This blog posting is my personal reflection on the second chapter of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson’s book, 12 Rules for Life.
This chapter starts off poorly enough, so poorly in fact, that it’s enough to make one think the whole damned chapter might be a waste … with a much less than compelling story that begins by SWALLOWING the assumption that people or pets who are prescribed medication should take those pills … or that taking a medication is some sort of necessity or that there aren’t other far better options than following the Standard-Of-Don’t-Really-Care that drives most pill prescriptions. But EVENTUALLY the chapter gets around to redeeming itself with a discussion of chaos, order and consciousness and the stories of Cain and Abel, Noah and the Tower of Babel. So why not just START with that discussion? Well, the “Where in the hell is he going with this stupid story?” style of meandering monologue is, after all, Peterson’s style and something that readers like me find especially endearing, if not more honest and frank … but there’s practical point to his style — it serves the point of reminding those of us who want to “cut to the chase” of the lesson in Chapter 9, Assume That Person You Are Listening To Might Know Something You Don’t. Beyond just listening to the facts or key points, we should always try to respect and understand the communication style of the person we are listening to.
The world of human experience has primal constituents which are the necessary elements whose interactions define the drama, fiction and scripture which are responsible for MOVING us to shape our experiences. One of these is experiential processes is the chaos we experience, another is the order that we either make or crave and the third is the experiential process that mediates between these perceived states of chaos and order, which is what we call consciousness. A proper understanding of what consciousness is and how we ourselves are responsible for it is the only real way out of the realm of despair, nihilism and failing to care for ourselves, especially our mental or emotional well-being, properly.
Chaos can just be a source of angst, of not knowing who the hell we are or where we’re going or why we should bother getting there … but chaos can also be the formless potential from which we are directed [by our Creator’s example] to shape what we want to see in the world … chaos is like clay to play, model and sculpt with … and chaos is also just a lump of clay when we believed that we needed a cup to drink from. Order is EXPLORED, MAPPED and WELL-DEVELOPED territory … it is the security and warmth of tribe, religion, hearth, home and country … the public facade that we’re called upon to wear of politeness and civilization. When everything in our conscious world seems certain and known, we’re in an experiential state of perfect order.
Our brains respond INSTANTLY, instinctive, neuroelectrochemically or almost at the speed of light, when chaos appears in our certain world … it’s the same basic, fundamental neuroelectrochemical circuitry found in all animals … for those who believe in evolution, this “lizard brain” circuitry was honed and selected for in the ancient past, by survival of earliest animal ancestors. Chaos and order are such fundamental elements because every possible situation that any animal has survived has influenced the development of the consciousness we rely upon for mediating between both states. Regardless of whether you believe in Intelligent Design OR in evolution OR some other theory — it does not matter — the limits of our consciousness, including those limits at the edge that we’d rather not talk or think about too much, are not accidental or random.