by UnHerd News
Wednesday, 24
November 2021
Dispatch
07:00

Jordan Peterson heals old wounds with Cambridge return

Two years after he was cancelled, the psychologist spoke at the university
by UnHerd News
Dr Arif Ahmed thanks Jordan Peterson at Lady Mitchell Hall

Last night, at Lady Mitchell Hall at Cambridge University, the Canadian psychologist and intellectual Dr Jordan Peterson made an appearance that has been more than two years in the making.

His speech was was preceded by an announcement by two of the university proctors, dressed in full academic robes, that they were “present to uphold freedom of speech.”

In an hour-long address, delivered without notes, an upbeat Dr Peterson took the theme of “perception” and moved through neuroscience, theology, politics and opera to argue against the idea that our understanding of categories and reality is determined by oppressive or patriarchal cognitive habits that must be unlearned. Instead, he said, the truth of things calls out to us and, being moved to tears more than once, described how great art and religious buildings made the miracle of perception apparent.

A lone female demonstrator emerged from the wings at one of these more dramatic moments, dressed as a lobster (in reference to the famous invocation of lobsters as an example of a dominance hierarchy in Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life), shouted ‘feminism’ and disappeared. Dr Peterson laughed and said that, as far as protests go, he found it quite witty. There were no protestors outside the auditorium.

In early 2019, an invitation to spend time at Cambridge as a visiting academic was rescinded after a small campaign of complaints. It became one of the most talked-about examples of “cancel culture” and spurred into action a network of faculty members at Cambridge who were determined to reverse what they saw as a descent into intellectual cowardice and a surrender of the principles of free enquiry.

Arif Ahmed, David Butterfield and Douglas Headley are some of the academics in this group, but on this occasion Dr Peterson was invited by James Orr, a member of the faculty of Divinity. Stephen Blackwood of Ralston College was also closely involved in the trip.

They spoke of how warmly received Peterson has been in Cambridge, with almost no negative reaction on the streets of the university campus but much interest.

Concluding proceedings, Philosophy professor Arif Ahmed said:

This event does mark, I hope, the close of a disgraceful chapter in the history of this university. For too long we have laboured under the absurd ideas that words are a form of pressure, and that speech is a way of perpetuating harm, when the opposite is true. Words are instruments of liberation, and speech is an alternative to harm…

Things have been improving, we’ve started to win a few things. So I was delighted when I heard, this Autumn, that Jordan would be coming back to Cambridge. It represents an important victory in this battle to get back this ancient institution which has played such a great role in the history of this country, and freedom in this country.

- Dr Arif Ahmed

Dr Peterson will speak at the Cambridge Union tonight, the Oxford Union tomorrow and will attend various events in Westminster next week.

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hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
10 months ago

Knowing that this happened, and that it wasn’t met with a barrage of abuse from the usual suspects, has pretty much made my week!

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
10 months ago

you’re not wrong! me too

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
10 months ago

Agreed. And even more poignant is JBPs health and that of his family has vastly improved.

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
10 months ago

Hear, hear, Hayden!
This is a cause for celebration for what is a small but significant step back towards freedom and sanity.

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago

I agree with the comments posted, but as a reality check, the fact that this is news, or worthy of such accolades, shows how far that the West, and the unis writ large have fallen. When a respected academic, author, and popular culture figure speaks at a uni it should not be a big deal.
There is still much work to do in the battle to defeat the woke.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
10 months ago

Delighted to hear this. Is the woke boat running into some headwinds? Perhaps all the real nutters have decamped to planet Trans.

David Simpson
David Simpson
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Perhaps someone finally counted how many there actually are, and who they represent (ie a tiny shouty minority, and merely themselves)

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
10 months ago

‘One Swallow does not a Summer make’, but it is a hopeful sign.

Last edited 10 months ago by Mike Doyle
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

The exact words that I was going to post 🙂
Hopeful nonetheless, and I was particularly taken by Dr Arif Ahmed’s words.

Dr Anne Kelley
Dr Anne Kelley
10 months ago

I can only hope that this marks the start of a journey back to sanity for all our universities.

Fiona Archbold
Fiona Archbold
10 months ago

Quite made my day, common sense returning.

Dan G
Dan G
10 months ago

Very good to hear!

Fredrick Urbanelli
Fredrick Urbanelli
10 months ago

Great news. No one is more deserving of these honors than Dr. Peterson. But I must agree with Mr. Joyce, too. A world in which a speech in a centuries-old university by a mildly conservative and classically trained academic is viewed as a major milestone is a strange world indeed!

Zirrus VanDevere
Zirrus VanDevere
9 months ago

But certainly you understand the source of relief that causes it to be noteworthy, yes? I loved the visual of a lone feminist in a lobster costume, and I’m pleased that he found it to be clever. Just imagine the relief that he himself felt to not be barraged by a contemptuous and rowdy opposition. It is a signal of a wind change and is indeed heartening news.

Claire D
Claire D
10 months ago

That’s great news.

gillian.johnstone
gillian.johnstone
10 months ago

Good to know that, at last, some academics are beginning the fight to take back control of these historical institutions. It says a lot about Jordan Peterson that he agreed to come back to the place where a few bigots treated him so shamefully. I wonder why the usual suspects were silent on this occasion: is the tide turning so soon? Unlikely, but a glimmer of light at last.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
10 months ago

The woman in the Lobster costume added a great flourish to it….

Robert Pruger
Robert Pruger
10 months ago

Let’s hope that Peterson’s talk is videotaped and is posted on the web. My Peterson cup is empty.

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
10 months ago

For he’s a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny, and quite a wise one too.

Jim Cooper
Jim Cooper
10 months ago

Let’s hope this remains the case…

John Hicks
John Hicks
10 months ago

A good news day. Thanks!

Jill Corel
Jill Corel
10 months ago

I am both relieved and delighted! Looking forward to watching on youtube!

Jordan Flower
Jordan Flower
10 months ago

FEMINISM

      ____
     /  __\
    |: /---)  \    /   ___
     \:( _/    \  /   /_  \
      \  \      \/    \_\::)
       \_ \   _0""0_   / _/
         \ \/=  \/  =\/ /
          \ |  (||)  | /
           \_\______/_/
           __//    \\__
          /__//====\\__\
       _ //__//====\\__\\ _
       _ //__//====\\__\\ _
       _ //   /(  )\   \\ _
       _ /    /(  )\    \ _
              |(  )|
              /    \
             / /||\ \

\:_/\_:/

Last edited 10 months ago by Jordan Flower
Mike Atkinson
Mike Atkinson
10 months ago

Yes, it’s an encouraging sign, so let’s hope we will see more of this. That said, from the same university, this is not so good.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCUWclE6vuw

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
10 months ago

I live near a Uni supposedly in the throes of wokeness. I drive through the campus occasionally and town is a student dorm. Impression I know but it all looks like they’re just getting on with typical student stuff. 50 people with placards at some demo? Same in the seventies- a few tedious people in the Union and in various therapy groups for their insecurities posing as a political or identity grouping. A few crackpot egoists too who wanted to be in politics

Last edited 10 months ago by Terence Fitch
G A
G A
9 months ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

And they got into politics, and look what is happening.

M. Gatt
M. Gatt
9 months ago

Thank God. May reason prevail.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
9 months ago

“Just rejoice at that news,” as someone once remarked.