Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules: My Thoughts - Steve Kaufmann

In Jordan Peterson’s book “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” the Canadian clinical psychologist offers life advice via 12 essays. Here’s where I agree and disagree with the ideas in the book.


Worlds colliding.

I’ve been a big fan of Jordan Peterson for a long time. I took his classes at the University of Toronto and they basically informed my whole worldview. It’s only comparatively recently that I’ve been interested in learning languages and lingQ, so anyway I find it extremely interesting that Steve is bringing this up.

I mean, I’ve noticed hints throughout Steve’s videos that he has a poor opinion of communism and instead values merit, competence, capitalism, and is basically proud of his country. I guess its not surprising that he would make a video where he comes out against virtue-signalling diversity-inclusion-equity ideology, but still I am happy that this has happened. I wonder if being outside of academia means Mr. Kaufmann is less affected by these initiatives and therefore less alarmed by them?

Um… one thing I find interesting in this video is something Steve says at around 9:20… how he’s aware of how objects that make his life better (like a camera) are the result of all kinds of people across the world working together to make objects like that possible. Steve makes this point in a way like he’s challenging JBP’s emphasis on individualism, but that sentiment actually ties in with peterson’s psychological worldview rather nicely. I don’t want to nerd out on psychology if no one here is actually interested, but in peterson’s model the world isn’t made out of objects, instead its made out of patterns, and those ‘objects’ we interact with in our daily lives are little patterns that express larger cultural and mythological patterns (IE a camera produced by a market economy and a camera produced by a command economy aren’t really the same sort of object).

Just to tie this back to language learning, its worth knowing that Peterson’s success as an author has resulted in his books being available in multiple languages, like this french edition:


I certainly agree with Steve on the diversity of views and also appreciate his comments against virtue-signalling diversity-inclusion-equity ideology. Personally, I found this book well worth reading, rather than just leafing through it. There is more to the chapters than what the phrasing of the rules might indicate.

One clarification might be useful. JBP does not suggest that chaos is feminine and negative, or that order is masculine and positive. He suggests that chaos is typically represented feminine and order is represented masculine. Both (chaos and order) have positive and negative sides (e.g. in chaos lies not only destruction but also potential). So one might aim for a balance between chaos and order (like ying and yang).
I suppose this can have very practical implications. For example, if at some point my life seems to be a bit too chaotic for my liking, some structure / order might be helpful. On the other hand, when my life is very well ordered, it might be time to intruduce some novelty (chaos / potential) in my life.

I am also a bit surprised that Steve got the impression that JBP would favour a patriarchical structure. I did not get such an impression. To my understanding however, JBP has spoken out about the inappropriate (mis-)characterization of the West as a tyranical patriarchy.

Back to languages: Some of the rules might also be useful to be seen through the lense of language acquisition. For example: ‘Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today’.


16 minutes is way too long for my Twitter- and Tik-Tok-currupted brain. Please somebody just tell me if Steve is going to be goose-stepping everywhere from now on.

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I think Steve did a good job of giving a wider perspective than just attributing a lot of things to “The West” and how the “West” hasn’t always been the same.

I think a lot of people over attribute both good and bad things to the “West” because of how dominant “Western” nations have been since the colonial times. “The West” didn’t invent all of science and technology and social progress out of nothing in a vacuum of course, like Steve points out. It didn’t invent conquest, slavery, subjugation of other nations and exploitation of other nations’ resources either. These are all things that had been happening all over the globe long before Western nations became dominant, just never on the same scale.

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