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Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, my name is David Theroux, and I'm the president of the independent Institute

We're especially delighted to welcome you to this

Evening our special program is entitled the meaning and reality of individual sovereignty

with a renowned scholar and best-selling author

Jordan B. Peterson

For those of you who may be new to the independent Institute, you'll find information on us in the printed program that hopefully you received

The independent Institute is a nonprofit nonpartisan

public policy research organization that sponsors in-depth studies of major social and economic issues

The purpose is to bowl the advance peaceful prosperous and free societies

grounded in a commitment to human dignity

In the process we seek robust dialogue of key issues and we stand against efforts to shut down the free exchange of ideas

The results of our work are published as books and form the basis for numerous conference and media programs

Neither seeking nor accepting government funding. We hope that you will join our lighthouse society

Within just a couple years Jordan Peterson has taken the world by storm

Indeed he's become a profound and powerful phenomenon in the midst of the cultural confusion of our age a

A courageous articulate and sparkling champion of free speech

individual liberty personal responsibility

Free markets civic virtue the rule of law and the judeo-christian values that underpin Western civilization

Dr. Peterson has burst onto the public scene with his incisive critiques of political correctness

identity politics

moral relativism

post-modernism and

collectivism and statism on the left and right

Here's just a sampling of the many memorable quotes by him quote

Don't compare yourself with other people

compare yourself with who you were yesterday unquote or

Free speech is not just another value is the foundation of Western civilization

Don't lie about ANYTHING, EVER. lying leads to hell

We have to rediscover the eternal values that... and then live them out

No one gets away with anything ever

So take responsibility for your own life

Now what is remarkable is that such common sense and enduring wisdom

Has been so sadly lacking in the public square

But what is also so astounding and encouraging

is the enormous interest Dr. Peterson is generating globally in restoring first principles

Author the number 1 international bestseller 12 rules for life an antidote to chaos

Jordan Peterson is professor of psychology at the University of Toronto

He is also author of the book maps of meaning the architecture of belief

Plus over 100 scientific papers and he has almost 2 million subscribers to his YouTube channel

His work explores the modern world by combining the hard-won truths of ancient tradition

With the stunning revelations of cutting-edge science

now you can read further details about his background on the program that hopefully you got

But I will just add one additional

note

He's a native of North Western Canada

(in) 2016 he was inducted as an honorary member of the quack-e-to-tell tribe in the Pacific Northwest and

given the name alestalagie

meaning great seeker

Please join me in welcoming Jordan B Peterson

Well, thank you all for coming. it's good to see you here

The meaning and reality of individual sovereignty

That's a fundamental question as far as I'm concerned

Because it's by no means

self-evident

Why?

the idea of individual sovereignty should be

granted the

primacy of place that it

Has been granted or you could say it another way the

The reasons that that proposition have been deemed self-evident are not obvious

so

When I was just backstage, I was looking at the Declaration of Independence, which I do quite regularly make sure that I've got that

especially the introductory

Statements formulated properly and the introductory statements. I won't quote them precisely but

They lay out a series of propositions

And the first is that we hold these truths to be self-evident

and that people are

endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights that

they're equal and that

Government is to govern bike by the consent of individuals and

Those are axiomatic statements, right?

There are this sort of statements that you build a system from you have to accept the statements first before you can build the system

And it's analogous in some sense to Euclidean geometry, right? There's a

Set of axioms and you accept them and then you can build a system, but you have to accept the axioms

But you don't have to accept the axioms. That's the thing and one of the things that's very much worth understanding is that

the current culture war that we're

Embroiled in which really has been going on for in some ways

For thousands of years, but in other ways for

More specifically political ways. I suppose since the rise of Marxism about a hundred and fifty years ago

It depends on how you analyze it whether you think about it as political or psychological because as a psychological phenomena, it's much older

The the proposition that

Those truths that are laid out in the Declaration of Independence are self-evident is

No longer accepted by a large number of people

Let's say in the intellectual academy and I would say that's particularly true of the post modernists. It's also true of the

Marxists and

the post modernists and the Marxists have

United in a very strange

manner because their

Philosophies are not really commensurate with one another the post modernists profess

Skepticism about meta-narratives

large-scale stories that perhaps might

Might serve as uniting

structures for people's own cognitive

Contents but also that unite

groups of people across large swaths of territory they profess

skepticism about the validity of those narratives and yet

well, the problem with that is it leaves you nowhere because if you don't have a

Uniting narrative a uniting story of uniting ethos. You don't have an explanation for

Your existence in the world and you don't have a direction

And that's not helpful

Because you can't live without an explanation for your existence in the world and a direction or if you do live under those conditions

You're bound to be miserable. And the reason you're bound to be miserable is because

And I would say that this is technically true

That almost all the positive emotion that you're going to experience in your life is a consequence of pursuing valuable goals

It's not a consequence of attaining them

It's a consequence of positing them

aiming at them and then observing yourself moving towards them and that... the sense that

accompanies that and we know the neurobiology of this sense actually quite well. the sense of that is one of

Forward movement and engagement and meaning and accomplishment. It's something like that

Hope that's another way of thinking about it. And it's the antidote in some sense to the

flip side of life which is the fact that it's

nasty brutish and short

as Thomas Hobbes put it

And that's inalienable as well

there's no escape from the

limitations and suffering of life

And so in order for that not to become overwhelming and then that can easily become overwhelming and often does in people's lives

Then you need a countervailing

Set of propositions that you can act out and embody

to endow that-

Limitation with worth and that's a not a trivial

Problem. I was just debating... Not really

Slavoj Žižek

about a week ago and

two weeks ago maybe and I was debating him because he had been advertised to me and

many others as sort of the world's foremost Marxist scholar and it turned out that

He really was not much of a Marxist at all. And so I ended up criticizing the communist manifesto

which

Deserves criticism and and then I expected him to defend

it but he didn't and so that was

Sort of

Interesting but non blessing um

But he said something very interesting during that debate and it came all of a sudden it came out of the blue, you know

And I think it was the most

striking part of the entire discussion

And then this is just a strange segue, but I'm trying I want to I need to

Discuss this because it struck me so hard because I think it's such an important point

I'd never thought about it before so he told me something I'd never thought about before at all

He was talking about the Christian passion

and he said that his

Sense was that the most important part of it was

The scene let's say where Christ is crucified and cries out to God that he's been Forsaken

And he said look you gotta think about what that means. I'm paraphrasing him. He said that

the suffering that characterizes individual human life is so intense that even if God Himself

Dane's to undergo it it will test his faith to the point where he will not believe in his own existence

That's really something and I thought wow, that's such a brilliant. That's such a brilliant observation. Is that

Because it's definitely the case, you know, if you if you if you interact with people in any manner, that's the least bit

