What do philosophers think of Jordan Peterson

3000 spectators were present at the sold out Sony Center in Toronto, Canada, when two famous intellectuals met on Good Friday evening: the left-wing Slovenian philosopher and ideology critic Slavoj Žižek and the conservative-libertarian Canadian psychologist and ideology critic Jordan Peterson. A few thousand more were watching the debate live on the internet. For a sports competition between comparable calibers, that would be disastrous audience figures; for a discussion on the subject of "Marxism vs. Capitalism" they are remarkable, especially since the recording received well over half a million YouTube views over the weekend, even if it does not, of course, show how long it was watched.

The sometimes slightly hysterical excitement in the days before the discussion - there was talk of the "duel of the century" - was okay. Every day there is much, much more wind made about nonsense that is about much less. And at the end of the day, the almost 180-minute spectacle itself was very okay, and in terms of attention economy it was pleasantly uncompromising against the epidemic digital impatience: The duelists only had a direct discussion after a good 90 minutes. Before that, as agreed, first Peterson and then Žižek had made a 30-minute statement and then responded to each other's statements for a good ten minutes.

Even stranger was the audience that was unmistakably a little too determined to create an atmosphere like fairground boxing, and cheered when the moderator Žižeks mentioned two doctoral degrees at the introduction. The lower instincts that showed up were only a small, funny foretaste of what was formulated afterwards - lightning fast and no longer so funny - in balance sheets. The fact that the perceived winner (Žižek) and perceived loser (Peterson) had to be determined first and that rather cramped boxing match vocabulary was used ("In the right corner ...") was by far not the worst .

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Sad: Everyone would rather have a boxing match than a complex discussion

No, worst of all, the debate wrongly set a sad example in the end of the inability of our time to follow the discussion of a somewhat more complex topic and not reflexively cling to the first little stick - and the tendency to do everything else badly to moderate confidently. At least when you see the first prominent reactions from the interested digital public and professional observers from the Guardian to NZZ takes as a yardstick. Which is why the matter must now, as it were, be viewed from the perspective of its end.

Afterwards, for example, one plunged into the obviously suboptimal basic constellation of this dispute, which was planned as a fight against current world views: Slavoj Žižek and Jordan Peterson are both sharp critics of the identity politics of the left-liberal mainstream, whose representatives they consider self-righteous moralists, and postmodernism (or what they have carved out as "postmodern", that is, unscrupulous value relativism) for both the root of all contemporary evils. Or one argued gleefully - with the accompanying YouTube excerpts - that Peterson had no answer to Žižek's question whether he could name him "even one single Marxist" who corresponds to Peterson's favorite enemy of the "cultural Marxist": "I'm not asking that now ", so Žižek," to say politely that you are an idiot and that you don't know what you are talking about. "

Peterson was clearly not saddled with Marxism, and his well-intentioned idea of ​​rereading Marx's and Engels' "Communist Manifesto" for the opening statement and contradicting it on ten points was an absurd decision. Jordan Peterson's Marx is a stubborn moralist, he had no clue about the tough economic analyst Marx, the author of "Capital".

Much more interesting, for example, was the seriousness and commitment with which Žižek and Peterson spoke most of the time. And in terms of content, the essential thing was not the academic wise guy mirror fight, who knows Karl Marx best. Unfortunately, it was about much more than that. Apart from the fact that they would have liked to see both of them arguing with a high-profile representative of the left-liberal mainstream (because enemies present are harder to be prepared the way one would like them to be) - apart from that, there was a central conflict in contemporary politics beyond all populist ones Provocations in this debate are very open.