A good Rule for Life

No matter what you think of Jordan Peterson—and I haven’t seen this book, so I’m curious about the other rules—this is simply damn good advice:

Here’s a video in which Peterson explains the genesis of the book and a bit of its content:


  1. David Duncan
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, but there is no way I will pet an unfamiliar cat (or dog). Once I know it, its servants and its personality I might.

    • BJ
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      All people are servants to Cat. The hole in one’s life can be filled only by service to Him.

  2. Jenny Haniver
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Yikes! Guess I must play the Grinch this season — I was just preparing to bring up Peterson in the previous post, when this one hit my inbox, so I’ll post my slightly edited comments on him here.

    A note on Jordan Peterson: IMHO, the more I learn the more disgusted I become. Okay, so he likes cats, takes a stand against the forcible use of certain pronouns, decries Neo-Marxism and postmodernism; however, in other ways, specifically re theism and atheism, he seems to be someone who wants to have his cake and eat it too, with the result that crumbs of disparate concepts, spoken with great authority (dare I say pridefully — as in the sin of pride) fly everywhere from both sides of his very full and verbose mouth. Others may well disagree and find his thought valuable and insightful, but he’s too glib by half for me. He’s both dogmatic and equivocal, sometimes dogmatically equivocal and sometimes equivocally dogmatic. And for postmodernism, he has what I’d call his own brand of postmodernist spiritual/psychological voodoo revisionism, based in Jung’s archetypes and his ‘understanding’ of genetics and evolutionary biology, and who knows what else, whereby he asserts the transcendent (and biological) necessity and primacy of theism for morality, and in the same breath questions the existence of what he says is the literal reality of the origin of those transcendent moral principles — yet, he considers himself some species of Christian, but at the same time demands that he won’t be pigeonholed as to whether God exists.

    It follows that he’s certainly no friend to atheists, especially Sam Harris, Dawkins and the “new atheists,” whom he lambastes and misrepresents at every opportunity. Here’s an example of what I mean: Peterson on Sam Harris https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjYQ48t4C8U (ca. 10 min.) Harris has had two lengthy debates with Peterson, which can be found on SH’s blog: 1st debate: https://www.samharris.org/blog/item/speaking-of-truth-with-jordan-b.-peterson; second debate:
    https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/meaning-and-chaos. Each averages around an hour and a half. See SH’s comments after the first one — he was perplexed and frustrated, but he gave Peterson another chance. Now, I’m sure that SH is done with him.

    • BJ
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      As much as I enjoy some of his lectures on other subjects, you are absolutely right about his logical inconsistency and refusal to be pinned down to any coherent position when it comes to theism/spirituality. His old-fashioned psychological analysis of many issues is also poor and sometimes borders on absurdly misinformed, rooted in, as you say, Jungian archetypes and a very poor understanding of genetics and evolutionary biology. I’m not sure if his obfuscation and prevarication is intentional or not, but it’s just as damaging either way, especially because he can be right about one thing and completely wrong about another within the bounds of a single subject.

      It’s a shame because he can be insightful and interesting quite often, but he’s inconsistently so and, when he’s not, it’s because he’s very, very wrong about things. Unfortunately, he speaks so well that many people will gobble up anything he says.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Spot on.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Sounds interesting and rule #12 is always good. His comments about living where it is really cold is something most people will not identify with, simply because they have no idea or experience with that kind of cold. It can be an extraordinary condition where simply decisions can be the difference between life and death. Mostly it is a place you do not want to be.

  4. BJ
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I’ve found a great deal of what Peterson has to say in lectures on self-improvement and dealing with depression helpful. Many people seem to think he’s just a figure in the culture wars, but those people obviously have not read or listened to much of his work. Most of his lectures can be found on Youtube, if anyone’s interested.

    • Craw
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      In general I like people with odd perspectives. I don’t have to agree with them to find them interesting, stimulating, or challenging, as long as they are sincere and not haters.

