Maps of Meaning (2017) Lectures by Jordan Peterson Summary

Jordan Peterson explains the significance of stories and myths in our lives.

Maps of Meaning (2017) Lectures by Jordan Peterson Summary
Marduk and Tiamat

Key Takeaways

Everyone needs:

  1. Friends
  2. An intimate relationship
  3. Good familial relationships
  4. A career
  5. Worthwhile things to do in their free time
  6. To maintain mental and physical health
  7. To mitigate drug and alcohol use
  • Stories are the “maps of meaning.”
  • Different cultures throughout history and geography have come to the same conclusion: life is suffering. What do you do about that? (1) Voluntarily accept it. (2) Strive to overcome the suffering that’s a consequence of that. (3) You try to reduce suffering for yourself and others. How do you know that will work? The only way to find out is to try. There are no guarantees. It’s your best bet.
  • If you can’t figure out what someone’s doing, look at the outcome and infer the motivation. — Carl Jung
  • You study the humanities, art, poetry, literature, and music to understand human nature and high culture. It turns you into a competent member of society.
  • Ideologies are fragments of the larger story. That’s why they’re so compelling—they’re (partially) true.
  • Many parents don’t like their kids. Kids are very provocative they always push you to try to get a reaction. When they do it on the wrong day (like after a parent gets fired or dumped), they can take it out on the kid. That’s why in 12 Rules for Life, Peterson says not to let your kids do anything that will make you dislike them.
  • The environmentalist story: Nature is pristine beauty. Natural harmony. Nature is paradise if there are no people. Culture is a rapacious monster. Humans are driving their culture against nature—that makes them monsters. Perhaps there should be fewer humans. The movie Avatar depicts this story.
  • The opposing side of the environmentalist story is the Frontier story: There’s a wild savage landscape out there. It needs to be conquered, stabilized, and civilized, by civilization and it will be a heroic pioneer who does it. This is depicted in the movie Star Trek.
  • Each one of the above ideologies tells a (true) part of the story. Ideologues latch on and only see one half of the story. Understanding the whole truth is understanding both sides of the story.
  • Most people think they’re good people but in reality they’ve just never been put in a position where they could be bad. You can see this when a riot forms—normal people transform into thieves, vandals, and assaulters.
  • Be wary of things that promise everything you want without the typical sacrifice necessary to get it. Even if you get it, it will be short-lived.
  • Any success that comes without the proper sacrifice and work will be short-lived.
  • Gandhi read Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy developed the technique of non-violence that Gandhi used. Tolstoy stressed humility with non-violence.
  • Do not do anything for anyone that they can do themselves. All that does is make them dependent and less competent.
  • Watch My Left Foot movie. The main character has cerebral palsy and can only move his left foot. His dad will not do anything for him and that allows the main character to learn how to do things on his own. Had he been catered to, he would have been useless. Fostering independence > too casual compassion
  • Read Dostoevsky and Nietzsche simultaneously. They write about the same topics but Nietzsche is one level of abstraction higher. Nietzsche studied Dostoevsky’s work.
  • Some of the meaning of a novel is in the images that you create in your mind while reading it. Whenever you see a movie adaptation of a book, it is always less rich that the novel. Because your mind contains much more information than a movie can contain. The movie also has to try to compress a 12 hour book into 2 hours of screen time.
  • Read lecture 4 notes. It’s the best lecture of the series.
  • In Huxley’s Brave New World, it’s rude not to have sex with anyone who wants to. The kids are born in labs and they don’t have parents. That’s the future of equality and inclusionary dystopia.
  • Differences in consciousness make for bad romantic relationships. The conscientious person will judge the low conscientious person for being disorganized and lazy.
