Aside from Peterson’s views, I can’t believe some of the enormities I’ve heard here. The further you go into the podcast, the more the masks are falling.
So, the left should accept the debate about genetic IQ transmission, should it ? Because right now, « [it] wants to pretend any child born anywhere can be put in the right conditions and become the president » (1:50:48). Note that « wants to pretend » indicates you’re not just laying out those views in a neutral way; you’re saying that what the left is claiming, which happens to coincide with the democratic promise, is wrong and cannot come true. Yet, aren’t you the one who said education is key a few minutes earlier ? By that, did you actually mean scientific hoaxes, in the glorious (racism- and eugenism-inducing) tradition of phrenology (cf. Cesare Lombroso), which once examplified the very scientism you’re so skeptical of, still deserve as much examination as social determinism in establishing the causes of the education gap (and incidentally of criminality) ? And do you now mean to say that the left, by accepting this kind of debate, should help propagate such reactionary hoaxes ? Why ? For the sake of being bipartisan ? Who would it serve ? Why not just let the modern proponents of those sets of theories (aka charlatans) try and convince the proletariat, among which Trump voters, they are in fact genetically « deplorable » ?
1:30:28 : first of all, your friend should read the following : thenation.com/article/hillary-clinton-does-not-deserve-black-peoples-vote . Then, he should wonder whether the left needs more of the same, aka more « authority » in a ‘more-repressive-than-thou’ electoral atmosphere (Not a word on this from the prison teacher ?), or a project of its own. Why should the right set the course while everything it’s doing is chaotic and detrimental to the many ? Baring in mind the Democratic party lost the 2016 race not because it was too leftist but because it wasn’t enough, why should progressives keep making concessions (= keep shifting to the right) to a party that never makes any ? As for « sanctity« , would the left exist had it not opposed it, or rather reformulated it ? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, free inquiry, etc. : those are historically the left’s sacred references. And we can agree on the necessity for it to reclaim those roots. But that’s not the sanctity your friend is talking about, is it ? Why should 2016 lead to the left disavowing its own vision of society even more ? It makes no sense at all. Why should it trade reason for « impulses » (1:34:57) ? Does the noumenon belong in the political sphere (= not the sphere of truth, as you correctly pointed out), let alone in leftist circles ? If it is but « a religious impulse« , what’s it worth anyway ? And don’t even get me started on your stooge’s astrological digression…
Not sure why YouTube’s algorithms held this comment for review, but I just saw it and released it. Yes, I think the Left should accept the heritability of IQ research. That general intelligence is heritable is not disputed by scientists. Why should the left ignore science? https://www.nature.com/articles/nrg.2017.104 I’d only say the science is extremely complicated and easily distorted and we ought to go very slowly whenever talking about it, and tread extremely carefully when it comes to policy-making. But whether we like it or not, parents with the means are already exercising the power to genetically screen fertilized embryos for certain traits. General intelligence is one of these traits. The sooner we understand the implications and put just legislation in place, the better, since rich folks are going to be able to breed smarter kids because they can afford the technology.
Education still accounts for 50% or more of a child’s intelligence, so yes, education is key for assuring as close to equal opportunity as is possible.
I think we need to decouple « sanctity » and religion from the left/right political spectrum. One can be left and religious. Cornel West is as good a contemporary example as I can think of. If the left can’t get back in touch with the divine ground of human existence, it has ceded an essential element of our nature to the right. The right is then free to distort the religious impulse via patriarchy, etc.
Yes, those algorithms are really bizarre, aren’t they ? They even manage to erase months-old comments that had been posted without any need for review. Go figure…
As for the topic at hand, your answer confirms you were not merely laying out two different standpoints. You even seem to conclude that the fundamental scientific dispute about the influence of nature v. nurture (or culture/environment) on personal development is closed. Yet, the results of the various studies on the heredity of general intelligence are far from being as clear-cut as you consider them to be : the science on the matter is not so much « extremely complicated » as it is still extremely fuzzy as to the actual interaction of both parameters : blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-heritability-of-intelligence-not-what-you-think / research.vu.nl/en/publications/on-the-nature-and-nurture-of-intelligence-and-specific-cognitive- . The clearest indicator of this scientific uncertainty is the 50 % estimate mentioned in the Nature article’s abstract. And even that has to be put into perspective…
Two quotes from more profane (but nonetheless fact-based) sources :
– « IQ declines over time in children raised in deprived environments, such as understaffed orphanages, or circumstances of poverty and isolation. Conversely, IQ improves in children who leave deprived environments and enter enriched environments. » ( sparknotes.com/psychology/psych101/intelligence/section3/ )
– « The last few decades have seen a slow, steady increase in people’s average performance on IQ tests throughout the industrialized world […]. This trend is commonly known as the Flynn effect. […] Such improvements are difficult to attribute to heredity because the same gene pool (albeit with an occasional mutation) is passed along from one generation to the next, and so the cause is almost certainly environmental. » ( education.com/reference/article/effects-heredity-environment-intelligence/ ).
