The Logos at Ephesus

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Applications for Ralston College’s MA in the Humanities for 2023 are now open. Dr. Peterson does not teach at Ralston.

Ralston College present the inaugural lecture of it’s Chancellor, Dr Jordan B Peterson, delivered at one of the most iconic sites of the ancient world, the Library of Celsus in Ephesus. This ancient city was the birthplace of Heraclitus, the philosopher who first articulated the idea of the Logos, and the final resting place of St. John, who uses that same Greek word to name the Divine Word. In his lecture, Dr Peterson argues that the intelligibility of the world depends on the patterned regularities that are superordinate to our immediate perception; this underlying order – which, from the Greeks onward, we have called Logos – is both the horizon that enables human perception and the basis for the possibilities that we realize in the world. Such an account of our intrinsic, rational, and self-determining capacity constitutes a challenge to the assumptions of many prevailing schools of though – such as behaviorism, rigid empiricism, and postmodernism – and lays the burden of personal ethics, and the formation of a good society, squarely on the shoulders of the individual.

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Dr Stephen Blackwood

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(0:00) Introduction
(3:30) Welcome to Ephesus
(4:32) Chancellor Jordan Peterson
(6:00) Micro and macrocosms
(8:25) The world of what matters versus world of matter
(11:00) That which dispels pain
(13:36) Pattern regularities
(21:00) Empiricism falls short, magic perception
(25:30) System of values
(32:15) Un-nested values
(36:15) Story and emulation models
(40:12) Narrative and the lens through which we view the world
(41:50) Stalin, minions of hell
(43:00) Divine is that which is deepest
(44:50) Genesis, order and chaos
(47:19) The Spirit that you walk with
(51:00) Culture, spectacle, the kingdom of God
(53:40) Jung, ethical endeavor
(57:35) Truth is the antidote to suffering


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Hello everyone I had one of the most remarkable Opportunities of my life earlier this Year On a trip to Greece I took with Ralston College as a university new University That I'm associated with in Savannah Georgia We went to Samos with the first class For Ralston college but while I was There I had the opportunity or the Opportunity was provided to me to go to Turkey to the ancient town the ancient City of Ephesus there's an old library There which rivaled the Library of Alexandria in the ancient world so one Of the world's first repositories of Academic knowledge and Ephesus has been Excavated it's quite a remarkable Archaeological excavation like like the City of Pompeo a huge City Greek city Thousands of years old four thousand Years old or more all excavated I had The opportunity to give a lecture there On the logos from the Greek perspective The Turkish authorities were extremely Helpful they lit up the whole city for Us at night I was able to give this Lecture to the students at Ralston College and then publicly to all of you In front of this ancient building this Ancient Library all lit up with Beautiful LEDs it was one of the most Spectacular things I'd ever seen and to

Be on the grounds of this ancient place To give this lecture was quite the damn Thrill I can tell you that and so you Know Western Society really derived from Two sources in some real sense two Fundamental sources suppose you could Add Rome as a third but is a Greek Stream and a judeo-christian stream and They both developed the idea of the Logos and logos is the root word of Logic and so forget about the Judeo-christian logos for a minute on The Greek side There was this deep idea developed by Greek philosophers that the world had an Intrinsic order that at the bottom of of Reality itself especially on the Objective front the more objective front There was a palpable discernible and Benevolent order that would make itself Accessible to the imagination and Intellectual inquiry of human beings so That we the cosmos was comprehensible Right that's a that's a great Greek Proposition and and that's the Proposition of this intrinsic logos now On top of that was laid the Judeo-christian idea of the logos was Which was something like the notion that The Divine element of the human being Was that of courageous Exploratory Communicator that's the Logos idea and so you can see out of the Combination of those two ideas that

Something like science could emerge Because you'd have the notion that the Universe was intelligible in its Fundamental structure that's the Intrinsic law logos of reality and then That the human beings logos could Interact with that and produce Intelligible order and so anyways I got To talk about the Greek idea of the Logos insofar as I understand it at the Foot of at the steps of the Ephesus Library in this absolutely beautiful Um in Locale and I'd invite you all to To listen to the lecture and and to Enjoy it with any luck and to find it Useful and engaging it certainly was a Great privilege for me to do this it was Definitely one of the highlights of my Life So welcome to that and Merry Christmas It is a privilege and a pleasure to be Here on the steps of the library of Celsius here in the ancient Greek city Of Ephesus it was here that heraclitus First articulated the idea of the logos As the principal and structure Underlying reality itself it was here That the Apostle John lived and died in The beginning was the word and so it is Appropriate that Ralston college should Come here as we seek to revive and Reinvent the university as we seek to Revive our understanding of ourselves And of the world

It is an immense honor to welcome for His inaugural lecture to our inaugural Class our Chancellor Dr Jordan Peterson [Music] [Applause] So this is pretty good eh So I was thinking today well and for a Long time about what I wanted to talk About And I guess I'm I'm trying to I'm I'm always trying to bring together A non-ending stream of thought that I've Been developing I would say for For 40 years really and I thought I Would try to extend that tonight maybe Farther than I've been able to manage Before and this seems to be exactly the Right place to do it uh In Stephen's opening remarks he Mentioned that This geographical Locale is very tightly Associated with the emergence of the Idea of the logos particularly on the Greek side but also as it turns out on The Christian side and it's really Bringing together of the concepts the Dual concepts of the logos from the Greek and the Christian side that Produced for better worse and hopefully For better the modern world And so I want to walk through some ideas That I've been developing tonight And make comment on them And see if I can lay them out in

