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“The truth is that the masses grew out of the fragments of a highly atomized society whose competitive structure and concomitant loneliness of the individual had been held in check only through membership in a class. The chief characteristic of the mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relationships.”
“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories, comes afterwards.”
In this lecture, Peterson talks about the concept of ‘authenticity’, which is an important aspect of the existentialist philosophy. The problem, he states, is that most modern people, especially intelligent people, identify themselves with the contents of their intellect. If you can learn concepts on an abstract level, you are able to absorb them in an abstract way and identify yourself with those metaphysical concepts. On the other hand, those ideas are likely to have nothing to do with you as a person.
“When the world becomes too large to be controlled, social actors aim to shrink it back to their size and reach. When networks dissolve time and space, people anchor themselves in places, and recall their history. When the patriarchal sustainment of personality breaks down, people affirm the transcendent value of family and community, as God’s will.”
Steiner states that in the 18th and 19th century, philosophical and artistic progress led to such great heights, that we as Western Civilization thought we had reached a maximum. The emphasis of rationality in science secularised philosophy and with the Death of God, as Nietzsche proclaimed, we humans were from now on supposed rule our own lives and create our own values.
But with the death of God came something else. With the progress of science, we started to separate natural and traditional phenomena from a transcendent meaning or purpose.