Brief Review – Jordan’s 12 Rules for Life

Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life

Finished today

Definitely worth the read.

Don’t agree with it all, and it definitely can get one thinking.

Rule 6 is one that doesn’t sit well with me, and it does point in the general direction of something.
“Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world.”
I don’t think the idea of “perfect order” is a valid one.
And certainly, the idea of being as sorted as possible, of being really confident that you haven’t missed something obvious and important (or even something subtle and important) – is a good idea – and not at all easy to achieve.

And I do really align with the ideas expressed on the second last page of that chapter (page 158 of the paperback) “Your entire Being can tell you something that you can neither explain nor articulate. Every person is too complex to know themselves completely, and we all contain wisdom that we cannot comprehend.” The more I understand about the complexities of the systems that we are made of, the more true that statement seems to me.

And I don’t criticise existence itself, just some of the systems we are currently using in our human societies.

Rule 7 – “pursue what us meaningful (not what is expedient)” I have a few issues with some of the ideas. To say “life is suffering” doesn’t sit well with me. Sure, pain happens, shit happens, and we all have a tendency to dwell on it, and suffer as a result, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

On Page 195 of Rule 7 he is writing of the Jungian idea of the psyche being the battleground of ideas and states “An idea has an aim. It wants something. It posits a value structure.” …. “An idea is a personality, not a fact. When it manifests utself within a person, it has a strong proclivity to make of that person its avatar: to impel that person to act it out. Sometimes, that impulsion (possession is another word) can be so strong that the person will die, rather than allowing the idea to perish.”

That is certainly true in many different senses, and it is also wrong as written.

Certainly, many beliefs, even small differences in belief, as between religious sects for example, have lead to wars and deaths – each side invoking the same god to aid their righteous fight, if perhaps in a slightly different fashion.
In the last 7 years, since curing myself of terminal cancer, I have seen many people who would rather die than change an eating habit – and have done so.
Many wars are faught in the name of nationalism, though the real reasons are rarely those spoken of openly or publicly.

So yes – ideas, and the patterns of which they consist can become so embedded in a brain, that they cause the death of the individual so infected.

But the idea itself doesn’t “want anything”, doesn’t have “an aim”, and those are certainly analogies that work in trying to get some sort of a handle on what complex sets of ideas can actually do to us – how they “possess” us.

And rule 8 seems to me to be the most important one – “Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie” – which to me has recursive depth in that as speakers we need to be responsible for how our words will probably be interpreted by the many different sorts of paradigms present out there in the world.
There are many different levels of conscious intellectual understanding possible (the set does not seem to have any limit), and as Jordan notes in many other places, we are all far more complex than we can possibly understand in anything other than the very broadest of brush stroke sketches. We are, and must always be, a mystery to ourselves in many different ways.

An interesting work.
Some very practical ways of making life work, long term, for everyone. Much of it made very real by very personal examples.
Well worth reading.
Well worth taking the time to think deeply about.


[The rules:
1/ Stand up straight with your shoulders back

2/ Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

3/ Make friends with people who want the best for you

4/ Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today

5/ Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them

6/ Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world

7/ Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

8/ Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie

9/ Assume the person you are listening to might know something you don’t

10/ Be precise in your speech

11/ Do not bother children when they are skate boarding

12/ Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street


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Ailsa’s post of things to throw away

50 things to throw away for instant decluttering

Many things in there that need to go, many duplicates – some things that I’d rather keep.

Some old books are worth keeping.

Some old clothes are there for unusual activities (like ties, lab coats, vests, etc).

Knowing how long food will keep well for, and being strict about rotating it so new always goes to the back, so old is used first, so that what is lost in freshness has value in the resilience offered by a well stocked pantry. So much in life is made up of choosing an appropriate balance between such competing claims of benefits now, verses benefits at some time of need in the future.

And the more one is prepared to explore some domains of the unknown and chaos, the more one must achieve some sort of psychological balance between the unknown and the known, and sometimes that can be achieved by keeping something simply because it is known and familiar – and that can be very important – personally.

So yes – there is certainly some sense in this list, and it isn’t always necessarily appropriate – context can be very important.

[followed by]

Our language, our culture, our being, is founded in ideas with holes in them. All knowledge, all culture, is essentially the mythic “tyrannical father”, that which worked in the past, but isn’t necessarily suited to the ever changing present or future. Eternally the past is some simple model that worked then, but maybe not now. And the rate of change is itself exponentially changing in our present.

Life at every level seems to be that which finds a workable balance between order and chaos. Too much order and nothing changes, things become fixed, brittle, boring, fragile and easily damaged. Too much chaos and order cannot sustain itself.

At every level, from simple replicating molecules to the most abstract of conscious thought (and in all the 20 or so levels of cooperative complex adaptive systems in between that enable us to be what we are), finding a balance between order and chaos, between the known past and the unexplored territory of the future, seems to be essential.

We must explore the unknown, to find solutions to the existential terrors we already know about, yet the unknown may conceal dangers too. So there can never be perfect security, and the more friends we have, to rescue us when we need rescuing, to help us clean up when we really make a mess of things, the better we all are.

Modern automated systems give us many abilities to eliminate many of the problems that have plagued humanity since time immemorial, and they cannot ever be free of risk.
To live is to have the risk of death.

So it becomes incredibly complex, as individuals can be many levels apart in the way they look at existence, in the models we make of it, in the directions and actions we see as most likely to deliver the greatest benefit to all over the longest time. Sometimes it can almost seem like existing in different universes.

[followed by to Helen’s missing pieces comment]

I challenge that idea Helen.
We are all so complex that our own perceptions of ourselves can only ever be a very low resolution model – a simple caricature in a sense.
We are what we are, each and every one of us, and in every case it is far more than we think, and we can always improve ourselves, and it does pay to acknowledge that we are profoundly complex entities in doing so.

