Jordan Peterson is a name that can strike up a lot of different emotions. For some, he symbolizes accountability, strength, discipline, and lays the groundwork for being the best you possible. For others, Peterson symbolizes the alt-right, toxic masculinity, and everything wrong with white male society. Clearly, we align more with the first sentiment. He is a man who has stood his ground, who has pushed the idea of personal responsibility and who has been forthcoming with his failures relating to his own struggles (most recently seeking treatment for a benzodiazepine addiction).
At first look, Jordan Peterson is a typical intellectual. He is a Canadian with bachelor degrees in Political Science and Psychology and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. He has worked as a professor at Harvard University and has published several books. So how did Peterson go from a fairly unknown person in the university realm to the public entity he is today?
It essentially started in 2016 when Peterson very publically criticized Canadian Bill C-16. C-16 basically made it law that gender expression and gender identity are protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act. If you are trying to connect the dots to how this may relate to Peterson, Peterson basically argued that the passage of this law would make the act of failing to use preferred gender pronouns “hate speech.” To simplify it, any college professor referring to a student as “he” or “she” when that student may identify as something else, could leave them open to criminal prosecution. Cue the publicity.
While we can spend an entire article discussing this controversial aspect of Peterson’s rise to fame, we would rather focus on other facets of his celebrity. Peterson gained mainstream notoriety through multiple appearances on the Joe Rogan Experience where his main focus was on his sharp views on accountability and how much of the problem with society today is the lack of it. It is Peterson’s attention to the idea of personal responsibility and the related ethics of this notion that land him as a Featured Alpha. While much of society today applauds group-thought, political correctness, and ideologies, Peterson advocates for an individual and intellectual approach centered around the understanding that every individual is both capable of doing good and doing extreme evil in the world and it is only up to them to choose which path they follow.
12 Rules to Life: An Antidote to Chaos is a 2018 book that landed Peterson on several global bestseller lists. While classified sometimes as a self-help book, it is actually used by a variety of readers ranging from business leaders to elementary school teachers. Peterson essentially divided the book into 12 chapters which each representing a critical rule for life which is then expanded upon. The underlying themes are suffering, chaos, and darkness are aspects of every life but people have an individual choice on how to face these issues and while happiness is something that should be cherished, it is more important to find meaning than happiness. This is best explained by the following quote directly from the text:
“It’s all very well to think the meaning of life is happiness, but what happens when you’re unhappy? Happiness is a great side effect. When it comes, accept it gratefully. But it’s fleeting and unpredictable. It’s not something to aim at – because it’s not an aim. And if happiness is the purpose of life, what happens when you’re unhappy? Then you’re a failure.”
While Jordan Peterson may be a controversial figure in many circles and for many different reasons, we consider him an Alpha due to the ethos that most of his works symbolize. Personal responsibility, thinking for yourself, walking through life with eyes wide open and never ceasing to pursue knowledge. This article is a toe in the water of Peterson’s works but we have included several links and, you can also find more information and lectures directly from his website.