Enuma Elish, which basically plays out that story. You've basically seen this story played out a hundred different ways, and you never get tired of it, because it's the central story of mankind."   
  • "Our ideas emerged out of the ground of our action over thousands and thousands of years. And when philosophers were putting forth those ideas what they were doing wasn't generating creative ideas - they were just telling the story of humanity. It's already there. It's already in us. It's already in our patterns of behavior."
  • "We act out our encounter with the unknown world. We act it out in a way that is analogous to the manner that's presented as a description of what it is that God does at the beginning of time to extract habitable order out of chaos. So you act it out first. Then the second thing is, you watch people who act it out, and you start to make representations of that. That's stories, right? And maybe you admire them. And then maybe after a long time you collect a bunch of those stories, and you can say what that is. You can articulate it as a pattern." 
  • "The importance of imitation for the development of higher cognition in human beings: We embody ideas before we abstract them out and then represent them in an articulated way. What is the child doing when they play house? They are watching their parent over multiple instantiations, and then abstracting out the spirit called Mother, and that is whatever is mother-like across all those multiple manifestations, and then laying out that pattern internally and manifesting it in an abstract world. It's that you're smart enough to pull out the abstraction, and then embody it. And certainly the child is striving toward an ideal. If children don't engage in that kind of dramatic and pretend play to some tremendous degree, then they don't get properly socialized. It's really a critical element of developing self understanding and of also developing the capability of being with others, because what you do when you're a child, especially around the age of four is: you jointly construct a shared fictional world, and then you act out your joint roles within that shared fictional world. Embodied imitation and dramatic abstraction constituted the ground out of which higher abstract cognition emerged. How else could it be? Clearly we were mostly bodies before we were minds. Clearly. And so we were acting out things way before we understood them."
  • "He who has a why, can bear any how."
  • "Evil is the conscious desire to produce suffering where suffering is not necessary"
  • "Extracting out, extracting out, thousands of literary heroes until you get to the one that embodies that which is most heroic in all the rest. That's a religious deity. That's what Christ is. The extracting out is exactly what the Scriptures were doing previously. The extracting out is the process of scriptural development and prophesy. The prophets extracted, extracted, extracted until they saw the ideal. The saw the ideal that had never before been seen before. In seeing the ideal, they called for it. They prophesied that it would come. And then it did. And then it changed the world."
  • "What scientific truth tells you is: what things are. Genuine religious truth tells you: how you should act. These are not the same." 
  • "The moral relativists ask: what do you mean by should? Here's how you should act: Act in a way so that things are good for you like they would be for someone you're taking care of. But they have to be good for you in a way that's also good for your family, and they have to be good for you and your family also in a way that's good for society (and maybe even good for the broader environment if you can manage that), so it's balanced at all those levels. And it has to be good for you, your family, and society right now, AND next week, AND next month, AND a year from now, AND ten years from now. It's this harmonious balancing of multiple layers of Being simultaneously, and that's a Darwinian reality, I would say. Your brain is actually attuned to tell you when you are doing that. And the way it tells you is that it reveals that what you're doing is meaningful. That's the sign. Your nervous system is adapted to do this. It's adapted to exist on the edge between order and chaos. Chaos is where things are so complex that you can't handle it, and order is where things are so rigid that it's too restrictive. In between that, there's a place. It's a place that's meaningful. It's where you're partly stabilized, and partly curious. You're operating in a manner that increases your scope of knowledge, so you're inquiring and growing, and at the same time you're stabilizing and renewing you, your family, society, nature; now, next week, next month, and next year. When you have an intimation of meaning, then you know you're there."
  • "Imagine that each of these layers of existence are like patterns. They're patterns within patterns within patterns within patterns, and there's a way of making all that harmonious. That's what music models. That's why music is so meaningful. You take a beautiful orchestral composition, and they're doing different things are different levels. But they all flow together harmoniously, and you're right in the middle of that as a listener. And it fills you almost with a sense of religious awe, even if you're a punk rock nihilist. The reason for that is because the music is modeling the manner of Being that's harmonious. It's the proper way to exist. Religious writings, in the deepest sense, are guidelines to that mode of Being. They're not true like scientific knowledge is true. They're hyper true, or meta-true. It's like this: if you take the most true things about your life, and then you take the most true things about ten other people's lives, and then we amalgamate them into a single figure. That would be like a literary hero. And then we take a thousands literary heroes and we extract out from them what makes the most heroic person - that's a religious deity. That's what Christ is. He's a meta-hero. And that sits at the bottom of Western Civilization. Christ's archetypal mode of Being is True Speech. That's the fundamental idea of Western Civilization, and it's right."
