Monday, March 25, 2019

This post is commentary on "A feminist philosopher makes the case against Jordan Peterson Peterson sounds like a stereotypical postmodernist. By Sean Illing "

 "One part of the book that I found disturbing was when Peterson responded in his capacity as a psychologist to a particular client. According to Peterson, the client announced, “I think I’ve been raped.” "

He wrote that he immediately thought that alcohol was involved. How else to understand “I think”? But that wasn’t the end of the story. She added an extra detail: “Five times.” The first sentence was awful enough, but the second produced something unfathomable. Five times? What could that possibly mean? My client told me that she would go to a bar and have a few drinks. Someone would start to talk with her. She would end up at his place or her place with him. The evening would proceed, inevitably, to its sexual climax. The next day she would wake up, uncertain about what happened — uncertain about her motives, uncertain about his motives, and uncertain about the world. Miss S, we’ll call her, was vague to the point of non-existence. She was a ghost of a person. She dressed, however, like a professional. She knew how to present herself, for first appearances … Miss S knew nothing about herself. She knew nothing about other individuals. She knew nothing about the world. She was a movie played out of focus. And she was desperately waiting for a story about herself to make it all make sense. 

 I’d raise an alternative explanation: Maybe she was raped — five times, as she stated — and then was effectively undermined or even gaslit by her therapist."

OK let's consider what would have to have happened for that to be true.  She would have had to go drinking,  voluntarily, started talking to a man,  voluntarily,  gone home with this man,  voluntarily leaving herself vulnerable to bring raped.   And she would have had to had done this despite being having been raped before in the same situation multiple times. This is incredibly unlikely unless this woman has serious mental issues that make her testimony unreliable at best.

 To be clear, I’m not saying that that is what happened. I can’t possibly know, on the basis of what Peterson writes here. But I’d certainly like to know more, and I’m surprised Peterson has not yet been asked about these and similar passages, in which he comes across as highly contemptuous of female clients. Later, he goes on to say this about the woman: Who are you? What did you do? What happened? What was the objective truth? There was no way of knowing the objective truth. And there never would be. There was no objective observer, and there never would be. There was no complete and accurate story. Such a thing did not and could not exist. There were, and are, only partial accounts and fragmentary viewpoints. Funnily and sadly enough, Peterson sounds like a stereotypical postmodernist here — one of his chief intellectual foes. And it doesn’t seem accidental that his skepticism about objective facts arises when it’s conveniently anti-feminist." 

No this is not like post-modernism.   He is not saying the is no objective truth,  merely that it cannot be determined because there was nobody there who could objectively observe.  He is not skeptical of objective facts at all.