Something approximating An intelligible form which would be the Right thing to do given that we're Talking about the logos So you might think about the logos it's Worthwhile and useful to think about the Logos as something like the intrinsic Order of the cosmos of course that begs The question in some sense well a number Of questions what do you mean by Intrinsic what do you mean by order what Do you mean by Cosmos and you can break The cosmos down to begin with in Something Into into into into Two sub-categories Macrocosmic and microcosmic and uh You can think about the microcosm and The macrocosm In a purely objective sense you could Think about the microcosm as the Hidden World Beneath the Resolution of our vision So of course There's an unbelievably active world of Hidden complexity at work At levels of resolution much higher than We can see moving all the way down to The quantum Realm And as scientists we've been very good At elucidating the nature of that Microcosm and then you can think of the Macrocosm as

The external world that extends up above Us Into the objective Cosmos itself but There's another way of thinking about That that brings the psychological on Board and and that is that the microcosm Is in some sense the objective material World that beckons at higher levels of Resolution but the macrocosm is Something more conceptual and Psychological rather than something Objective and external and so that's a Good thing to keep in mind as we Um as we move forward through this Exercise in thought Another way of thinking about this so we Can hit the underlying conceptual Target from a multitude of different Dimensions you could you could also Think that we're beset by two Mysteries In some sense we have the world of what Matters And the degree to which the world of What matters is the most real is Indeterminate because it depends on how You define reality if you define reality As that which exists in the objective World then the world of what matters is Not fundamental but it's my observation That we act as if the world of what Matters is more real than the world of Matter and I think in some sense the Most compelling evidence for that Even to a skeptic and it's a pessimistic

Form of evidence but it suffices Sometimes pessimistic evidence is the Most potent The reality of pain is undeniable And it's not amenable to rational Argumentation it announces its existence And for a long time I think I thought in Some real sense that there was no more Fundamental reality than pain and There's an ethical Dimension to that too Because if you accept the reality of Pain there seems to come with it an Impetus to eliminate Unnecessary pain and to some degree we Can understand that as the basis of the Moral impulse and maybe to eliminate the Unnecessary pain of of the innocent like The unnecessary pain of children for Example and so Well we accept the existence of pain as Something so real that we will almost Instantaneously act on it and I would Say that's especially the case in the Case say of infants And so It isn't obvious what's real because it Depends in some sense and how you define The term but my sense is that what People believe is most accurately Reflected not in what they say or in the Propositions about the world they lay Out but in how they act And so and that's also something subject To debate but it's not a shallow

Argument to say that Your belief is most deeply reflected in Your action in fact I think in some Sense it's the deepest of arguments and You know perfectly well that you can say One thing and do another and you also Know that you regard people who do that As Hypocrites and you tend to regard What they do as a more profound pointer To what they believe than what they say And so you'll call them on that too and So that means that there are some Meanings that we regard as Inviolably real now the reason I Concentrated on pain is because it's Pretty easy to destroy Joy You can do that with a rational critique And we're quite good at that and you can Destroy faith and you can destroy hope And you can destroy enthusiasm and you Can often do that even with a casual Word but pain is much more resistant to That sort of rational Dismissal I thought over the years thinking as Much as I could about Unjust pain let's say As a fundamental reality Wondering if there is anything more real Than that and then I would say well yes There is that which Dispels pain is more real than pain And that's because to dispel something You have to be more powerful than that

Thing in some sense and and then you can Ask yourself at all sorts of different Levels of analysis what's capable of Dispelling pain Um or at least let's say rendering pain Acceptable which is a not perhaps as Deep a solution or as desirable a Solution but is also not nothing and I Would say that many of the things we Regard as cardinal virtues Are virtues in fact because if you have Them on your side you can in fact Contend with and perhaps dispel or Triumph over or transcend the inevitable Pain and suffering of existence and I Think one of the Fundamental purposes of Education Is to provide people with the The peers and the And the and the Allies to use a word That's been contaminated so terribly That enable them to stand up nobly In the face of tragedy and still move Forward with what is good in mind And that's a very different purpose than Inculcating in people A thoroughly detailed description of the Patterns of the objective world and I'm Not saying for a moment that there's Nothing useful about the latter but the Former Is People starve and thirst in desperation Without the former

And so and those are realities Now if as I said if you start out with The axiomatic assumption that only what Is objective is real well then that Argument Falls flat but I think there's No reason whatsoever not to raise the Question of what it is that you're using To base your axiomatic definition of Reality upon and I think that Noting what people do Is a very good pointer to The real So here's another way of thinking about The logos for the world to be Intelligible it must consist of Patterned regularities and that might be The great discovery of the Greeks in Some sense that there are patterned Regularities that are superordinate to Immediate perception that are in some Sense more real so number would reflect That for example our numbers more or Less real than the things they represent And you can make an argument both ways Because again it depends on your Definition of real but it's a very Difficult argument to make that they're Less real and partly that's because if You're a master of number there's almost Nothing that's beyond your grasp so as a If your wisdom If the depth of your wisdom is reflected In the utility of your tools then almost Nothing makes you more powerful than to