  • There’s always a snake inside the walled garden. That means that there is always a negative aspect to something good. When you get a new job, for instance, that’s good but it will inherently have some negative aspects to it.
  • IQ and conscientiousness predict career success but they have no correlation. Intelligence is an indicator of the effectiveness of abstraction. Conscientiousness is an indicator of the probability of implementation.
  • The Bible is an abstracted multi-generational analysis of which actions lead to success and failure. You want to be like Abel and not like Cain, for instance.
  • What predicts relationship longevity? If a relationship has less than 5:1 positive to negative interactions, the relationship ends—too negative. If it’s higher than 11:1, the relationship ends—usually means that problems are being pushed under the rug until they explode.
  • A halo is the head illuminated by the sun.
  • Agreeableness predicts good grades in school but is a detriment in a career.
  • Women who get into top positions in their career have to work 80 hours a week and be on-call at any moment. Virtually all women in this position quit when they’re 30 because who would want to do that—even if it makes $250k a year?
  • Largely, women (and most men) don’t want a high-stress $250k a year job. You work 24/7. You can’t have a life outside of work. You can’t have any relationships: no spouse, no friends, no kids. It’s not the dream life that people claim it is.
  • The older you get (if you have any sense at all), the more important your family is to you.
  • It’s a real mistake not to have kids. It’s a barren future without them.
  • It’s very rare for a woman at the age of 30 to not have having a child as her primary desire. The exceptions usually have a very twisted world view. There are a small minority of masculine, disagreeable, not maternal women who really do not want to have children.
  • The only chance you have at a “perfect” relationship is with your kids.
  • If you think you need more rights in America in 2022, you have a victim mindset. Take some responsibility and put the work in.
  • The Bible is not patriarchal because both men and women are created in God’s image. That means that both men and women can confront chaos (their fears) and save themselves, their family, and their community.
  • Evil people use victimhood as an excuse to abuse “good” people.
  • The story of the Buddha is similar to the story of Adam and Eve.
  • Prince Guatama (Buddha) is sheltered from old age, sickness and death. The Prince then sees an old man and that’s part 1 of his forbidden fruit. He has the knowledge of aging now. He goes home for 6 months and then goes back out and sees a sick man—now he know he can get sick. Then he goes out and sees a dead man and now he knows of mortality.
  • Science is about stripping off the subjective from the objective.
  • Is something lost when you remove the subjective? Yes.
  • Science can’t answer the fundamental philosophical questions or construct morality.
  • Tyrants get killed by their subordinates.
  • People want a romantic partner who will push them to be their best over multiple decades. That’s why people who are too nice are unattractive. You want someone who will judge you for your limitations and push you to be better. You don’t want someone who thinks you’re perfect as you are.
  • How do societies become corrupt? One little step at a time. If no one speaks up, they become tyrannical.
  • Part of the “rescuing your father from the depths” myth is to reunite yourself with the traditional structures of community.
  • The painting Tree of Life Flanked by Eve and Mary shows: A little knowledge of death destroys you. Full voluntary acceptance of death and suffering is the cure.
  • The painting summarizes the biblical stories.
  • Accept responsibility for the catastrophe of your life. Then you can transcend it. That’s what Abel did. That’s what Cain failed to do.
  • The Buddha transcends by accepting that life is suffering.
  • Don’t let what you are stop you from being what you could be.
  • You need to take time off from work. Either work fewer hours a day, take 4 extra days off a month, or take a sabbatical.
  • You’re blind to your own weaknesses and strengths.
  • States and individuals based on tyranny are doomed to collapse. States and individuals based on improving themselves and others around them will (likely) succeed.

