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Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  3,524 ratings  ·  421 reviews
Why have people from different cultures and eras formulated myths and stories with similar structures? What does this similarity tell us about the mind, morality, and structure of the world itself? Jordan Peterson offers a provocative new hypothesis that explores the connection between what modern neuropsychology tells us about the brain and what rituals, myths, and religi ...more
Paperback, 564 pages
Published March 24th 1999 by Routledge (first published March 1st 1999)
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R According to Jordan Peterson, he spent 3 hours a day for fifteen years writing this book.
That's 16425 hours of study, research, thought and writing (g…more
According to Jordan Peterson, he spent 3 hours a day for fifteen years writing this book.
That's 16425 hours of study, research, thought and writing (give or take, obviously).
If he had been paid minimum wage (Canada 6$ roughly, according to 90s standards) hourly for all the work he put into the creation of this book, it might be worth $98000.

Of course, I am saying this slightly tongue-in-cheek, but the point is that information is priceless, and the book is worth every penny.

Happy reading. :)(less)
thelastmohawkin Yes and no. I would begin watching his course on Maps of Meaning from 2017 that is on his YouTube channel. This book is difficult and may take a long …moreYes and no. I would begin watching his course on Maps of Meaning from 2017 that is on his YouTube channel. This book is difficult and may take a long time to read, but I am having a much easier time of it watching the lectures and reading the book alongside it and taking notes on each. It has been well worth the effort. Treat it like a class, read the material even if you don't get it, then go to class and see what the teacher has to say.(less)

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Dec 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book was a huge disappointment. It abounds with dense, often impenetrable, verbiage. Basic points are made repeatedly, but subtle ones occasionally appear in the middle of an argument and are never referenced again. Even worse, this text makes at least one statement that is factually wrong. This mistake is not a small oversight, either. It is one that demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the topic being discussed at that part in the text, and throws into question the validity of ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, Jordan Peterson attempts to explain the neuropsychological, phenomenological, and behavioral basis of mythological imagery while trying to encourage the reader towards the behavioral path of “heroic” exploration.

Peterson argues that the empirical worldview (representing the world as “a place of things” that can be objectively tested and validated by multiple observers) is not how human beings primarily experience reality or how they decide to behav
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A few weeks ago my three year old daughter and I went to the library to check out some books. Usually she heads right to the section with Curious George while I peruse the kids books, looking for new and fun stories. Lately she’s been randomly grabbing books off the shelf and declaring she wants them. Surprisingly they are usually quite good. I don’t recall if she grabbed it or if I did, but we ended up with Scaredy Squirrel.

We took it home and read it. It was hilarious. Poor Scaredy Squirrel is
Scriptor Ignotus
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When I first discovered Jordan Peterson last summer, some months before his embroilment in the political controversy at the University of Toronto which made him a folk hero among the liberal right, I was first struck by some of the similarities between his intellectual journey, as he describes it, and my own.

Like me, Peterson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, but found himself unsatisfied with the exclusively materialist models of political behavior which seem to dominate the dis
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Jordan Peterson is obviously not an idiot. But he continuously repeats himself like one. He doesn't need as many words as he uses. People seem intimidated by the length of the book, and literally say, "It can't be summarized". Here's a summary:

Humans are animals, and animals have systems that help them navigate the world. Humans create a model of the world. Things that go according to the model are considered good or at least not terrifying. Things that don't go according to the model are the fu
Olha Khilobok
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not an easy thing at all, which adds to the feeling of personal heroic fulfillment while reading the last page.

A profound work which takes understanding of basic tree-act structure to the unprecedented depth. An exquisite example of how beautiful and fruitful multidisciplinary approach is.

