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  • give him a warm welcome, Dr Jordan.

  • Be Peterson.

  • Thank you.

  • Thank you very much.

  • It's very nice to be here and to see you all come out two spend a couple of hours thinking about difficult things.

  • There seems to be an appetite for that, which is really something.

  • So let's exploit it.

  • So I started working on the ideas that I outlined in 12 Rules for life.

  • Well, a long time ago and really started when I was about 13 I I was a junior high school student, and, um, I met this librarian who's kind of eccentric person, very well educated person.

  • And she we are used to hang around with my delinquent friends in the library, which tells you how eccentric the librarian was, because that's not normally the place where the delinquent kids hang out, you know?

  • But she talked to us like we're adults, and that was ah, what would you call it?

  • A refreshing.

  • That was refreshing experience.

  • And ah, she knew that I'd like to read.

  • And she started giving me real books.

  • She gave me one day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, which was the first book published by Al Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the Soviet Union.

  • It It's a story about the day of a political prisoner in a work camp and brave new world and 1984 an animal farm and a kn Rand's books, which was quite interesting because she was the wife of our member of parliament, who was the only member of the opposition in our province.

  • And he was a socialist, an NDP new Democratic Party leader, as a matter of fact.

  • And But despite that, she gave me in Rand's books because she thought that I should be exposed to the other side of the argument.

  • So I read, Atlas shrugged and, um, the Fountainhead and, well, she was the first person who help me discover literature, Let's say, and while at the same time I got interested in what had happened in Nazi Germany and I wrote an essay about that when I was about 13 or 14 about our schwitz and what had happened there, and I never read that really never left my mind, I would say I think I read Victor Frankl's Man's search for meaning at that point, which is a book I would highly recommend.

  • I have a reading list on my website.

  • By the way, at Jordan, be Peterson dot com.

  • And so there's a variety of books there that have really influenced me, and and I put them up for other people's use Anyways, I never what what I learned about Auschwitz and about Nazi Germany never really left my mind and because I couldn't understand how people could act that way, how they could not only be possessed by an ideology to the degree that the Germans were very civilized country Germany, you know.

  • So it was, I suppose, even a more spectacular shock that something so catastrophic happened there.

  • There wasn't just the ideological possession.

  • It was the cruelty and the gratuitous cruelty in the service of that ideological possession that I couldn't understand.

  • It didn't couldn't establish a relationship between my own being and and those patterns of action.

  • And as I got older, that concern transformed itself into an obsession.

  • I would say not so much with what had happened in Nazi Germany, but with, I think, what happened, what was happening as a consequence of the collectivist philosophy per se, which you might think of something that manifested itself both on the right in Nazi Germany and then on the left in all the multitudinous and catastrophic communist regimes that characterized the bulk of the 20th century on their insane, murderous nous.

  • And that probably culminated for me in the 19 seventies when I read Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, which is another book that everyone should read because in some sense it might be the defining document of the 20th century.

  • The fact that everyone in the West isn't familiar with that book is actually a a signal of our catastrophic moral failing.

  • I would say, Um, I started writing this book called Maps of Meaning in about 1985 although I had been working on variants of it before that, and what I was trying to understand was maybe the psychological motivations for the Cold War, something like that.

  • Many of you were old enough to remember what it was like in the 19 eighties.

  • We just went and visited the house in in Reykjavik, where garbage Kevin Reagan met, which was quite something to see when they decided they were going to bring at least some of the insanity to a relative halt.

  • Thank God the eighties were a very contentious time.

  • You know, the Cold War I sort of peeked into two times.

  • It peaked in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis.

  • I don't know if you know this, but I visited a nuclear missile site in in Arizona 10 years ago.

  • It was a decommissioned missile site.

  • Intercontinental ballistic missile.

  • Intercontinental ballistic missile has very large rockets and can go halfway around the world and its ballistic, which means it has the same function as a bullet.

  • The bullet is ballistic because once you fire it, it's gone.

  • You don't control it after it.

  • It leaves.

