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Jordan's 12 Rules - 1 to 6
Before I begin this I must categorically say that Jordan is not someone to follow - he is dangerous. But having said that there is much that is worth considering. In my consideration of his 12 rules I am using him as a foil, not to believe, not to follow, but to help me understand myself. If you feel in tune with yourself, don't reject him, use him as a foil to help you learn - but at the same time don't trust his interpretations.
Here is an animated summary of the 12 rules.
Of course it is much more informed to listen to the original, and I am listening to this.
I have begun to sense a pattern that might well get repetitive. And it can be summed up as nature vs nurture, why not both? Jordan began by discussing the hierarchy of lobsters which he associated with levels of serotonin. This rang the mind-brain frustration I have with science intellectuals, we are chemicals and not consciousness!!!
But then he said this hierarchy was in humans and not a socio-cultural construct, and he got a huge cheer. Why? And I began to think PC-authoritarianism again. Is there a censorship in uni that demands socio-cultural constructs for society? I hope not. In 10 years time, will the Peterson creed mean that when Marx stands up and says there is a socio-cultural element there will be a cheer? Academia is directed by those in charge, perhaps those with socio-cultural directives have been misusing power.
Nature/nurture can never be answered as either/or, there is a spectrum; science and perhaps social science wants one answer. How foolish!! When has nature ever been either/or?
Rule 1 Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
Hierarchy and emotion are connected. For example "Teacher can't be wrong". Teachers are scared to admit they don't know because then their status is vulnerable.
Dominance hierarchy - then he says not to use the word "dominance" because of "Marxist influence". He says that in a valid hierarchy you move up based on competence, as opposed to moving up based on power. He used the word competence hierarchy. Which are our hierarchies? He did not say but there was a tacit suggestion that our hierarchies are competence-based. He concluded this bit by saying "smart hard-working people succeed", and this was a good measure of society. No wonder he is the darling of the 1% if he says this. If our society is such that the smart hard-working people succeed, then society does measure up well - especially if moral is included. But is this true?
I have no doubts at all that fundamentally our society is based on competence hierarchy is a crock, I am so convinced of that I immediately think Peterson is a waste of time. I have no objections to saying "SOME smart hard-working people succeed", but I will equally say "SOME smart hard-working people do not succeed". I will also say that there are wealthy people who have not climbed up the hierarchy but who have inherited position, and that amongst these wealthy privileged there are lazy people or people not so smart but who stay in those positions because of family power or the like. Peterson would not have this, I think.
So what is the distinction between the two smart hard-working categories? Conditioning. The successful are those who are conditioned into accepting wealth as a measure of success irrespective of war, environmental disaster and exploitation of people. Maybe those who do not "succeed" are those whose morality or level of conditioning makes them want to help others.
Jordan claimed he was not right-wing, this hierarchy discussion puts that contention up for debate. If you equate smart and hard-working with success and claim your society is that, how close is that to fascism where it is understood that war, environmental disaster and human exploitation are allowable if wealth accrues.
I sense a need to warn, this guy could be seriously dangerous.
"It is better to be born 3 sd above the mean in intelligence than it is to be 3 sd above the mean in wealth in relation to where you are at 40."" This sounds like a crock as well. Apart from debating intellectual measures of intelligence, what the hell does this mean? Is he not just fanning academic egos??
He then went on to "how to present yourself" saying you don't want to disgrace yourself in the way you present yourself. This can sound reasonable but it could also be a recipe for imprisonment by image. He expounded on this presenting, and I felt throughout there was this dilemma. It is the rationale of the flyboy or conman who fronts it out, they know image wins.
If you lack confidence then image helps, but where is the truth? Or his word where is the competence?
Rule 2 - Treat yourself like you would treat someone you love.
Reciprocity - work out how you would like people to treat you, and treat them in that way. In that way you hope they will treat you better. Avoid treating people better than treating yourself.
He describes this chapter (rule) as a meditation about ourselves, because we know all our own defilements. But he doesn't draw the obvious conclusion. If we minimise our defilements then we have to be happy with ourselves. And the truth with this is we cannot lie about our sila and our defilements - we cannot hide from them. Why doesn't he draw this conclusion? Whys doesn't he say there needs to be a moral imperative in our lives, an imperative that we can live with?Perhaps it's too hard a reality, or perhaps he can't face his own ego and the moral consequences of an ego in control??
He does say you have a moral obligation to take care of yourself but he doesn't say you have to live as morally as possible. We have a light and we have to bring it into the world.
Rule 3 - Make friends with people who want the best for you.
Keep friends who don't drag you down. Sangha. Obvious - nothing really said.
Rule 4 - Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, and not with who someone else is today.
Most things are normally distributed. Why are creative products pareto distributed - negative exponential? He calls this a fundamental fact. Note he uses the word products - and not creativity. In terms of creative products there are many economic factors especially publishing market mechanisms that focus publication on a few - little of which is actually based in creative quality.
Rule of thumb for companies - 20% of company do 80% of work?? What sort of rule of thumb is this? Square root rule - in a domain square root of employees do half the productive work, he call this a rule - claims it is iron-clad. How can this possibly be true? He says it applies to a mass of stars and size of cities. In terms of population in cities is this not an effect rather than a cause? Other than people liking to protect each other - fear, aren't cities effects of economy and war - rather than some "rule of thumb" principle?
Matthew principle discussed in wiki - taken from the Gospels Matthew 25:29. "For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."" It is called by Peterson a principle, yet it is also called an effect, 3rd description "the Matthew effect of accumulated advantage". This is pareto - negative exponential.
