nigel biggar jordan peterson

Dr. Nigel Biggar

Nigel Biggar is a prominent British theologian and ethicist, known for his significant contributions to the field of moral and religious philosophy. Born in 1955, he currently holds the position of Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford, a prestigious post he has occupied since 2007. Biggar's academic journey includes a Bachelor's degree from the University of Oxford and a Master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His work often delves into complex ethical issues surrounding war, national identity, and public policy, challenging conventional perspectives with thought-provoking insights. Notable among his publications is the book "In Defence of War," where he explores the moral complexities of warfare. Biggar's work has sparked considerable debate, reflecting his ability to engage with contentious and challenging moral questions. His influence extends beyond academia into public discourse, making him a respected and occasionally controversial figure in moral theology.

Books Mentioned in the Jordan B Peterson Podcast #359 - Dr. Nigel Biggar & Jordan Peterson

Book Title: Colonialism – A Moral Reckoning

Author: Nigel Biggar

The Cambridge World History Of Slavery

Author: Keith Bradley, Paul Cartledge

Exploring Colonial Morality: Insights from the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast with Nigel Biggar

In a thought-provoking episode of the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast, host Jordan Peterson delves into the complex topic of colonialism with esteemed guest, Professor Nigel Biggar, a distinguished British theologian and ethicist. Their conversation, focusing on Biggar’s controversial book “Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning,” sheds light on the multifaceted nature of colonial power and its ethical implications.

The Genesis of Biggar’s Interest in Colonial History

The discussion begins with Biggar’s journey into exploring colonial history. Despite his primary academic focus being on ethics and Christian ethics, Biggar’s longstanding interest in history, especially British imperial history, drove him to investigate the moral aspects of the European Colonial Endeavor. He explains how his involvement in debates on colonialism, particularly surrounding the Cecil Rhodes statue controversy at Oxford, sparked his deeper exploration into the subject.

Controversies and Academic Challenges

Biggar shares his experiences of facing public backlash and academic controversies, particularly after launching the “Ethics and Empire” project at Oxford. His efforts to provide a balanced view on British imperialism drew criticism from students and colleagues alike, highlighting the contentious nature of discussing colonial legacies.

The Essence of Power and its Use in Historical Context

Peterson and Biggar engage in a profound discussion about power’s role in history. Biggar argues against the notion that power is inherently evil, emphasizing that the critical question is about its use – whether for just or unjust purposes. This perspective challenges the conventional view that power in a colonial context is always negative.

Trade, Humanitarianism, and the British Empire

The conversation also touches on the diverse motives behind the British Empire’s expansion. Contrary to the reductionist view that colonialism was solely driven by greed or the lust to dominate, Biggar points out that trade and humanitarian efforts, such as the movement to abolish slavery, were significant aspects of the British colonial endeavor.

Reckoning with the Past: Pride and Shame in Imperial History

In a critical part of the podcast, Biggar stresses the importance of acknowledging both the pride and shame in British imperial history. This balanced approach to history allows for a more nuanced understanding of the past, rather than a one-sided narrative.

Analyzing the Moral Complexities of Power and Empire

In this segment of the podcast, Jordan Peterson and Nigel Biggar explore the nuanced reality of power in historical contexts. They discuss the common misconception that power is inherently evil, emphasizing that its moral value lies in how it is used. This perspective is vital in understanding the role of the British Empire and its varied use of power, both for just and unjust purposes.

Trade, Humanitarianism, and Their Role in the British Empire

Biggar highlights that the British Empire was not solely driven by greed or domination. He points out that trade and humanitarian efforts played significant roles in its expansion. The podcast sheds light on the complex motives behind the British Empire, challenging the reductionist view that colonialism was only about exploitation.

The British Empire: A Balanced Historical Perspective

One of the key points made by Biggar is the importance of a balanced perspective on the British Empire. He argues that it is crucial to recognize both the shameful and proud aspects of British imperial history. This approach allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the past, moving beyond one-sided narratives.

Ethical Reflections on Colonialism and Its Impact

Peterson and Biggar engage in a deep ethical analysis of colonialism, examining its impact on various cultures and peoples. They discuss the ethical dilemmas faced by the British Empire and the complexities involved in making moral judgments about historical events.

The Legacy of the British Empire in Modern Context

The podcast also touches on the relevance of this historical analysis in today’s context. Biggar explains how understanding the moral complexities of the British Empire can influence our current perspectives on power, ethics, and historical narratives.

Unpacking the Ethical Dimensions of Colonialism

In the concluding segment of their discussion, Jordan Peterson and Nigel Biggar delve into the ethical dimensions of colonialism. They address the often simplistic narrative that power, especially in the context of colonialism, is inherently evil. Biggar argues for a more nuanced understanding, where the focus should be on how power is utilized – for just or unjust purposes.

The British Empire: A Complex Mosaic of Motives

The conversation then shifts to the underlying motives of the British Empire. Contrary to the belief that it was driven solely by greed or a lust for domination, Biggar presents a diverse array of motivations, including trade, defense against imperial powers, and humanitarian efforts. This perspective challenges the reductionist view of the British Empire as a monolithic entity driven solely by exploitative intentions.

Acknowledging the Good with the Bad in Colonial History

A significant part of the discussion revolves around the importance of recognizing both the positive and negative aspects of the British Empire. Biggar emphasizes that acknowledging the proud moments in British imperial history, along with its shameful parts, is crucial for a balanced historical perspective. This approach allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the past, beyond one-dimensional narratives.

Power, Ethics, and the British Empire’s Legacy

The podcast further explores how the British Empire wielded its power and its ethical implications. The conversation touches upon the empire’s role in global trade, its efforts in abolishing slavery, and its gradual movement towards granting independence to its colonies. These aspects highlight the complex ethical landscape of the empire’s history.

In conclusion, this episode of the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast with Nigel Biggar provides a compelling exploration of the moral and ethical complexities of colonialism. Their conversation sheds light on the nuanced realities of the British Empire, challenging conventional narratives and encouraging a more balanced view of history.