This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson

12 Rules for Life (edition 2018)

by Jordan B. Peterson (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6281022,482 (3.87)4
Title:12 Rules for Life
Authors:Jordan B. Peterson (Author)
Info:Penguin (2018)
Collections:Your library

Work details

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 4 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Ok. I'll give the first 3 a whirl:

1: Approach the world with the semblance of confidence and in a manner that implies you are worthy of respect.

My version: smell bad!, be surly, give off the air and demeanor of an anthropomorphic cockroach, the world will respect you because of your inner charm!!!

2: How would you help someone in your situation, education, moving to a place with better employment prospects, asking for a promotion or raise, looking for a better job?

My version: Treat yourself like crap; it’s all meaningless and you should definitely drink more/eat more/stay with that abusive partner etc, because changing would mean admitting you were doing something wrong now?

3: Surrounding yourself with people who are happy to assist you (and you them), those whom you think it’s a good idea to learn from or emulate for reasons such as contentment, material success or even stress relief.

My version: Bazza the drug dealer is my mate, johhno the publican is awesome as well and Louie the pimp looks after me so well. I should definitely let them assist me through my life...

OK. Let me put it this way. Peterson decries the rights agenda and the railing against patriarchy, partly with the argument that Western society is the least partiarchal and the most free there has ever been. But he never asks himself why this is so, because the answer of course is that those freedoms have been won by people in the past railing against oppression and proclaiming their own right to a place at the trough - workers, women, minorities. If there hadn't been those 'progressive' moves, for want of a better word, we would still have slavery, we would have less worker representation than we do (though we're heading the wrong way again), women would still be tied to the home, and so on. He doesn't patriarchy because he doesn't suffer from it, only benefits. He prizes the individual because in the old formulation the concept of a sovereign individual was formulated by people just like him. It's no accident that libertarians tend to be white men who feel insulted at the thought that others might lump them into a group - whereas women and minorities tend to feel the sharp end of group identity through years of being treated as a member of a group first and an individual second. And I'm a white man to whom his message has strong appeal. But it's a flawed message. As St Paul said, first take out the log in your own eye. Peterson, the biblical scholar, should think on that.

It is incredible that an obviously clever and articulate bloke like Peterson actually has so little to say when you boil it right down. And that he takes such a long time to say it.

In terms of unintentionally funny right wing diagrams, Peterson's yin yang chart is up there with Sebastian Gorka's terrorism diagram. It actually equates 'femininity' with 'chaos', 'night' and 'the unknown'.

Bottom-line: Most of Petersons stuff isn't particularly new; it's a version of Stoicism in many respects, and the absolute antithesis of the modern collectivist "therapy culture" which seeks to label you as part of a victim group under attack from the world at large.

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations ( )
1 vote antao | Nov 17, 2018 |
The way I see these ratings, they can be understood in one of two ways: either you are rating the quality of the book in itself or you are rating how much you’ve enjoyed it. Both being possible, mine here concerns only the second way of rating. That is, I’m not here passing a judgement on this book’s quality, for I’m not knowledgeable enough to dig deeper onto Jordan Peterson’s assumptions in constructing many of his arguments. What I can do, then, is just report how much I have been touched by this book.

Using Goodreads suggestion on what each star means, my appreciation of the book is about right on the 2 stars for ‘it was ok’. Not that I disliked it; but I’m probably not the targeted audience for this book’s content. I have known Jordan Peterson’s thought and work from his classes on YouTube, and although we are here faced with an interesting presentation of much of what he has said elsewhere, for anyone like me who has attended his online classes, the core of the book does not come as a surprise nor the presentation makes it more understandable than what he has already said in his talks.

So, by rating the book as [only] ‘ok’, I’m just giving an account of my previous exposure to Jordan Peterson’s material. As already stated, I’m in no position to offer any meaningful critique of the grounds and reasons upon which he mounts his case. And though I didn’t ‘like it’, I still learned from it. That to say that this is still a worthwhile work that tries to offer a well-structured map on how to move away from the chaos of our present times. ( )
  adsicuidade | Sep 8, 2018 |
Deep, at times bordering on the esoteric, yet accessible to any good reader who doesn't mind thinking; insightful, rational, spiritual, practical--all this and more was Peterson's 12 Rules for Life. Read it with an open mind: it will challenge your presuppositions and strengthen your resolve to be a better person. ( )
  deanc | Sep 3, 2018 |
12 Rules for Life, an Antidote to Chaos is a book of popular psychology but, unusually, it’s been written by a qualified career psychologist so has some actual reading, learning and experience behind the presentation of thought. Dr Peterson began his flirtation with informing the crowd by writing on Quorum, a website where the public reaction (democracy) prods the favoured stories to the top. Actually, that’s natural selection. Petersen’s 12 rules article was so immensely popular that he decided to write it up as a book in 2009. That has gradually caught the popular imagination and become a mild cult, according to the media, word of mouth discussion spreading like the common cold. Why? Well, it’s about the need for rules in our increasingly directionless and displaced society.

