If the objective of free speech is to encourage the opportunity to engage a diversity of ideas, does freedom of speech really matter in an increasingly divided climate where consensus regarding indisputable facts no longer exists?

Is it free speech to give purveyors of misinformation and ignorance a forum? For example, radio commentator Rush Limbaugh has tens of millions of followers, and THEIR truths are largely alternative when compared to actual fact.

Moreover, all this misinformation has trickled down and turned the media into a mindless debating forum where the arguments of the right are placed in opposition to those of the left and the opportunity to reason is lost to Jerry Springer-style food fights.

That is why the media is currently as popular and as effective as the American Congress.

When the mainstream media is simply a battle of pundits where the one "on the left" disputes the one "on the right" nothing is ever learned or resolved. The format is supposed to be objective because many falsely assume that Truth generally lies in the coordination of antagonistice opinions but that kind of thinking was aptly shredded by philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche. Unfortunately, his ideas are not widely understood, and the validity of his wisdom is consequently not widely applied.

What did Friedrich Nietzsche mean by "truth"?

Truth is simply a stake one continuously makes and affirms from within the context of one’s life. It has absolutely nothing to do with the food fights in the media.

Genuine truth is about human beings who impose their own truth on life instead of seeking truth within life. Truth presupposes a subject for whom it is true. Consequently, the only truth is that which is true for someone. There is no such thing as pure forms or things-in-themselves that are true, but cannot be known.

Consequently, Nietzsche opposed the Truths fabricated by idealists and declared that the sustenance of life had been due to their lies, not actual truth.

In many respects, the brilliant Nietzsche was merely saying that you can never know the truth of another unless you walk a mile in his or her own shoes and in the final analysis, that is the only truth/understanding that really matters. Everything else is a lie.

As Nietzsche said, the pursuit and discovery of truth is an arduous task because everyone from Plato to the positivists had withdrawn from reality, running for cover, covering truth. Concealment of the truth involves abstracting from the transient world, subtracting from the variety of the world, as well as blanketing the world in a web of concepts. These fabrications and impositions of ideal Truth have excluded the possibility of exploring and affirming truth. And that is evidently why we have a media that does nothing beyond referee the food fights between the right and the left, and that is the onlty level of truth most people publicly discuss. Everything else is too personal -off limits -most of the time.

In this context, what is the point of complaining about the so-called lack of freedom of speech? Does it really matter when the only thing that anybody ever discusses is exclusively two dimentional -right versus left?

Given the fact that there is little room for discussing the truth, people confuse their efforts to impose their ideology with freedom of speach, and even a so-called academic like Jordan Peterson falls victim to imposing their own truth on life instead of seeking truth within life.

Consequently, this man who has become an icon for promoting freedom of speech is actually a victim of Nietzsche's warning -“Beware lest a narrow faith imprison you in the end—some harsh and severe illusion.” Mr. Peterson has evidently embraced some truths which simplify, conceptualize, circumscribe, systematize, and, thereby, fix and falsify the experiences of our life.

Instead of embracing every individual "reality" Jordan Peterson dislikes sociologists and they feel the same way about him. For example, this is what Sociologist, Patrick G. Watson wrote about Jordan Peterson in the Hamilton Spectator on March 24, 2017:

Peterson rose to notoriety by making a series of protests against accommodating individuals non-gender conforming. Rather than being called him or her, these individuals prefer to be called they, zir, or zhe, among other terms. Peterson feels that being asked to accommodate such individuals is an infringement on his freedom of speech. To my knowledge, he has never addressed why it's his freedom to use the words "him" or "her" that ought to be prioritized, rather than his student's freedom to be addressed as they feel.

In a series of YouTube videos and interviews, Peterson has tied his objections to a conspiracy of Marxists taking residence in the Ontario premier's office. In an interview with the website C2C Journal, he suggests these Marxists will imprison anyone who finds themselves on the wrong side of a rampant culture war. His statements echo the hysteria of McCarthyism, when homosexuals were vilified as communist threats to the American way of life. Peterson never presents evidence of these claims, except legislation such as Bill C-16 and the Ontario Human Rights Code. The claims don't bear much credibility under even the most cursory scrutiny, from either academics or anyone with a passing familiarity with the Canadian government.

Given the hysteria that evidetly dominates the lives of the extreme right and the extreme left, the actual truth is lost in the mudslinging. Kierkegard said that people demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use, and he was evidently right.

According to author, Maureen Finnigan, Nietzsche wants to leap beyond the conceptualization of Truth that has resulted in the decline of humanity. All philosophies, religions, sciences and other ideologies that have organized life around the ideal of the beyond have done so at the cost of denying life and alienating humanity from natural instincts and drives. In that respect, there is indeed merit to much that Jordan Peterson has to say.

Through the perpetuation of Truth as an ideal beyond the world in which humanity lives, humankind has become less natural. Nietzsche unmasks idealism as a beautiful word for anti-natural.

Our senses and the experiences of our lives are the sole testimony of truth and reality, according to Nietzsche. “All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses.” But, truth is not empirical in the traditional sense. Our ideas are not empty receptacles waiting to be filled with collected data immediately received through the senses or directly derived from experience. Nietzsche strikes down such metaphors, because they sketch a picture of knowledge as reactive, whereas it is active. A lesson to the scientists, (which Nietzsche offers to psychologists in particular): “Never to observe in order to observe! This gives a false perspective, leads to squinting and something forced and exaggerated. Experience as the wish to experience does not succeed.” Truth does not exist in the world for an uncommitted observer to sight or a neutral arbiter to ascertain.

“At every step one has to wrestle for truth; [truth] requires greatness of soul: the service of truth is the hardest service.”

A great deal of this understanding regarding what Nietzsche calls truth is borrowed from read Maureen Finnigan's paper titled, Nietzsche’s Perspective: Beyond Truth as an Ideal. It's a great read.


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