Issues in Philosophy Why Are So Many Young Men Drawn to Jordan Peterson’s Intellectual Misogyny?

Why Are So Many Young Men Drawn to Jordan Peterson’s Intellectual Misogyny?

By Grant Maxwell

It seems to be no accident that Jordan Peterson is having his moment as perhaps the most-discussed North American intellectual during the Trump era. Hes certainly more sophisticated than Trump, couching misogyny and bigotry in academic language, using various psychological and philosophical theories as cover, making them sound reasonable in his calm, Canadian way. But he seems to be expressing a subtler valence of the same regressive world view.

A psychology professor at the University of Toronto, Peterson first entered broad public awareness in September of 2016 when he spoke out against a recently passed Canadian law that protects gender identity and expression against hate propaganda and discrimination, which Peterson claimed was a violation of free speech. Peterson appeals mostly to young men who feel that something has gone wrong with our culture. I think they’re right in a very limited sense, which I’ll explain below.

Peterson’s work is complex, and addressing it comprehensively would be far beyond the scope of this piece, but what is clear is that he consistently misuses profound ideas, especially those of C.G. Jung, to justify his misogyny. The primary problem with Peterson’s interpretation of Jung is that he conceives the archetypes too literally, especially as they relate to gender. He’s not alone in this misinterpretation, and if this was the extent of the trouble, it would be merely an issue for scholarly debate and correction. But the larger problem is that he uses this misreading of Jung as essentializing gender roles to rationalize a pernicious sexism masquerading as a defense of free speech and common sense. This message, framed as psychological theory and supported by questionable data, is resonating with many young men, providing an easy answer to a crisis of historical proportions. His response is to reject feminism and postmodernism (or at least his caricature of these movements), and essentially return to traditional gender roles, which Peterson argues are more biologically intrinsic than socially conditioned.

He evidently wants to return to unquestioned patriarchy by paradoxically claiming that “the idea that women were oppressed throughout history is an appalling theory.” This is an insidious sleight-of-hand in which, by denying that patriarchal oppression ever existed, men can continue to ignore what many women have been saying for centuries, from Mary Wollstonecraft and Simone de Beauvoir to Judith Butler and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Kate Manne. Furthermore, Peterson has advised his followers to completely avoid the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, English, women’s studies, and ethnic and racial studies, a startlingly broad swath of the academy that he sees as “corrupted” by the supposed evils of feminism, postmodernism, and neo-Marxism. Peterson’s work invites a much more extensive critique than I have the space (or inclination) to offer here, and there have been numerous excellent critical pieces (including this recent article in The Guardian), but what’s more interesting to me is the question of why so many young men are drawn to his work, specifically what need his pseudo-intellectual misogyny fills for these men, some of whom I’ve found to be otherwise quite intelligent and reasonable in one-on-one interactions.

The men who are attracted to Peterson’s ideas seem to have a profound sense that their dominant role in society is coming to an end, and that feminist postmodernism is the primary agent of this loss of privileged status. This grievance is not news to anyone who pays attention to politics, as it is this very sense of loss of an imagined golden age that largely seems to have motivated Trump voters. But the deeper register of this insight is that postmodernism has, in fact, constituted a kind of death–a death of the modern–and an end of the certainty and privilege that men–especially straight white men–have experienced in the era currently coming to a close. My suggestion, drawing on theorists like Hegel, William James, Henri Bergson, Jung, and Alfred North Whitehead, is that postmodernity is not merely the “closure” of an epoch with no opening in sight, as Jacques Derrida would have it, but a transitional moment between world views, a deconstruction of modern assumptions in order to clear space for the emergence of a novel mode of relation. But as with any such phase transition, whether on the scale of revolutions in science or politics, or in breakthroughs or conversion experiences in individual psychology, the relatively stable system must reach a point of crisis so extreme that a fundamental reorganization of that system is required if it hopes to continue existing as a vital process.

