12 Rules to End Chaos in Your Life…and the World

{Part 1 of a series of posts reviewing Jordan Peterson‘s book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.}

Jordan Peterson‘s bestselling book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, challenges people to get their own lives under control before trying to change the world. No, this isn’t just another book about steps to success or happiness. This isn’t some fad book-of-the-week that are no different than the previous twenty forgettable books. Peterson asks readers to reach deep intellectually. Drawing on ancient history and science, and critical thinking, this clearly isn’t just some fuzzy book on “self care” or quick fixes.

Norman Doidge sets the stage in the forward writing:

…without rules we quickly become slaves to our passions — and there’s nothing freeing about that…Ideologues are people who pretend they know how to ‘make the world a better place’ before they’ve taken care of their own chaos within…Ideologies are substitutes for true knowledge, and ideologues are always dangerous when they come to power, because a simple-minded I-know-it-all approach is no match for the complexity of existence.

And in no time in recent memory are people in need of clear thinking in the face of ideologues and extremists. Peterson was attacked for his defense of free speech and academic freedom by those who claimed to be “open-minded” or “progressive.” Doidge notes, whether they realize it or not:

…millennials are living through a unique historical situation. They [have been]..thoroughly taught two seemingly contradictory ideas about morality…[leaving them] disoriented and uncertain…tragically deprived of riches they don’t even know exist.

And so a generation has been raised untutored in what was called, aptly, ‘practical wisdom,’ which guided previous generations…[suffering] a form of serious intellectual and moral neglect. The relativists…chose to devalue thousands of years of human knowledge about how to acquire virtue…

..made worse by this moral relativism; [people] cannot live without a moral compass, without an ideal at which to aim in their lives…So, right alongside relativism, we find the spread of nihilism and despair, and also the opposite of moral relativism: the blind certainty offered by ideologies that claim to have an answer for everything…Sometimes it seems the only people willing to give advice in a relativistic society are those with the least to offer.

Whereas many, in their hubris, think the past as nothing to offer, our ancestors knew differently:

For the ancients, the discovery that different people have different ideas about how, practically, to live, did not paralyze them; it deepened their understanding of humanity and led to some of the most satisfying conversations human beings ever had, about how life might be lived.

Then Peterson begins:

Through the elevation and development of the individual, and through the willingness of everyone to shoulder the burden of Being and to take the heroic path. We must each adopt as much responsibility as possible for individual life, society and the world…the alternative — the horror of authoritarian belief, the chaos of the collapsed state, the tragic catastrophe of the unbridled natural world, the existential angst and weakness of the purposeless individual — is clearly worse.

{In part 2 of this review, we will look at Peterson’s first three rules.}

Categories: Books, education | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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