  • "He found that if people wrote about uncertain things - past, present, or future - they could be traumatic things, they could be uncertain things, that their physical health improved. He did a lot of detailed research to find out why this is. He basically figured out that it is an uncertainty reduction mechanism at work, because your brain is always figuring out how well situated you are in the world. How much do you not know compared to how much have you mastered. You can tell that you've mastered things because when you go somewhere and you act, things turn out the way you want them to. That's an indication of mastery. And your brain is keeping track of your whole life, recording information about how many places you have been where things haven't worked out compared to how many places you have been where things have worked out. And if all those places in your past where things haven't worked out, you need to map and master. And that decreases the existential load on you, but that actually decreases your psych-physiological load. It makes you healthier. It makes you less stressed. And so we have put all that together in this Self-Authoring Suite to help people write about their past and to sort it out in a detailed auto-biography. "
  • "There's a transformation to some degree in the Prophetic Tradition, where there is a spirit that rises above the law, but this transformation really takes place in the New Testament. The Old Testament is prohibition, and the New Testament is, 'here's the good things you do once you're more than merely prohibiting yourself from impulsive sin. There's a positive good to be accomplished, not just a negative to be avoided. You have to look around you within your direct sphere of influence, and you fix the things that announce themselves to be in direct need of repair. And those are often small things. They can start with things as simple as: your room. Put it in order. It's not important that you put your room in order necessarily, what is important is that you learn to distinguish between chaos and order, and that you learn to be able to act in a manner that produces order. In most households there's a hundred things that could be done to make it less hideous and horrible. So practicing that is both a useful form of meditation, but it's also a divine act."
  • "The Word is the equivalent to the spoken Truth. If things are spoken into Being through Truth, then they are good. Then what you have to decide is: if you speak the Truth, then what happens is Good, regardless of what happens. And that's faith."
  • "You can live your life two ways: you can use your language to manipulate. You can use it as a tool to get what you want. But the problem with that is that it assumes you know what you want, and that you're right. And that's a problem, because there's lots of things you don't know, and if you get what you want you may find that A. You didn't really want it, and B. that you're not the person that started the journey towards that. That happens a lot to people, especially when they use their language in a manipulative way."
  • "When someone is drowning, you have to approach them extremely carefully. This is because, if they are panicking and they grab you, then you both drown. And that's stupid, because you both drown. That's a really good metaphor for trying to help someone. When people are in real trouble - some of it is that they're confused, some of it is that their life has collapsed around them and there's some malevolence there and some desire for vengeance (it's one dangerous mess). If you're going to going to wade in there unprepared, the possibility that they're going to take you down compared with you elevating them is very high, because you don't even know what your damn psychological stability rests on. You might be sane just because you're lucky and surrounded by good people. That doesn't mean that you have the psychological wherewithal to pull someone up from the depths of the underworld, especially if they have one foot in hell. You should bloody well be careful about doing that kind of thing. It's hubristic to attempt it, and I would definitely caution people - be very careful about rescuing people who don't want to be rescued. It's very dangerous activity, and it can easily be counterproductive."  
  • "Part of the Act of Faith is to affirm: There's no better way to bring a better Being into Being than to speak the Truth."
  • "Unless the person is aiming upward, there is nothing you can do about their situation. And this seems to be about that initial choice between good and evil. Once someone comes to therapy, they've already done something. They've already said: I have a problem, conceivably I can fix it, and I need to do something about it. And so half the work is already done before they show up because they've already said that things aren't as good as they could be, and I want to do something about it. The question is - can you do anything about that person who is not at that state? You can't. All you can do is serve by example. But until the person has decided, on their own, that they're wrong (that's why they're suffering - there's something wrong about what they are doing) and that they want to fix it...I think that hammering against they're situation often makes it worse. That's part of free will. I do not think that people can learn unless they admit that they're wrong."
  • "Do not try to rescue someone who does not want to be rescued, and be very careful about rescuing someone who does want to be rescued."
  • "You can't keep kids safe. The best thing that you can do is make them able and courageous. It's absolutely crucial."
  • "The distinction between being a fool and developing yourself is not as clear a distinction as people might like to imagine. They're practicing what they need to practice in order to cope with the world."
  • "Evil - to exploit the knowledge of your own vulnerability by turning it on others' vulnerability in order to bring more pain into the world."