The initiatory ordeals characteristic of many primal cultures, which mediate the transition of the individual from adolescence to adulthood, provide a structure for the inevitable suffering that can lead to the psychological death of the relatively undifferentiated youthful self. Out of this death emerges a more mature consciousness which, in Jungian terms, is less identified with ego. Extending this process to the collective domain, privileged white men can perhaps be considered as having constituted something like the egoic center of our cultural consciousness in modern North America and Europe. As philosopher Richard Tarnas and psychologist James Hollis (both of whom I would offer as much better Jungian alternatives to Peterson) have suggested, we may be undergoing a collective initiatory ordeal in which the adolescence of Western culture characteristic of modernity is dying and being subsumed in the emergence of a more mature, compassionate, and sustainable cultural mode. But lacking initiatory rites, the main streams of our culture do not offer a narrative container that renders intelligible the suffering which generally accompanies the transition from adolescence to adulthood, not on the level of the individual initiate, and certainly not for the culture at large. In this light, Trump and Peterson are not merely regressive, though they certainly are that; they’re primary manifestations of the ego’s instinct to cling to its habitual structures, to protect itself against the chaotic, unconscious forces, “the ocean of the dark things,” as Jung puts it, upon which the ego floats, and through the encounter with which the self is transformed. As Jung understood, this unconscious other has historically been constructed as the feminine, literalized in the oppression and othering of women by men. This oppression, of course, has caused great suffering for women, but also for men who have been taught to repress their relational, emotional, and intuitive capacities, and to project these qualities onto women, a lack of self-knowledge that causes many men to experience profound anger, sadness, and isolation, often driving them into traditional modes of patriarchal masculinity.

What we seem to be witnessing in this moment, exemplified in different inflections by Trump and Peterson, is the final death of the modern, and the last clinging gasp of patriarchy (the origins of which can be traced much earlier than modernity) before the emergence into a novel relational mode. Two centuries ago, Hegel heralded the inception of this novel dispensation asa birth-time and a period of transition to a new era.” This relational mode, I contend, seeks dialectically to reconcile modern modes of thought based largely on reductionist materialism and the differentiation of logical, rational capacities (roughly correlated with the Aristotelian material and efficient causation almost exclusively privileged in modern science) with affective, intuitive, and somatic epistemologies generally more highly developed in premodern and primal world views (often correlated with Aristotelian formal and final causation). As Alfred North Whitehead wrote in 1938, the current philosophic doctrines, mostly derived from Hume, are defective by reason of their neglect of bodily reference,” specifically the felt reality of forms and purposes so pervasive in earlier eras, which have often been repressed and marginalized in the last several centuries in the West. These causal modes were recognized by Jung as deeply connected with the unconscious shadow, the body, and the archetypal “feminine.”

These are large, complex ideas, whose application can be extended beyond the vitally important issue of gender to address many of our most fundamental beliefs and modes of relation to the world and to one another. But for present purposes, it must suffice to say that the modern construction of masculinity has defined itself through opposition to the other–not only to women, but also to other ways of relating to gender and sexuality, to other cultures, and even to other epistemologies and modes of causation. Postmodernism and feminism have, in broad strokes, been largely constituted in the project of deconstructing and problematizing these privileging oppositions. This deconstruction is an essential project that has temporarily left most of us without a stable cultural narrative on which to base our identities, and that has produced an immensely disorienting moment of transition stretching across several generations. But this deconstruction also seems to have been the precondition for the emergence of a mode of thought that seeks to reconcile these oppositions by holding them in compassionate, though often tense relation, an incipient process that we currently seem to be witnessing in the #MeToo movement, which has emerged as a countervalent corrective to the regressive movement exemplified by Peterson and Trump.

The profound shadow of modernity is coming to light in these apparently opposite movements, which both ultimately seem to be manifestations of the same deeper impulse toward the healing of the wounds of modernity and patriarchy through the emergence into collective consciousness of the misogyny and bigotry that have formed the unconscious complement to the triumphant, archetypally masculine ascent of discovery, exploration, and conquest explicit in modernity’s heroic, egoic narrative. By collectively becoming aware of our shadow, we are effectively exorcizing our cultural demons, creating a precondition for the integration of profound oppositions that have resided at the heart of a schizophrenic modernity.

Of course, it is possible that the forces of regressive masculinity will again literalize the symbolic death of the modern in totalitarianism or nuclear war. And it must be acknowledged that many of us–especially the most vulnerable–are currently suffering in a myriad of ways. However, I think it is more likely, given that we have largely integrated the pain of those collective traumas, that this regressive moment will be relatively brief, and we will soon see a progressive wave of compassion, justice, sustainability, and even kindness in reaction to the Trump-Peterson era. I suspect this regressive movement will be viewed by history as the final death rattle of the older mode of relation, making way for the emergence of a qualitatively novel historical era. As Whitehead writes, “new epochs emerge with comparative suddenness,” and the tragic regression we’re currently enduring may ultimately be understood as the factor that finally propelled us into a novel mode of relation.


