UTISM 2010 – Jordan Peterson

UTISM (University of Toronto Inder-Disciplinary Symposium on the Mind) has just wrapped up. It’s the 2nd time I’ve attended the conference, and although it was not as flashy as the last, it has continued to re-inforce my belief that cognitive science is a very exciting field – and less dogmatically scientistic than a phenomenologist might first assume. The best talk was given by Jordon Peterson, a psychologist from U of T who’se approach to our place in the world given what we know in psychology is explicitly Nietzschean. I could try to describe his position, but I’ve found a paper (PDF link) on his website, and I don’t think I can do better than citing from its abstract:

“We are doomed to formulate conceptual structures that are much simpler than the complex phenomena they are attempting to account for. These simple conceptual structures shield us, pragmatically, from real-world complexity, but also fail, frequently, as some aspect of what we did not take into consideration makes itself manifest. The failure of our concepts dysregulates our emotions and generates anxiety, necessarily, as the unconstrained world is challenging and dangerous. Such dysregulation can turn us into rigid, totalitarian dogmatists, as we strive to maintain the structure of our no longer valid beliefs. Alternatively, we can face the underlying complexity of experience, voluntarily, gather new information, and recast and reconfigure the structures that underly our habitable worlds.”

This approach has deep resonances with what I understand of Heidegger’s work on Nietzsche, nihilism and the history of being. When the talk is posted online by UTISM I will provide a link here.

EDIT: The talk is posted!

EDIT: There is a Peterson talk on “Evil” on Youtube.

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