Jordan Peterson and Christina Hoff Sommers on the Western canon of literature | VIEWPOINT

Jordan Peterson and Christina Hoff Sommers on the Western canon of literature | VIEWPOINT


Jordan: So obviously, the canon is made up
of those books that have had the most influence and so they’re the most fundamental. Whether you agree with them or not is beside
the point, you need to know them because they’re at the bottom of your culture. And that’s you. Christina: Jordan Peterson. Welcome to AEI. Jordan: Thank you. Nice to see you. Christina: It’s just so nice to find a fellow
traveler. My God, I started out years ago with Camille
Paglia. We’ve been fighting this battle, but we have
stronger and stronger allies and we’ve got you. And it’s amazing. And when I hear you talk about topics that
have concerned me for years, I mean, the politicization of the curriculum, the madness that’s taken
over feminism. And… Jordan: Think you’re making any progress? Christina: I don’t know. I get worried because 20 years ago or more
when Camille and I fought the first culture war we thought we won and we did in the, you
know, court of public opinion, but they assumed the assistant professorships. So they’ve been the teachers. They’re in the schools of education and… Jordan: Yeah, they’re certainly in the schools
of education, that’s for sure. Christina: And so sometimes I feel like just
common sense, open discussion debate, it’s all imperiled. And when you say so sometimes people think
you’re a crank or you’re overstating it. And I have a lot of self-doubt so I think,
“Well, maybe I am.” Jordan: Well, it’s not easy to tell. Christina: Well, then James Damore happens,
you know, and he gets fired for saying… Jordan: Saying what was true. Christina: …what was true. Jordan: And what has been increasingly documented
as true since he got fired. Right? By huge scale studies. Christina: And what everybody says and knows,
but now it’s apparently dangerous to state the obvious given the current orthodoxies. So to me, it’s just been wonderful that you
have found a way around it. It’s not that you were able to defeat what
was going on at the university because you had maybe accidentally just this insane encounter
when you were told how you had to speak and you protested, but now you’ve taken another
path and you’re reaching millions of people through your videos and then, you know, the
lectures and videos of lectures. And I’m just wondering if that’s not the future
of education is a kind of alternative learning system. Jordan: Well, I think it’s the present of
education to some degree, I mean because people you can find out about anything you want on
YouTube. Now there’s part of it that’s a bit anarchic,
let’s say because… Christina: There are false prophets. Jordan: Well, that’s it. That’s it. That’s the thing. It’s not that easy to distinguish between
valid and invalid information. I mean, when we had more reliable gatekeepers
in place. Let’s say back in the heyday of journalism
when Time magazine was still, you know, three-eighths of an inch thick and 90% print. Then there was some consensus on what constituted
reliable and valid information. And YouTube you can learn anything about anything
and maybe that’s not exactly optimal, but I think it’s reasonable to have faith in people’s
ability to sift through the chaff and get to the wheat. And so maybe it’s a good thing overall. Christina: I mean, I do think, you know, in
the future people will look back and say, “Well, that was anarchic. And you know, it’s amazing anybody got any,
like, education.” But I think people are discerning. I don’t think it’s an accident that you sort
of rose to the top. I mean, I accidentally happened upon one of
your videos and it’s just amazing like, “Wow, he’s making so much sense.” And at the time you weren’t addressing culture
war issues and feminism but maybe postmodernism and some related issues. And I found you on YouTube and then started
following you. And I find, even if I look at the comments,
and I’ve looked at the comments on your videos, I have a lot of very smart followers. The comments are our civil. I think, maybe you have better, but I think
I have some of the most intelligent comments on YouTube. Jordan: Yeah. Well, YouTube can be quite the hell of comments. Christina: But I don’t get them. Jordan: No. And most of the comments on my YouTube videos
are civil and reasonable Christina: Because people have to listen and
you know, it takes patience and attention. So I think the trolls, you know, they lose
interest. The attention span. Jordan: Yeah, could be. Well and you know, on this tour that I’ve
been doing, one of the things that makes me optimistic is the fact that I’m presenting,
I would say difficult material and in a relatively difficult way. Certainly, I would say it’s intellectually
challenging as I can manage and it’s also emotionally challenging and there’s an immense
public demand for it and there’s an immense public hunger for long-form discussions of
the type that no one thought a television audience so to speak was capable of engaging
in. So I have a sneaking suspicion that people
are a lot smarter than our previous communication technologies revealed and you know, people
are listening to podcasts like mad [SP] too and lengthy ones and audiobook sales are spiking
because it looks like more people can listen than can read. And so, that’s the positive end of the social
media explosion I would say. The video and the podcast, in particular. Christina: Yes. And what amazes me is when I hear… I’ll listen to tapes, you know, if you will,
lectures with Sam Harris or I don’t know, the other day, you with Dave Rubin… Jordan: And Ben Shapiro. Christina: …and Ben Shapiro. And you do a little bit of politics, but then
it’s onto minorities and you know, the Christian theologians versus, you know, the Talmud actors. It’s very intellectual and… Jordan: And that got a million views in some
already. Christina: Even just instantly. Jordan: Yeah, it’s really something. And I found I couldn’t stop listening. And some of what you do reminds me of just
the delight in college courses before the curriculum became race, class, gender, you
know, and the humanities at NYU in the, I don’t wanna say late ’60s, it was the late
’60s. I took courses with Professor Jim Carson and
we would read Viktor Frankl and Mircea Eliade and Paul Tillich, and Barth and the “Existentialism.” It was so stimulating and it was so thought-provoking
and wonderful. And he was a great teacher. And it seems like that’s not there anymore. Like it was everybody that was interested
in ideas could have a semester. I mean, now if you take philosophy, it’s a
little arid and analytic, but there was the philosophy of religion and there was the religion