3 must-read books:

  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  2. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
  3. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

2 books similar to Maps of Meaning:

  1. Symbols of Transformation by Carl Jung
  2. The Origin and History of Consciousness by Erich Neumann
  • Peterson’s top story examples: The Lion King, the Bible, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Harry Potter, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid.
  • Do Jordan Peterson’s Self Authoring Suite.
  • Read The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell.
  • Watch Hitman Hart documentary.
  • Watch Breaking Bad.
  • Read Ordinary Men.
  • Read Huxley’s Brave New World.
  • Look at the painting Tree of Life Flanked by Eve and Mary

Lecture 1

Context and Background

  • Stories are the “maps of meaning.”
  • Read Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell.
  • Hume: you cannot derive an “ought” from an “is.”
  • You study the humanities, art, poetry, literature, and music to understand high culture. It turns you into a competent member of society.
  • As you age you may find that you favorite music is the music you listened to from age 16-20. That music defines a generation.
  • We love stories because they give us easy wisdom. Someone else can be blindsided by tragedy and then figure out a solution and put it into a story. Then all we have to do is read the story to have a better life.
  • People liked The Da Vinci Code because it proposed the idea that there was more to life. There was some information that you could obtain and it would be really worth while.
  • Most people think that fiction is fake but maybe fiction is more than true. Fiction is (almost) by definition dramatic—nobody would read or watch something about an ordinary day in an ordinary life. So if fiction can distill the ideas of extraordinary life, it is real.
  • Is the movie Pinocchio true? It depends on what you mean by true.
  • How should you conduct yourself in the world? That’s what people want to know more than anything.
  • Articulated knowledge is a subsection of inarticulate knowledge (art, literature, high culture). There is knowledge that cannot be expressed with words.
  • Everyone views the world through the frame of a story: You’re going somewhere. You’re in a continual state of insufficiency (the insufficiencies change). You’re aiming for something better. You get to where you want to go through action.
  • That story is called a value laden framework.
  • What is the optimal value-laden framework?
  • Relativists say that you cannot determine which claim is better than another.
  • Peterson thinks the most real thing in the world is pain. The scientists think the most real thing in the world is matter.
  • Ideologies are fragments of the larger story. That’s why they’re so compelling—they’re (partially) true.
  • Chaos is when your world falls apart. That’s what happens when the Twin Towers were hit or if you have an unexpected breakup or if you’re fired from your job. Everything suddenly changes for the worse.
  • Order is when something changes for the good.
  • The people who think they have no evil in them are the most evil.
  • A person who pays attention is better than one who turns away.
  • The movie Pinocchio opens with this song playing: When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. Wishing on a star is like a ritual. A star can be in the sky or it can be like a celebrity—an ideal. A star in the sky is other-worldly, not of this earth. And it’s like looking up, above what you currently are. It’s also the light that shines in the darkness. A celebrity is usually talented and attractive, so they embody the ideal that everyone wants to be like.
  • The right goal is high, elevated, audacious. It’s above the mundane. It’s the best that you could possibly be.
  • “Makes no difference who you are.” Anyone can can try to become the best they can.
  • The sublime shows you the unknown but in a non-threatening way. Looking at the stars in the night sky or looking at nature.
  • There are some people you admire and some that you don’t admire. The people you admire have something about them that you would like to have—they’re a model for emulation.
  • Everyone needs to do these:
  • Get friends
  • Have an intimate relationship
  • Have good familial relationships
  • Develop a career
  • Find worthwhile things to do in your free time
  • Pay attention to mental and physical health
  • Mitigate drug and alcohol use
  • The 2 things you want to do when you shout for some important goal:
  • Achieve the goal
  • Develop yourself into a person who’s better at pursuing goals
  • Do Peterson’s self authoring suite. Do a little bit of it a day and think about it a lot.

Lecture 2

Marionettes and Individuals (Part 1)

  • People with borderline personality disorder will have temper tantrums like a 2 year old. Stay away from people with BPD.
  • If a kid hold their breath until they turn blue just ignore them and they’ll realize that it doesn’t get them the attention they want and stop doing it.
  • Lots of parents don’t like their kids. Kids are very provocative they always push you to try to get a reaction. When they do it on the wrong day (like after a parent gets fired or dumped), they can take it out on the kid. That’s why in 12 Rules for Life, Peterson says not to let your kids do anything that will make you dislike them.
  • The environmentalist story: Nature is pristine beauty. Natural harmony. Nature is paradise if there are no people. Culture is a rapacious monster. Humans are driving their culture against nature—that makes them monsters. Perhaps there should be fewer humans. The movie Avatar depicts this story.
  • The opposing side of The environmentalist story is the Frontier story: There’s a wild savage landscape out there. It needs to be conquered, stabilized, and civilized, by civilization and it will be a heroic pioneer who does it. This is depicted in the movie Star Trek.
  • Each one of the above ideologies tells a (true) half of the story. Ideologues latch on and only see one half of the story. The whole truth is understanding both sides of the story.
  • Being rich doesn’t solve all of your problems
  • Rich people still get sick
  • Their kids get sick
  • They get addicted to things because they have the free time and money to get any addictive substance they want.
  • Being rich AND happy requires immense discipline and wisdom.
  • Read about Unit 731 if you want to know how evil people can be. Peterson warns that you will not forget it and you’ll l wish you hadn’t read it.
  • Aim at being the best you can be and then redefine your target as you progress.
  • The star that signifies the birth of a hero is the same star that you wish upon.
  • Stay away from people who don’t like children.
  • The movie Pinocchio is about Pinocchio growing up and developing autonomy. If a parent wants their child to be autonomous, they can’t be a tyrant, they have to let their child develop their own voice from a young age. Geppetto wishes for Pinocchio to become a real boy, so he can be autonomous and doesn’t have to be a marionette.
  • Dreams are outside of time. A few minutes in real life can feel like an hour in a dream.
  • It requires the encouragement of your parents to become autonomous.
  • Geppetto is excited to have Pinocchio go out into the world as a real boy. He pushes him out the door to go to his first day of school. Geppetto has faith in his ability to do well in school and get along with the other kids.

