Review of 12 Rules for Life

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  • Controversial
  • Engaging
  • Inspiring


Clinical psychologist and university professor Jordan B. Peterson draws from religion, philosophy, neuroscience and anthropology to formulate “12 rules” for living a meaningful life. He believes that if people don’t uphold a hierarchy of values, they will fall into paralysis and, consequently, despair. Jordan is well-read, brilliant and unafraid to address complex issues in a sharp, readable voice. His rules seem familiar because many derive from Christian ethics – which, Peterson says, inform overall Western culture – most notably the duty to accept suffering and to alleviate it. Jordan sees culture as part of biological evolution and therefore inescapable. He also has faith. This may undermine his thinking for certain readers and make it seem like gospel for others. Readers may be daunted by his references to God and philosophy, not to mention his controversial remarks about men and women – such as in Rule 11 – and his thoughts on using force to discipline children. Peterson rarely lapses into academic jargon and never lacks sincerity. Throughout, his message is clear: You must accept responsibility for your own life. Peterson bravely and confidently attempts a blueprint to help you do just that.

About the Author

Clinical psychologist and University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan B. Peterson, PhD, also wrote Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. His lectures on myth and personality are popular on YouTube.


The “12 Rules”

To engage in the world and make it a better place for yourself and others, Jordan Peterson insists you must put your own house in order, determine your aims in life, confront your fears and live in truth. Those are lofty goals and humankind has fought to achieve them since the dawn of consciousness. Peterson has neither the first nor last words on these topics, but he has carefully read most authors who preceded him on this quest and reflects their wisdom. To follow that path, he urges you to abide by these 12 rules:

“Rule 1: Stand Up Straight with Your Shoulders Back”

Peterson asserts that lobsters have simple brain chemistry compared with humans, but the two species show remarkable similarities. In both, serotonin levels regulate confidence, as needed in the battle for dominance. Adaptability to adversity determines evolutionary success for both species and, according to scientometrics researcher Derek J. de Solla Price’s law of unequal distribution, succeeding in this quest guarantees further success. The principle applies to those of lowly and of high status: If things are bad, they’re probably going to get a lot worse. This is known as the “ever-present dominance hierarchy.”

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    C. S. 5 months ago
    Overall the summarization hits the crucial points but I too see a lot of bias and commenting on the content from the author of the summary. Therefore thumbs down for this service im testing.
    • Avatar
      Karen Londo 5 months ago
      Thank you for your feedback.
      As noted below in response to other comments for this title, Our Senior Managing Editor, has noted that this is not our summary of the book, but rather our Review. We publish reviews while we wait for secure publication Rights. We hope that you will take the time to look further at our Summary library content and find other pieces that you will like. We will take another look at this review for further consideration. Thank you
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    F. S. 5 months ago
    I find the review improvable. There is no consistency in the approach of summarizing the books message: sometimes the content is summarized without reference to the author (e.g. Rule #12) and other times it refers to the author by stating "Peterson insists", "Peterson assures".
    More specifically, there is one statement that is bad style to say the least, with borderline sarcasm: "Peterson assures you that you can help the world become a better place."
    Looking at the track record of Dr. Peterson it is evident that he positively impacts thousands of predominantly (young) men all around the world. I'd really wish that the commentator would take this into consideration because it is a great book with a great message!
    • Avatar
      Erica Rauzin 5 months ago
      Thanks for your feedback. I have gone through the review to clarify the point of view. Since this is a review, where in we talk about the book, and not a summary, which is a condensation of the book, you are quite correct that the viewpoint matters, a notable facet of a review, and must be consistent throughout. I do not believe we intended any sarcasm, but I've recast that sentence to remove any such inference. Thank you very much, E. Rauzin, Senior Managing Editor, getAbstract
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    R. P. 9 months ago
    Good advices accumulated in a wrong way, author could have used a lot much simpler vocabulary to make it easy to understand and apply in life. Summary maker should also try to make it simpler. And not just pick up Word-bla-blas from the book.
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    R. t. 1 year ago
    The opinion of another ringing throughout the summary. I have no desire to hear any opinion other than the authors, that is not your duty. Also, "ok boomer" is not an argument, that comment was nothing more than emotional fuled idiocy.
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      Erica Rauzin 1 year ago
      Thanks for your comment. When we can secure summarization rights from a book's publisher, we write an abstract with no opinion, except in our proprietary recommendation paragraph. However, when we can't secure the rights (or can't secure them yet...), we write a review because commentary doesn't require rights. This is the best way to bring our readers a well-rounded selection of important and useful books. Whether in reviews or summaries, we work equally hard to make sure our reporting of the book's content is accurate. In reviews, we react to that content as well as reporting it. And we never say, "Ok, boomer."
      E. Rauzin, Senior Managing Editor, GetAbstract
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    C. L. 1 year ago
    Clear bias shows through in this review, calling the author's age and life experiences into question, all because the reviewer disagrees with the author's opinion. <br> <br>I was under the impression this service handled content reviews objectively. Makes me question quality of other reviews.
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      Erica Rauzin 1 year ago
      Thank you for your comment. We have reviewed the review, and we don't find that it calls Peterson's life experiences into question in an inappropriate way. The review says that Peterson, like all of us, brings his experiences to bear in forming his philosophy.
      However, we did make one editing adjustment in response to your comment. When the review said that Peterson shows his "age," I believe the better construction, and the reviewer's more precise meaning, would be to say that he shows a "dated attitude" in his comments about gender roles. And, the reviewer notes, this is a rare lapse.
      We understand that readers won't agree with every opinion in a review, but the reporting about the book's content is solidly factual, and the opinions are clearly stated as such. We do want them to be fair, however, and we appreciate that you called our attention to a statement that could be misconstrued. We don't ever want to be sexist, and we don't want to be ageist either. Thank you for your feedback. We appreciate it. E. Rauzin, Senior Managing Editor, getAbstract
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      Christopher LaChance 1 year ago
      Thanks for for replying and acting so quickly! Makes me feel better about quality for sure.