Below the surface you find out that most people are carrying

A relatively heavy existential burden of one form or another, you know, I mean most people

many people have a physical illness that they're dealing with or a mental illness that they're dealing with and if

You're in a fortunate position where you're not dealing with either of those you probably have a family member that does and if you don't

have either of those you will that's for sure and

And you know, that's just one of many

terrible catastrophes that are

certain to visit you and

That

terrible catastrophe is

A challenge to us in many ways. It's a challenge to us because it forces us to look

deeply for a countervailing meaning that can make sense out of that and then maybe more than makes sense out of it and

And so I've been curious about whether or not that countervailing meaning exists, you know the post modernists

The first thing about them especially the identity politics types

I never know really what to call this group of people because if I call them postmodern

Neo-marxists then I'm accused of being alt right conspiracy theorists and if if I if I call them

Collectivists well that's accurate in some sense

But not not precisely and I could call them identity politics players and that happens on the right and the left but that's the basic

Rubric, I would say that uniting

Idea is that the individual is that... the individual's a fiction

in some sense and the right level of analysis

for...

Society and the political scene and and the economic scene is the group right is

Who you are as an individual is well, first of all, perhaps that's just an illusory category altogether

But who you are is going to be defined

essentially in terms of your group identity

your gender

Your sex that's already 70 different things

Your your that'd be funny if it wasn't true

Your your

Maybe your socioeconomic status your class. That was the original Marxist

Definition of identity right because Marx believed that history was a war between two classes and that your fundamental

Being was established by your class identity

Or it's your

Ethnicity or your race? Those are two other

Fundamental group identities or it's some combination of them all which is

Intersectionality, which is something that sort of devours itself and I've done a little bit of mathematics

It's like if you could imagine that you belong to ten groups, you know ten canonical groups

there's probably like one of you and so if you get intersectional enough

one of the things that happens is that you break the group's all the way down to the level of the individual if you're gonna

take

someone's

group centered peculiarities entirely into account you end up with ends of one and

I actually think that that's what the West figured out thousands of years ago was that if you were gonna take everyone's

Uniqueness into account in the way the intersectionalists appear to want to do with the plethora of group

identities that you end up at the individual and so

But it but there's no

requirement for coherency on the part of the postmodernists and in fact

They believe that coherency is actually I would say something akin to a conspiracy theory. That's part

I'm dead serious. I'm absolutely dead serious about this. It's a it's a conspiracy theory on the part of

the modernists who invented or elaborated the oppressive

Patriarchy that we all exist under which is something akin, I suppose to Marx's

Proletariat versus Bourgeoisie, it's some mishmash of idiocy like that and

But you know, I mean it's there's a question there that that's worth

Answering it's like well

Why do we believe in the individual?

You know the founders of the people who wrote the Declaration of Independence know it's like they justified it

Right. They said we hold these truths as self-evident like that's not an argument

That's just a statement. It's like and it starts a statement like a game in some sense

It's like well, let's assume these things are true and move on from there and see what happens now

They had their reasons, you know, like from a Canadian perspective

The people who

The Americ... you Americans who

Ran a revolution against England. You're just Englishmen that we're after their own rights and and

And had been denied by by

By your colonial status, but the American system is deeply embedded in the English common law system, and it's deeply embedded in

Well, whatever gave rise to the English common law system and certainly part of that is

the Judeo-Christian tradition

I don't I don't think any of that's particularly debatable and and so I've been very interested in what makes these propositions

self-evident

to look to see if there's any truth in the

sub structure that makes

For the self evidence and so I'm gonna lay out some propositions

For you today. We'll see how many I can get to

As there's a number of them that are important

I think I'll start first of all with a little discussion of Genesis

I did a biblical series in 2017

on Genesis which some of you might be interested in either watching or listening to. it's actually being very popular

Which is very peculiar

I rented a theater of about this size to give the lectures and it sold out

15 lectures on Genesis and almost all the people who came were men

which is completely incomprehensible because you can't get men near a church and

you know and and they were usually men and I would say between about 28 and

40 25 and 40 something like that

and so it was pretty interesting that they came and the most popular lecture I ever gave on YouTube is

On the first sentence of Genesis. It's like two and a half hours on the first sentence of Genesis

You never think anything like that could possibly be popular

but I want to tell you a little bit about Genesis because I think it's I think there are things in it that are

Well, they're what make the self evidence self-evident, but I also think that

They're also true. They're true metaphorically for sure. They're true psychologically.

I believe and they might be true metaphysically, but I don't know because no one knows about that and

you know, that's where you're

When you're speaking of ultimate things your knowledge runs out and so but I'll stick to the metaphorical and the psychological

That'll do you know

so

The way Genesis is structured. It's quite interesting. There's three elements

That are discussed as

Constituting the being

It's not

It's not a theory of the material existence like a scientific theory. It's not that it's a theory of being so it it's

And that's a hard thing to understand in itself. You could think about it as a theory of the structure of experience

That's another way of thinking about it. You know, you have experience of the world and

You have your emotions and your motivations and you have your aims and your stories and your thoughts your there's a characteristic human mode of

existence

That's conscious. We're aware that things exist and

We we live within that

structure and as far as I can tell

Given that Genesis is certainly not a scientific account of the structure of the Universe. It has to be some account of some other

Of something else and it's it's an account of experience itself and maybe experience itself is the ultimate reality

And it depends to some degree on how you define ultimate

It depends also on how you define reality, but you can play that game

You can say well, let's assume that it's just that your experience is reality. It's certainly reality as far as you're concerned

I mean especially and I would say one of the things about that that make that

Self-evident is pain

Like there's there's nothing like pain to convince you that your experience is real

I don't know anyone who isn't

convinced that their experience is real by pain and the only people I know that might be

Unconvinced just haven't had enough pain because if they did they'd be convinced. There's no arguing it away

in Genesis, there's God and

It's God the Father which applies something like a structure, you know

Like like a patriarchal structure that that might be one way of thinking about like a hierarchical structure

It's not surprising because God would be at the pinnacle of the hierarchy and there's the logos which is the word that

God uses to

Create order out of chaos. And so there's God and there's the logos

That's the Word of God and then there's the chaos and the chaos is Tohu wa-bohu

, or Tehom? Those are the original words and they're

They're uh...derived from older words from Sumeria

from a word

Tiamat and

Tiamat or Tiamat was a Sumerian goddess a dragon like a subterranean

No, no Fiddian

monster

Who lived in the salt water or who was the salt water? It's not exactly clear and she was

taken apart by the Sumerian

Creator god Marduk, who was a hero type like Beowulf or like Bilbo in in in in The Hobbit

Its Bilbo in The Hobbit isn't or is Frodo doesn't matter. It's one of those little hobbits anyways

and

he

He confronts Tiamat who has decided in the justify of bull fit of anger in some sense