department where you could have that. And his courses were so popular teaching these
writers. I mean, he could have enrolled the entire
school and I just thought like, “Okay, that’s what we’re doing.” Jordan: Well, you know, one of the advantages
to some degree, I’ve thought about this, is that as the universities abandoned the classical
humanities, they leave that material around for anyone else to pick up. Christina: To us. Jordan: Yeah. But that’s it. So, you know, there was a rule that I wrote,
“12 Rules for Life” was derived from an original list of 42 rules that I put on Quora and one
of them was, “Opportunity exists where responsibility has been abdicated.” And I think that’s really the case. It’s like maybe the postmodernists are right
and the classic humanities, the Western canon has no value. It’s only arbitrary. It’s like, “So fine, they can abandon it. Well, if it has no value, it’ll disappear. If it has value, then other people will find
the value and start to capitalize on it.” Let’s say in terms of ability to attract audiences
and… Christina: Yeah. And the works of art will fight for themselves. Because as people read them, to read, you
know, Henry James or to read, you know, some forgotten author that, you know, they’re not
assigning. I’ve just been reading Saul Bellow. He was just so good. And I… Jordan: Yeah. These people were actually good. I mean, I have people all the time now who
come up to me and thank me because they’ve started to read great literature, but often
they’ve started with Dostoyevsky because I’m such a Dostoyevsky fan and you know, they’re
just completely knocked over well, by “Crime and Punishment,” which is a book that will
definitely knock you over. Christina: I’m afraid to read it again. It knocked me over and is probably responsible
for me becoming so interested in philosophy in 11th grade. We had it with Ms. Sullivan and wow, it was
powerful. Now I prefer, you know, Tolstoy and I told
my friend and she said, “Well, Dostoevsky’s for teenagers and Tolstoy is very
when you’re—” but… You don’t agree? Jordan: Well, I don’t know. I mean, I have read a couple of the books
of Dostoyevsky’s books the second time and I would say they didn’t have the same impact
the second time, but I think that’s also partly because they had such an impact the first
time, you know. And Tolstoy is more sociological in orientation
and, you know, maybe that is something that’s more interesting in some sense as you get
older. It’s hard for me to say. I always preferred Dostoyevsky to Tolstoy
because I’m more psychologically minded. But… Christina: I love the idiot. When I read that, I mean, not recently but
more recently. And so I’m gonna give Dostoyevsky more of
a chance, but what you say is so important today. I think it was Andrea Gilles said that everything
important to say has been said but nobody’s listening. So you have to say it again and again and
again. And that’s how I feel. I feel like I have to introduce college audiences
to the, you know, western political, you know, classical, liberal tradition. They may not have been acquainted with the
arguments for free speech and due process. Jordan: Very likely they’re acquainted with
very little. Yeah, well, and that is a real opportunity
because those things are actually unbelievably exciting if you can get into the spirit of
them, you know. And so that’s something that I’m hoping to
do a lot more of in the upcoming years is to revitalize some of the fundamental classics
of the Western canon. I’ve also thought about the idea of the canon,
you know, because that’s come under criticism. And I have a couple of associates who were
working with me on online education system and we’ve been trying to define what constitutes
the canon technically. And you can actually do that. We don’t have to argue about what the canon
is because imagine that you could rank order books in terms of the number of other books
that they’ve influenced? So obviously, the canon is made up of those
books that have had the most influence and so they’re the most fundamental. Whether you agree with them or not is beside
the point, you need to know them because they’re at the bottom of your culture and that’s you. And I mean, it’s so funny because it’s what
the social constructions claim, you’re a product of your culture. It’s like, well then you should probably know
it’s fundamental writings since they make up
a huge part of your being. Christina: And you should know something about
a conversation that has been taking place among creative geniuses, over the centuries
with one another and how… Jordan: Who else would you wanna listen to? Christina: Of course. And I always felt that I was just giving my
students this gift that they could sort of listen in and help them you know, approach
it. And then suddenly, “Oh no, you know, we’re
not teaching that anymore.” But I’m still hopeful that… Jordan: Well, I think the statement you made,
you know, that great art will speak for itself, will fight for itself. Christina: Will fight for itself. Jordan: Yeah, I think that’s part of what
makes it great. Christina: We keep having secret meetings
with the intellectual dark web but we haven’t had any, it’s not a very good conspiracy. Jordan: No, no, it’s like herding cats fundamentally. Christina: Yeah. But I think the success of it is owed not
because we feel like we’re oppressed and we have to speak in the dark but because I think
we give voice to ideas that many people have thought themselves, but maybe you didn’t feel
confident to say. Jordan: I think there’s a difference too,
between being oppressed and being attacked by a minority. Like, you know, I certainly don’t feel oppressed. I have more media reach than I know what to
do with. And most of what I’ve experienced from people
has been overwhelming support. There’s a minority of noisy journalists, some… Christina: Yeah, some snarky journalists and
some [crosstalk 00:12:37] Jordan: …you know, kids on university campuses
that are deluded by their idiot professors. But other than that, it’s been… And I shouldn’t minimize that because I was
under quite a lot of stress for the first year and a half or so that this all took place. But most of the consequences of that has been
extraordinarily positive. And I get to come here and talk to you, so
that’s a good thing. Christina: Oh, it’ so nice, finally, to be
able to sit down and talk with you. So thank you so much for coming to AEI. I hope you come back and I’ll meet you out
there at the IDW. Jordan: Great, great. Very nice to see you. Yeah. Christina: Hey everyone. That’s the end of our discussion with Jordan
Peterson. Thanks for watching. And if you’ve enjoyed what you saw, remember
to like the video or leave us a comment and be sure to check out the rest of our videos
and the research from AEI.

