What Jordan Peterson (and His Fans and Foes) Can Learn from Integral Theory

Jeff SalzmanFree, Integral Live, Perspectives, Politics, The Daily Evolver, Values, Video, World Affairs, Worldviews 7 Comments

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Public intellectuals don’t get any hotter than Jordan Peterson. Virtually unknown 18 months ago, he has today amassed over a million subscribers to his YouTube channels and countless millions of views. His new book “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” is an international bestseller, nearing the million copy milestone.

Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, sparked his fame by posting a lecture announcing his refusal to abide by a new civil rights code in Canada that appeared to legally require people to use gender-neutral pronouns with people who prefer them.

Through subsequent postings critical of “leftist radicals,” he has become a hero for advocates of free speech, and a idol to people who are opposed to the postmodern promulgation of multiculturalism and gender fluidity.

So where does Jordan Peterson fit in the integral schema? In these two episodes of the Daily Evolver Jeff examines Peterson’s message as expressed through his book and his most popular lectures and interviews.

In Part One Jeff makes the case that Peterson is tantalizingly close to integral thinking, and making a great contribution to a large population of primarily (but by no means exclusively) young men who are inspired by his transmission of traditional values, starting with his exhortation to “stand up straight with your shoulders back.”

In Part Two Jeff points how Peterson misses the integral mark by seeing postmodernity as a poisonous political ideology rather than a fully fleshed out stage in human evolutionary development, which, like all stages has its gifts and baggage. This misreading kicks off a cascade of conflict and consternation that, while stoking the culture wars, does not provide an authentic evolutionary path forward.

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Jeff Salzman

About Jeff Salzman

Jeff Salzman worked with Ken Wilber for several years in building the Integral Institute. He is a co-founder of Boulder Integral, the first bricks-and-mortar venue dedicated to the development of integral consciousness. These days Jeff provides integrally-inspired commentary on politics and culture on Integral Life and The Daily Evolver.


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    I’ve watched a few of Jordan Perterson’s videos and just last week, after reading some of the comments below one of his videos, I was giving some thought to all of the positive and negative things people had to say, and trying to decide just what things I agreed and disagreed with. I actually came to a similar conclusion….maybe because I’ve also been focusing a certain amount on integral theory…. I think he sees this growing population of seemingly stymied young men and feels compelled to lead them back onto a healthy path, and because that’s where his focus is, maybe he tends to see the actions of other stages in terms of “what’s useful” in the persuit his own goals….and there do seem to be certain aspects of post-modernism that might really be “the wrong answer” for those who have not gotten “the traditionalist download”. Also, I don’t know if this speaks to my own level of growth, but I completely agree with Jordan Peterson in his stance on the absurdity of making it an actual “law” that one must know and use each individual’s chosen gender pronoun. That just sounds like coddling to me where, if we value growth and eventual maturity, this bit probably IS a wrong turn. I think the issue here is that he defines “post modern” in not quite the same way that Integral Theory does. Maybe he’s thinking of post-modernism in a similar way as integral thinks of what I’ve heard called “broken green”? I can imagine that, if he doesn’t think in terms of an integral framework, he might not have any awareness of a potential “good side” to post-modernism… I’m not crazy about this (possible) lack of awareness, but I love that he seems to be providing a “next step” for many young men. It’s funny, when you said that his philosophy is boring to many of us because we’re “over the fight”….. That comment made me think of something like an older sibling rolling their eyes at their younger sibling’s development related antics and not wanting to spend time with them… and there’s a part of me that wants to come to his defense because it’s possible that these young men truly need to hear what he has to share with them….whether it’s boring to the “older kids” or the “adults” or not. And I don’t know about you, but I think I would have a hard time putting that kind of energy into guiding young men into traditionalism….because I’m one of those parents who was “uncomfortable” with many traditionalist ideas…. I don’t think I would be a very good teacher of them….. So I just feel real appreciation for his taking on that role.