Be a master of numbers and that seems to Point to a an ability to grip some Element of a reality that's more Fundamental that is outside of immediate Perception and so one Element of the idea of the logos is that There's an order to the world that's Superordinate to the apparent order That's more fundamentally real and that You can discover that order in contact With The world and that's the the microcosmic World in some sense rather than the Psychological world and so That seems useful and I would say these Patterned regularities they're of two Types there's pattern regularities of Being And and an object is a pattern Regularity of being one of the things I Came to understand as I studied the Science of perception is that we don't See objects we see patterns and we infer Objects and so the pattern recognition Is more fundamental than the object Recognition it's also the case by the Way that we don't just see patterns in Infer objects we see useful patterns and Infer objects and I don't mean as a Second order inference I mean as a Direct perception and so it's quite Obvious Sophisticated psychologists of Perception have noted that in some real

Sense the perception of the meaning of a Phenomena phenomenon precedes the Perception of the phenomena and and I I Really mean directly and there's also There's Much of what you see for example is very Much associated with what you can grip Because even your vision is tightly Associated with the The act of gripping because what you Need to see is what will give you a grip On the world and you might say you see The thing and then determine how to grip It but that's not how it works your Retina for example example which Represents patterns in the world Propagates those patterns through your Nervous system and manifests itself in Such things as preparation for grip and That's outside of conscious visual Perception And so you cannot make the case that What you do when you perceive is poorly An objective sense data and then sort The world from that the neurology the Neural the neurological investigations Have rendered that presumption invalid Not only that there's another problem Well let's refer to we'll do this in two Parts for the world to be intelligible It must consist of patterned Regularities and their regularities of Being and becoming another issue is when You encounter the world do you see

What's there and the answer to that is Well yes but you also perceive what Could be and so I would say that what You perceive is an amalgam of the Patterned regularities of both being and Becoming and you can think about this And make it intelligible if you think About what happens when you wake up in The morning you might ask yourself well What do you perceive when you wake up in The morning and you open your eyes and You might say well I perceived my Bedroom and I suppose in some very Trivial sense that's true although Generally your bedroom is so familiar That you don't need to perceive it You've already automatized that Perception and it has almost zero Functional utility I suppose you have to Perceive it well enough to win your way Through it when you step out of bed but That isn't really what you perceive not Not my experience and I believe this is A very common experience is that what You perceive when Consciousness Dawns in The morning is the Horizon of Possibility that's associated with the World in front of you and so what you Really see as far as I can tell is Something directly akin to the Chaos that God encounters as the word The logos at the beginning of time which Is there's a there's pattern regularity Of being that's a solid object because

It propagates itself across time in this Three-dimensional form but then there's A cloud of possibility around each Object which is what Additional realities it could manifest Depending on how you act in relationship To it and that's not only true of simple Objects because simple objects can be Many things so a a heavy drinking mug Can also be a weapon for example which Begs the question of what is that thing It's a drinking glass and a weapon and Broken it's a knife and and many many Objects if not all have quite a wide Cloud of possibility around them and Then the interactions between objects Have a tremendously wide distribution of Possibility and that's the becoming That's implicit in the being and I think That's actually what you confront when You wake up in the morning because Generally what happens is that as Consciousness Dawns and Consciousness is An agent that contends with being and Its potential Transformations you see a Raid in front of you a set of Indeterminate possibilities which you Could bring into being as a consequence Of your imposition of vision with some Degree of of effort and energy and what You do in some real sense is Prioritizing rank order the importance Of the possibilities that you contend With maybe even before you get out of

Bed and I would say in some real sense If you're not doing that You're actually not living up to your Possibility that what we really are Rather than automated deterministic Machines and by the way we can't be that Because the future is indeterminate and A deterministic machine cannot calculate The proper navigation path through an Indeterminate Horizon you're a Visionary That imposes a structure of priorities On a horizon of possibility and that Means in some very real sense far more Than mere metaphoric that you are in Fact an embodiment of the logos and the Same thing that Manifested itself at the beginning of Existence itself and continually Manifests itself in some real sense as That beginning in the world of your Conscious apprehension and we think of These things as myths or as metaphors And they are that because there are many Things but they're also reflective of Something so real that even our Notions Of objective reality in some real sense Pale in comparison and so That's useful to know now the problem And this is the problem with the Empirical viewpoints the empirical Viewpoint is in some sense that what you Know you know as a consequence of sense Data and the problem with that Proposition is that

There is Mystery Embedded inside the axiomatic Presupposition of sense data so Behavioral psychologists believe that Animals and they tried to model animal Behavior using these A priori Theory The animal Reacted reflexively to a stimulus and so That's a deterministic machine Hypothesis and that always bothered me Partly because animals don't do that so For example if you train a rat to run Down a maze it'll learn how to run down The Maze and then if you bind the legs Back legs of the Rat and you put its Rear end on a wheeled Chariot it will Propel itself through the maze on the Wheels and obviously it didn't learn That reflexively because there aren't That many wheeled rats and they just Don't have that kind of experience and So the rat's perfectly capable of Modifying what it learned in this Hypothetically deterministic manner to To react to an entirely different set of Challenges and come up with exactly the Same solution it was an old behaviorist Joke that under controlled laboratory Conditions an animal will do exactly What it damn well pleases and I like That very much and the problem with the Behavior's theory of stimulus response Was the axiomatic presupposition that