100 thoughts on “Jordan Peterson and Christina Hoff Sommers on the Western canon of literature | VIEWPOINT

  1. Truth that you have NOT SEEN is very moving when you first see it. If someone else HAS seen that particular truth it will clearly be less moving to them.

  2. Odd topic but I found something to talk about.https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/what-are-chemtrails-doing-food-water-supply/ Not spam!

  3. This combination of minds is powerful … Imagine the potential in future collaborations. 😀 m/ Keep routing bad ideas!

  4. 7:34 "Opportunity exists where responsibility has been abdicated." I wish this one had made it into "12 Rules for Life".

  5. Rudyard Kipling's grave of a hundred head is the poem that got me into reading as a young man. Thanks go out to a fifth grade teacher for reaching outside the box for that gem.

  6. I hate to make such a vulgar comment on such a wonderful video but dialogue between these two intellectuals less than an hour long is a feeling akin to being teased for the same amount of time. We the audience are hungry for longer format discussions! With that said, it was still superb considering the time that was given but ultimately it lacked proper depth

  7. For some reason if find it very uninteresting and boring to watch interviews when the host is "normal" and they agree on everything, it lacks some drama and action.

  8. You can't spell Demonetized without Demon!
    Using a private platform to punish people with whom you (CEO) disagree with is pure Evil!

  9. Thank you Christina you're an amazing woman. Thank you for all your good work. My mom has recently passed and you remind me of her. Reasoned arguments based on facts and history, what a concept! It almost seems like common sense. When teaching children my mother always said patience and repetition. I know it may seem like you have to keep repeating yourself but please stick with it. These kids today and I say kids maybe some of them are college students but they act like kids need to hear an alternative viewpoint , The Marxist, radical feminist and racist crap they're being taught is absolutely toxic. Our society is being assaulted. It is a multi-pronged attack. Through the media the universities politicians and unlimited immigration the values we stand for will be utterly eroded. People take for granted the amazing society that we have built. The America we know and love will not make it through another 20 years of this. Please keep up the good work. I continue to educate myself and spread the word anyway I can, but I can do more. I will.

  10. "We got rid of all of the k-selected white men and everything went to shit. Why is it all so boring now, what could possibly have happened?!" ~ Christina Hoff Summers

    For as long as anyone's been keeping records, 99% of everything lasting has been the product of k-selected white men. Christina knows. And she knows that to point it out would make her a Nazi. Tough spot.

