Douglas Murray and Jordan Peterson: The terrible and fascinating car crash of IQ and moral worth

I know in my last article I said would deal with the difference between mystery, paradox, and contradiction.  But alas, I must detour. Because yesterday I stumbled upon a video that I simply must address.  Thank you for your forbearance.

It was a discussion between Jordan Peterson and Douglas Murray, two of arguably the greatest libertarian (I mean ideologically, not politically) social commentators of our time.  (If you don’t know who they are, just look them up on YouTube…you’ll find as much information as you want.) They were discussing, adroitly, as is expected, a myriad of things, among which was the controversy of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and race.  Unsurprisingly, the notion of some races performing better on IQ tests than others came up, and with that, the concern that this information may cause some manner of genetic superiority collectivism to rear its ugly head and begin to categorize human worth based on quantifications of intelligence. That this method of collectivizing humanity is so particularly scandalous seems at first surprising, given that humanity has been collectivizing itself, to disastrous moral effect, for thousands of years, based upon almost any reason at all.  Since any group characteristic can be and has been used to classify humanity into superior and inferior classes and castes since time immemorial, why is this so particularly shocking to heady thinkers like Murray and Peterson?

Well, the reason is pretty straightforward, and you’ve probably already figured it out.  You see, intelligence is a scientifically proven and statistically verified means of predicting future life success, even correcting for race, language, social context, socioeconomic status, and any other factor you can think of.  It has been used since the early 20th century and has never failed, as a general instrument of measure, to gauge intelligence and then empirically verify the results through objective evaluations of life performance.  Put simply, IQ tests are overwhelmingly effective at predicting life success (where “success” is defined according to socioeconomic scales in a given sociopolitical context), no matter who is being tested or where or when.  Okay, not so controversial…so far so good.  But here is where intellectuals and moral men like Peterson and Murray get the vapors, and you saw this coming a mile away.

Which groups, pray tell, score highest on IQ tests?  Asians, Jews, and Whites.  Now, in this day age of rampant, insatiable, and insidious social Marxism in the West, the first two aren’t much of a problem.  But the last one…the Whites…well, to say that Whites are more intellegent than Browns is like saying the Devil is more powerful than God.  The argument that “Jews and Asians are smarter that’s Whites” is irrelevant to the rabid masses of Marxist ideologues rampaging through the West with their bike-locks-turned-cudgels and their Malotov cocktails, both literally and figuratively.  The fact that a white person is more intelligent than a brown person on average is the problem, and is a fact that must be denied, and is just one more example of Western “institutional racism” and the white man’s inherent existential proclivity towards deception and manipulation and of course his endemic natural evil; and just one more reason white people need to be destroyed en masse. And make no mistake, to marginalize any group by claiming an inherent existential moral deficiency, which is exactly what the left is doing with whites, is to declare the need to wipe them out.  Regardless of what anyone tells you, if you concede the root existential moral failure of a group of people, the only rational means of dealing with them to murder them.  If the white man is evil because he is white, which is a function of nothing more than his birth, then he has no right to live.  If the existence of the white man means that he is inexorably White at his very natural root, and White is evil, then the white man has no right to exist, period.  The logic is clear, it is simple, and it is utterly consistent if we concede the metaphysical premise that Whitness = inherent moral depravity.

Now, as I said, the left explains the discrepancy of IQ between whites and browns on institutional racism, social manipulation, and outright perfidy and mendaciousness on the part of the western “White Patriarchy”, due to the natural depravity of white people, who are born this way.  But see, Jordan Peterson and Douglas Murray know that this is not the case.  At the same time, the empirical and statistical evidence cannot be ignored.  The scientific fact is that, on the whole, white people are more intelligent than brown people.  And because it is a fact, there is some concern amongst both Peterson and Murray, that this information will be used by some right-wing ideologues to declare whites a superior class, and, necessarily, to seek to demonize and politically (and eventually, ACTUALLY) eliminate the inferior classes.  Because, well…let’s be honest.  It’s not like it hasn’t happened before.

As a hedge against this kind of argument, Peterson quickly, and rightly—for morality obliges him—points out the fact that the level of one’s intelligence does not determine the level of his moral worth.  And “moral worth” means the value of an individual’s life qua life…of their root existence.  And with that, all the controversy dissolves into mist, right?  It seems logical, after all.  Only a fool would deny such an obvious assertion.  How much your brain can do has no bearing how good you are as a person.  And…well, this is true.  I’ve no problem asserting that as an axiom.

But here is where it gets messy, and here is where I DO have a problem with the assertion.

Both Jordan Peterson and Douglas Murray know that this is true, but they do not know WHY it is true.  And this is where it gets so, so interesting to me.  Because there is nothing more fun and fascinating than watching men who are geniuses in their fields venture into intellectual areas where they are so very clearly NOT geniuses.  Whilst there, they make some observations, and then never, ever address the gaping rational errors behind their ideas.  They talke about IQ and morality, utter an axiom, and then never address the problem of their premises not actually leading to the conclusion that the axiom is in fact axiomatic.  And you can hear the uncertainly in their voices…the cold, sharp claws of that thing digging into their brains telling them that no, it is not actually resolved at all.  That they haven’t any idea how to handle this.  And why?  Why?  They don’t know…it’s a big blank space.  Nothing is there…but is that because nothing is there, or something is there and they just can’t see it?  The axiom is clear:  Intellgence doesn’t define your moral worth as a person.  This is so intuitively true.  And it IS true….so why the hesitation?  Why is there no satisfaction in asserting something so true?