  • "Tragedy, you can lay that at God's feet. But if we didn't bring additional evil into the world...could we tolerate the tragedy of Being without becoming corrupt. I think the answer to that is yes, because I've seen people react quite heroically to the arbitrary burdens of their life. But malevolence, man, that lays them low. It seems to be nothing but a destructive force. The root of malevolence, and you see this in Cain and Abel, is the desire for revenge against God for creation itself. It's revenge against Being itself for the crime of Being."
  • "When Adam and Eve realize they're naked is that same moment they realize the difference between good and evil. What's the relationship between consciousness, knowledge of nakedness, and knowledge of good and evil? When you know that you're vulnerable, and they also developed a knowledge of death so there's deep knowledge of vulnerability, and they get embarrassed about that and they cover themselves up. So that's culture. So it's a very profound shock when they come to recognize that they're naked. It even causes Adam to run and hide from God. Then they develop the knowledge of good and evil. This is about how human beings have this peculiar capacity that no other creatures have. I know how I can be hurt, because I am aware of my own limitations. Painfully aware. And now, because I know how I can be hurt, I know how you can be hurt. And I can take advantage of that. And that's how evil enters the world. It gives people another attribute of divinity, knowing the difference between good and evil. The cosmos switches when that self-consciousness manifests itself, and that's when the possibility of evil enters the world."
  • "This snake becomes the adversary of Being. There's the snake that bites you in the jungle. Then there's the snake that lives in your enemy. And then there's the snake that lives in your family. And then there's the snake that lives in you. And that snake that's in you - it's a psychological phenomena. It's equivalent to transcendent evil itself. The thing that inhabits every person. It's associated with knowledge of our vulnerability that gives us this constant capacity for evil."
  • "The basic totalitarian claim: What I know is everything that needs to be known, and if only it were only manifest in the world, the world would become a utopia. I also think that that's the core idea behind the Tower of Babel. It's the idea that we can build a structure that makes the transcendent unnecessary."
  • "There is an idea of free will associate with it too. In order for there to be being, there has to be limitation. In order for there to be good, there has to be the possibility of evil. I think the right path is to exist such that there possibility of evil remains open, but that you choose the good. And I don't think that evil perse is built into the structure of the world. But I do think that it's human. I think that evil is human. And I think it's understandable. There is a difference between evil and tragedy. Tragedy does seem to be built into the structure of the world. But human beings seem to be equipped to deal with tragedy, but we are not equipped to deal with malevolence. That destroys people. I think that metaphysically thinking the world is structured such that humans have a choice between good and evil. Why do we have a choice? We don't know."
  • "You plunge into that underworld space, and that's also where you begin to nurse feelings of resentment and aggrievement and murder and homicide, and even worse. If people are betrayed enough they become obsessed with the futility of being itself and they go to places where perhaps no one would ever want to go if they were in their right mind. And they begin to nurse fantasies of the ultimate revenge, and that's a horrible place to be. And that's hell. That's why hell has always been a suburb of the underworld, because if you get plunged into a situation that you don't understand and things are not good for you anymore, it's only one step from being completely confused, to being completely outraged and resentful, and then it's only one step from there to really looking for revenge. And that can take you places, well that merely to imagine properly can be traumatic. And I've seen that with people many times. And I think that anybody who uses their imagination on themselves can see how that happens, because I can't imagine that there isn't a single person in the room who hasn't nursed fairly intense fantasies of revenge, at least at one point in their life. And usually for what appear to be good reasons. It can shake your faith in being to be betrayed, but if it shakes it so badly that you turn against being itself that's certainly no solution. All it does is make everything that's bad, even worse."
  • "Dante was trying to get to the bottom of what constitutes evil. There's a hierarchy of reprehensible behavior, and Dante thought it was betrayal. And I think that's right, because I believe the fundamental human resource is trust. Trust is an unbelievably powerful economic force."
