12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaosby Published 23 Jan 2018
|12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.pdf|
|Publisher||Random House Canada|
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos Ebook Description
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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.
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos Reviews
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.
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.
I wish this book had been around to read when I was 18.
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.
DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME!
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.