  11. Jordan Peterson is clearly the greatest Canadian of the 20th/21st century. I myself have read Gilgamesh, some of the Bible, The Iliad and the Odyssey, Some Plato, The Aeneid, The Gallic War by Julius Caesar, Shakespeare, Dickens, H.G. Wells and many others. I am immeasurably enriched by experiencing these works.

  12. For the love of all that's holy, PLEASE take the orange rubber clamps down and replace them with something less obtrusive. You keep using the cool wide low dolly shot and it's great, but those clamps have got to go

  13. Peterson mentioned that you can rank-order the canon by influence. Does anyone know where such a list can be found?

  14. 2:55 true, its barely possible to do it on the individual level. Its hard to distinguish scientific peterson from peterson 'the symbolist'
    Which culture is at the bottom for an individual from a diffrent culture? The current one, or the one he was born in? Needs clarification.
    This doesn't mean that the claim is scientifically relevant. Some prefer low-fantasy and some high-fantasy. But high-fantasy won't become 'historical' fact just because its riggorous.
    7:55 is clearly talking about subjective to intersubjective value, which means any idea living today has essentialy value. "IF other people see the value" . The lowest standard for value i have ever heared. No riggor needed. Thats essentialy the most post-modern claim ever.

    Great art fights for itself? How about letting it fight. The irony is that someone telling you its great art is the exact opposite. Being possesed isn't the same as letting the idea speak for itself. Sure it speaks through you, but so does everything any ideological person repreats.

  15. Long before I have ever heard about Jordan Peterson I have read Dostoevsky. Brothers Karamazov is absolutely the best piece of literature I have ever read. And, one day I was surfing the net to see if there was any lecture on Dostoevsky. And there it was this guy who was filming his lectures. He was a bit chubby and quite eloquent. So I started following the guy. Things he said resonated with my own thoughts. I was even critical about some of his views on Crime and Punishment, but, nevertheless, we were still on the same page, and, now 4-5 years later he is a superstar, and I'm still a nobody.

  16. Great discussion, but don't leave it there! You should follow up with more! I would love to hear either party's views on the relevance of the works of Jane Austen.

  17. Without great art, music, and literature our culture’s foundation is lost and our souls are impoverished. We are then like branches that have rejected the tree that gives us life.

  18. Of course we like the video, Hoff Sommers! Thank you. Why only 13 minutes long? You and Peterson have so much potential conversation that we'd be delighted to listen to.

  19. Homeschooling uses the ancient method of teaching called the Trivium. This should be taught by parents instead of public school teachers. Take back our kids.

  20. It's been a goal of mine for a long time to read the entire Western Canon – ever since I was a teenager. Back then I realized, just as was mentioned in the video, their fundamental place within our great culture.

  21. Peterson has great reasoning on the idea of canon and the criticism it's gotten lately. Defining what constitutes the canon technically is not an issue, as he said. However, the criticism is so unclear and vague, actually it's non-existent. Hashtag keep-canon-of-litterature. Great discourse by Hoff Sommers and Peterson!

  22. if the young left were exposed to the western cannon and traditional christian literature they views on culture and philosophy would shift. And, then their political views would shift accordingly.

  23. Will someone please link me to the universities that are banning, or even that are no longer requiring courses that teach the Western cannon for a degree in the humanities?

  24. "The madness that's taken over feminism"? Feminism began with men– Marx and Engels. It began with an attack on the institutions of organized religion, marriage, and family.

  25. Reading can be exhausting after a day of work. Especially if all your work is reading. That listening to a book is just more convenient to people in order to give their eyes a break.

  26. Of course she likes him. She's no feminist. And he wants the world to go back to how it was in the 50s, with women in the home caring for the children and men out in the world doing the work that creates culture and running things.

  27. I love listening to really intelligent people talk. Censoring speech is a tragedy, listen argue debate and disagree. Silence teaches you nothing.

  28. Hey doesn't she know he's a white male therefore his opinion doesn't matter and doesn't he realise sharing this platform with her will destroy our carefully constructed patriarchy? It's mayhem I tell ya!

  29. Is it just me but aren't they mostly in agreement. She says the same things he says and even contributes to his statements. But I feel like I am predisposed to disagree with Jordan. What am I misunderstanding? Its not ok when he says it but when she does it is. total messes with my mind.

  30. heart warming. two intelligent, healthy minded people ENJOYING (!) talking to each other, and we sit, learn, and enjoy ourselves. real, subtle culture in action!

  31. The recycling of ideas and the lack of interest in the classics kind of explains why there are so many "new" "independent" "opressed" ideas out there. People simply don't realize that the trendy "new idea" has been thought (and tested) before.

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