Jordan B. Peterson, speaking to Roland Griffiths, beginning at (01:03:02):
Now, I want to talk about the good and evil background a bit, because it pertains to this rewriting of the narrative. So I look at stories like the story of Cain and Abel, which is a very ancient story. And it’s clearly a story of good against evil. And it’s a, it’s a, it’s a foundational story because it’s really in the Western culture, in the narrative tradition. It’s the story of the first two genuine human beings, because it, Adam and Eve were made by God, but Cain and Abel are born. They’re the first actual people. And one of them is a murderous genocidal psychopath, and the other is a hero. And so you see that dichotomy there instantly. And so Cain is the adversary, the dark narrative, the dark force, let’s say, and why? Well, what happens to Cain is that he struggles and sacrifices. Like we all do.
We make our sacrifices in the present, and we assume that by doing so, the benevolence of the world will manifested to us. That’s why we’re willing to forego gratification and to work, that’s all sacrifice. And so Cain sacrifices, but God rejects his sacrifice. And the story is brilliantly ambivalent about why, and the reason that’s a brilliant ambivalence is because you can work diligently and make the proper sacrifices as far as you’re concerned and yet fail, which means that all that work, all that foregone gratification, that pact with God, that, that, uh, um, what is it that God has with the Israelites? So there’s a name for that… Covenant! The implicit covenant has been broken and Cain responds to that with tremendous anger, right? He raises his fist against the sky and shakes it and says, ah, this should not be. And then he takes revenge.
He says, I will destroy what is most valuable to you. And so he goes after Abel, who is an ideal person who, whose sacrifices are welcomed by God and he kills him and then all hell breaks loose in the aftermath of that in Cain’s relatives. And like, the more I delved into that story, the more, it, it, it shocked me. I couldn’t believe that much information could be packed into what’s essentially 12 lines. Okay. So now imagine that, imagine that in each of our souls, we have this competing tendency, you know, we see the suffering and the horror of our lives, the vulnerability and the mortality of everything that we love and cherish and, and our failure and to, and that turns us against being, you talked about being at the beginning of this, that turns us against being, and, and then there’s the other part of us that maintains faith and that strives forward, but each of us is an intermingling of those. And so the rewrite seems to me to be something like the revelation that the positive end of that proper set of propositions is actually true, that things are interconnected, that things are fundamentally good, that love and truth can actually prevail. And that gives some experiential weight that can be used as a counter position against that destructive cynicism and the psychedelic, the mystical experience seems to allow for that transformation. Does that seem, what do you think of that? (01:06:28):
And then beginning again at (01:21:34):
So I ended my last book with, with, with a chapter, be grateful in spite of your suffering. And that was the end of a two book cycle of thinking. And I put it at the end as the culmination, like what’s a final moral rule. Well, that’s it, because that’s the aunt, that’s the antidote to cane, you know, and, and, and I take Cain’s argument seriously, it’s a serious argument, are things so terrible that they shouldn’t exist at all. Well, you know, you can accrue a fair bit of evidence in favor of that hypothesis. It doesn’t lead to the right place. It makes everything worse. As far as I can tell. And I haven’t encountered a situation personally, where gratitude wasn’t better than its alternative. And the alternative seems unbelievably destructive. Resentment, I think is the opposite of gratitude. And resentment can be a salutary emotion in that.
If you notice its emergence in your life, it signifies something that you should pay attention to. But I have seen nothing about it. That’s positive as something to be cultivated. And you certainly don’t teach your children to be, you know, if you sit down and have a discussion with your wife about what sort of children you want, you never say resentful that everybody agrees that that’s toxic beyond tolerability. And so we know there’s something wrong with it and it is extraordinarily well, I think it’s extraordinarily interesting that you focus on that particular experience and think that’s a humbling as well, that gratitude…(01:23:07):