Well, it's a bit of a complex answer, but if I had to summarise it in a single phrase, I would say that this is a failure of the Enlightenment project.
The Enlightenment project started in the 18th century. It was a confluence of ideas, separation of church and state, liberalism, let's say fair, human rights, civil rights, individualism.
And so, we have been living within the Enlightenment project for well over 200, possibly 300 years, and some people take it all the way back to the Renaissance, so five, six hundred years.
At any rate, the project had failed. And the project had failed because all the core values of the Enlightenment had metastasized.
Now, the really interesting question is, why did these core values undergo a malignancy, cancerous process? What had happened? Where did we go wrong? Where did we deviate?
But perhaps we will leave it for the next question.
With regards to your question, let's start with individualism.
Individualism was at the core of the Enlightenment project. The individual, the human being, became the focal point, became the compass, became the northern star.
Prior to that, in the Middle Ages, even at the beginning of the Renaissance, let's say the 15th century, God was still predominant. He was still the pivot and the axis of everything from values to beliefs to behaviors. It was a guiding light.
And so we have given up on God and we have placed ourselves at the very center.
Initially, there was nothing wrong with it because the Church, the institutionalized religion, had become very tyrannical, very corrupt. And so it was a way to counter the effects of the Church and the effects of monarchies and aristocracies and kings who had lost touch with the people.
And so individualism was a good thing.
But then it became really malignant. It became cancerous.
In the absence of religion, there was an axiological deviance. In other words, there were no values, no agreed-upon set of values.
And so everyone began to develop his or her own belief system, value system. And these value systems began to conflict.
The absence of religion, killing God, God is dead, as Nietzsche had said. Killing God had rendered all of us gods, substitute gods, surrogate gods.
And now each and every one of us could come with his or her, 10 commandments.
And obviously and inevitably and eluctably, it generated a lot of conflict. And conflict is usually mediated and regulated via institutions.
But because individualism had become malignant, institutions crumble. Everything from the family, to the community, to the village, it took a village to raise a child, from neighborly relations, everything from courts, to the media, to the legislatures, to the executive branch, nation states, everything simply crumbled to dust.
Institutions were dead, rendered dysfunctional, one after the other.
Now the institutional death, or the death of institutions, presented two problems.
First of all, aggression and violence no longer could be modified, modulated, regulated, channeled, controlled and penalized by institutions, whether formal institutions or informal institutions, for example, social networks or social fabric.
This was the first problem.
So aggression and violence had exploded. And unprecedented proportions, the two world wars, for example, were unprecedented in their totality, the civilian population was involved, and in their magnitude and extension.
There was a first problem with the lack of institutions or the death of institutions, the decay and decomposition of social institutions that we had created over millennia.
And the second problem is that in the absence of institutions, everything that went with institutions, for example, institutional memory, values embedded in institutions, beliefs attended upon institutions, everything died as well. The baby was discarded with bathwater and the whole house with the bathtub.
So nothing much was left. And so we had no religion, we had no God, we had no institutions, we had numerous conflicts which had erupted, and individualism became only worse.
Erstwhile social networks, the real life ones, offline ones, frayed and finally disintegrated completely.
And because everything fell apart, you know, including gender roles, including social roles, including the social compact, the social agreement, including who had to do what, everything, just everything collapsed.
So we were driven to become more and more self- sufficient. We had to fend for ourselves, we had to survive somehow.
And so this exacerbated atomization, exacerbated malignant individualism, rendered alienation much worse.
Within huge urban collectives within cities and megalopolises, people felt totally lonely, surrounded by millions. People had never felt more lonely than now in the modern and postmodern age, angst, existential anxiety is a relatively new phenomenon. Although the existentialists are trying to pretend otherwise, angst had never existed before I would say the 19th century before the Industrial Revolution.
So there was this, and there were no objective benchmarks left anymore. There was no set of criteria or values or beliefs or edicts or injunctions or advice or tips or something to which you could compare your performance. You couldn't calibrate yourself. We went out of whack. We lost control over our internal processes because there was no one out there and there was no one in here to tell us, listen, you're losing it, you're on the wrong path.
So everyone was all over the place because objectivity was lost and was replaced by total malignant subjectivity. And this was not helped by additional processes, fostered and engendered and egged on by technology. Processes such as disintermediation, removing the gatekeepers, removing the people who made sure that certain quality standards are preserved and maintained and passed forward intergenerationally.