  • "What's common across all human experience across all time? That's what Jung essentially meant by an archetype. We tend to think that what we see with our senses is real. And of course that's true, but what we see with our senses is what's real that works in the time frame that we exist in. So we see things that we can touch and pick up - we see tools, essentially, that are useful for our moment to moment activities. We don't see the structures of eternity, and we especially don't see the abstract structures of eternity. We have to imagine those with our imagination. Well that's partly what those stories are doing. They're saying that there are forms of stability that transcend our capacity to observe, which is hardly surprising. We know that if we are scientists, because we are always abstracting out things that we can't immediately observe. But there are moral, or metaphysical, or phenomenological realities that have the same nature. You can't see them in your life by observing them with your senses, but you can imagine them with your imagination, and sometimes the things that you imagine with your imagination are more real than the things that you see. Numbers are like that, for example. There are endless things like that. Same with fiction. A good work of fiction is more real than the stories from which it was derived. Otherwise it has no staying power. It's distilled reality. And some would say "it never happened," but it depends on what you mean by "happened." If it's a pattern that repeats in many many places, with variation, you can abstract out the central pattern. So the pattern never purely existed in any specific form, but the fact that you pulled a pattern out from all those exemplars means that you've extracted something real. I think the reason that the story of Adam and Eve has been immune to being forgotten is because it says things about the nature of the human condition that are always true."
  • "What happens in the story of Adam and Eve is that when people become self conscious, they get thrown out of paradise and then they're in history. And history is a place where there's pain in child birth, and where you're dominated by your mate, and where you have to toil like mad like no other animal because you're aware of your future. You have to work and sacrifice the joys of the present for the future constantly, and you know that you're going to die. And you have all that weight on you. How could anything be more true than that? Unless you're naive beyond comprehension. There's something that's echoed about your life in that representation. We such strange creatures because we don't really fit into being in some sense, and that's what's expressed in the notion of The Fall." 
  • "There's no difference between the conquering of the unknown and the creation of habitable order."
  • "Most of the adventure genre is about how there is some enemy that's lurking, and someone rises up to confront it and maintain order. There's no getting away from that story."
  • "The notion that every single human being, regardless of their peculiarities and their strangenesses, and sins, and crimes, and all of that - has something divine in them that needs to be regarded with respect, plays an integral role, at least an analgous role, in the creation of habitable order out of chaos. It's a magnificent, remarkable, and crazy idea. Yet, we developed it and I do firmly believe that it sits at the base of our legal system. I think it is the cornerstone of our legal system. That's the notion that everyone is equal before God. That's such a strange idea. It's very difficult to understand how anybody could have ever come up with that idea, because the manifold differences between people are so obvious and so evident that you could say the natural way of viewing someone, or human beings, is in this extremely hierarchical manner where some people are contemptible and easily brushed off as pointless and pathological and without value whatsoever, and all the power accrues to a certain tiny aristocratic minority at the top, but if you look way that the idea of individual sovereignty developed, it is clear that it unfolded over thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of years, where it became something that was fixed in the imagination that each individual had something of transcendent value about them, and man I can tell you - we dispense with that idea at our serious peril. And if you're going to take that idea seriously - and you do because you act it out, because otherwise you wouldn't be law abiding citizens. It's shared by anyone who acts in a civilized manner - the question is: why in the world do you believe it? Assuming that you believe what you act out - which I think is a really good way of fundamentally defining belief."
  • "People get annoyed with you if you treat them like they're automatons that lack free will. It's something that people find very constraining. There's something slave like about that even. The demand that you don't have actual autonomy, and even worse that you're not responsible for your choices - it's an insult so someone to suggest to them that they're not responsible for their decisions. To do that to someone from a legal perspective you have to argue something like diminished capacity. You are mentally ill, or you don't have the intellectual capacity, or you were some substance, or you had a brain injury, and that's why you're not responsible for your actions. Part of the respect that you give other human beings is that you acknowledge that they are responsible for their actions. Part of that too, is that if you do something good you're also responsible for that. It's got to be more annoying than anything else to strive virtuously, to produce something of extreme value, and then to be treated as if it is a mere deterministic outcome, and that your actual choices had nothing to do with that. It can be extraordinarily punishing."
  • "Without the support of your father (practically and metaphysically), without that behind you, without the knowledge of you as both a biological and cultural creature, with that depth of knowledge, you don't have the courage to do it, because you don't know what you are or what you could be. And so without that - because you're a historical creature so you need all this collected wisdom, and all this dream like information, and all this mythology and all this narrative, to inform you about what you are beyond what you see of yourself. And you're pummeled down, and people picked on you, and there's fifty things about you that are horrible, and you have a self-esteem problem and you're sort of hunched over - you've got all these problems, and so it's not easy to see the divinity that lurks behind that unless you're aware of the heroic stories of the past - the metaphysics of consciousness - I don't think you can have the courage that regards yourself as the sort of creature that can stand up underneath that intense existential burden, and move forward in courage and grace."
