2016 Personality Lecture 03: Mythological Elements of the Life Story — and Initiation

So A couple things I want to tell you about today Many things I want to tell you about I want to tell you Uhm I want to give you a schema that is going to enable you to understand I think it will enable you to understand stories Like the one I told you last time, you remember Jonah and the whale I want to provide you with the schema so you can understand stories like that But many many more stories like that Partly what I am telling you about today In some sense are archetypes And an archetype, it is an idea that was made most popular over the last 100 years by Carl Jung But it’s a much older idea than that It’s really a platonic idea in some ways And it means something like fundamental pattern And so an archetype manifests itself in different ways It could be a pattern of emotional response Like it can be something you are feeling It could be the way that emotional response displays itself On your body, on your face It could be the way that emotion feels and displays itself on your face And plays itself out as a drama in your local environment So like an angry argument is an archetypical phenomenon And the reason it’s archetypical is because Well, you have them, you have them, you have them, you have them, everyone has them and so you can’t really think about them as individual, you have to think about them as universal and you can’t think as about something that you created in a sense although, in a sense you do but it’s also as something that happens to you now, when you read about Jung and archetype is quite confusing because you can never be sure whether it’s talking about an instinct, an emotion, a motivational system, or a sub-personality or a sub-personality in which these things manifest itself, or even the social drama that’s being played out in time and space in the social world but a real archetype I would say is all of those things at the same time. Now, we use archetypal means of expression to represent how we act And that’s not the same thing as we think representing what the world is made out of It’s a very different thing, so you could say in some sense we tell stories and understand stories so that we can figure out how people act and how they should act and then we conduct science so that we can figure out what the world’s like from a material objective perspective and the two things coexist uneasily I think the more primary form of knowledge is actually how to act with a scientific model nested inside because the most important question you have to solve as a living organism isn’t what the world is made out of it’s how you should act in the world say from a darwinian perspective even so that you can live long enough to reproduce. that’s basicly from a strict biological perspective in some sense that’s what you have to do in order to be successful it’s kind of obvious first of all ’cause you are not very successful if you just go and die and then, of course, death from a genetic perspective and failing to leave offspring are much the same thing Now, one of the questions might be how is that we conceive of the world as a place to act in and that’s partly I’m gonna tell on the hypothesis for you and then explain the significance of that hypothesis and the hypothesis involves the description of what you might consider consitituent elements and also transformation processes as far as I can tell, the constituent elements of the stories that we tell about how the people act and should act are characters Now that makes sense, right, because you really can’t have a drama or story without characters Now, the thing is that characters have to be understandable and so, for them to be understandable they sort of have to be like you or they have to be like someone you know, but they have to be human but than again it’s not exactly that they’re human, because even when you’re telling a story about what happened to you today it’s interesting to think about what you do so someone might say “well, how is your day?”, and you say “fine” i mean, maybe it’s the lowest level, lowest resolution highest abstract srory “my day was fine” It’s pretty boring story, it’s better then terrible, I suppose it’s not interesting, it’s not detailed but person gets the notion that things went according to plan or, more specificly, that things unfolded the way you wanted them to


Showed this lecture to my Grade 12 English class the other day. Gave a good foretaste of university, and ties in very well with any number of things I teach about Campbell and the appeal, power and structure of story. (I have watched a large number of your lectures, and the influence can be seen in what I teach)

You could easily make a change of profession and become a coach for writers. I get many archetypical ideas from these lectures that would fit right into a novel. Nature is that which gives us life, but at the same time destroys us. So why should not we do the same to it? That´s the perfect antagonist villain, it´s a noble cause to end suffering, but completed in a twisted way. A Inversion of the Buddha dharma. Even God became possessed by this archetype – he flooded the world to end all the evil and suffering. And it´s quite possible that humans are doing it right now, with technology ment to make our lifes easier (causing climate change). It might seem that this archetype is not only rooted in us humans, but in nature itself. And we humans are the tragic greek hero, who means to do good but has an inherent fault causing or destined fall. It would be ironic if the world ended like a greek drama, cause ancient greece is the pillar of the modern world. It would mean that the artiststs and creative people of that civilization (in a way) prophesied it´s fall right from the beginning. That would certainly make Plato discouraged, as he saw drama, and poetics in general as a treat to the state.

Hey Jordan, do you have any links to the studies on different genes being switched on in different situations? And how do you relate this to Jung's theory of archetypes, that is, what do you see as the relationship between DNA and archetypes?