The stimulus was given that you just Look at the world and there's the Stimulus right in front of you that Takes no effort and you merely respond Reflexively to it and that's so wrong That it's almost done incalculable Because it turns out that perceiving the World is so complex That in some real sense not only do we Not know how we do it but it looks Impossible and part of the reason that It's impossible and this is why This is again why empiricism is an Incomplete uh theoretical account of the Genesis of knowledge is that there are Literally literally or close enough to Literally an infinite number of ways to Look at anything And that's because everything is not Only complex and of itself At the microcosmic level almost Beyond Imagination But that everything is also situated in A context which is actually a Determining element of the nature of the Thing and the context expanded enough Actually takes everything into account And so That makes perception a very weird Phenomenon For another reason I I was always amused For example when when I traveled with my Family when I was young on our summer Vacations we used to do things like get

Out and look at the border between Canada and the United States And that's a very weird thing to do Because you can actually do it and you Can step across it and people treat that As if it's magic in some sense because Part of us knows that that border is not There Right it's not a part of the objective World and yet Well and yet it is because there you are Standing beside it and then if you look At aerial views you can see the farmer's Fields and exactly where the border is And so things like borders between Countries have inhabit this weird space Between the objective and the subjective That's a magic space and it actually Turns out that almost everything we Perceive has that degree of magicality About it I thought also about such Things as people's proclivity to go to Museums maybe in Nashville for example Or Memphis to go look at Elvis Presley's Guitar and you think well what exactly Are you looking at when you go look at Elvis Presley's guitar because first of All it's a mass-produced guitar and so Why not just look at another guitar and You think well that's not the same thing It's like well why isn't it the same Thing because it's not And the reason is is that the guitar is Not merely something and this is the

Thing you perceive it's not merely Something made up of the guitar atoms Let's say in the guitar molecules it's Also an artifact that was embedded in a Context across a period of time and that Embeddedness of that artifact is part of What you perceive when you see an Artifact like a celebrity something a Celebrity owned or the relic of a saint Let's say and so and you can say well That's all an overlay on top of Perception and that would be fine except That's wrong there's no data so to speak That support that Viewpoint that's not How perception Works perception is Unbelievably complicated So we see regularities of being and some Of those impediments and affordances is The technical term we tend to perceive As objects but we also see the Possibilities of being but the problem With that is that the world of objects Potentially relevant objects and the World of possibility is vast beyond our Comprehension and so then we have Another problem that emerges as a Consequence of that which is a key and Signal problem and the fact that it has Been solved precipitously and carelessly Hastily is actually the reason for the Culture War that's raging today and that Is that We have to prioritize our perceptions We have to prioritize our perceptions

To get access to the sense data that Hypothetically informs us we have to see The world through a system of value and Why would I say a system of value well a System of value is a system of Priorities right because to Value Something is to make it more important Than other things that it's being Compared to and Why do you need a hierarchy of Perceptual priority in order to see and The answer is well you can't say Everything at once And so you can only see one thing at a Time And which thing and the answer is the Thing you think is most important to see At that moment and then the question is Well and this is the question why is That the most important thing to see at The moment so imagine this is true in The auditory domain in the tactile Domain all sensory domains and the You think that perception is a passive Action and that we act upon the Consequences of our perception and this Is just not true at all there's no level Of the analysis of perception Neurophysiologically where you can Separate action from perception so for Example when you're looking at the world Although you don't know this your eyes Are moving back and forth very very Quickly they have to move if they stop

Moving for more than a tenth of a second You go blind because you saturate the Neurons that are you're using to Perceive so intensely with the Repetitive stimulation that they just Shut down and so at a micro level your Eyes are vibrating like mad and then There are cicads above that that are Still unconscious that are less rapid And wider and then voluntarily you have Voluntary eye fields in the frontal Cortex you move your eyes voluntarily to Point to what you want to see and you do That because the center part of your Vision is exceptionally high resolution Each Center Vision fovial neuron is connected Directly to 10 000 neurons at the Primary in the primary visual cortex and Then each of those ten thousand is Connected to another ten thousand it's Very expensive neural physiological real Estate and if all of your vision was as Intensely high resolution as your phobia Which is a very small part of your Retina you'd have to have a brain like An alien because half your brain at any Given moment especially for human beings Is actually taken up with the problem of Resolving the world into conscious Vision and that's all motorically Dependent and so in some sense real Sense Seeing is very much akin to feeling out

Your you know if you're investigating The structure of something like this Column if you close your eyes you can Build a visual image of the column blind People by the way many of them can draw Just so you know even if they've been Blind from birth because they present They they generate visual Representations of the world they just Don't have light and color but they Still have the sense of the Three-dimensional structure of the world They know what the shape of objects are They know they can see their loved ones Faces by using their hands as eyes And we use our eyes as hands as well Because we feel out the world with our Hands or with our eyes so So don't be thinking that it's passive Perception and then an overlay of Prioritization and action the problem of Prioritization goes all the way down to The micro level with regards to Perception okay so now you have to Prioritize your perceptions why there's Too many things to look at and you can't Look at everything at once and so then The question is well how do you Prioritize your perceptions And the answer is well you make one Thing at every moment that actually Allows you to act even to move your eyes Even in a restaurant to focus in on the Conversation that your first date is

Having with you as opposed to all the Other conversations that are going on Around you that's all dependent on motor Action in the auditory perception system To prioritize what you're seeing Indicates that you exist within a Hierarchy of value why a hierarchy well Because Everything has to exist in your Perceptual structure in relationship to Everything else and so Well let's take the example of the date Why are you listening to what your new Potential partner is saying rather than The background conversations you might Say well I want to hear what she has to say well And then you might ask well why and you Might say well I want to be polite and You you might say why well I like this Girl and I would like to explore the Possibility of a relationship why well Because I believe that having a Relationship with someone is valuable And that's a subset of the notion that Having relationships is valuable and That's a subset of the notion perhaps of Having stable long-term loving Monogamous relationships are the highest Form of relationship and that's a subset Of the notion that well as you progress Through life one of the things you do is Find a partner and establish a family And perhaps have children and contribute

