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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

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What does everyone in the modern world need to know? Renowned psychologist Jordan B. Peterson's answer to this most difficult of questions uniquely combines the hard-won truths of ancient tradition with the stunning revelations of cutting-edge scientific research.

Humorous, surprising, and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street.

What does the nervous system of the lowly lobster have to tell us about standing up straight (with our shoulders back) and about success in life? Why did ancient Egyptians worship the capacity to pay careful attention as the highest of gods? What dreadful paths do people tread when they become resentful, arrogant, and vengeful? Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure, and responsibility, distilling the world's wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life. 12 Rules for Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith, and human nature while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its listeners.

409 pages, Hardcover

First published January 16, 2018

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About the author

Jordan B. Peterson

51 books13.8k followers
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 Fairview, Alberta. He earned a B.A. degree in political science in 1982 and a degree in psychology in 1984, both from the University of Alberta, and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from McGill University in 1991. He remained at McGill as a post-doctoral fellow for two years before moving to Massachusetts, where he worked as an assistant and an associate professor in the psychology department at Harvard University. In 1998, he moved to the University of Toronto as a full professor. He authored Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief in 1999, a work in which examined several academic fields to describe the structure of systems of beliefs and myths, their role in the regulation of emotion, creation of meaning, and motivation for genocide.

In 2016, Peterson released a series of videos on his YouTube channel in which he criticized the Canadian government's Bill C-16. He subsequently became involved in several public debates about the bill that received significant media coverage.

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Profile Image for Ryan Boissonneault.
185 reviews2,009 followers
October 17, 2022
I see many five-star reviews here, so here is the contrarian position. I’m giving this one star for a couple of reasons.

1. The content does not justify the length of the book. When you strip away the pseudo-profundity and verbosity, you’re left with rather simple ideas you could find in any self-help book or discover on your own. Rule # 1, for instance, essentially states that females prefer males with confidence and that success breeds confidence and further success. This is rather obvious without having to understand the evolutionary history of lobsters.

2. The introduction of the book presents the author as an objective investigator of the truth, disillusioned by dogmatic ideology and prepared to demonstrate its dangers. He then proceeds to incessantly quote from the bible, perhaps the most dogmatic text ever written. I didn’t purchase the book to be preached at, and found it unexpected and highly obnoxious.

I understand that the author is interested in story and “archetypes,” but the bible is quoted out of proportion. There are many ancient stories to choose from, each with endless interpretive possibilities, but the bible is, for some reason, the primary text. Now I’m sure this is fine with many people, but I was unpleasantly surprised that I had purchased a book on biblical criticism or theology.

The stories the author has selected to focus on, his preferred interpretations, and the stories he ignores, says more about his psychology than anything else. It appears that he NEEDS religion to be true to prevent his own nihilistic tendencies, a viewpoint he foists on his readers.

More than once he states in no unequivocal terms that Jesus is the “archetypal perfect man.” Perhaps, but without getting into it here, there are many reasons to think perhaps not. For those more philosophically inclined, or for those that appreciate the progress of humanism and science, Socrates, for example, would probably be a better fit for the archetypal perfect man. And if I want insight into morality and human nature from an ancient source, I’d turn to Plato and Aristotle before the Good Book.

Again, this is all too subjective, which is the problem in general with using “ancient wisdom” to support a particular viewpoint. The author presents his interpretive schemes as objective truths about human nature and the only display of humility is found in the introduction.


For those seeking an alternative to Jordan Peterson’s dark vision of the world, questionable approach to truth and knowledge, and retreat to religion, they will find the answer in Bertrand Russell, whose essays on religion seem to, at times, be speaking directly to Peterson himself.

Here’s the final paragraph from Russell’s essay Why I Am Not a Christian:


We want to stand upon our own feet and look fair and square at the world—its good facts, its bad facts, its beauties, and its ugliness; see the world as it is, and be not afraid of it. Conquer the world by intelligence, and not merely by being slavishly subdued by the terror that comes from it. The whole conception of God is a conception derived from the ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men. When you hear people in church debasing themselves and saying that they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings. We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages. A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past, or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men. It needs a fearless outlook and a free intelligence. It needs hope for the future, not looking back all the time towards a past that is dead, which we trust will be far surpassed by the future that our intelligence can create.

Russell wishes to replace fear, religion, and dogma with free-thinking, intelligence, courage, knowledge, and kindness. To believe something because it is seen to be useful, rather than true, is intellectually dishonest to the highest degree. And, as Russell points out elsewhere, he can’t recall a single verse in the Bible that praises intelligence.

Here’s Russell in another essay, titled Can Religion Cure Our Troubles:

Mankind is in mortal peril, and fear now, as in the past, is inclining men to seek refuge in God. Throughout the West there is a very general revival of religion. Nazis and Communists dismissed Christianity and did things which we deplore. It is easy to conclude that the repudiation of Christianity by Hitler and the Soviet Government is at least in part the cause of our troubles and that if the world returned to Christianity, our international problems would be solved. I believe this to be a complete delusion born of terror. And I think it is a dangerous delusion because it misleads men whose thinking might otherwise be fruitful and thus stands in the way of a valid solution.

The question involved is not concerned only with the present state of the world. It is a much more general question, and one which has been debated for many centuries. It is the question whether societies can practise a sufficient modicum of morality if they are not helped by dogmatic religion. I do not myself think that the dependence of morals upon religion is nearly as close as religious people believe it to be. I even think that some very important virtues are more likely to be found among those who reject religious dogmas than among those who accept them. I think this applies especially to the virtue of truthfulness or intellectual integrity. I mean by intellectual integrity the habit of deciding vexed questions in accordance with the evidence, or of leaving them undecided where the evidence is inconclusive. This virtue, though it is underestimated by almost all adherents of any system of dogma, is to my mind of the very greatest social importance and far more likely to benefit the world than Christianity or any other system of organised beliefs.

We can see that the Peterson fallacy is at least as old as 1954. The fact that Communism and Nazism committed evils is not justification to return to religious dogma; in fact, that would just be replacing one dogmatic ideology for another.

The solution is not a retreat to the Age of Faith, which was no more pleasant than living under communism; the solution is a renewal of the Enlightenment values of reason, science, humanism, and progress espoused by Russell himself.


And here are some worthwhile alternatives to 12 Rules For Life:

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt

The Practicing Stoic: A Philosophical User's Manual by Ward Farnsworth

Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects by Bertrand Russell

The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism by AC Grayling
Profile Image for Sebastian Radu.
179 reviews327 followers
November 1, 2018

If you've never read a book in your life, you'd think JP is super smart: that baroque style of writing, the never-ending sentences, all those references to science and philosophy - "how does the man do it!?" you ask yourself.
It's simple. The book's actually rubbish but you have nothing to compare it with.

Nov 2018: Since this review is getting traction, please note that these were my impressions right after plodding through this dull book and I'm not going to waste my time dismantling his pseudo-scientific rubbish - many other reviewers have, some more qualified than me.
Seek them out. If you're willing to be skeptical about my review then use that skepticism to read JP's critics too!
Nevertheless, I do have some recommendations for 12 books you should read instead. Moving on.


This book's riddled with logical errors. Facts are ignored and substituted with analogies that simply don't work and don't make sense. Major philosophers are completely misrepresented and molded to fit his ideas. Entire sub-chapters are filled with complicated and ultimately pointless mythological and philosophical references... And everything is peppered with common sense statements and citation marks to give it the illusion that it's factual, accurate and logical. It's not. Don't get me started on how bad the writing is. It's like he has a paid thesaurus subscription and wants to get his money's worth. Nobody cares about your rich vocabulary if you lose the point on the way.

You could spend hours upon hours digging for problems with this book. Some actually have done that. There was a guy on YouTube who made a one hour video dissecting the problems with the citations alone. Yeah, it's that easy to poke holes in his ramblings. He blames "postmodernism" for a lot of things but he misrepresents it. He quotes Heidegger but it's clear he has no clue what Heidegger's been talking about. It's boring and uninspired. But JP fans will love it. He's got his die-hard fans who will continue to follow him no matter what, regardless of how bad his ideas are, especially since there's no other conservative smart-ass to get behind instead.

So don't bother! He doesn't say anything new and what he does say is said poorly. Not too different from his videos. For the sake of your time and brain, just read something else. Anything from Chomsky, to Zizek. Read Pinker, Friedman, Harari, Fukuyama, Gladwell. Have some respect for yourself, even fantasy books would be a better use of your time and brain. Or just read the stoics and the existentialists instead. I mean, if you just want someone to tell you to stand up straight and make your bed, read Meditations by Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Or Seneca. Or Sartre. Or, heck, even Dr Seuss!


Responses to replies I'll probably get:
"Haha, suck it, you triggered SJW" - I'm not mad that JP is writing books, I'm mad that such a bad book is getting attention and is wasting people's time.
"JP is the man, you just can't appreciate his genius" - He's not, he is the very definition of a pseudo-intellectual. There are so many other public intellectuals that are smarter, better spoken and more more respected than JP.
"You don't know squat, he taught at Harvard!" - He was an associate for a few years, a long time ago. So? Look at him now, when nobody in his university wants to be associated with him. What does that tell you? How can you call that a respected academic?
"This isn't real criticism" - It's really not, I don't care enough about this to write a 2500 word essay on him. I'm reading some better books right now. But even my rambling makes more sense than his lobster analogy.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,657 followers
February 1, 2018
So there is a lot of wisdom in here about how to live your life: don't blame other people, listen and understand other people's perspectives, be honest even though it's uncomfortable, and don't demonize humanity.

And then all the wisdom goes down the toilet in one particular chapter when he makes a farce of his whole argument. Men are being victimized by liberal academics. Not only does he start blaming everybody and anybody, but he completely mischaracterizes the progressive argument or makes a caricature of it (he had a friend who was liberal and blamed patriarchy for everything and then he killed himself--see? Point proven). He also goes on to demonize anyone pushing for change or gender equality etc. And his proof? Literally, disney movies and the communist revolution gone wrong. But why leave out the revolutions gone right? American? Civil Rights? And why, instead of looking to the little mermaid to draw out wisdom about the true nature of motherhood and women, chalk it up to a crazy sexist script--which it is. Remember how Ariel uses her body language to get the man? I read this book because I was open to hearing from Peterson. I like well-reasoned ideas no matter what their source. And I was ready to hear him and I did most of the way through the book. It was very good--especially his chapters on marriage, parenting, and self-analysis. very good. But then he goes too big and grows quite shrill in his argument. He loses reason to make a point. But I guess controversy creates a best-seller and he knows what he's doing.

The other logical inconsistencies here were that he keeps using the animal kingdom (i.e. crabs and lobsters) to make a point about human nature--specifically on gender and sexuality, but then in his other more lucid arguments, he argues that we need to fight our nature (self-sacrifice and obedience). So why does it make sense for us to tolerate bullies (he says this) and male superiority because duh the animals do it, but not sloth and dominance because we're Godly dammit.

I would recommend that the critical reader who wants to read this book also read the history of misogyny as well as the fall of adam and eve to get some perspective on why these ideas got to where they are. Peterson keeps talking about women being chaos and men being order. He never mentions pandora's box, but he does bring up Eve quite a bit. Those two narratives are relatively recent phenomena instead of fixed laws of the universe. He keeps making these essentialist claims that men aren't as emotional as women (which he undercuts by giving example after example of men losing their shit over nothing) and how women are all about nurture, but humans are much more complicated than this. Read the book for the good, but keep one eye good and open to spot the bullshit.
Profile Image for Charles  Stampul.
1 review17 followers
January 4, 2018
Jordan Peterson may be the only clinical psychologist who believes that psychology is subordinate to philosophy and the one thing that psychology and philosophy both genuflect before is story. Story, or myth, predates religion and is, in fact, as old as language itself.

In his earlier book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, Peterson connects the stories we share with our earliest ancestors with modern knowledge of behavior and the mind. It’s a textbook for his popular University of Toronto courses.

The one-time dish washer and mill worker spent nearly 20 years at the University before garnering international attention. In September 2016, Peterson released a couple of videos opposing an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act which he contended could send someone to jail for refusing to use a made-up gender identity pronoun. Peterson went on to testify before the Canadian Senate, and has emerged as a foremost critic of postmodernism on North American campuses.

Postmodernism is the “new skin of communism,” In Peterson’s view. The ideology has been so thoroughly discredited from an economic standpoint that those who still advocate for it, for either political or emotional reasons, have resorted to attacking the very process in which something can be discredited—reason and debate. At the same time they have worked to change the face of oppression away from those living in poverty toward individuals who don’t look or act like those who hold most of the positions of power and authority in Western society.

Peterson’s classroom is now the entire globe. Millions are watching his lectures and other videos on YouTube. For this new and greater audience, a more accessible, more affordable compendium than Maps of Meaning was called for.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is more affordable for sure, but only slightly more accessible. Part self-help book, part memoir, part Maps for the masses, it’s organized sprawlingly.

