This post examines the contributions of Prof. Jordan Peterson, and finds that he has pioneered a robust response to a new style of dishonest debate that has developed in recent years.
The following article is organized as follows.
- Addressing Men’s Preeminent Need for Respect
- Maintaining Integrity and Garnering Respect Within the NeoModern Debate Style of Presumptively Valid Strawmen
- The Defense For Our Traditional Ethical Structure
Recently, Jordan Peterson’s honor and credibility has been targeted by a few Manospherians, most notably, Vox Day’s posts (tagged, Jordanetics). Adam Piggott also wrote a scathing article entitled, Not only is Jordan Peterson not an alpha male, he’s a member of the left intelligentsia. (April 28, 2018).
I don’t follow Peterson that religiously, so I could be mistaken here, but I don’t believe he ever claimed to be the Savior of the Alt-Right. So if he fails to fulfill that expectation, then who’s going to be disappointed?
So he’s not an Alpha Male… So what? Most men aren’t.
Did he ever claim to be an alpha male? Har de har har… It’s just a lame joke. Most guys enjoy some wishful thinking now and then. Big deal.
He is a liberal!?! What a surprise! Over 90% of academicians are liberal.
He doesn’t practice what he preaches? Ho hum. I don’t know. I get the impression that he’s well qualified within his profession. Maybe he’s pointing towards a larger ideal which he strives for, but others don’t understand – something like respect, for instance.
Whenever a man embarks on some enterprise, if he fails in some respect, there’s nothing noteworthy about that. We see this every day. But if a man gets up afterward, dusts himself off, and tries again, then he’s definitely a qualified man. If he can stand his ground and make his stance well known to others, he’s a cut above the rest.
Anymore, I am nexting every post I see about Peterson, simply because it’s old news. Reading these posts doesn’t contribute anything to my pursuit of excellence.
I am curious to know why these bloggers have decided to put so much time, and mental energy, into tearing down this particular man, out of millions of others. Is this somehow part of a larger strategy in our fight to be free from Feminism’s choking death grip? Does it somehow educate men about how to deal with various sorts of women in an effective manner? If so, then how does Peterson have relevance?
These bloggers may have been successful in ridiculing Peterson and giving us a laugh, all for the sake of offering an interesting few minutes of blog reading and getting a few more clicks <slow clapping from the back>, but they have not made their case against Peterson applicable to the larger scheme of resisting the creeping black shadow of Satan’s schemes.
Before Peterson’s persona gets completely prostrated by apathetic and possibly envious criticism, let’s take a moment to recall what he has contributed to the scenes. Regardless of your religious beliefs or political affiliation, I believe it is significant.
2. Addressing Men’s Preeminent Need for Respect
One point which Peterson has hit on, again and again, is that men are in a continual process of self-betterment; that men should step up to face the challenges that confront them in life; and that men need respect from other men, for whatever they contribute, big or small. This is a fundamental truth of life, and Peterson should be lauded for reminding us of this basic tenet of humanity, and encouraging us to be cognizant of the need for respect, especially among men. If you don’t agree with his specific points, then let’s see if you (or someone else) can do better. Don’t just tell us how his points compare to another flawed line of reasoning. Point out how the arguments are flawed and give us a better mode of thought. We’re waiting…
Dalrock pointed out the importance of respect in his recent post, The wages of miserliness. (April 3, 2018). He writes [emphasis mine],
“It is this miserliness of respect for other men that has created the void that Peterson is filling. Note that Peterson isn’t telling young men they are great as they are, just let it all hang out. Peterson is telling young men they need to man up. But Peterson’s man up message is fundamentally different than the modern Christian man up message. Peterson’s message doesn’t celebrate the feminist triumph that is afflicting young men. Peterson offers both love and the possibility of respect for men who work to improve themselves.”
Practicing Love and Respect offers a win-win end game. Let’s not forget that. Scoff if you will, but the continuation of the civilized nature of our society depends on it.
3. Maintaining Integrity and Garnering Respect Within the NeoModern Debate Style of Presumptively Valid Strawmen
Perhaps Peterson’s most obvious achievement is in maintaining his position, in spite of holding an opinion that was seen to be flawed from the outset by the larger feminist dominated culture, and proving that his true position was not superficially misogynistic, overtly callous, nor carelessly spiteful. Whether or not you happen to agree with his position, you have to admit that the presentation of his argument was superbly executed.
Just in case you missed it, or want to watch it again, here’s the famous debate Peterson had with Cathy Newman.
A poignant aspect of this debate is that it exemplifies the type of dishonest debate tactics (on the part of Newman) that have grown to be acceptable to society at large.