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    Comment #2! :)) I completely agree that JP should not bemoan the fact that he can’t punch a woman. Punching ANYONE is inappropriate as far as I’m concerned…. I think, first, he needs to come to the realization that hurting people physically, whether male or female, is absurd and never leads to anything positive. It does seem to be a kind of dominator mindset….and it looks to me like that’s what’s “next” in his own evolution. Once he’s achieved that realization, he “may” need to then get comfortable with being as honest and straightforward with woman as he is with men, and to ditch any remnants of the idea that women are too fragile to handle what he has to say and too crazy to engage with him in kind…..and then, if he does happen to find himself tangled up with a so-called “crazy woman”, he should feel perfectly fine with any of the solutions you suggested or anything else that will “appropriately” demonstrate the strength of his argument.

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    Comment #3….I admit that I posted both of the previous comments before I finished the videos and it’s seems I’ve covered some of the same ground….but I just wanted to say “Beautiful, beautiful talk. Really enjoyed it immensely!”

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    I am glad you delved into this. Indeed he is very, very evolutionary potent. Enough about him & his rabbit holes though. For whatever reason, I really enjoyed your thought processes during this podcast. I have to admit that sometimes Integral is way to intellectual for me & it seems everyone just likes to name & identify using Integral terminology what they see in the world. In this podcast I heard your process rather than heard your terminology. So thank you for that. Naming something doesn’t change it, it just puts it into a category & those categories can be used in different ways by different people. Different words, same item, but nothing changes or shifts. It is like saying adios in Spanish or goodbye in English. You showed examples of integration & how appropriate & natural integration is in the human/cosmic systems of creation. I appreciate how you actually spoke & discussed the ideas of Peterson’s philosophy & Integral philosophy instead of just coding it in Integral terms. Indeed he is a very interesting person & a very integral person at this juncture of human / spirit evolution. And he himself is also evolving & growing. His rule about “getting your own house in order first” clearly is where he is at with his confusion about how to deal with the “crazy woman”. No he can’t control her, nor can he control another man. But he has a plan with the man when he feels out of control whereas he has no plan for when he feels out of control with a woman. Vulnerability can be unsettling & heighten our fears, but we have other powers that we can develop. You know, be all that you can be, grow the hell up as he puts it. It’s always easier to see where others need to evolve, thus my insights are flowing tonight!
    I also had to smile when you said in the future we will all be riding each other around like ponies. I have always said Life is a loving game of leap-frog. Each of us leaping over each other & allowing others to leap over us, not to get ahead of each other in an hierarchy but having fun, exploring & expanding & being in community with each other, utilizing our togetherness, instead of competing & complaining about each other. I’m for more fun!

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    As far as I know, I’m the only Canadian member of Integral Life who is from Toronto. I know the Canadian University Scene fairly well. What Jordan is speaking about are the Human Rights Tribunals (of which there are 6 or more) which could compel speech (with penalties) based on this Federal Legislation. (the Human Rights Tribunals are subordinate. (provincial) Really fucked up, backward way of of compelling speech, a favorite shibboleth of the cultural marxist Left, which Really Does Infect All Of the Humanities, in Canadian Universities.

    Jordan Peterson has 40 years of experience as a clinical psychologist of the highest order. His PHd is in Developmental Psychology from Harvard. His work is online, including Maps of Meaning, Personality, etc. Why can’t Integral get it that the Jordan Petersen’s of the world are the guys to rally around? Jeff–And everyone else—-Check out the Scandinavian Studies, where they bend over backwards to permit gender access to employment opportunities—-even GREATER dichotomies are chosen!! That’s what he refers to. He’s Our Guy, So is Stephan Molyneux, So is Gavin McInnes, Lauren Southern, Jordan Petersen. Something is going on here in Canada. Especially, Toronto……..Long Live Canada!

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    Wow, after reading your comments above, I have to say, you guys really don’t get Jordan Petersen. He really is all for the greatest good for the most people. They (Mainstream Media) keep sticking him in the lions’ den with (always) witless (often) female presenters, who rattle off a couple of Propaganda 101 attacks on him and are left holding their own grenade, with the pin pulled. Screw Them.

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