(Read full review at https://simplicityandpurity.wordpress...)
Profile Image for Martin V.
181 reviews
January 21, 2018
I wish this book had been around to read when I was 18.
3 reviews22 followers
January 17, 2018
A book by Jordan Peterson, I won’t be able to do it justice.
12 Rules for Life is a wonderful book. It is typical Peterson with large amounts of insightful information and wit. The book includes information that I knew, did not know, and information I knew but did not know I knew (like a Peterson lecture).
There are three main points that I took away from this book:
1. The world is a horrible place filled with suffering. If you personally don’t suffer, someone you know will.
2. If you want the world to be better,start with yourself. The more individual people start bettering themselves the potential for the world to be just that little bit better increases.
3. We should live on the line between order and chaos. We need both for a functioning society. We need to grow and adapt whilst not getting rid of traditions and traditional structures, they might be very important.
This is a book I would recommend to everyone whether you’re familiar with Peterson or not.
Clean your room and sort yourself out.
Profile Image for Sara.
585 reviews56 followers
August 30, 2018
A soothing and seductive balm for the butthurt. I am fascinated by the cult surrounding this man who, as a previous reviewer noted, relies far too much on simplistic interpretations of Biblical stories and the Disney versions of fairy tales to the expense of all else. (I guess Lilith and Athena might complicate that Easy Bake reimposition of a male-centered narrative.) Here's what I don't get: None of this is new. Joseph Campbell? Heard of him? Remember M. Scott Peck? That Christian head shrinker who said, "Life is difficult. Get used to it and it will get better"? Peterson's popularity only reveals that an entire generation has been so robbed of the humanities that they're starving for anyone who will provide a few harsh words and some meaning in their lives. The guy can tell a story. Too bad it's a frighteningly regressive one for women.

And no: Women's Studies departments are not propagating a myth that the world was once a glorious matriarchy.

That was funny though.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
47 reviews29 followers
November 5, 2022
I'm a researcher and the biggest issue with Jordan's work is the way he uses his sources to support his arguments. I've read other reviews on here that discuss all the ways his ideas must be "correct" because he's citing sources. But, you need to look at how he cites these sources. Jordan will introduce a study (often something from the mid-to-late 19th Century, a few studies from the 2000s+, or the bible...so much bible) and then apply it to a completely different context. It's not that you can't apply a theory or a set of findings to a unique context, but as a researcher, you need to describe how these contexts differ and what limitations there are in your comparison and analysis. He doesn't do this.

He's very selective with what kinds of work he uses to support his arguments - not providing an understanding of both sides of the argument to let the reader decide for themselves whether the evidence can speak for itself. While I acknowledge that this book is supposed to be for a lay audience, Jordan's use of evidence is so limited, it's like he doesn't think his readers can think for themselves.

Jordan's second biggest issue (which is equal to his misuse of evidence), is that he can't stay in his own lane. He has a PhD in Psychology and is a Clinical Psychologist. It's odd then that he pulls most of his work from the bible or uses examples from disciplines like anthropology. It's not to say that he can't be a discerning reader and critical thinker and use texts outside psychology, but graduate students and academics spend years delving deep into these areas. For example, I take exception to Jordan's use of a few anthropological case studies. First, his brief mention of the !Kung People (who are known as the San people to any contemporary Anthropologist) or his use of Chagnon’s work with the Yanomami people (p. 121-122). His inclusion of both these populations as case studies for murderous traits among hunter-gathers (without any context or discussion from updated sources of these cases), as a reason to acknowledge the pacifying effects of urban settings (this is quite a leap) - demonstrate his limited understanding of this work. Pick up any Anthropology 101 textbook and you'll find evidence of this. For those of you who would tell me to 'stay in my own lane', well, this is it. I have a PhD in sociocultural anthropology and teach Anth 101 every semester.

And it's not just me that takes issue with his misuse of scientific work.

Here is a review article from Psych Central (written by John Grohol who is a white, male psychologist and PhD - I give his identity characteristics to acknowledge that Dr. Grohol is arguably one of the target readers for Jordan's book). Dr. Grohol discusses each chapter (rule) and the worth (usefulness - or in this case, a lack thereof) of this book as a 'self-help' book:

Book review: 12 Rules for Life by John M. Grohol: https://psychcentral.com/lib/book-rev...

I've read some comments responding to other 1-star reviews and people are say, “well you don't understand this book because you haven't read the original book: Maps of meaning!!!” Ya, well, check out Paul Thagard's abysmal review of that book as well - Dr. Thagard is a Canadian philosopher and cognitive scientist with a PhD in Philosophy (thanks N. R.). He breaks down Jordan's misuse of even the psychological theory he includes: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/bl...

Have more questions about Jordan's pseudo-scientific claims? Me too - and so do these people:

Jordan's use of evidence is extremely skewed when looking at his work comparison of animal to human behaviours. For example, his comparison to lobsters is seriously misinformed (check out this article by Leonor Gonçalves who is a Research Associate in Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, UCL):

Or Bailey Steinworth's article on the presence of hermaphrodite sea species:

It's a fact that Jordan conveniently ignores examples in the animal kingdom that would disprove his theories. Why for example, does he focus on only certain behaviours of Chimpanzees (not providing a more holistic overview) and ignores Bonobos (another hominoid - close relative of humans) as suitable comparisons?

See Dr. Frans de Waal's work on this: https://www.ft.com/content/da283f36-3...

Or check out this article by Dr. Eric Michael Johnson:

He likely doesn’t do this because he's NOT AN EXPERT in these areas.

You're likely going to @ me because I'm providing only ‘contrary evidence’ to Jordan's. Well, I acknowledge that Jordan's work does pull from real existing work; HOWEVER, as mentioned above, he misuses and avoids the context of these studies (i.e. he doesn’t include what other scientists in their field think about the work he’s using).

For example, check out this piece on whether and why human females may prefer larger dominant males (by Beatrice Alba):


I appreciate this article because - like anthropologists - it uses a biocultural perspective to understand this phenomenon.

This, like many of Jordan's ideas, are so much more complicated than what Jordan lays out. And if you think that he didn't have time to discuss his arguments more holistically, I can tell you that his editors were ASLEEP on the job - that there was lots of room to include any and all of the rebuttal work. If Jordan really wanted to make his case, he needed to provide all the data and let the reader decide whether they agreed with his evidence.

Okay, if that's not enough (hey, if you've made it this far, congrats!) perhaps maybe you could question this book for the way Jordan lumps together the 'liberal left' into a bucket of postmodernism. To describe this group – which must be what…hundreds of thousands of people – if not millions – he uses 1 citation (and even that citation - from its title seems only to cover postmodernism up to the 1970s and not beyond - that is 50 - fifty - years ago and surprise...a lot has happened).

In any case, these Pomos are the 'big baddies' of his intended readership. He argues that Pomos are trying to change the world as we know it - to open up a playing field that has historically benefited from colonialism and contemporary systemic racist infrastructure - to let others in. He connects this thought with the idea that Pomos are ruining universities with their social revolutionary speak promoting equity for all - and yet doesn't address the fact that the first goal of post-secondary institutions is to teach critical thinking.

If they're teaching critical thinking, then students and graduates will be able to think *gasp* for themselves.

Post-secondary institutions have freedom of speech policies in place so that individuals from many walks of life and experiences can discuss their various ideas (although Canadian universities still struggle to bring in diverse voices considering the majority continue to hire and promote white, heterosexual men: https://www.ualberta.ca/arts/faculty-...).

This broad brush that Jordan uses to paint ALL universities (in Canada anyway) everywhere as left-liberal elite powerhouses is simply not true. Attend at administrative or faculty meeting and you'll see that there is a great diversity of thought.

Jordan also fails to argue against any research or work that has shown the benefits (for even his readership – white, heterosexual males) if there should be greater equity for all:

He makes many spurious claims including that to engender a more equitable society, according to Jordan, society must undergo a social revolution (118). He uses liberalizing divorce laws as an indicator that liberalizing society has negative consequences...based solely on his opinion...?

See another opinion on this, Alex Klein's article: http://dailycampus.com/stories/2018/3...

All this, and I haven’t taken the usual exception to his:
1. Trivializing slavery (which was wrong! But…you know…had its uses – pg. 186 - 187). No Jordan, a combine harvester is useful when farming…not HUMANS who were kidnapped, murdered, tortured, raped, confined, etc.
2. His victim blaming of a rape victim (p. 238)
3. His degradation of those living with mental illness, his friends and other patients (e.g. the 'smell' of his friend Chris, p.294)
4. His mischaracterization of Indigenous peoples as violent (p.291) – despite his first example displaying non-violence
5. His mischaracterization of Quebecois as drunk aggressive people (p.208-209)
6. Or beating (just minimal beating…) your children (Chapter 5)
7. Or how every time he speaks of a terrible regime or mass murder, he uses non-Western examples, e.g. off the cuff reference to the Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang (p. 121). While he does mention the Sandy Hooks serial killers as ‘bad’ (Chapter 6), he spends the rest of the chapter humanizing them (describing their diaries) and decrying the society that has left them feeling unsupported. "How can a person who is awake avoid outrage at the world?" (p. 151). Yep I acknowledge that he states that their murders were terrible. But these few words present little rebuttal for the arguments he makes throughout the rest of the chapter.
8. And finally, chapter 11 where he tells women like myself to be satisfied with raising a family and to leave the career work to men (GFY). See…I waited all the way until the end to put in this comment. Kudos to me.

Finally – and I mean it – finally:
Is anyone curious as to why I’m referring to the author as Jordan?

It’s because he’s misusing his credentials as a Clinical Psychologist (as you can see, he may be an expert clinical psychologist, but he’s way, waaaaay far out of his areas of expertise in this book). My goal is to highlight how much of this book is Jordan’s opinion – but he’s getting a bigger soap box because readers and journalists are conflating his degrees with expertise. Stop giving this author credit where it’s not due. Avoid this book – or like me – if you want to be able to respond to critics or discuss this work as a cultural force (which it is), rent it from the library.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,687 followers
July 26, 2019
"Faulty tools produce faulty results."
- Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life


I'm generally not a fan of self-help books and this one would have probably never hit my to-read shelf if a good friend of mine hadn't invited me to attend a live Jordan Peterson lecture in Phoenix a little over a week ago (June 1, 2018). The only other exposure I had to Peterson was a wave of seriously negative posts about him by some of my most liberal friends on FB. I was intrigued. Here I have some friends who found something of value from him, enough to want to share with me (also, we were using Peterson just as a reason to reconnect) AND other friends who absolutely abhorred the man. All of this fascinated me. I was relatively a tabula rasa on this guy. I hadn't even read some of the more negative pieces on him. I loved people that upended the status quo. I loved early Camille Paglia and Andrew Sullivan. Now I was curious. Was this guy throwing sand into the salad of liberals on purpose? Was he just thinking in a way that was unique and not bounded by usual boundaries?

So, I went and heard him speak. I found his lecture -- like I found his book -- fascinating. It was a mixture of science, myth, story-telling, Disney, and confidence man bullshit. The box I was in had 6 men and 4 women (not a bad ratio since a large proportion of Jordan's rabid fan base is white men). And when I say rabid, I mean foaming-at-the-mouth rabid. When he was introduced several men in the crowd grunted like they were prepping for a football game or battle. It was a little intense. The testosterone in some was uncorked.

After the show, and while reading this book, I've also come across several of his interviews and YouTube videos. I think an obvious example of the way Peterson gets misread is the Cathy Newman interview or the recent NYTimes piece. These don't do a good job of actually getting to the root of what Jordan Peterson is saying. Personally, I think 80% of what Peterson is saying is actually NOT bad. How can you really argue with ideas like clean your room, treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping (rule 2), pursue what is meaningful not what is expedient (rule 7), or tell the truth -- or at least don't lie (rule 8)? A lot of what he says makes sense. But it is the last 20% of what he says that kind of drives me nuts (and I'm a white man, I can imagine that women/minorities/university intellectuals would feel a bit stronger than me). His critiques of feminism, white privilege, post-modernism, modern universities, etc., aren't narrow and tend to violate his own rule 10 (be precise in your speech). He rambles, rages, and makes pretty big assumptions on areas that are far from well-established (and often a bit beyond his areas of expertise).

My other issue with Peterson, that was clarified more in the lecture than the book, is he is actually seeking the role of secular prophet/revivalist/guru. Hell, in his introduction is basically admitted that the book's subjects were basically market-tested on the internet. People like lists. They really like certainty. Many of the population Peterson was aiming at aren't familiar with myths/Jungian archetypes/philosophy, so it becomes easier to use Disney movies. Why not tell your audience what to do in a nice list of 12 things? Like Steven R. Covey on confrontational steroids. Dr. Peterson walked around the Comerica stage and riffed on one of his rules (mostly Rule 10 in Phoenix and a dash of Rule 11). Like the text of his book, he circled around, repeating stories and points, declare something true (or false), making a joke, and then absolved his mainly white male audience from some of their social guilt and anxiety. They loved him for it. He was Jimmy Swaggart in Canadian professor garb. Because it is hard to define white privilege, it doesn't exist, so ignore it. Rinse and repeat for feminism, and other issues plaguing our modern culture and often aimed at privilege, money, or power. It was wild seeing white, single men showing up to this even wearing t-shirts with his picture on it. It must be hard to not let that kind of cultish adoration go to your head - even if your background is the human head.
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,081 reviews68.1k followers
August 12, 2020
Too Sweet to be Wholesome

Jordan Peterson is a global phenomenon. He is good in print; even better in interviews. As a psychoanalyst, he has decades of experience and professional credibility (I find his Jungian approach far more interesting than Freudian or various cognitive methods). As a Canadian he is presumed a certain integrity often denied to other English-speaking experts. As a man, he is engaging and fast on his feet with no defensiveness even under intense pressure. In 12 Rules for Life he makes a cogent case for the necessity as well as benefit of moral authority. Although he is not a religious adherent, Peterson believes in the objectivity of moral law; he has no time for those relativists who consider moral law as something arbitrarily constructed within human society. Many find his arguments compelling. I find them disingenuous and dangerous.

