Beyond Order by Jordan Peterson. Worth the Hype?

It has been quite a long time since I’ve done a book review. And that’s not to say I’ve not finished any books recently, because I have, and many of which I would have loved to sit down and write something about, but I just didn’t feel that push to do it. 

I’m not sure if it was due to a lack of motivation, though I think it was because the book just didn’t have enough relevant points to write about. 

Nevertheless, I want to write about this book because I feel that this has been much-anticipated by millions around the world. The book that is, not my review. 

So to start off, let me just preface with this, I myself might have had a lot of expectations for the book, so my review might come off as a little harsh, but please don’t let that discourage you.

Anyway, what do I think of the book? Underwhelming.

And I hate to say this because I wanted to love the book, much like I loved his first book. I’m not sure if it was the health conditions that plagued Peterson, or if he was just running out of things to say, but I just felt as if this book was just a rehash of his first book in a lot of ways. 

Now, Peterson claims that his first book was mainly focused on the archetypal motif of Chaos, which in a lot of ways I would agree. The whole book seems to about putting your life together AKA getting your life in order (the opposite of chaos). Notable rules from his first books would be: clean your room, stand up straight, be precise in your speech.

Again, you will notice, that these rules revolve around putting things in order.

And that’s where I think the second book falls short, and in a way, it was inevitable by the very nature of what rules are. 

If we take a look at rules through an archetypal lens, what are they? To answer that, I would say it’s providing structure to chaos; mapping desired patterns of behaviors into understandable words to follow. That, again, is inherently an “orderly” thing.

So to make a book that outlines rules that go against order, it almost seems paradoxical. It’s almost like saying, these are the rules that you follow in order to not follow the rules. 

But beyond that, the book itself also seems to be less timeless than his first book. He describes his current living situations, his health conditions, and the scandals and drama he had been involved in various places within the book. He talks about some of his activities including the tours he had and the speeches he gave and then talks about the SJWs and some of the things he’s seen and the conversations he’s had. This was all good and well, but years down the line, even decades or centuries, it just feels like most of that will be, unfortunately, irrelevant. Sort of like the daily news cycle. It’s important in the moment, but ultimately forgetful later on. 

I don’t want to undermine his personal experience in life, because I do believe that shapes much of his perspective and what he has to say, but I believe it takes away from the timeless aspect of his writing. 

A quick example, then I will move on to what I enjoyed about the book. I’m a big fan of Carl Jung and his writings. He’s a very hard person to read at times, and anyone who’s read some of his work can probably attest to that. Most of his writing does have a timeless feel to it due to the topics he speaks about: archetypes, psychology, and religion. There are at times when he does speak about some of the drama and personal problems regarding his life. 

And in a biography, this is very much appropriate, but Beyond Order is not a biography. Let’s take Jung’s book, “Psychology and Religion”, it doesn’t feel well-placed to speak about personal problems due to a possible lack of relatability. 

But what did I like about the book? And let me say this again, I did enjoy the book. I just felt some of the rules and anecdotes he provided seem to fit better following the theme of his first book rather than this one. 

My favorite rule would have been this one right here:

“Do not carelessly denigrate social institutions or creative achievement.”

This is his first rule, and I feel most closely aligns with the theme of Beyond Order. 

I love this rule because it actually provides a framework to challenge Order. And I think that this was the intended main takeaway from the book: How to challenge Order in such a way that you don’t make things worse than when you began.

And inversely, I feel like that was the intent of An Antidote to Chaos, to put your life together in a way that you don’t feel overwhelmed by everything; to take realistic steps forward. 

Peterson speaks about how so much of the world wants to end catastrophic problems like climate change, but due to a lack of understanding of the problem as a whole, do not know where to start, therefore it is concluded the entire system must be corrupt and rebuilt. That is not the case. 

Obviously, you can’t just teardown and rebuild society the “right way”. Again, he points out an important observation: it’s easy to see when things aren’t working, but you don’t notice when they are. 

And this has been an important rule in my life, to understand that just because one aspect of my life is not working out, it doesn’t mean my entire life is the problem. It’s most likely a few tweaks that have to be made to fix whatever issues I’m facing. 

To end this, I will say this: Beyond Order by Jordan Peterson is a great book that I would give positive remarks to. It has some noteworthy takeaways for people looking to understand more of the big philosophical questions. 

I would say that it had a lot of expectations to meet due to the wild success of the first book and the popularity Peterson attained. 

I would also say it does ultimately fall short of its older brother, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos. But please, don’t let that detract you from reading 12 More Rules for Life. 

Thanks for reading,