Lecture 3

Marionettes and Individuals (Part 2)

  • In Pinocchio, the conscience (the cricket) is not perfect and has to learn too. The cricket represents the Freudian super-ego. It’s possible for the super-ego to be too tyrannical or relaxed.
  • The dove often represents the holy spirit.
  • Psychopaths believe that people who cannot see through their act are naive and stupid, so they deserve to be taken advantage of. The proclivity to be polite in a conversation is very strong. And if you’re polite, you don’t object to the way that a person unfolds their position. Watch Paul Bernardo being interviewed by policemen on YouTube.
  • Most people think they’re good people but in reality, they’ve just never been put in a position where they could be bad. You can see this when a riot forms—normal people transform into thieves, vandals, and assaulters.
  • Pedophiles don’t go after kids who are assertive and likely to be noisy.
  • People like Kim Kardashian because she represents that you don’t have to have any talents and you can be rich and famous.
  • Be wary of things that promise everything you want without the typical work necessary to get it. Even if you get it, you’ll lose it.
  • If you get fame quickly or without talent, the kind of audience you attract will not really care about you. You are just there for entertainment. So they will cancel you or ruin your life for their entertainment too. It’s not good for the psychological health of the performer. You become the puppet of the audience.
  • If you only have sycophants around you, you are doomed. You need people who will tell you what you don’t want to hear. Maybe it’s good that nobody’s a prophet in their own country then. You can always go back to your family and they’ll tell you exactly what’s wrong with you.
  • Gandhi read Tolstoy. Tolstoy developed the technique of non-violence that Gandhi used. Tolstoy stressed humility with non-violence.
  • The cricket (Pinocchio’s conscience) leaves when Pinocchio goes on to be a famous performer because he doesn’t think he’s needed anymore.
  • The lessons of Pinocchio:
  1. Don’t be an actor.
  2. Don’t lie
  • Do not do anything for anyone that they can do themselves. All that does is make them dependent and less competent.
  • Watch My Left Foot movie. The main character has cerebral palsy and can only move his left foot. His dad will not do anything for him and that allows the main character to learn how to do things on his own. Had he been catered to, he would have been useless. Fostering independence > too casual compassion
  • Watch Hitman Hart documentary.
  • It shows why some people like wrestling. Wrestling is a drama between good and evil that people with low IQs (some people have IQs so low that they cannot follow a movie or a novel—many people have never read a book to completion) can follow, understand, and enjoy.
  • Read Dostoevsky and Nietzsche simultaneously. They write about the same topics but Nietzsche is one level of abstraction higher. Nietzsche studied Dostoevsky’s work.
  • Some of the meaning of a novel is in the images that you create in your mind while reading it. Whenever you see a movie adaptation of a book, it is always less rich that the novel. Because your mind contains much more information than a movie can contain. The movie also has to try to compress a 12 hour book into 2 hours of screen time.
  • Admiration is an acknowledgment that someone is higher in a dominance hierarchy than you. You admire Elon Musk, for instance, because he is rich and a great engineer. You admire him because he is higher than you in the wealth and engineer hierarchies. This is also how men view respect—you only respect men who are at a certain level on a dominance hierarchy.

