- File Size: 18683 KB
- Print Length: 416 pages
- Publisher: Random House Canada (January 23, 2018)
- Publication Date: January 23, 2018
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01FPGY5T0
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- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #451 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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“Jordan Peterson, has become one of the best-known Canadians of this generation. In the intellectual category, he’s easily the largest international phenomenon since Marshall McLuhan. . . . By combining knowledge of the past with a full-hearted optimism and a generous attitude toward his readers and listeners, Peterson generates an impressive level of intellectual firepower.” —Robert Fulford, National Post
“Like the best intellectual polymaths, Peterson invites his readers to embark on their own intellectual, spiritual and ideological journeys into the many topics and disciplines he touches on. It’s a counter-intuitive strategy for a population hooked on the instant gratification of ideological conformity and social media ‘likes,’ but if Peterson is right, you have nothing to lose but your own misery.” —Toronto Star
“In a different intellectual league. . . . Peterson can take the most difficult ideas and make them entertaining. This may be why his YouTube videos have had 35 million views. He is fast becoming the closest that academia has to a rock star.” —The Observer
“Grow up and man up is the message from this rock-star psychologist. . . . [A] hardline self-help manual of self-reliance, good behaviour, self-betterment and individualism that probably reflects his childhood in rural Canada in the 1960s. As with all self-help manuals, there’s always a kernel of truth. Formerly a Harvard professor, now at the University of Toronto, Peterson retains that whiff of cowboy philosophy—one essay is a homily on doing one thing every day to improve yourself. Another, on bringing up little children to behave, is excellent…. [Peterson] twirls ideas around like a magician.” —Melanie Reid, The Times
“You don’t have to agree with [Peterson’s politics] to like this book for, once you discard the self-help label, it becomes fascinating. Peterson is brilliant on many subjects. . . . So what we have here is a baggy, aggressive, in-your-face, get-real book that, ultimately, is an attempt to lead us back to what Peterson sees as the true, the beautiful and the good—i.e. God. In the highest possible sense of the term, I suppose it is a self-help book. . . . Either way, it’s a rocky read, but nobody ever said God was easy.” —Bryan Appleyard, The Times
“One of the most eclectic and stimulating public intellectuals at large today, fearless and impassioned.” —The Guardian
“Someone with not only humanity and humour, but serious depth and substance. . . . Peterson has a truly cosmopolitan and omnivorous intellect, but one that recognizes that things need grounding in a home if they are ever going to be meaningfully grasped. . . . As well as being funny, there is a burning sincerity to the man which only the most withered cynic could suspect.” —The Spectator
“Peterson has become a kind of secular prophet who, in an era of lobotomized conformism, thinks out of the box. . . . His message is overwhelmingly vital.” —Melanie Philips, The Times
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Curious about the title, I purchased on impulse.
I am very glad I did.
I am not Jordan Peterson's "supposed" target audience. (I used supposed because I don't think he actually claims to have one).
I am a liberal, Asian, left leaning moderate with a background in philosophy, theology and film studies. I support the women's right movement, equal pay, and I find the Republican party of today rather distasteful for the anti-science movement they espouse.
That being said, this book spoke to me. It is not an easy read. I had to re-read chapters slowly to fully condense my thoughts. I agree with the critical review that stated you have to be intellectually equipped to really get the most out of this. I had to utilize my background in philosophy and religion to go beyond the surface of what the author was trying to say. This is not a book you can listen to at 2x speed on Audible and hope to retain anything, imo. You need to digest this.
That being said...
Peterson's deft weaving of theology, mythology, and just overall cogent arguments and viewpoints made me really respect and open up my mind to things I never fully thought about. I find it laughable that a Harvard professor/psychologist has been embraced by the "alt-right" when even a moderately close reading of this text repudiates all that they stand for.
Peterson is direct. He has opinions. I don't always agree with them. But he is genuinely expressing himself, and the belief that we should all try to be better. We should all try to be more compassionate, and most of all, we all should try to understand our humanity a little more each and every there.
There's no division in this book; there's just deep anguish at the current state of humanity and its capacity for evil. There's some exasperation at the way things are currently constructed in society that is in many ways lost. And most of all, there's compassion and a belief that if we all got together in a room and truly talked, the world would be a better place.
I would shy away from the noise around Peterson in the headlines, on Youtube, and in how the idealogues use him (or even his own personal media narrative) to justify their twisted beliefs. Don't let the fact that the "Alt-Right" has co-opted this man to make him a mascot.
Just read the book independently and make your own judgments. You'll be glad you did.
This book had so many excellent reviews.
I just don’t understand.
I was following nicely about lobsters and posture. It made sense.
I ignored the tone, which was borderline yelling.
I ignored the sweeping generalizations.