Two month of both suffering and savouring with a pencil in your hand. Was it worth it? Yes, it was indeed.
Devyn Kennedy
Feb 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Pseudoscience and claptrap that tries its damndest to use big words to bolster itself. a whiny child is still a child no matters its vocabulary.
Timothy Ball
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"The truth seems painfully simple – so simple that it is a miracle, of sorts, that it can ever be forgotten. Love God, with all thy mind, and all thy acts, and all thy heart. This means, serve truth above all else, and treat your fellow man as if he were yourself – not with the pity that undermines his self-respect, and not with the justice that elevates yourself above him – but as a divinity, heavily burdened, who could yet seethe light.
It is said, it is more difficult to rule oneself, than a c
Michael Volpi
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For one, this book, and Dr. Peterson's overall project (including his lectures, talks based on this seminal text), has completely transformed--complicated, illuminated--my conception and understanding of the fundamental psychological and philosophical importance of narrative. I'm a better learner, teacher, analyst and critic because of this text, for which I'm truly grateful. ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it did not like it

1) I don't think "Peterson is the evil misogynist, racist hero of the alt-right"
2) I don't think he's the ally of Western civilization, rationality and Christendom, either.
3) There are a few common sensical things that he has said (in regards to gender theory), which I don't rule out.
4) I'm Catholic, so Catholic things will ensue.

He's using an outdated ahistorical, unscientific Jung / Campbell / Eliade / Neumann base (read Wolfgang Smith's Cosmos and Trascendence to see how far it
Arthur Grunenwald
Dec 05, 2016 is currently reading it
Inspired by the infamously-titled video 'PhD gives up trying to reason with SJWs', I went down the rabbit hole of Dr. Jordan Peterson's poignant and critical thoughts about modernity and modern society. Unlike many modern academics, Peterson deviates from the commonality of Marxist thinking in relation to postmodern interdisciplinary studies. Instead of subscribing to the belief that economics is the root of the modern human condition, he utilises psychology and behavioural biology to explain th ...more
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a work of great depth and complexity made accessible by Peterson's direct and engaging writing. Peterson synthesizes an array of scientific findings and philosophical frameworks as he endeavors to explain - to himself as much as his readers, it seems - what it means to be the creatures we are; burdened with the despair of our limitations, yet liberated by our capacity for self-redemption.

To oversimplify, this book is an exploration of the religious and cultural myths of our species, and
Mats Winther
May 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Jordan B. Peterson’s effort to engage the madness of our era is laudable. What’s worse, his views represent a throwback to Hegelian philosophy. Although he often mentions psychologist Carl Jung, his book Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief (1999) has more to do with Hegel than Jung. It contains much of value; but his views are mostly commonsensical. It is a long and meandering book, where he often returns to the same argument. His theory revolves around the societal and cultural ideal. A ...more
Liam Porter
EDIT: THIS WAS WRITTEN IN 2015 and is not an endorsement of JBP's later political career

This changed my way of thinking about fundamental notions. Towards the end it becomes harder to see exactly what he's getting at, and as the book progresses, the diagrams become more and more speculative, but for the first half at least it had a revelation on every page. Also, Peterson mentioned one of my favourite films, "Crumb" in a footn
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
One of the finest books on philosophy, human psyche and human interactions with nature. Lays down the importance of archetypal hero and responsibilities that entails on taking upon that role.
It addresses these questions in details
1> Even in the face of suffering and misery, why doing the best you can to lessen it makes sense.
2> How man perceives/interacts with nature and its objects.
3> Who is an archetypal hero?
4> What traits makes one an archetypal hero.
5> What happens when the state/being dege
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable book, a key text in its field. Peterson shows that the myths of Christian and other cultures are maps of the ways in which human beings deal with anomaly, be it to shape a renewed culture and save it from chaos, or let it stagnate into decadence or totalitarianism. He is very clear on the psychological value of the Christ mythos, dazzlingly interprets from a psychological point of view key passages from the Bible and other texts, and shows how right Jung was to take an interest in A ...more
Dan Graser
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having listened to a great deal of Peterson's lectures and having enjoyed his recent mass-market book "12 Rules for Life," I decided to tackle this huge tome on the formulation of myths and religions as a by-product of several neurological preconditions in addition to psychological understandings of the need to create meaning. Additionally, while I have enjoyed (though not always agreed) with his very direct, clearly-expressed views on a number of issues, it is in his discussions of religion in ...more
Eric Sexton
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book but I still need time to sit down and try to organize my thoughts about it. So this is more or a less my impressions immediately upon finishing it. But it says something about the depth and importance of what Peterson has to say that I couldn't possibly feel confident giving a proper review without sitting down and gathering my thoughts. Anyway, here goes nothing.