At the governance level, the secular/civil authorities believe the world will be a lot easier for them to run if they disband the old rules and constructs (countries, flags, honour, loyalty, democracy, principles), particularly those with religious origins — after Nietzsche questioned why the dominant religion in particular was focussed on spiritual salvation and apparently didn’t give a toss about alleviating human suffering in the here and now (arguable). The thing is, wiping away the old rules for behaviour in society and by society, loyalty, duties and responsibilities, and replacing them with a void has not taken into account that many of these intangible things are deeply seated in our psyche, set by evolution to improve our chances of survival or social stability, and if they aren’t there, we become disconnected and lost. Such people have lost their anchor points in reality, spiritual and moral (e.g. my step-sister), so drift into chaos, potential lawlessness and no clue what they’re alive for, which is much worse than everyone conforming to the same set of artificial rules and constructs that the past has given us.

The old rules stand up to scrutiny not because of their origins but because they worked for so long to keep us on the rails and give life purpose. Why are there more mental health and pastoral problems in this generation of students that has been observed in any generation before? I’m going to say “they”, not “we” in the next discourse, as I think I’ve restored some personal control over this. When a young person is all at sea, ungrounded in their subconscious mind, it’s because they don’t know what kind of world they are walking into, see no framework, don’t understand their place in it, feel existential guilt and feel cheated — but have no idea what for, so attach those feelings to whatever happens to be topical. Either that or they refuse to leave their bedrooms or get distracted and lost in a phone screen, which equates to displacement activity and elephant in the room avoidance.

We need rules and the author realises it. Here’s the thing, in a nutshell: A small child gets told a lie that goes like this: “Don’t go playing by the deep mill pool because Jenny Greentooth lives there and if you go too far in, she’ll drag you under the water and drown you.” Sounds rubbish, doesn’t it? There’s no such thing as Jenny Greentooth. The upshot is that the children who believe the false story don’t drown in the mill pool. It’s a means to an end, a lie to save a life. Anyone who teaches their child that this warning is a huge falsehood (some will claim God falls into the Greentooth category) will then risk losing their child to misadventure and drowning. Therefore, the survival probability of our genetics through generations is improved by conforming to untruths, if well-intentioned. Which would you prefer? By dismissing things that work, are we being too clever for our own good? If any old bloke came down from the mountain with ten rules, we would ignore them because that’s just his opinion and we all have our own opinions but if we all believe the (fake?) news that those rules come from God, we have a conformist approach that murder is bad, for example, and all benefit because we don’t get murdered. Clever, huh?

Reviewing this book in detail would take more room than the book itself, which is already fairly long (966 pages on my little screen, but that includes lots of end notes). I’ll pick things out for discussion then.
The author is frequently associated with lobsters and I think this is the section which appeals most to men of reproductive age and thus sells the book and turns the author into a modern guru for them, i.e. the essence and draw of this book is not the guidance on morality and responsibility at all, but the suggestion that if the boys comprehend the lobster section and apply the suggested changes, they’ll access previously unobtainable opportunities to copulate with attractive women. Slightly blunt but I’m sure that is the core mechanism by which this author is now rich. The thing is, does that suggestion to frustrated lads work in practice or should the Trades Description Act be involved?

What he’s said here is that lobsters and humans share a common ancestor (true) and therefore their brains must be based on an earlier design common to both of them (okay, loosely, but there’s over 1,800,000 generations of divergence). Then he explains that alpha lobsters fight to establish their place in a hierarchy, but the losing lobster from these seemingly wasteful fights (genetic filtering, natural selection) suffers brain melt, before rebuilding its brain, which will now be wired as a submissive beta lobster. The alpha will be flooded with serotonin (as humans are) and the beta will reduce production of the same hormone, which contributes to it being visibly submissive, hunched and cowering. This explains that a link appears between the psychological and physical realms, a flag signifying failure becomes visible to female lobsters. The good doctor then says the same thing happens in human males and so he advises men to act like an alpha lobster, adopt an alpha erect posture and that will help to stop people pushing them around in life and they’ll apparently have access to women who don’t consider beta males to represent viable sexual partners (a generalisation, as a lot of women prefer a partner who is kind and good with children, or maybe has a sense of humour). Hint for all you submissive males: You can buy tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, on Ebay. After a month of spending your money, tell us if it’s costing you a fortune in condoms (I’m guessing not). Whether you can shop and pose your way to more sex, or a better job, happy marriage and a nuclear family (mutually exclusive?) is arguable because it doesn’t take into account the more refined categories of emotional appeal, or revulsion.