I'll tell you the whole story Tiamat

there's two gods Tiamat and Abzu

Tiamat is the goddess of the salt water and Abzu is the goddess of the fresh water. And as far as the Sumerians were concerned

There was the land and underneath the land. There was fresh water and underneath the fresh water

There was salt water and the world was a dome on top of that and that was the same

conceptual world that the people who wrote

Genesis lived in and it's it's kind of how the world looks if you go outside in the field looks like there's a dome

There's some ground if you dig down you hit salt water or fresh water and then you know surrounding that

There's salt water. And so that's the world and they thought of the salt water in the fresh water as God and Goddess

Salt water being the goddess

Fresh water being the God and then it was the union of Azbu and Tiamat produced

The first generation of children gods and they were

Active

sort of proto-human creatures greater than human but

Human-like and they made an awful lot of racket and they were very careless and they killed Abzu

and

Then they tried to make their abode on his corpse. That's a very smart idea

Abzu you could think about him the representation of the patriarchy, you know

society itself and the idea that the Mesopotamians came up with in this

mystical dramatic way was that

We're careless

we tend to kill our society and we try to live on its corpse

And that's exactly right and it's always been right and that's then that that stories thousands of years old and it was a

foundation story for a very sophisticated

civilization and it still affects the stories that we live by today and it's a brilliant idea because of course you were handed your

society and you know

you may be

Doing everything you can to derive as much benefit as you possibly can from it without contributing it to it in the least

and so it's it's something dead in that it's the past and it's something that you can you can

Mmm, what would you say?

It's not manipulate precisely you can exploit

That's your privilege

How to exploit or exploitation anyways, they kill Abzu stupidly and that makes Tiamat very mad

And so she comes back and says well, I'm just wipe you all out. It's like the flood

It's it's the same kind of story as Noah and the flood, which is also a very common kind of story

And this new God comes up

His name is Marduk. And he has eyes all the way around his head and he speaks magic words both of which are very important

features because the fact that he has eyes all the way around his head means he pays attention and

the the fact that he speaks magic words means that he's a master of communication and he goes out to

Fight Tiamat and he successfully cuts her into pieces and he makes the world

and

so she's the goddess of chaos and destruction the goddess of nature and the idea is that

That entity that confronts the chaotic unknown cuts it into pieces and makes the habitable world

Which is exactly right. It's exactly right. It's exactly what you do

And then that's what I want to get at if I can get to it

It's hard. It's a hard story to tell anyways, that story is at the bottom of the story of Genesis. And so God

confronts the Tohu-wa bohu or the tehom with logos and

And logos gets elaborated over the course of centuries into a very complex idea

First of all logos is or turns into Christ, which is very strange thing. So there's the Christ in Christianity

Who's there at the beginning of time and then is incarnated in history

And is there at the end of time it's a very strange notion

So something that's eternal and is always there but also incarnated in a specific time and at a specific

arbitrary place, right

So it's this principle that is also so it's Universal and eternal and also local

Both at the same time very very important idea and very much relevant to what a human being is like as far as I'm concerned

And God uses the logos

the word and he interacts with the Tohu-wa bohu the chaos and

He generates order and that's what happens in Genesis, and he generates order over a number of days

using the logos and every time he generates a new form of order so each day he says

And it was good

And so that's interesting eh because

First of all, it's not obvious that it's good

that goes back to the

comment that Slavoj Zizek made it's like

Here we are in this being that's being

Being constructed in this reality and it's very it's very difficult reality

Human beings are very for us Our lives are bounded limited. We're mortal we suffer and

If we suffer enough

injustice

Or justice, even sometimes if we suffer enough

It's very easy for us to turn against

being and to curse it and it's not surprising and this is why she Zizek's words hit me so so hard because

when he said that that

suffering could become so intense that even God himself would have doubts about

The

Benevolence of himself in some sense. That's what that moment means on the cross

It's like well what in the world would you expect from mere human beings?

and so

But there's this insistence in Genesis that things that are created as a consequence of the logos are good

So first that they're created by the logos and second that they're good and so that's a very interesting set of propositions

so the logos is true is something like truthful speech and

So, this is partly what makes me a free speech advocate

Because I don't think that you can get to truthful speech without like speeches and speeches

dialogical

what you don't know much and you don't know much and neither do you like we're full of biases and we and and

Blind spots and even when you're trying to formulate your thoughts clearly, you're not that good at it

Especially if you're thinking about something complex and chaotic and unknown and you're gonna have to stumble around

Madly and make all sorts of mistakes to make any progress at all and with any luck, you know

You'll be able to talk to other people and they'll be just as clueless about it as you but out of that

Dialogical process if you're actually trying to communicate something

approximating the truth will emerge and

Hopefully the truth will set us free as its supposed to and put us on the proper path

You see the thing about the collectivist types at the universities, you know, they're they're very interested in shutting down free speech

But you have to understand that it's not because they oppose the views of the people

That they're trying to shut down

It is that but it's cuz they don't believe that there's such a thing as free speech

Because they don't believe that there's such a thing as individuals

They believe that you're just the avatar of your group and that whatever your opinions are are

conditioned

socially constructed and the reason they're socially constructed is because

you're born in a certain hierarchy of

identity and

That hierarchy of identity has conditioned every single thing you say so you might think that you're expressing your opinion

but if you're a postmodernist, you don't have an opinion because there isn't a you

You're just the mouthpiece of your privilege or your lack of privilege. And so

The debate on campuses isn't about who should speak and who shouldn't speak. Although it does degenerate into that

the debate is way more fundamental than that and it is well whether

There is anyone who has anything to say

because the

battleground for the post modernists is nothing but identity groups at war with one another

For dominance and that's it. And so

this

War is way deeper than you think it's not who should speak. It's whether

There is such a thing as free speech. All right, so back to human beings. I

I might manage this

So

It's an amazing idea first of all that it's this capacity for cumulative

For speech and and for attention because I think the logos is a combination of that like Marduk

you know Marduk has all his eyes and he's able to speak magic words and

So and he's one source of the idea for what the logo says another source is there's an Egyptian source

It's often identified with Christ as a god named Horus and you all know about Horus because you all know about the Egyptian eye

You've all seen the famous Egyptian eye

And Horus is the god of attention and

He's often identified with a falcon and or a bird of prey and that's because the only creatures that can see better than human beings are

birds of prey so Eagles for example Bald Eagles

They have an eye the same size as ours and they have two central, you know

Use your central vision to look at things because you know, if you look right at someone you notice you can see them

But you can't really see the people off to the side they start to fade out

You have a foe via in the middle of your eye, which is very very high resolution. But

Eagles have two of those and so they can see better than us

Eagle can see a dime from the top of the Empire State Building. Although why an eagle would be interested in that isn't obvious to me