Regarding commercial eugenism, « […] twin and adoption studies point convincingly to a genetic component in intelligence […] This is not to say that children are predestined to have an intelligence level similar to that of their biological parents. in fact, most children with high intelligence are conceived by parents of average intelligence rather than by parents with high IQ scores […]. » (Ibid.). The reverse is also true : « two parents of higher IQ will not necessarily produce offspring of equal or higher intelligence. In fact, according to the concept of regression toward the mean, parents whose IQ is at either extreme are more likely to produce offspring with IQ closer to the mean (or average). » (Strachan, Tom; Read, Andrew, Human Molecular Genetics – Fourth Edition, Garland Science, New York, 2011, pp. 80-81, via Wikipedia)
In its caveats, the same Wikipedia page defines heritability as follows : « [h]eritability measures the proportion of variation in a trait that can be attributed to genes, and not the proportion of a trait caused by genes« .
Last but not least, you should add to all of that that the IQ test itself is but a selective instrument meant to standardize our conception of intelligence in a competition environment (which is a standard in itself), leaving aside unstandardized potential for creativity.
With that in mind, and without any ad hominem assumption against Peterson, let me ask you the following : are the political circles from which this resurgent [
naturalistic*] theo-natural determinism is emanating (which, of course, have little in common with Nature authors) of the kind that would allow an « extremely careful » examination of this crucial topic ?…
First of all, I noticed the concept of « sanctity » as it is being used by your friend in the video, and as you are now using it yourself, seems distinct from the one you referred to in your dissertation, which appeared more rational. Second, I’m not denying there were and are religious people and movements who/that clearly identify with the left : the Liberation theology is another example (and, to some extent, one might even think of the late Christian democracy in European countries). But those people and those movements were only able to gain public influence insofar as religious dogmas became less prevalent. Third, I have no doubt said people and movements would adhere to the principles of leftist sanctity I briefly laid out. Fourth, the « divine ground of human existence » is speculative : it is not rooted in Positivism. And in no way should it interfere with politics in a secular state.
naturalistic] : retrospective correction
I completely accept the evidence you share here. Let’s just take a step back here and note that the old categories, « nature » v. « nurture« , are hopelessly inadequate for capturing the complexity of the organic world. Darwin is the man, bit it turns out Lamarck was right, too. If we could stop trying to reduce the social, political, and economic realms to outdated biological metaphors, many of our ideological disagreements would probably evaporate.
I also completely agree that many on the right try to weaponize behavioral genetics research to serve their own political ends. But right wing behavioral geneticists and evolutionary psychologists are not making up IQ science. Yes, environment affects IQ. No one is arguing that it is genetically determined. All I am suggesting that the science says is that a large part of what is measured as general intelligence is genetically inherited.
Unfortunately and with great reluctance, I have come to agree with Carl Schmitt that liberal politics never truly escaped religion. Liberal politics only pretends to be secular, but in reality it has merely secularlized the same old theological concepts that used to determine notions of rights and sovereignty for pre-modern people. If the divine ground of human existence is speculative, then so is human freedom. Upon what is the liberal state based if not the reality of human freedom?
– It’s not about « trying to reduce » those spectra; it’s about defining the results of scientific observations, and evaluating their impact on society as we know it. How are those « old categories » or « outdated metaphors » anyway (metaphors ? for what ?) if they still constitute the fundamental paradigm of scientific research and philosophical/socio-political discourse in this field ? How could science have any effect whatsoever if they are left indistinct ? And what exactly do you mean by « the organic world » ? Wouldn’t ‘ontology’ (as defined by Sartre) stress the importance of the nature/nurture dyad more adequately ?
– I’m not sure why you’re summoning Lamarck and Darwin to a debate around DNA and the heredity of intelligence : there’s a bit of an anachronism there, don’t you think ? Could it have something to do with the former (at least) formally proclaiming his creationist belief (as well as professing the theoretical necessity of evolution), while the latter dedicated his life to refuting this postulate (and to demonstrating the practical causes behind evolution) ? Please elaborate… Since you did summon them, there is, however, one particularly interesting illustration of how the (environment-driven) theory of evolution and genetics intersect, namely that of bacteria swiftly becoming antibiotic-resistant through spontaneous genetic mutation, leaving scientists puzzled.
– Aren’t they ? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misbehaving_Science How large a part can it be, considering the overall evolution of human intelligence throughout history ?
