“It’s not that the world isn’t terrible. It’s that the world is terrible, but you’re a lot stronger than you think.”
– Jordan B Peterson
Personality and its Transformations 2016
Maps of Meaning 2015
Jordan B. Peterson is a tenured research and clinical PhD psychologist who currently teaches at the University of Toronto. He frequently appears on TVO [Canadian educational TV station] on various topics. His research interests include self-deception, mythology, religion, narrative, neuroscience, personality, deception, creativity, intelligence and motivation …
Peterson has produced a series of online writing exercises, available at www.selfauthoring.com. These include the Past Authoring Program, a guided autobiography; two Present Authoring Programs, which allow the user to analyze his or her personality faults and virtues in accordance with the Big Five personality model; and the Future Authoring program, which steps users through the process of envisioning and then planning their desired futures, three to five years down the road. The latter program was used with McGill University undergraduates on academic probation to improve their grades. [That program is not free of charge, but are not expensive either]
The Self Authoring programs were developed in partial consequence of research conducted by James Pennebaker …
Peterson published Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief in 1999, after working on the book for fifteen years. The book describes a comprehensive rational theory for how we construct meaning, represented by the mythical process of the exploratory hero, and also provides a way of interpreting religious and mythical models of reality presented in a way that fits in with modern scientific understanding of how the brain works. It synthesizes a large number of ideas drawn from narratives in mythology, religion, literature and philosophy, as well as research from modern neuropsychology.
Peterson’s primary goal was to figure out the reasons why individuals, not simply groups, engage in social conflict, and try to model the path individuals take that results in atrocities like the Holocaust or the Soviet Gulag. Peterson considers himself a pragmatist, and uses science and neuropsychology to examine and learn from the belief systems of the past and vice versa, but his theory is primarily phenomenological. Peterson deeply explores the origins of evil, and also posits that an analysis of the world’s religious ideas might allow us to describe our essential morality and eventually develop a universal system of morality.
The book is an encyclopedic examination of a wide range of thought and stories that illustrate the process by which meaning is created, often in complex and recursive ways, but all ultimately grounded in the basic heroic framework. The book draws heavily on C. G. Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Friedrich Nietzsche and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Also important to the book’s ideas are Jean Piaget, Mircea Eliade, Thomas Kuhn, Northrop Frye, Alexander Luria, Olga Vinogradova, Jeffrey Alan Gray, George Orwell, Erich Neumann, Antonio Damasio, Jerome Bruner, Joseph Campbell and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Literature and myth including the Bible, Shakespeare, Dante, Tolstoy, Goethe, Voltaire, Milton, Lao Tzu, Scandinavian myths, the Babylonian creation myth Enûma Eliš and the Egyptian creation myths of Osiris and Seth play a large part as well.