To the community in that way and that's Part of being a good citizen let's say And that's part of being a good person And then That there's an outside nesting of that Too because one question might be well What do you mean to be a good person and Of course that's the problem of the Logos and the answer to that would be Something like well I want to be the Proper mediator between possibility and Actuality such that the best possible Actuality can be manifested by the Possibility that I confront and every Bloody thing you do everything you see Is either nested in a unified hierarchy Like that Or it's not So let's say what happens if it's not Well we actually know what happens if It's not and let's say you're not Unified Psychologically in your value Orientation okay what's the consequence Well entropy That's the first consequence it's like Are you doing one thing which you know What you're doing and can commit Yourself to and can actually undertake Or are you so confused that you need to Do 15 things at the same time and you Don't know which of them is most Important and the importance by the way Is diluted by the multiplicity right

Because if you pick something out it's Singularly important you actually Elevate it as important if 15 things all Of a sudden become equally important They're all 115th as important because If they weren't you wouldn't have a Problem sequencing them and that means They're not motivating So one of the consequences of that is That There's no positive emotion Because positive emotion The Joy there's There's a couple of types of positive Motion I won't talk about satiation but Enthusiasm and joy happiness let's say Is 100 depend dependent as far as we can Tell on observations that you're Progressing towards a valued goal it's Not attainment focused that's satiation You get something you want and you're Satisfied about it that's a whole Different neurochemical system but Enthusiasm and joy that people associate With happiness manifest itself when You're moving towards a valued goal so If you don't prioritize your goals Because you don't exist within a Structure of value then you have no Positive emotion And positive emotion is half of forward Moving motivation well in fact in terms Of forward movement it's almost all the Motivation because the embodied Manifestation of positive emotion is the

Movement towards a valued goal that's What it is that's why you have the Positive emotion because you are a Creature that can move towards goals and The emotional signaling of that is Positive emotion no goal no positive Emotion no hierarchy of goals dilution Or eradication of positive motion Because if you're confused enough and You have a hundred goals and you can't Prioritize them then every goal has one Percent of the significance necessary to Really move you forward and so to be Maximally motivated you need to know why You're doing what you're doing all the Way up Jacob's Ladder all the way up and That brings us to the notion of the Macrocosm that's the Heavenly hierarchy And in some sense it's a psychological Macrocosm although not in all senses Because it brings Society into the Purview So So here's a here's a proposition any System of priorities Is a structure of values So you may or may not accept the Proposition that you have to Hierarchically arrange your perceptions You also by the way have to do the same Thing on the action front because if You're inclined to do 10 things at once You can do none and Consciousness by the Way is a very narrow channel and we

Generally can only concentrate on one Thing at a time and the reason for that In some sense is because we can only act Out one thing at a time and so not only Do you have to prioritize your Perceptions which are action based Anyways you also have to prioritize what You're going to do because you have to Do the first thing first and then the Second thing and the third thing and That's obviously a structure of priority And the structure of priority is the Structure of comparative value and a Hierarchical structure of comparative Value is an ethic And so what that means as far as I can Tell And this is something if it's true is That we cannot see the world except Through an ethic And I mean that literally as well as Metaphorically you literally cannot see The world or act in it You cannot perceive the world except Through a structure a hierarchy a Hierarchical structure of value which is An ethic and so then I would say it Here's something else to chew on for Like 20 years a story Is a verbal description of a hierarchy Of perceptual and action prioritization And the reason that we're so attracted To stories is because it's so difficult To perceive and act in the world that

We're hungry at the level of soul for a Narrative that represents to us a Hierarchical ethos that we could embody As a model for emulation And so that's what our stories are their Mortals the ritual models for emulation Most fundamentally and The anti-hero story well that's easy Enough to contend with it's like Watch this person who ends up in Catastrophe and hell and do the opposite Of whatever it is they're doing and so That's a powerful lesson because there's Something very compelling as we said Before about very powerful negative Emotion and so uh even if you don't Believe in heaven you might be able to Conjure up a belief in hell and if you Can't I would say well you're either not Using your imagination or you're hiding Or so far you're just lucky but I Wouldn't expect that to last and so you Can certainly see the catastrophe and Even the hellish catastrophe beckoning And you might think plotting a route That would make that the least likely Seems to be a good idea and so part of The reason that we're fascinated by Villains and super villains for that Example or part of the reason we're Fascinated and endlessly so with figures Like Lucifer and Satan is because we're Attempting to flesh out the nature of The antithesis to the worst kind of

Hierarchy of values And that's gripping to us it's gripping To us now there's more to it as well Because we also will turn our attention To the negative to fortify ourselves Against the negative in preparation for Confrontation with the negative and so We can do that through use of fiction And that's what we're doing for example At least in part when we do such strange Things as amuse ourselves with horror Films and so Any system of priorities is a structure Of values that's an ethic it's Hierarchical because one thing has to be Put before many things and things have To be done in sequence and everything Has to proceed in some sense in an Intelligible manner towards the highest Possible goal and the alternative to That is not only the radical unhappiness That already described which is the Destruction of any possibility of Enthusiastic engagement with life in a Meaningful Sense on the positive front But the other price you pay for being Confused about your ethic is anxiety Most particularly anxiety because Anxiety is actually a signal of entropy In perception and action if you don't Know what you're doing You don't know where you are and you Don't know where you're going and if You're in a place where you don't and