“The video is instructive for modern dialogue. Typically, positions are entrenched, assumed, and then discussed, according to predetermined views about what the opponent is presumed to be saying, despite what they actually say they think. Christians would do well to take note. This is the new form of discussion and debate. We have to accept that on key social issues – particularly issues of sexuality and human flourishing – we will be dealt with according to what our interlocuters presume we think, despite what we actually say we believe. We can expect this to be multiplied to any number of other issues.” 
Newman lost face, not because her argument was less convincing (although many believe they were), but because (1) her presumptions of his thoughts and motives were shown to be incorrect, and (2) she was unsuccessful in trying to shame Peterson. All her attacks, which appeared in the form of presuming avarice on his part, rolled off his back. This dynamic revealed her to be misinformed at best, an ignorant troublemaker of mediocre merit, or a false accuser at worst.
4. The Defense For Our Traditional Ethical Structure
“Peterson explicitly states that offence is acceptable in the pursuit of truth. That statement presumes there is a truth to be known and grasped. He nowhere affirms the idea that identity is whatever you subjectively perceive it to be.” 
In saying that the quest for truth is often necessarily offensive, Peterson is clearly identifying his ethical structure as being Righteousness vs. Guilt (RvG). Furthermore, one’s personal choice to adhere to any particular ethical system is an absolute truth which cannot be refuted in any ethical system. So to engage with him any further in a meaningful discussion, Newman would have to recognize this truth, and adopt the appropriate RvG reasoning, which she evidently could not do.
I will speculate that the reason why Newman resisted entering into an honest debate within the RvG ethical structure, was because she knew the logical nature of men would give Peterson, a man, an advantage over Newman, a woman. (You can call me sexist for saying so, but I believe she was conscious of this.) Furthermore, (I believe) it was not her purpose to engage honestly within a debate for truth, but only to shame Peterson, as she did previously to Tim Farron and John Smyth. Regardless of whether Farron’s or Smyth’s beliefs were applicable and theologically sound, she targeted them for merely having Christian beliefs, and thus, she attempted to bring shame to the name of Christ.
“…Peterson didn’t challenge Newman directly about the objectivity of offence (potentially that’s because he holds my view that offence is subjective and that is why basing legislation on subjective measures is so problematic – we cannot know the line between right and wrong because it is in the eye, ear or sensitive disposition of the beholder).” 
Although guilt may or may not be accurately ascertained through law, the accusations of either offending, or being offended, appeal to either honor or shame in the court of public opinion. Petersons arguments have impact, not only because they are logically sound, which appeals to the RvG sense of ‘being right’, but also his calm demeanor and occasional sense of humor portrays him as dignified and gracious, which brings honorability in the Honor vs. Shame (HvS) system, which Newman (and the media) had cunningly adopted in her strategy.
The key takeaway is that our traditional RvG ethical structure, which has been predominant in the west since medieval times, is now giving way to the HvS system under the odd-ass bedfellows of Feminism and Islamophilia. Here, Peterson is making a wise and concerted effort to preserve our time honored ethical structure. (For more information on ethical structures, please see my earlier post, Foundations of Cultural Ethics and Chivalry (February 18, 2018), which is the first of a series on this subject.)
Peterson’s greatest contribution is that he artfully constructed a collection of viewpoints and arguments which (1) remained solid in a logical debate, (2) attracted respect, and deflected dishonest debate tactics and shame, and (3) successfully defended the main tenets of logic and truth in the RvG ethical system. Furthermore, and he did so in a public debate against Feminists in a way that they had to respect. It is his ability to command the respect of his adversary that attracts a following. This is why so many young men admire Peterson, and it is a habit that all of us should be developing within ourselves.
Be aware of the real battle! The battle is not against one aging educator (Peterson). It’s against those principalities and powers that seek to subject us to a foreign ethical structure (such as HvS), wipe away truth, and solid reason, and replace it with self-destructive infighting, persnickety feuds over perceived honor, and all the associated (and ridiculous) ‘virtue posturing’ that is now becoming so prevalent.
And their motives contain no better justifications than to hate us, insult the name and glory of Christ, and to degrade our Christian civilization. All the more reason for us to stay focused on the goal!
- Stephen Kneale: Cathy Newman’s Channel 4 Interview With Jordan Peterson Is Instructive For Christians In Public Debate (January 19, 2018)
- Stephen Kneale: We Don’t Need To Be Friends: A Rejoinder To Dave Williams On Jordan Peterson (January 20, 2018)
- Chateau Heartiste: Leftoid Cognitive Biases: Negative Transference And Psychological Projection (February 28, 2018)
- The New Modern Man: Inside the twisted mind of an anglobitch: “So what you’re saying is…” (March 3, 2018)