Jordan Peterson and the Ancient Greeks

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Acclaimed, and controversial, academic Jordan Peterson has founded his own university, Ralston, with two campuses, one in Savannah, Georgia USA, and the other on Samos, a Greek island, home to the Goddess Hera, the philosopher Epicurus, the astronomer Aristarchus and the great mathematician Pythagoras. I suspect JP might also have a holiday home there.

The ambition behind this new humanities-focused university is the creation of a new unifying ethos (that is to say ‘character’ based on a coherent set of values) achieved by reconnecting with the Ancient Greek philosophers. Students are required to learn Classic Greek in order to study directly from the original texts of Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius et al.

I really like the sound of this. Indeed, if I was 40 years younger I’d be applying to enroll. There are sadly two problems with this wishful thinking. Firstly, 4O years ago I would have had no interest in philosophy, ancient Greek or otherwise, and having given up even Latin as soon as I could in my not-so-classical education the idea of having to learn Greek would too big a hill to climb. My interest in philosophy, Greek philosophy in particular, has grown slowly over the years as career gave way to time on my hands. If only we could live our lives backwards, starting with a lot more wisdom and some financial freedom and growing towards the youthful energy to make best use of both. Secondly, admission to Ralston is very limited and very meritocratic. I am not smart enough to get in I fear.

So I will just commend the opportunity to attend what sounds like a really interesting new, yet in terms of ethos, ancient University to those who are both younger and smarter than me.

I do admire Jordon Peterson and I am sure the personal one-on-one sessions students get with him will be a major draw card. Like the ancient Greek philosophers, he is trying to make sense of the world, to debate and  think his way through to a better vision for humanity. In the process he challenges intellectually weak thinking at either end of the political spectrum although it is the left who he seems most to antagonise. He walks head up, back straight (something he commends in ‘12 Rules for Life’) into the trans and feminist debates armed with the most irritating of weapons, well-researched facts and well-structured argument. Misogyny is only one of over 20 factors that explain the pay gap between men and women and by far the least important. There does appear to be a pattern of questioning gender when civilisations collapse as was the case with Greeks and Romans. Transgender and the right to self-identify is more of a decadent (my word) social contagion than a justified assertion of human rights by a significant and repressed minority (as was the case for homosexuals). He may or may not be right about the latter but he is entitled to air his opinions and his opinions are always worth listening to.

Yes, I’d love to be a student of his if I could go back in time but not so much Socrates. Challenging philosophical thinking might attract some very negative press and social media these days, as JP has discovered, but back in the day it got Socrates and some of his followers killed.

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