I will tell you why:

Peterson and Murray’s declaration of the truth that intelligence is exclusive of moral worth flat out contradicts their assertion that IQ is, in fact, an objective measure of objective outcomes. Because you cannot have it both ways.  You cannot divorce intelligence from morality AND claim that intelligence has objective VALUE.  Because value is, itself, at root, a function of morality…it is a matter of ethical truth, not epistemological truth.  To claim that something is objectively useful to reality, in some context or another, like, for example, the prediction of one’s socioeconomic performance via intelligence levels, is, in fact, a claim of objective moral worth.  In other words, to say that intelligence is objectively useful to man is to imply that it has value.  And value judgements—the degree to which something is good or bad, which can also be rendered as “useful or degrading”; “helpful or harmful”—are judgements at root of morality (meaning, they fall into the philosophical category of ethics, which deals with the distinction between what is good and what is not).  If high levels of intelligence are objectively useful to objective success then high intelligence must be said to be objectively GOOD.  Which in turn must mean that low intelligence is objectively BAD.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the rub.  You cannot divorce the “OBJECTIVE usefulness” of high intelligence from the “OBJECTIVE morality” of high intelligence.  The fact that having high intelligence produces “objectively” good outcomes for people and societies means that the people who possess high intelligence must be morally superior to those who possess low intelligence. If, of course, you accept the premise that the “success” intelligence predicts is objective. Which I promise you Murray and Peterson do.

And THAT is the nagging, gnawing thing in their brains which torments them.  They know, somewhere inside, that this must be the case (that intelligence = moral value) but the abomination of such an idea offends, and rightly so, their sensibilities as good and honest and kind and empathetic men, which they clearly are.  They know there’s a monster in the woods, but they have never seen him, so can they be so sure?

The answer is: Yes they can.  But I promise you that they will not like the reason.  They will very likely not and never accept the reason…so it goes.

The truth, which reconciles the moral dilemma, is that the “life success” which intelligence predicts is, in fact, not objective at all.  And this means that intelligence is nothing more than a character trait, which, like skin color or the size of one’s nose, may or may not have any meaning or value to the individual, his life, or reality.  Intelligence, you see, being divorced from morality, which it must be in order to avoid the  very real ethical dilemma Peterson and Murray discuss (valuing an individual according to his intelligence) doesn’t really have anything to do with knowledge, and I mean in the philosophically primary sense.  Because the knowledge of what IS is inexorably bound to the knowledge of what is GOOD; and furthermore the knowledge of what IS and is GOOD is only relevant and therefore objectively meaningful if it drives behavior.  Since IQ does not and cannot incorporate the relevant knowledge of objective truth corollary to objective moral truth BY also incorporating actual observed objective moral behavior, then intelligence indeed has NOTHING to do with one’s moral value. This being the case, intelligence is not the equivalent of what we might call “wisdom”.  And wisdom is where the Truth is.  Wisdom is knowledge, and the knowledge of what IS includes the knowledge of what IS GOOD, and is made manifest—made REAL—by one’s actions.  Wisdom is really all that matters when it comes to OBJECTIVE success, I submit.  And by that I mean, success absolutely, existentially, forever and ever.

See…I told you they wouldn’t like the answer.  In fact, I’m willing to bet that you don’t like it either. Which one am I?  A fool?  Deluded?  Possibly both?  Lol…I take no offense, dear reader.  Correct me where I stray, and if you cannot, then accept it.  Those are your only two rational choices

Here is my point in summary:

“Intelligence has nothing to do with one’s moral worth” is the assertion made my Jordan Peterson and Douglas Murray, and it is a correct assertion.  What this means is that intelligence doesn’t have anything to do with morality, in general, at all. Intelligence, in other words, having nothing to do with man’s moral value, cannot itself have any moral value, because MAN provides the only rational reference for morality.  MAN decides the value of intelligence, not the other way around.

What DOES have something to do with man’s moral value, and incorporates morality, itself, in general, is knowledge of the Truth, or Wisdom. Because wisdom is the understanding of Truth and it’s corollary, Good, and is made REAL and meaningful through man’s behavior.  How do we know whether or not a man has moral worth, or to what degree it is?  Watch his actions and gauge them against objective morality…objective morality being that which references the individual, and thus does not violate his sanctity.  Does not kill him, steal from him, lie to him, abuse or threaten him.

Intelligence then becomes a subjective predictor of success, which makes the success which it predicts necessarily subjective also.  In such a case we are forced to consider intelligence, again having nothing to do with morality, as little more than a character trait which may or may not have any actual value, depending on the individual in question.  It may have value, if one’s definition of his success is that which intelligence can predict, but OBJECTIVE success—that which is manifest by the implementation of wisdom—is not a function of intelligence.




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