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Making Progress and Jordan Peterson Quotes

Jordan Peterson on the Channel 4 Controversy and Philosophy of "How to be in the World" (emphasis added, and transcription may not be 100% exact):

My suggestion was, well, it’s a very complex problem, there isn’t a solution. But the solution to a very complex problem is you should be [a] better person than you are because then you’d be better at solving complex problems. And lots of them are coming your way, so bloody well get your act together. And that’s what I’ve been telling people. But it’s more than that because that’s merely burdening people with excess responsibility, let’s say, so that could be a crushing message: You’re not who you could be, you know, get your bloody act together, you’re whining away in the corner, and you’re no good to yourself and anyone else. You know, it’s harsh. But then there’s another element to that, which is: There’s way more to you than you think you are, and that you have something necessary and vital to contribute to the world, and if you don’t contribute it then things will happen that aren’t good, and that’s terrible for you and everyone else. So it’s not only that you need to do this because it’s your responsibility, but you need to understand that there isn’t anything better that you could do for yourself or anyone else. And people are dying to hear that message.

Problems are inevitable. Problems are soluble. Get better at solving problems. Get better at life. Get more powerful. Embark on the beginning of an infinite journey of rapid progress. It's rapid progress or death. There are no alternatives. Problems will keep coming – including big ones with big consequences for failure (including the extinction of humanity). Either make ongoing progress at problem solving or failure is inevitable. There is no power level which is safe forever, but at least making more progress as fast as possible is the safest thing to do, it's the only thing that can possibly work.


You’re a puppet of other motivational forces. Like this is what happens when you unite the motivational forces that guide you; unite your own nature with your own culture and rise up above it. That’s what happens, is you end up acting this out in one way or another. And you might as well know it. This was Jung’s point. You can be the unconscious actor of a malevolent, tragic drama. Or you can wake the hell up. And you can decide that you’re going to be the hero of not only your story, but of everyone’s story. And then you can choose: which of those do you want? Now the problem with choosing, let’s call it the archetypically heroic path, is that you have to take responsibility. But the upside is, well, what the hell’s the difference between responsibility and opportunity. You can say, well, there’s no difference between responsibility and opportunity, so the more responsibility you take the more opportunity you have. Now maybe you don’t want that because you’d rather cower in the corner and hide. But the thing is that you probably wouldn’t rather do that because if you try it you’ll find that there’s nothing in it but self-contempt and misery. That’s a bad pathway: to pull back and to fail to engage in the world. You end up bitter and resentful and self-destructive and vengeful and then far worse. You can develop a liking for that. I wouldn’t recommend it.

You can let your life be run by your static memes, your culture, convention, tradition, ritual, religion, biology, other people's opinions, social pressures, your parents ... or you can run your own life. The choice is yours: choose reason or be a puppet. Pursue more control over reality – rapid ongoing progress – or be controlled by forces you don't even understand, without even knowing what's going on. If you aren't taking control over your life, and learning all you can, and being as rational as you can, then you are being controlled quite thoroughly, and more than necessary, by forces beyond your understanding (especially memes – which are widely misunderstood, and to understand them you must read The Beginning of Infinity).

Reason is the only effective way to make progress and get control of your own life. Without reason, you'll do it wrong, because reason is the name for methods of thinking which are good at correcting mistakes and actually getting things right.

People say "yeah, great" to this then don't do it. Well, actually do it. Learn about reason. Study it. Write about what you're learning. Discuss it and get criticism because you're going to get things wrong, and the set of mistakes you make will not be identical to the sets of mistakes other people make. You can discuss in the comments below.

Elliot Temple on February 12, 2018


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