I ignored the biblical passages that started to overtake every paragraph in a quasi word-salad way. I’ve studied the Bible since I could read. I know when something is off.
I can only compare this book to a very long sermon, where I’m trying to follow along, and derive some wisdom. As the hours wear on, everyone is shaking their heads in agreement and I just want to go home.
All I could hear were illogical statements that left zero room for elasticity and nuance. I am a human being. We all are. The author seems to set that aside and preach on...and on...and on.
I felt alienated, confused and finally could take no more. I got up and left the church that this book pretends not to be.
I could not have disliked this self-help book more.
12 Rules for Life is an interesting book. Equal parts philosophy, psychology, and self-help book, it covers a broad range of topics, with Peterson drawing from life experiences, religion, and history to build a strong case for his points and provide what seems on its surface to be very good advice for people.
This is where Peterson's background as a clinical psychologist comes in handy. 12 Rules for Life is billed as an "antidote to chaos", and that is what its primary focus is. It's not great at helping you be more successful if you're disciplined and self-reliant already. As someone who always struggled with grasping the world, however, I found it very helpful.
Since I started reading this book, I lost 12 pounds, went from writing five hundred words a day to three thousand words a day, started waking up earlier in the morning consistently, and have been much happier.
Some of that is attributable to the fact that I was already willing to make changes, and many of the things I was doing were obviously bad ideas.
But there is something to be said for the lessons Peterson teaches. They are complicated, sometimes a little indirect, and mired in allegory. This makes them more valuable, if anything. Peterson doesn't use a magic formula, he uses principles of right action. This book provides general ideas and positions that can serve as a great tool to understanding how people think and why things go wrong.
Not everyone will agree with it. There is a chapter in the book where Peterson reflects on the fact that he has opportunities with clients where he could tell them one thing or another and their minds would make it to be total truth either way.
Perhaps that is what Peterson has done here: perhaps most systems like this are sufficient to improve lives if brought diligently into practice.
Or perhaps there is something to Peterson's words. His indictment of meaninglessness and his calls to purpose echo soundly throughout the book. There have been those who say that Peterson's calls for people to get themselves organized and his oft-mystical language is a cover for something sinister.
But I don't think they've ever really listened to him.
Approaching Peterson a skeptic, I was not sure that reading a book would have the power to change anything in my life. The first few chapters were met with nods, hesitancy, and the concession of points that sounded good. I wasn't hostile to him, and I found many of his points quite clever.
But when Peterson delved deeper into the archetypes and depth psychology I became suspicious. I had a moderate distrust of the Jungian method; I use it to teach literature, but I did not believe in using archetypes to assess personality.
Peterson's point is that we are all part of something great and interconnected. Because it is so massive, we need to be working to make sense of it. It won't happen automatically, and if we go for an easy explanation we may find ourselves walking dark, treacherous paths of misanthropy and rejection.
We are complicated pieces in an even more complicated puzzle. Peterson's approach is one of self improvement. When we take steps to sort ourselves out, we also need to enter a symbiotic process of bringing order to our world.
The purpose of this is not to achieve some sort of superiority. It is to achieve survival. The world will change, and we will be forced to adapt.
Peterson states that "life is tragic." His point is that people need to be ready to deal with adversity. Anyone can handle good times, because that's what we are able to rest and relax during. The true test of a person comes when they lose a loved one or a job or their health. They need to make a decision: what will they do in response.
Peterson uses haunting examples to illustrate what happens when this goes wrong. Using everything from Dostoevsky to the Soviet Union (and countless other insights from modern and historical figures), he creates case studies of what happens when things go wrong and people turn to dysfunction rather than improving their situation.
His 12 Rules serve as a guide on how to go from that point of failure to a point of redemption, offering a series of suggestions and guidelines to take a life that is becoming corrupted by hatred of the world and everything in it and turn it into a vessel for growth and self-improvement.
Is it a perfect guide to living life? No.
Is it helpful? Does it give insight to great truths? Yes.
Please don't read this book. It will ruin your perception of Dr. Peterson.
Top international reviews
I enjoyed the anecdotes and personal stories, which mostly come in the second half of the book. Unfortunately, I found the first half of the book hard going and it seems that most of his foundational ideas are taken from Heidegger’s concept of ‘Being’ which Peterson does not try to justify or explain, he just takes it for granted even though apparently Heidegger struggled to explain it (page xxxi).
Peterson gives case after case where we should take responsibility, tell the truth, repair what’s broken, obey rules and standards and have values and moral obligations, yet without once explaining how any of these things can exist given his evolutionary, materialistic view of life.
In particular, he doesn’t seem to take proper account of the is-ought problem and appears to me at least, to commit the naturalistic fallacy in moving from describing the way the world is suffering (is) and then tells us what we should do about it (ought) without proper justification.
