Hedonism, Taboos, Society, and Deprivation | EP 418

Hedonism, Taboos, Society, and Deprivation | EP 418

2024 Tour (00:00:00)

  • Jordan Peterson announces his 2024 tour, starting in early February and running through June.
  • The tour will visit 51 cities in the US.
  • More information and ticketing details can be found on Jordan Peterson's website.
  • His upcoming book, "We Who Wrestle with God," will be released in November 2024.

Intro (00:01:09)

  • Jordan Peterson introduces Ben Shapiro, who will be discussing the counter-Enlightenment and the insufficiency of empiricism and rationality in orienting us in the world.
  • The left, particularly the radical left, insists on viewing the world through a power dynamic narrative, leading to the victim-victimizer narrative that characterizes Marxism and postmodernism.

The Enlightenment was wrong, prioritizing narrative values (00:02:55)

  • The Enlightenment was based on the idea that we could orient ourselves in the world empirically or rationally, but this is incorrect.
  • Postmodernists, AI engineers, cognitive scientists, affective neuroscientists, and narrative researchers have shown that we cannot navigate the world through data alone.
  • We need to prioritize facts based on their importance, which requires values.
  • Stories are representations of hierarchies of attentional priority, putting them back at the center of understanding the world.

Conditional probability in AI, mapping frameworks of meaning (00:07:13)

  • Large language models (LLMs) work by calculating conditional probabilities between words, phrases, and sentences.
  • This allows them to map out the statistical relationships between words and concepts.
  • This empirical validation of the Freudian or Jungian notion of symbols challenges the postmodern view that interpretations of narratives are arbitrary.
  • LLMs can interpret dreams by mapping out the statistical distance between associated meanings, providing a framework for understanding their significance.
  • This is similar to the analysis of texts by literary critics and is not arbitrary.

The prioritization of the victim/victimizer dynamic as the cardinal story of mankind (00:11:20)

  • The postmodernists concluded that the story is primary and the primary story is victim-victimizer.
  • Postmodernists dispensed with Marxism and kept the victim-victimizer narrative, turning it into something multi-dimensional (intersectional postmodernism).
  • Postmodernists inverted the hierarchy of the victim-victimizer narrative, putting economic oppression at the bottom.
  • Marxism focused on economic oppression as the primary dimension of victim-victimizer, while postmodernists abandoned this focus.

The unjust steward, there is utility in serving mammon properly (00:18:40)

  • The parable of the unjust steward shows that there is utility in serving material prosperity properly, as long as it is not prioritized over service to the highest good.
  • A close reading of the gospels suggests that Christianity does not have an anti-materialist, anti-capitalist, pro-socialist bent.
  • The Jewish tradition emphasizes the goodness of a good life, which is different from the spiritualized reading of Christianity that condemns everything in the material world.

Christianity is not in direct conflict with capitalism (00:22:22)

  • Christianity is not in direct conflict with capitalism or property rights.
  • The Bible shaped the modern world, including its perverse offshoots.
  • The Cain and Abel story is often misinterpreted as a victim-victimizer narrative.
  • Cain repented of his sin and received the Mark of Cain as protection, not punishment.
  • America is currently experiencing an invasion of illegal immigrants.

The explanatory narratives that rise with the demented state (00:27:18)

  • When the patriarchal structure deteriorates, the corruption of femininity accompanies it.
  • The destabilization of the feminine can manifest as disinhibition of female sexuality or its transformation into a marketable commodity.
  • The power-mad state draws people in with promises of unbridled Hedonism but then makes any pleasure impossible and forbidden.
  • In the aftermath of the dissolution of unity, various powers arise, including the goddess or God of nature, the god of power, the god of Hedonism, and the god of Despair.
  • Hedonism, power, and despair are powerful uniting stories that don't unite everything but carry explanatory weight.

Hedonic drives are primordial short-term determinations (00:33:24)

  • Hedonic drives, such as sex and aggression, are primordial, powerful, and short-term in nature.
  • When the unifying structure of the meta-narrative deteriorates, hedonistic whims, emotions, and motivations emerge as potential dominators.
  • Hedonic drives are single-minded and want what they want now, which is not a principle upon which any social relationship can be founded.
  • The pursuit of short-term desire, as seen in the sexual Revolution, can lead to widespread abandonment of sexuality, inability to perform sexually, and the disruption of relationships.
  • Short-term mating strategies that characterize Hedonism are indistinguishable from the dark tetrad orientation (manipulative, psychopathic, narcissistic, and sadistic).

Our proclivity to violate taboos, and what happens when we have none left (00:37:18)

  • Taboos excite humans, and when all taboos are eliminated, boredom sets in.
  • Novelty drives men, and without taboos, novelty disappears.
  • Sublimation of short-term desires for long-term goals is crucial, but it becomes challenging when there's no overarching aim.
  • Without a unifying narrative, positive emotions diminish, negative emotions multiply, and anxiety increases.