You don't know where you are or where You're going you're in danger Because that's unmapped territory and God only knows what lurks in unmapped Territory and you can think about that Biologically if you're somewhere you Don't understand and you don't know Where you're going well there's always The possibility of predation but you can Think about it metaphysically too and That's worthwhile if you're so confused And disoriented that you don't know Where you are or where you're going There are predators of the spirit who Are much worse than snakes that are Waiting in weight for you and the Probability that you'll move from Aimless hopeless joyless anxiety to Nihilism corrosive bitterness and Genocidal fantasy in the fundamental Extreme is very high and so that's Possession by a predator of the spirit In the desert of the soul and that's Real So a system of priorities is a structure Of values an ethic a narrative And that would include a drama is the Description of a structure of values or An ethic or a set of priorities We see And act out the world Through what wind described as a Narrative Now that's interesting that's an

Interest if that's true it's very Interesting it's interesting partly Because you know the post-modernists who I don't admire generally speaking they Figured this out they figured out that We likely see the world through a story And that that might even be true for Scientists is that a scientist and Carl Jung believe this too by the way is that Science takes place within a surrounding Narrative now what the postmodernists Did the French post-modernists in Particular and then the Americans Through Yale most particularly Um they left from problem which was how Do we perceive solution we see the world Through a narrative two narrow solution Which is that we prioritize our Perceptions and our actions by imposing A Narrative of power and dominance And they swipe that from the marxists And that is simply not true there is no Evidence for that animals don't even do That in their social communities or or When they do it they erect unstable and Extremely violent social hierarchies There's no evidence whatsoever that Hierarchies predicated on a narrative of Power function productively even for the People that impose The Narrative of Power people have objected to me well What about dictators uh solid it's like Here's something to think about Imagine you set up something like hell

Around you now we could think about Soviet Union in that regard and you're a Minion in hell You're not Stalin are you more Successful or less successful if you're Stalin I would say being the biggest devil in The worst hell is actually the most Cataclysmic failure not a mark of the Success of your ethos of power and Dominance and the ethos that set up Against that is very complicated and it Is the ethos in some real sense of the Logos the logos is the antithesis to the Luciferian presumption of dominance and Power and it's it's harder to formulate Which is why we've been wrestling with It and are doing that tonight as well in This place where it's been wrestled with Forever it's harder to formulate it's Not uni-dimensional it's the it's the Union of multiple virtues And so it's a tricky thing to grip and It's so tricky that we don't have it Fully articulated and we've approached It I would say through narrative and one Of the things I've come to realize about The biblical narrative and this is what I'm writing my next book about which is Called we who wrestle with God and I Suppose this lecture is a pre Uh per preview of that of the ideas in That book Um

We characterize that which must exist at The Pinnacle of the hierarchy of Attentional prioritization with the Characterization of the Divine in Narrative He might say well what's Divine well we Could Define it technically Divine is That which is deepest what's deepest That which most other things depend on That's a good definition of depth a deep And profound piece of literature Milton Is the foundation stone for many Branches of literature there's many Literary products you can't understand Without understanding Milton and you Can't understand Milt without Understanding the Biblical Corpus which Is even deeper and in that sense more Profound given the metaphoric Relationship between the idea of Profundity and depth and the why is the Biblical Corpus deep well it's an Attempt to flesh out using narrative Characterization the nature of the Spirit that has to inhabit the highest Place in the hierarchy of attentional And action priority and so why would I Say Spirit Well because it's an embodied It's something embodied it's not a Description of the world it's a pattern You enact and embody And so when you're called to God and the Logos through the biblical Corpus you're Called to allow yourself to be possessed

By the spirit that represents the union Of Awe-inspiring imitatable virtues and Then you might say well what are those And I can I can walk through some of Them just so you get a sense of this I Don't want to do it exhaustively In the opening chapters of Genesis which Is where the idea of the logos is Highlighted above all else in some real Sense you have this notion that whatever God is uses whatever the logos is to Extract habitable order from potential And the tohuva bohu that's the chaos is A weird intermingling in the linguistic Sense of chaotic possibility of the World per se with confusion and Psychological disorientation And so it's an amalgam that chaos and It's it's the chaos you feel when a Plenitude of possibilities opens up in Front of you which is destabilizing and Psychologically challenging especially If the purview of possibility is beyond Your ability to contend with but you can See the massive possibility conjoined With a sense of anxiety that's too much Possibility to bring order to that you Cast your attention upon it and you Prioritize it and God imposes a Benevolent order upon that chaotic Possibility extracts from that chaotic Possibility the habitable order that is Good and the reason that the habitable

Order that's extracted is good is Because God uses the logos which is Something like a combination of Orientation towards the highest possible Good which you could think of as Love And Truth and One Way of characterizing The imitatable manifestation of the Logos is that it's the Nexus of love and Truth and I think it's truth embodied in Love or embedded in love with love being Superordinate Um But that's a partial description and It's disembodied and Abstract in some Sense and doesn't have the grip Necessary to compel you to act to Imitate and so what you see in the Biblical Corpus are continual Representations of the spirit that must Occupy the highest place in the Hierarchy of imitable Mimicable action As Uh A pattern that possesses your Perceptions and actions and calls you Into the world and so for example In the story of Of uh Adam and Eve once Adam and Eve are Thrown out of the garden Because they become Prematurely self-conscious and prideful In some real sense God is presented as The spirit that you walk with when you