Grant Maxwell is the author of The Dynamics of Transformation: Tracing an Emerging World View and How Does It Feel?: Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Philosophy of Rock and Roll. He is an editor at Persistent Press and the Archai journal, and he lives in Nashville with his wife and two sons.


  1. Well, we aren’t returning to traditional gender roles because women are better suited to the modern era than men are. The man will not be the “head of the household” so long as his wife earns 50% more than he does.

    Women are rising because they are smarter than men, and they are smarter because they long had to be to compete with the male’s physical advantage. As example of this smartness, consider a women’s use of guilt in their relations with men. When you can’t directly confront an adversary with superior physical prowess, the smart thing to do is to get that adversary to fight themselves inside of their own mind.

    Young men are drawn to the nostalgic vision of traditional gender roles because generally speaking men are stupid, and young males the stupidest of men. If young men knew anything about the physical labor environment that gave rise to those traditional roles they’d want nothing to do with it, given that trudging behind a mule in the field all day is not as appealing as their cozy comfy neat and tidy white collar job at the Internet startup.

    The daunting task awaiting tomorrow’s women leaders will be to somehow control that minority of violent men who would rather see the whole system come crashing down in a fiery explosion of macho glory than to accept the second class citizenship they’ve long imposed on others.

    The same knowledge explosion which is empowering women also empowers these dark forces, and the logic math is not in our favor. While women will need centuries to truly civilize the modern world, the dark force macho crazies need only a single bad day to bring it all down.

  2. Are men worth it?

    Turn on your TV and watch the epidemic of violence unfolding all over the world on so many different levels, almost all of it arising from men. Are men worth it?

    Consider the trillions of dollars spent each year on armies, police, prisons, guns, security etc money which could be used to heal and educate instead. This vast waste of resources is driven overwhelming by the actions of a minority of men. Are men worth it?

    Imagine the world of peace and prosperity that would emerge in the absence of men. What is it that men bring to the table that is so important that we should turn our backs on that world?

    Most men are not violent, this is surely true. But it hardly matters given that no society in history has figured out how to separate and control the violent men. Upon what logical basis do we continue with the hope of keeping peaceful men and containing violent men, given that this has never worked?

    Are we headed for a world without men, and might that be a very fine world indeed?

  3. Phil Tanny, I am assuming this clever argument is troll-bait, hoping to draw some unsuspecting post-modern feminist, I suppose, into admitting they think men are stupid farm animals to be oppressed and potentially eliminated via gender-cide. I appreciate your trolling skill, but I think you will find even the most fervent, 3rd wave neo-Marxist holds exactly none of those positions.

    On the off chance you are serious, you must realize a broad swath of scientific study in multiple fields easily falsifies your basic assumptions. Either way, thanks for an amusing post!

    • Hi Til Phanny,

      Hmm, that sounds familiar somehow, are we related? 🙂

      Yes, I’m serious in suggesting a male free future, which I of course agree is a suggestion far outside the current group consensus.

      You will be less amused by this suggestion, as will the rest of the culture, on that inevitable coming day when you wake up to find that some city in the world has been erased by nuke.

      Violent men now have the power to bring all of civilization, everything we all care about, crashing down with breathtaking speed, and when some dramatic event drives that realization home the question of whether men are worth it will inevitably be less of a wacko crackpot trolling etc idea.

      While you were having fun being amused you forgot to….

      1) offer any specific argument against my proposal, or…

      2) offer any alternate method of preventing a crash of civilization driven my violent men, or…

      3) to reflect in any serious way upon the near utopia that could be created if all the vast resources now dedicated to violent men were instead able to be invested in healing, educating, nurturing etc.

      The marriage of an accelerating knowledge explosion and violent men inevitably leads towards that one bad day when everything comes crashing down. If you should have a proposal for preventing this that includes keeping men, feel free to share.

      But before you do, please keep this inconvenient fact in mind. No society in history has succeeded in keeping peaceful men while getting rid of violent men. If you should attempt to argue what’s never been done before can now be accomplished you will be taking on an enormous burden, which I sincerely doubt any of us would be able to meet.

