My critical notes on Jordan B. Peterson's books:
- 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
- Beyond Order: 12 More Rules For Life
I knew this professor from his lectures on behavioral biology recorded for Youtube. I thought back then he were a well-read down-to-earth educator. After reading his two books years later, I reject the proposition of him being an interesting philosopher. Here is why.
On 12 Rules for Life
My rating: 2 of 5 stars (January 22, 2019)
- the best parts of the book are some well known facts from behavioral biology, etc.;
- expresses well a few original thoughts;
- too much pathos, especially when he goes almost into tears in a couple of places (audiobook);
- his points are randomly illustrated by personal stories, excessively so;
- he tries to defend his current political standpoints loosely related to life in general - Peterson is smart enough to produce a better book, I still hope.
- his dark general outlook, being all over the place, unwillingness to take a stand on key points (e.g. no argument against Nietzsche's critique of Christianity, etc.), and his apparent believe in almost sacred nature of his own thought process - all make me less interested in his future works, even thought I used to enjoy the recordings of his university lectures several years ago;
- two places in the book were unpleasant to me: 1) where he expresses an opinion about his private client, 2) where he does not say the expected (metaphorically) "daughter of god."
On Beyond Order
My rating: 2 of 5 stars (July 4, 2021)
- messy philosophizing again;
- a few good observations are buried in tragic and defensive diluted prose;
- partially commonsensical, sometimes banal or tacky personal discoveries presented as innovative thinking;
- building social theories on politically curious examples;
- definitions and correlations mistaken for causation;
- and the most annoyingly to me personally, unwarranted buildup on ideas picked from Nietzsche and Dostoevsky, alone with a few valid clarifications, which makes it only more misleading for unsuspecting audience;
- Peterson's sweetened appeal to artists turns into patronizing belittling very fast - as if these mentally challenged avant-garde creatures should wait for people like Peterson to explain them what they created;
- the constant praise by the author to his own artistic taste, intelligence, and abilities of all sorts may let one believe that the book is designed to be a literary monument to Peterson himself.
In conclusion, I feel like Jordan Peterson had presented himself first as a science-respecting thinker, only to reveal later, encouraged by his popularity, his exalted faith in a traditional deity and the corresponding chunk of mythology and tradition that justifies his personal life choices.
I still respect his openness and willingness to address controversial topics. But his original ideas were not thought-provoking or enlightening to me. It was my mistake to read his second book.