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The Best Argument For Jordan Peterson: My Friend, Fred

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But again, this aside, Jordan Peterson’s lessons of personal responsibility and taking charge of one’s life are actually helping people, which brings me to my friend, Fred.”

In a November 17th Merion West article, Conrad Hamilton and Matt McManus announced their plans to release a book entitled Myth and Mayhem: A Leftist Critique of Jordan Peterson, which they assert will be the first comprehensive, book-length takedown of the Canadian psychologist-turned-public-intellectual. What is noteworthy about this book is that it will be written by four authors who have respective expertise in the areas of feminism, philosophy, Marxism, and the principles of argumentation. The purpose of this joint venture is to, in the words of Hamilton and McManus, “confront Peterson on his own terms—to eschew tawdry criticism and ad hominem attacks and instead get to the nucleus of his thought” in their attempt to beat the “anti- woke, truth telling patriarch act” out of Peterson’s persona. 

After reading about this upcoming book project, I sought to learn more about Jordan Peterson—beyond simply his stances on political correctness, gender neutral pronouns, and the like. As such on November 19th, I attended a screening of The Rise Of Jordan Peterson, a new documentary about Peterson’s life, at my alma mater, Columbia University. The film was directed by Patricia Marcoccia and produced by her husband, Maziar Ghaderi. Although the two Toronto-based filmmakers lean “left of center” politically, fortunately, this did not factor into their film-making decisions. The film, instead, “thoughtfully explores the ways in which Peterson has been both celebrated and reviled.”

One of the most important points in the film, in my view, belongs, though, to the “celebrated” camp; it’s also in line with many comments that Hamilton and McManus received regarding their new book project. The point, in effect, is: ‘Enough high-minded academic critiques. Jordan Peterson is actually helping people.’ This was also what one commenter named Will was getting at when he wrote beneath Hamilton and McManus’ book preview, “I am a municipal maintanence [sic] worker in Toronto. Jordan Petetsons’ [sic] lectures and writing have been a major factor in my journey to stop making excuses for myself, finding sobriety and getting my finances in order.”

Similarly, in Marcoccia and Ghaderi’s film, a high school student named Connor describes how Peterson’s methods taught him, “how to act in the world.” Another, Matthew, suggests that Peterson helped him to “rekindle his faith in religion” and gave him, “the courage to stand up for his conservative and libertarian beliefs in the classroom.” Even so, many theaters have decided to pass on the film because of widespread criticism of Jordan Peterson, which, of course, primarily comes from the Left. For many of his critics, Peterson’s views on the importance of family, traditional gender roles, and an uncompromising commitment to free speech are unpalatable. 

But again, this aside, Jordan Peterson’s lessons of personal responsibility and taking charge of one’s life are actually helping people, which brings me to my friend, Fred. Fred is a well-respected bassist and music business entrepreneur whose wife is suffering from frontal lobe dementia. Fred described to me learning about Jordan Peterson, by chance, through a random Internet search and discovering that Peterson’s mother-in-law was suffering from the same condition as his wife. From there, he stumbled upon a Youtube video where Peterson describes how his father-in-law dutifully and lovingly cared for his wife throughout her illness. In an incredibly powerful moment in this video, Peterson advises anyone suffering through great adversity to: “…stand up straight and fully face the darkness, and what you discover is at the darkest part is the brightest light.” Peterson breaks down momentarily as he says this and starts to cry, and so did my friend Fred as he listened. From that moment on, Fred tells me, he realized that he was not alone—and that it was possible that he would not only survive his darkest hour but might even be able to grow from the experience. For Fred, of all of Peterson’s advice, the Jungian axiom “that which you most need will be found where you least want to look” was most transformative in his life. Matt McManus might say that insights such as these are nothing more than a, “Schopenhauerian- Nietzschean trope.” Dismiss advice Peterson’s advice all you’d like with big words, but for the countless people that Dr. Peterson has helped, from my friend Fred on down, these words have been nothing short of transformative. 

However, if he hopes to convince Jordan Peterson’s supporters of the “acute limitations of [Peterson’s] thinking,” he is going to have to explain Peterson’s track record of helping those in need—from Will in Toronto, to the young men featured in Marcoccia and Ghaderi’s film to my own friend, Fred.

Matt McManus brings considerable academic firepower to important debates. He is one of Merion West’s most prolific writers, and I enjoy reading his opinion pieces, even when I disagree with him. However, if he hopes to convince Jordan Peterson’s supporters of the “acute limitations of [Peterson’s] thinking,” he is going to have to explain Peterson’s track record of helping those in need—from Will in Toronto, to the young men featured in Marcoccia and Ghaderi’s film to my own friend, Fred. For academics who want to criticize Peterson with high-minded references and ivory tower abstractions, they would be wise to remember that many of these ideas fall apart in the complex world in which we actually live, a world where people are actually suffering. And some of these people are finding tremendous consolation in the words and advice of Dr. Jordan Peterson.