  • "Something that's everything lacks limitation...There are advantages to not being able to do things. If you had everything you wanted at every moment at your fingertips, then there's nothing. There's no story. It's like Superman being able to bounces hydrogen bombs off of him. The whole series died because he didn't have any flaws. There's no story without limitation."
  • "The proper path of life is to take the tradition and spirit that is associated with consciousness as such and to act it out in your own personal life in a way that is analogous with the way Christ acted it out in his life. What that means in part is the acceptance of the tragic preconditions of existence. That's partly: betrayal by friends and by family and by the state, it's partly punishment for sins that you did not commit (the arbitrary nature of justice), and the fact of finitude. Your duty, and the way to set things right in the cosmos is to accept all those details as necessary preconditions for being and to act virtuously despite all that. That's a very, very powerful idea."
  • "It's an open question, the degree to which the cosmos would order itself around you properly if you got yourself together as much as you could get yourself together. We know that things can go very badly wrong if you do things very badly wrong. There's no doubt about that, but the converse is also true. If you start to sort yourself out properly, and if you have beneficial effect on your family. First of all that's going to echo down the generations, but it also spreads out into the community. And we are networked together. We're not associated linearly. We all effect each other. So it's an open question, the degree to which acting out the notion that being is good, and the notion that you can accept its limitations and that you should still strive for virtue. It's an open question as to how profound an effect that would have on the structure of reality if we really chose to act it out. I don't think we know the limits of virtue. I don't think we know what true virtue could bring about if we aimed at it carefully and practically. So the notion that there is something divine about the individual who accepts the conditions of existence and still strives for the good. I think that's an idea that's very much worth paying attention to. And I think the fact that people considered that idea seriously for at least 2000 years indicates that there's at least something to be thought about there."
  • "We have been trying to address the issue that Nietszche brought up, which is something like the reunification of the spirit of mankind. It's something like that. Well, we're slogging through it. That's the aim."
  • "Human beings are made in God's image - that's actually the cornerstone of our legal system. Our body of laws has that metaphysical presupposition, without which the laws fall apart. And that's starting to happen. It really is. It's the post-modern critique of law. The law schools are overrun by postmodernists who are undermining the structure of western law as fast as they possibly can. They don't buy any of this. So they're much more likely to think of the law as a casual, pragmatic tool that is to be manipulated for the purposes of bringing forth the utopia. It's a really, really, really bad idea. It's very strange to me that we go off track when that metaphysical foundation starts to get rattled."
  • "A. There is something cosmically constitutive about consciousness, B. That might well be considered divine, and C. That is instantiated in every person. Ask yourself if you're not a criminal if you don't act that out. And then ask yourself: what does that mean? Even if this is a metaphor, it's true enough that we mess with it at our peril."
  • "We see the infinite plain of facts, and we impose a moral interpretation upon it. And the moral interpretation is about 'what to do about what is'. That's associated both with security, because we just don't need that much complexity, and aim. So we're mobile creatures, right? We need to know where we're going, because all we're ever concerned about, roughly speaking, is where we're going. That's what we need to know. Where are we going, what are we doing, and why? And that's not the same questions as, 'what is the world made up of?' And so that's the domain of the moral, as far as I'm concerned, which is 'what are you aiming at?' That's the question of the ultimate ideal, in some sense. Even if you have trivial, little, fragmentary ideals. There's something trying to emerge out of that. It's more coherent and more integrated, and more applicable, and more practical."
  • "The potential sacrifices itself if you don't utilize it as you mature, and you just end up a 40 year old lost boy, which is a horrifying thing to behold. It's almost as if you're the living corpse of a child, because who wants a 6 year old 40 year old? You're a little on the stale side by that point, and you're not the world's happiest individual. Your potential is going to disappear because you age anyways, so you might as well shape that potential in a particular direction and at least become something, no matter how limited, rather than nothing."
  • "One thing that characterized the community state was that no one got to say anything they really believed ever. That's because one in three people were informers. That was a lovely society, and it only killed about 30 million people between 1919 and 1959. That's what happens when the archetypal structure of society gets tilted badly, and when people forget that they have a responsibility to fulfill as citizens who are awake and capable of stating the truth. The archetype shifts so there's nothing left of the great father except for the tyrant."