Peterson is one of the only living intellectuals that routinely blows my mind. Peterson couches really stran
Brent McCulley
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A little long, but only insofar as Peterson has a tendency to repeat himself even if it is to prove a point tangentially.

Notwithstanding that minor criticism, this work obviously is Peterson's magnum opus, and for good reason. Peterson does a really good job utilizing Nietzsche, Jung, Dostoevsky, and others to put forth his thesis of archetypal myth in the historical development of mankind.

If you are interested in the history of philosophy, ancient Near East mythology, historiography, or cross-c
Soren Kerk
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-time-favs
Could we build a shelf on top of the top shelf? This book goes there.
I remain astounded that he could write this book when he was only about 30.
A brilliant man, an amazing mind, a challenge, a delight.
Guillermo Gruschka
Maps of Meaning is one of the best books I have ever read. There were parts where I could only read a single page, and then had to stop for a day and reflect on what I had just read.

Jordan is excellent at articulating abstract concepts in a way that more than making sense they just "resonate" with your soul, to put it some way. I believe it is an experience different to normal understanding of facts and agreeing to them, its more like listening to a tuned harmony that is just "true".

I'd recomme
Dany Vicente
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best content that I experienced.
In Life we have so many doubts about everything. What should I belief this and not that. What is the purpose of my existence? In this book we travel from the most ancient archetypes to the present symbols and we found that all humanity existence was nail in the art. And it is in that art that we can find the roots of our ethics, of our beliefs, of our way of being.
Colin Ellard
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and frustrating. This book is incredibly ambitious and fascinating in parts but it needed a fierce edit. I found myself planing through pages of redundancy and then having my breath sucked out by a beautiful phrase capturing a riveting idea. This book took a lot of effort but for me it was worth it.
Andrei Balici
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book tackles some very problematical artefacts, out of which the most important, in my opinion, is the generation of the inner conflict resulted as a by-product of the explicit verbalisation of our belief systems. In identifying the root cause to this issue, Peterson embarks on a quest that spans over a large body of human knowledge, including psychology, philosophy and religious phenomenology, particularly emphasizing the myth and its archetypal characters as patterns of the human behaviour ...more
vi macdonald
Sep 27, 2020 rated it did not like it
The question of what one would do with a time machine doesn't necessarily come up all that often, but it used to come up with relative frequency in the wee hours at bars or parties (or more accurately, on the walk to the train station after leaving the bar or party in question). I've been thinking about these 3am conversations a lot lately, turning over past answers and considering new ones, because I haven't been able to go out an have any new conversations in quite a while now and social media ...more
Tara Brabazon
Aug 11, 2020 rated it did not like it
Maps of Meaning was published in 1999, to little critical or intellectual response. It gained a new life after Jordan Peterson questioned the legal parameters around language with regard to trans rights. From this point, and particularly after 12 Rules for Life - the self help book that dumbed down the genre to a point where even Oprah would find the resultant cocktail too sweet, basic and self absorbed - Maps of Meaning gained a new life.

It is a book that is very basic. This rudimentary level h
Mar 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Self-help masquerading as deep metaphysical insight. Uses vague conceptual terminology to mask obvious platitudes and a weak framework for 'making meaning.' ...more
Murray Brown
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Peterson has some quite profound insights into how our cultural, moral, religious and spiritual beliefs evolved as projections of intrapsychic phenomena reflected in mythological archetypes that continue to shape our behaviour and motivate our search for meaning.
May 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I thought early Pererson might be an improvement over his recent book, but no. Dorm-room philosophizing, lots of shallow self-help “arguments” using Jung, Campbell, and Nietzsche, and obtuse, factually incorrect statements across every topic he covers.
Sam Torode
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very thick reading (unnecessarily so, perhaps), but I enjoyed it. Similar theme to Joseph Campbell.
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Jordan B. Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist, self-help writer, cultural critic, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. His main areas of study are in abnormal, social, and personality psychology, with a particular interest in the psychology of religious and ideological belief, and the assessment and improvement of personality and performance.

Peterson grew up in Fairvi

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