Walk Unself-consciously in relationship to The highest in the garden And that's actually an experiential Reference as you imagine you're having a Particularly good day in a particularly Beautiful garden like the day we had Today it's like are you closer to God Well the answer is experientially well Yes because you feel you feel that your Existence is imbued with a deep sense of Appropriate significance that's not a Rational Secondarily derived argument it's Primary it's a primary experience and Part of what the biblical Corpus is Trying to do is to lay out the nature of The spirit that inhabits you when you're Oriented towards the highest possible Good and to point out that that's Phenomenological it's experiential it's Existential it's embodied it's not a Secondary overlay of the description of The nature of the world on the world That's not what the biblical Corpus is Trying to do so in the story of Cain and Abel what's God God is that which calls You to make the appropriate sacrifices And calls you on it when you don't And try to escape that and see what Happens We know perfectly well perfectly well That that's a pathway to hell and you Might say I don't believe in hell and I

Would say that means you don't know Anything Noah what's who is God or what is God in The story of Noah the spirit that calls The wise to prepare in the face of Crisis Do you abide by that or not well you do If you're wise and you do if you care About the people around you Abraham What's God the spirit that calls the Inappropriately Luxuriating out to the terrible Adventure of their life And that then requires of them the Highest possible sacrifice to obtain the Highest possible goal In Exodus what's God The spirit that lays tyranny to waste The spirit that guides you through the Desert of the Soul The spirit that orients you towards the Promised land and abuse you with the Enthusiasm that allows you to make your Way out of the Tyranny and through the Desert And so on in each story is Part of a circumamdulation a narrative Circumambulation that's attempting to Represent the union of Virtues that Could be embodied in perception and Action that constitute the Pinnacle of The pyramid and that by the way pyramid That's Mount Sinai that's the proper Hierarchical organization of society

That's the Aesthetic model for the construction of The Ark of the Covenant it's all of that Simultaneously it's the Egyptian pyramid With the gold cap the question is what's The cap what's at the highest well that Is the mystery what should be placed in The highest place we already said well Something better be because if nothing's Placed in the highest place Then there's nothing in the highest Place and what's the consequence of that Well to return to that theme Anomy anxiety Overwhelming dread Psychological destabilization and the Absence of joy and there is no escaping From that except by solving the problem But it's worse than that because this Hierarchy of perceptual prioritization Unites us socially so here we are in a Theater and we've seen many examples of Theaters today including the Amphitheater where it's a concentric Circle That focuses everyone's attention on the Same spectacle well that's the Definition of a culture is that Everyone's attention is focused on the Same spectacle and so the hierarchy of Perceptual prioritization and action That unites you psychologically is also The same Structure that unites us socially and so

That means the kingdom of God is within And without simultaneously in some most Fundamental sense and you might say well We don't need a superordinate ethic to Unite us and I would say okay then we're Not United And so what are we if we're not United And the answer is well we're A house Divided against itself and what's the Consequence of that everyone that's the Hobbesian nightmare right that's not the Noble savage that's the hobbsian Nightmare it's like you and I we cannot Play together we cannot focus our Attention on the same point and Cooperate and compete amicably Peacefully productively and generously Towards that point and that's not Nothing that's the death of God that's The rise of nihilism that's the Emergence of a corrosive and Destabilizing and deep cynicism and it's The death of joy and enthusiasm and so We might say well what do we have in the Absence of God if God is the spirit that Animates us to action and perception in Relationship to the highest good and the Answer is we have the catastrophe of the Death of God that Nietzsche referred to When he announced the death of God and Said simultaneously that we were the Murderer of all murderers And that we would never find the water To wash away the blood

And that is definitely the situation We're in now and And hopefully Hopefully We'll all wake up enough at the Individual level To play out that catastrophe of Valuelessness Within our own souls and render the Judgment that's necessary upon each of Us in ourselves by our own voluntary Ascent Or we'll act out the failure to do that In the external world And that's the decision as far as I can Tell that in some real sense and maybe In a sense that's more real than ever Before in the entire history of the World even though this battle has been Playing out Eternally that's the choice that Confronts us now I learned from Carl Jung he said after The second World War And the rise of weapons of mass Destruction that the fundamental danger That confronts Humanity Is now psychological or spiritual in Part because we are so technologically Powerful that we cannot possibly survive In the primitive ethical condition that Still obtains that are scientific and Descriptive capacity has expanded Immensely over the last 400 years to the

Point where we're a planetary force of Creation and destruction but are ethical Endeavor has to say the least languished And you might Observe that children given dangerous Tools die And so we have these dangerous tools and That means as far as I can tell that we Better become the people that can wield Them with wisdom and that's going to Mean like it's always meant a return to The source right a willingness to rescue The dead father from the belly of the Beast right a willingness to Make conscious the nature of our Hierarchy of perceptual priority let's Say and to understand that that's a Reality that might be superordinate to What we normally and have been taught to View as reality itself and that the Biblical notion that in some sense the Word is the precursor to being itself Actually turns out to be true and it's a Terrifying idea because it means in some Real sense and I also believe this to be The case and I think it's also Reflective of the deep notion of the Logos what that means is that in some Cosmic sense it's on you And you know we have this notion that Human beings men and women alike are Formulated in the image of God in the Image of the logos and we believe that And what do I mean by that well it's an

