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Maps of Meaning by Jordan Peterson: Review

In Maps of Meaning psychology professor Jordan Peterson investigates how people construct meaning.
It explores some themes dear to the author, such as religion, myths and the subconscious, irrational pull of groups and totalitarian forms of government.

About The Author

Jordan Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist.
In the last years, he has become an influential opinion leader, loved by many, and probably hated by as many others.
His last book is "12 Rules for Life", and in many ways it's also similar to "Maps of Meaning".


  • The fundamental prepositions of fascism and communism were rational, logical, comprehensible... And terribly wrong (I agree, see: "fascism, Mussolini, Trump, and personal power")
  • Human nature is not infinitely malleable (also read "The Blank Slate")
  • Like animals, we focus on fundamentals first. Top questions: will this new thing eat me, can I eat it, can I mate with it
  • Attempts to increase the state at the cost of the individual are counterproductive
    • I agree from an ideological point of view, but then again, it depends on what level of state-presence we are talking about
  • Patriotism or any similar attempt at strengthening group identity must necessarily be bounded by a supreme regard to the creative capacity of the individual
    • I totally agree here and take it one step further, too: not just the "creative capacity" of the individual, but the sacred independence of the individual from any organized groups
  • A stranger is threatening because he is outside of the social hierarchy and can behave unexpectedly, with unpredictable consequences for the social hierarchy
    • Very true. And the more defensive, fearful and hierarchy-conscious people are, the more they will fear and oppose strangers
  • A dominance hierarchy is a social arrangement which determines access to desired commodities
    • Genius and true
  • The fascist sacrifices his soul to the group, which promises to protect him from everything unknown
    • Genius and true
  • The fascist believes the world should always be ordered. This increase in conformity alleviates anxiety
  • The decadent refuses to join the social world because he is too undisciplined to serve as an apprentice
  • The hero rejects identification with the group as the ideal of life, following instead his conscience and his heart. He refuses to sacrifice meaning for security
    • These three descriptions were the deepest in the whole book. Following the "hero's path" is one of the tenets of this website.
  • Hitler and Stalin were humans. Our tyrannical tendencies and moral decadences are limited by our domains of personal power. We satisfy ourselves with riding roughshod with those nearer to us and then congratulate ourselves on our moral virtues
    • Going to the philosophical core on the link between power and personal values
  • We use aggression and strength to bend others to our will, and lacking strength we use sickness and empathy to deceive our way to dominance
  • In times of uncertainty, the call for returns to the glorious past always arise.

And finally, I want to leave you with this question:

Granted the opportunity, how many of us would not be Hitler?

Personally, I think most of us would not be Hitler.
But probably more people than you think, would.


Again, some major sparkles of genius from Peterson.

Just too bad for how they are framed and presented, in a sea of religious references and rhetoric for rhetoric's sake.

"Maps of Meaning", had it expanded on those genius sparkles, could have been a monumental work.
And I might have elected it as one of the foundational books for The Power Moves.

But as it is, I cannot give a full thumbs up to "Maps of Meaning".

It's called "maps of meaning", as if it wanted to show a route or path for people to walk.
But it certainly doesn't seem to want to make that path simple.
It's philosophical and inscrutable. It builds upon itself and it feels like it's going nowhere.
It's not easy to understand, it's not much grounded in science and it's of little application to real life.

For me, it also had little application to a more general and abstract theory of life and it didn't help me to construct meaning for the world.

I really like Jordan Peterson.
I don't use the term "genius" very easily, but whenever I listen to him speak, "genius" just comes up over and over. Unluckily, I can't same the same for his two books.
But he's got a third one coming. So let's see.

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Deleted userbluesky
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Dude, you rock