Article published at Poletical 

Professor Jordan Peterson is an intellectual leader of our time. He is taking part in a new scientific revolution, a groundbreaking effort to understand the workings of the human mind, culture, and religious worldviews and how they are shaped by evolved psychological adaptations that determine our social structure and philosophy of life. This new scientific paradigm that integrates such varying disciplines as the biology of sex, moral psychology, history of religion, and cultural evolution, is a burgeoning field, yet to be widely recognized outside small academic circles. But the fast-growing popularity of Peterson’s perspectives is indicative of a yearning to reach a more comprehensive understanding of our cultural condition.

Peterson published his thesis on this emerging field with his book Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief (1999), in which he delves into the structure and meaning embedded in systems of belief and the interconnected role they play in regulating the human emotional system. He delivers this scientific theory to the public through his many online lectures and interviews, reaching a huge audience; and his current book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018), has been a runaway best-seller. In light of the current culture wars raging on fundamental issues of gender and sexual relations and how they reflect on our sociopolitical structure, his popularity is nothing short of fascinating.

Moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt is another prominent intellectual figure, who is in the midst of the cultural conflicts, trying to make sense of the evolved human psychology behind our contentious social atmosphere, negative trend in social mood, and political polarization. In his 2012 book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, he suggests that we evolved as an ultra-social species that creates moral and religious systems, which we organize around to bind us together, but which blind us from understanding other groups. In 2015, recognizing our innate cognitive biases and inclination toward “group think,” Haidt established a new organization called the Heterodox Academy. The role of this online outlet is to increase viewpoint diversity, given the radical feminist and social justice orthodoxy that has come to completely dominate our academic institutions. This prevailing academic mindset has stifled the free exchange of ideas associated with the culture of reason in search of objective truth that created the great scientific progress since the Age of Enlightenment.

In my new book, Sex Wars: How Hormones Drive Gender, Race, & Culture Conflicts, I further study how our minds, as social animals that sexually reproduce, are shaped by the evolution of sex. My hypothesis is that hormonal cycles are the primary driver shaping our history and leading the rise and fall of great civilizations. In Chinese philosophy the yin-yang represents the feminine and masculine brain that both opposes and completes one another. The pendulum of human history is swinging between these two extremes. Hence, in order to reach a scientific understanding of our social mind that drives culture, we need to consider the whole, studying these different perspectives to integrate the parts into a complete picture that better describes how evolved human psychology shapes our comprehension of the world.

This new scientific vision will require us to transcend our limited view of a single brain and to view humanity as an integrated social network similar to the neural network made of billions of neurons in our brain, and thereby create a new synthesis. I propose that continuing on the path of the scientific revolution, led in physics by Newton and in biology by Darwin, equipped with the modern tools of neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, we can now create a similar revolution in the social sciences and humanities to bring the next leap forward in human knowledge!

Roy Barzilai is the author of three books: The Objective Bible (2014), The Testosterone Hypothesis (2015),

and his new book, Sex Wars (2018).