Lecture 4

Marionettes and Individuals (Part 3)

  • People who develop PTSD are often naive and then they encounter true evil.
  • Watch Breaking Bad it shows how someone who thinks of themself as “good” can become “bad” as soon as their situation changes.
  • Read Ordinary Men it’s the best (or only) book of its type. It’s plotted similar to Breaking Bad. Older German policemen who were “good” became “bad” under Hitler.
  • You’re not as amenable to propaganda after age 22.
  • The only way to ensure that a Holocaust doesn’t happen again is to understand the cultural signals that lead to it. If you simply remember the Holocaust as a historical fact and not the social movements that led to it, it does nothing to stop potential future occurrences. You have to understand the role of individuals within a society. Most people think that the Nazis were so different from them that there is no connection whatsoever. The right takeaway from what happened in Nazi Germany is: this is what humans are capable of and that is what you could be like if a bad situation were to present itself.
  • What is the discourse that precedes genocides? An increased sense of victimization on behalf of one of the groups, usually the group that’s going to commit the genocide. Their sense of victim status is heightened by demagogues who stir up their sense of hatred and victimization. Demagogues say something like, “You’ve been oppressed in a variety of ways, these are the people who did it, they’re going to keep oppressing us and this time we’re going to kill them before they kill us.” There’s something pathological about the enhancement of victimization.
  • The “best” movements are rooted in a partial truth. It works best if the group had been oppressed in the past but is no longer oppressed.
  • The whole truth: You can’t divide the world into oppressors and oppressed. We are all simultaneously perpetrators and victims. That’s characteristic of life, you can’t take it personally. How do you know your suffering is because of (1) your membership in an oppressed group or (2) the inherent suffering of life.
  • You cannot assume that you are only a victim. You cannot assume that being a “victim” gives you the right to retaliate—that gets bloody very quickly if history is any indication.
  • Soviet Union: In the 1920s and afterward, the Soviets were enamored with the idea go class guilt. 40 years previously, the serfs (slaves) had been emancipated. The serfs were the bulk of the Russian population. Many of them became independent farmers and some of them had become somewhat prosperous (for a peasant farmer). The best had a brick house and a few employees—far from massive landowners. These successful farmers produced most of Russia’s food (Pareto principle). When the communists came to power, they said that the small land owners were parasites. Predicated on the Marxist idea that if someone had made a profit in their business that they had basically stolen that profit from the people they employed. A member of the Kulak class was seen as guilty simply for being a member. The communists were sent out into the towns to find people who would help round up the Kulaks. Each town will have people who are happy that there are successful farmers who produce food for them to eat but there will be some people who are resentful and jealous of the successful—those people are the ones who want to round up the Kulaks. The communists tell the unsuccessful and resentful people that they are victims and that the Kulaks had been stealing from them. Of course, they eat this propaganda up and go to get revenge on the evil successful Kulaks. The Kulaks were sent on a train to Siberia where they had no food and barely any place to live. Millions died of freezing, starving, and typhoid.
  • This shows how the idea of victimization and perpetration can quickly lead to the death of millions.
  • People who use the victim card often say it’s because of empathy—“We’re speaking on behalf of the oppressed.” But it’s more likely that they just hate the group that they deem oppressors.
  • Meaning and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. If you shirk responsibility, your life will be meaningless.
  • If you let your child skip school because of health problems, they will develop a habit of shirking responsibility. You have to push a kid to their limits so that they can figure out what they can do if they work hard even when it’s difficult.
  • If you have something you don’t really want to do and you’re not feeling well, you might use your illness as an excuse to push it off. But if you do that 100 times, you won’t know how sick you are. You’ll delude yourself into thinking you’re more sick than you really are.
