Caveats. First and foremost, let me be clear about the lack of information my view has. It is a view which I believe helps to understand the situation much more clearly, though it is based upon only hearing a few hours of conversation from each of the two individuals. This therefore is a point of view which does make some broad generalizing assumptions about each individual based upon my limited experience and never having met these individuals in person. Now having stated this, let’s look at the aftermath from their conversation.
To better understand my perspective and the colour references I make it is important to have an understanding of Integral Theory - Find an Intro - Click Here
I had previously presented my understanding of truths, and the idea of “post-truth” which I believe adds some needed clarity to the conversation. - Click Here
For me, it was an interesting comedy of Blue-level Peterson talking to Orange-level Harris about some of the most important topics philosophy has to present. What was impressive from both people, was that despite the tangible frustration from both sides, they seemed determined to be respectful while walking this path together.
The reason I saw and prepared myself for a comedy of errors, which somewhat unraveled, was because this is a deep conversation between two individuals who are naturally not on the same wavelength. This was a great example of what happens when you put a Blue person with an Orange one. These two levels of consciousness just will not see eye to eye. However, with an Integral framework, things become more clear.
Peterson’s own view of objective truth being nested in subjective morality is exactly the argument which hinders his progress forward. This is because it does bring some important truth, which should be seen and valued, although Peterson attaches to it too deeply. At the same time as he attaches to the very real but partial truths, he fails to see the limitations that his argument brings. This becomes glaringly evident when Peterson finally says “I don’t think that facts are necessarily true”. Wut!? This is exactly what Peterson is fighting in public; people who think facts like biology determining sex is simply nested in the morality of inclusion and therefore are not necessarily true. This clearly provides Peterson’s critics with the exact same incomplete reasoning he is using to combat Sam Harris and build his own theory.
Peterson is unable to start a conversation on deeper topics because Harris points out quickly where he is making an illogical leap. This is one of Orange’s assets, pinpointing logical inconsistencies within communicative interaction. To Harris’ credit, he is very systematic in his approach to presented ideas.
The heart of the matter is that Peterson is trying to reinvent the Integral wheel. He shows, though comically won’t state clearly, that he values objective reality. He also sees the value which is present in moral goodness. Both of these are important and bring truth. Unfortunately he seems to be stuck on the problem of the combination of the two, though is not willing to ever separate them even for the sake of a conversation. He is trying to reduce the 4 Quadrants of Integral Theory to two. He is attaching to the truth that those two quadrants bring, though ultimately isn’t open to someone else’s interpretation of the truth they bring, especially someone like Harris who Peterson has already pegged into a different ideological ethnicity.
Something I found to also be quite interesting was that when moral discussions were briefly raised, Harris never disagreed with Peterson. In fact, Harris stated himself that he probably would agree with Peterson on larger issues, though needed to tackle where they didn’t agree first especially as this was the root of a foundation on which they can communicate. This shows that Harris, being Orange, naturally transcends and includes Peterson’s Blue ideas. Orange can understand Blue and lower, though naturally not the other way around.
Ultimately, they both do not have an Integral framework or language to share as a clarifying thread of communication and as such they tended to go down their own separate wormholes of ideology without ultimately being able to communicate with the other effectively. This is precisely why both of them, specifically Harris, left the conversation confused as to why they couldn’t reach agreement.
What is definitely missing from the moral and objective truths that were talked about is truthfulness which Jurgen Habermas and Integral Theory would argue also brings truth and value to this conversation.
I wish to thank them both for trying and am hoping round two happens at some point.
As mentioned above, I believe my last post on "Post-truth" will help to shed some needed light on the conversational pitfalls. - Click Here
After much discussion, debate, and research, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is post-truth – an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.
“Why is it now that we have the most access to facts, do facts mean the least?” This is the initial question to start off a video by Veritasium called Post-truth: Why facts don’t matter anymore (embedded below). Derek Muller at Veritasium seems to present a position that sees objective facts being valueless at worst or devalued at best; believing that people are generally moving towards a world of complete subjectivity where facts don't matter.
Before getting into it, let's look at things a bit more clearly and get information from someone smart.
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher, who, through his Theory of Communicative Rationality, claims three kinds of formal reason which each have their own validity claim. The three being Aesthetic-expressive, Moral-practical, and Cognitive-instrumental. To hopefully make this more relatable, these can be seen as information from the following three domains, I, We, and It(s). The “Big Three” areas of life. So now that we can more clearly relate to these areas, let’s look at Habermas’ validity claims which are truth, truthfulness, and rightness. We then have the following domains and their respective validity claims:
For the ‘It(s)’ domain of Nature we have cognitive-instrumental formal reasoning which is the objective and inter-objective gauge for objective fit. This is information about how something objectively works on an individual level and within a collective system measured quantitatively. In short the validity claim answers ‘Is it measurably true?’.
For the ‘I’ domain of Self we have aesthetic-expressive formal reasoning which is the subjective truthfulness of one’s interior space. Nothing from this subjective space is able to be measured objectively. Therefore an individual must subjectively feel or experience something and must then subjectively be honest about the subjective personal feeling of fit. If a person is honest or truthful about how they report their interior space then the person will be validating information from this domain. In summary the validity claim answers ‘How truthful or honest is it?’.
For the ‘We’ domain of Culture we have Moral-practical formal reasoning which is a gauge of inter-subjective fit or moral rightness. Again, not a place for objective measurements, though a place for moral fit within a collective. This information gets at truth that does not exist in the other two. Not about measurement or honesty, though answering the question of ‘How right or moral is it?’.
And thus we have:
Truth, Truthfulness, and Justness
The True, The Beautiful, and The Good
Objective Truth, Subjective Honesty, and Inter-subjective Morality
Personally, I think that this is a natural movement from the industrial mentality of objective achievement, which has given us the internet and modern tech while valuing the objective domains, towards a more balanced vision additionally accepting of the value presented in the subjective domains. Relatively speaking, it may seem that “facts mean less” though only because other data is now also seen as valuable, though not because truth itself has been devalued. It is however, precisely because we have the most access to facts can we see that facts aren’t the whole picture. What we are missing is truthfulness and morality, whose lack of presence is evident within corporate and governmental action these days. Propaganda gets twisted to wage immoral wars on the objectively impoverished. Clearly the facts are starting to point us in a better direction towards including more information within our decisions. Decisions that incorporate truth, truthfulness, and justness within the “Big Three” areas of life.
Personally, I see this as a positive movement away from the corporate world of a singular bottom line and "externalities" towards Integral Corporations whose multiple bottom lines will attract consumer purchases based upon greater truth, morality, and honesty.
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