The disingenuousness of 12 Rules begins in the introduction by Peterson’s long-time friend and associate, Dr. Norman Doidge, MD. Doidge points to the persistence of the Ten Commandments from the Hebrew Scriptures as an example of the ancient, effectively eternal and fixed, wisdom of biblical moral precepts. Unsurprisingly Doidge fails to make mention of the other 412 divinely ordained precepts of the law given in the same scriptures. Things like the stoning of heretics, the inferiority of women, and the necessity for meticulous maintenance of spiritual purity apparently do not carry significant moral weight despite their authoritative divine source. And he makes no mention of the fact that the founder of the Christian Religion, Paul of Tarsus, designated the entire Hebrew law, including the Ten Commandments, as the very source of evil. Doidge is not merely tendentious, he is an ideologue who has little understanding of the biblical references he makes... or he is a liar.

Popularity is not a terribly reliable guarantor of either poetry or philosophy. By his own account Peterson’s Rules started life on an interactive internet site. Participants liked his rules as nakedly stated, without even being given reasons, without explanation of their operation. The rules apparently touched some inarticulate need which site participants hadn’t previously recognised. And they gave rave reviews. The book is the result of subsequent justifications of the intuitions he floated on the internet. Whatever erudition, classical references, and stylistic skill Peterson used to develop his arguments for these rules, they are hardly the the product of analytical thought. Like Doidge’s introduction, the book is tendentious, meant to promote a potentially popular cause not thinking. The fact that Peterson is honest about the genesis of the book doesn’t change its character. But I think it does help to explain why the book appeals to many religious leaders and right-wing politicians. Peterson appears to provide both groups with philosophical selling and political talking points that promote a conservative social agenda.

Peterson is a Jungian psychoanalyst, apparently by conviction as well as by training. Jungian method is inherently dialectical. Conscious/unconscious, ego/shadow, anima/animus are all necessary components of the human psyche. Only by accepting the existence of these competing components and reconciling their insistent demands can a person become integrated, that is whole, a complete Self. Jungians implicitly presume that none of us is naturally whole. We need each other, sometimes use each other, to compensate for our dialectical deficiencies. Ultimately however psychic health comes about by taking responsibility for one’s own integration - by recognising how we perceive the reality of the world we inhabit, and how we react to our perceptions. These are matters of choice not fate. This is a simple but very subtle theory. In short, the theory has two principles: 1) the Unconscious is indistinguishable from reality; and 2) the Self is indistinguishable from God. Both reality and God exist in our heads as it were. They are ideas over which we can exercise control. One can sense Plato, not to mention Billy Graham, turning in their graves at the thought that ideas are subject to human will.

Evangelicals don’t seem to mind this Jungian theological faux pas, probably because Peterson quotes the Old Testament story of the Creation and Fall (a classic Jungian trope). To them it seems but a small step from the symbolism of the God in one’s head and one’s dreams to the objective Ruler of the world. Didn’t the great Protestant theologian of the 19th century, Friedrich Schleiermacher make the same point, that God was a feeling emanating from the human mind? Similarly, social conservatives like the idea of personal responsibility as part of their ideological portfolios. Doesn’t this bring together both the economic neo-liberalism of Frederick Hayek and the militant individualism of Ayn Rand? The fact that personal integration of the Self implies a rejection of ideology of any stripe as an impediment to psychic health doesn’t seem to register at all.

So of course Peterson will be exploited by Evangelicals and Conservatives to further their agendas, regardless of the caveats insisted upon by him. And they’re right to ignore his fey resistance. He knows he’s given conservations a way to ignore the traditional Christian ethos of love, the primary concern with one’s neighbour, the inherent responsibility to the collective as something distinct from the totality of its members. His is a philosophy of consummate selfishness which just fits the bill for the latest coalition of religious and constitutional fundamentalists. Christ as pantocratic dictator rather than Jesus as messianic rebel.

Those who are familiar with the Erhard Seminar Training (EST) programme of the 1970’s and 80’s and its various successor movements for radical personal improvement, will recognise this theme of total personal responsibility. EST was an intriguing and highly popular syncretism of Jungian psychology and the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger. Peterson’s version doesn’t use the pyramid selling techniques that made EST so popular, particularly among the highly educated, but the combination of the internet, cable television, and the intellectual vacuum of evangelical and political conservatism has the equivalent functional role. EST was a training ground for the political left in the 1970’s. 12 Rules promises to be the focal point for the political right for some time to come.

None of this is to say that Peterson isn’t interesting or worthwhile. On the contrary, he has an intelligent, witty and interesting contribution to make in intellectual debate despite the banal insipidness of his Rules. Nevertheless, just as EST helped create a generation of liberal weirdos in business, politics, and academia, I fear that an equivalent generation of conservative weirdos in in the making. There is a distinct Whig theme that runs through the entire book: the world is as it is for good reasons and it’s not your responsibility to fix it. Comforting no doubt to those who feel disenfranchised, disrespected, and more than a bit deplorable. But really, does anyone believe that some positive thinking is going to make them into a bold psychic adventurer? My advice: don’t drink the Kool-Aid too quickly.

Postscript 2Aug18: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n15/william...
73 reviews40 followers
January 28, 2018
I ignored Jordan Peterson for a while, since his name usually came up in culture war contexts where the rule is that every generation gets approximately five talking points to endlessly yell at each other. But then he published a book, and a bunch of my academic friends started screeching a few octaves higher than usual, and a few of my well-adjusted friends started reading the book, so I decided to check it out. I recognize that being inclined to agree with a critic of postmodernism entirely because of his critics' behavior is itself pretty postmodern and thus suspect. But be fair to postmodernists: they're good at finding clues, even if they're bad at solving mysteries.

If I were half a decade younger, or much less lucky in my choice of reading material, this could have been the book that changed my life. (Writings that played this role for me instead: Sexual Personae, Moby-Dick, Starting Strength, that viral "get your shit together" email by Scott Galloway.) The book's target audience is young men suffering from post-school ennui, and the message is: it's not your fault, but it's 100% your responsibility to fix it.

Given his reputation--people insist on tagging Peterson with the "alt-right" label--I was half expecting "1,488 Rules for Life: An Antidote to (((Chaos)))." But, no, Peterson is not writing neo-fascist propaganda. He's writing fatherly advice, at least if your dad read a lot of Jung and Nietzsche, and dropped a little acid.

If you think this is one of those advice books where you can skim the contents and get the gist, you are completely, wildly wrong. Take chapter one, on posture. We begin, naturally, by talking about lobster combat. Then wrens. Then back to lobsters; on to a wild fugue through a few hundred million years of evolution; a brief segue about how at different levels of abstraction nature alternates between permanence and chaos, and how part of music's appeal is the recognition of this; and then Peterson concludes by recommending good posture.

The whole rest of the book is like this. There's an initial riff, followed by a long philosophical jam session (expect references to Freud, Marx, yin and yang, evolution, the Old Testament, Jung, Peterson's kids, and the New Testament), and it closes with a stern admonition. You might thing that's a silly approach that risks trivializing whatever philosophical lessons it includes, but the one-two combo of moral lesson plus minor daily habit has a great historical precedent. Just look at the Bible. The first book is about the origin of all existence, the nature of evil, the consequence of sin, etc. The second book is about becoming a distinctive people, having a covenant with the divine, and so on. The third book is about when to wash your hands (all the time) and which foods you should avoid eating lest you get sick. If every episode of hand-washing and ham-refusal reminds you of Original Sin, you will spend a lot more time thinking about morality than you otherwise would.

So I can't really review the advice itself, although it's good. I can recommend reading the book, not so much for any one point, but for the journey--there was very little I wish I'd thought of first, but a lot I wish I'd phrased that way before.

If you read his book and follow his advice, will it improve your life? Almost certainly. Not just because his suggestions are things we should already be told (or have already been told, but ignored). But for simple tribal reasons. It's like eating paleo: the actual behavior helps at the margin, but what really keeps you on the path towards self-improvement is the feeling that it's 99% of the world against you and your brave band of friends. And you could do worse than to choose the friends who rally around Peterson.
Profile Image for Sabrina.
15 reviews1 follower
January 28, 2018
I cracked it open only to discover a study of the bible and christian religious stories while expecting a book on psychology, deceiving. Didn't finish it.
Profile Image for Chest.
35 reviews48 followers
January 19, 2018
Dr. Jordan Peterson has outdone himself.

Spanning across religion, mythology, politics, literature, and evolutionary psychology...

Intertwined with personal anecdotes, clinical correlates, and a good mix of dark humor...

With passion, with rage, with love, Peterson has masterfully crafted a cross-disciplinary exploration into the essence of the human condition:

What it means to tread on the precipice of order and chaos, of destruction and creation. What it means to transcend our primitive animalistic inclinations and the responsibilities we possess as beings of higher consciousness. What it means to live congruent to your own individual accord, and how to integrate it into a society built to tear you down.

What it means to live a life worth living.
Profile Image for Leo Robertson.
Author 38 books435 followers
July 5, 2022
2022 update: Hello again! This review has inadvertently become my most popular.
This book was pretty important to me a few years ago. Don't know what I'd think of it now.
I do know what I think of the guy who wrote it now. This is not a review of him!

I’ve highlighted more paragraphs in this book than any that I’ve read in the last… very long time!

As should be expected, this is the literary equivalent of a kick up the ass. Like true originals, if you’ve heard him speak before, you’ll find it impossible not to read his book in his voice—just as I have done previously with Marina Abramovic’s memoir and others I can’t currently think of. The point is, if something reads exactly like that person talks, it took an immense effort to write and is—whether or not you agree with it—a good sign that that person has written exactly what they set out to write.

Peterson draws on evolutionary biology, politics, literary and biblical stories, even delving into fascinating elements of memoir about where he grew up, which is revealing of his tough countenance. Friends die, children get sick. That’s life.

“You have the power to change the world” is an apparently optimistic and commonplace message, implied or otherwise. But it needs broken down. Peterson does this very well in the book. “Sure, you can change the world. What are you reasonably capable of achieving today? Okay… You can get to smashing the patriarchy, but how about you, uh, see if you can re-open a dialogue with your estranged brother. That sound doable?”
We sense this inside. What this book does is what the best books do: it articulates lessons to you that you already knew in some distant, subconscious way. If I was younger, they’d probably be things life had yet to teach me.

I make it sound simple, but I too have been hiding in my own life. I’ve been weak in the face of criticism I need to grow successfully. It only seems polite to help other people out with your problems but hide your own. It isn’t. It breeds resentment, and society needs actively engaged citizens. Johann Hari’s latest book quotes the following: The percentage of U.S. workers in 2015 who Gallup considered engaged in their jobs averaged 32%. The majority (50.8%) of employees were "not engaged," while another 17.2% were "actively disengaged." He, I surmised from the rest of the text, thought this was a problem with companies: what can they do to entice people to engage more in their work? What Peterson offers is almost opposite: you’re not engaged in your work? How about you try engaging then? You can’t do what you think is expected? Well, what can you do?

I will say that his messages do tend to have a hard edge to them, probably because of his voice. He advises not doing work that you hate, and has explained Jungian theory using the Quidditch example of “catching the snitch”—it requires immense concentration, indicative that you’re exactly where you need to be in time and space, and when you win, everybody wins. What that tells me is that to be successful you should find work you enjoy and focus on that. That sounds more fun than simply “not doing work that you hate.” The process of becoming better can be enjoyed. It probably is enjoyable. In fact, one of the main activities for bettering myself recently has been reading this book, and it was fascinating! And the ways I’ve chosen to improve myself this year, including staying off social media for the most part, have made life better. I’m not really sacrificing but alleviating. The instant pleasure compulsions are the brain’s equivalent of a spending spree or a drinking binge: they lead you to ultimately unsatisfying and shallow territory. But the deeper, healthier curiosities take you to emotional and spiritual investment opportunities. They’re better modes of enjoying life, I would phrase it. Rather than, as Peterson would, “Life is suffering, so pick the poison that will harm you the least.”