Tony D. Senatore graduated from Columbia University in 2017, at the age of 55. He is a well-known bassist and musician.

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C M
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C M

Well said, anyone can be criticized but not everyone’s advice is practical or effective. Personally, a year and a half after finding JP and my life is quite a bit better, my mental health has improved, my marriage was never bad but is even better now, I’m physically maybe in better shape then I have ever been, and most importantly I am doing more to help out the people in my life then ever before. I took messages from his book of finding meaning through accepting traditional responsibilities, looking inward first before outward when encountering a problem, trying to reduce… Read more »

sarina
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sarina

Agree, Well said. Dr. Peterson has helped me and so many others. No author can convince me that this man is not doing good in the world. Do I agree with each and every point Dr. Peterson makes? No. But, 98% of what is says about personal responsibility, facing suffering as nobly as possible and living a truthful life are dead on.

sarina singh
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sarina singh

Dr. Peterson is such a source of inspiration for so many across the world. His words and teachings have inspired and have helped me resolve personal demons as well. He is so kind, thoughtful and compassionate. I am honored that I have had opportunities to work with him and have conversations with him. I consider him a mentor. I pray God gives him a long life because too many people are suffering and his words are needed to help those lost souls. I am one of those people who will never tire of Dr. Peterson and no author, writer or… Read more »

Double Negation
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Double Negation

Cool anecdote. Too bad Jordan Peterson is a grifter making bank off of stupid people who need a father figure to tell them not to piss their pants when the going gets tough. As far as I can tell, the issue isn’t with whether or not he is helping people with his warmed over bullshit. The problem is 1) isolating responsibility in the individual when structural changes require going beyond the remit of the private individual is itself irresponsible. 2) Using the cause of free speech as a Trojan horse for smugling in capitalist propaganda, anti-Marxist nazi conspiracy theories, and… Read more »

Geoff R
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Geoff R

Everything that was said in the previous comment was incorrect, and anyone who read it is now worse off for having done so. Starting with predictable ad hominem attacks on Dr. Peterson and his audience, following with willful mischaracterizations and ironic misunderstandings of his message before resorting to obvious factual errors and ending with more ad hominem attacks reveals much about the person who makes them. Dr. Peterson’s message is not that personal changes are a solution to world problems but instead that the problems that face us are so pervasive and of such consequence that to face them without… Read more »

Double Negation
Guest
Double Negation

Shut the fucc up you brainwashed wanker all you’re doing is crying about “ad homs” and then polishing Peterson’s pistol like a good little bittchmmmmm mmm ya lap it up slave

Chris F. Rubeo
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Chris F. Rubeo

100% correct.

C M
Guest
C M

I’m going to guess you haven’t consumed much Peterson beyond articles critical of him because he regularly says that people should use their lives to reduce suffering in the world, and the larger the scale the better. He suggests that before you move on to the big stuff, perhaps you should first get your own life and world in order as a dysfunctional individual is likely not in good shape to make a functional world. Its not a philosophy of atomized individual responsibility, just advice to always start with yourself. To your second point while the Alt Right certainly abuses… Read more »

Tom
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Tom

You sound like a Maxist nazi bullshiter.

Robert Walker-Smith
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Robert Walker-Smith

I don’t know anyone who’s life has been improved by Peterson’s message. About 98% of the evidence I’ve seen of his effect on people is the Reddit sub r/JBP. Based on that, his supporters are enthused by the knowledge that everything bad in society is due to the baleful influence of trannies, commies and feminists. I don’t agree with that perspective. Peterson himself reminds me of William F. Buckley’s self-description as someone standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’ If there’s a single social or cultural change that’s occurred in the last fifty years that doesn’t appall, disgust or terrify him, I’m… Read more »

C M
Guest
C M

I mean, I would not say Reddit is the best place to test a community so you may want to consider your sample size and where you gathered it. He appeals more to the conservative mind to be sure, so if you don’t hang around many of that type you likely wouldn’t encounter someone who has benefited from him. I don’t think I could change your mind on Petersons positions but I will say off the top of my heard I’ve heard him speak positively of socialized medicine in Canada and change his opinion toward the liberal/progressive side while discussing… Read more »

J T
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J T

Peterson’s perspective are that often times you can do more harm than good with your “changes”. I’m not young and I’m not white. I am married and raising a family so I’ll give you that. I’m also an engineer. And i can tell you in the engineering world, no matter how much you try to plan and analyze, there will always be unintended consequences. The larger the projects, the bigger unintended sweeping changes. Takes hydroelectric dams and the ecosystems that they’ve unintentionally destroyed and the animals displaced. Improvements to farming and the resultant build up of salts in the soil… Read more »

Rob
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Rob

I’m not a bit religious, but Peterson needs to understand the main thing Jesus was teaching humanity of equality Christ was teaching. If he gives away his material wealth I might take him serious. The least he could do is apologize to his daughter and set her free.