Author: Glib Buriak – associate professor at the Ukrainian-American Concordia University


Funny pictures and tip directories are the most popular material on the Internet. One of the leading intellectuals of our time, Jordan Peterson, chose a different path and wrote a book following the manual, “What name sells best” and got it right. “Наш Формат” promptly translated “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos”, which still hasn’t left the list of best-selling books in the west.

Peterson has a rather scandalous reputation, he seems to be doing everything that is not fashionable in the intellectual and liberal circles. He opposes feminism and talks about the natural inequality of men and women. Where Harari reflects on homosexuality, Peterson talks about religious morality and then calls for the physical punishment of children – not for the sake of cruelty, but for their own future good.

Despite his sharpness of judgment, the author’s main idea is the ability to critically assess reality. The world has always balanced on the edges of chaos and harmony; in order to survive people relied on rescue buoys of principles that alleviate their orientation through chaos. Society happily breeds chimeras, which are easy to believe in. Yet if you start doubting the basic settings, then life may seem much brighter and more interesting. Peterson outlined two main objectives in his book:
– to expand the boundaries of perception of his readers,
– to formulate the principles of a life that can be considered full.

Logically, the main question of what exactly entails a life that is full remains unanswered. The author is not supposed to tell his opinion to the reader, yet the reader may start experiencing doubt. Is a life which is full a happy life? Absolutely not, who even decided that we’re supposed to be happy? Life should be interesting. In order for that to happen, we need to learn to understand it a little bit better.

Behind the banal titles of chapters, such as “Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)” or “Make friends with people who want the best for you“, one can find really profound thoughts of a distinctive scientist who alternates personal stories with ancient mythology and statistical facts in every given piece of advice. Peterson dismisses all the obvious arguments in favour of eternal principles and tries to convince the reader to become better in a new way. Surprisingly, it works.

“12 Rules for Life: An Antidote To Chaos” is not the easiest piece of reading. The articulation is familiar and understandable, but the number of ideas the author presents will make one stop in the middle of the page, re-read it, and think constantly. Books should make readers think, and in the case of Peterson, you will enjoy the process of thinking very much.

Publisher "Наш Формат"
Year published - 2019