Jordan Peterson has been on a speaking tour of Europe and the Anglosphere for most of the year 2018. On the surface, this grand tour of the western world is about promoting his latest book, Twelve Rules for Life. On a deeper level Peterson is reminding modern humans that their comprehension of meaning and social cohesion depends upon very old traditions, myths, and stories.
In addition to his “book promotion lectures,” Peterson is giving a large number of media interviews as well as appearing on university campuses to speak to groups of students — as in the above video at the Cambridge Union in England. So many appearances and interviews have been stuffed inside Peterson’s tour that one wonders when the professor has time to eat, sleep, and do the necessities.
Jordan Peterson is Making Big Waves
Back in January of this year, when Peterson’s book was just published and his interview with UK Channel 4’s Cathy Newman was beginning to attract attention, few would have expected Peterson’s speaking tour to become such a world phenomenon. But as the weeks and months went by, more and more cities were added to the tour so that what was meant to be a tour of a few dozen cities has morphed into an ongoing march across the world of the west — Europe, North America, and Australia/New Zealand.
More on the tour from Dr. Peterson:
I have now lectured publicly in 90 cities since the end of January 2018. I am going to visit Honolulu in late November and return to LA, Calgary and Vancouver in early December. About 250.000 people have attended the lectures, to date. The best of them will be posted as podcasts in the near future.
A return tour to Australia and my first trip to New Zealand is in the works for late February, and a sojourn to the remainder of Europe is planned for late March and all of April. I’m halfway through my current European tour, mostly Northern Europe and the UK… __ https://jordanbpeterson.com/events/
Jordan Peterson is Still Evolving
Professor Peterson’s best communications of meaningful ideas can be found in his classroom lectures on YouTube and in his books, 12 Rules for Life and Maps of Meaning. His university appearances are quite good — especially the one at Lafayette, the video above from the Cambridge Union, and a video at Harvard. His interviews with media and web podcasters are of mixed quality, but can be worth watching to see Peterson’s sleep-defying prowess.
As for Jordan Peterson’s evolution as a public figure, the best way to measure the change and growth is to compare early talks and interviews with later appearances.
Bottom Line: The Ability of Human Beings to Think
You can be excused if you believe that the Peterson phenomenon is about selling books. That is certainly a part of it, and many books — over 2 million so far — are being sold. But it is really about reminding human beings about who they are, how to think, and how they can live in the way they wish to live.
Today’s university students and graduates are not, on the whole, being given these necessary tools of life. Instead universities, governments, and the news & entertainment media at large are doing their best to muddle the ability of people to comprehend and deal with the world unfolding around them.
And so a huge hole in the world has opened up as a result of the designed failure of modern social institutions to prepare human beings to set and meet rational goals of personal fulfillment.
Personal meaning and fulfillment is what Peterson’s lectures are about. Out of personal meaning and fulfillment, social meaning and fulfillment arise. In reality, the social and the personal entwine and evolve together.
The Mainstream Wants a Different Outcome Than Does Peterson
In the world of mainstream pseudointellectual “thought,” if there were no miscomprehension, there would be no comprehension at all. Or so seems the thrust of modern “education,” media, government, and other social institutions.
You have other choices, and had best make them in as informed a manner as possible.
Having discovered Peterson in 2016 I feel like a veteran Peterson follower. I did buy and read 12 Rules For Life and did see his Minneapolis public appearance in June 2018 (packed housed). In other words I’m a fan – clearly.
I told my wife I think he will go down in history as a 21st century CS Lewis. We shall see, my hope is that he doesn’t burn out – or worse flame out. In a sense he is selling the idea that amid the suffering and pain and malevolence tainted life we all live we won’t find meaning in being a weak insufferable victim screaming about our rights, but rather taking on the responsibility that will make our lives and those around us better. Common sense, yes, but it’s not being sold anywhere expect by this guy.
Life is hard, then you die. It is much harder for some than for others, but we are all stuck on the same leaking ship in a storm.
Taking on responsibility is central, as you say, and Peterson explains very well how doing so will help inject meaning and purpose into a person’s life — in the face of opposition and malevolence.
But it is often overlooked that Peterson speaks out strongly against ideology. Those who do not know the important differences between philosophy and ideology will likely miss the significance of Peterson’s message here. Anyone who has studied history without an ideological bias will soon begin to understand Peterson’s point, however. Whenever humans start to build something that looks like it has any kind of a future, ideology takes over like a mafia don, sucking all the profits and the meaning out of what might have been something great.
Until recently, it has seemed that humans cannot live without some dictator (Putin, Xi, Islamic clerics, etc.), king, or grand wizard ideologue — or committee — to tell them what to think and what to do. Look at the pathetic snowflakes on university campuses. They have to consult the daily talking points to understand what they are supposed to be protesting against today. They do not even understand the ideology to which they are enslaved.
It took Peterson decades to understand how to read mythology in the context of the human mind and its drives/needs. He is still learning, still testing, still writing — and through it all is touring the world testing his ideas and his work against some of the most skeptical and antagonistic sectors of human society.
It seems as if he is growing stronger as he takes to the road, somehow finding a way to put more work in a day, day after day, than most people could imagine doing.