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Open Letter to Jordan Peterson

Dr. Peterson;

This is a rather deep question so hope you will tolerate the bit of wordiness in asking this question by analytic means. ūüėČ

GIVEN:

We can tell as much about a person, his understanding, his ethics, his culture, his civilization by the methods of his argument as by its content.

When we speak, when we describe, when we persuade, when we argue, we can transfer meaning with error or without. With hazards or without. With suggestions or without. With deceptions or without.

When we hear speech, we must both construct the meaning, but also test it.  And it turns out that testing meaning is quite a difficult thing.  Because we seem to have evolved to describe, opine, negotiate, and deceive more so than testify.  We did not evolve to speak the truth independently of our biases. Otherwise mathematics, science and law would not be necessary.

While I’m glad that over the past ten months or so you’ve joined the “ok, this is enough” movement in western civilization. And while I’m glad your mastery of the literature of the social, psychological, and cognitive sciences is thorough. ¬†And while many of us appreciate your ability to teach what seems extemporaneously – and with passion and conviction. ¬†There is something very troubling in with your reliance on literature that I’d like to ask you to consider.

A SHORT CRITICISM ON METHOD – WHY?

You’ve made the case that the Postmodernists (we’ll avoid the Marxists for now) not only practice falsehood, but intentionally deny truth. And that they do so to circumvent discourse. ¬†Presumably because they cannot win an honest, truthful, true, and moral (test of reciprocity) argument. You’ve made the case less directly that Postmodernists are not engaging in reciprocity. (Correct) But not necessarily that they are doing so for the purpose of parasitism, or theft, rather than engaging in voluntary exchanges. (I believe you position this as ‘wrong’ or ‘immoral’ but not ‘theft’ or ‘predation’.)

You’ve made the case that Truth is has been the competitive advantage of the West. (I am not sure if you have made the point that this reduces transaction costs, and therefore reduces opportunity costs, and therefore increases experimental velocity in a division of perception, valuation, labor, and advocacy.

You’ve demonstrated that you rely heavily on the literary model of Jung. (Understandable – but questionable.) Why choose wisdom literature instead of scientific, economic, and historical literature? Isn’t the difference one of precision?

You’ve made the case that you have worked for many years to understand the myth and literature of civilizations – and that is was hard work. ( Understandable – but curious why one would choose ‘wisdom literature’ for one’s research? )

You’ve demonstrated that you’ve kept current with the research in cognitive science and (recently operationalized) experimental psychology. (Obvious, understandable, and necessary)

You’ve demonstrated that you can identify correspondences between the research and the survival of the content of these myths over many generations: Monomyth, Archetypes, and then less specifically virtues.

You’ve made the case that one must extract from this (vast) literature, that which allows you to functionally (demonstrably) succeed, and NOT what prevents you from functionally (demonstrably) succeeding.

I am not sure if you’ve distinguished between the western use of DEFLATIONARY TRUTH, common law, philosophy, and science that preserves competition between institutions and disciplines, and the Fertile Crescent use of CONFLATIONARY WISDOM using Supernaturalism to produce a monopoly that doesn’t preserve competition between institutions and disciplines.

I am pretty certain that you haven’t distinguished between the decidability of deflated truths and conflated wisdom. Or the difference between low context deflationary truth, and high context wisdom literature. Or the costs of producing each. Or the difference of rule by via-negativa (common law) versus via-positiva (commanded law), and the consequences it produced.

Because high context low precision monopoly wisdom literature empirically produces very different rates of innovation and adaptation compared to the use of low context, high precision, competitive literature (or the difference in consequences between heroic and scientific (western pagan), and submissive and religious (persian/abrahamic), and familial and ‘rational’ (Sinic/Japanese) forms of literature.

You’ve tried to maintain the difficult position of conflating the true (decidable), good(commons), preferential (personal) and useful (possible) in the fertile crescent tradition, as a method of argument (decidability) rather than as a method of advice (wisdom). (‘darwinian arguments’).

