An Excellent Conversation
Jordan Peterson hosted a discussion to include Bishop Robert Barron, John Vervaeke, and Jonathan Pageau. This conversation was held over two months ago, on September 10. The video is entitled The 4 Horsemen of Meaning. I will say, the interaction of Peterson here was much better than when he spoke one-on-one with Vervaeke – when Peterson was hyper-activated and interrupted often; the interaction between Peterson and Barron was also much better, as it seemed the two of them better understood each other than the last time I saw the two of them together.
I do believe the conversation would have been greatly aided by including Paul VanderKlay, somewhat because he brings a Protestant view to a conversation that includes the Catholic and Orthodox, but especially because he has a way of taking the high level, intellectual conversations and breaking these down into understandable chunks for the masses (myself included).
The conversation started slowly. I think four people trying to feel each other out, and, especially, when one of the four, Bishop Baron, is outside of the circle of these conversations – he does not have the history or familiarity with the others. In any case, from about the 1 hour, 20-minute mark and on, it was a terribly engaging conversation.
The conversation goes for two hours. It is too much to cover in one post, so I will split it into two.
The conversation begins with Peterson asking the others to give an explanation of meaning. Baron offers a clean and simple definition: a purposive pursuit of a value. This definition helps me to clarify what is meant when I use or hear the phrase “meaning crisis.”
We live in a world with no objective truth when it comes to action, behavior, ethics – in other words, we have abandoned the natural law ethic. We are each left to choose our own highest value, and every choice is equally valid – we are not guided by the purpose for which we are made.
But what does this mean in practice? I have no fixed target at which to aim, the target is of my making. Any target I choose is no better or worse than any other target I could have chosen. In fact, there is no such things as “better” or “worse.”
In other words, there might as well not even be a target. But without a target, there is no purposive pursuit. The pursuit is aimless – a perfect picture for one shooting without a target. What is the meaning of pursuit if the thing one is pursuing is meaningless? Hence, the meaning crisis.
They turn to addressing why the meaning crisis has become so problematic. Vervaeke offers the following, which he also puts to h
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