  4. “There are no shortage of flaws in the manner in which we have structured our society and compared to any hypothetical utopia, it is an absolutely dismal wreck. But compared to the rest of the world, and the plight of other societies throughout the history of mankind, we’re doing pretty damn well, and we should be happy to be living in society we’re living in.
    So the first thing that you might want to know about Postmodernism is that it doesn’t have a shred of gratitude — and there’s something pathologically wrong with a person that doesn’t have any gratitude, especially when they live in what so far is the best of all possible worlds. So if you’re not grateful, you’re driven by resentment” Jordan Peterson. Reading the blog above, Peterson is right on target with this asssessment.

  5. Grant Maxwell,

    Why are so many people drawn to Jordan Peterson? Your essay, filled with ideologically-informed opinion and bereft of reasoned argument, can help us answer this question. It has become commonplace in the wider culture, as well as in academia, for certain groups of people to use provocative accusations (e.g. ‘misogynist,’ ‘bigot,’ etc.), as a means of censoring or dismissing views that threaten their preferred ideology. These people are sometimes referred to as the ‘radical’ or ‘authoritarian’ left (for good reason). The radical leftists often avoid engaging their opponents in reasoned discourse, and instead claim moral outrage and superiority, against those whom they deem ‘stupid’ and/or immoral. The radical leftists have no appreciation for nuance, and frequently distort the views of others. They have a penchant for playing identity politics and ideological multiculturalism – lumping people into groups of victims and oppressors based on superficial categories like ethnicity, gender, and sexual preference. Because they are ideologically motivated, they usually see debates as a war of ‘us’ (virtuous) against ‘them’ (immoral). They do not seem to appreciate any of the dangerous excesses of ideological multiculturalism, 3rd wave feminism, or labelling all white men as ‘privileged’ oppressors.

    Much of the above can be seen in your essay. You casually accuse Peterson (and the people who listen to him), of ‘misogyny’ and ‘bigotry.’ You have little appreciation for nuance, and seem inclined to frame some very complex issues, as an ideological war between the noble feminists and multiculturalists, against an horde of angry young white misogynistic men. This sort of tack has become all too common in academia, is dangerous, and many people are tired of it. Peterson is one of a few people drawing attention to it.

    If you want to claim that he is a bigot, or a misogynist, then that’s fine – but please, make a coherent argument within the proper context. And don’t just ‘quote mine’ for statements that can be grossly misrepresented when taken out of context. I don’t believe he is a misogynist or a bigot. But if that is your argument, the onus is on you to prove it, and if true, demonstrate how it infects his thinking and invalidates his arguments and ideas.

    You grossly misrepresent his position on bill C-16. You make it sound like the bill would unproblematically ‘protect gender identity and expression, against hate propaganda and discrimination’ and noted that Peterson was against the bill, “claiming it violated free speech.” This makes Peterson look as though he wanted the freedom to spread hate propaganda. He has no problem with trans people (many support him), and if asked, admits that he would freely use whatever pronouns they preferred he use. What he was protesting, was the legal enforcement of compelled pronouns; pointing out that there is also a big difference between prohibiting words/phrases (e.g. hate speech), and compelling one to use certain words/phrases. To him, this is a slippery slope toward an Orwellian-style totalitarianism, and a restriction of free speech. You may not agree with his argument, but you are being intellectually dishonest (or ill informed) by characterizing him in the way you do.

    If you take issue with his interpretation of Jung, that’s fine. But you are again being dishonest by saying that he ‘misuses’ Jung (to his nefarious and misogynistic ends). There are plenty of interpretations of Jung – many of them inconsistent or at odds with one another. What makes you so sure you have the ‘correct’ interpretation, while Peterson ‘misuses’ him? Check your ego and make an argument – how precisely, is he ‘essentializing gender roles?’ Do you believe in gender/sex differences? Do you take them to be mere social constructions? Do you agree that there are biological differences between men and women that may influence how they experience the world? I don’t take him to be saying that it’s a man’s world, and that the ‘role’ of a woman is to be a servant to men while slaving away in the kitchen. Listen to his YouTube exchange with Camille Paglia (a second-generation feminist) … she seems to agree with him on nearly every point.

