In this short video Jordan Peterson explains his idea of god, and identifies the shallowness that afflicts the New Atheists while remaining blind to his own superficiality:
Nobody who has seriously studied Nietzsche and the thinkers who came after can watch that video without cringing. Peterson is a shallow man pandering to semi-educated and shallow followers. He is unequipped to fathom the profundity of a thinker like Nietzsche, whom he puts at the center of his thinking. Are New Atheists shallow too? Well, many of them are for the reason Peterson somewhat articulates: they don’t recognize the fullness of the human psyche and the mysteries of existence. But they do recognize what Peterson doesn’t: the old myths no longer suffice for an explanation of the universe or the human psyche.
The seminal act of Nietzsche occurred in The Gay Science, with the announcement by the Madman of the death of God and initiation of the vertigo that has embroiled us ever since. Peterson does have a tenuous grasp of that, but no appreciation of the implications. In his naivete he believes that we can reorient ourselves by reclaiming the shell of the old god. For him, this shell of god becomes a psychological force one moment, and the highest ideal a person holds in the next moment. Neither of these is anything like an actual supernatural entity, but since there is no such thing our concepts of gods must have been manmade anyway. Therefore, Peterson would have us continue our pretending. Such an evasion can satisfy nobody.
Peterson’s shallowness further cripples his plan for how we would go about this. His project entails a resurrection of the dormant logos, but he has no understanding of what that means. The dormant logos slept long before Christianity and won’t be found in the bible. The dormant logos came alive through the pre-Socratics, when logos meant a full experience of the truth of Being and went dormant when Socrates attenuated it to logic through words. Peterson is right that we need to resurrect logos, but fails to appreciate the immensity of that task. It isn’t merely taking on the shells of dead visions. It is restoring logos as poetic introduction of Being into our world.
Christians, to their credit, do have a sense of the profound and mysterious calling of existence that science rules out of bounds, even though this calling provides the most important and prevalent aspect of human dwelling on this earth. Christians are not afflicted with the shallowness of the state, science, or postmodernism. But they are paralyzed by fear. They are the direct descendants of the wailing Madman. What Nietzsche knew better than anyone is that going back is impossible, and individuality is the key going forward.
Peterson mistakenly ascribes the rise of the individual to the New Testament despite the fact that the individual was least tolerated when the Church ruled Europe and didn’t really attain any value until the Enlightenment. Nietzsche brought the prominence of the individual to its conclusion: the individual must attain the strength and courage to find his own values for himself in accordance with the spirit of Will, which Heidegger later expands as Being. Life is most essentially esthetic, but esthetic is not merely arbitrary. The artist doesn’t create, but wills along with Will and sings its songs. For Nietzsche, we experience the true esthetic when we are in tune with the music of Will, and those who can withstand its power are the ones who will regain their balance and survive this transitional era of the great vertigo. Nietzsche sings this revelation in the Drunken Song in Also Sprach Zarathustra:
O Mensch! Gib acht!
Was spricht, die tiefe Mitternacht?
“Ich schlief, ich schlief -,
Aus tiefem Traum bin ich erwacht: –
Die Welt ist tief,
Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht.
Tief ist ihr Weh -,
Lust – tiefer noch als Herzeleid:
Weh spricht: Vergeh!
Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit -,
– Will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!”
And thus, our values become those of the eternal yearning; not of the morbid formulation of sin. But just as importantly, they cannot be found by clinging to the shallowness of state, science, or postmodern resentment. The depths of the eternal await the brave who laugh as they dance to its music. There is no music in science, and only dust of decomposition in Christianity.