Dr Peterson is a great chauvinist at times, improving men’s hunting chances, but believes he can say what he says because statistics back up his observations, i.e. as it is true. Yes, an animal species such as humans is seldom PC and can operate on primitive impulses and, okay yes, confidence is generally very attractive, but I would contend that attraction can be floored by that person being a bad match in other areas so it only confers a marginal advantage, not overwhelmingly all men need. Not listening, halitosis, only talking about themselves, being indiscreet, saying something contrary or stupid on dates (religion, politics), a roving eye, deceit or invading your personal space like it’s their right to move in (God’s gift) can counteract any natural or prepared advantages. Confidence is one factor. He does portray women as animals with iron-cast evolutionary programming, a single set of pattern-recognition priorities, unaware that these can be overcome by intelligence, other commonalities or just getting used to having someone around (Pygmalion). We are more tandem pattern-seeking that the author realises in this genetic deal-making pantomime and there are multiple potential stimuli to consider, “if a and j and r are good, then = yes but if a and h and r then = maybe, but only if z”, with different criteria factors in the equation alphabet being more attractive to different individuals. Confidence in a man is good, but a whispered recommendation from a trusted friend, the right age-range, commitment readiness, displaying the same qualities as a role model or even patience with sick cats might be more important to some. If they weren’t, the human species would all look and act the same because one version would be all we select for. Lobsters are a bit samey in comparison to human complexity, which is perhaps why they can all be caught with exactly the same lobster pot trick.

The author mentions Gilgamesh, the first novel and template for most action novels and films, as it has the journey of the hero into the unknown, chaos, the trials and tribulations the hero faces, the change that the ordeal forces (growing up and taking responsibility like a man, then the hero leaves part of themselves behind (soul and sometimes also pieces of the body). Although this describes everything from Robert the Bruce to Lord of the Rings to Star Wars and every Hollywood action movie ever made, the author misses one important pattern of attraction to females: Transition. Essentially, the hero represents the boy next door from their childhood who they don’t view as mature enough to be sexually attractive or a provider, a beta lobster, but then it is possible to witness their transition of fire from the adolescent form into a freshly minted attractive adult and potential mate. If your matchmaker friend said “Here’s Gilgamesh, a version who stayed at home but an alpha male who is potentially good for you”, you’d be neutral about it. However, if the friend who has always been immature in your mind hatches from the chrysalis and becomes what you wanted all along, that’s special, that’s magic and that’s why the films sell so well despite repeating almost exactly the same theme and journey. Really, what the author has missed is pattern recognition for the imminent morphing of a beta adolescent to maturity — not, as the author suggests, about the final product but definitely about the exciting changes in physical appearance and mind-set and acceptance of responsibility and adulthood. We can even be entranced watching them learning how it’s done. Natural selection has left humans with the capacity and inclination to kill every day (food, threats) but we don’t do that because we have rationally decided that doesn’t work as well as it did in 23,000 BC and our species’ rumoured intelligence can overcome impulse and provide more optimal social strategies. Sleeping with an alpha is fine for experience but your optimal survival strategy may be different, wherever you find the most stability. To pick a beta who will hang around and feed the child sounds sensible but not if they’re too childish. It also isn’t optimal to leave the beta babysitting and go play with some alphas because that won’t stay stable for long either. Therefore, the prime option is to find a mate who displays both alpha or beta characteristics in situations appropriate to either. That can be seen in the change, which is why it, and the story theme, is attractive. Just a dose of serotonin and standing up straight isn’t enough to fool us.

Do you subscribe to his theory that women going to university (dominant numerically in social subjects) is a problem because women only want to marry men who are above them in the money/power hierarchy, therefore more education for women equals no more marriage — or how about my counter theory that people are too selfish and impatient for long marriages nowadays and it is not incentivised by the tax system — or a bit of both? His theory is simple, remorseless and inflexible, so I doubt that’s the only factor at play here. If you prove black is white, you will get yourself killed on the next zebra crossing.