      People pay lip service to “think outside the box” and being independent, yet when someone is you often get, as in another comment on this thread, disgust.

      • BJ
        Posted December 22, 2017 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, but I agree with what Jenny said above. I’m not disgusted by him because I appreciate some of his work, but he’s often terribly misinformed and/or misrepresenting information. I appreciate some of his lectures regarding depression valuable and his consistent stand against the academic loony toons valuable, but he does enough wrong that I don’t regard him particularly well on the whole.

  5. XCellKen
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Sorry. Bad back and such.

    But I will stand still, and allow said cat to do the leg rubbing thing that cats love to do

    • David Duncan
      Posted December 23, 2017 at 4:39 am | Permalink

      I don’t mind that, but I like to know an animal before I touch it. Some of them don’t like it.

  6. Posted December 22, 2017 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    There are of course many other essential bits of advice. One that I heard on the radio: Always choose to move forward.

  7. busterggi
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Rule 12 applies to all animals including wild ones.

    btw, I bleed a lot.

  8. Wayne Y Hoskisson
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Anybody can create a bunch of rules. Here is a set I wrote during a neated discussion on a liberal discussion forum in my small town.

    Rules I live by:

    On the off chance that I am the smartest person in the room I pretend not to be. This works even when I am not the smartest person in the room. Pretending is always best.

    I am old enough to realize I am not required to have an opinion about everything and flexible enough to create an opinion anyway.

    If you want a steadfast friend get a puppy or a teddy bear.

    When your cup is overflowing it is just an illusion. It is still either half empty or half full. Anchovies don’t help.

    Speak kindly but back it up with a vicious stick.

    Be like a river. Never change directions or ask for directions. Try flowing up hill sometimes.

    Take offense because nobody can do it for you.

    Whenever I am caught with my foot in my mouth I pretend I am doing yoga.

    The great Canadian philosopher Mitch Hedberg once said, “I like it when people laugh for no reason…like that lady over there.” You see, it’s not all about you…or is it?

    Always remember

    • BJ
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

      That was really quite

    • Posted December 23, 2017 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      That sounds pretty good to me. Ie It follows some of my own conclusions!
      I like JP. I see no particular reason to be consistent in philosophies or reasoning -other than when adding up one’s bank balance or coercing someone else. All philosophies are hypotheses-worth following until you work out the details and implications-and then drop them having learnt quite a bit in the process. And then go further. I seem to follow JP’S intellectual trajectory quite well and admire his fundamental determination to be honest with himself.oh well.

  9. Posted December 22, 2017 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    When Jerry once almost parenthetically described Peterson’s disposition as “unhinged” (I think), I agreed. On video, even when I agree with his content, I see his body language as aggressive, bulging eyes, tensed upper body, slightly flared nostrils towards his interlocutor. This looks, more than I have seen in any public figure, like an inner rage and discontent and does not advertize a rational discourse. Norman Finkelstein springs to mind as a comparison.

    • Jamie
      Posted December 23, 2017 at 1:23 am | Permalink

      I think I see the same things you describe here, but I don’t think I interpret them the same way (keeping in mine that “unhinged” is an undefined term so I can’t be certain what you mean by it). He looks to me like someone who has not resigned himself to the position society has prescribe for him. I think he wants something more and is frustrated that other intelligent people don’t resonate with the same passion. This does not look unhinged to me, it looks alienated.

      He reminds me very much of the narrator of Pirsig’s book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, trying to talk about quality; unable to define it but convinced there is something important there to talk about and fairly certain he will never have enough time to fully develop his argument, making insupportable assertions and always talking around it, but sincerely trying to say what cannot be said.

      “The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao…” etc.

      • BJ
        Posted December 23, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        I think that’s a very good description. Perhaps many of his faults in reasoning are the result of a constant drive to refine arguments or incorporate more information/philosophies; however, if that’s the case, I wish he wouldn’t speak so authoritatively when he’s wrong/unsure about something.

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