  • So once you launch a ballistic missile, it's launched.

  • There's no calling it back.

  • And they told us they did a simulation launch, which is very eerie thing.

  • And so to launch a nuclear missile, there's a big console that sort of looks like the star trick control, uh, control model, Let's say, and one person stands here and one person stands about 20 feet away, each have a key around their neck and put the key in the lock simultaneously and then turn it for 10 seconds.

  • And at the end of 10 seconds, the missile is gone, and that's that.

  • And they both have their keys in the lock in 1962.

  • So and we came close again in 1984 when I don't know if you know this.

  • But the Soviet missile detection system signaled the launch of 45 missiles from North America, and a single Russian soldier decided that it was a false alarm and refused to push the button would have resulted in major retaliation.

  • He just died about a year ago.

  • You can read about him on Wikipedia anyways.

  • I read Soldier Nixon in 19 seventies and and that made me me, even, I would say, more obsessed with what was happening in in on the world stage.

  • I was trying to understand why it was that the systems of belief that we inhabited, let's say one, typifying the Soviet Union and and similar states Maoist, China, North Korea, wonderful places like that versus the West.

  • We each had our own way of construing the world.

  • The ways of construing the world were set at odds with one another, and the fact that they were set at odds with one another appeared to be so significant that we'd armed ourselves with 50,000 harder hydrogen bombs on each side.

  • Something like that.

  • I don't know how much you know about a hydrogen bomb.

  • You know, you know about atomic bombs.

  • You know that a hydrogen bomb has an atomic bomb for the trigger, right?

  • So So, like the atom bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.

  • That was something that was a vision bomb.

  • Not standard atomic bomb, the first generation.

  • But hydrogen bomb is incontestably more powerful than that, and we were producing them in the tens of thousands.

  • It's not like we don't have any now, but it was really some insanity in the 19 eighties, and people seem to have a very itchy trigger finger.

  • So I was very confused about this in two ways.

  • One from a psychological perspective.

  • Because by that time, I did study, decided to study psychology instead of political science, which is my original major.

  • I get I got disenchanted with political science because I didn't believe that people were fundamentally motivated by economic issues.

  • I still don't believe that that's true.

  • They're motivated by whatever they're motivated by.

  • It can't be captured by economics.

  • Not not precisely.

  • It's very curious about what it was that was so important about a belief system that people would risk putting the entire planet to the torch to ensure that their particular motive construing the world prevailed is interesting psychological problem.

  • What was so important about belief system that would justify destroying everything that's there, risking destroying everything?

  • Because that was certainly the situation we put ourselves in.

  • And more to the point, I guess, are equally to the point.

  • I was interested in two other things.

  • One was Were these differences in belief systems just arbitrary?

  • And that's actually a postmodern question.

  • I didn't know that at the time.

  • No, because you might say the postmodernists do say there's a very large number of ways of interpreting the world, and it isn't obvious how you determine which of those ways are correct.

  • And so perhaps you can't determine that any of them are correct.

  • And then, as a consequence of your inability to determine if any of them are correct, then you have to turn to something like power dispute to establish which interpretation is going to take precedence, I would say in a nutshell, that's a post modernist theory now that's tainted to some degree with Marxist preconceptions, but we won't get into that.

  • But that's basically the idea.

  • It's an idea with a certain amount of justification.

  • There is a very large number of ways of interpreting the world, and it isn't obvious which way or ways are right or why they're right.

  • So it's a complicated problem.

  • And so I was curious is like, Was this merely a difference of opinion?

  • The West had a certain set of axioms that it was acting out in the world.

  • And there Soviet Block and the rest of the communist countries have another set of axioms, and they were both arbitrary and it was a matter of power.

  • Or was there something deeper at stake?

  • That was question number two.

  • Question number three was.

  • Was there an alternative to brutal combat?

  • Was there an alternative way of solving the dispute to brutal group combat?

  • Something like that?

  • And because I always believed that if you understood the problem that you could solve it, in fact that if yes, if when you analyze the problem, a solution didn't emerge from the analysis than you actually didn't understand the problem.