I think he should roll back on criticising other people's writing (rule 6: get your own house in order). I quickly got bogged down when rather than illustrate and explain his point he rambled off on some exegesis of the first chapters of Genesis. You can't draw timeless truths from books that are neither timeless nor true and I wish he would get over this thing he has for holy books. When he sticks to evolutionary biology he starts to say interesting and useful things. I enjoyed reading another passage about his hometown I dipped into but trawling through biblical passages waiting for him to make a point is extremely tiresome. My copy will be available soon through a 2nd hand book charity on here if you want it. As new, partially read.
I may have found myself re-reading certain sentences or paragraphs I struggled to take in, and used my dictionary more regularly than in a game of scrabble as he uses some words I’ve never heard spoken but it was totally worth the read.
I like him a lot (from what I’ve seen on YouTube and his words in this book) and wish him every success as he seems like he truly wants to help us all be better.
This is not a book to attempt at a fast pace. Take your time, digest what he’s trying to get across and you’ll get the most out of it.
It’s a bit like giving up smoking... you have to really want to give up to truly commit. I got to a point this year where I really wanted to make a change and this book offers a highly informed helping hand to set you on the right path.
Prior to this I’d read The Chimp Paradox which I’d also recommend for those who are trying to sort themselves out.
Let’s be clear, what he is offering is a gospel, good news for the lost and oppressed. He is saying that hope, joy, and purpose can be found! But the gospel he offers turns out to be no gospel at all; it is a false gospel that leaves an even bigger hole than the one it was intended to fill. What is his answer? Take responsibility for being; take control of your present and choose to move forward in the future. Do not blame others for your circumstances or depend on another for rescue, but choose to walk the fine line between the chaotic unknown and the orderly known world by pressing forth to craft your own meaning.
This, he claims, is what the individual soul longs for and is how we can lead to a collective flourishing—over against the atrocities of the 20th century (e.g. xxxv). The 12 rules he outlines all unpack this charge—"take responsibility for your being”—from different angles. Instead of summarizing his rules, I think it will be more profitable to consider his agenda as a whole and why his gospel is no gospel at all.
If you have studied philosophy, you will quickly notice that Peterson is heavily influenced by the existentialist tradition mediated through Heidegger, finding himself very close to the “Christian” philosophers Paul Tillich and Rudolf Bultmann. In Peterson’s brand of existentialism, the traditional questions of philosophy are collapsed into ethics, into the question of how should and do we live. Epistemology, the questions of truth and how we know it, and metaphysics, the question of standards for truth and the reality of experience, are collapsed into the central imperative of existentialism, “take responsibility for Being.” “Being,” capitalized by Peterson (following the tradition of Heidegger) refers to the “totality of human experience,” both individual (my experience) and corporate (our experience) (xxxi). How Peterson thinks “taking responsibility for Being” should be done is unpacked through the 12 rules explained in the book. The definition employed early in the book is helpful: “We must each adopt as much responsibility as possible for individual life, society and the world” (xxxiii).
In the tradition of the old liberal theologians (namely Adolf Harnack) and the existentialist Rudolf Bultmann, Peterson presents his philosophy of life in Christians terms, redefining doctrines of depravity, atonement, original sin, and faith in terms of existentialism (e.g. 55, 59, 189-90, 226). This brings us to the first problem of the book. Many Christians I have talked to see Peterson’s concern for Scripture and its centrality for western society as a refreshing breeze in modern thought. But It becomes clear early on (e.g. 43, 359) that Peterson’s interest in Scripture is not that of a Christian nor of a sort that is compatible with Christianity. Instead, Scripture is a deposit of ancient wisdom, insights spewed forth from the depths of Being itself (think of Being in the corporate sense above) (e.g. 104).
The wisdom Peterson finds in the Bible is conveniently his own existentialist Jungian (as in the psychological system of Carl Jung) philosophy (e.g. Rule 2). It is not only that he rejects the inspiration and authority of Scripture, but he rejects its ability to communicate clearly. Instead, the Scriptures are demythologized to discover the moral teaching that is being communicated by its myths (xxvii, 34-35). This brings us to the second major issue.
Christians should be concerned with Peterson’s handling of Christian doctrine and Scripture, let alone his false Gospel. Yet not even the non-Christian will find a plausible gospel here. Instead, those who follow Peterson’s rules are bound to find themselves in deeper despair than that which drove them to Peterson in the first place.
Throughout the book he takes the stance of an old man dispensing wisdom, a scholarly authority dispensing his knowledge. Yet unlike the old person speaking from life-long experience or the authority speaking hard-earned truth, Peterson’s book does not escape the category of opinion. That is, he never offers a credible reason why we should believe the philosophy he offers.