As he advises, today I said “Yes” to everything in work and already it took me surprising places. I made a presentation for the whole department on a safety issue I’d barely heard about this morning, based on an offhand suggestion from my team leader. I could have hidden and done the bare minimum. But something has been wrong for a while—I’ve designed a decent life that I can set about improving; I just haven’t been as engaged in it as I could. Because I’ve feared the implications of failure, and I don’t like asserting myself in general. But lack of engagement feels worse. It’s not a win to find a job you can “hide in.” What seems comforting really isn’t. Certainly “coasting” is not the worst place to be in. But you undermine your capabilities by not maximising the use of them, and that doesn’t feel that great.

I’ve also enjoyed not drinking this past month, and will continue to do so. Someone new and better is emerging at a rapid rate—which scares me when I consider the implications of that regarding past activity, but I’m excited about the future in a way I haven’t been in a long time. Henry Rollins says he was never attracted to drink because he could see that “That’s how they try and control you.” Someone benefits from the status quo for sure, and alcohol helps suppress people into lives that are beneath them. But that cycle of subpar life + suppression = statis(1), stasis (1) + suppression = stasis(2) is ultimately unsustainable. You either get out of it or ride it as deep as it goes. Mentally there are no limits to it—it’s your body that’ll give in first. As Peterson says, hell is a bottomless pit, and life has taught him that there’s no situation so bad that you can’t make it worse.

Logan Paul says “Zero people shouldn’t have a hero” (hahahaha…)
Well I think it’s useful to have role models. I have plenty, but will mention just a few. When I watch Peterson speaking, I imagine what I might be like at his age if I just learned and worked my ass off. Where will I be? What will I know? It’s hard work, but it’s exciting.
But also, like a stern father, his messages are good for a time. We can’t live with our faces rubbed in sobering truth day after day—and that’s why I will combine his messages with other favourites, such as affirmation and meditation advocate, Louise Hay. Peterson may well be referring directly to her practices when he says he thinks people who believe you can be happy are delusional because they’re refusing to accept the true nature of life. I can only see the benefit in repeating to yourself, in the mirror, “I am in the process of making positive changes in all aspects of my life.” Her practices, like Peterson’s, have brought people back from the brink.
If Peterson is a stern father, Louise Hay is a nurturing mother. Yet a mother’s protection is just an illusion, one that ultimately falls away. Again, Johann Hari in his latest book documents the apparent miracle effects of placebos, only to note that they disappear again, don’t ultimately solve anything. But if someone in a wheelchair stood up from it one day, is that worse than no placebo at all?
UPDATE: heard something on a podcast about faith healing. Yes, it is damaging! The adrenaline causes people to walk when they're not supposed to! Exhilarating in the short term but damaging overall. Then we're back to "expediency sucks"!
(I even have a crazy aunt/uncle in the mix: RuPaul, who says, “Let’s just step out of this reality entirely. It’s all made up. It doesn’t define you. You’re just playing a role. Don’t take any of this too seriously.”)

In this George Saunders story, he takes a stab at Tony Robbins’ classes. He seems to find them overly simplistic and of limited use. Well, I loved the documentary on Tony Robbins, titled I Am Not Your Guru. I also remember thinking that if these people had caring friends and a decent community, they wouldn’t need him at all. He’s just like a caring friend that you pay for. If people want to pay for that, cool, and I think they get their money’s worth. I don’t know what more could you want. These people advocate personal responsibility in their own way. They don’t necessarily, as Peterson does, consult the diaries of the Columbine shooters to prove their point—but I doubt that many would!
I remember when I taught English in Spain that what I really enjoyed was finding three or four different ways to express the same concept until everyone, with their different learning styles, was on board. That’s the most wonderful thing to hear: “Why did no one explain it like that to me before?” Of course, as an adult, everything is maximum confusion and almost no one takes the time to explain anything to you, ahaha. That’s how it will always be, though, I think. The point is to listen to many folk.

Life is suffering, is Peterson’s E=MC^2 tier elegant truth. I just didn’t understand what it meant for most of the book. But, last night, as I was finishing up this book, and I saw the sentence, my subconscious pieced it together in a way that I understood: Life is suffering in that if you’re not suffering, you’re not alive.
Profile Image for Douglas Wilson.
Author 282 books3,524 followers
March 28, 2018
As I wrote on Twitter, this book contains pockets of silliness connected by long stretches of common grace on fire. Really worthwhile.
Profile Image for Brendan Monroe.
572 reviews149 followers
February 24, 2018
Where have all the genuine intellectuals gone?

Christopher Hitchens' death in 2011 left a huge gap that nobody has yet managed to fill, though many have tried. If anything, the absence of a voice like his these past years has shown just what a unique and profound thinker the man was. He was a colossus and, sadly for us, all too difficult to replace.

The era of Trump, Fake News, and both left and right hysteria demands a Hitchens-esque figure who can rise above it all and tell us what's what, but sadly, that figure appears to be absent from the scene. I had hoped that Jordan Peterson would prove to be just such a figure, but I am sad to report that that's not the case. Peterson is an imposter - just the latest in a long line of controversial figures who, when the curtain of controversy is pulled back, prove to be nothing more than provocateurs with nothing original to say.

Like many, I watched Peterson's now-infamous interview with Channel 4's Cathy Newman and was immediately captivated. The way he handled her absurd, aggressive line of questioning was admirable and, just maybe, heralded the arrival of a profound thinker to the world stage. She made him look good, I know now. But, like no doubt millions of others were inspired to do, I went and picked up a copy of Peterson's newly released book, "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos", eager to delve deeper into the man's mind.

I couldn't even finish it. About halfway through the seventh rule I said to hell with it, I've wasted enough time on Peterson's banalities as it is. I don't use the word "banal" lightly either - the truth is there isn't anything here that you don't already know.

The first rule, "stand up straight with your shoulders back" is a long-winded call to approach life with confidence and to speak your mind. Well, no shit.

Just the titles of Peterson's rules are no-brainers.

Take Rules 2 and 3 - "Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping" and "make friends with people who want the best for you". If you haven't already realized the benefits of doing these things, then you haven't been thinking. This leads me to the conclusion that Peterson's intended audience isn't academics or thinkers, but young people who have been fed a steady diet of pop-culture nonsense and politically correct bullshit.

Peterson has talked about how his list of 12 rules was - terrifyingly - originally a list of 40. He'd published his list on Quora and quickly received a significant number of upvotes. None of that seems hard to believe.

Peterson's "rules" would work well on a site like Quora that exists as a place for users to go for quickly absorbable bits of information. Peterson's rules proved popular because the point of each rule is evident from the name of the rule itself - except for "Do not bother children when they are skateboarding" because, well, why would you? Peterson's rules do not make the transition from a list on Quora that you can read in five minutes to a 450-page book well.

How could one even fill 450 pages with such obvious advice anyway? By going full Sunday school.

Peterson's constant referencing and interpreting of Bible stories is both exhausting and frustrating. I was raised in a very religious household, so growing up I wasn't allowed to read "secular" books, only whatever they sold at our local Christian bookstore. There's a whole industry of Christian self-help books that filters that Old Testament story this way and this parable that way - all to serve whatever purpose the author desires.

"12 Rules for Life" reads all too often like one of those Christian self-help books. Peterson is obsessed with the Bible and is apparently convinced that each and every story within offers layers and layers of wisdom so lacking from every other text that he never bothers referencing any other text. He talks a bit about Socrates at a couple of points, but for Peterson the Old Testament god (i.e. those who authored him) is clearly the unrivaled source of knowledge.

I wonder what the Hitch would say about that.

And that gets to exactly what Peterson is so remarkably wrong about. In numerous places his argument seems to dead end on "god was right because he is god" and "how dare they argue against god?" In other words, he who has the power is right merely by dint of the fact that he has the power. This is what SHOULD be controversial about Peterson, not his objecting to government-mandated speech, but the fact that, not so deep down, he believes that absolute authority is right simply because it is absolute.

It appears that those debating him don't know this, that those in his fan club don't know this. Peterson isn't some radical revolutionary sticking it to the man - he's the man working on BEHALF of the man. He's a lobbyist for the same powerful interests that have left his core group of readers and YouTube viewers - mostly young men - feeling lost and confused in a world that is becoming increasingly unrecognizable to them.

I started this book already liking Peterson. Unlike many of the reviewers who will rate this book 1 star because they went into it hating Peterson already, I went into this with a completely open mind - a mind that Peterson easily could have won if he wasn't repeating everything we already knew and acting as a glorified Bible school teacher.

Why read pseudo-intellectuals when you can read a real one? Ditch Peterson. Pick up Hitchens.
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664 reviews3,401 followers
May 29, 2018
I was really prepared to pick up this book with an open mind in order to understand what so many people have found compelling about it. After finishing, I have to say that for the most part I am more mystified than when I began. "12 Rules for Life" is technically what its advertised as, a self-help book with twelve axioms for the reader to follow in order to improve their quality of life. As far as they go, the axioms, which the chapters are named after, are harmless and actually serve as good reminders. But each of the chapters is only the entry-point to much longer philosophical dirges that express Peterson's very muddled and unsystematic worldview, along with anecdotes from his personal life. The anecdotes are generally the more comprehensible and compelling parts of what he has produced. Suffice to say this is a very badly written book, about 200 pages too long and rambling into near incoherence at times. I picked this up with the expectation of a light read but after being force-fed so many bafflingly indigestible passages I was starting to wonder whether my brain was being short-circuited.

As for the core of Peterson's basic argument, I'm not actually sure what it is. As far as I can tell it doesn't coalesce around anything in particular, aside from Peterson's visceral personal opposition to an amorphous thing that he calls "postmodern neo-Marxism." Its still not clear to me what he defines this spectre to be, though it sounds appropriately terrifying.

Having said that, through the guise of his deceptively simple self-help tips, I would say that he does seem to be trying to create a new type of metaphysics for people who have been cut adrift by modernity. Although he doesn't say it outright, he is clearly trying to give life meaning again for those whom today it feels meaningless. In itself this is a good goal and one that we should take seriously. The problem is that Peterson is woefully and obviously not up to such a Herculean task, fit for a prophet. For those lacking meaning (a very profound and painful thing to lack) Peterson throws together everything from evolutionary biology, Bible exegesis and native mythology to Jungian psychoanalysis and stories from his own life to try and reconstruct a new metaphysical sense of being. The end result feels very haphazard and vague. Its certainly far inferior to anything you would get from deeply engaging with any number of well-developed ethical and spiritual traditions. He also frequently throws out bizarre mystical assertions like "chaos is considered feminine" and expects the reader to just follow along. I suspect you'd only be able to do so if you already in some vague way shared this esoteric belief.

It really feels as though this book was written for the type of person who'd have otherwise been attracted to the shallow liberal-nihilist New Atheist style of thought. Peterson is probably a better alternative, but he's far from ideal and I'm not sure why you'd even need to read him when far more solid alternatives are available. If you're going to cite the Bible so much, why not just explore Christian spirituality? Why not read the Stoics directly, instead of this random and somewhat questionable guy telling you that life is suffering and you need to tough it out? Perhaps Peterson deserves credit for at least bringing up the elephant in the room, which is that many people feel miserable. But you'd be much better off going directly to the sources of ancient thought and being, rather than having him as your shaky interlocutor.

In Peterson's defense I will admit that I found the section he wrote about lobster evolution surprisingly moving and compelling, even if it might not actually be true. Reading the book I didn't get the impression that Jordan Peterson is a monster. But I'm also a bit troubled by the idea that he constitutes one of our ages Great Thinkers. My own take, just based on reading 12 Rules for Life, is that he is a moderately interesting person, a terrible writer and a bit of a dilettante. I also think that he, in his own way, is someone who genuinely cares about peoples wellbeing. Unfortunately given his proclivity for making bellicose and puzzling public statements, I'm afraid that he is gradually becoming Kanye West-style unhinged by the notoriety that he has very suddenly received. This may well take him to a worse place in the foreseeable future, or open the door for even stranger individuals to take his place. It seems that Peterson has been taken up as a standard-bearer by people who are, for the most part, unjustly aggrieved. He's really running with it, but in the end I'm not sure how far he can go on so little fuel.
Profile Image for Gary Moreau.
Author 9 books235 followers
January 24, 2018
This is a magnificent book. And part of that magnificence comes from the fact that it is “complete” in the same sense that All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (Fulghum, 1989) was complete. The rules are simple: from “stand up straight with your shoulders back,” to “do not bother children when they are skateboarding.” They are, however, all-encompassing. When you finish reading it (and it is a long book) you are sure to ask, “What else is there to say?”

At the risk of grave oversimplification the book is based on the non-linear worldview most often associated with the Taoist concept of yin and yang. In this case, however, yin and yang become order and chaos, and the spiritual foundation is not Eastern philosophy but the stories of the Judeo-Christian Bible, offered liberally but in a non-dogmatic context.

The key to this worldview is not what you call the two opposing forces as much as it is the realization that knowledge, consciousness (Dr. Peterson’s preferred description), harmony, virtue, and enlightenment are all found along the border between the two. And that this is a border that is in constant evolution.

