Twelve Principles for Life – Jordan Peterson

The sub-title of this book is “An antidote to Chaos”. This would actually make a much better title than the actual title. Twelve Principles for Life makes it sound like a run of the mill self-help book, which this is not. It is actually a fairly dense, philosophical discussion with liberal doses of biblical references and theories from Psychiatry – the author’s profession.

The book is indeed arranged in the form of 12 principles – each presented in the form of a deeply philosophical essay. The 12 principles are the authors philosophy on life and read like advice on everything from friendship, parenting, truthfulness, resilience, feminism, climate change and a myriad other topics.

The principles are worded such that the underlying meaning is not immediately obvious. For example, one of the principles is: Do not disturb children when they are skate- boarding. This is actually a discussion on modern feminism and follows up with advice on parenting.

To make his argument, the author relies heavily on biblical references. I found this very heavy going. I found most of the arguments self evident and did not need the biblical references to be convinced. So I did not get much from all the biblical discussion even when I resisted the temptation to skip whole sections.

This is one of those books, which I find interesting (at least in parts) while I am reading it. But I am really struggling to remember even the gist of the 12 principles. And this is immediately after finishing the book. Part of me thinks – what is the point? Perhaps, I have absorbed some bits that particularly resonated at a sub conscious level. Perhaps it all came to nothing at all. Should I even read such books at all?

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