We experience reward only in relation to an aim (00:39:19)

  • Positive motivation and the impetus to move forward depend on having an aim.
  • Destroying the ultimate aim undermines the structure upon which reward is based.
  • Surfeit of stimuli or resources leads to satiation and loss of interest.

Surfeit, scarcity, novelty, and deprivation (00:40:46)

  • Scarcity and deprivation enhance the value of a stimulus.
  • Absolute surplus of a desired stimulus makes it disgusting.
  • Sexual function may require a certain level of deprivation.
  • Women's romantic interest may decline as a relationship progresses due to higher trait neuroticism and multi-dimensional response to sexuality.
  • Maintaining novelty in a sexual relationship is important for both men and women.
  • Biblical mandates, such as abstaining from sex for a week each month, may create scarcity and novelty in marriage.

The commonalities of stories amalgamate into archetypes (00:47:00)

  • Each person's life can be seen as a narrative.
  • Commonalities across compelling stories form archetypes.
  • Archetypes resonate with the soul and transcend time and situations.
  • Traditional narratives serve as anchors against pathological consensus.

The storyteller matters as much as the story (00:50:24)

  • Modern society lacks meaningful conversations and oral learning.
  • The storyteller's presence adds depth and context to narratives.
  • Oral learning and conversation are crucial for fully understanding narratives.
  • Reading texts alone can lead to misinterpretations and biases.

You cannot reduce the transcendent to the subjective (00:52:11)

  • Protestants' insistence on the biblical Corpus as sufficient promotes literacy but leads to fractionation and individualistic interpretations.
  • The radical Types on the hedonic left claim to be the sole interpreters of their experiences, which can be dangerous if they are deluded.
  • To determine if a god is God or Satan, consider whether the story is told by respected people and if there's an active discussion around it within a community.
  • Rituals and congregations play a role in maintaining social structure and transmitting important stories.
  • The temptation to think that one can understand the text alone is enticing but dangerous as individuals are blind to their blind spots.
  • A community is needed to help individuals out of their delusional and self-serving individuality and into a more universal space.
  • Sam Harris's pursuit of objective standards of morality grounded in science aimed to provide a firm foundation for the Transcendent good.
  • Robert Axelrod's work on the emergence of cooperation suggests that the best strategy in repeated interactions is cooperation with proportionate retaliation for cheating.
  • The highest order narrative that grips us is one that is compelling, told by admired people, and in concordance with the biblical narrative.
  • Attacks on religious institutions are most damaging when they focus on the virtuous people who comprise the institution and expose their violations of the institution's principles.

The use of religion to manipulate, taking Gods name in vain (00:58:11)

  • Christ's fundamental enemies in the Earthly world are the Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers, who are moral hypocrites.
  • Totalitarian hypocrites often use the religious Enterprise as a disguise for their psychopathic maneuverings.
  • The separation of church and state protects against this manipulation.
  • Narcissists and psychopathic narcissists claim victim status, milk the compassionate, and proclaim their moral virtue to elevate their standing in the community.
  • The most effective way of demolishing traditional proprieties is to claim to embody them while using God's name in vain and pretending moral virtue.
  • Totalitarians like the Iranian fundamentalists use the religious Enterprise to justify their self-serving behavior, discrediting it in the process.
  • Parading moral virtue in the name of what's holiest while pursuing one's evil agenda is a cardinal sin.
  • It's important to be careful not to misuse the charge of hypocrisy to destroy principles, as this can be used to discredit any ideology.

Without reverence for tradition, we become slaves to the margins (01:02:12)

  • Noah's story illustrates the consequences of disregarding wise traditions.
  • Criticizing the past without offering better solutions is cowardly and self-serving.
  • Universities and critics often engage in this behavior, devaluing the past and promoting their own moral superiority.
  • The marginalized often target successful individuals, claiming their success is due to oppression, rather than their own merits.
  • Intersectionality acknowledges marginalization but ignores individual responsibility and the potential for personal growth.
  • Marginalized individuals can rise above their circumstances and achieve success.
  • Self-marginalization and conspiracism result from blaming external forces for personal failures.
  • Bullying is common, but many successful people use it as motivation for success.
  • Labeling the entire system as unfair is defeatist, while recognizing unfair situations allows for personal growth.

Hardship creates strong people, padding creates weak people (01:09:31)

  • Hardship and bullying can motivate individuals to achieve greater success.
  • Blaming external forces for personal failures is a self-defeating mindset.
  • Successful individuals often overcome significant challenges and use them as fuel for their success.
  • Differentiating between an unfair system and an unfair situation is crucial.
  • Personal growth and success are possible by moving beyond unfair situations.