Why this reluctance ? Because of his commitment to the NSDAP ? Because he has a Hobbesian view of mankind ? Because of his aversion for what I would call ‘political ecumenism’ (« many of our ideological disagreements would probably evaporate. ») ? In a political context, the word ‘religion’ is etymologically ambiguous. It stems from the Latin word ‘religare’, which means ‘to link together’, ‘to connect’. And, while in liberal democracies, politics also divide, ‘religare’, which is to say to unite (a people), is nonetheless what they aim to do, some current examples to the contrary notwithstanding. And what drives them in doing so should not be mistaken for religious motives in a theological sense. This said, it is the latter meaning Schmitt was referring to, but he did apply it to every modern political ideology/system, and not only to liberalism, didn’t he ? However, according to him, one of the main differences between the Liberal system of thought, which consecrates the economy as the Almighty God, and overtly totalitarian schemes, is precisely that : their being overtly so, while liberalism covertly suppresses anything that seeks to contradict it, in that it does so under a fog of freedom, tolerance, diversity, (aspiration to) peace and democracy. But there’s another fundamental difference (still according to him), namely the fact liberalism de-politicizes citizens (who then wallow in mediocre and egotistic forms of hedonism), thereby destroying any sense of community. If not devilishly (thus religiously in its anti-religiousness), how then could Liberalism be considered theological ? And there’s another objection : how did people organize before ‘religion’ (in China, for instance) ?
Unless freedom is meant here as the result of our liberation from the illusion that we are free, your last two sentences make absolutely no sense to me : not only are you deducing « human freedom » from « divine ground of human existence » and implying it can’t be deduced from anything else; you’re also (still in a Schmittian perspective ?) implicitly equating the former with « the liberal state », incidentally turning a vague promise into reality. The whole thing looks like a particularly perverse paralogism that could be summarized as follows :
From G, F
And G = L
So, from L, F
… or something to that effect. But it could also be a koan, one leading its readers to the following conclusion : believing the Liberal state stands for human freedom is no less absurd than believing human freedom is necessarily conditioned by some divine ground for human existence. In other words, « ceci n’est pas une pipe²…
Evelyn Fox Keller does a good job explaining why « nature » v. « nurture » is an inadequate philosophical framework for understanding these issues: https://books.google.com/books?id=3up1Eo2OdzIC&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Evolutionary Developmental Biology and the Extended Synthesis are moving beyond that way of framing phylogeny/ontogeny, etc.
I mention Lamarck because of his idea of evolution via acquired characteristics. Turns out that this sort of thing happens all the time. The final page of the first several editions of Darwin’s « Origin of Species » refers to a Creator who breathed life into the first organism, from whom all subsequent species evolved. So some form of creationism was present in both Lamarck and Darwin.
I’ve realized that, since we started this conversation, neither you nor I have managed to avoid our share of inconsistencies :
– in my second comment, « this resurgent naturalistic determinism » (now corrected into “this resurgent theo-natural determinism”) made no sense at all, philosophically;
– as if you wanted me to speculate, the two last sentences of your fifth comment allow additional interpretations :
The liberal state rests on the reality of human freedom.
Thus, there is human freedom.
Therefore, “the divine ground of human existence” is not speculative.
Indeed, the liberal state is the evidence for this divine ground.
But, by establishing the liberal state (“religious” still), did man use his freedom against God or in accordance with His will ? It can’t be the latter, because, if it were, where would human freedom lie in this endeavor ? And, if it is the former, the liberal state has to effectively be secular, doesn’t it ?
And then, there’s the elephant in the room : which divine, what God, are we actually talking about ? The man-written scriptures (Peterson’s option), that is to say a political construct ? If so, which ones ? A cultural necessity or an independent verifiable reality ? Spinoza’s immanence ? Plato’s world of Ideas ? A spiritual one or a materialistic one ? A distant God or an all-intrusive one ? A sensuous one or a Victorian one ? A caricature for infantile adults in need of “authority” or a complexity ungraspable by the human mind ? The Creator of the universe or just our own, roaming in it just like we do (but with advanced technology) ? Our Creator or our projection ? God : one word, a thousand holograms… I’m not suggesting you yourself have not been trying to philosophically define your own conception of the divine. To quote Sagan in a different context, I’m not saying “absence of evidence is evidence of absence” either. What I’m saying amounts to rationality and common sense, really : 1/ there is no evidence (yet) as to an independent verifiable reality, in either direction; 2/ for their own reputation’s sake, as well as for God’s, hypothetically and as a complexity, intellectual rigor and honesty command every transcendentalist to AT LEAST acknowledge scriptures, irrational political constructs, purported cultural necessity and caricatures may be of interest in a historiographical perspective (and maybe even a political one in primitive societies), but are philosophically meaningless and counterproductive in their very essence : knowingly diverting from the truth, whatever it may be; 3/ personal ethics do not depend on whether a person believes God exists or not.