    Here’s a piece of advice: if/when you encounter a large social phenomenon that you find yourself disagreeing with, have some humility; take the time to consider that YOU might be the one mistaken … give your fellow humans a little more credit … perhaps they see something of value there. Perhaps you’ve missed something, or this person speaks to matters that threaten your preferred theories about how the world works. Don’t be so quick to judge and label others.

    I don’t have the energy to write any more … But who were you writing this for? Clearly not the ‘fence sitters’ who see some value in what Peterson is doing, but perhaps doubt some of his claims (e.g. me). According to you, Peterson’s listeners are all young angry white men who are bigots and misogynists; you’re appealing to those who already agree with you. This kind of ideological polemic is all too familiar in academia and it is censoring intelligent discussion. It is embarrassing to see something like this on a philosophy blog. You are part of the problem. If you really want to know why Peterson’s voice matters right now, have a look in the mirror.

    • Well said, Ross Green. I’m pleased you took the time to write this so others of us with varying similar viewpoints don’t have to.

    • Ross:

      Paragraph 1: Is basically insults and tossing of labels. “Bereft of logic” and “radical leftists”. It’s a VERY long opening paragraph to make so few points except for muted name-calling.

      Paragraph 2: Some more insults “little appreciation for nuance” and complaining that he just “casually” used the terms “misogynist” and “bigot”. Nonsense. He cited specific reasons and examples. Ignoring that discredits you. And academics doing so “is dangerous, and many people are tired of it”. No reason for the danger and your tiredness is irrelevant. Take a nap.

      Paragraph 3: Rehashing P2. See above how he DID cite examples so enough of the onus is on you. He gave examples, like JP’s claim that oppression of females was a horrible myth. There are other examples.

      Paragraph 4:

      Paragraph 5: Similarly complaining that he doesn’t back up his remarks that JP misrepresents Jung. He did. He quotes Jung at length. In fact, he even cited links to two others that had better interpretations, so you really have to stop this “ignore it and it’ll go away” approach.

      Paragraph 6: You should take the time to consider that YOU might be the one mistaken. Physician heal thyself. Really I just wanted to point out how empty that paragraph was of an argument unless you consider “you could be wrong” an argument.

      Paragraph 7: Your lack of energy may be due to using so many words to say so little. See above re taking a nap. The distorted exaggerations and straw man of “according to you, Peterson’s listeners are all young angry white men who are bigots and misogynists” was not his premise. Why would you even bother when of course there HAVE to be women and older men in right-wingish agreement given the anti-political correctness ideology that floats about out there. What Maxwell actually ASKED was “Why Are So Many Young Men Drawn …” and then he postulated some theories. Are you denying that many young men, even the majority, of his most ardent followers are young men? Would you happen to even be one yourself? If so, sorry to have triggered you, snowflake.

  6. Ross, thank you for the above. As a woman with a M.A. and a career, I’m delighted to have Jordan Peterson’s voice influencing the public discourse. I don’t agree with all of his views but that isn’t the point; he’s modeling the mature communication that we seem to have lost culturally.

  7. Agreed Ross! Maxwell has no appreciation for nuance. A real shame see somebody be so blinded by identity politics. The idea of white privilege is absolutely appalling, as well as the broad generalizing about Peterson’s audience. Clearly Maxwell has not read Maps of Meaning or watched enough of Peterson’s lectures to write a credible critique. He’s up to the same old tricks of the left. Anytime white man says we must value individual over group identity it is automatically construed as a statement promoting the all lives matter movement and somehow invalidating the black lives or Chinese lives or whatever oppressed minority lives matter movement. I could come out and say that poor rural white lives matter, but I’ll be called a racist. Of course they are an oppressed group. It is the leftist disregard and blatant hatred for that segment of white people, which in itself is and extremely diverse group, that got Trump into the office. They weren’t motivated by a return to old ways of misogyny in white superiority, they were motivated economic promises and the fact that the left forgot about them. They were alienated by Obama and Hillary Clinton, who happened to not be white men. The same thing would have happened if they were white men. It’s just their status as a oppressed minority automatically makes you play the race or misogyny ecard. I’d love to see the ability of leftists to write nonsense like this decreased because all the farms that make the cream that goes in their Starbucks coffee will shut down and they’re too pussy to drink black coffee. I hope I didn’t trigger anybody with that statement. Don’t get me wrong, I fucking hate Trump, and I know that there are plenty of white guys out there who are racist and misogynist, but it is not all of them. Even trying to say that is racist and misogynistic and just shows my white man guilt. What a joke.Great thing about it is that my kids are mixed race, they’re probably going to look white for the most part but probably won’t be accepted by whites because by that time all white people will be so alienated that they won’t want anything to do with a half American white half Dominican child. Then the brown people won’t like them either because they’ll think they have got too much white blood. This is where your stupid identity politics leads. People who are mixed and have close bonds and relationships to both the so called oppressors and so-called oppressed will get left behind because they don’t fit seamlessly in there one of the group identities that you price so much.