So we used to have editors, we used to have journalists, we used to have professionals, we used to have teachers. We don't have these gatekeepers anymore. Anyone can do anything. You want to publish a book? You can publish a book today with Kindle, Amazon. You want to make a movie? You can make a movie. And there's no quality control. There's no one to tell right from wrong. There's no one to apply aesthetic or other standards. There are no standards.
And this creates a problem of discoverability. The few diamonds and pearls are buried in a mound of trash because the vast majority of the population prefer trash. Trash prevails. Trash governs. Trash rises to the top.
And there's no institutional memory. There's no continuity. The world becomes timeless in the sense that everything is in the present. There's no recollection of the past. There's no anticipation of the future. There's only the here and now. It's even reflected in therapy where we have what we call mindfulness therapies. Mindfulness therapies dispense with the past and force you to focus on your body right now.
So you see all these phenomena congealed and created malignant individualism. And how does malignant individualism look?
Well, you sit alone in your apartment with your TV dinner and you watch shows that no one else watches because everything is customized and tailored so you cannot share anything with anyone. And you inhabit your solipsistic molecule of space. You have no home. You belong nowhere. You are your own universe. It's totally self-contained, totally self-sufficient in the bad sense of the word. You need no one on the one hand, but no one needs you on the other.
So we fall apart. Sex becomes emotionless and casual. Dating is replaced by dating apps. Conversations become chats. Friends become Facebook friends. It's all plastic. It's all sterile. It's all impromptu and improvised. It's all fake. It's simulacrum. It's a society of the spectacle.
So this is malignant individualism.
Then you have malignant egalitarianism. Malignant egalitarianism is a form of grandiosity.
Because all institutions had disintegrated, the proper regulation and channeling of power, of benefits, of knowledge also fell apart. So now everything is everywhere as though some giant nuclear device had exploded in the midst of human civilization.
So this created a level playing field again in the bad pernicious sense of the word. Everything is on the level. Everyone is on the level. There are no role models to look up to because you never look up. You never look up. You look horizontally.
We had become a horizontal society, a horizontal civilization which had replaced hierarchical and vertical civilization. No wonder the dominant metaphor of today's world is the network because in the network every node is equipment. Every node is equal to every node and the network is horizontal, never vertical. So there are no role models. There's nothing to look up to or to aspire to. There are no hopes and dreams, at least not realistic ones. Hopes and dreams are replaced by the pathologized dysfunctional version which is known as fantasy.
So people fantasize and their fantasies are inevitably grandiose. They have access to technology which empowers them and gives them the illusion of the delusion that they are equal to everyone else.
So we became barbarians with smartphones and everyone who has a smartphone is equal to everyone else who has a smartphone. This is egalitarianism of the malignant type and this leads of course to destructive envy. You want to drag everyone to your level to this level playing field because you can't look up. You want to look down upon. You want everything that is a bit above your level frustrates you and creates this horrible irresistible wish to destroy the source of your frustration.
It's a seething cauldron of resentments and envy and jealousy and hatred and aggression and the wish to ruin, eradicate, eliminate and vanquish anything that challenges your grandiose self-perception as perfect, as omnipotent and as omniscient. You're all-knowing because you have access to Wikipedia. You're all-powerful because at your fingertips are smartphones and laptops which allow you to do literally anything and everything.
Then of course you are your own role model because there are no other role models left. It's an infinite loop. It's a regression. It's regression because you keep referring to yourself. It's self-recursive. It's self-referential and we know that self-recursive loops and badly an infinite regression.
It's a hall of mirrors and only you are reflected in these mirrors. No wonder narcissists and psychopaths are only ascendant because narcissists provide you with this mirror. They idealize you.
Narcissists and psychopaths set a monopoly on halls of mirrors and they sell these halls of mirrors to you when they love-bomb you or groom you.
This is the outcome of malignant egalitarianism because you want to see yourself in idealized form. You want to become this ego ideal that Sigmund Freud talked about.
But of course this generates enormous confusion between external reality and internal reality. External objects and internal objects. We are all in a state which borders on psychosis because we can't tell anymore.
What is reality TV and what is the presidency of the United States? What is a television series and what is the presidency of Ukraine? What is real and what is fake? What news are fake and what news are real?
Which vaccines are fake and which vaccines are real? Everything is counterfeit. Everything is simulacrum. Everything is imitated, imitative and derivative. And everything is equal to everything. There's no gradations, no ranking, no nothing.
Algorithms decide what we watch, what we read. These algorithms are the embodiment, the reification of malignant egalitarianism because these algorithms reflect the totality of human decisions in consumption. They crowdsource decision making and we all know what the crowd is made of.
We all know the mind of the mob. Not much intelligence there to use another statement of the century.