We all start out helpless, but we are not all victims (01:13:21)

  • Vulnerability is inherent in every life, but it doesn't necessitate a victim mentality.
  • The world is not solely dominated by power dynamics; moral agency and striving for good are essential.
  • Reliable traditions are founded on moral principles, not power structures.

We have marginalized the role of the elderly in our society (01:15:13)

  • Elders are people with a lengthy publicly observable and genuine history of honesty, productivity, and generosity who have derived wisdom from their experiences.
  • In traditional societies, Elders provide wisdom, knowledge, and advice, and in return, younger people support them.
  • The encroachment of the state has marginalized the elderly by taking away the responsibility of parents to grandparents.
  • This has led to a loss of wisdom and a breakdown of social relationships.

Voluntary responsibility equals meaning (01:18:44)

  • Responsibility is often seen as a burden in Western society, but for most people, it is a form of freedom and meaning.
  • Children play at role-playing responsibility as they aspire to it.
  • As adults, we find meaning in the responsibilities we have, such as caring for our families and employees.
  • Voluntary responsibility is the same as meaning, but if it is forced, it is a different story.

When to tolerate and reprimand a child (01:20:53)

  • The default feminine proclivity is to immediately alleviate emotional distress in infants.
  • However, there is a conflict between short-term emotional distress and long-term thriving.
  • Wisdom lies in knowing when to step in and allow short-term emotional distress to be tolerated or encouraged for long-term adaptation.
  • Older people are wise enough to know when to intervene and when to let children experience short-term distress for their long-term benefit.
  • Modeling appropriate behavior and discipline is important for child-rearing, and grandparents can play a valuable role in this.
  • In some societies, it is expected that anyone can discipline a child who is misbehaving in public, which can lead to better child-rearing.

We have a growing need for intergenerational dialogue (01:25:50)

  • The marginalization of the elderly has led to a lack of intergenerational dialogue, which is detrimental to both the elderly and younger generations.
  • People who are 40 are not having kids and also their parents are not with them, leading to prolonged adolescence.
  • How we treat the elderly is no different from how we will be treated when we get old, so we should treat them well.

Cultural crisis and political disillusionment (01:27:40)

  • There's a bizarre situation where there's so much disillusionment with politics that people have also become disillusioned with principles.
  • People are longing for a return to first principles.
  • There's great fragmentation on both sides of the political aisle right now over principle itself.

People are longing for a return to first principles (01:29:51)

  • There's a crisis where fractionation and disagreement is so profound that we have to go underneath the principles to what's genuinely sacred and sort that out again.
  • People are more interested in discussions about first principles than politics.
  • Institutions are not the issue, the fundamental terms of the debate have so radically changed that we can't even decide what we're debating on anymore.

When we can’t agree on sexual identification, all commonality is gone (01:32:38)

  • The loss of commonality on fundamental concepts like sexual identification means everything else is up for grabs.
  • There's a punishment structure attached to conversations with people perceived to be of the other side, even if it's not rooted in principle.
  • Democrats are particularly possessed by the terror of being perceived as finding common ground with opponents.
  • The moment for political dialogue may have passed as people are no longer interested in watching conversations with leading Democrats.

Getting back to the campfire (01:35:11)

  • In the absence of meaningful conversations, figures arise who use charged emotivist language that goes directly to people's feelings without any virtuous substructure.
  • The time for large-scale, broad-scope building may be ending, and we need to go back to small-scale conversations and in-person events to rebuild the little platoons of society.

Ackman vs. Gay, The stability of the West (01:37:54)

  • The corruption in institutions like Harvard is a symptom of a much deeper conflict, and addressing individuals like Claudine Gay will have little impact.
  • The problems in Western society run so deep that the only way to fight them is through hard work like raising a good family, joining a religious community, and rebuilding destroyed structures.
  • Despite the scale of the problems, it's important to remember that individual actions matter and that getting one's moral house in order is the most important and effective thing one can do.

The rebuilding process is not hopeless (01:41:46)

  • Rebuilding society requires acknowledging that anything worth building must be built from the ground up.
  • Imposing societal structures from the top down tends to fail and fragment society.
  • The temptation of politics is fundamentally a lie, as it focuses on the top of the system without addressing the underlying societal substructures.
  • Rebuilding society is a long and arduous process, but it is essential for the continuation of society.
  • Most human beings throughout history will not have a notable legacy, but they contribute to the social fabric that is passed down through generations.
  • Individuals can choose to be a part of the social fabric and pass down something good to their children or contribute nothing of value.
  • Basic truths that were once taken for granted, such as the importance of family, children, and individuality, are now being re-argued as first principles.

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