Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts!
I've followed Dr. Peterson very closely since his rise to fame, and never have I heard him claim that his ideas were original - he has always pointed to his own mentors and given them credit where credit was due, and encouraged modern people to tackle great works written by great people of the past to educate themselves and thereby think for themselves.
I'm not sure what your grievances are with him, but from what you've shared it seems that your main complaint is that he does not practice what he preaches. The proof being that he succumbed to opioid addiction and could not function in the public sphere for a while.
Perhaps people take this incident as evidence of Dr. Peterson being a hypocrite - he delivers advice against addiction and offers advice on how to live an upright, responsible life, yet he was unable to cope with the problems of his personal life and became dependent on something that people could consider "avoidable".
But as you've stated yourself, no one is perfect. I don't believe Dr. Peterson has ever displayed himself as a Messianic figure. He has never claimed authority over others through the use of religious texts, as some charlatans or cult leaders may. I believe he has not utilized his elevated status inappropriately or solely for his own personal gain, and we should refrain from judging a man who has lived a completely different life from ours.
Which one of us can say that we have never failed to live up to our own principles, our own standards? Which one of us will be the first to cast stones? If we were in his shoes, wouldn't we want the most generous interpretation of events?
Perhaps this event can also point the magnifying glass to ourselves - we expected too much of a man, and we expected never to see him fall or make mistakes. We can argue that this is what humans tend to do - elevated figures throughout human history have been glorified and worshipped to superhuman heights when their original message was to simply help each individual find their own path to peace. Jesus and Buddha probably never expected to become metaphysical, godlike figures, but their followers made them so.
And if we try to deduce the core message of Dr. Peterson's philosophy, it is that of personal responsibility. His message has always been to elevate and empower the individual: he encourages each of us to:
- increase self-knowledge through improving our abilities to read and write
- understand the evil within rather than solely focusing on the evil without
- avoid ideology and respect the stories of the religious texts by stripping them of rigid, dogmatic interpretations
- tell the truth, because it is the way in which we transform ourselves, other people, and the world
- take responsibility for the trajectory of our lives and absolve ourselves from victimhood
I also understand your other frustration: many of the "teachings" that people attribute to Dr. Peterson were teachings are riddled throughout many different philosophies, and people erroneously credit him for sharing these "nuggets of wisdom". Again, it is not something that he has done, but what we have done as his readers and listeners. He has never proclaimed that he was the progenitor of any of his ideas.
And to be honest, while it is important to give credit where credit is due, I don't think it really matters whose mouth these "teachings" come out of, as long as they are communicated, applied, and evaluated to see if they are effective and valuable.
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading :) I appreciate you taking the time to comment and share your thoughts, and I'd love to hear what you thought about what I shared here. I'm still working on improving my ability to articulate my thoughts and I'm sure I may have made mistakes or logical fallacies here and there. All the more reason to engage in discussions so that I can identify my weaknesses and flaws!
Looking forward to reading your thoughts.