  • "We're adapted to the meta-reality, which means that we're adapted to that which remains constant across the longest spans of time. And that's not the same things that you see around you day to day. They're just like clouds, they're just evaporating, you know? There are things underneath that that are more fundamental realities, like the dominance hierarchy, like the tribe, like the danger outside of society, like the threat that other people pose to you, and the threat that you pose to yourself. Those are eternal realities, and we're adapted to those. That's our world, and that's why we express all those things in stories. Then you might say, well how do you adapt yourself to that world? The answer, and I believe this is a neurological answer, is that your brain can tell you when you're optimally situated between chaos and order. The way it tells you that is by producing the sense of engagement and meaning. Let's say that there's a place in the environment that you should be. So what should that place be? Well, you don't want to be terrified out of your skull. What good is that? And you don't want to be so comfortable that you might as well sleep. You want to be somewhere where you are kind of on firm ground with both of your feet, but you can take a step with one leg and test out new territory. Some of you who are exploratory and emotionally stable are going to go pretty far out there into the unexplored territory without destabilizing yourself. And some people are just going to put a toe in the chaos, and that's neuroticism basically - your sensitivity to threat that is calibrated differently in different people. And some people are more exploratory than others. That's extroversion and openness, and intelligence working together. Some people are going to tolerate more chaos in their mixture of chaos and order. Those are often liberals, by the way. They're more interested in novel chaos, and conservatives are more interested in the stabilization of the structures that already exist. Who's right? It depends on the situation. That's why liberals and conservatives have to talk to each other, because one of them isn't right and the other is wrong. Sometimes the liberals are right and sometimes the liberals are right, because the environment is unpredictable and constantly changing, so that's why you have to communicate. That's what a democracy does. It allows people of different temperamental types to communicate and to calibrate their societies. So let's say you're optimally balanced between chaos and order. What does that mean? Well, you're stable enough, but you're interested. A little novelty heightens your anxiety. It wakes you up a bit. That's the adventure part of it. But it also focuses the part of your brain that does exploratory activity, and that's associated with pleasure. That's the dopamine circuit. So if you're optimally balanced - and you know you're there if you're listening to an interesting conversation or you're engaged in one...you're saying some things that you know, and the other person is saying some things that they know - and what both of you know is changing. Music can model that. It provides you with multi-level predictable forms that can transform just the right amount. So music is a very representational art form. It says, 'this is what the universe is like.' There's a dancing element to it, repetitive, and then little variations that surprise you and produce excitement in you. In doesn't matter how nihilistic you are, music still infuses you with a sense of meaning because it models meaning. That's what it does. That's why we love it. And you can dance to it, which represents you putting yourself in harmony with these multiple layers of reality, and positioning yourself properly." 
  • "Some things are obvious. Well, why?"
  • "So what mediates between the domains of order and chaos? Consciousness, as far as I can tell. It's the hero, that's one way of thinking about it. It's the logos, that's another way of thinking about it. It's the word that generates order out of chaos at the beginning of time. It's the consciousness that interacting with the matter of the world produces Being. That's basically it. That's basically you, for all intents and purposes. So how do we do that? Well the unconscious does it to some degree, because it's with our fantasy that we first meet the unknown."
  • "You meet the unknown with fantasy. That's what dreams do."
  • "Out of the unconscious you get ritual, dreams, drama, story, art, music, and that sort of buffers us. We have our little domain of competence, and we're buffered by the domain of fantasy and culture. That's really what you learn about when you come to university if you're lucky and the professors are smart enough to actually teach you something about culture instead of constantly telling you that it's completely reprehensible and that it should be destroyed. Why you would prefer chaos to order is beyond me. The only possible reason is that you haven't read enough history to understand exactly what chaos means. And believe me, if you knew what chaos means, you'd be pretty goddamn careful about tearing down the temple that you live in, unless you want to be a denizen of chaos, and some people do. That's when the impulses you harbor can really come out and shine. And so a little gratitude is in order, and that makes you appreciative of the wise king while being smart enough to know that he's also an evil tyrant. That's a total conception of the world. It's balanced. Yah, we should preserve nature, but it IS trying to kill us. YES our culture is tyrannical and oppresses people, but it IS protecting us from dying. And YES we're reasonably good people, but don't take that theory too far until you've tested yourself. That's wisdom, at least in part, and that's what these stories try to teach you." 
  • "The temptations of resentment and hatred are what people have to fight with all the time." 
  • "Cosmogony - the mythological understanding of the emergence of order. There's a chaos out of which order emerges." 
