Jordan Peterson & Sam Harris Try to Find Something They Agree On | EP 408

Jordan Peterson & Sam Harris Try to Find Something They Agree On | EP 408

Good and Evil

  • Both Harris and Peterson agree that there is a Transcendent and ineffable Unity of good, and that the goods we see in the world are reflections of that ultimate vision.
  • They discuss the idea that sometimes we may be blind to a higher order reality due to our focus on specific pursuits.
  • Peterson brings up the concept of dissent and ascent, where one must go through a descent in order to reach the next pinnacle or ascent.
  • They mention the alchemical idea of the philosopher's stone being found in a toad's head, emphasizing that what we most need is often found where we least want to look.
  • The Dragon's Hoard treasure in hero mythology is also discussed, with the larger the dragon representing the larger the treasure, making the encounter with the unknown territory more fruitful for discovery.
  • They highlight the importance of voluntarily confronting suffering and malevolence in all its forms as a valid pathway towards discovering a higher order good.

Religious Presuppositions

  • The conversation veers towards religious presuppositions, where Peterson hypothesizes that what is good has a jewel-like quality, reflecting tangible experiential phenomena like beauty, truth, love, and gratitude.
  • Harris emphasizes the need for a universal conversation about these truths that transcends sectarian and cultural boundaries, recognizing the value of wisdom from various sources but acknowledging that reliance on specific books as divine is unfounded.


  • They discuss the distinction between knowledge and dogma, with dogma being inflexible and resistant to revision regardless of evidence or counterarguments.
  • Harris brings up the need for doubt and the provisionality of beliefs, acknowledging that some beliefs may seem certain given the method by which they were arrived at, but recognizing the possibility of being wrong.
  • The misuse of wisdom as authoritarian dogma, particularly in religious contexts, is highlighted as a problem that hinders progress and obstructs universal conversation.

Sacrifice and Redemption

  • Peterson suggests that the biblical corpus points to the practice of sacrifice as a means of atonement and redemption, specifically the voluntary willingness to confront tragedy and malevolence as integral to salvation and redemption.
  • He uses the passion story, exemplified in the crucifixion of Jesus and his confrontation with tragedy and malevolence, as an illustration of the necessity of encountering the worst forms of suffering to reach a higher state.

Evil as Ignorance

  • Harris counters that evil can be viewed as more a matter of ignorance than a fundamental characteristic, underscoring the notion that evil people may lack the necessary understanding and wisdom to choose good.
  • He suggests that a cure for evil may be possible in the future, and discusses the ethical implications of withholding such a cure as punishment versus adopting a more compassionate approach.

Both Harris and Peterson agree that exploring the concepts of good, evil, and wisdom is vital for personal and societal progress, and that a comprehensive conversation that transcends boundaries is necessary for a deep understanding of these concepts.

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