But that's the acuity of their vision. Anyways, the Egyptians

one of the Egyptians gods that was identified with the Pharaoh and

therefore was sovereignty was Horus and it was Horus's eye in particular his eye his capacity to pay attention that

made him part of what constituted sovereignty so there's this idea that

complicated idea that you have to pull out of multiple sources that

The capacity to pay attention and the capacity to speak truthfully

takes chaos and transforms it into order into into cosmos and that that order is good and

So that so that's the second part of the the proposition. It's a very interesting It's a daring proposition

the first proposition is something like

consciousness communicative consciousness interacts with

The underlying chaotic structure of reality and brings

existence into being

Now we don't really know if that's true

There are physicists who suspect that. It's true. We know that who suspect that without consciousness

whatever consciousness is there'd be nothing but

something like a vague potential that it requires consciousness to

bring structured to that potential to make

existence

Exist and people argue about that. No one's exactly sure what it means but

But there are physicists who believe that very strongly

and

Well, and it's definitely

An open question, for example

The... an open question of what it is that could exist if there was nothing conscious of its existence

Now, I don't ...

Existence seems to be one of those things that requires consciousness to be it's like no consciousness. Well, what is there?

Well, it's not even it's not possible answer. There's no duration. There's no size. There's no quality. There's there's there's nothing

And it's a mystery. It's I'm not saying it's a mystery

we understand but implicit in the idea of existence consciousness seems to be implicit in the idea of existence and

it does seem that we're conscious

and so

Consciousness interacts with chaos to produce order and if it's truthful and attentive consciousness

Then the order it produces from chaos is good. That's the next proposition and that's a daring proposition

It's an ethical proposition. So the first proposition in Genesis is like an ontological or epistemological

Proposition it's sort of about the nature of reality

but the second is an ethical proposition and it's a really interesting one and I

Think this is this is I don't know if there's a more interesting question that you can ask yourself

it's like

Because the proposition is that what you bring into the world when you interact with chaos?

what is brought into the world in the interaction with chaos as a

consequence of truth if that's what's embodied in the logos is by definition good and

so one of the things I've been suggesting to my audiences, it's one of the rules in my book is that

You should tell the truth or at least you shouldn't lie

It's like you can't tell the truth because what the hell do you know, but but you cannot lie

You know

Like each of us knows when we're about to utter something that isn't true

now sometimes maybe you're confused about it because you're ignorant and you're biased and and

so

You say something and it might be true

It might not be but you know it clear about it

but sometimes it's pretty damn clear that you say something or

You do something that you know perfectly well not to be true and you do it anyways

and the proposition that Genesis puts forward is

If you act in truth then the order you produce is good

regardless of how it appears

it's an axiomatic statement of

ethical it's an axiomatic ethical proposition that you're

that the job of

Whatever extracts order from chaos

Is

properly done if it's done in truth and

that's

That's worth thinking about because it might be true. And then the question is like well, do you believe it's true?

That's a good question

it's not a religious question even it's a practical question as far as I'm concerned and my sense is that people just

Believe that this is true

deeply and

The way you can tell that is not by what they say

but by what they do and so for example, one of the things that you might observe is that

You know if you love someone

your children, let's say

You don't tell them that's the best way to get through the world is to lie about everything all the time. You don't sit down

You don't sit them down and say look

this is a corrupt Enterprise and

All together and you can't trust anyone because they're always lying about everything and your job is to become the best

liar, you possibly can become because that's the way to

Get to where you need to get to and to set the world straight

no one ever does that

And so if they don't do that, which would be belief in the lie, then they must assume something. That's approximately

Opposite and I would say that most people are not-

Pleased

When they catch their children in a lie, and so then you have to ask well, why is that?

it has to be because people believe that the truth is the proper way to proceed and it isn't obvious why they believe that

but it's obvious that they act as if they do believe that and then I would also say

Well, there's more to it than that because we know for example that

Societies that have a high level of trust and there aren't that many of those in the world

They happen to almost all be Western societies

Where there's a high level of trust there's a high level of economic development

They're unbelievably highly associated and I've never been able to figure out how countries ever became

Not corrupt, like it just seems completely impossible to me for countries that were corrupt once to ever become not corrupt

I don't understand how that happens at all but there's a handful of countries in the world that are

Fundamentally not corrupt where your default pri... proposition

presupposition when you deal with a stranger

let's say in a financial transaction is that you don't have to be on guard like you're

investigating a pit of vipers

Because the person is likely to act out what they say they'll do and it it reduces the transaction the unnecessary

Transaction costs to about zero right? Because I can take you at your word

We don't know each other. I can take you at your word a good example

That is eBay

You know because eBay was stranger transactions and people were concerned

It would degenerate into an unplayable game and turned out that the default

trade on eBay was like if you have

98% seller rating on eBay you're actually a crook, you know

You need you need ninety-nine percent or above? It's so high. It's unbelievable. So

So we do we do know that trust is

Necessary. We do assume that people shouldn't lie. We are upset if our children don't tell the truth

We feel that that's a moral failing, but we're not very courageous

Because we won't live the full

We won't live out the full

implications of that

so the third part of Genesis

that I'd like to concentrate on very briefly is the

part that makes the

Declaration of Independence

Self-evident and that is that man and woman alike are made in the image of God

And that's a very mysterious statement because well first of all, it seems on the face of it absurd

Partly because it turns God into something approximating a person

Because there's an equation there and that it's not obvious what that might mean

It's also not clear what being made in the image of God would mean given that by that point in the book

you don't know much about God except that you do know that

He uses

Logos to extract order out of chaos

that's about all you know, and that that's good and

So the proposition there as far as I'm concerned is that that's what human beings do

that's what we do and

and

That this is way more important than people think

that we are

co-creators of

Reality now you think well, do you believe that?

Well, let's let's let's think about that for a minute or two. It's like

You know the standard scientists they tend to think of human beings as

Materialist and deterministic. I

Don't think that works very well for consciousness. I don't think there's any evidence that it works as an explanation for consciousness at all

And I think so. I think consciousness is self-evident

I mean we certainly act as if it's self-evident, you act like you're conscious you act like all the people around you are conscious

They're not happy. If you don't act like they're conscious. That's for sure

you're not going to get along with yourself or your family members or

Society at large if you don't treat people like they're conscious

You're also not going to get along with any of them

Unless you treat them like they are active agents that have some role in determining their own destiny, right?

I mean God, you see that in two-year-olds, you know when they're already pushing for autonomy

and so we make these assumptions that while we have this capacity for autonomous choice and

I'm gonna split an argument into two parts here. The first thing is I don't think that we can be deterministic

because it looks like

neurobiologically that if you want to run deterministically like on habit

Which would be what?

