From THE JORDAN PETERSON PHENOMENON. I see Peterson as an attempt to guide us back to common sense, but perhaps there is no such thing, only tradition and custom. But we are also inheritors of the Western philosophical tradition. These are excerpts I have pulled out that seemed to summarise where the article was heading. But you should read the article yourself and see what you make of it.
His intent is to refute all “blank slate” doctrines that deny our biological hard-wiring and teach the same disastrous lesson: humans are merely social artefacts with no inherent or evolved nature. From there it is but a quick step to insisting that any differences in abilities or interests leading to disparate outcomes are arbitrary and unjust, and that men and women are essentially the same. This last emphatically erroneous point is of particular concern to Peterson, because it is at the root of so much of the unhappiness he sees in his clinical practice; not to mention that a society incapable of supporting stable families and raising healthy, well-adjusted children won’t long survive.
Peterson sidesteps the question of whether he is himself a believing Christian, and hints that he is agnostic. Some critics refuse to accept Peterson’s half-loaf of Scripture without God. They conclude, with Friedrich Nietzsche among others, that there is no Christian morality without Christ. But Peterson is actually correct, without ever quite saying how, in suggesting that God and His Word can be understood separately, that it’s possible to see the Old Testament as one among many ancient stories, and yet somehow radically different. He sees the centrality of the Bible for Western civilization, but misses something essential.
What did he miss?
In “Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy,” an essay published in 1991, Harry Jaffa explained that all the ancient cities claimed that their laws were of divine origin. In this sense, the Torah was like the stories of any other ancient city. But all other ancient cities were polytheistic. Only Judaism (and then Christianity) proclaims the “One God who is separate from the universe, of which he is the Creator.” Because the God of the Bible is “both separate and unique,” He is therefore unknowable….
“[But] God endowed man with the capacity for reflection and choice, and thus we can discern that the laws of Moses are “righteous.” Do we not see … that in the Torah, “the teachings of reason and of revelation will not contradict each other, since both reason and revelation are God’s gifts to mankind?”…
Because he is radically unknowable, belief in that God requires a leap of faith. Peterson—or anyone—can therefore find himself unable to make that leap, but nevertheless see in the Word of the Hebrew God the “wisdom and understanding” that makes the Bible unique.
Because people “live in a sea of complexity,” we “perceive meaningful phenomena, not the objective world.” This description of seeing the world pre-scientifically, as a place not of objects but of meaningful phenomena, derives fundamentally from Martin Heidegger and existentialism. Peterson calls himself an existentialist, in fact, and generously salts his book with references to “Being,” acknowledging his “exposure to the ideas of the 20th-century German philosopher.”