Twelve Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos – Jordan Peterson

TL:DR – This book was the worst garbage I have read in a long time. I am very glad I pirated a copy of it.


I don’t get it.

I consider myself fairly open minded. I have in the past read books by people who expound political beliefs I disagree with, just to see whether my own beliefs really hold up. I am willing to put in the work to do that because I think it is only fair. That being said, I am a person who participates on the internet, and thus I have an opinion on Jordan Peterson.

It’s not a flattering opinion. But I wanted to see if his book would hold up to any kind of rigor. I have read a few self-help books in the past, and so I figured I could judge this one on that criteria alone.

Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules is a self-help book. It proposes (spoilers) twelve rules which we are meant to follow in order to live a better life. That being said, I am not in any way convinced that that is all it is intending to be. Each rule is supplemented with his justification for that rule, and thus justification are loaded with his politics and his mysticism, which is much worse. Thus the book struck more as masquerading as self help, and really functioning as promotion of Peterson’s own beliefs.

My first reaction to this book was “Wow, he really does go on about lobsters.”

Later, I began to notice more and more assertions thrown into the mix, which bothered me because the book is almost barren of any cited sources. You just have to take Mr Peterson’s word for all the things he says. As far as I can tell the reason he doesn’t bother with citations is because he is making all of this up. Normally a self-help book relies on some kind of science for the claims it makes. Peterson wants to support his claims with his own off brand of mysticism.

I was extremely skeptical of Jungian archetypes and collective unconsciousness well before Peterson rolled around, and if I had to credit this book with something it would be helping me elucidate why, anyone can read anything they want into them, and at the end of it all there is pretty much nothing we can look at that points to reality. As an example, at some point Peterson refers to Christ as the ‘archetypal perfect man’. He says this in context of why Jesus should be permitted to do something that you shouldn’t. Rather, why lowly humans such as yourself shouldn’t use Jesus as your conceptional model. This makes no sense that I can establish, and is the type of sophistry that I cannot handle. If someone is perfect, then their actions should be emulated in all contexts. If there behavior isn’t correct, that individual isn’t fucking perfect. Oh, he was being metaphorical? Then what is the point of bringing it up at all? These words have no meaning whatsoever, at least when Peterson uses them.

At some point my kindness finally cracked and I saw Peterson for what he is, a jargon heavy woo-peddler.

There was something about the way the introduction was written that really hit me with the impression that this book was first and foremost about Jordan Peterson, and that helping other seemed at best secondary. Or perhaps that helping others was how Peterson actualizes his ego. I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist.

This book was the worst garbage I have read in a long time. I am very glad I pirated a copy of it.

Frankly, I have no idea. And I am happy this way.

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