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merjet

Jordan Peterson interviews Stephen Hicks

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I hope something clicks for Peterson. He's asking the right questions, but he's stuck on suffering and mythology. His focus is still on feelings and fantasy over reason and reality. But you can almost see him trying to switch.

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I hadn't heard the recent audio interview when I posted yesterday. I just finished listening. Most of their conversation is about postmodernism, like the earlier video one.

Reminiscing: I still have my copy of Explaining Postmodernism. I bought it July 5, 2004. Stephen Hicks signed it with a note the day I bought it. He encouraged me to write a review. I did, and it became my first on Amazon. It is the third oldest review of EP on Amazon, dated July 21, 2004.

Edited by merjet

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Swig, why do you think he would want to switch to anything? He's a Jungian when it comes to the philosophical side of psychology, and speaks like one. Everything will have to do with suffering and mythology/narrative. To switch away from that would take a massive shift in his outlook.

Anyway, can you explain more of the content in the interview Merjet? I read Explaining Postmodernism a long time ago, and it was okay, but upon looking back at it a few weeks ago, it came across more as an opinion piece than a well researched book with citations. Rand wasn't good at historical analysis of philosophy, but this book struck me as worse, because it's an extended argument much longer than an essay (not to mention I think Kant is an Enlightenment philosopher, while Rand is fundamentally an anti-Enlightenment philosopher). Peterson is largely the same when it comes to philosophy. But that's just to say I disagree, not that I'm not interested (it's like an exercise of philosophical detection).

They are long interviews, so I'm hoping you would point out the most valuable parts so I can skip right to them.

 

Edited by Eiuol

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2 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Swig, why do you think he would want to switch to anything?

Because of some of his responses to Hicks and others. For example, after describing how he begins his courses by focusing on the suffering in life, Hicks countered by saying that he motivates students by initially focusing on the opportunities in life, or something benevolent to that effect. Peterson expressed a fleeting interest in possibly changing his approach, but then he quickly went back to rationalizing his foundation in suffering. So he still has the spark that could initiate a critical switch. His subconscious is throwing that idea out to him. He just has trouble focusing on it.

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This only half fits the thread's title. Anyway, here is another interview of Stephen Hicks, this one by Glenn Beck. Scroll down for the video. The main topics are socialism, individualism, ethics, rational and anti-rational, and postmodernism and political activism nearer the end. Almost 90 minutes.

Edited by merjet

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21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

(not to mention I think Kant is an Enlightenment philosopher, while Rand is fundamentally an anti-Enlightenment philosopher). 

Depends on whether you take as "Enlightenment philosophy" to be (a) the actual philosophy done by the philosophers of the Enlightenment, or (b) what may be termed "the Enlightenment project" which may include something like the goals of x, y, and z, that may or may not have been achieved by (a.) I think she is an anti-Enlightenment philosopher in the sense of (a) but a pro- one in the sense of (b).

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That's a fair enough argument, although I don't really see why Enlightenment philosophy is any different than the Enlightenment project. If anyone is wondering why I brought it up, a big part of Hicks' book is that Kant is an anti-Enlightenment philosopher, which I think is ridiculous. The reason for that I think comes from seeing Oism as an Enlightenment philosophy. But I don't have good reasons to think that either. So it all comes across as bad scholarship. 

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The term Hicks uses to describe Kant in Explaining Postmodernism is Counter-Enlightenment. His reasons for using it are much like those in the second excerpt here written by Ayn Rand.

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I don't think the excerpt from Rand helps, because for the most part, her writing on the history of philosophy is usually poor scholarship. Of course I like her ideas, but I find her criticism of other philosophers very inaccurate or superficial. There is some truth to what she says about Kant, especially about his views on sensory evidence. The problem is that Kant is not some kind of counter Enlightenment. That is the Enlightenment. If a philosopher stands against Kant, they are against the goals and way of doing philosophy of the Enlightenment.

But forget whether his point is correct or not. The book is poor scholarship. Which leads me to be skeptical of any value Hicks provides. Although the interview might provide some constructive philosophy, rather than criticism, so I'll give it a listen. 

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9 hours ago, merjet said:

The term Hicks uses to describe Kant in Explaining Postmodernism is Counter-Enlightenment. His reasons for using it are much like those in the second excerpt here written by Ayn Rand.

Yes. In reply on his website to a question "Why do you speak of Kant as "Counter-Enlightenment""?

Hicks: 

March 29, 2015 at 3:19 pm

 

Hi Elizabeth. Good question. For two main reasons.
One is that a major theme of the Enlightenment was to champion the power of reason against the pre-modern, Medieval emphasis upon tradition and faith. But Kant undercuts reason by arguing that it cannot know objective reality, only subjective constructs; and he is fine with that as he famously puts it in saying that showing the limits of rational knowledge makes room for faith.
The second is that the Enlightenment also made the pursuit of happiness a human moral birthright, in contrast to the previous era’s emphasis upon duty and selfless sacrifice. But Kant returns to making duty fundamental to ethics and denies the moral significance of happiness.
So on those two important Enlightenment themes, Kant is a counter to them.

Edited by whYNOT

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2 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

But Kant returns to making duty fundamental to ethics and denies the moral significance of happiness.

But that's exactly the sort of thing that makes Kant an Enlightenment philosopher. Looking at what is right or wrong, by reason, and explicitly disregarding the individual - because that would bias things and make things subjective. We don't need some kind of mental gymnastics to say that Kant is against the Enlightenment. Of course, that would go against the narrative about postmodernism these days. The bigger issue is that reason as defined in Oism is not the same definition of reason as in the Enlightenment. Actually, Oism has postmodern elements, if for no other reason than being very different from any classical or modernist views. I imagine you see how fast the argument would fall apart if you started to include actual citations and deeper analysis. 

Hicks doesn't provide scholarship, neither does Peterson.

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6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Hicks doesn't provide scholarship, 

Well hold on. I can see what you're saying something maybe like "if Kant is counter-Enlightenment then so is Descartes through Hume." And maybe you have a point there. Perhaps Hicks would say Kant's constructivist solution is categorically different than Descartes' idealist solution. There's also the question of how Kant's contemporaries and disciples took him, and his influence, versus Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, et al. But regardless I don't think it's fair to say Hicks isn't doing scholarly work. 

The beginning of chapter 2 in EP starts off with what Hicks takes Enlightenment to be, so it's not as if he doesn't provide an argument for "why Kant is different." Secondly, his thesis is precisely the failure of Enlightenment epistemology enabled postmodernism, so it's not as if he doesn't sort of make the point you're making. But overall, the book is well researched and contains citations, footnotes, and articulate arguments. Not agreeing with something is not the same as it being bad scholarship.

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Poor scholarship, not no scholarship. Looking through it now, it feels like only a rough sketch at best, maybe even a rough draft. I'm not saying he's wrong, as much as I'm saying it's all very contrived and forced. This makes for strange arguments that aren't even needed. 

I just find it problematic that either of these guys get as much attention as they do.

But I do appreciate the points you made, it's making me see it in a little bit more of a positive light.

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