And I don’t think you’ve touched on the use of conflationary fictionalisms as methods of deception:
1) Pseudo-mythology: scriptural monotheism that conflates law, wisdom, and truth. False promise of life after death. Promise of life after death.
2) Pseudo-science: the construction of cosmopolitan pseudosciences (Boaz, Marx, Freud, Cantor, Mises), Promise of paradise.
3) Pseudo-rationalism: the construction of modern idealism (platonism, the the frankfurt school, the postmodernists) – creating ‘reality by chanting’ (social construction) Promise of power.

And perhaps most importantly you don’t illustrate, that I know of, that the west lost to conflationary wisdom literature (christianity) in the ancient world, including the closure of the institutions of ‘deflationary literature’ (the stoic schools), and was resurrected by the restoration of truthful literature in the enlightenment, and that conflationary literature is the means by which the postmodernists have adopted the work of the marxists.

And this all leads me to a set of questions:

How does one know what to select without knowing what to select already? Or worse, how does one know what NOT to select? From the herd of literary preachers of wisdom literature, how does one decide between them? How does one choose: a) that which I prefer, b) that which is good independently of what I prefer, c) and that which is true regardless of whether I prefer it, or  whether we think it is good or not Рbecause we can only decide conflicts over goods by what is true. So, we can only decide between the useful, the preferable, and the good, by what is true (decidable)?

What is the cost of teaching wisdom (conflationary) literature versus truthful (deflationary and decidable)literature? What are the consequences of teaching wisdom literature instead of truthful? And most importantly, what opportunities do we perpetuate and create by teaching wisdom literature instead of truthful literature?

How is fictionalism not only a terrible thing to teach, a terrible method of transferring meaning, but it is the means by which we have been defeated in the ancient world, and nearly defeated in the present?

How is fictionalism only not an answer, but demonstrably the reason for the failure of the west to complete the enlightenment by its extension to the economic, legal, social, and political disciplines?

Hasn’t psychology largely rescued itself from fictionalism and justifiable criticism as a pseudoscience precisely by abandoning fictionalism and adopting the ‘operationalism’ (in psychology, ‘operationism’, and mathematics ‘intuitionism’)?

How can one deflate the Fertile Crescent fictionalisms (‘lies’) and still convey them without at the same time merely perpetuating the crime?

Why is there not enough non-false, non fictionalist, non omnipotent and omniscient mythos, history of heroes, saints, scientists?  Why do we have to appeal to that which has harmed us so deeply?

Why can’t we teach people meaning through the lenses of hyperbole of myth, the hyperbole of heroes, the hyperbole of history, the empirical evidence of our history, ¬†and our truthful speech? Is that not the reason for the west’s continued outperformance of other peoples? Is truth not how we dragged mankind out of superstition, ignorance, poverty, disease and tyranny?

If conflationary literature is the vehicle by which we have been lied to and the vehicle for deceit, the why teach it? Why do we not want to teach people how to identify the differences?  To negatively value such conflationary literature? And is there any value in the conflationary that cannot be obtained from the deflationary?

I know that in the spectrum of methods by which we can convey meaning that the dream state is the most subjective, the rational less so, the calculative much less so. And I understand that creativity requires that we enable free association by the construction of habits that allow us to easily enter the waking dream state most creative people call ‘the zone’.

But what evidence suggests that we need to do so by the very means of exploiting it: suggestion. Deceit by suggestion. Deceit by loading, framing, overloading such that the suggestion is created by statement or by inference or by inference from absence?

What is the difference between the transfer of meaning, the transfer of truth, and the transfer of deception?

In other words, Why do we need to teach people to lie?

—SERIES—

A few series that suggest we have far and above the necessary deflationary content available to teach every necessary scale of comprehension and decision.

I. DIMENSIONS OF REALITY: THE DUE DILIGENCE NECESSARY FOR WARRANTY OF TESTIMONY (TRUTH CLAIM)
Any truth proposition must survive those tests that are applicable.
1) categorical consistency (identity)
2) internal consistency (logical)
3) external consistency (empirical)
4) existential consistency (operational language and grammar)
5) rational consistency (rational choice of the actor)
6) moral consistency (reciprocity – at least intertemporal)
7) scope consistency (full accounting and limits [no cherry picking, no unlimited theories])
8) cognitive consistency (test by jury: theory)
9) survival consistency (test by market: law)
10) exhaustive consistency (Parsimony / tautology)

II. RULE OF INCOMPLETENESS
1) “No truth proposition can be tested without appeal to the subsequent dimension”.
III. FROM LOW PRECISION HIGH CONTEXT TO HIGH PRECISION LOW CONTEXT.