Deterministically would be you have to practice and practice and practice and practice and practice and build all the machinery that allows you to act

deterministically and then there'll be a stimulus and the whole

Deterministic process will lay itself out but that doesn't happen unless you've built the machinery

So like if you're a tennis pro, you know, you're acting deterministically all the time because you don't have enough

Time to consciously decide what you're going to do when a ball is come you so fast

You can't actually see it properly

It's all reflex

but it's really complicated chains of reflexes and

You spent like ten thousand dollars building them and so fine and when you're driving your car you're walking

You're doing these things that you've practiced so well, well your deterministic, but when you can counter the chaos of the day

That's a whole different story

And so what consciousness seems to do actually is to act when deterministic processes

aren't at

hand

So and so what we could walk through that we say look look here - here here's one way of thinking about yourself

You're you're a clock and you're wound up and you

wind down

Mechanistically, but the clock mechanism has to be there for you to wind down mechanistically and unless you've practiced something a long time

It's not there so I don't see how determinism ISM can account for that

So here's an alternative and you can tell me if this is in keeping with your experience. So you wake up in the morning

Your consciousness re-emerges from the darkness in which it's been embedded like the Sun coming up

Just why consciousness has always been associated with the Sun

we're daytime creatures and we and we're

creatures of vision and so we identify

Consciousness within with the light with illumination with enlightenment you wake up in the morning. And what do you have in front of you?

Well, it depends whether you're excited or worried

But it doesn't it doesn't really matter because it's the same thing what you have in front of you

This is as far as I can tell is that you have a field of possibility

You have a field of potential you might wake up

And worry you think well, I have to do this or you know, this series of negative consequences might emerge and I have these

Obligations that need to be taken care of for the same reason duties, you know

tax bills that have to be opened before they turn into some sort of terrible monster or

Work work requirements that need to be done for the same reason to keep to keep chaos at bay

And that will run through your mind and if it's overwhelming if there's too much chaos in your life

You might wake up in the middle of the night and have all that running through your head

You have all these this potential of what could be

Manifesting itself in front of you and then that's that that can be very stressful. It can also be very exciting right because

The flipside of that obligation is opportunity. And so you see in front of you this field of potential that's opportunity

but what what what you see as far as I can tell with your consciousness is

the potential that could be

right you see a

sequence of

worlds that you have some

Causal

ability to bring into being

And and you act like that you think well

I have to do this because then this will happen or if I don't do this then this will happen and hopefully if you're

not too skewed

most of the decisions you make are

positive ones because you want to take the

Potential that's in front of you the chaos and you want to turn it into a reality

That's good

And most of the time you're going to assume although you may be tempted not to

From time to time that the best way to do that is to confront that potential

forthrightly and to deal with it in a positive and truthful manner and that

The hopeful consequence of that will be that well, even if you don't produce something good

It will be less hellish than it might have been right, but maybe you'll maybe you'll get lucky

because you're

focused and you're doing your best and

you're confronting what's there as potential and you turn it into something good and

then you can live with yourself properly and you don't wake up in the middle of the night and

Bemoan, your lost opportunities and your lost possibilities. And so I think that what we are as individuals are

spirits

that confront

the potential of reality and

Transform it into the actuality of reality as a consequence of our ethical decisions

That's what it looks like and I think that that's why

There's an insistence in Genesis that were made in the image of God because we're partaking in the same process

Continually and you know you think well, do you believe that well, huh, let's look at how you act I

mean

The first thing is you tend to think you your kids is full of potential and and

You tend to think of the world that confronts them as full of opportunity. I mean

Or full of potential for that matter the whole potential thing is very strange

Notion and we don't think about it much and I think it's mostly because we're materialistic. It's like there's nothing material about potential

It's not here. It's not here now

It's it's out there whatever that means in the future with no qualities whatsoever

Except our apprehension of it. It has no weight. It has no mass it has no has no being whatsoever

it's just what could be but we treat it as it is if it's more real than anything else what could be and

Then if we have children and they don't live up to their potential they don't take advantage of their opportunities

Then we're angry at them. We say you had this potential that you could have done something with and you didn't do it

and so that you've

Sacrificed your own potential by not taking advantage of this

opportunity and

you've made yourself in the world less than it could be and you're never happy about that not when you're dealing with someone that you

Love you're always

upset because you see very clearly that they are not being who they could be and you and you see

Very clearly that that's a downward path and it's definitely not something that you want for your children. Then you think too, well

What about how you treat other people use yourself? Well

Conscience is a good example of that

you let an opportunity go by so you have some potential that

manifests itself in front of you as a doorway through which you could pass and maybe you you forego the opportunity because you're

Faithless and afraid and I mean that happens to everyone but it doesn't mean that you're gonna let yourself off the hook for that

You know, if you look at older people and you ask them what they regret in their lives, it's not the opportunities

They took it's the opportunities. They could have taken and didn't and it's because

I believe that deep in their conscience part of our structure our deep deep structure

We have a known moral obligation to take what's offered to us in its full

Catastrophe

And to make the best of it and to do that

properly with our ethical choices and that we do not let ourselves off the hook if we fail at that and

then I don't believe that we can organize our human relationships without believing that because

if I believe you have no agency and no capacity for

Your own choice and your own...

I believe you have no ability to transform the future into the into the present into the into the reality of the present

I'm going to be you're going to react to that like it's demeaning and

Patronizing I have to treat you like a moral agent of worth. I have to do that to me

I have to do that to my kids

I have to do that to my friends and

If we do try to establish a community like a political community and we don't use that as an axiom

Then the political community is a bloody catastrophe. And so that's part of what makes me think that this sort of thing is real

It's like well, it's real enough so that it governs your relationship with yourself whether you want it to or not

It's real enough that it governs your relationship with your children and their and the rest of your family

It's real enough that if you don't build your political system with those self-evident axioms

Then you just get a catastrophic tyranny. It's like that's pretty real

So those are the self-evident propositions and so I've been talking to people and trying to remind them of this

you know because

We're in danger of losing this and we shouldn't be losing it because there's something about it. That seems to be correct

I think people are afraid of it and then they should be I mean one of the statements

with regards to my introduction was that my

Observation as a clinician was that no one ever got away with anything

And I believe that I've seen that because you'd make a mistake

Especially a conscious mistake and you think you've got away with it. You wait, it'll come back

years later

Something something you bent the fabric of reality in some manner and in the short term you got away with it, you know

no one noticed but that has consequences that unfold and

sooner or later that

Chickens come home to roost and sometimes it takes years if you're doing therapy with someone and they've gone off on a very bad

pathway to

Trace all the decisions all the way back to that one

Decision you made that you knew was wrong when you made it and you made it anyways

And then you forgot about it because you don't remember every decision you make and your life is going off astray in some terrible manner