  • People who are not successful (especially if their failure is their own fault) hate being around others who are successful. They want to bring down the successful so that their tacit judgment does not make them feel bad. That’s the story of Cain and Abel. Cain kills Abel to destroy the ideal and to punish God.
  • 5% of criminals commit 95% of the crimes.
  • In The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn details how the ideologues and true believers of the communist party. They were thrown into the gulag too but they still justified it. They thought that they had been wrongly accused and that they were innocent. They couldn’t believe the reality of the ideology they took part in propagating. There was no helping these people, they were consumed by their ideology. You could predict everything they were going to say.
  • Anyone who still has their own voice is not fit for ideological slavery.
  • When you go from a bad place to a better place, you go to a worse place first.
  • That’s one reason why people are unwilling to take the first step in the right direction.
  • Why does your parent’s opinion matter more to you than some random person is is approximately the same age? There’s no reason to think that your parents have any insights. (Other than that they know you better.) They probably have no insights into success and even if they do, it’s probably outdated.
  • Your parents represent society and nature. But it’s like Harry Potter, he has the Dursleys and the Potters as parents. The Dursleys are your real parents and the Potters represent society and nature. Why would you listen to the Dursleys? As a kid, you see your parents as the ultimate beings—society and nature. But you have to get over that.
  • Most people have this realization when you ask your parents what you should do about X and it turns out that they don’t know any more about X than you do.
  • The only reason that you would stay under the tyranny of your parents is if they have all the answers. If the above never happens and they always have good advice for any situation.
  • Freud said that no one can be a man unless his father has died. Carl Jung said that the death can happen symbolically.
  • Being about to articulate yourself and make coherent, powerful arguments is the most useful thing you can do.
  • Your goal at university and in life is to become as articulate in writing, thinking, and speaking as you possibly can because that opens the door to everything that you’ll want to do in the future no matter what it is.
  • The more articulate person always rises to the top.
  • They can lay out the reason for doing something or not doing something, they convince people that they can grapple with potential obstacles, and they can defend their positions.
  • People who do not develop their persuasive speaking and critical thinking will become bitter and resentful. Being bitter and resentful is the precursor to being vengeful and mean.
  • The knights of the round table. The round table signifies that they are all relatively equal. The holy grail symbolizes the most valuable thing. Each knight decides to start looking for the holy grail at the part of the forest that looks darkest to him. That symbolizes that if what you’re doing isn’t working, the place you least want to go is where you need to go.
  • That’s the same idea as the dragon (where you least want to go) that hides the gold (the thing you want most).
  • It’s essential that you don’t try to get the gold without confronting the dragon. Any success without the proper work will be short-lived.
  • Peterson’s top story examples: The Lion King, the Bible, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Harry Potter, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid.
  • You can only find order by confronting the dragon. Facing the dragon doesn’t guarantee success. Many people die facing the dragon. But you have no choice and facing the dragon is your best bet. The earlier and more consistently you face the dragon the higher your chances of success. If you face it early enough, you can face a baby dragon rather than a fully developed dragon.
  • One of the symbols for christ is a fish. All of Christ’s followers are fishermen. Christ performs miracles with fish. Part of that symbolism is that you can pull fish up out of the depths. Christ is like a meta-fish. You can eat a fish today and be satiated for the day or you could become someone who can catch fish and eat on a continual basis. Is it better to have a fish or be a fisherman? Obviously, it’s better to be a fisherman because then you can get more fish but that takes sacrifice, delayed gratification, work, and responsibility. Receiving a fish today is more instantly gratifying and requires less work and responsibility but leaves you nothing in the future.
  • Humility means, “I still have something to learn.” Humility is the antidote to arrogance.