What existing sets of categories and values do we have to work from in the spectrum of problems of decidability?

5) History.

4) Wisdom: Greek/Roman/Germanic/Slavic Paganism (archetypes) (categories and measures)

3) Morals: Roman Stoicism (virtues) (via positiva) (subcategories and measures)

2) Ethics: Roman Law (limits) (via negativa) (further subcategories and measures) (Natural Law of Reciprocity)

1) Psychology: Acquisitions or stoic ‘pursuits’ rather than ‘psychology’ (all moral intuitions and all emotions can be expressed as reactions to change in state of acquisitions).

0) Existence: The Laws of Nature (science) further subcategories and measures)

IV. THE HIERARCHY OF MEASUREMENTS :

What methods of measurements do we have to work with?

7) THE MONOMYTH – Transcendence (Transformation)
6) THE ARCHETYPES – Characters (Categories)
5) THE VIRTUES – Comparison Operators (Values)
4) THE ORDERS – Axioms (Relations: sets of conditions – social orders)
3) THE NARRATIVES – Operations (Methods of change in state)
2) THE DISCIPLINES – Mindfulness/Stoicism ( Noise Reduction)
1) THE SCIENCES – Measurement (reduction of ignorance, error, bias, deception reduction)
0) THE TRUTH – Parsimony (Most Parsimonious Operational Name of a Recipe of Transformation.)

Assertions:
There exists only one objective – transcendence – ‘Agency’.
There exists only one narrative – personal transcendence
There exist only a few sub-narratives – methods of transcendence (the N-number of plots)
There exist only so many non-false virtues – variables of transcendence (stoic virtues?)
There exist only so many portfolios of virtues – transcendent characters. (Archetypes)
There exist only so many methods of non-false noise reduction – transcendent mind. ( physical rituals, stoic disciplines, discursive prayer, recitative prayer, buddhist contemplation – and some combination)
There exist only so many methods of non-false elimination of falsehoods – reason.
There exists only so many sets of primary operations – transcendent truths.

Via-Positiva:
A myth can employ animism and anthropomorphism in an act of transcendence.
A myth can employ hyperbole (super-normalism) in an act of transcendence.
A myth can employ any technique to create an immoral condition against which one employs virtues to transcend.
A myth can employ virtues in an act of transcendence.

Via Negativa:
A myth cannot contradict the virtue of transcendence.
A myth cannot contradict of a virtue of transcendence in an act of transcendence.
A myth cannot employ a falsehood in an act of transcendence
A myth cannot employ luck or miracles in an act of transcendence.
A myth cannot employ fictionalism (idealism, supernaturalism, pseudoscience/pseudo-rationalism) in an act of transcendence.

If a myth can survive these tests then it is true, and good.
If a myth cannot survives these tests then it is false, and evil.

SUMMARY
I can find no reason to perpetuate the use of fictionalism in pedagogy or even in public speech.  I can find every reason to treat it as the most malicious form of deception ever invented by man, and the principle target of ethical and moral criticism.

I see every reason to complete the enlightenment, not leave the door open for yet another conquest of the west Рor by mankind Рthrough the use of suggestion by the process of  loading, framing, conflation, fictionalism, and overloading,  by the use of that which cannot be tested, because it either cannot be deflated, or because the act of deflation is far beyond the abilities of those most susceptible to suggestions.

Just because the mind ‘want’s, does not mean we should feed it. There are many wants. Many impulses. And civilization was constructed by the suppression of those impulses and the direction of them to constructive ends – what we would call somewhere between delayed gratification, and longer production cycles, producing higher multiples than could be obtained by discounted means.

So why perpetuate the lie?  ( Nietzsche was right. As right as a literary philosopher can be.)

Curt Doolittle
The Philosophy of Aristocracy
The Propertarian Institute
Kiev Ukraine

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