I've been suggesting to people and this is and I'll close with this

first of all, you have this moral obligation because you have this potential in front of you and the hypothesis is that you should be

approaching that let's say with courage and truth and

transforming it into the best that you can transform it into because that's actually the world and

you do that locally you do that to the limits of your power and sometimes you don't have much power because

You're not that competent and sometimes you have a lot of power and you're very competent, but it doesn't matter

You have a certain amount of potential at hand and you?

can either transform it into the order that's good or you can

do the opposite and

Generate a little bit of hell right here and now and if enough of us do that

Then we get a very large amount of Hell right here and now and we've seen that multiple times

particularly in the 20th century with the

establishment of great

Totalitarian regimes that were based on nothing but lies that were as close to hell as anyone could possibly desire

short of metaphysical reality

But it's worse - it's not only I think that you're called upon

This is a responsibility

You're called upon to

act ethically in the

Face of this potential that confronts you so that what you produce is good

But there's there's there's there's a part of that. That's worse that it's that's more

Burdensome than that even if that's burdensome enough

Make a mistake bring something into reality. That shouldn't be there then it's there and then

It's there to plague you and it's there to plague the people around you and it's not gonna go away till someone fixes it so

that's a scary thing, but the other thing is is that

even if you

If you fail to take the responsibility that's laden upon you to use truth to structure

possibility properly then you leave a hole in the structure of being that you

Could have filled with something good and it doesn't just stay there as a hole

it's that you invite something that's terrible in to take its place and

That's what happens when people become bitter and resentful and cynical

because they've been hurt in their lives and they start to use deception and

They start to deviate from the desire to confront the potential that surrounds them properly and to make things better

They they look for revenge. They look to hurt. They they develop malevolent motives and then not only are you not

bringing into the world what could be good and

Sustaining, but you're inviting into the world what can definitely be

Hellish is the only ...

to properly

conceptualize it and so I think that

There isn't anything more

Meaningful or real than the idea of individual sovereignty and that

It's mostly predicated on not on rights but on responsibility

Which is where our cultural?

Conversation has gone wrong because we've been talking about rights forever. It's like you have a responsibility

you're you're given a modicum of

possibility to play with in your life to do something with to build something with and

What you build is dependent on your ethical choices

and

It's the sum total of those ethical choices that create the world and then I'll close with this

We actually believe this politically

because our Western systems which are quite functional are also

predicated on the idea that

You're sovereign

Well, what does that mean? What means the government has to respect your rights?

But like I said, we've talked too much about rights, there's more to it than that

the proposition is that

The state is blind and old and decayed and dead and that requires the vision and the truth of the living in

order to keep it on track and

so what you do to keep it on track is you consult the living each one of us as

sovereign individuals and the reason you do that is because of the proposition that

You could actually do that. You could open your eyes you could see what was in front of you

You could speak the truth and you could keep the ship of state

properly afloat and oriented in the correct direction and our entire society is

predicated on that idea as well and

So that's the responsibility, right?

And it's it's a burdensome and terrible responsibility, but I also think

given the fundamental

catastrophe of life and the fact that you have to deal with that without becoming embittered that you need a weight and a load of

responsibility

That's of sufficient magnitude

And worth

so that it balances the

fragility that characterizes you

You could make things better

You could reduce suffering in the world

you could act in a meaningful and truthful way and there would be nothing in that but good if

It was good that you wanted

and that's all at the bottom of what constitutes the self evidence of our

Equality before God our inalienable rights and

The requirement for the consent of the governed

Thank you very much

Thank You, dr. Peterson

We would now like to engage in conversation with dr. Peterson drawing on questions. We've received from many of you and

Joining with us now are two of my colleagues at the independent Institute

The first is Mary Theroux a senior vice president and Graham Walker who was executive director

Mary received a degree in economics from Stanford University as she's been chairman of Garvey international

co-founder president and CEO of San Francisco grocery Express and

Member the National Board of the Salvation Army as well as chairman of the Salvation Army here in San Francisco. And in the East Bay

Graham received his PhD in public law and government from the university of Notre Dame

he's been a professor at Catholic University of America and the University of Pennsylvania as

Well as the scholar in the social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton

Mary do you want to begin? Thank you. Thank you. That was just terrific

We really appreciate your being here and you gave us a lot to talk about

I've heard you say that we humans are more sensitive to negative emotion than to positive

And in fact that we're tilted to negative emotion in terms of its potency

But the enormous popularity of your message where you cast a vision

that we can overcome problems and we can achieve lives of meaning and love and

Resiliency shows the tremendous hunger that exists for that positive alternative

In the realm in which independent operates

Politicians typically do employ a threat based narrative

So the world's going to end in ten years unless you give us control of the economy with a green new dough, right?

In which case it will certainly end in ten years. Absolutely

So as with your messaging

Independent cast the possibilities based vision, we produce publications and commentary and other things that it's positive

Solutions-oriented has an opportunity based narrative

emphasizing how human ingenuity

operating within a virtuous framework of the free market

Can overcome virtually every challenge including?

Improving lives and providing solutions to problems that governments can't or actually make worse

So my question is given your observation regarding the outside appeal of the negative

how would you advise us and indeed anybody in the audience who wants to counter that negative that threat based narrative and

Advance the opportunity

human valuing

Narrative well, that's a great question. I mean

there's an old old idea that you have to

rescue your dead father from an abyss and

That sort of associated in some sense with the Nietzschean idea of the death of God

And when every generation goes through its crisis of meaning, so the question is well, where do you find?

the spirit that revives and the answer is in the darkest possible place and

And see this is where I think that conservatives go wrong

My lectures well

Tonight wasn't particularly a classic example, but my lectures tend to be very dark. There was darkness in this one. I mean there

There there is a

inalienable reality of

Finitude and suffering that characterizes people's lives and it's not surprising that they become bitter they become embittered and resentful

And that has to be that has to be

forthrightly

Examined as

Deeply as possible

Before anything optimistic can emerge because you have to say look I understand

why

You're you feel the way you feel

but

Despite all that and all of that is a lot

The proper antidote is

the ethical way of life and

Not only is it the proper antidote because it's your duty which is another thing that conservatives stress. It's deeper than that

It's because it actually works

Ya know you need

You need a meaningful life

It's not optional because that combats the suffering and more than that if you lead a meaningful life

Which means to adopt responsibilities almost inevitably you actually make things better

And so you can take people down to the bottom of the abyss and you can say it's no wonder that you despair

given

your finitude but

There's so much possibility that surrounds you that

You can make something of that

regardless of its of

the reality of its horror and

you do that with

responsibility and people understand that and so

It it isn't just a call to make making things better. It's not a call to a utopia that's produced by a human imagination. It's

It's it's a... It's it's it's the insistence that

Without

The proper engagement in truth that your life will

Your life will degenerate and you will end up embittered and in hell and so

The conversation just hasn't been serious enough I would say and that's especially bad for young people, you know