Axiom of our laws it's an axiom of our Constitutional system certainly in a Country like Britain or or or America Any of the western democracies and to a Large degree any country that can Function at all there's the presumption That each person is a locus of divine Value And you think well do you want to live In a society that assumes that or do you Want to live in a society that doesn't And then you might also ask do you want To have friends that assume that of you Or do you want to have friends that Don't and the same thing might apply to The people that you love in your actions Towards them how are you treating them If you treat them properly and I can't See even speaking merely psychologically That you can love someone and not treat Them in some most fundamental sense like They're a Divine locus of value I think Those are the same thing and you can Crabble about the linguistic Representation necessary to derive that Conclusion but have it your way You're going to act out your decisions One way or another you're going to learn In the world just exactly what attitude You should bring to bear if you want to Elevate those around you and Simultaneously do the same to yourself And you will find that if you do that to The degree you do that you are treating

Each person as if they're a Divine locus Of value and responsibility and that's a Terrifying thing too because I read something once I don't remember Who said it that God is a circle whose Center is everywhere and whose Circumference is nowhere and I read Commentaries on that idea indirectly Obliquely by Dostoevsky and social Nets And Jung as well perhaps Above All Else Stating that We are each a center of the world We each have a cosmic role to play and You can think about it this way and this Is a useful way to think about it you Have potential within you to match the Potential that's without let's say and We all upgrade ourselves and call Ourselves out on our failure to manifest That which was that which is within us And so here's a proposition for you the World is languishing to the degree that You are not all you could be And that could really be the truth And to the degree that were made in the Image of God and made in the image of Logos and also the entity that has to Undergo the tragic death that's Represented by Christ and maybe the Encounter with hell that's part of the Story of the Resurrection that's us That's what we face and so I'll conclude My discussion of the characterization of The spirit that occupies the Pinnacle of

The hierarchy of attentional priority With the story of the passion which is The full embracing of the catastrophe of Life That's what it calls us to and religious Or not one thing you might notice is That a good proportion of the entire Planet Has been obsessed with the figure of the Crucifixion and the story of the passion For two thousand years and even as an Unbeliever whatever that means You you have to take that seriously now You can write it off as a delusion Freud tried to do that and so did Marx But you have to ask yourself well if It's a delusion why didn't people pick Just something happy to look at instead Of something utterly Dreadful and I say Utterly Dreadful because and this is the Truth as far as I can tell What the passion is is a distillation of Tragedy So imagine that in order to contend with Your life you have to be willing to Embrace its darkest elements you might Say why and I'd say well hey the darkest Elements are there and they're coming And if you're not prepared they're going To It's going to be far worse than it has To be at minimum and maybe it'll just Lead to your destruction in ways that Are worse than death

And that's a high probability and so in Order to live Fully You have to confront life Fully and that means you have to accept The unjust sacrifice of the innocent in Some real sense and that's you and That's not even enough you see in the Christian passion why is it the ultimate Tragedy well tragedy is Undeserved catastrophe Let's say Well then you amplify the catastrophe Youthful death torturous death Death with foreknowledge Humiliating death death at the hands of The mob death as a consequence of Betrayal death In the in the purview of your mother's Vision Death despite your innocence Death despite your moral virtue death Despite the moral virtue that you have That everyone knows about And recognizes and still sentences you To death death at the hand of a tyrant Death at the hand of a nihilist And then that's not enough because in The cloud of myth that surrounds the Characterization of the embodied logos And that's Christ Following the radical acceptance of Death is the radical confrontation with Hell and that's the harrowing of hell

And the story there says in order to Open yourself up maximally to the Possibilities of life not only do you Have to contend with the tragedy of your Own innocent sacrifice and be on board With that fully or pay the price but you Have to confront the Gates of Hell Itself and you might say well what does That mean and you know our culture has Been obsessed in principle since the end Of the second world war with what Happened in Nazi Germany and that's as Good an example of hell as anything that Could be presented to the Corpus of Unbelievers who disavow any recognition Of hell and if what happened in the Nazi Death camps isn't enough hell for you uh Then I would suggest that you update Your prioritization of perception and Value because it was certain it's Certainly enough hell to be convincing If you look at it thoroughly You know one of the things I tried to do When I studied the Holocaust and also The events in the gulag was to put Myself in the position not of the victim And certainly not of the heroic rescuer But of the perpetrator and with a bit of Meditation you can discover pretty damn Rapidly that you could be a perfectly Effective torturing Auschwitz Camp guard And that's a hell of a thing to contend With and I would say in some real sense That's worse than contending with death

And I would also say that if you don't Do it you cannot Stop it If you're unwilling to see the part of You and that's a luciferian part in the Most fundamental sense if you're Unwilling to face that To the degree that you're unwilling to Face that That's the spirit that possesses you And in a world like our world that is Not something that we can continue to do And get away with it So we're all called together here at Ephesus which is quite remarkable for us All to be here and what are we called to Do wake up We have a moral burden to bear and That's the adventure of our life that's The other thing so interesting about the Abrahamic story is that God calls Abraham out of his luxurious Slumber and Sends them into a catastrophe tyranny Starvation War brutal but he has the Adventure of his life You might say well the it's the Adventure of your life that justifies The catastrophe of your life It's not some simple minded juvenile Hedonism or desire for Comfort that's All what we're built for We're built for the adventure of Our Lives And where do you find that

You find that in orienting yourself to The highest possible good in all ways And speaking the truth forthrightly Along that pathway Thank you very much Join me again in thanking Dr Peterson For joining us tonight

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