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The Books Referenced in 12 Rules for Life

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A list of books referenced by Jordan Peterson in 12 Rules for Life.

Solzhenitsyn, A.I. (1975). The Gulag Archipelago

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Based on his experience of being incarcerated, and that of 200 prisoners and Soviet archives, Solzhenitsyn reveals the apparatus of Soviet repression.  

Waal, F. B. M. de (2007). Chimpanzee politics: Power and sex among apes

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Through chimps’ sexual rivalries and coalitions, and intelligent rather than instinctual actions, we learn that the roots of politics are older than humanity.

Neumann, E. (1955). The Great Mother: An analysis of the archetype

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Explores how the Feminine has been experienced and expressed in many cultures from prehistory to our own time

Neumann, E. (1954). The origins and history of consciousness

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One of Jung’s most creative students draws on mythology to show that individual consciousness goes through the same archetypal stages of development as the collective human consciousness.

Barrett, J.L. (2004). Why would anyone believe in God?

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Why believing in God is an inevitable consequence of the type of brains we have.

Goldberg, E. (2003). The Executive Brain: Frontal lobes and the civilized mind

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How our frontal lobe is key to our social and ethical behavior.

Keeley, L. H. (1996). War before civilization: The myth of the peaceful savage                                                                                                                             

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Debunks the myth of the noble savage.

Heidel, A. (1963). The Babylonian Genesis: The story of the creation

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All the published cuneiform Babylonian tablets that tell the story of Babylon and Sumer.

Salisbury, J. E. (1997). Perpetua’s passion: The death and memory of a young Roman woman

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A young woman’s social martyrdom in Rome.

Pinker, S. (2011). The better angels of our nature: Why violence has declined

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Contrary to what the news is constantly telling you, the world has become more peaceful thanks to modernity.

Nietzsche, F.W. & Kaufmann, W.A. (1982). The portable Nietzsche

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A comprehensive study of Nietzsche’s work.

Nietzsche, F. (2003). Beyond good and evil

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Philosophy and religion up to this point has only been a symbolic manifestation of people’s dominant inner identities, the only true idea is the will to power (our fundamental instinct).

Nietzsche, F. (1974). The gay science (Kaufmann, W., Trans.)

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A discussion of art, morality, knowledge, truth, the intellectual conscience, and the origin of the logic.

Nietzsche, F. (1968). The will to power

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A distillation of Nietzsche’s ideas on nihilism and morality.

Jones, E. (1953). The life and work of Sigmund Freud (Vol. I)

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Explains psychoanalysis.

Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do

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How to prevent bullying.

Goodall, J. (1990). Through a window: My thirty years with the chimpanzees of Gombe

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An account that shows how closely chimps resemble humans.

Goodall, J. (1972). In the shadow of man

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A study of chimps around the world.

Chang, I. (1990). The rape of Nanking

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The Japanese army’s invasion of Nanking, China, and the systematic torturing, raping, and murdering of over 300,000 civilians.

Stokes, P.D. (2005). Creativity from constraints: The psychology of breakthrough

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The source that led to the creative breakthroughs of famous artists.

Wrangham, R. W., & Peterson, D. (1996). Demonic males: Apes and the origins of human violence

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Answers why men are violent by studying evolution and the great apes.

Panksepp, J. (1998). Affective neuroscience: The foundations of human and animal emotions

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The source of all human and animal feelings.

Goethe, J.W. (1979). Faust, part one and two

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Faust makes a pact with the devil, Mephistopheles.

Tolstoy, L. (1887-1983). A Confession

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Tolstoy’s search for answers to profound questions like ‘What is the meaning of life?’ and ‘What will come of my life?’  

Franklin, B. (1916). Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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The story of the self-taught philosopher, successful diplomat, and great writer.

Jung, C.G. (1969). Aion: Researches into the phenomenology of the self (Vol. 9: Part II, Collected Works of C. G. Jung)

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Gnostic and Christian symbolism, the ego, the shadow, anima and animus – a summary of Jung’s system of psychology.

Lao-Tse (1984). The tao te ching

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The fundamental text of Taoist philosophy.

Tom Harpur. The pagan Christ: recovering the lost light

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An argument for the mystical, rather than historical understanding of Jesus.

Dobbs, B.J.T. (2008). The foundations of Newton’s alchemy

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How Newton’s interest in alchemy advanced scientific knowledge.

W.H. Wright (Ed.), The Philosophy of Nietzsche

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A summary of Nietzsche’s work.

Milton, J. (1667). Paradise Lost

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An epic poem about the Fall of Man. A tale about the fight between God and Satan over mankind’s destiny.

Yeats, W.B. (1933) The Second Coming

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A prophetic poem that envisions the end of the Christian epoch, and the violent birth of a new age.

Yeats, W.B. (1933). Sailing to Byzantium

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A poem about the the tension between the ageing body and the force of the mind.

Orwell, G. (1958). The road to Wigan Pier

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Orwell’s experience of the harsh working class life in Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Gatto, J. N. (2000). The underground history of American education: A school teacher’s intimate investigation of the problem of modern schooling

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The history of American education.

Gimbutas, M. (1991). The civilization of the goddess

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The Goddess-centered world that existed before patriarchal Europe emerged.

Stone, M. (1978). When God was a woman

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The role of women in ancient society.

Eller, C. (2000). The myth of matriarchal prehistory: Why an invented past won’t give women a future

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A myth about human origins.

Dostoevsky, F. (1995). The brothers Karamazov

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A courtroom drama, murder mystery, and erotic rivalry involving the wicked and sentimental Fyodor Karamazov, and his three sons – the impulsive Dmitri, the coldly rational Ivan, and the healthy youth, Alyosha.  

Dostoevsky, F. (1994). Notes from underground/White nights/The dream of a ridiculous man/The house of the dead

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A collection of stories that show Dostoevsky’s thoughts on political philosophy, religion, and humanity.

Dostoevsky, F.M. (2009). The grand inquisitor

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A section from the Brothers Karamazov – this includes a Grand Inquisitor who arrests Jesus.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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