One of the things I tell young people all the time

I'm not a very typical psychologist in this regard because I call it just like to Pat people on the head and say

You're all right. The way you are. I talked to Bishop Baron a while ago

I'm gonna broadcast this and he said that the Catholic priests were trained in the 1960s to kind of be accepting, you know humanistically

You're okay. The way you are, you know, and that's such rubbish

it's like

Not only are you not okay the way you are you don't think that anybody else is okay the way they are either

You're not, you don't think your children are okay the way they are like you love them and all that

But you don't want them to stay three years old their entire life you want them to

Expand and improve and become who they are. And so

Instead of telling young people that they're okay the way they are I tell them that

And it's a terrible message for them if they're desperate

You know, so let's say ten and percent of the people in my audience are young

Maybe they're young men just for the sake of argument and they're like not in good shape

They don't have any goals, They're drinking too much. They're watching pornography all the time. They've got no aim

they've got no structure in their life and they're just bloody miserable and the misery is

twisting them into

Malevolence because enough misery will absolutely do that to you

And then what are you gonna do and come along and say well you're you're okay the way you are

It's like that's the last thing they want to hear

It's like get your damn act together, you know

You got things to do and they're gonna be difficult and that there's a there's a there's a an echoing Christian message in there

I would say which is you pick up the

weight of your suffering

Voluntarily and you walk uphill with it and that not only gives you the meaning that you need in life in your life

To stop you from degenerating in a dangerous manner, but it actually makes things better

And so that that that all has to be part of it like I believe in human ingenuity

I think we can solve all the problems that beset us, but it can't just be

It has to be more than we can enhance material well-being. That's just what it tends to be now

It's not enough. And so and you get brushed off by the apocalyptic types

yeah, there's that that creativity that only comes from the individual consciousness and

it can't be simply reduced to some kind of a

Formula or a machine? It's it's mysterious in some way which is why I think your

Recourse to the archetypal structures of Genesis is so illuminating

But there was one thing you said about that that I just wanted to pursue a little bit if I may

The idea that we can't not operate like this is what's especially compelling in your portrayal

Yeah, exactly. Good luck precisely. That's the thing

That's so strange is that you know Nietzsche thought we could create our own values

Right that was his solution to the death of God, right?

but you can't because well Dostoyevsky figured this out right in crime and punishment, for example

You try breaking a moral rule

Especially one of your own. Mmm-hmm and then try convincing yourself that it's okay. It's like good luck with that man

You break a moral rule that's sufficiently deep

you'll traumatize yourself and you'll never recover and if you break one, that's you know, maybe just a

Medium-sized. Well, all that'll happen is you'll wake up at 3 in the morning

You know night after night

perhaps for years

Torturing yourself because of the mistake you made it if you could create your own values

You dispense with that in two seconds, you'd say well that was my decision. There's no fundamental meaning to reality whatsoever

I can do whatever I choose and I'm not gonna be guilty about it. It's like and the point is that's neither

Neither true nor functional. it's it's that's it's it's neither true nor functional

Yeah, and it's functional in a psychopathic manner

well

The closest people and people who are closest to be able to do that are psychopaths, but like their outcomes, aren't that great

They don't have they're not they don't do that. Well, despite what you read about, you know psychopathic CEOs, they don't do that

well and most people caught on to their tricks and generally they spend nomadic lives because they have to go from place to place because

People catch on to their deceit and you know, they're quite prone to suicide and and spontaneous emotional collapse

so no you

You have this moral law that you exactly yeah

But this is one way in which our position as being image bearers of God is a misleading

parallel insofar perhaps as

God uses his words to create bring order a create order out of chaos

And we can create order too by speaking truly the difference being that

We don't know

Whether there were any constraints at all constraining his choice at the beginning of the process

But we do know that we live within a context ourselves both

physically physically naturally as well as morally that constrains our choice we can either

Recognize our moral obligations as you said or try and elide them

When it's not successful

But we can try

And I just noticed one thing that seems a little odd you can tell me if to strike you as odd or not

Or maybe I'm missing something in an era when identity politics seems to be everything

And as you said a lot of post-modernism has devolved into this notion that there's nothing but competing groups with their different

Self-contained mindsets competing for power and what never the twain shall meet epistemologically and so forth

That's certainly the case and at the same time

Doesn't there seem to be coexisting with that a kind of?

mutated

Individualism, which is alike what you just mentioned of Nietzsche namely the idea that I can I'm an individual

I'm the creator of a meaning. I can use my own words or my own will to create my own identity

I'm not obligated to independent moral obligations. I create moral obligations

Yeah, how can this kind of mutate a toxic individualism coexist with identity politics?

Well, I say the things things that you cheat. What is it?

You can chase nature Oh with a pitchfork, but she always comes rushing back in right?

You know, if you if you one of the things I tried to do in maps of meaning

which was the first book I wrote was to write a description of what distinguished a religion from ideology and

One of the things that distinguishes a religion from an ideology as a religion takes everything into account

it's like well, there's a tyrannical element of culture, but there's also the benevolent element and there's the tyrannical element or the

destructive element of nature but there's also the creative element and there's the

Heroic element of the individual which would be embodied say in Christianity in the figure of Christ

But there's also the adversary there's always this balance. Yeah

With if you think everything is a social construct, so it's all social

Well, the individuality is going to creep back in somewhere and it does it in exactly the form

It's this very very childish form, right because it's so immature. It's so underdeveloped. It's like well, we're entirely socially constructed

Except at moment to moment We can determine our gender and by our own individual choice and everyone has to bow down to that

Yes, yes. Well, that's also what makes it so childish. Is that not only

Not only is it in the incoherent doctrine because you can't have it both ways

You're not socially constructed and able to choose your gender

Those things don't go together, but the idea that your identity now self-produced

Also takes precedence over the negotiation you have to have with other people about what your identity is going to be is

Really at the same development level

I would say as a two-year-old and I mean that I mean that technically because two-year-olds two-year-olds cannot

Take their own

Identity and integrate it with the identity of other children

they can't do that until they're about three and so it's so

It's it's so infantile that it's almost beyond imagination like epistemic solepcism

Meaning meaning I mean that the idea that only I exist that solepsicm is amiss so that yeah that I therefore

I know only what I know, but everyone else doesn't really exist. Everyone else is an illusion

I only am familiar with my own thoughts and the only true reality is the reality that I experience everyone

It's like except you can't live consistently with that and no one does well, but guess those aren't identities

It's this is another thing. That's so immature about it. It's like okay, you're gender fluid fine. Well now what?

