Dr. Peterson on Existentialism via Solzhenitsyn and the Gulag (2017 Personality course lecture)

That interesting lecture was brought to us by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, esteemed professor at the University of Toronto. Some of the material he provided there from various authors, particularly that of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, I am familiar with from listening to past lectures by Dr. Peterson; plus, plenty of us internet devotees were already aware of the “Hugh Mongous” fiasco whereby Zarna Joshi made an ass of herself (and the most-modern Feminist movement she belongs to) while trying to demean a man out in public because she felt so entitled to do so. So, having viewed all of that, I personally found the most interesting portion of this lecture to begin shortly after the 1:15:45 mark where Dr. Peterson goes into the biblical story of the flood and then the Tower of Babel, followed by his thoughts on nihilism/existentialism and individual responsibility.

The latter is a topic many of us revisit time and time again as we struggle to get our lives under better control. He’s absolutely correct that a sizeable portion of the suffering we experience in this life is due to our own choices and stubbornly not following our consciences. We know this, and yet we often don’t live as if we know this. “To know and not to do is not to know” — to repeat a quote that dates back across the centuries.

He’s right that each of our lives have a ripple effect on our communities and that one’s own pathology impacts the pathological nature of wider society. It can be no other way since society is composed of individual persons — it’s an aggregate of all of us. That’s all it is and all it ever was. Though it’s very easy for us to try to hide within it, to attempt to blend in so as not to be noticed too distinctly, to shirk responsibility because we’d rather avoid the headaches that go along with that. And somewhere in that equation is where the so-called root of all evil likely resides, at least in its primordial form.

I think we know this deep down, though we like to dismiss it as somehow less relevant than continuing to go along to get along. “Don’t make waves,” some like to say. “The raised nail gets hammered down” — another proverb used to admonish us to not draw attention to ourselves by stepping out of line from the rest. And so the herd mentality gets reinforced…

The biggest problem we humans face is our own humanity and the reckoning it requires of us at this point in our psychological, spiritual, and sociopolitical development. It’s an internal struggle with external consequences, as we can clearly see.

So often we look to others to change so that we might be made happy. But that’s not how it works. Never has and never will.

That was an excellent talk by Dr. Peterson. Glad that I awoke tonight and stumbled back across his channel once again.

Dinner and a lecture on Marcuse

Another thought-provoking lecture (circa 1993) from Duke Professor Rick Roderick on the writings (“One-Dimensional Man”; 1964) and attitudes expressed by German philosopher Herbert Marcuse:

Didn’t know a thing about Marcuse before today, so far as I can recollect.

Alienation. Rationalization. Banalization. I’d say those three pretty much hit on the head what we’ve been confronting so long as I’ve been alive.

On the menu this evening were sauteed beer brats, steamed green beans, and microwaved easy mac. And now I’m off to work once again for about an hour.