One more thing : I won’t drag Schopenhauer into this freedom/free will dispute : it would only add to the confusion…
– in my fifth comment, I asked : “how did people organize before ‘religion’ (in China for instance ?)”. My example, however valid in this sentence, might have earned me an answer like : but what about the nature/nurture debate outside the Western world (in China for instance ?) ? In fact, this debate is essentially (and exclusively, it seems) one of so-called Western anthropology/sociology;
– in your fourth comment, you claimed this debate was antiquated. Yet, in your video, you’re blaming the left for remaining unresponsive to Peterson’s ‘heredity’ argument (“an inconvenient truth”, you say, emphasizing your point with sarcastic laughter). And in that same comment, you suggest “science says […] that a large part of what is measured as general intelligence is genetically inherited”. But, if the ‘nature/nurture’ debate is indeed antiquated, why should it matter ?
As for your latest comment, – Influenced by Claude Lévi-Strauss, French anthropologist Philippe Descola came to the same conclusion. But his refutation of the validity of the nature/nurture dichotomy rested on the need for him to elaborate a narrative that would be equally pertinent for all communities, human groups, tribes, etc., around the world, since he too had found that nature/nurture was specifically a Western proposition.
I’ve read the (brief) interview Keller gave to M.I.T. News. in 2010 and, insofar as I can make any relevant judgement based on that, I’d say hers are merely pragmatic considerations : she is convinced that the entanglement of natural and environmental factors is such, and has been since the beginning of mankind, that it’s useless to try and distinguish between them. First, I’d ask : how many major discoveries (the Higgs boson, for instance) would we have missed had such a spirit of resignation prevailed in scientific research ? And the problem is that I don’t know where she’s going with that : she’s attributing to Francis Galton, a controversial XIXth cy. British statistician and eugenicist, as well as a strong proponent of heredity, the introduction of “the notions of nature and nurture as alternative causes that could be separately weighed”, willy-nilly making the proposition look guilty by association. But then she concludes by saying : “the relevant questions are, how difficult is it to change behavior or physiology ? […] Under what circumstances can behavior and physiology be changed ? Those […] issues […] address a critical part of what people want to know about the role of “nature”.” I can imagine the MIT (of which she is prof. emerita) feels more in its environment with DNA research than with sociological research, which, as stated by their own website, only “exists in the interstices of MIT’s school and departmental structure”, but is this her way of saying : nature/nurture is no longer relevant because only nature is ? Furthermore, although I don’t doubt the sincerity of her intentions any more than I probably would have Einstein’s when he went nuclear, questions like “how difficult is it to [genetically] change behavior ?” tend to ring a bell with me…
Were Lamarck’s statements about “the prime Author of all things” genuine or were they a subtle way of evacuating the question of the divine (in other words, a ruse) in order to be able to focus on the actual object of his research (nature) without having to worry about potential political repercussions ? Not all historians agree : “Lamarck was a materialist to the extent that he did not consider it necessary to have recourse to any spiritual principle […] his deism remained vague, and his idea of creation did not prevent him from believing everything in nature, including the highest forms of life, was but the result of natural processes”. (Jacques Roger, The Mechanist Conception of Life, in David C. Lindberg, Ronald L. Numbers, God And Nature : Historical Essays on the Encounter Between Christianity and Science, University of California Press, 1986, p. 291, via Wikipedia)
As for Darwin, his views are a lot clearer to us, since he held both a private diary and an extended correspondence, in which he reiterated his materialistic conviction several times : “In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God. I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind”, he wrote in a May 7, 1879 letter to a John Fordyce. One of the entries in his personal notebook reads : “Love of godhood is a result of intellectual organization, oh you materialist !” And biologist/taxonomist Ernst Mayr, one of those who built on Darwin’s legacy most significantly, said this in an interview with edge.com : “One of my themes is that Darwin changed the foundations of Western thought. He challenged certain ideas that had been accepted by everyone, and we now agree that he was right and his contemporaries were wrong. Let me just illuminate some of them. One such idea […] was that of teleology, which goes back to Aristotle. During Darwin’s lifetime, the concept of teleology, or the use of ultimate purpose as a means of explaining natural phenomena, was prevalent. […] To make a long story short, Darwin showed very clearly that you don’t need Aristotle’s teleology because natural selection applied to bio-populations of unique phenomena can explain all the puzzling phenomena for which previously the mysterious process of teleology had been invoked”.
How then could Darwin indeed, in the closing paragraph of edition 2 to 6 of The Origin of Species, have written what you say he did ? He did so for two reasons : he seeked to protect his family and his work. Indeed, he had a very religious wife, and he had anticipated the very harsh reactions his Copernican biology would bring about, so he tried to soften the blow. His was not a declaration of faith, rather necessary concessions to the spirit of the time : if we agree the respective influences of nature and nurture are to intricate to be “separately weighed”, we should also agree text is inseparable from context…