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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018)

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018)

Peterson discusses discipline, responsibility, freedom and adventure. The book has gone on to bestseller lists in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the US and the UK, and has sold over 6 million copies worldwide.

The book's central idea is that "suffering is built into the structure of being" and although it can be unbearable, people have a choice either to withdraw, which is a "suicidal gesture," or to face and transcend it. Living in a world of chaos and order, everyone has "darkness" that can "turn them into the monsters they're capable of being" to satisfy their dark impulses in the right situations. Scientific experiments like the Invisible Gorilla Test show that perception is adjusted to aims, and it is better to seek meaning rather than happiness. Peterson notes:

The book advances the idea that people are born with an instinct for ethics and meaning, and should take responsibility to search for meaning above their own interests (Rule 7, "Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient"). Such thinking is reflected both in contemporary stories such as Pinocchio, The Lion King, and Harry Potter, and in ancient stories from the Bible. To "Stand up straight with your shoulders back" (Rule 1) is to "accept the terrible responsibility of life," to make self-sacrifice, because the individual must rise above victimization and "conduct his or her life in a manner that requires the rejection of immediate gratification, of natural and perverse desires alike." The comparison to neurological structures and behavior of lobsters is used as a natural example to the formation of social hierarchies

In the last chapter, Peterson outlines the ways in which one can cope with the most tragic events, events that are often out of one's control. In it, he describes his own personal struggle upon discovering that his daughter, Mikhaila, had a rare bone disease. The chapter is a meditation on how to maintain a watchful eye on, and cherish, life's small redeemable qualities (i.e., to "pet a cat when you encounter one"). It also outlines a practical way to deal with hardship: to shorten one's temporal scope of responsibility (e.g., focusing on the next minute rather than the next three months)


Further Resources


Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life (2021) - Wiki

Jordan Peterson


Jordan B. Peterson on 12 Rules for Life


January 16, 2018

Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief - Wiki

Jordan Peterson



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