  • And so I thought if I delved into the problem deeply enough, then maybe I could figure out what might constitute a solution.

  • Assuming there was such a thing because I couldn't.

  • I knew after writing a fair bit of it that we were that there was a real problem because you can get belief systems that are locked in combat.

  • And then obviously the terrible consequence of that is the combat.

  • But then I also knew, and this was probably more from reading Nietzsche than anything else that if your belief system collapses, you might say, Well, I don't want to fight with you about whose belief system is correct.

  • I'll just let my mind go.

  • But the problem is, if you let your belief system go, then you're swamped by nihilism and hopelessness, and and that's not helpful.

  • First of all, it's very It's not helpful psychologically because it produces emotional pain and anxiety and maybe at unbearable levels.

  • You can't have a pointless life.

  • It's it's, it's it's a suffering.

  • A pointless life is pointless suffering, and people can't sustain that without becoming demoralized.

  • That's only where they start demoralized, bidder, cruel, resentful, angry, hostile, murderous, genocidal.

  • Like all those things follow one from another.

  • If if things were sufficiently hopeless, can't just let your belief system go.

  • But if you're locked into it and there's another one that you're competing with, then the the Consequences war, it's like So what is it?

  • Nihilism on the one hand and war on the other?

  • That didn't seem like especially given outcome of like, say it the Third World War that neither of those seemed like acceptable alternatives.

  • But I couldn't see any other.

  • I couldn't see that there was anything else other than those two alternatives.

  • And so that's what I tried to layout in in this book.

  • Maps of meaning.

  • Most of the thoughts that I expressed in 12 Rules for Life, not all of them and in the lectures that I've done that have become popular on YouTube were all developed during the 15 year period that I worked on that book and I worked on it.

  • I would say obsessively, really.

  • I wrote about three hours a day, and I thought about it for pretty much 12 other hours, and so I was thinking constantly he was.

  • It's not obvious why, but while I told you why, for some reason all that manifested itself to me as a cardinal problem.

  • But I concluded and tried to lay out the rational for this, that the fight between these two belief systems.

  • But let's let's look at the belief systems.

  • It's not communism versus the West.

  • It's not communism versus the free market.

  • It's different than that.

  • It's collectivism in its far right form, let's say the far right form of the Nazis and the far left form of the radical leftist the Communists.

  • That's collectivism versus individualism.

  • That's the fundamental conflict.

  • And there are variants of the collectivist viewpoint, but it doesn't matter.

  • They can be grouped under the rubric of collectivism.

  • There's important differences, but we don't have to get into that.

  • But the Western take wasn't collectivist.

  • It was individualist, and the central idea of the West was that although people are obviously obviously aggregate into groups and many different groups, because all of you are members of very of many different groups ethnicities, genders, sexes, races, family groups, community groups, you could be grouped a very large number of ways, and and you tend towards the adoption of something approximating a group identity because, you know, you take care of your family and you're a member of your community and you have a certain amount of justifiable patriotism in relationship to your state group.

  • Identity is definitely part of who you are.

  • The question is, what's the fundamental defining characteristic of who you are?

  • And the collectivist definition is that you are the avatar of a collective, and that's fundamentally who you are.

  • But the Western perspective is not that the Western perspective is that despite the fact that people have an individual level and a collective level, the individual level is to be regarded as paramount.

  • You're to be treated above all else, above all, as an individual.

  • No.

  • And I looked into that very deeply, and I thought, that isn't arbitrary.

  • It's actually correct.

  • That's the right way of looking at the world.

  • And then you might say, Well, what do you mean the right way?

  • And of course, that's the right question, because that is the question, if some things the right way of looking at something, but why is it the right way of looking at it?

  • But I want to put a little spin on that, too, because usually when we talk about individual ism in the West, at least in the modern world.

  • Maybe, let's say for the last 50 years or something like that, maybe it's after World War Two.

  • I don't know exactly the parameters.

  • It