Lecture 5

Story and Metastory (Part 1)

  • 15:30 is interesting.
  • It’s not just your opinions that are biased. Your perceptions are also biased. You only focus on the facts that confirm what you want to know.
  • Understanding stories is one of the most important things you can do because they show you how to live properly.
  • Terror management people think that death is the fundamental problem.
  • Peterson thinks complexity is the fundamental problem. Death is a subset of the complexity problem.
  • Almost always, people with a mental illness really have a complexity problem that’s causing symptoms. They lost their job and their life savings and their spouse died, for example.
  • The most fundamental form of discrimination If choice of sexual partners.
  • In Huxley’s Brave New World, it’s rude not to have sex with anyone who wants to. The kids are born in labs and they don’t have parents. That’s the future of equality and inclusionary dystopia.
  • Many people with PTSD were betrayed or broken up with. Their brains will work to figure out what went wrong so that it doesn’t happen again. Especially if they’re conscientious. Conscientious people think that if something bad happens to them they must have been something they did. That’s a good idea because it assumes there’s something you can do to make the future better. But it’s bad because, for instance, if you had an 8 year relationship, it could have been anything you did over that 8 year period.
  • Differences in consciousness make for bad romantic relationships.
  • People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are liars. They will rationalize anything to get their drugs.
  • One of the best ways to regulate emotions is to not go places where extreme emotions will not be triggered.

Lecture 8

Neuropsychology of Symbolic Representation

  • There’s always a snake inside the walled garden. That means that there is always a negative aspect to something good. When you get a new job, for instance, that’s good but it will inherently have some negative aspects to it.
  • Female sexual selection is a big factor for why we evolutionarily split from chimpanzees. Chimpanzee females will mate with any male but human females will only mate with certain males.
  • Consciousness is not just cortical activity. If you remove most of the cortical structure in a person’s brain, they are still conscious.
  • IQ and conscientiousness predict career success but they have no correlation. Intelligence is an indicator of the effectiveness of abstraction. Conscientiousness is an indicator of the probability of implementation.
  • 2:10:00 is interesting. Biblical analysis of Moses in the desert and Jesus.
  • People need a father who can tell then that they can succeed.

Lecture 9

Patterns of Symbolic Representation

  • The Bible is an abstracted multi-generational analysis of which actions lead to success and failure. You want to be like Abel and not like Cain, for instance.
  • The context determines what the symbols mean. Ex) The sky can be attributed as masculine and the earth as feminine. But in a different context, the earth can be masculine when there is water representing feminine.
  • (44:30) What predicts relationship longevity? If a relationship has less than 5:1 positive to negative interactions, the relationship ends—too negative. If it’s higher than 11:1, the relationship ends—usually means that problems are being pushed under the rug until they explode.
  • A halo is the head illuminated by the sun.
  • Agreeableness predicts good grades even more than IQ and conscientiousness. Women are more agreeable on average. One of the things that is creating a difference between boys and girls in school is that the teachers prefer girls and give them better grades for the same work.
  • Agreeableness is useful in school but is a detriment in career.
  • Women who get into top positions in their career have to work 80 hours a week and be on-call at any moment. Virtually all women in this position quit when they’re 30 because who would want to do that? Even if it makes $250k a year
  • 1:20:00 Great explanation of why women (and most men) don’t want a high-stress $250k a year job. You work 24/7. You can’t have a life outside of work. You can’t have any relationships: no spouse, no friends, no kids.
  • The older you get (if you have any sense at all), the more important your family is to you.
  • It’s a real mistake not to have kids. It’s a barren future without them.
  • It’s very rare for a woman at the age of 30 to not have having a child as her primary desire. The exceptions have a very twisted world view. There are a small minority of masculine, disagreeable, not maternal women who really do not want to have children.
  • Most people don’t have careers, they have jobs.
  • The only chance you have at a “perfect” relationship is with your kids.
  • If you think you need more rights in 2022, you have a victim mindset. Take some responsibility and put the work in.
  • The usefulness of antidepressants in trials is iffy because it’s difficult to determine if the patient has a terrible life or if they’re chemically depressed. Largely, they work if the patent is chemically depressed and not if their life is in chaos.