  • "Interestingly enough, what you do in a relationship that works is that you actually fall in love with what they could be. They could be the person that you project onto them and fall in love with, but it's going to take a hell of a lot of work. Both parties have no shortage of flaws, so you're bringing your flaws together and that's going to produce a lot of friction, and you are going to have to engage in a lot of dialogue before you reach that level of perfection that you originally had in the other person's eyes, but maybe you can do it. Maybe you can do it. And then you would live happily ever after."
  • "Known, culture, order, explored territory, or the dominance hierarchy are all interchangeable from a representational perspective." 
  • "If you are not capable of cruelty, then you are absolutely a victim of anyone who is. For those who are exceedingly agreeable, there is a part of them crying out for the incorporation of the monster within them, which is what gives them strength of character and self respect, because it is impossible to respect yourself until you grow teeth. And if you grow teeth, you realize that you're somewhat dangerous, or seriously dangerous. Then you might be more willing to demand that you treat yourself with respect and that other people do the same thing. That doesn't mean that being cruel is better than not being cruel. What it means is that being able to be cruel, and then not being cruel is better than not being able to be cruel, because in the first case you're nothing but weak and naive, and in the second case you're dangerous, but you have it under control. If you're competent at fighting, it actually decreases the probability that you're going to have to fight, because when someone pushes you you'll be able to respond with confidence, and with any luck a reasonable show of confidence, which is a show of dominance, will be enough to make the bully back off."
  • "I'm not interested in abstraction for the sake of abstraction."
  • "The structure of the lived experience of conscious individuals."
  • "I'm just telling you the structure of the story. It's something like: there was paradise at the beginning of time. And then some cataclysm occurred and people fell into history, and history is: limitation, and mortality, and suffering, and self-consciousness, but there's a mode of being - or potentially the establishment of the state - that will transcend that. And that's what time is aiming at. That's the idea of the story."
  • "I know that the evidence for genuine religious experience is incontrivertible, but it's not  explicable. So I don't want to explain it away... I want to pull back from that and leave it as a fact and a mystery, and then we're going to look at this from a rational perspective, and say that the initial formulation of the idea of God was an attempt to abstract out the ideal, and to consider it as an abstraction outside its instantiation. And that's good enough. It's an amazing thing if it's true. But I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater." 
  • "Everybody acts out a myth, but very few people know what their myth is, but you should know what your myth is because it might be a tragedy."
  • "The way that we behave contains way more information than we know. And part of the dream that surrounds our articulated knowledge has been extracted as a consequence of us watching each other behave, and telling stories about it over thousands and thousands and thousands of years, extracting out patterns of behavior that characterize humanity, and trying to represent them party through imitations but also through drama, mythology, and literature, and art, and all of that - to represent what we're like so we can understand what we're like. That process of understanding is what we see unfolding at least in part in the Biblical stories. It's halting and partial and awkward and contradictory and all of that, which is one of the things that makes it so complex. But I see in it the struggle of humanity to rise above its animal forebears and to become conscious of what it means to be human, and that's a very difficult thing."
  • "You've been doing it for a long time, and that's what people do. There are reasons the ritual came about, but the ritual lasts long after the reasons have been forgotten."
  • "One of the crucial elements to the analysis of morality is iterability. You can't play a degenerating game, because it degenerates. Obviously. You want to play a game that at least remains stable across time. God, if you could really get your act together, maybe it could slowly get better. And of course, that's what you would hope for your family, right? That's what you're always trying to do, unless you're completely hell bent on revenge and destruction. Is there a way that we can continue to play together that will make playing together even better the next day?"