Peterson’s observations on drunk rape are what all men think and can’t say, I’m guessing? It was the victim’s choice to go out of their home in the evening (indisputably obvious). Does anyone consider what started the downward cycle that contributed to the increased probability of ending up in a vulnerable position? Being raped (alcohol or not) crushes your psyche, you question your place in the now frightening world, important things become meaningless, there’s no self-worth or confidence left, you disassociate and lose friends, get spiteful and short tempered, want to blast others with your stress and sense of injustice, develop anxiety and fear, get sleep deprived, start repetitive behaviour and refer to yourself in the third person, then try to shake it all off by going more extrovert and manic than you’ve ever done before to try to persuade yourself you can be happy again, then associate happiness and being sociable with drinking and of course you don’t stop because you crave happiness more than anything else, then pass out embarrassingly, get carried home and then your saviour unzips and it happens again; and that’s your fault, apparently, because you put yourself in a vulnerable situation, the place where your brain needed to be to temporarily forget what’s DESTROYED you, much earlier, when you didn’t make a bad decision and yet it happened anyway. Not everyone can understand why that cycle is repeating (victims have an increased probability of being victims again) and possibly break the pattern and you can’t generalise the blame because that signals to some men that all’s fair in love and war, which it isn’t. Sorry for the tirade. Allergic to lobsters. Other micro-banter topics in this book include the observation that homeless people don’t like looking children in the eye as they still feel shame (obviously) and if you hang out with a network of low-life friends you become one of them. All that’s fairly disconnected, which is how this information dump of observation, readings from classic German and French psychologists and inferences reads to me. This book is surely the chaos that the author advocates to avoid.

There’s another overdose of anecdotal evidence about family and friends and also too much Christian religion and history of totalitarian extremes in this; in other words, I see the connection but don’t know why the points were made in a rambling and anecdotal way over ten pages when they could have been explained in one. The key observation on which the book and the media interest was based is clearly correct: that chaos is all around us and control is an illusion, so humans prevent themselves from going mad by constructing sets of rules to live by. If we truly understand how insignificant we are in the Universe and how little control we have, everything would break down and we’d cease to function. When groups share the same frame of reference, obey the same procedures, they feel safe and can get on with their lives. Obey the programming and abdicate critical thought about the need to believe, faith in the spiritual and social frameworks. A lot of primal subconscious instincts we’ve inherited are reflected in religious teachings (all those made up stories from folklore), but they do tell us the way to behave if we want to function safely and not slide into chaos (not the truth of an historical incident) and are delivered in a memorable way to ensure the rule-set perpetuates. However, modern life (Nietzsche and science get the blame) implores us to only react to the facts and to ignore any advice that came out of Bronze Age mythology (all religions). Someone says God is dead. Then, da-da-dah!, people find there’s very little structure or meaning in their lives and they are unable to find their true place or happiness. So, even if a rule is fake and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, we do need a common set of rules we all stick to, to assume everyone still believes in conventions, or society might just fall apart, or is doing so now. So, to recap, the lie is justified by the result. Believe religious moral guidance, even if the stated origin and method of delivery has been falsely represented, because the outcome will be optimal for all and preferable for the individual to an unformatted psyche, chaos and mental illness. As Joyce Grenfell said, “Anarchy is all very well, I can see that, but who will be responsible for the drains?”

It’s a good book, with a heap ton of plausible content, which gets you thinking but what I thought was it’s mostly intended for adolescent male consumption and it seems likely they will read it in the hope it will give them the edge in dating, to learn how to signal their nine inch alpha credentials. Freud and the ancient sexual imperative in marketing, again. That’s the true attraction of Dr Jordan Peterson’s contribution, isn’t it? That’s why young men buy it. Have I over-simplified? ( )
  HavingFaith | May 29, 2018 |
12 Rules for Life is a super-charged, all encompassing self-help book. Dr. Peterson weaves together his experience as a psychotherapist along with his background in philosophy, along with some non-denominational religion to provide a serviceable framework for living in a Judeo-Christian tradition. He has become a bit of a rock star, pushing back hard against a P.C. culture gone wild. His subtitle might as well have been An Antidote to Post-Modernism. I will do an entire essay on my blog this week as I am seeing Dr. Peterson speak in person this evening. He is worth reading and worth listening to as he is one of the few that recognizes the danger of post-modern thought that has infected academia. ( )
  Mark.Kosminskas | May 5, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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. Rule 2 (Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping), for example, opens with a discussion of biblical texts only addressing the lesson at hand at the very end.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jordan B. Petersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Van Sciver, EthanIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Doidge, NormanPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Information from the Portuguese (Brazil) Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
If you are like most people, you don’t often think about lobsters
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345816021, Hardcover)

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. The 12 Rules for Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith and human nature, while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its readers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 13 Apr 2017 22:14:53 -0400)

"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 readers."--… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.87)
1 4
1.5 1
2 10
3 12
3.5 2
4 23
4.5 6
5 33

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 130,786,971 books! | Top bar: Always visible