Lecture 10

Genesis and the Buddha

  • 3 must-read books:
  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  2. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
  3. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • 2 books similar to Maps of Meaning:
  1. Symbols of Transformation by Carl Jung
  2. The Origin and History of Consciousness by Erich Neumann
  • ^They’re essentially the same books but trying to tackle the problem from different angles.
  • Jung, Freud, and Piaget thought that the birthplace of the myth was the dream.
  • The Bible was written by multiple people over a very long period of time. It was then aggregated by other people and sorted into a readable sequence. It’s more like a library of books put into one.
  • The Bible is not patriarchal because both men and women are created in God’s image. That means that both men and women can confront chaos and save their community.
  • The excuse that evil people use to justify their abuse of “good” people is victimhood.
  • The story of the Buddha is similar to the story of Adam and Eve.
  • Prince Guatama (Buddha) is sheltered from old age, sickness and death. This isn’t much different than what we do today—you wouldn’t show your kid Texas Chainsaw Massacre or take them to a funeral when they’re 3. But there will always be something dark that the kid sees, no matter how much you try to shelter them—it’s the snake in the Garden of Eden.
  • The Prince then sees an old man and that’s part 1 of his forbidden fruit. He has the knowledge of aging now. He goes home for 6 months and then goes back out and sees a sick man—now he knows he can get sick. Then he goes out and sees a dead man and now he knows of mortality.

Lecture 11

The Flood and the Tower

  • Why didn’t God kill Cain for killing Abel? Because Death wouldn’t be sufficient punishment. The punishment is that he has to live with what he did.
  • One of the reasons for the justice system is to punish the criminals of violent crimes so that the victims or family of the victims don’t retaliate.
  • If you can’t figure out what someone’s doing, look at the outcome and infer the motivation. — Carl Jung
  • All history is mythologized to some degree because only “heroes” (notable people) are selected to be written about.
  • Floods will always occur because of entropy. Things naturally decay over time.
  • Is your suffering because of entropy or willful blindness?
  • A nuclear war could be the next Noah’s ark flood that wipes everything on earth out except for the people who prepared.
  • You can’t build the State up beyond a certain size otherwise the people within the group will fragment because there’s no unity.
  • Rights don’t give life meaning. Having it easy doesn’t give life meaning. Responsibility gives life meaning.

Lecture 12

Final: The Divinity of the Individual

  • Science is about stripping off the subjective from the objective.
  • Is something lost when you remove the subjective?
  • Science can’t answer the fundamental philosophical questions or construct morality.
  • People act out archetypal myths whether they know it or not.
  • Adults can’t maintain their physical health unless they play. Not sure what that means.
  • Tyrants get killed by their subordinates.
  • People want a romantic partner who will push them to be their best over multiple decades. That’s why people who are too nice are unattractive. You want someone who will judge you for your limitations and push you to be better. You don’t want someone who thinks you’re perfect as you are.
  • Error is an infinite source of information.
  • How do societies become corrupt? One little step at a time. If no one speaks up, they become tyrannical.
  • You can’t just live in the moment and be a hippie. You first need to orient yourself towards becoming the best person you could be. Then live in the moment while staining that goal.
  • The “round chaos” that is the golden snitch in Harry Potter was in Carl Jung’s alchemy books and is only cited on Peterson’s website online.
  • (1:48:00) what you need to do in life.
  • Part of the “rescuing your father from the depths” myth is to reunite yourself with the traditional structures pf community.
  • The painting Tree of Life Flanked by Eve and Mary shows: A little knowledge of death destroys you. Full voluntary acceptance of death and suffering is the cure.
  • The painting summarizes the biblical stories.
  • Accept responsibility for the catastrophe of your life. Then you can transcend it. That’s what Abel did. That’s what Cain failed to do.
  • The Buddha transcends by accepting that life is suffering.
  • Don’t let what you are stop you from being what you could be.
  • Images of the Buddha have a reversed swastika on his chest. The Buddhist symbol means to accept at life is suffering and transcend. The Nazis wanted the opposite and that’s why their symbol is reversed.
  • You need to take time off. Either work fewer hours a day, take 4 extra days off a month, or take a sabbatical.
  • Different cultures throughout history and geography have come to the same conclusion: life is suffering. What do you do about that? (1) Voluntarily accept it. (2) Strive to overcome the suffering that’s a consequence of that. (3) You try to reduce suffering for yourself and others. How do you know that will work? The only way to find out is by trying. There are no guarantees. It’s your best bet.
  • You’re blind to your own weaknesses and strengths.
  • States and individuals based on tyranny are doomed to collapse. States and individuals based on improving themselves and others around them will (likely) succeed.