The next thing that I think went awry with the project of the Enlightenment is tolerance.
Malignant tolerance. Malignant tolerance means that we tolerate everything. We tolerate everyone because everyone is equal to everyone, because everything is equal to everything, because we are on this level playing field where no one stands apart, no one stands tall, where everything is level, where everything reflects everything, reflects everything, reflects everything like an infinite hall of mirrors, where we are clones of each other.
This creates tolerance, but malignant tolerance.
And there are numerous manifestations to this malignant tolerance.
Moral relativism, for example. My morality is as good as your morality. Whatever your values may be, I respect your values even if they are despicable. I respect your religion even if it calls for beheadings. It's okay. It's okay to believe in anything. It's okay to believe anyone.
So you have these con artists and swindlers and psychopaths and narcissists who become gurus and business coaches and dating coaches and mental health coaches and self-styled experts, because there's relativism. Anyone can say anything and everything is equally valid. There's no objective criterion or validity, not even the facts.
It's like everyone is saying, I've made up my mind. Don't confuse me with the facts.
Political correctness is another manifestation of malignant tolerance.
You're not allowed to say certain things. You're self-sensor because you may hurt someone's delicate emotions by telling the truth. The truth is sacrificed to prevent hurt and pain.
Real, imaginary or alleged so many psychopaths and narcissists create victimhood movements and leverage this sick pathological malignant sensitivity to actually further their nefarious and insidious goals.
Recent studies, and I've dedicated a few videos to this. I'm going to dedicate one more because there's just the most recent study just released demonstrating that victimhood movements are deeply penetrated, deeply controlled by psychopaths and narcissists.
Political correctness gave rise to all this. It's sick.
And then there is, of course, truthiness. Truthiness. My truth is as good as your truth. My facts are as good as your facts.
Alternative facts. I've seen people arguing whether the battle of Hastings took place in 1066. And one of them said, I don't think it happened in 1066, but it's okay if you think so. Like it's okay to believe that it happened in 1066 and it's okay to believe that it did not happen in 1066. Truthiness had replaced truth. Factitiousness or factiness or whatever you want to call it or facticity had replaced facts.
Facts can be argued upon and settled and negotiated and compromised nowadays.
Okay. You don't feel good with the fact, with the fact the battle of Hastings happened in 1066. Let's negotiate. Let's talk about it. Let's revise the date so that you feel good with yourself. You feel comfortable.
Truthiness is the poison, is toxic, is ruining us.
And we have expressions of this in the pandemic.
Malignant tolerance has destroyed academic rigor, destroyed intellectual pursuits, ruined our ability to reason, to study, to argue, to debate, eliminated diversity and variety and had really horrible effects on our capacity to progress in advance by learning more. It had impacted learning in an possibly irrevocable way.
And finally, there's malignant reasoning.
One of the most inhuman outcomes of the project of enlightenment is the preference of ideas and concepts over people. Abstract reasoning over day-to-day wisdom.
So, people became secondary. They became raw material. They were subjected to experiments in ideas known as ideologies.
Various concepts, for example, some races are superior to others, were used to manipulate people or even to kill them, to eliminate them.
Communism, Nazism, Fascism, and to a large extent Anglo-Saxon capitalism, the emerging neo-fudalism, a lot of technologies, many technologies, they are examples of malignant reasoning.
When you fall in love with an idea, you make it an ideology. When you fall in love with a concept, you forget about people. You sacrifice people to prove that you are right or to prove the validity and the applicability of your new new fangled thinking.
So, ideas and concepts over people, the enlightenment's worst contribution.
Jordan Peterson talks about it in his analysis of communism and Slavoj Zizek in his own way as well.
Another manifestation of malignant reasoning was interdisciplinarity.
Interdisciplinarity started off as a very good idea. The aim was to borrow methodologies of thinking, fresh approaches, fresh outlook, to borrow from one discipline and to apply it to another.
For example, physicists, and I am one, I'm a physicist, can benefit greatly from the insights and methodology of philosophy. Psychology can benefit from philosophy, anthropology can benefit from psychology, business can benefit from a multitude of disciplines.
Sointerdisciplinarity was a good idea because there was cross-fertilization between hitherto hermetically compartmentalized modes of thinking and disciplines.
But interdisciplinarity evolved and gave rise to a series of pseudosciences, sciences at the nexus of erstwhile disciplines.
Psychology, for example, had become such a pseudoscience.
Psychologists believe that if they use statistics, it renders them scientists.
The same with economists.
So, in the social sciences and in the humanistic disciplines, interdisciplinarity had led to pseudosciences.
