Category Archives: Quotations

Jordan Peterson on universities

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Camille Paglia on patriarchy

Camille Anna Paglia (born April 2, 1947) is an American academic and social critic. Paglia has been a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, since 1984. Paglia is critical of many aspects of modern culture, and is the author of Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990). She is a critic of American feminism and of post-structuralism as well as a commentator on multiple aspects of American culture such as its visual art, music, and film history. In 2005, Paglia was ranked No. 20 on a Prospect/Foreign Policy poll of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals.

 

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Orwell on freedom of speech

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Jordan Peterson on identity politics

Jordan Bernt Peterson (born June 12, 1962) is a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. His main areas of study are in abnormal, social, and personality psychology, with a particular interest in the psychology of religious and ideological belief, and the assessment and improvement of personality and performance.

Peterson studied at the University of Alberta and McGill University. He remained at McGill as a post-doctoral fellow from 1991 to 1993 before moving to Harvard University, where he was an assistant and an associate professor in the psychology department. In 1998, he moved back in Canada to the University of Toronto as a full professor.

His first book Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief was published in 1999, a work which examined several academic fields to describe the structure of systems of beliefs and myths, their role in the regulation of emotion, creation of meaning, and motivation for genocide. His second book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, was released in January 2018. In 2016, Peterson released a series of videos on his YouTube channel in which he criticized political correctness and the Canadian government’s Bill C-16. He subsequently received significant media coverage.

“And so since the 1970s, under the guise of postmodernism, we’ve seen the rapid expansion of identity politics throughout the universities, it’s come to dominate all of the humanities – which are dead as far as I can tell – and a huge proportion of the social sciences … We’ve been publicly funding extremely radical, postmodern leftist thinkers who are hellbent on demolishing the fundamental substructure of Western civilization. And that’s no paranoid delusion. That’s their self-admitted goal … Jacques Derrida … most trenchantly formulated the anti-Western philosophy that is being pursued so assiduously by the radical left.”

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Steven Pinker on anarchism

“As a young teenager in proudly peaceable Canada during the romantic 1960s, I was a true believer in Bakunin’s anarchism. I laughed off my parents’ argument that if the government ever laid down its arms all hell would break loose. Our competing predictions were put to the test at 8:00 A.M. on October 17, 1969, when the Montreal police went on strike… This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters (and offered a foretaste of life as a scientist).” 

Reference:
Pinker, Steven (2002), The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, Penguin Putnam, ISBN 0-670-03151-8.

Note:
There have also been other police strikes with severe consequences for law and order. One that resulted in immediate anarchy and violence was in Melbourne, Australia in 1923.

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Steven Pinker on free markets

“We know that markets make countries freer, richer, and happier compared to totalitarian central planning, but we also know that the habit among both the hard left and hard right to equate capitalism with anarcho-capitalism (no regulation, no social spending) is wrong. You can be in favor of free markets with regulations, just as you can be in favor of free societies with criminal laws. Even the freest of free marketeers has to acknowledge that markets don’t provide a decent living to those with nothing to offer in exchange, such as the young, old, sick, and unlucky, and they also have to acknowledge that markets alone fail to protect public goods that no one owns, such as the atmosphere. Not surprisingly, all wealthy capitalist countries have extensive social spending and regulation. And as a Canadian I can confirm that free-market societies with greater social spending and regulation than the United States are not grim dystopias sliding down a slippery slope to Venezuela, but are rather pleasant places to live, with greater happiness and longevity, and less violent crime, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and educational mediocrity.” – Steven Pinker, The Weekly Standard, 15 February 2018.

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Steven Pinker on identity politics

Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. Pinker has been named as one of the world’s most influential intellectuals by various magazines. He has won awards from the American Psychological Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society and the American Humanist Association. He delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2013. He has served on the editorial boards of a variety of journals, and on the advisory boards of several institutions. He has frequently participated in public debates on science and society.

Identity politics is the syndrome in which people’s beliefs and interests are assumed to be determined by their membership in groups, particularly their sex, race, sexual orientation, and disability status. Its signature is the tic of preceding a statement with “As a,” as if that bore on the cogency of what was to follow. Identity politics originated with the fact that members of certain groups really were disadvantaged by their group membership, which forged them into a coalition with common interests: Jews really did have a reason to form the Anti-Defamation League.

But when it spreads beyond the target of combatting discrimination and oppression, it is an enemy of reason and Enlightenment values, including, ironically, the pursuit of justice for oppressed groups. For one thing, reason depends on there being an objective reality and universal standards of logic. As Chekhov said, there is no national multiplication table, and there is no racial or LGBT one either.

This isn’t just a matter of keeping our science and politics in touch with reality; it gives force to the very movements for moral improvement that originally inspired identity politics. The slave trade and the Holocaust are not group-bonding myths; they objectively happened, and their evil is something that all people, regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation, must acknowledge and work to prevent in the future.

Even the aspect of identity politics with a grain of justification—that a man cannot truly experience what it is like to be a woman, or a white person an African American—can subvert the cause of equality and harmony if it is taken too far, because it undermines one of the greatest epiphanies of the Enlightenment: that people are equipped with a capacity for sympathetic imagination, which allows them to appreciate the suffering of sentient beings unlike them. In this regard nothing could be more asinine than outrage against “cultural appropriation”—as if it’s a bad thing, rather than a good thing, for a white writer to try to convey the experiences of a black person, or vice versa.

To be sure, empathy is not enough. But another Enlightenment principle is that people can appreciate principles of universal rights that can bridge even the gaps that empathy cannot span. Any hopes for human improvement are better served by encouraging a recognition of universal human interests than by pitting group against group in zero-sum competition.” – Steven Pinker, The Weekly Standard, February 2018.

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Paul Keating on Geoffrey Tozer

Geoffrey Tozer (5 November 1954 – 21 August 2009) was an Australian classical pianist and composer. A child prodigy, he composed an opera at the age of eight, and became the youngest recipient of a Churchill Fellowship award at 13. His career included tours of Europe, America, Australia and China, where he performed the Yellow River Concerto to an estimated audience of 80 million people. Tozer had more than 100 concertos in his repertoire, including those of Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Medtner, Rachmaninoff, Bartók, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Gerhard.

Tozer recorded for the Chandos label, beginning with the works of Nikolai Medtner. He was regarded as a “superb recitalist” and had the ability to improvise, transpose “instantly” and reduce an orchestral score to a piano score at sight. Tozer won numerous awards and much recognition worldwide, but suffered comparative neglect in Australia, during the last years of his life.

After Geoffrey Tozer’s death in 2009 aged only 54, former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating delivered the eulogy at a memorial service at St Patrick’s Cathedral.  Although the service was a celebration of Geoffrey Tozer’s life, a few minor chords had to be sounded to place things in proper context. As Mr Keating pointed out, Tozer was largely ignored in his native country. His last performances with the Melbourne and Sydney symphony orchestras were 1994 and 1995, respectively.

”The people who chose repertoire for those two orchestras, and who had charge in the selection of artists during this period, should hang their heads in shame at their neglect of him,” Mr Keating said. ”If anyone needs a case example of the bitchiness and preference within the Australian arts, here you have it….In the end, [Tozer’s] liver failed. But I think I have to say we all let him down … We should have cared more and done more.”

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Patricia Cochrane on ‘has beens’

‘Tis better to be a ‘has been’ than a ‘never was’ – Patricia Cochrane.

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Stephen Fry on being offended

“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.” [I saw hate in a graveyard — Stephen Fry, The Guardian, 5 June 2005]”

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