At another level, Dr. Petersen is a Pyrrhonist, although he never uses that term or makes any allusion to the famous philosopher who traveled with the armies of Alexander the Great into India. A Pyrrhonist rejects all dogma because while dogma states a belief (or law or regulation), it concurrently states a non-belief. Which is why laws inevitably have loopholes, rules always have exceptions, and language is often an inadequate convention with which to convey ideas.

At the heart of Taoism, Pyrrhonism, and, indeed, this book, is the recognition that everything in life and the universe is a dichotomy. There is a pro to every con. There are two sides to every coin, perspective, story, etc. Which is why every dogmatic argument, as Petersen argues throughout, contains internal contradictions. They are the inevitable byproduct of every dichotomy.

The dogma that he rejects most forcefully is ideology, particularly of the socio-political variety. He rejects all ideology, but particularly relativism (including feminism and environmentalism—the ideology not the objective), and the blind ideology of both the liberal/progressive left and the Tea Party/libertarian right. And what he dislikes most about both ideologies is the finality of their supporters. More than anything else, it appears, Petersen believes in mindful growth and continued evolution as both a fact of life and the desired response to its challenges.

And therein lies, I think, the one weakness of the “12 Rules for Life” worldview. It is not wrong per se, but it presumes that all other ideology is essentially both failed and fixed. Such ideology is, in other words, inherently flawed, negating the value of any further discussion or experimentation.

We are all shaped by our experiences and Petersen’s worldview seems to have been shaped by the atrocities of 20th Century fascism and Stalinist Russia, and more specifically the Holocaust and the Cold War, which he, like myself, came of age during. Both are clearly appropriate targets of disgust and revulsion as manifested, but how broadly do we paint with that brush?

He paints pretty broadly, suggesting, for example, that Stalin did not pervert communism; it is inherently perverted. That my be true of communism although I am reminded of the fact that Marx never truly articulated what happened after his presumed proletarian revolution, so I’m not sure we can use Stalin to exile Marx once and for all. And I do think that socialism and relativism, particularly feminism and the oppression of the white patriarchy (which he doesn’t deny but contains), to differing degrees, still offer plenty of room for productive development.

In the end, the dichotomous worldview that is at the heart of Petersen’s twelve rules, I believe, is the right one, so long as we don’t exclude all other worldviews and their ideology. He is right that fulfillment is found on the forever-evolving border between the two sides of the dichotomy. The rule of rules, therefore, is “to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other is chaos, possibility, growth, and adventure.” (Which, he notes, is where good music resides.) I think of it as the border between inductive and deductive reason but the fundamental concept is the same.

This is a very good book that is very well written. It’s chock full of stories and references, from the stories of his Canadian prairie upbringing, which I can certainly relate to, to his very appropriate references to the great minds of history, from Socrates to Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky. He is a very gifted and passionate storyteller and I hope he continues the conversation.

A must read for all, but particularly those on the cusp of adulthood.
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November 10, 2022
كنت ظريفة بزاااااف وفاش نفجرت قررت نولي قاسية ومرتاحيتش فحتى نسخة فيهم. دابا رجعت للتوازن الطيبة عمرها كانت ضعف او غباء اذا مزجتها بالصرامة والحزم والذكاء والفطنة. غلف ذلك القلب بطبقة من العقل فيبقى القلب رطب والعقل فارسه الذي يحميه. لا المسيحية بمثاليتها المفرطة مريحة ولا المادية بجفائها مريحة
وحده الاسلام من يريح وينسجم مع الفطرة. لا ملاك مفرط في الملائكية ويطير في السماء ولا كائن مادي بلا روح مفرط في المادية ويمشي على الارض
انا كائن مزيج بين الروح والجسد انا اجمل من الملائكة واعلى من الشيطان اجمل بعقلي وعلمي عن الملائكة واجمل بقلبي النقي عن الشيطان
انا من اجمل ما خلق الله سبحانه فيا خليط من ملاك وشيطان وانا من اختار هل اتفوق على الملائكة او اتدنس وانزل اسفل من الشيطان
انا من اجمل واعقد ما خلق الله لا يمكن للماديين ان يختصروني في سلالة مشتركة للقردة في مادة انا افضل بكثير انا ارفع راسي للسماء ولا يمكن للمسحيين ان ينتزعوا مني جسدي واختصاري في ملاك انا اعلى من الملاك
وهكذا يربح الاسلام لانه يشبع روحي ومادتي ساجري فوق الارض وانا ارفع راسي للسماء كائن خالد ابدي انا خالدة لا اموت الروح خالدة وكائن فاني يجري فوق الارض ياكل ويشرب ويتكاثر ومتصالحة مع جانبي الاثنين لا اكره اي منهما لا اكره الارض ولا جسدي كالمسيحيين ولا اكره روحي كالماديين لا اخجل من اي جانب فيا
عندما ارتدي الحجاب ارى وجهي يشع كملاك جمال ملائكي وعندما انتزعه ارى كائن ارضي جميل ايضا. واحبهما معا كلتاهما جميلتين جمالهما مختلف لكن كلتاها جميلتين بطريقة غريبة غير مفهومة كانه ...لا توجد كلمات يمكن ان افسر به ذلك الشعور الغريب الغرااابة ...هو الوعي الذي لا يمتلكه كائن اخر غيري الغرابة من تصنع جمالي الفناء والخلود ممزوجان في نسخة واحدة
في بعض الاحيان وسط مشاغل الحياة وصراع البقاء تمر ومضة وعي تقول لي هل انا احلم اشعر كاني احلم كاني هنا في حلم سينتهي قريبا واتالم لانتهائه اخااااف ان ينتهي واختفي كل المي وصراااعي ومشاعري ستختفي لذا اخط هذا لكي لا اختفي هل انا احلم ماذا عن صرااااااعي والمي كل هذا حلم...وفي بعض الاحيان اشعر بمشاعر الغضب والصراع والانتقام والحقد والكراهية...وكل المشاعر المخجلة القبيحة التي قد تختلج كائن بشري بداخلي فاشعر ان الحقيقة هي هنا اشعر كاني اهوي من فوق الى تحت واغرس جذوووري في الارض ككائن فاني والسماء هي السراب خدعة هل يكذبون علي هل توجد سماء حياة في السماء هل لدي رووح اين ��ي انهض واحدق في المرايا اين انت يا روح فابتسم واراها تطل من عيني ومضة في عيوني انت هنا ههههه اضحك واعود لمكاني انها هنا انت هنا اشعر بك واراك
ثم انسى واعيش انسى واعيش ...

انا طيبة واحن على البشر لكن على الضعيييف ليس النصاب الذي يمثل علي واذا استطعت ان اساعد اساعد من يحتاجني وفي بعض المرات
اساعد الاوغاد واتغابى واتغافل بمزاجي وهم يعتقدون اني غبية ولا اندم لاني اصلا لا انتظر الشكر من البشر افعله لوجه الله واعرف اني كما رحمتهم وساعدتهم الله سيرحمني ويساعدني. لكن عندما لا اريد وليس لدي وقت او مجهود لا يعني لا. وعندما يتم ايذاائي بالمكر اخرج نفسي من المشكلة بالمكر. هم يمكرون وانا امكر. مزيج قلبي طيب لكن عقلي يعمل ويرى ويحلل ويعرف متى يخدم الناس ومتى لا. لست بليدة وفي نفس الوقت لست قاسية. مزيج من القسوة واللين. اعطي وافرح كما يحب قلبي واحلل واوازن كما يرى عقلي. واحل مشاكلي بالعقل والمكر والحيلة ابحث عن حلول للمشكلة بدون صراااخ ولا اسمح لاحد ان يتعدى على حقوقي ولا اعتدي على حق احد
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لانها لعبة عندما تقع ويضحك عليك الناس اضحك معهم عليك هذا دليل على روحك الرياضية
لانها لعبة لا يربح فيها لا الذي لديه حق ولا الاطيب يربح فيها الامكر
وحتى الان اليهود هم الرابحون
لانها لعبة لا تغضب كالاطفال وتشوهنا لان الغضب يحولك من مظلوم الى ظالم ويشوه سمعتك
هل رايت في حياتك سياسي غاضب طبعا لا وحدهم الاغبياء من يغضبون. لا تكن داعشي اللعبة
العب وانت كيوت ومبتسم
نسيت الدنيا فهلوة وشطارة ومن يخاف الله لا ينسى قوانين الله وهو يلعب فالاخرة ايضا فهلوة وشطارة

المداراة لله والنفاق للشيطان والفرق في النية والهدف احدهما لدفع الشر والثاني للافساد في الارض
عن أُمِّ المؤمنين عائشة قالت: أنه استأذن على النَّبي صلى الله عليه وسلم رجل فقال صلى الله عليه وسلم: ((ائذنوا له، فبئس ابن العشيرة أو بئس أخو العشيرة. فلما دخل ألان له الكلام. فقلت له: يا رسول الله، قلت ما قلت، ثم ألنت له في القول. فقال: أي عائشة، إنَّ شرَّ الناس منزلةً عند الله من تركه أو ودعه الناس، اتقاء فحشه))

الخبث من الشيطان والمكر في الحق من الله اخوة يوسف عليه السلام مكروا لاخيهم حسدا من عند انفسهم والقوا به في البئر ويوسف عليه السلام كاد لهم واخذ اخاه.
وَيَمْكُرُونَ وَيَمْكُرُ اللَّهُ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ

اذا لم يكن هناك شر بداخلك انت لست طيب انت ارنب صالح للاكل فقط اذا كنت تفهم الشر ومررت من الالم وتدفعه انت انسان جيد لكي تدفع الوحش يجب ان تكون وحش لا يدفع الجوكر الا باطمان

جون سنو 😍 اذا لم تكن تعرف الشر انت لست طيب انت فقط ساذج اذا كنت تعرف الشر لكن لا تستخدمه لايذاء الاخرين تخرجه فقط لحماية نفسك فانت
جدع. فلتكن ذئبا ابيض.
Be a white wolf

الدنيا لا تكرهك الدنيا تعلمك ومن مصلحتك ان تتعلم الدرس بسرعة لكي لا تعيد لك الدرس مرتين