    • The idea of white privilege is absolutely appalling – to SOME privileged whites, mostly. I’m white and male myself yet not appalled. I DO find the history that proves that quite appalling though, and unlike you, I don’t fear those facts out of some weird muted, misplaced sense of personal guilt. But I also don’t deny I’ve had it easier than the darker people I live with.

      And see? I’m even giving you the benefit of the doubt that you haven’t purposefully and actively used your privilege to your advantage!

      As for the bogus and nonsensical “leftist disregard and blatant hatred for that segment of white people”, I won’t indulge that fantasy. The left well recognizes they not only exist, but if they did vote for Trump it’s because elites have long pitted poor whites and against poor blacks (and Hispanics and others) to keep them from seeing the commonalities that they SHOULD use to rise up against those elites and vote in a real populist instead of phony ones like Trump.

      I hope you weren’t thinking corporatists Obama or Clinton were that “left”.

      Anytime white man says we must value individual over group identity it is automatically construed as…..
      … let me interrupt that whine to point out 3 things:

      it’s funny that you bring up individuality in a post about how some young men are cultishly following JP like lemmings and
      If you say white lives matter in the context of a BLM discussion then yes, you are a toad trotting out muted latent racism and missing their point entirely and
      white men ARE a group and as a group, and not including the poorest ones, they’ve HAD more advantages so excuse us if we don’t buy your recent distaste for group dynamics and group power. Your distaste is only because “Peterson’s ideas seem to have a profound sense that their dominant role in society is coming to an end, and that feminist postmodernism is the primary agent of this loss of privileged status” as Maxwell so aptly put it.

      If you still have managed to fool yourself there’s no advantage then simply look at the demographics of corporations and legislatures. That might focus it for you.

      Your kids and how you drink coffee is irrelevant, to me, at least, but it would be really pretty sad if you did measure someone by such trivialities or even think that “triggering” someone with mild and boring vulgarities means you’ve won the argument. You haven’t.

  8. Well, none of the above is going to matter at some point, because one of two things is inevitably going to happen to make gender politics irrelevant.

    1) Violent men will crash civilization and those who survive will be too busy looking for food and shelter etc to worry about such discussions. Or….

    2) We’ll wake up and see the crash coming, and remove males from the population to prevent it from happening.

    Gender politics discussions such as above are left over remnants from the 1960-70s and have little to do with the revolutionary nature of the 21st century. The era we are entering will be increasingly defined by a marriage between existential scale powers and violent men. We’ll either break up that marriage somehow, or we’ll die trying. Or wish we had.

    All the wonderful things happening in human culture depend for their success upon this one factor. If we don’t meet this challenge, nothing else really matters.

    Thus, the degree to which we are, or are not, examining the marriage between existential scale powers and violent men can serve as a yardstick which measures our ability to think rationally. If we aren’t talking about this most of the time, we aren’t really philosophers.

  9. Do you know if Peterson has actually undergone a thorough Jungian analysis himself? He doesn’t strike me as someone who has struggled with a prolonged confrontation of the contents of his own unconscious. He also misrepresents Jungian ideas and encourages that misunderstanding among his followers, especially the promotion of Christianity. Jung and Jungians have been quite critical of the Christian mythos–emphasizing its undervaluation or negative valuation of the feminine and the material world. For Jung a divine Jesus has the same level of reality as Dionysus or Isis and Osiris. They have a psychological reality. That completely contradicts the basis of Christianity.

    An interesting critique of Peterson from the other side of the aisle, a conservative Christian warning against falling under the spell of Peterson’s Jungianism. The article shows a better understanding of Jung than Peterson does.