I just finished reading Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules for life this morning, and one of the last things to capture my full attention in a book packed with such things, was the idea that anyone claiming to have found enlightenment is to be treated with great caution, while those seeking it are to be welcomed and attended to. We, and the world we exist in, seem to be so profoundly more complex than our simplistic rational consciousnesses can conceive of, that it often pays to treat all claims of “Truth” with caution, even as we attend closely to the lessons others have to teach, and the lessons our own subconscious minds keep trying to get past the barriers we or culture impose.

Accepting that we are whole as we are, and we can all improve when we can find the energy, and often the demands of daily survival don’t leave a lot of that around, seems to be an essential part of the journey.


[followed by]

I got so many bits cut out it’s amazing I function at all – LOL – and I’m still here, still aiming at my star, taking one step at a time, in the full knowledge of how far away stars are.

[followed by]

It seems to me that clutter can be a barrier to progress when progress is required, and nothing is clutter in and of itself, only in respect to the impedance it provides to specific rates and directions of travel. One person’s clutter can be another’s essential insulation.

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Free Will again – Trick thread continues

Trick’s Free will site again

rom ask – how does chaotic molecular behaviour give us free will

Hi rom,

It all comes down to the nature of the freedom involved.

I acknowledge that form requires boundaries.

I acknowledge that communication and degrees of influence must exist.

It all comes down to how hard is the connection in causal terms.
Can degrees of randomness give us sufficient isolation from the hard stream of causal influence to give us some useful approximation to freedom?

It seems to me that the answer is yes.

[past trick’s 500 character limit]

And it can never be a hard separation – there must remain boundaries and influences, and they need not be of a hard causal nature. Kind of the mirror image of Shannon meets von Neumann. To me, it is something von Neumann seemed to be pointing to in his Silliman lecture (that he never got to deliver).

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Cow Pies

Cow Pies – The Smell of Money

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever bet on?

Hi Laurie

I have bet much of my life on the idea that indefinite life extension will become generally available while I am still breathing, and have devoted much of my time, energy and limited resources to thinking through ways we might successfully transition from scarcity based thinking to abundance based thinking – universally.

I have been called mad for doing so.

Time will tell.

If I’m wrong, it will have been a lot of gratification delayed indefinitely.

If I’m right, then a lot of gratification awaits in a very long future.

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UBI is Inevitable

Basic income is going to reach mainstream politics.

This is an extremely complex issue.

UBI is not in itself any sort of long term stable solution, and it may be an effective part of a transition strategy from scarcity based thinking to abundance based thinking.

And there are real issues. Giving a drug addict $1500 at one time is probably a death sentence. Putting $18 in their account every 8 hours would probably be survivable. Specifics and contexts matter.

I have been writing about UBI and its many complexities for a long time – one example:

A search on that site will bring up lots of others.

Markets worked reasonably well when most things were genuinely scarce. Now that fully automated systems are making new classes of goods and services potentially universally available at an exponentially increasing rate – markets, with their scarcity generated measurement of value in exchange, fail to deliver sufficiently accurate information for them to perform many of the very complex and necessary functions that they performed in the past – like distributed information processing, distributed governance, distributed trust networks, distributed risk management, etc.

We need new mechanisms to deliver those vital functions, and we need to distribute sufficient material resources and freedom to everyone that a sense of justice is present universally. And freedom must acknowledge the necessary boundaries required to sustain the sorts of complexity present in us and the natural environment, and thus comes with responsibilities. One cannot separate freedom from responsibility without instantiating existential level risk (not at any level).

So I am a yes to UBI, but not to it being any sort of long term panacea, just to it being a useful transition strategy in the short to medium term, as we move beyond the existing systems.

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Enough Money

February 22-28 ’18 ~QofDay~ Enough Money

If you received enough money to never need to work again, what would you spend your time doing?

I would spend about half the year doing much what I am now in Kaikoura, and about half going to international conferences and governance bodies lobbying people to start doing the work necessary to replace our market based system with one based in universal abundance and universal respect for individual life and individual liberty, which must include the notion of acting responsibly in social and ecological contexts.

We have the technology to support universal abundance fairly well on track.

What is missing is the social systems.

And it is doable.

And it needs doing – soon.

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Product of the world

March1-7 ’18 ~QofDay~ Product of the World/Society

Do you believe you are a product of the world and/or society?

Has it really been a month since I visited? – Seems so.
So much happening here in Kaikoura.

And this is such a deep question.
I wrote a piece a few weeks ago about a modern understanding of the nature of understanding:

It isn’t simple.

We are not simple.

We are the most complex thing that we have reasonably accurate and repeatable records of.

Of course we are in part the product of the world, as the world is a product of the universe.
Of course we are influenced by the cultures of our upbringing, and all the traces of all the physical and intellectual aspects that remain of all the work of all the people who have come before us.

And we are capable of extending ourselves and our capabilities with tools, and some of us do this more so than others.

And once one starts to explore possibility, potential in a sense, then there are no limits to the searches possible, only to what may be achieved in any given time.

All pattern requires boundaries to maintain itself.  So there are real and necessary limits to freedom, and they need not be restrictive.   Becoming as aware as possible of the necessary limits is actually amazingly empowering.

So yes all of these things are influences, and it does seem that we do have something else, something that is not hard causal connection to the past, but is a much more context sensitive balance between order and chaos – that we often call freedom or creativity.

So yes the influences are very definitely there, and are absolutely required, and what they make possible is something quite profound – a creative human being with very high degrees of freedom.

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