ان اكثر المرضى النفسيين من الطيبين لانه من السهل استغلالهم بالاضافة الى الامراض الجسدية التي يصابون بها كالضغط والسكر وقرحة المعدة والتعب والشيخوخة المبكرة ....والعلاج يكون هو القسوة تمرين لجعلهم قساة. يجب ان تكون على جبينك علامة الشر يعني تعرف كيف تكلم الافاعي يعني تدخل الشر الى تركيبتك هكذا عندما تقابل الشر لن تصدم او تنهار كشخص ساذج بريئ ثانيا يجب ان تظهر مخالبك من الضروري ان يروا مخالبك لان هذا سيجنبك استخدامها ثالثا تلعب لصالحك عندما تفاوض فانت تريد ان تجر لنفسك والاخر يجر لنفسه وفي النهاية قد تصلون الى حل وسط لكن لا تتنازل رابعا الناس الذين تمت تربيتهم تربية جيدة لن تجد معهم مشكل هناك اناس لم يتم تربيتهم هؤلاء سيخضعونك للتجربة سيبدؤون بازعاجك ليروا فقط ردة فعلك هل يمكنهم ان يتجاوزا حدودهم معك او لا اذا لم تقم برد فعل فانت حقا في وضع سيء اذا قمت برد فعل سيحبونك وهذا مضحك لانك مثلهم ومن الممتع اللعب معك. هناك شر بداخلك هذا جيد اذا لم تكن وحشا لن تستطيع العيش على هذا الكوكب الان كل ما عليك فعله هو ان تتحول الى وحش متحضر. اذا لم تكن وحشا فانت جبان ضعيف وليس ذو اخلاق انت لست ذو اخلاق اذا لم تكن مؤذيا يجب ان تكون مؤذيا اولا ثم تختار ان لا تؤذي وتؤذي عندما يتطلب الامر ذلك. هذا لا يعني انك مفترس هذا يعني انه بامكانك ان تحقق لنفسك السلام
اذا لم تخرج الوحش الموجود بداخلك لكي ياكلهم سيخرج لك انت وياكلك لا تاكل نفسك. وبعدها ستكتئب وتمرض وتفكر في الانتحار وسينتهي بك الامر في مستشفى المجانين و سيلقبونك بالغبي المغفل الضعيف الكافر وسيكرهونك ويحتقرونك لكن اذا اخرجته سيحبونك وسيحترمونك وسيلقبونك بالذكي لانك تعرف كيف تلعب واللعب معك ممتع
السذاجة هي نقص قدرات عقلية او قلة تجارب الحياة او شخص تمت حمايته اكثر من اللازم ولم ينشئ في بيئة يتدافع فيها الناس مع بعضهم البعض. ان كون الانسان غير مؤذي هو شيء سيء الانسان السوي قادر على الايذاء عندما يتطلب الامر ذلك
الافعى لسانها حلو وظاهرها حلو لكن باطنها قذر فيه خبث وسم مادمت لا تفهم لغة الافاعي فانت نية لان الافعى تتلون باستمرار وتمثل باستمرار وتبدل الادوار باستمرار مادمت لم تدخل الشر الى تركيبتك وتكن علامة الشر على جبينك لن تفهم وسيتم دائما التلاعب بك. السذاجة نقص في القدرات العقلية لذا الاطفال سذج ولديهم وجه واحد وما في عقلهم يقولونه ولا يتقنون فن التمثيل والكذب والخداع. السذاجة او الطيبة قد تكون وراثة وخلقة او نقص في القدرات العقلية او قلة تجارب الحياة او ظروف جيدة ودلال وحماية زائدة او قلة معرفة وادراك للطبيعة البشرية وما يدور في الكوكب
عامل البشر كما تعامل الاطفال عندما يقومون بتصرف جيد قل لهم برافو جيد انتم رائعون وعندما يقومون بتصرف سيء لا تكثر الثرثرة والشرح نظرة حازمة وكلمة او اثنان تقال بصرامة. اعتبر نفسك تروض كلبا كلما قام بتصرف جيد طبطب على راسه اذا تصرف تصرفا سيئا عاقبه
الانسان القوي السوي يتحرك من اجل مصلحته ومن اجل مصلحة الاخرين ياخذ ويعطي
من مساوئ الصعود الى اعلى في اللعبة الروتين والملل اعتقد انه لايجاد معنى لحياتك يجب ان تمد يدك لمن هم في اسفل هم لديهم مشاكل ومغامرة وتشويق لم ترها في حياتك ولا في خيالك. اعتقد ان وجودك في اسفل يحقق لك متعة الحياة فانت تصعد درجة درجة وكل درجة تصعدها تفرح بها عكس ان تكون اعلى سيدخل الفراغ الى حياتك. كونك في اسفل يعني ان ترى حياتك تتطور وانت تلعب
ليس من مصلحتك ان تهزم زوجتك ليس من مصلحتك العيش مع شخص مهزوم لان قلبه مليء بالحقد والكراهية تجاهك لكنه يستكين لانه ضعيف فقط يستكين في انتظار اللحظة المناسبة لكي يطعنك. لا تهزم شخصا يعيش معك.
ستشعر بانك سعيد اذا لعبت لصالحك وفي نفس الوقت لعبت لصالح الاخرين انت تزهر ويزهر معك الاخرون فمنفعة لعبك تتعداك الى منفعة الاخرين
لا احد يحترم او يعجب بمن هم في اسفل مهما كانت اخلاقهم. لكن الجميع يعجبون بمن هم في اعلى ويقلدونهم حتى لو كانوا بلا اخلاق لا بد انهم لعبوا جيدا لكي يصعدوا والجميع يريد الصعود
معدل ذكاء المجرمين منخفض لذا عوض ان يطوروا انفسهم ويستخدموا المكر والذكاء للصعود الى اعلى يلتجؤون الى ايذاء الاخرين
وانزالهم الى اسفل كما ان الذكاء ليس هو المؤشر الوحيد لصعودك هناك عوامل اخرى
الاشتراكية ليست حبا للفقراء لكن كرها للاغنياء الناس درجات وليس كما يعتقد البعض ان الاغنياء سرقوا الفقراء لكن الاذكياء يصعدون الى اعلى. والحركة النسوية تدعي ان ظلم النساء عبر التاريخ حصل بسبب الرجال لكن الطبيعة هي السبب فالرجال اقوى جسديا واقل عاطفة اما المراة عاطفية وعاطفتها وجدت للعناية بالاطفال
لا تصادق التافهين صادق المميزين ان اثمن ما لديك وقتك لا تضيعه
مهما حصل لا تقل لنفسك الاكاذيب لا تخلق بينك وبين الواقع فجوة لان هذا سيضعفك لا تقل لنفسك ما يضعفك. لا تسمح للوهم بان يفسد الواقع لا تهرب مهما حصل
الحياة عبارة عن الم ولكي يتجاوز الانسان هذا الالم يجب ان يتعرف على نفسه اولا لكي يستطيع فهم الاخرين وفهم هذا العالم. ان كل الكوارث الطبيعية و
الامراض لم تستطع ايذاء الانسان كما قام هو بايذاء اخيه لانه يعرف جيدا كيف يجرح جروحا لا تعالج جروحا تخلق بداخله الغضب و الرغبة في الانتقام وهكذا تدور دائرة الجحيم. ان القانون الواضح للجميع في هذا العالم هو ان القوي يسيطر على الضعيف ومادمت منحنيا فانت ترسل اشارة للاخرين كدعوة للاعتداء عليك ان اول شيء يجب ان تتعلمه هو ان تقف مستقيما و ترفع كتفيك هذا لن يكسبك احترامك لذاتك فقط لكن احترام الاخرين ايضا هذا العالم بائس جدا لكي تكون لطيفا فكونك غير مؤذي لا يعني ابدا انك انسان جيد هذا يعني فقط غير مؤذي لكي تكون انسانا جيد يجب ان تكون لديك مخالب اولا وتحسن استخدامها عند الضرورة فقليل من العنف سيجنبك الكثير منه فيما بعد لا تنسى انك وحش متحضر
الاناني يرى العالم عبارة عن منافسة شرسة تدور حول الصعود الى القمة وان على كل انسان ان يلعب لصالحه المتعاطف يرى العالم عبارة عن مكان يجب ان نعيش فيه معا ونعطف على بعضنا البعض. المشكلة متى تحصل عندما يلتقي اناني بمتعاطف الاناني يرى المتعاطف غبي ويستحق اي شيء سيء يحصل له والمتعاطف يرى الاناني انسان لطيف تحول الى ذئب ويجب ان ينقذه. والحقيقة ان كل منهما يرى العالم من زاويته وكل منهما لديه طبعه لكن المتعاطف هو من يتم ايذاؤه في هذا العالم لان طبيعة العالم تعطي الامتيازات للاناني على المتعاطف ان يتعلم كيف يلعب لصالحه لان الاناني لن يلعب لصالح الاخر
ان الانسان لديه قدرة على حب الاخر و الاهتمام به لكن غير قادر على حب نفسه و الاهتمام بها لانه يعرف جيدا عيوبه وجانبه المظلم ولا بد ان فكرة ابادة البشرية خطرت ببال كل انسان فالانسان منذ نزول ادم وحواء من الجنة وقتل اول انسان لاخيه غير راض عن نفسه. هناك امور لا يمكن تغييرها لذا على الاقل اهتم بنفسك لانك اذا لم تفعل سيتحول الالم الى غضب وحقد و انتقام و ستزيد الامور سوء. لذا قبل ان تفكر بتغيير العالم فكر في تغيير غرفتك اولا. كن انسانا جيدا و لا تسمح للجحيم بان يتوسع اكثر ابدا بنفسك بعائلتك باصدقائك واذا نجحت انتقل الى محيطك
اختر اصدقاءك بعناية لا تصاحب الغارقين لانهم سيحاولون بكل الطرق سحبك الى اسفل لكي يثبتوا لانفسهم هولك ان الحياة غير عادلة وان فشلهم ليس ذنبهم ولكي ينقلوا لك الامهم و حقدهم ايضا. لا تغتر وتعتقد انك قادر على انقاذ احد فالنزول الى اسفل سهل جدا. احط نفسك باصدقاء يحاولون الصعود الى اعلى اصدقاء يحاولون التطوير من انفسهم و يشجعونك على ذلك اصدقاء يفرحون لنجاحك لا لفشلك.
يقولون ان الاطفال ابرياء لكن هذا غير صحيح لكل انسان جانب خير وشر وجانبه المظلم يولد معه البعض يقولون انهم يحبون الاطفال لكنهم غير صادقين ان الاطفال وحوش صغيرة لم يتم تدريبها بعد لكي تنخرط في المجتمع لذا قد تجد نسبة عنف لدى طفل في السنتين من عمره لا تجدها عند اي شخص بالغ فالانسان كلما كبر كلما اصبح خاضعا للقوانين و اصبح اكثر انسانية لذا ربوا جيدا وحوشكم الصغيرة لكي لا يخلقوا بداخلكم شعور الكره تجاههم ولكي يتلقوا الحب من الاخرين
البعض يقولون ان من هم في اعلى القمة وصلوا الى هناك بسبب لعبة القوة والظلم والقمع لكنهم ينسون ان الذكاء يلعب دورا مهما في النجاح والوصول الى القمة
When you listen to Dr. Jordan Peterson you feel that you know already what he tells you. I have read the book and also I have listened to his podcast and I had taken some notes:
it's a bad sign not to be able to take a joke, even at your expense
You better have an imagination for all kind of evil because if you don't have an imagination you can't talk with snakes you are defenseless you lose and everyone can bite you. A good man is a very dangerous man who has control
We learned to act before we learned the rules. You know the story you just don’t know that you know
Agreeable people are compassionate and polite. Disagreeable people are tough-minded, blunt, competitive and they will push you the hell out of their way if you're in the way it's not defensive aggression it's more like predatory aggression It is dominance behavior. Highly disagreeable people look at the world as a place in which they can compete and win they don't give a damn about your feelings when agreeable people think that we all have to take care of each other
They are two dimensions in the world. The demand for inclusiveness and unity and care and the demand for high-level performance in a hierarchical structure. It's complicated for people who are agreeable and conscientious
One of the things you have to be careful of if you're agreeable is not to be exploited because you'll line up to be exploited and you're wired to be exploited by infants and that just doesn't work so well in this world
People come to psychotherapy for multiple reasons but one of them is they often come because they're too agreeable
He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. If what you're aiming at is of sufficient profundity it's worth an awful lot of misery to participate in the process of bringing it about
If you get corrupt enough god will send a flood. The question is who is God?
I don't know what people mean when they say that they believe in god?
Objective reality or mythology? it's way deeper than this
Inside of every human being, there is a spark of divinity
On your deathbed, one of the thing that's going to matter is who's around there with you. The modern western world act like if that they never going to be old than thirty-five
If you make an apology people regard that as a final proof of your guilt
Dreams concentrate on threats. They present threats to you threats you haven't been able to deal with well. your brain tells you to look here is a problem you have to solve it
Kids don't like chaos if you play with them and you betray the rule they don't like you because their realm of competences is very restricted
It's not good to be self-conscious it loads on neuroticism it's a negative emotion. We think this is a higher order cognitive function but people find it unpleasant if you're deeply engaged in something your self-consciousness disappear but you have to be self-conscious to know yourself
If you are not honest you can't trust your inner intuition this is why virtue is a necessity. When you lie to yourself or to others you corrupt the structure that you use to interact with the being
The problem with tradition is that sometimes it's a wise thing and sometimes it's a thing that eats his own sons. We need tradition to guide us into order but the same tradition can become outdated inhuman and cruel
The dominance hierarchy is eternal. The top is the right place to be but even the defeated others have value and that is a virtue. No one admires the defeated we admire persons in the top
Rationality is not a master it is a servant because from an evolutionary perspective or any other perspective human beings are far older and deeper than rationality so listen to yourself
People who tell you that you can be happy are idiots. The purpose of life is not Happiness. Life is a struggle and you have to suffer to have a meaningful life
The nature of human beings consists of confrontation between bounded finite with the unbounded infinite. The world is very complex to understand it that is why religion experience is human universal
Life is suffering and you have to accept this suffering to transcend it and to become more strong. Some people become very cruel because they are disgusted by human nature or become suicidal because they can’t bear the condition of their own existence. Suffering is real and inescapable but the question is what to do about it? watch your life and first know who you are because you don't know who you are at all. Your nature will horrify you, people hide in their own boxes. you will observe that you are sometimes resentful and sometimes revengeful...the only solution is to find a goal that you pursue in your life so chaos transforms into order do something about this loser. If you have nothing useful to do all you have around you is meaningless suffering
From a Darwinian perspective, the truth is the truth that helps you to survive and keeps you alive and religions are just superstitions but is that claim valid ?. Religion is an evolved thing that makes people act in a certain way and that action is also a part of the truth.
Even if you are in the underworld in that chaotic state before order in hell you can make it worse. Look at the homeless people they are in hell but you don't want to look because you don't want to be there
There are horrors that exceed death. There are things plenty worse than death like insanity pain long-term pain long term pointless pain...Hell is worse than death
If you're resentful say something about it ' look this is what happening to me' and battle it out until you become not resentful
You have to believe things because you don't understand everything and you become vulnerable if you don't believe. The beliefs fill the gaps. This is why people depend on their group identity and their cultural identification but if you are too involved in defending your beliefs you can kill other people and if you don't stand up for your beliefs you leave yourself to the infinite
If you remove vulnerability you remove the things you love. The vulnerability was a precondition for human beings and a desirable precondition because the things that are wonderful and remarkable about human beings are so integrally tied up with the vulnerability. If you could be everything you want there is nothing to do so there is no story. human beings are vulnerable and that is tragic but this is the condition of existence so we should make difference between tragic and evil. Human misbehavior is evil but an earthquake isn't evil
The more you know about the world the less likely you will encounter tragic or harmful circumstances that you will be unable to deal with it
Profile Image for Dan Graser.
Author 4 books102 followers
January 26, 2018
Far from the banal, "self-help," or, "life-coaching," images this book's title may suggest, psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson has crafted here a series of seemingly blunt and practical suggestions that look, at least superifically, as if they are ideas you and society at large already appreciate. However, the importance of this tome lies in the depth behind each of these simple suggestions and the weight of philosophical, psycho-analytical, experiential, and rhetorical/literary evidence Peterson brings to bear.