  10. I agree with the sentiment of your article and believe a lot is accurate. However I also believe that many men are of a different personality type. Peterson explains this. I don’t like Peterson’s polemical discourse. I think it of higher value that he and his following invite such men to do real shadow work, meaning finding their inferior functions (the shadow) which is projected onto “bloody postModern Neomarxists.” The fact that Peterson does not do this and can’t lead others into taking back that shadow is why I don’t take him seriously as Jungian.

    But the Left is not integrating their shadow either. What is worse many on the left don’t believe that Jung’s phenomenonology have any legitimacy.

    If both sides engaged in such a process it would in fact take half a life time and we still would not be “shadowless”. But it certainly help us pass through a turbulent era without catastrophe.

  11. Jordan Peterson
    A question.
    What little fairies, who work so hard in your background, allow you to function?
    For example do you have a kitchen fairy, a garden fairy, a cleaning fairy, a driving fairy etc. Just wondering…

  12. I’m staying out of the debate because I don’t know enough about Jordan Peterson’s thinking to say anything intelligent. I am rather surprised by the un-civility of some of his defenders, though, who appear to attempt to quash discussion by ad hominem remarks and crude language instead of responding with helpful critical comments, like JP might, I guess. So I’m passing on this article from Foreign Policy, which appears to support the basic position espoused in this blog.

    Thus Spoke Jordan Peterson
    The best-selling psychologist isn’t leading young men to salvation — he’s delivering them to authoritarianism.

    Briefly, I think the Jordan Peterson phenomenon is an effect of the disintegration of the Christian moral world-view, which has been going on for five hundred years or so, since the Protestant Reformation, with its Satanist (Faustian) inversion of the Christian world-view, evident in so much Renaissance and Romantic literature (Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Goethe’s Faust etc.). GWF Hegel tried to salvage the Christian world-view in the Phenomenology (esp. the Revealed Religion sections), but since Hegel, everything (Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, etc.) has been on the Anti-Christian side, as Nietzsche made clear with The Antichrist and ‘The Death of God’ and ‘the devaluation of all higher moral values’ etc. And all that’s left behind a spiritual void…

    Young people are floundering in the existentialist abyss without a moral compass, and cheap rehashes of old hackneyed truisms offer a sense of certainty and security in the absence of the Christian God and Jesus Christ. In my generation, many young people went for Eastern (Hindu) gurus (the Maharishis) with basically empty mantras (Sri Chinmoy: Don’t worry, be happy… ), for Anti-Christian Westernized cults (The Children of God, the Moonies…), or, worse, for psychedelicized rock-gods who pushed ‘god in a pill’ (the Grateful Dead-heads, Kesey and the Pranksters, Timothy Leary, etc.). But this generation appears even more desperate for ersatz enlightenment, absent a spiritual counter-culture or religious revivalist movement with any credibility. Pace J.P….

    The question this situation poses to my mind is: Can the Christian world-view be salvaged after its Nietzschean deconstruction? Or do we have to go through the destruction of Christianity before we arrive at a new spiritual world-view? I’m inclined to believe that Christianity has been an enormous benefit to humankind by teaching those higher moral values Nietzsche and the Nazis despised (pacifism and non-violence), and I don’t like to see the deranged, nihilistic effects of its self-destruction, among which I’d include the holocausts of the 20th C. both Stalinist and Nazi, Marxist-Leninist or Nietzschean (both explicitly anti-Christian, nihilistic movements). But if Christianity cannot speak to the spiritual crisis of the contemporary world, maybe we have to look somewhere else? And I’m not sure that Jordan Peterson is not simply offering false solutions to the spiritual crisis that will prove empty and meaningless, after all the post-yuppie psycho-babble is said and done…


  13. It’s unfortunate that Jordan Peterson is becoming so popular: he’s against all the good things in life such as identity politics, marxism, authoritarianism, violent enforcement of social justice, intolerance in the name of political correctness etc.
    All of the above makes think he’s a Nazi and his ideas shouldn’t be tolerated.