Prof. Jordan, is there anyway to give us a link to the Gray, and Swanson, papers you mentioned in one of the initial lectures? What are they titled? Where can we read them? I remember you mentioned they were very difficult to read, they took thirty or so years to write them; and so I WANT TO read them.

Professor Jordan, what do you think of Terrence Mckenna's bit on "culture is not your friend " ? he made some good points … just curious … would love an answer , but not expecting one 🙂 must admit i am envious of those who can converse with you at leisure… your lectures have been really helpful …. many thanks.

In the movie stranger than fiction, the main character , Harold Crick, (possible reference to one of the guys who discovered the dna helix), was this movie symbolically referring to the process of epigenisis..? what have you done to my brain?? now i am looking for archetypal symbolism everywhere… lol… thanks for all the brain food.

At min. 32:00: The ice broke underneath me BOTH because I made a mistake (I lost my livelihood) and my wife died of a sudden and severe illness at the same time. The latter I see as a tragedy, a hole in my life that will never be filled. The former as a failure on my part, a result of my inadequacy which has virtually destroyed me. I've let down my children and myself and my wife were she still alive.

I have always felt that the female initiation is childbirth. At least, that's how I understood it as a child. There is no need to brave yourself to hang from hooks or spend the night alone in the woods if you know that it is likely that you will experience the pain of labour. It always seemed like an inevitable and impossible gateway to me, and it is only recently that it has become normal for a woman (in this culture) to be older or to forego the experience entirely. I say this, but when I consider the fairytales and so on, it is often the way that the young woman has to prove herself through arduous tasks, often as the servant of a witch or similar. Is the female initiation really sustained self sacrifice (the heroine feeds all the animals in the barn before herself and so on) and housework? Or would the initiation point be where she conquers the witch with her cleverness (or occasionally purity)
and goes on to fullfil her duty and then be free to seek her own fortune? I think I will have to give this quite a lot of consideration! Thank you for making your lectures available! I am a housewife who would normally not have access to this level of education and I am very grateful!

These lectures are very interesting, thanks for posting them. I dream of a day where most professors record and post their lectures online for all to learn from.

I would like to thank you for sharing mister Peterson. It gives me an opportunity to learn and to appreciate what it means to share!

Your videos honestly are having a large impact on how I conduct and analyze myself. Being very anti-social I dropped out of highschool and just got my GED right after instead of putting up with the socialization in a public school and have primarily focused on money and pursuing my hobby in computer programming. For about 4 years I have signed up for college and never gotten past the admission process due to my horrible habbit of running from my fears. Your videos have inspired me to push past those fears and I now am on my way to starting school in January to pursue a CS degree.

I have more things to push past but because of you, I have at least made the leap. Now to just stick the landing.

I really wish I had teachers like you when I was receiving a highschool education, perhaps things would have been different.

Prof. Peterson I've just recently discovered your videos and I've already listened to hours of them. They're so thought provoking and I can really appreciate how you teach! I just wish you were my teacher but at least you kind of are through these videos. Keep up the great work! Cheers


Interesting how Peterson talks about the higher risk of great failure in men's life, and of course gets a laugh (…). But does not bring up the flipside, that one needs to know to understand the first part: That the chance of great success is bigger for men, or more broadly viewed from an evolutionary standpoint, and this is about evolution at its core, for males than females.

This is due to males having the possibility, if very successful, to mate with a very high number of females and have many descendants in the next generation. Females have not the same possibility for extreme success. But have also not the same risk of great failure, that is, not to get to reproduce at all… Males might win big, or lose big. Females, have not those same type of risks and rewards to nearly the same degree.

And this affects a lot of other things for humans. Why is the bell curve for IQ pointier for women than for men? Seems to be connected, right..?

But this is not "polite" to talk about. And explaining why that is properly would take some writing, more than might be suitable for a youtube comment…^^

If your afraid and avoiding something in pursuit of a goal AHA a Monster! I am afraid and avoiding it a Dragon, that is where the treasure is! If your afraid it means your not developed enough to handle it, and you need to be. Damn great advice!

Pay a student to upload all of these on to a podcasting app (player fm). They will be much more accessible for out and about listening then than using clip converter always.

Only half a dozen on player fm currently and I'm burning through em fast! 😉

He should be given a noble prize for helping people by making them stronger . Thank you Mr Peterson , i wish youwere my teacher during my school years .