In such a collection, certain Rules will appeal more to various people, despite their near universal applicability, and for me it was the final four. Of course several folks are going to describe this work as controversial merely for Peterson's recent online phenomenon and foray into the political sphere surrounding free-speech issues in Canada but I genuinely found none of this particular volume even remotely controversial. Of course in such a wide-ranging work which incorporates Jung, Freud, Nietzsche, Solzhenitsyn, the Bible, and numerous popular culture references, there are likely to be moments of disagreement. I for one don't agree at all with how Peterson frames what it means to be an, "atheist," for example, and he genuinely thinks those who are and profess to be aren't atheists at all merely just theists who don't know their own theological underpinnings. However, as his rule 9 makes clear, it is important to listen to and appreciate the words of those with whom you may inherently disagree.

Peterson's language and delivery is also a pleasure to read, mixing great gravitas and emotional clarity in describing his daughter's unfortunate medical struggles (in the final Rule) with humorous notions on child-rearing such as, "There's no way I'm rewarding a recalcitrant child for unacceptable behavior..and I'm certainly not showing anyone any Elmo video. I always hated that creepy, whiny puppet."

The success of this volume is that it succeeds in not being what a lot of superficial volumes with similar titles end up being. Where many have produced irrelevant concatenations or peripatetic philosophical/psychological meanderings, Peterson has provided a profound and directly applicable series of, "Rules," that will likely improve the lives of many.
370 reviews
January 28, 2018
Unlike what the title suggests, this book is not a self-help book, even though it does help the self a lot; rather it's the deep views of a serious thinker about life's most important questions. At a time where the truth of many opinions are based on the loud voices that preach them and the forces that bully the oppositions, Peterson's original thinking is a breath of fresh air. Even if you don't agree with him in everything, you will definitely learn many things from him and more importantly you will have respect for his character and how he stands for his principles.
Profile Image for Richard Nell.
Author 8 books639 followers
February 18, 2018
First, because of the endless politicization of this man, a couple things to know about me, if you're trying to determine what 'team' I'm on:

Stop it. I'm not on a team. I hate teams. I despise identity politics of any kind. Facts are facts and truth is truth regardless of where it comes from, and anything that turns an individual into a 'group' is basically a bad thing in my book (and Peterson's, incidentally). I also think free speech is about the most important thing in a free society. I don't even think of it as a right, I think of it as a responsibility. I believe you have the responsibility to speak the truth, as you see it - even in the face of offence, or disagreement. That is how to maintain the health of a society.

Jordan Peterson seems to say the same, and so I consider him an important thinker and ally despite not sharing all his views. That is the beauty of a free society, free especially in speech and thought, where we need not agree on everything at all times, where we are free to offend, and free to disagree, and free from purity and tyranny in equal measure, all without violence. So, with that in mind, my actual (short) review of the book:

The rules are good. The writing itself is hit or miss, fluctuating between sharp insight and supported claims to repetitive rambling. It's almost like two 'mini' books weaved into one.

The first 'minibook' is absolutely excellent. It's the genuine, practical advice of a clinical psychologist, a well-read academic, and a naturally wise, kind, good man. It is written conversationally, if sometimes somewhat bluntly, which could rub some people the wrong way, but should be taken as passion rather than condescension or arrogance. I recommend this 'book' without reservation.

The second 'minibook' is a cerebral man's keen interest in mythology, particularly religious mythology, spliced with philosophy, psychology, and history. I personally found this rather interesting, but not particularly persuasive, or more importantly, not necessary. The solution is to skip quite a lot of this if you're not interested, and take what you find useful from the good parts of the book.

If you want to see why people are interested in this man, and a brief summary of why courage, honesty and knowledge can be so powerful, you need go no further than watch a now-infamous interview between Dr. Peterson and a British journalist named Cathy Newman. Ultimately if you enjoy the video, I recommend the book. Link below.

Profile Image for Tristan.
112 reviews233 followers
March 5, 2018

“A list of the people who ought to be killed...Starting with these people who read self help books…why do so many people need help?! Life is not that complicated. You get up, you go to work, eat three meals, you take one good shit and you go back to bed. What’s the fucking mystery?!"

- American comedian George Carlin, from ‘Complaints and Grievances’

Well, he’s probably down there now, that curious George, reproachfully screaming up at me for finally – after a decades-long valiant struggle, mind you – having given in. Surely no salvation awaits me, a creature now thoroughly debased by having read one of the loathsome things.

Yet perhaps my death can be postponed, considering the context in which I made this transgression.

Clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson has become quite the cynosure of the intellectual dark web these last couple of years. After making a splash with his open refusal to comply with compelled speech codes (concerning pronouns for transgenders), he quickly found himself appointed as an intellectual leader, the anointed one who would be leading the vanguard against what is commonly referred to as the “authoritarian left”, the influence of which is observable within Canadian academia and politics.

To Peterson, this restriction of speech (and this is what it does boil down to, no matter how you slice it, or whatever side of the issue you fall on) was the most egregious example yet of “postmodernist, Neo-Marxist ideology” run amok. Having intensively studied the modus operandi of authoritarian regimes such as the Third Reich, Maoist China, the Soviet Union, all echoing a common obsession with what language is to be permissible, he knew where even such a seemingly innocuous, perhaps even well-intended course of action might eventually lead to. Speaking out and making a stand now - not later, and thereby running the risk of losing his teaching position and facing ostracization, seemed the only course of action open to him. Whatever one’s opinion on him, it would be rather uncharitable not at least to call him brave.

Surprisingly, he came out relatively unscathed and ever since managed to build a loyal fanbase through his own wildly popular YouTube channel, providing recordings of his many lectures (covering a wide range of subjects, such as Biblical exegesis, cultural analysis, and Jungian archetypology) and interviews with guests. Tens of millions of downloads of his talks have been recorded, a rare feat for any academic to achieve. In that sense, Peterson is a trailblazer, making education available for those eager to learn, but outside the perhaps intellectually restrictive walls of modern academe. Of course, he probably makes a lot more money this way, so I am reluctant to attribute a solely selfless motivation to him.

For his strong stance and general going against the grain (he defines himself as a classical liberal), he is regularly invited as a guest on multiple podcasts on that same platform, some of them leaning more to the libertarian/conservative side of the political spectrum. In part this has given him the reputation of being a thought leader of the so-called “Alt-Right”, a preposterous slander not worth paying any serious attention to, but one that doesn’t come as a surprise in an increasingly polarized world.

Despite minor quibbles at times (a not insignificant degree of admiration doesn’t imply an uncritical acceptance of each and every word uttered by that object of admiration ) I found his manner of conveying concepts and debating skills – along with his seemingly genuine concern about the lack of orientation for young people (especially young men) in Western countries – to have considerable merit.

Almost 2 months ago a - by now widely viewed - interview with BBC’s Cathy Newman hit the airwaves, and introduced Peterson to a whole new audience. It proved to be quite the sight, showing the interviewer to be wholly out of her depth, unable to engage in an intellectually honest – which would have been more productive - fashion with Peterson, stuck as she was in a rigid belief structure, attacking an imaginary, fantastical monster of her own making. A dismal performance on her part, though proving to be great fodder for delicious memes (“dank memes” I believe is the fashionable term), but it made Peterson a true phenomenon. Which brings us to his book – only his second effort– and runaway bestseller, in no small part through that rather odd interview.

So, to get to the actual reviewing part, how does it stack up against what we’ve seen of the man thus far? Well, it’s here I have to make a stand of my own, and in all likelihood deviate from the opinion of most Peterson devotees/acolytes/cultists(?).

Purely as a work of non-fiction, published by a highly reputable publisher (Allen Lane no less),it is a real disappointment. If not at all ill-conceived in terms of its overall “message”, it is sloppily put together, and I presume hastily put out, with little regard for quality control. Apparently, Peterson worked 5 years on it, but one wonders how many hours in that time span were actually devoted to the enterprise.

While Peterson’s animated style of delivery works remarkably well in his lectures, it doesn’t make for a particularly strong book, not even one ostensibly belonging to the self-help category. It was apparent to me quite early in my reading that the sometimes overly sprawling and – this is ironic, considering the book’s title – chaotic Peterson (who is not exactly a prose stylist) above all needs restraint and clear focus when performing writing duties, and no editor worthy of the name seemed to have been present during the process to assist him in making that happen.

As a result, whatever practical wisdom the book contains (and it most definitely does, drawing from a great variety of sources and fields of study, although perhaps a bit too heavily reliant on the Bible) is diluted by its unmerited length. Additionally, the text is absolutely mired in repetitions of concepts already conveyed (sometimes literally), plagued by typo’s and a wrongly numbered endnotes section. I found myself just getting progressively more irritated as I went along. Oh, and Peterson actually uses smiley’s (!) on three separate occasions. How is it to be expected of any reader to take any academic employing those seriously, especially one that is already met by such opprobrium from his peers as Peterson? Is it a Canadian thing, with that folk being associated with an almost angelic kindness? I truly want to know.

Not everyone will find these faults a huge issue, but it does make it harder for me to unreservedly recommend dishing out the cash for an expensive hardcover. A for certain yet to be published paperback ( then corrected by an editor, hopefully), or a library copy seem better options, if one really desires to read it. As far as newcomers are concerned, this isn’t such a bad entry point, but for those already intimately familiar with his work, there isn’t much new here to discover.

Personally, I would stick to the hours and hours of lecture and interview material, which is – for now, at least - available for free on YouTube. Drink from that well at your leisure or alternatively, if in dire need of some stern life advice, go back to what came before and read that wonderful chap, Marcus Aurelius.

Do keep on slaying those dragons and cleaning your room, though.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,644 reviews5,098 followers
September 5, 2022
Voyage to the past with Doc Peterson: a time of lobsters and dominance hierarchy, a time of myths and legends and religious texts, a time of bootstrapping and individualism and Jung and curtailing your pretentious nihilism, just clean your damn room and don't be such a whiny loser. A time when men were men and women were women, when there was nothing to get hung about, strawberry fields were forever. Will you enjoy this journey through time & space? Mileage may vary, so here is a handy guide:

1. Are you a young man of an apolitical, libertarian, or conservative bent, one who feels rather adrift in life and the only option you can think of to get out of your rut is to join the military, otherwise you'll be stuck in whatever small town you live in? This is your book. I hope it helps!

2. Are you an ardently political progressive who rejects gender essentialism and binaries in general, and you are considering working in social services or in a field that will make use of your liberal arts degree? This isn't your book. It will infuriate and enrage you, and who has time for that?

3. Are you someone who loves following a person's stream of conscious, all of the digressions, their personality and quirks on full display, a book in which the author is transparent and almost completely unselfconscious about his obsessions? Consider this book. It is, as they say, an experience.

4. Are you very online, identify as leftist or as woke or as an attack helicopter, embrace identity politics and intersectionality, have watched the Peterson of today and are revolted, and you didn't much like him before today either? Avoid this book at all costs, comrade.

My own reaction: there was a lot that I disagreed with, but even more that I appreciated. This was a fascinating and surprisingly enjoyable book, despite my many aggravations.

CAUSA 6/5/22

Peterson is getting way over the top lately, so I thought I'd bump this one up the list and read it before I became more turned off and perhaps predisposed against his book. I want to come to this with a really open mind. I've enjoyed a lot of Doctor How's videos so I hope to see more of that guy, rather than the person I just unfollowed (lol).

Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world

"Don't blame capitalism, the radical left, or the iniquity of your enemies. Don't reorganize the state until you have ordered your own experience. Have some humility. If you cannot bring peace to your household, how dare you try to rule a city?"

Peterson starts this chapter by examining the stated motivations of the Columbine killers, ruminates on Goethe and Tolstoy's perspectives on human destructiveness, considers the serial killer Carl Panzram, and provides a couple examples from his practice of people who have withstood and then countered the evils that life has thrown at them. He also spends some time musing on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (and the reader gets a glimpse of Peterson's own fervent anti-communism).

This was a short yet very dense chapter. By starting off his conversation with an examination of the mindset of mass murderers, things get heavy quickly. He positions their attitude, and the attitude of many others who seek to lash back at the world, as the ultimate response of people who want revenge on everyone and everything. People who have seen the evils of the world and/or been subjected personally to those evils, and who respond not simply with apathy, but with nihilistic vengeance: a defiance of God and law and decency, and a mission to prove to everyone that their personal perspective of a burning world is a universal truth. It is a perspective that removes the individual from the equation, the victims of course, but also the individual who is thinking those thoughts and who is killing all those people. Rather than focusing on what they can do to change themselves, their own part of the world and the people in it, they instead seek to give the world their ultimate criticism. They seek to become a symbol of their own rejection of the world, rather than an individual capable of change and capable of creating change. And so they become a judgment upon the world and against life itself, which they consider to be an innately unjust and evil state of being.