All of these are "rationales" - not scientific studies - that point to natural inequality. There is natural inequality, and the Matthew effect might well apply - especially with regards to economy and the market. But in a compassionate society, don't we work against such tendencies? Shouldn't we recognise that economy and the market exacerbate inequality, and work towards greater fairness? Greed is a human tendency, shouldn't compassion work against greed rather than accepting it?
He claims you have the diagnosis wrong if you blame capitalism, capitalist economics and market mechanisms exacerbate natural inequalities and effects. We do not kill because we have better weapons, or do we?
He explains this pareto effect (pareto is a better word for the distribution than negative exponential - traitor to British language ) as concerned with opportunity. Successful writing attracts opportunity. But what is the success? Quality of writing or saleability. Doris Lessing or Barbara Cartland? So much of what he describes as success is limiting? Dead artists becoming profitable, the creativity is not rewarded economically but the quality is there irrespective.
To be fair to him he did say that we should do something about it, but he also said "we don't know what". As an anarcho-socialist I would say "apply socialist principles to overcome these tendencies", but the anarcho in me says that communist states such as USSR or Maoist China are not appropriate. These were "communist-party dictatorships", and are not appropriate. But Jordan should note that the extreme authoritarianism that they went to were more as a response to western interference as to any "communist" principle.
"We don't know what" is fair but what is he doing to redress the pareto? I would argue his fierce individualism and anti-socialism is moving things in the wrong direction. He wants the system adjusted but not collapsing, a collapse that he claims occurred in USSR and Maoist China.
How much inequality is needed to generate wealth? Good point (but again all he appears interested in is wealth). Individual drive (ambition) is important, and evidently apathy was an issue in the USSR (and presumably China) - ask Gorbachev (Perestroika or Glasnost). But what harm is done to society if creativity and status combined (ambition) is only concerned with wealth.
"There are better people around". Of course there are, and he describes human emotional responses to this - jealousy etc. Roommate was Elon Musk - what a comparison; very good. He discussed ideals and realistic goals - staggered goals; again quite sound. This is the enlightenment issue in the spiritual world, how many look for enlightenment (without really knowing what it is), fail in terms of their false expectations, and give up. This is where I like the 4th agreement - always do the best you can":-
This is mixed ability, it is not goal-oriented, it is not comparison with Elon Musk, it is personal and based on what you can do. It just needs mental discipline - just .
Even when he compares with "yesterday person" he still says have a goal of "aiming high"; I don't accept this. Doing the best you can works. But in what direction - aim? My answer - compassion; his answer - wealth and status, I presume. I would claim that the answer for all is compassion because if you move beyond (ego, conditioning, etc) there is compassion - presence. Sadly Jordan hasn't done that, would that he had!!
He talks of "incremental improvement} producing pareto consequences; interesting.
Rule 5 - Don't let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
Interesting. He thought he would get in the most trouble for this rule. Not my arena. ?
He talked about being a monster, and training the kid to disappear if in a bad mood - excellent. But he described success in training kids from 0-4 if other kids want to play with them. Training for conformity - aaaggggghhh! I don't want to train for conformity nor train for non-conformity, but train for who they are. I was wrong about what he was getting at. He was talking about training kids to know how to play. From the literature if you can't play with people at 4 you are screwed for life. I don't want conformity but I want play at 4 - maybe conformity comes later.
Rule 6 – Set your house in order before criticising the world
There are so many people in the "blame culture" who are so far from their true selves they have no idea. Rather than going inside they blame the world, and because they haven't gone inside they make matters worse.
But surely there has to be a corollary, "don't let the world off the hook". I am repeating myself - as I knew I would, he doesn't pay sufficient attention to what the world does to you. I surmise this comes from his background as a clinical psychologist. How many people does he meet who haven't come to terms with themselves, and turn that into blame. Getting rid of the blame and making people face themselves has got to be good for those people. But that should not make it a rule for all. How many people have gone along the road of facing themselves, and they get zapped by the system? Should they not blame? Should they get stuck in blame? No, they need to learn how to move on. Should they withdraw blame from the system? Definitely not because the system will do it to someone else. Follow your own path including making legit criticism of the system.
Solzhenitsyn had Hitler and Russia to blame but in his book "The Gulag Archipelago" he examined himself - excellent. The book was his way of criticising the system - positive, and Peterson erroneously attributes the book as being a significant contribution in bringing down the wall - I am sure it made a contribution.
Interesting to note that the Columbine kids were judging "being", and said it had gone wrong, and that they wanted to wipe it out. I cannot rely on Jordan's interpretations and should read about this - maybe. But he derided the "bullying" theorists, it sounds as if some snowflakes have ignored what the kids said, and put it all down to bullying.
Jordan wants us to examine our resentments, and use them as pointers to conduct. I like this. Listen to your resentment and look at your fantasies that resentment gives as a way out. Either you are whining, so shut up. Or someone is being a tyrant, and you need to act. Resentful people are not to be trusted, this is true as with all who act out of emotion.
There is much for me to consider in resentment. I deeply resent the system, my compassion recognises that the system kills my fellow human beings. Should you then distrust me? No, because I have found my path and compassion, and my resentment comes from that compassion. The issue is not the resentment but whether I have attached to that resentment creating imbalance ... and therefore misjudgment, poor action, and someone not to be trusted. Because resentment of the system is significant in my life, it must therefore be part of my meditation to consider whether and how much I am attached to that resentment. Thank you, Jordan, for bringing that to my attention.
But there is a corollary meditation for Jordan and his ilk who avoid consideration of blaming the system. How much of an imbalance in judgement is being caused by failure to attribute legitimate blame to the system?
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