Hey Prof. Peterson, I'm really grateful for your videos. I think you're a truly great person. Have you ever read Hermann Hesse? He was a great admirer of Jung and wrote beautiful novels illustrating a lot of the ideas you speak of. If not, you'd find them fascinating (if you ever need a recommendation). If so, as a fan, I'd love to hear you talk about a book like Steppenwolf or Narcissus and Goldmund. Hesse and Jung really helped me through a lot of hard times years ago, just as your lectures have recently and continue to do so. Thank you! "It's easy to laugh, easy to hate, it takes strength to be gentle and kind."

Why are boys initiated and not girls? Boys have to be able to "stand the gaff." They have to be able to take part in the hunt courageously; to be able to guard the herd or flock by night; to be able to carry a man's responsibility. As the song says, "I earned the gear that I stood up in." It also must be remembered that men are disposable. It's always been "Women and children first" – and in that order. The reason it is in that order is that if there are no women, there are no children. So a man is someone who realizes – whether conciously or unconciously – that he can be sacrificed for the sake of the survival of women and children.

I'm so grateful to Jordan B Peterson for being who he is and for being out there to share his wisdom. I want to express my great admiration and deep respect. I need such an example of an amazing, courageous, witty, lively and giving individual as he is. I'm just grateful I've discovered him for myself.

Dr you intrigue me, just now getting to know you….BUT, right at :44 – Jonah & the Whale PREDATES Jung…even Plato 🙂

Starting from 58:00 Peterson builds up to saying "it's not 'follow your bliss'" (58:38), a direct counter to that other modern champion of mythology and archetypes, Joseph Campbell. From Campbell I always got the impression that "follow your bliss" meant pursuing what inspires you, what you enjoy working hard at, what causes you to lose track of time, etc. Sounds wonderful, if a bit new agey and idealistic.

And the truth is, we often don't do it. Why? Because there are many dragons out there that confine your life to a small territory. Dragons that will devour you if you get too close. How can one follow one's bliss with all these dragons getting in the way? Suddenly following one's bliss doesn't sound so nice and warm and blissful. We can sort of do it without facing our dragons, but rather weakly. How many artists are out there who never activate the bold daring visions lying dormant within for fear of criticism, spending a life circling it from a distance, "pursuing their bliss", but never fully realizing it?

So in a way, the treasure the dragon guards is the bliss, or the exponential growth of it. Campbell just didn't focus on the terrifying requirement of his statement. Peterson says something like, "no this is going to scare the crap out of you, it has to in order to wake you up to your full potential. But it's more than worth it, in fact it's necessary if you want to truly live".

I have a question. Are spiders an innate fear? I had a nightmare when I was 2-4 years old about two spiders fighting in a white room. I overcame that fear, rationally, but if ever I see a spider, something deep down instantly triggers a complete activation and shoving of my blood into my muscular system. It lasts 1/10th of a second, and probably activates within 20ms-45ms of seeing the spider (i.e. before I can even tell what I'm seeing consciously). Then my regular self takes over and doesn't care. Is this innate or a non-structural (non-primal) construct?

These are wonderful to take in. The tragedy in life is explained-life is crap, but these lectures make you think why and just to be able to identify your personal Gotterdammerung can be enough.

Any time I find myself falling into a time wasting hole, I find a new Jordan Peterson video to listen to and immediately feel like cleaning my room, metaphorically speaking 🙂

I love reading the comments under Prof. Peterson's lectures since I feel this might be a group of people who may actually understand or at least are willing to try to understand each other, if communicating in life…


Thank you, Professor Peterson. So many are so grateful for these lectures. You are such a rare gem in this world and so many are so grateful for that as well.

7:36 This is why nobody mentioned that Jonah stepped on a pointy rock and got a hole in his left sandal. It's not the most interesting part of the story, but it still happened.

Precious, precious lectures. They speak to me right in the eye. Thank you for making them available. It means an immense much that I can hear these ideas, watch such great, great speeches from one of the tiniest corners in the world. It means a lot, thank you.

I’m 66, I envy the young people who are getting any personal exposure to JBP, his intellect, delivery, sense of humor and his exquisite mastery of the English language are on a level I have NEVER experienced, let alone had opportunity to actually interact with in a face to face setting. My generation and America in general would have benefited so immensely…I can only imagine what this country may have become by now. I wish his students could recognize the truly rare gift they’re being given, in our youth, we seldom recognize it at the time. Now, the whole world has a degree of exposure to his wisdom, if they’re willing to listen, consider and implement the choices he suggests. It really is up to each us.