And of course, pseudosciences crossed the line between academe and the public when academics, when intellectuals discovered money, when they realized how much money there is out there, just waiting for them to pick it up, they exported their pseudoscientific thoughts, endeavors, concepts, ideas, methodologies, and they made a lot of money. They prostituted themselves, they became con artists and swindlers.
And by now, this legitimized fields like astrology, numerology, the occult, mystical traditions like the Kabbalah, and so on and so forth, and put them on the same level like these exported pseudosciences.
So, if you're a psychologist, and you know the limitations of your discipline, but you pretend that they are none, what you're doing is you're converting psychology to a pseudoscience.
And then, as a psychologist, leveraging your pseudoscience to make money, don't complain if you come across astrologers, alchemists, if you come across numerologists, if you come across spiritualists.
The minute you contaminate and adulterate science, that minute you open the gates to the esoteric and the occult.
In the same way as psychologists, these borrows, borrows from mathematics, from statistics, these occult esoteric pseudosciences are going to borrow concepts and ideas from psychology, from physics.
Sorather than defend the purity of science, rather than weed out, reject, object vehemently, fight back any attempt to contaminate science with pseudoscience, scientists, academic, and above all public intellectuals succumbed to the lure of money and became swindlers, scammers, and con artists just to make money.
The minute they did this, they opened the gates wide open, and astrology came in, alchemy came in, numerology came in, homeopathy came in, other such trashing nonsensical pseudo-disciplines came in and stole the assets of real science.
So, these people talk about energy, which is a concept in physics, they talk about mental, which is a word in psychology, they stole the core and heart of real scientific disciplines because pseudoscience had been legitimized.
This is malignant reasoning, part of malignant reasoning.
Malignant reasoning led to three fallacies.
Fallacy number one, the confusion between technology, science, and civilization. Technology is not science. Science can lead to technology, but is not technology, and that you have technology doesn't render you civilized.
Actually, one of the greatest explosion in technological innovation happened during the early Middle Ages, and these were also the darkest moments in human intellectual history and freedom of thought and speech.
So, in the darkest era in human history, technology had exploded.
So, technology is not synonymous with progress, not synonymous with innovation, not synonymous with science, not synonymous with civilization. These are totally different things.
We are today in a new dark age, in the new Middle Ages, and we had never had more technology than today. We are barbarians with technology.
The second confusion is between information and knowledge.
Information is the raw material. Knowledge is organized information, information that is structured, information that is ordered so as to yield insights, to yield new things, to yield new ideas, to yield new concepts.
When we take information as raw material, and this is Wikipedia, for example, it gets us nowhere. It's like an inventory list. It's meaningless. Organize information according to certain principles, and you get a theory. You get knowledge. Knowledge is what we should seek, not information, and yet owing to malignant reasoning, we place a premium on information, not on knowledge, big data.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is information, not knowledge. It's a list of lists.
Similarly, we confuse information with education. We give our children a lot of information. We give them laptops. We give them smartphones. We think we have done our job. We have given them access to information. Now they will be informed.
Informed citizenry is like informed consent. You have to know the future. You have to know the structure. You have to know the goal. You have to know where you're going, and you have to know if you will be effed or not at the end.
So knowledge is not education. Information is not education. Education is a process of constructing an entire human being, a whole human being.
The raw material is not information. It's the child. You provide the child with access to information. You then help the child structure this information into forms of knowledge, but this is the tip of the iceberg. This is not education, and yet we had equated it with education.
Put all these forth, malignant individualism, malignant egalitarianism, malignant tolerance, and malignant reasoning, and you will begin to understand how we've ended up the way we are today.
It's a bleak landscape, and these processes, we have opened the gates. We have opened the gates, for example, by providing all the population with extremely powerful technology without training them and educating them on how to use it. We have opened the gates by destroying our institutions, destroying them, not replacing them, not creating new institutions, an orgy of destruction and ruination.
The future is bleak because pseudosciences are on the ascendant. Science is dying. Science, rational thinking, they're dying.
Look what happened during the pandemic.
The pseudosciences, anything from conspiracy theories to UFOs, from astrology to numerology, from alchemy to crystals, these are on the ascendants.
Well over, I would say, seven or eight people out of ten believe in occult or esoteric sciences, in conspiracy theories, or in manifestly nonsensical misinformation. Very, very few people are left who are rational, well-informed, and are willing to fight for this knowledge. We don't have fighters anymore. We don't have the army of the rational army. The rational army had retreated into the ivory towers, and even there it's besieged. It's besieged and dying there, and it doesn't look good at all, but we can discuss it in your next question.