The Force of Reality + Is Cynicism Helpful?

If you're trying to live in the truth, you have the force of reality behind you. Cynicism beats naivety, but it's not the ultimate destination.

Chris Williamson:
"You say, 'You are morally obligated to do remarkable things.' Why?"

Jordan Peterson:

"Partly because life is so difficult and challenging, unless you give it everything you have, the chances are very high that it will embitter you and then you'll be a force for darkness and not good.

The fact that life is short and can be brutal can terrify you into hiding and avoiding, but you can flip that on its head and understand that, since you're all in anyways, you might as well take the risks that are adventurous, and that's a very good thing to understand.

What is also useful to understand in that manner is that, there isn't anything more adventurous than the truth.

This is something that took me a long time to figure out.

You can craft your words to get what you want,

People do that all the time.

They craft their words so they can avoid taking responsibility for things they should take responsibility for. They can craft their words to gain an advantage that they really don't deserve. That's what you do when you manipulate.

You might say,

"Well why not do that if I can get what I want?"

And the answer to that is:

You aren't necessarily the best judge of what you need, and, it's easy to be deluded in what you want.

That's the sort of delusions that people chase, if they chase power.

If you decide instead that you're going to just say what you believe to be true,

you have to let go of the consequences.

You might think,

"Well I don't want to let go of the consequences because I want to control what's going on,"

What you miss then is adventure
because if you don't control what's going on, you don't know what the hell's going to happen, and maybe that's exciting–and actually there's no doubt about it.

Then you have the additional Advantage:

If you're attempting to say what you believe to be true and attempting to act in the manner that you think is most appropriate, that is genuinely you, and you have the force of reality behind you.

Obviously, that's what you have if you're trying to, say, live in the truth, is you have the force of reality behind you.

That seems like a good deal.

Then you have the reality and the adventure, so why is that a moral obligation?

Well if you hide, and you don't let what's inside of you out, and you don't bring into the world what you could bring, and you become cynical and bitter,

you will start doing very dark things.

Not only will you not add to the world what you could add, but you'll start being jealous of people who are competent and doing well and work to destroy them.

That's the pathway to hell really."

Is Cynicism Helpful?

Chris: "One of the trends that I've been railing against most recently is:

Cynicism is this pervasive belief that: Everything is terrible, and it can't get better, and the people who believe that it can improve are dumb and delusional and the problem,
and I don't know where it comes from. I don't. I don't like it."


"Well, it's the beginning of wisdom.

Cynicism. This is part of the reason why it's hard to combat.

People start out naïve, and naïve people are optimistic, but not really, they're just naïve. Naïve people have no idea that there's say, malevolence in the world. They have no idea that there's malevolence in their own heart. They're sheltered and dependent. And when that breaks, it often breaks into cynicism.

Cynicism is actually an improvement."

Chris: "The veils have fallen from your eyes."

"Exactly. The problem with cynicism is that–especially the kind that is allied with a kind of arrogance, is that you can end there. And that's a big mistake.

Once you've been bitten hard and you're no longer naïve, well that is very hard on your optimism.

So then the question is,

"How do you restore that without reverting to the naivety?"

which you can't do anyways without blinding yourself– once you've been bitten.

The answer to that is:

You substitute courage for naivety, and you regain your optimism as a moral imperative.

One of the things you might ask yourself is,

"If the future is likely to be catastrophic in a variety of different ways–which is definitely the case, both socially and personally,– then what attitude should you bring to bear on that?

The answer might be:

Well if you were courageous and faithful– and I can explain what that means,
then you would conduct yourself in in a manner that met the future head on with with the presumption that you can manage it.

This is the presumption we should bring to bear politically.

The people who are using fear to garner power point to the various apocalypses that might befall us. It's difficult to counter them because the future is always an apocalyptic horizon.
Everything can fall apart, and has before, and might well again, and will in fact in your life; as you age and die. It's very easy to conjure up an apocalypse.

Then the question becomes not,

"Is that apocalypse potentially real?"

because the answer to that is yes.

what attitude should you have towards that?

Naive – that's not good.
Cynical – that's better, but it's still not good, it's another form of hell.
It also tends to make the potential apocalypses more likely.

Well, so what do you have when you move beyond cynicism?

What you have when you move beyond cynicism is wisdom,
and that's not naive, it's courageous."

What you have when you move beyond cynicism is wisdom.

Jordan: "One of the things that religious people have done relatively badly especially in recent years is:

they failed to delineate the relationship between faith and courage.

People like Dawkins and the new atheists, they point to Faith, and they describe it as something like: belief in foolish superstitions,
but that isn't really what Faith in the deepest sense means.

Faith means that you are willing to act out the proposition that you can ride the wave no matter how big it becomes, and that we can all do that together. Especially if we do that in goodwill.

That is a much more appropriate way to confront the future.

It's also the proper medication for cynicism."

Faith is the proper medication for cynicism.

Jordan: "Now the other thing the cynics see the other thing about cynicism that's interesting too is that:

Cynics aren't cynical enough about their own cynicism.

Because: you can get doubtful enough to start doubting the validity of your own cynicism.

It's like,
'What makes you so smart?'
'What makes you the judge of being?'

You know, the Columbine kids were like that. They decided that existence itself was unsustainable given its cruelty, and that the proper response was to put up a giant middle finger to man–men and God.

Well here's a way of being cynical about cynicism:
How does your cynicism let you off the hook?

How does your cynicism justify your desire to avoid necessary responsibility and to pursue your own short-term hedonic gains?

It's like,
Why aren't you cynical about your own doubt?

That is another place where wisdom begins.

That's two.

  • Cynicism beats naivity, but it's not the ultimate destination.
  • You should be cynical enough to question the moral validity of your own resentment,
    and your own turning away from the world."


"The way that I see it:

Given that we don't know the future, given that much of our motivations are invisible to us–we're not a Crystal Pond that we can see into,–

You have to have some form of delusion about what's going to happen in the future.

You're trying your best to see the way that it's going to be but,
given that the glass could be half empty or half full,
why not have a delusion that's going to be useful to you, [like] one of Hope?
Even in the face and the understanding that things might be difficult, and that there's going to be obstacles."


"There was a there was a line of social psychology that pursued that argument for quite a while, that made the argument that:

people had to have positive illusions about the future and that that was the fundamental way that people staved off Despair and bolstered their self-esteem,

but I do think we need to separate out the distinction between fantasy and delusion. You do have a fantasy about the future. You have to because, like you said, it's not structured.

So you have to provisionally map the future.

That's what a plan is, a strategy is, but that doesn't make it a delusion.

It becomes a delusion when the map bears no relationship to the underlying territory. So if you have a strategy for the future;
let's say that your strategy for the future, just for the sake of argument,
is that you have 5 million YouTube subscribers in three years.

Well, you have no evidence of the strict sort that that's how it's going to be, because anything could happen between now and 3 years from now, let's say, but you there's no reason to call that a delusion. It's one hypothetically possible path of potential. And then, you can make the sacrifices necessary to bring that about.

So, even though it's a fantasy because it maps something that isn't there, it's not a delusion.

It's a delusion when you're ignoring elements of your own experience that would inform your fantasy more effectively. You're ignoring them so that you can live in a positive representation of the future without having to pay the appropriate price for it."

Chris: "One of my favorite ideas I learned over the last couple of years is the

The Inner Citadel."

Chris Williamson: Jordan Peterson - How To Destroy Your Negative Beliefs - YouTube