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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

by Jordan B. Peterson

Other authors: Gunnar Nyquist (Translator), Ethan Van Sciver (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: 12 Rules for Life (1)

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4,327992,738 (3.71)19
Philosophy. Psychology. Self-Improvement. Nonfiction. HTML:#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER 

#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
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.
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Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
Overview:
Reality is vastly complex, while the human mind has limits to the mental bandwidth. No matter how different, everyone is trying to make sense out of the complexity of reality. Complexity is difficult to understand, especially in all things. To get a grip on complexity, simplicity in many understandings is needed. By having structure and rules, can habits be built by repeating behaviors. Repeated acts that become automated, which makes them simplified, and predictable. A disciplinary structure that facilitates competence in choices. Freedom, requires constraints.

Rules are not meant to be restrictive. They are meant to be liberating, and facilitate fulfillment of goals. Rules that enable order within the lives of everyone, as everyone is dealing with uncertainty and chaos. Complexity cannot be ignored, as confusion and suffering come from ignoring reality. Each individual needs to manage the chaos of complexity, and the order of simplicity. To manage the static and dynamic aspects of life. To manage the continuous flux of interactions between the values of chaos and order. New instabilities make way for new orders.

Ideology is cautioned against, for it simplifies the complexity of life. Ideologues have a pretentious claim on having all the needed information, and how to resolve problems. Ideologies substitute the complexity of reality, with a simplified understanding. The complexity of the world becomes known when something that has been dependent on and invisible, no longer functions.

Values, And Choice:
When individual’s understanding does not coincide with the reality faced, the individual needs to error correct decisions making. Error corrections requires considering alternative possibilities. To sacrifice prior beliefs, and behaviors to become better. Those who are inauthentic continue with their acts, even with evidence of problematic outcomes. Those who are authentic learn from experiences and errors, which allows them to adjust themselves for better outcomes.

Everyone has some values, and wants to learn. A conversation is a mutual exploration of ideas. Requiring reciprocity in listening and speaking. Each trying to learn from the conversation. But when trying to advise others, better to figure out how the advice impacts one’s own values and choices, before criticizing others. Peterson welcomes challenges to Peterson’s ideas. Peterson thinks through problems in a dialogic process.

Much like a conversation requires negotiation of values, friendship and loyalty are a negotiation. The company someone keeps can brighten their life, or make them miserable. The worthy friendships are those with individuals that want to help each other, and are willing to reciprocate the help given. There is no obligation to help those who want to make the world worse. Even with children, behavior should be restricted to prevent disliking them and rewarding misery with more misery.

Values are derived from the groups individuals belong to. Individual get a sense of meaning from belonging. But with different value systems comes the possibility of conflict. Loss of values makes the individual’s internal life chaotic and miserable, while values generate external group conflict. As the West withdrew from traditions and historical values to limit group conflict, the society has fallen to desperation of meaninglessness.

To justify existence, the individual needs to take responsibility. To be part of a society with rules, standards, and values. Humans are social animals, and produce value together. For that, we need routines and tradition which create order. Too much order is a problem, but so is chaos. It takes a lot of effort to take responsibility for individual life, society, and the world. Responsibility to breakdown values but also create them, in order to prevent or reduce suffering. The alternative of chaos is worse for that leads to authoritarian beliefs, and purposeless individuals.

Much suffering comes not from external sources, but internal values. The individual knowns all of their transgressions and inadequacies, making the individual not feel worthy of being helped. Not seeking help when needed is a form of punishing oneself for failings. To enable oneself to become better, the individual has to take make oneself worthy of being helped. To take responsibility for their life. Everyone has advantages, and disadvantages. Everyone suffers in some way, and has pains.

Individuals take risk to obtain competence, which enables safety. By taking away various risky activities, leads people to search for safety in other ways, such as looking for authoritarian leaders to make them safe. Cannot trust policy makers motives.

Aggression has value. Lack of aggression usually means avoiding problems, while sacrificing themselves for others without reciprocity. Compliant people lack independence. While violence is innate, peace needs to be taught. Humans know the pain that can be inflicted on themselves, which provides an understanding on how to inflect pain on others.

Within many species which includes human species, the few take all the winnings. The rest get barely anything. Social status is an influencing factor in physical and psychological health. Lower status members have more negative attributes, and emergencies. Should not matter how others are doing, as that brings misery. What should matter is how behavior and outcomes are compared to prior behaviors and outcomes.

Caveats?
This is a book full of examples, but has a lack of systemic explanation of the content. Associating various ideas, from various sources, but they do not necessarily explain the claims that are made. While the reasons behind a claim do not necessarily lead to the claim, the way the claims are used are also inappropriate, for they lack complexity and alternative potential outcomes.

Some of the rules and claims contradict each other. They are internally inconsistent for to adhere to some, other rules need to be sacrificed. In part this is a dynamic aspect of the static rules, and depending on the individual, some rules would take priority over others. Putting the rules in practice will have conflict.

The author discusses society that loss their values, and the consequences of that omission. The author tries to rectify that by bringing in values. Values coming from a moral (religious) perspective. The author in part recognizes and discusses the consequences of the moral perspective, but those views are underrepresented. The moral perspective leads to self-affirmation of those values, rather than considering the possible alternative values and ways of thinking. Within trying to provide values, there are many claims on cultural and social aspects, which are polarizing and underdeveloped. They have errors of omission, which can legitimize terrible acts. ( )
  Eugene_Kernes | Jun 4, 2024 |
Lido ( )
  Correaf | Feb 21, 2024 |
It's hard to coherently summarize my thoughts about this book, because I was left with so many emotions after reading it. The rules go over many subjects that we might deem as common sense, but are essential reminders for those hard times where we are most likely to forget them, or forget to hold fast to them. JP does tend to make a lot of allusions to the Bible, especially in the first half of the book -- it's evident he's studied it quite a bit, and soundly applies it to the struggles of humanity, but as a non-religious person I found the stories distracting at times. Because of the lack of variety of source material, I very nearly gave up by Chapter 6 or so. I'm glad I didn't.

As a rule, I look for real-world examples when it comes to nonfiction / self-help books, and even though there weren't as many in the first few chapters, the second half more than made up for it. Peterson's expertise in psychology and the other social sciences really shone through -- from his razor-sharp analysis of our social/political origins, to how best to navigate the great burdens of life in the healthiest psychological way. As anecdotal evidence, the struggles he and his family experienced, particularly with their daughter's serious and prolonged illness, were heartbreaking to read. But at the same time, I gained so much respect for their strength and resilience - qualities we don't see enough of today. That reaffirmed all the things he was trying to get across in this book, and by the end I realized the answers were all there in front of me. All I had to do was take the first step, a little wiser and more humble than before. ( )
  Myridia | Jan 19, 2024 |
This book is badly written and misguided. Read something else if you can. ( )
  amackera | Dec 28, 2023 |
Self-aggrandising pseudobabble at best. When you take the time to analyse what’s being said, it’s surprising how little content there is per page, and the content there is, is downright bad in many cases, essentially advising people to live lives in quiet isolation. ( )
  snare | Dec 13, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 90 (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
Nyquist, GunnarTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Van Sciver, EthanIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Doidge, NormanPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Philosophy. Psychology. Self-Improvement. Nonfiction. HTML:#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER 

#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
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.

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