There is always a temptation to blame fate, God, luck, how fucked up the world can be, rather than to look inward, at how we and our peers and our family and our community may be complicit. We especially resist examining ourselves and how we engage with the world. As the author says in the next chapter: "the world is revealed... through the template of your values." In this chapter, he provides an example: the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. One can blame fate or nature or even naivete; it is more comfortable than recognizing culpability. Katrina was a natural disaster, but New Orleans's leaders and government chose not to complete improvements to its levee system that were mandated in 1965. Who is to blame - Nature or the corrupt blindness that led to a disastrous lack of preparation?

I think it is easy to (willfully) misunderstand Peterson's point in this chapter. I saw that misunderstanding when watching a video of the author being questioned while on a panel in Australia. The questioner tried to score a point by dismissing this chapter as Peterson telling folks not to be critical of the world unless they're personally perfect. It's like that audience member just read the chapter title and didn't bother reading the actual chapter. The message here is clear: humans should not give in to the evils that impact life, to the urges that lead a person to vengeance and destruction. We instead need to engage in self-examination, we need to ask ourselves how we may have contributed to these catastrophes that sadden or enrage us, and perhaps most importantly, we need to see the evils that we experience as... instructive. These evils represent modes of behavior that we must reject in our own lives. Otherwise, as the cliché goes, we have let those bad things and bad occurrences and bad people win. This chapter is not about not being critical, it is about not allowing hopelessness, resentment, and anger to take over our lives. Impossible for me to find fault with the message of this rule.

Do not bother children when they are skateboarding

"The spirit that interferes when boys are trying to become men is, therefore, no more friend to woman than it is to man... It negates consciousness. It's antihuman, desirous of failure, jealous, resentful and destructive. No one truly on the side of humanity would ally him or herself with such a thing... And if you think tough men are dangerous, wait until you see what weak men are capable of."

Peterson starts by, yes, talking about kids skateboarding. This was a nice intro with a nice message: let kids be kids, even if they are putting themselves into a little bit of danger, because that is how you allow things like bravery, grit, and resilience to develop. Unfortunately, as the chapter progresses, it became clear to me that this charming preface is solely concerned with skateboarding boys. Heaven forbid girls consider skateboarding!

Anyway, from there Peterson continues on another wild series of what appear to be tangents but are all actually linked musings that together form the moral of Rule 11. I realized that his point across this entire chapter is that boys need to grow up to be manly men because that's basically what women want. Is he wrong?

Let's ask my Inner Gender Essentialist and my Inner Gender Anarchist to both respond!


Peterson makes an interesting point early on about physical competition between girls & boys: it can be seen as admirable for a girl to even try to compete against a boy, whether or not she wins or loses; for a boy, it is suspect if he even competes with a girl in the first place, unless he is playing down to her as an adult would with a child, and if he loses to her, he will suffer a loss of status. This is an uncomfortable point but there is truth there too. As there is truth in his thoughts on the different interaction styles that men and women can have, and in disparities between men and women when it comes to some forms of physical labor.

Well, at least the truth of my own memories of physical competitions that I've seen or been a part of from childhood through college. And the truth of the many straight male-female relationships I've seen over the years. And the truth of how all of my decent, women-supporting, not-misogynist male friends would never be less than a "gentleman" in their treatment of women, in particular their understanding that women should not be talked to in the same way that men talk to each other, nor expected to operate at the same physical level as men when it comes to certain tasks.

And the truth that for many of my empowered female friends, when talking pre-marriage to their queer bachelor friend Mark about the guys they are attracted to, only talked about fit manly men who are rough around the edges as their ideal, and hey that's who they usually ended up marrying. They married my guy friends, who are gentlemen and who are mainly non-collegiate manly alpha types and who, ironically enough, would probably hate everything Jordan Peterson stands for, and yet who are, essentially, the very type of man that Peterson is extolling (and who are, again the irony, quite the opposite of over-educated, not-particularly-manly, ivory tower-dwelling Peterson himself LOL). So is this gender essentialism or is this simply reality for the vast majority of women and men? Do people hate JP because he is telling an uncomfortable truth?


Okay unlike fucking Gender Essentialist Mark, I'm not going to go on and fucking on. Instead I'm just going to point to one fucking phrase in this fucking fucked-up chapter: "Disney's more recent and deeply propagandistic Frozen." And then I'm going to point to an interview he gave with some magazine all about that phrase, where he says that he hated Frozen because it turns out the supposed hero is a conniving villain who doesn't rescue the heroine, she has to rescue herself and her sister too. So, prince doesn't rescue princess and a moral that girls sometimes gotta take care of each other and how poor naïve JP was surprised & horrified at the twist, and all of that was apparently enough to drive this fragile maniac out of his mind. And so he bestowed the label of Deeply Propagandistic to a benign cartoon about female empowerment because Peterson is basically cosplaying Cro-Magnon Man Who Take Care Of Woman and anything that takes him out of his fantasy world of prescribed gender roles is deeply triggering to this poor fucking snowflake and he's just got to let the whole damn world know all about it.

Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

"And maybe when you are going for a walk and your head is spinning a cat will show up and if you pay attention to it then you will get a reminder for just fifteen seconds that the wonder of Being might make up for the ineradicable suffering that accompanies it."

Peterson talks about how we must alleviate our suffering by finding inspiration and joy where we can, whether it's in witnessing the strength displayed by someone facing terrible challenges or just appreciating a moment with a friendly cat. He speaks movingly on his daughter's struggles with severe juvenile idiopathic arthritis, on "recognizing that existence and limitation are inextricably linked," and on the awesomeness of cats and dogs.

This chapter's message is timeless and this rule was an appealing way to end the book. (Especially after that prior chapter.) Probably biased here, because this rule is definitely one that governs my own life.



Jordan Peterson is a person who receives a lot of derision in my world and that sorta interests me. But what really interests me is how 12 Rules is apparently all about the digressions and tangents, despite the simplicity of the points being made. Totally into that.
Profile Image for AnnaG.
440 reviews26 followers
February 4, 2018
I bought this thinking it was a self-help book - it sort of is, but really it's a tour around some of the most important impulses of the human mind. The fundamental insight from this book is that our norms and culture exist for a reason and that attempts to interfere with those are likely to have profound detrimental impacts on society as a whole and individuals who won't know how to relate to other people properly. Sadly, it's all very true.
Profile Image for Cindy Rollins.
Author 22 books2,017 followers
June 7, 2018
I liked this book way better than I expected to. Instead of modern self-help rah-rah stuff, it was a wonderful contribution to the Great Conversation for modern readers. So many allusions to my own favorite literature. In one chapter he kept saying "things fall apart" and I kept thinking, "the centre cannot hold" finally he said it. Yeats. It was five stars from there on in my mind.

One of my favorite things about this book was the look at the Bible almost from the outside. That was a refreshing change for me.

I will definitely be rereading this book and probably quite soon.
12 reviews
January 25, 2018
Awfully verbose, incoherent, and hurried text without any content original enough (on top of his online lectures) to grant writing this lengthy book. The rule about telling the truth stands out as a notable exception.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
January 4, 2023
There’s a lot of hate leveled at Jordan Peterson for things he has said in interviews and in his media work. He has been labelled many things. I don’t want to get into the correctness of these labels here, nor do I want to engage with his political views (because that’s not what this book or review is about.)

I do take issue with Peterson’s diet choice, as he eats nothing but beef, but, again, that’s irrelevant here. Open mindedness is key when approaching any work of literature, as is trying to separate the value of the work from the author’s personal failings and opinions.

Peterson is an intellectual. He has a great mind, despite some of his contentious viewpoints, and I think it would be extremely foolish to dismiss everything he has to say based on any personal misgivings and disagreement towards aspects of his rhetoric. This is, indeed, a very good book written by a Professor of Psychology who has some wisdom to share. Curiosity drew me to his words because of how much media attention he has received. I did not expect to take so much from his 12 Rules for Life. I did not expect to it to be quite this thought provoking. So this is going to be quite a long one.

These points are quite profound and actually very helpful, so here’s a breakdown of each one:

1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back

This is an important essay to start the book with. Essentially, it suggests that we must face the world and bring everything we have to bear. We must become the best versions of ourselves, and we must try as hard as we can. We have a duty- a moral responsibility – to develop ourselves as much as humanly possible. Anything else is a brutal lack of attention to the world around us and a waste of our potential, and we have a lot of potential to reach if only we were willing to reach for it. We must stand up straight and become the person we ought to be.

2. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

This one sounds quite simple, but in reality it is something we all often neglect. It’s very easy to look at someone else’s life and to see the behavior they need to change, though it is much harder to look at our own lives, and to be honest with ourselves, and to see the changes we need to make. We need to help ourselves. We have a responsibility to do so to become all that we might be. And we can do this by taking action and working towards pour goals and our vision. We can strengthen ourselves once we learn to help ourselves.

3. Make friends with people who want the best for you

This rule is quite challenging because, if enforced fully in the truest sense, it means losing people. Yes, these people may be bad for you. Yes, these people may drag you down and they may even be a bad influence. They may make you weaker than you are. This, however, does not stop you from loving them.

We need people who bring out the best in us, who challenge us and who make us work harder. Sometimes we have to ignore our instincts and understand that it is not our duty to keep people in our lives who disrupt our peace.

4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today

It’s so easy to get lost in life when we begin to compare. Some people become a massive success at a very young age. In the world of social media, it is easy to feel like a failure when we compare our lives to that of others. And that’s how we can become lost and detached from our own individual purpose. We become distracted with what others have achieved rather than focusing on what we can achieve. So, it’s important to go inwards and to look at our own lives. We must identify the bad habits and maladaptive cognitive functioning. We must strive to be better than the person we were yesterday because that’s the only way we can continue to grow.

5. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them

I don’t have children so this one feels a little wasted on me. I do have a cat though if that counts? Well anyway, this one is quite straightforward: if you dislike what your children are doing the chances are, other people who are not related to your child will dislike those things more. We should all strive to be better parents and educators and help our children find their own paths.

6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world

This is a good one because it addresses something quite simple, making sure our own spaces are clean and tidy is important for our own wellbeing, but it is also important before we try to fix other people’s problems. How can we criticize the state when we cannot successfully run, organize or clean-up our own lives? There’s something quite profound here, a bit of wisdom that encourages us to be at our very best before we attempt to address bigger issues.

7. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

The key to this one is sacrifice. We must sacrifice momentary gains and instead work towards achieving greater goals. Delay-gratification is crucial as well as understanding that success – true success in achieving our unrealized potential – takes consistent effort every single day of our lives without fail. If we want to live a meaningful existence, then we must pursue and become the greatest version of ourselves to help the world.

Again, we must do this at the most basic of levels first and strive to reduce any suffering we create in the world. Peterson’s use of biblical narrative here is at its most potent and relevant; it is articulated to such a creative and penetrating degree of wisdom that it is impossible not to be convinced of his arguments for their relevancy as instructive moral narratives – and this is coming from an agnostic.

8. Tell the truth--or, at least, don't lie

Lies are contagious and they grow out of proportion compared to the original falsehood. They also beget more lies until we are surrounded by our own denial of reality. Life becomes confusing as the lie is told over, and over, again. We begin to believe it and our own realities become warped: they become twisted and misshapen. So we must tell the truth and ground ourselves in the reality of our own beings. How can we improve ourselves if we don’t stand in the truth of who we really are?

9. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don't

It’s important to check our arrogance sometimes and that we can learn something from everyone we meet. We all have different levels of life experience and knowledge of different things to share. It would be folly not to see opportunity in every exchange.

10. Be precise in your speech

This does not just mean articulating ourselves correctly and coherently; it also means accuracy in determining exactly what we want from life. We must have clear goals and a clear vision, and we must walk towards them. We must create a precise direction, one that is actionable and measurable. Precision in our thoughts, language and speech will allow us to aim up and find the right trajectory.

11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding

Sometimes a bit of danger is needed for growth. Sometimes children have to learn the hard way. Let them have fun.

12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

Because it would be just rude not to right? And it would also be rude to walk way from opportunities.

Final Thoughts

I took a lot from this one. It is a self-help book and it certainly got me thinking about many things and about how I could become better than I am. I took an extensive set of notes when reading this. I copied down quotes and passages and I feel like this will linger on my mind for a while. Let see if I can use some of these rules in my own life.

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59 reviews6 followers
January 19, 2018
12 Rules (whittled down from an original 60 something) is about how to improve how you live. Each rule is explained in detail, and Peterson goes into the meaning of each subject philosophically, psychologically, and using varied examples from life. Although far more accessible, 12 Rules follows on from Peterson’s other book, Architecture of Belief, and examines the mythology, biblical similes and ancient stories, as well as evolutionary systems which, after all, have guided us behaviourally and morally for thousands of years longer than logos has, or can. Peterson guides us through a refreshing and beautifully thought-out philosophy of living.
Profile Image for Dan Case.
5 reviews1 follower
January 27, 2018
Disgustingly boring. Could not, for the life of me, listen more than 25% of the book. I’ve enjoyed talks from Peterson but definitely not this book. I love others books on similar topics but really this book could’ve been condensed. There were too many unnecessary paragraphs and reiterations.
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