I'm dead serious. I'm dead serious. Like what the hell are you gonna do with that?

you know like

Part of the reason you have gender roles and and of course their tyrannical and constricting, you know

obviously because everybody gets taken by culture and crushed into something, that's a

Compromise between their individuality and the rest of world everyone suffers from that

But you know, if you're if you're let's say you're straight and you're heterosexual

For sorry. Those are the same thing

Let's say you're heterosexual and you're monogamous and you're in a committed relationship so like all of a sudden you have an identity

Well, what's the identity? Well, it's easy

You get married?

You have children

You raise them together you tie your lives together. You try to you try to build something for the decades, right?

And that's an identity. It's a pathway forward. It's it's a way to be well, I'm gender-fluid

It's like, okay. Well pick your pronoun. It's like, okay. Well, what do you do tomorrow?

Well, I'm I don't know. I'm out there in no-man's land. You don't want to be in no-man's land. That's not good

You're off the beaten path you think well, I can go off the beaten path. It's like

You go off the beaten path and you just see how long you last

You're lucky if you're if you're a highly creative person and you're very disciplined and you have most of your life in

pristine order you might be able to risk a

Substantial deviation from the beaten path and managed to maintain your sanity

But if you're a disorganized person and you wander off the pathway of tradition you are in so much trouble

You can't even possibly imagine it there are things out there that you will encounter that you have

Absolutely, no defense against whatsoever. And so it's naive beyond

Comprehension it's like Well, I'm a new kind of gender. It's like

You've got 60 years to figure that out and then take

Fifty thousand years to even take a crack at it, so it's terrible

Mary did you have another question you want to ask? I think we can slip one in because I think one more you okay?

You talk about how dangerous it is to tell some

Young person whose life is messed up that they're just great the way they are with which I completely agree

But how do you reach a young person who's bought into the notion that life is meaningless?

Well, you're the first thing is you tell them why they think that

It's like they've got all sorts of reasons to think that it's like life is hard. It's it's it's a crucifixion

That's right. And so

It's no wonder they think that it's like okay fine. First of all, we're gonna take it seriously. Yeah, you're

suffering and adrift and you have your reasons but

so you take those reasons seriously, and you say despite that

Despite that there's more to you than you think and you know that too because you upgrade yourself for not

Manifesting it and you say to people well I ask people for example

Who do you admire?

Because that's the instinct for admiration is part of the instinct for imitation. It's like how do you admire?

Do you admire people who are completely irresponsible you admire people who can't take care of themselves. They can't even take care of themselves

Here's the most admirable person

Completely useless to themselves maybe even counterproductive just a bloody

catastrophe for their family and like

What would you call a social danger like no one admires that no one admires that it's like you start

Minimally, can you take care of yourself? At least that?

That'd be the first thing and then is there more than eyes there enough to you so that maybe someone else could rely on you

Now and then maybe maybe a number of people maybe your family

it could be a it could be the glue that holds them together and and

And mends them and then maybe there could be more to you than that. Maybe you could be

Someone for your community and god only knows how far you could go with that. Those are the people you admire

It's like well try that out

See what happens and start locally

Jung Carl Jung said this is one of my favorite Carl Jung

Quotes that modern man does not see God because he will not look low enough.

I Really like that. And so, you know, I've been telling the people that I talk to the same thing

it's like you have a certain amount of

Potential within your grasp

you may find what you have contemptible because you're not in a position of power this modicum of

Possibility that's been granted to you is beneath you and so you do nothing with it. And so you get nothing from it

You take that seriously you do the small things

You can the humble things that you can to put yourself together in that in those

tiny

Embarrassing ways that are real and if you do that enough

you'll

You'll will fortify yourself and that will work and you know, one of the things that's been unbelievably hardening to me

It's ridiculous really like

Normally now if I go out during the day

If I go to any city

I've been to like 150 cities in the last year and if I'm walking around on the street or in an airport

Someone will come up to me about every 10 minutes or so, and they'll say the same thing

They always say the same thing

They first of all apologize for bothering me and they're very polite

To all my interactions with people you'd never guess this from like my reputation in the press

but all my interactions with people in public are unbelievably positive and

the people will come up and say

You know, I was in this small domain of hell a year ago or six months ago, whatever

It is addiction. Alcoholism. I wasn't getting along with my family

I've been living with my girlfriend for five years and we were stuck. I didn't have any direction for my career

I was nihilistic, you know, I was whatever, you know, although different ways that people can

fall into a pit and and and and

Be miserable

said I read in your books or I watched your lectures and I decided I was gonna I

Was gonna try to put my family together

Or I was gonna I was gonna make a vision and pursue it or I was going to try telling the truth

just try one of these things and things are way better way better, you know

And sometimes it's a father and a son or sometimes. It's a son and a daughter

it's usually it's usually it's not often a daughter and a mother not so much but I

Mean if it's a pair of people

But or it's a girlfriend and a boyfriend and the girlfriend is very happy usually because her boyfriend has straightened up

Substantially and maybe they're getting married and like he's half civilized at this point

but

But but it's but it's it's an unbelievably positive thing to see and and it's a real thing

You know

it's like it's it's so interesting to watch the fact that all people have to do is put some of these things into practice and

All of a sudden that little modecum of potential that they had because they got humble enough to deal with it properly

Starts to expand and expand and like I believe and I do believe this and I think this is part of the Christian message

Fundamentally is that there's actually no limit to that expansion

You know because in some sense like we are this weird combination of finite and infinite like we're related to the infinite in some manner

obviously because the infinite

Exists and here we are and so we're related to it in some manner and I don't know what manner that is

But I don't know what the limits are

It's like if you were the best person you could be

No

truly if you

Decided to live by truth and to aim at the good and you really did that you put your whole heart and soul into it

Like you were like that's what you were staking your life on because you're staking your life on something who the hell could you be?

And no one knows, you know, you know perfectly

Well, you could be far more than you are and you don't know what the oppor limit of that is

And we certainly don't know what the upper limit would be

If there were lots of people doing that god only knows what problems we could solve, you know

There's lots of suffering and misery in the world

Plenty and it's no wonder that people get bitter

But God as you pointed out before, you know

We've got no shortage of ingenuity and possibility and if we were serious about making things less wretched than they are

Who knows what miracles we could pull off?

I

want I want to especially thank

Dr. Peterson again for his brilliant courageous and inspiring work and

We're particularly grateful to all of you for joining with us tonight

i Want to also especially thank the wonderful people who've made tonight possible

especially

my colleagues that the independent Institute

Our team is just fabulous and i thank you for that. I particularly want to thank my colleague Alicia Luthor

Who's our director of administration

For all of her supportive work and organizing and overseeing all that made tonight possible

Incidentally, there are copies that you may have noticed of 12 wheels for life outside signed copies

Please visit our website at independent dot org for information about upcoming events and publications and more

We look forward to seeing you again at future

independent Institute events

Thank you and good night

The Description of The Meaning and Reality of Individual Sovereignty