  • [I've changed a bit here - see youtube video "Jordan Peterson - Are YOU Antisocial?!"] We have these shared frames of reference, like when we're playing monopoly. Children at three learn to play games, which means that they learn to organize their own internal motivational states into a hierarchy that includes the emotional states of other people. And that means they can play. And that's what everyone does when they're out in the world. That's why we can go about our daily business - we all know the rules. That's why we can sit in the same room without fighting each other. Because you're smart and socially conscious, you can walk into a room full of people and know what to do. If you're civilized and social you can just do it, and you can predict what all the other primates are up to, and they won't kill you. That's what it means to be part of the same tribe. People are very peculiar creatures and God only knows what they're up to. As long as they're playing the same game that you are, you don't have to know what they're up to, and you can predict what they're going to do because you understand their motivational states. And so, part of the building and constructing of higher order moral goals is the establishment of joint frames of reference that allow multiple people to pursue the goals that they're interested in simultaneously. Not all shared frames of reference can manage that. There's a small subset of them that are optimized so that not only can multiple people play them, but multiple people can play them, AND enjoy them, AND do it repeatedly across a long period of time. So it's iterability that partly defines the utility of a higher order moral structure, and that is not arbitrary. It's an emergent property of biological interactions. It's not arbitrary at all, because a lot of what's constraining your games is your motivational substructure and those ancient circuits that are status oriented, which operate within virtually every animal. Virtually every animal has a status counter. Creatures organize themselves into dominance hierarchies. The reason they do that is because that works. It's a solution to the Darwinian problem of existence. It's not just an epiphenomena. It's the real thing. So your environment is fundamentally dominance hierarchy, plus God only knows where you are. And that's order and chaos. And part of the reason people fight to preserve their dominance hierarchies is because it's better to be a slave who knows what the hell is going on than someone who is thrown screaming and naked into the jungle at night. And that's the difference between order and chaos. And we like order better than chaos and it's no wonder. And invite a little chaos in for entertainment now and then, but it has to be done voluntarily, and generally you don't want the kind of chaos that upsets your entire conceptual structure. You're willing to fool around on the fringes a little bit, but you know, when the going gets serious you're pretty much likely to bail out. 

What are the most valuable things that everyone should know?[edit]

Original Post [13]

  1. Tell the truth. 
  2. Do not do things that you hate. 
  3. Act so that you can tell the truth about how you act. 
  4. Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient.
  5. If you have to choose, be the one who does things, instead of the one who is seen to do things.
  6. Pay attention.
  7. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you need to know. Listen to them hard enough so that they will share it with you.
  8. Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationships. 
  9. Be careful who you share good news with.
  10. Be careful who you share bad news with.
  11. Make at least one thing better every single place you go.
  12. Imagine who you could be, and then aim single-mindedly at that. 
  13. Do not allow yourself to become arrogant or resentful. 
  14. Try to make one room in your house as beautiful as possible.
  15. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
  16. Work as hard as you possibly can on at least one thing and see what happens.
  17. If old memories still make you cry, write them down carefully and completely.
  18. Maintain your connections with people. 
  19. Do not carelessly denigrate social institutions or artistic achievement. 
  20. Treat yourself as if you were someone that you are responsible for helping.
  21. Ask someone to do you a small favour, so that he or she can ask you to do one in the future.
  22. Make friends with people who want the best for you.
  23. Do not try to rescue someone who does not want to be rescued, and be very careful about rescuing someone who does. 
  24. Nothing well done is insignificant.
  25. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.
  26. Dress like the person you want to be.
  27. Be precise in your speech.
  28. Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
  29. Don't avoid something frightening if it stands in your way -- and don't do unnecessarily dangerous things.
  30. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.
  31. Do not transform your wife into a maid.
  32. Do not hide unwanted things in the fog.
  33. Notice that opportunity lurks where responsibility has been abdicated.
  34. Read something written by someone great.
  35. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.
  36. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding. 
  37. Don't let bullies get away with it.
  38. Write a letter to the government if you see something that needs fixing -- and propose a solution.
  39. Remember that what you do not yet know is more important than what you already know.
  40. Be grateful in spite of your suffering.

If you could write a rulebook for being a man, what "Man Law" would you write?[edit]

Original Post [14]

  1. Encourage children through play.
  2. Promote the best in people.
  3. Keep the sacred fire burning.
  4. Guard the women and children from harm.
  5. Confront the eternal adversary. 
  6. Build the crystal palace.
  7. Confront death with courage and return.
  8. Dare to cut down a tree.
  9. Offer your sons up as a sacrifice to God.
  10. Protect your daughters from exploitation.
  11. Store up wealth for the future.
  12. Consult the ancestral spirits.
  13. Read great books.
  14. Speak the truth about unpleasant things.
  15. Pay close attention.
  16. Make a worthy temple for the Lord.
  17. Keep the howling winds of winter at bay.
  18. Stand up for the oppressed.
  19. Be a prince of peace.
  20. Don’t be too civilized.
  21. Organize yourself with other men
  22. Be faithful to your wife.
  23. Be hospitable to friends and strangers.
  24. Rout the wolves and chase the lions so the shepherds can eat.
  25. Establish a destination – and a path.
  26. Bring heaven to earth.
  27. Take on the sins of the world.
  28. Dig the wells and mine the gold and copper.
  29. Gather everyone to the banquet.
  30. Grow up and take responsibility.
  31. Resist pride in all things.

External links[edit]

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