  14. It’s obvious that tons of highly intelligent otherwise people find Peterson to be perhaps the most influential intellectual figure they’ve ever experienced online, to the extent that they claim he changed their lives for the better in ways nothing ever has before. MANY people. Not just young people, not just white people, or males. And I believe it when he says he receives these messages daily. I don’t think the political aspect of what he talks about is the most important part, or what really affects people’s lives for the better. I think he takes that part too far, it just isn’t as important to individuals, though it might draw in crowds or garner attention. I personally found when he spoke about school shootings and (more generally) how people can become bitter and resentful if they allow themselves to travel in that direction interesting.

    Although originally he thought his message appealed mostly to young males, it has widened out into a much larger and more diverse audience. He attributes this to being that his initial following came from youtube, where most viewers are young males, but nowadays his audiences at live speaking events are closer to an even split between men and women. I believe he said it was 60/40 or so and continuing to grow more even, but that was months ago now.

    A lot of his message is about finding meaning in life to prevent bitterness or nihilism, he is extremely ANTI NIHILIST, believing there is inherent meaning in life but that it isn’t always easy to take and lead the life that it requires.

    His Self Authoring Program was found to have a greater impact on traditionally more directionless groups such as minorities than on more established ones, for whom it accounted for little improvement in performance at university in terms of grades and dropout rates. It actually went as far as to bring the typically underachieving groups to convergence with traditionally overachieving groups and I believe they even surpassed them at university performance after taking the self authoring program at the university he ran the program at on a large scale.

    All I can say is I know that he has helped people in any number of bad places in life to get out of them, and realize a meaning they did not and could not find before out of their lives. More than anybody else i can name right now he has done this, if narrowed down to internet personas. I think as far as that is concerned at least (and forget the politics, I don’t think Trump has ever or will ever do shit for anyone, and is not even remotely respectable or inspiring to anyone) he has done plenty of people a whole lot of good in the past couple years. I just don’t understand how people can think he is an evil man when tons of people (from an extremely diverse background) literally claim he has changed their lives for the better in a previously unthinkable manner, by talking about taking individual responsibility upon you, even though it is difficult, as a way to find meaning in the world. Even after moving on and not thinking about or watching Peterson’s newer released videos or appearances for several months now, I can say that I am in a better place than I was before finding his videos. Perhaps I would have been either way, much else has happened aside from this, but I do think it helped more than anything else I’ve read or watched the past couple years.

    Is it solely because he is slightly charismatic that he manages to convince hordes of intelligent people that what he is saying is meaningful or correct, but that it really isn’t? I am sorry, but I think that is incorrect, and that it is the result of the substance of his words, and their affect on improving peoples lives directly as individuals that he is so popular and well received by so many. As far as misogyny is concerned, it isn’t the part of his videos I am most interested in typically. I wouldn’t consider what I’ve seen of him to embody those ideas, though he does note there are differences between men and women in several areas, and that they act and achieve different results in life because of it. If there are true examples of it I would look at them seriously. I haven’t seen everything he’s said on this particular subject, though I don’t think I’ve seen clear examples of it, and I’ve seen him discuss with opposing thinkers the situation for women in society a couple of times. He definitely has mentioned that he has worked with highly competent women who could compete with any other man or woman in their fields. I don’t think he believes women are inferior or incapable at anything, but face different circumstances than men, and can be underrepresented in environments because of it.

  15. Examples of Dr. Jung’s purported “Misogyny”

    A marriage is more likely to succeed if the woman follows her own star and remains conscious of her wholeness than if she constantly concerns herself with her husband’s star and his wholeness. ~ Carl Jung, Conversations with C.G. Jung, Page 51.

    My experience has impressed the tenacity and toughness of the female nature, which nothing has changed for thousands of years, far too deeply upon me for me to suppose that the right to vote could bring such a wonder to pass. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, 24Jan1959.

    You are quite right; with the dogma of the Assumptio the unconscious “wells into the Church,” since Woman is its (the unconscious) representative on earth. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 230-232.

    European philosophy must take into account the existence of feminine psychology. ~Carl Jung to Richard Wilhelm, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 67-68.

    I have had mainly women patients, who often entered into the work with extraordinary conscientiousness, understanding, and intelligence. ~Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, Page 145

    I have always advised analysts: “Have a father confessor, or a mother confessor!” Women are particularly gifted for playing such a part. They often have excellent intuition and critical insight, and can see what men have up their sleeves, at times see also into men’s anima intrigues. They see aspects that the man does not see. ~Carl Jung, MDR, Page 134.


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