The nihilism to which this book responds emerged from a vacuum of truth and meaning; with god dead, as 20th century thought claimed, no objective standard was left for truth and meaning. It was quickly discovered that humanity was insufficient to the task of formulating their own meaning (and formulating your own truth is a contradiction in terms). Instead of returning the reader to an objective foundation, Peterson suggests that taking responsibility for being will produce its own meaning (199-201, 283).
The problem, of course, is that meaning is not something that can emerge of its own accord. Peterson suggests that meaning will emerge as you take responsibility for being, yet this hardly seems the natural order of things. We are motivated to do something because we see it to be meaningful. We set goals and achieve them when we are assured they have meaning; we do not find meaning by setting goals. Without transcendence, without a God who orders reality, authoritatively sets out good and bad, right and wrong, there can be no meaning. Meaning is intrinsically tied with morality, pursuing what is good and true, and eschatology, pursuing the proper end. Without a purposeful plan for history, a distinct direction and a standard by which to evaluate progress in that direction, their can be no meaning.
By leaving meaning and truth (157-159, 230) in the hands of the individual, Peterson never manages to offer a reasonable or satisfactory answer to the problem he is attempting to solve. If truth is the story you tell with your life (230), what foundation is there for the hundreds of moral evaluations he makes? What reason do we have to trust his advice, listen to his opinion, when there is no foundation for the claims he makes?
Peterson offers some genuinely good advice and surely many people need to hear his call to take responsibility for life and do something with it (though I doubt those who need to hear this the most will bother reading the book). However, by giving no firm foundation for his advice, he ultimately sets the reader on the path to inevitable despair and disappointment. The advice may work for season, maybe two, but when some success is reached or when hardship comes, they will be confronted once again with meaninglessness. Like the rich and famous, they will discover at the end of their goals the same void from which they fled.
There is ultimately only one good news, and Peterson’s philosophy is not it. The good news is that Jesus Christ has acted to save us from the wrath of God not that we can save ourselves and society from hopelessness and despair. The good news is that Jesus Christ will one day return and bring an end to all pain and misery and bring justice to all the atrocities of our time and beyond; the good news is not that we will work together to forge a better future. The good news is that Jesus Christ redeems us, calls us, and commissions us to live for Him in this world, giving us meaning. He has revealed the truth, and only this truth will set us free. Believing in Jesus Christ is the only escape from Nihilism, not a vague hope in “the intrinsic goodness of being” and confidence in our own ability to craft truth and meaning.
I DIVERGE. This book has great insights even if you don't think you have any issues a "self-help" book could help with. Other than that, if you do buy and read this, it will definitely show how maliciously some media have misrepresented Jordan Peterson.
Das Buch ist untergliedert in 12 Regeln. Jede dieser Regeln wird mit reichhaltigen Erzählungen versehen. Peterson versteht es wie kein zweiter Anknüpfungspunkte zwischen Psychologie und Mythologie zu spinnen. Er formuliert, wie man es aus seinen Vorlesungen kennt, bereits bekannte, archetypische Wahrheiten und macht bewusst, worauf es in einem tugendhaften, ehrlichen und engagierten Leben ankommt.
Kleine Ergänzung: Unbedingt die englische Originalausgabe lesen. Der Goldmann-Verlag hat anscheinend das Buch in der deutschen Übersetzung sehr verwässert. Was Schade ist, da dann aus 12 Rules for Life einfach nur ein x-beliebiger Ratgeber wird - obwohl das Buch weit darüber hinausgeht.
Mittlerweile ist eine überarbeitete deutsche Übersetzung erschienen. Mich würde interessieren, ob die dem Original endlich nähergekommen ist.
Ich verstehe sehr wohl, dass einige Menschen das Buch als unstrukturiert empfinden mögen, da Peterson als extrem schneller Denker seine Leser nicht mit seinen Gedankensprüngen verschont. Es ging mir tatsächlich mindestens dreimal so, dass ich noch mal nachgucken musste, in welchen Kapital ich mich eigentlich befand. Auch, wenn ich nicht in allen Punkten mit Peterson übereinstimme (Homoehe und Kinder homosexueller Eltern und das Übersknielegen von Kindern), gehört das Buch zu dem Besten, was ich in den letzten Jahren gelesen habe. Es hat meinen müden Geist dermaßen beflügelt und zum Nachdenken angeregt, dass es einfach eine Wonne war. Oft war ich auch traurig, weil ich mich ertappt fühlte und konfrontiert mit mir selbst. Aber gehört das nicht zum Reifen dazu? Ich kann das Buch jedem Menschen, der differenziert denkt und nicht gleich Panik bekommt, wenn jemand nicht die eigene Meinung vertritt, ans Herz legen.