I wish Jordan Peterson would watch the tv series Avatar: The Last Airbender. I think he would have a heyday with the psychology of the characters and the archetypes throughout the series.

I hope he does make an online university. I am a political science major at ASU in Arkansas but I am really interested in psychology and bettering myself and understanding people. there is no way I would ever have the opportunity to take one of his classes even though that would be amazing but the online university would give me that opportunity.

The media portrays him as such an angry person but if you pay attention he genuinely enjoys sharing his vast knowledge with other people.

Hmm – reproduction; "You're not very successful if you just go and die" is correct in terms of sustaining a species though not, in terms of each individual – not all will reproduce and yet still, they are successful in contributing to advancing the species and/or assisting in maintaining the life of our planet and yes, what we want is relevant but only in a world where what we actually need, is largely irrelevant for the greater mass of our species; wants take precedence and largely, via mythological idealisms that have built the fabric of our historical consciousness and the world created from that = a legacy of institutions exerting power of influence that dictates who is deemed successful. The meaning of Jonah ad the Whale, is that a prophecy can be of higher conscious awareness and still, the prophecy does not happen and only because the prophecy was delivered in the first place; prophecy = warning or promise depending on the people receivig it i.e Lawless, ignorant people of Nineveh, lacking care & conscience received a terrible warning – while good and caring people would receive a promise of a bright future, as delivered in part by Isaiah… Jung grasped the concept of 'God' as the 'super-consciousness' as a higher sense of our universal being as one species – being disconnected from that universal sense of self, the 'myths' explode into absurd realites full of discrepancies and anomalies creating confusion and producing further ideologies seeking to dispell the confusion. The only reality = 'I am' and knowing who 'I am' is a key factor in the liberation of human consciousness from the mundane judgements that have arisen through time and precisely, to defeat the super-consciousness which is perceived as a threat to the powers that have thrived via confusion and myth – hence the people of Nineveh being i need of a warning from the 'super-consciousness'; whole nations are the people of Nineveh today and the same warning applies until we are prepared to lose trhe achetypal egos and align with our universal being and the compassionate law that simultaneously, arrives within – a law that equally serves all by way of delivering i.e. Human Rights – a law which permits the weak and strong to co-exist in peace and with trust because we submit to the rule of law…

The Great Nest of Being is a concentric structure showing degrees of interior depth. Higher spheres are experienced as being interior to, and deeper than, the lower, which are experienced, in comparison, as superficial, shallow, and exterior. The body is experienced as inside the environment, the mind is experienced as inside the body, the soul is experienced interior to the mind, and deep within the soul is pure spirit itself, which transcends all and embraces all (thus transcending inside and outside).

I'm 48, and I wish like hell that I had access to these lectures 30 years ago. I'm still benefiting hugely from them, as are my two early-teen kids. Thank you again Dr Peterson for making this content freely available.

I taught my first Mythology course (not knowing a whole lot prior) and by the end of the course we (students and I) realized we're living-out myths everyday, even before coffee. The course ended up being better than we all thought.

Love reliving my late '50s, early '60s college days, really! so many brilliant professors who got us stoked to learn

Not every theory he holds is correct. The first thing I remember when he was talking about snakes, and how our fear of them is definitely innate, is me holding a snake as a 5 year old, with no fear. I was in the forest and my uncle was fixing something and I saw a snake (which I didn't know if it was venomous) and I just calmly took it. It was not courage from my behalf, just lack of fear…

I just realized I was not subscribed, I thought I had subscribed years ago. You will be remembered in history, as one of the greatest minds of our time, I am sure of that.

At min 42:45 you drink a soda, I assume with caffeine, and I assume for the caffeine. Last year I got off all forms of caffeine, including chocolate, and one of the things I was affraid of is losing my ability to think, especially when writing. Caffeine dialates those lovely brain blood vessels, which is why its in Excedrin. But a caffeine high comes with a caffeine low, and the lows were the problem. The way I think did not change, except about caffeine. Thought I'd throw that out there. I also wonder if you drink it for partly the same reason, and Id seriously love to see how the transition off caffeine affects you in that way. The anhedonia up to month 5 was fun, then another bout later in month 9 but I suspect other aspects contribute to that for me.

What a compretent and compelling teacher! Let's learn, study and help to continue to spread his great work! May God bless him even more! Greetings from Brazil!

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