Maps of Meaning: Book Summary, 7 Key Lessons and Review

maps of meaning
NameMaps of Meaning
AuthorJordan Peterson
Rating★★★★★ (5 stars)
Purchase LinkBuy Here

Maps of Meaning is the name given to the first book written by Jordan Peterson, a Canadian psychologist who became very famous after his appearances on the internet.

In his book Maps of Meaning, Peterson talks about myth and how it relates to human morality throughout history. Read other good book summaries here!

What is the Summary of Maps of Meaning?

It is true that this is a very extensive and detailed book, but I will try to summarize the heart of the book in the paragraph below:

In the book Maps of Meaning, Peterson shows how myths shape our reality and make us act, giving us a sense of morality which is common to the whole human race. With the loss of importance of the myth, there is room for political ideology, which wants to deliver paradise on earth and ends up generating atrocities.

In other words: you can see that the book is very up-to-date and that many of the issues it addresses are relevant to several facts that happened in the 20th century and are happening now in the 21st century.

Peterson uses several analogies to myths, making special reference to female figures (symbolizing chaos, the unknown) and masculine (symbolizing order, the known universe).

Society has lost the value of myth and, over time, the dominance of science was established, which ended up weakening morality. This gave space for ideologies to dominate society. You can buy the book Maps of Meaning clicking here.

What is the Review to Maps of Meaning?

But is the book any good? For me, it was great! But there was a very small issue that bothered me…

The book Maps of Meaning is very detailed and shows Jordan Peterson’s thinking in as much detail as possible. However, people who are not from the area or are not used to reading psychology works may experience difficulty at first. Despite this, it’s worth making an effort and going to the end, because the book is excellent!

The work clearly has a more university tone and, because of this, is more complex. Still, I recommend reading it.

Therefore, if you are not used to reading more complex books, I recommend that you start by reading another work by the author: 12 Rules for Life.

7 Key Lessons from Maps of Meaning

The book has so many lessons that it’s hard to separate just a few, but I’ll try to put the main points here:

1. Myth establishes society and gives us lessons

In fact, many people don’t value myths, but the truth is that they found the basis of our civilizations.

Myths are the crystallization of moral principles that have become consensus over centuries. So they should not be mischaracterized as something outdated.

2. Political ideologies mask people’s evil

Many people use political ideology to explain all phenomena and put everything in a box, thinking that there are ready-made solutions to various problems.

However, we can see that this is not so. In fact, the ideology ends up masking the evil of the person, who starts to persecute his opponents in the name of an ideological position.

3. We need to know our own capacity for evil

In various beliefs, there is the symbolism of evil as something negative, dangerous, worrying. Even in the Bible we have the vision of the devil, and in other religions we also have evil beings.

This vision is natural for human beings, who need to understand their capacity to do evil and understand that it can be harmful. Thus, he controls himself from negative instincts and can seek good.

4. There are universal moral principles

Peterson shows that several civilizations had similarities, and that many of them were directed for a universal morality.

By this, he argues that there is some kind of universal moral principle that guides civilizations, and that there is right and wrong. Peterson makes it clear that he is not a relativist. You can buy the book Maps of Meaning clicking here.

5. When Culture Fails, It Must Regenerate

It is true that culture can often hit tipping points and decay. Factors such as contact with other civilizations can generate this.

In these moments, she needs to breathe new creative air and reorganize herself to recompose herself and shine again.

6. Myth is not an imperfection of science

Many people compare myth and science, saying that myth is just an imperfection of scientific thinking, and that science has rendered useless the use of mythology.

However, they fulfill different functions: the myth builds the foundations of our civilization, and the sciences provide practical answers to solve problems in the world.

In an atomistic society like ours, this is difficult to understand, but it is possible to reconcile the two types of knowledge.

7. Beliefs make us act in the world

Peterson says in his book that it is beliefs that bring us the vision that we should act in the world. Therefore, as long as we have belief, we will act in the world.

That is: the fact that we believe in something makes us go after it, and that moves us and makes us leave inertia. Read a summary about The Ego is your Enemy here.

Mother, Father, and Child: Order, Chaos, and Conciliation

Peterson’s book speaks of archetypes and a variety of important symbolism that men have used throughout history.

However, three archetypes stand out here. They are archetypes that always appear in civilizations with similar meanings:

1. Father (Order)

The symbolism of the father refers to everything that is present in the known world. It is he who represents the order, the structuring of things, the maintenance of peace.

The deterioration of this order generates tyranny, which is the forced control of people, which atrophies human freedom.

2. Mother (Chaos)

On the other hand, the symbolism of the mother talks about the unknown, the unexplored. It has reference to the mysterious, the chaotic, the strange and sensual.

However, chaos can also grow out of control and generate decay (moral, civilizational, among other types).

3. Son (Conciliation)

The son is the hero of the stories, who brings the perfect conciliation between order and chaos. It is he who explores the unknown and seeks answers, turning what was previously unexplored into something concrete and known.

He is on the threshold of the two and only reaches safety when he faces the unknown. It is the figure of Ying-Yang and Jesus, for example. Read this summary about The Everlasting Man to know more about Jesus.

Other Jordan Peterson Books

Peterson also has other books. See below:

12 Rules for Life

First bestseller by Jordan Peterson, it shows 12 practical rules to get your life in order and progress in your goals. Read its summary here.

Beyond Order

Sequel to 12 Rules for Life, Beyond Order brings 12 more teachings on what to do and what not to do to bring more order to life. Read its summary here.

What are the negative points of Maps of Meaning?

There is only one negative point in the book, and I have already mentioned it here. But I will emphasize once more.

The only downside to Maps of Meaning is that it is a little too complex for the beginning reader. In addition, the writing of the work is quite symbolic, so those who are not familiar with Jungian authors may be a little confused at first. But over time it’s easy to get used to.

Thus, I recommend that you do not give up and go all the way. Definitely worth reading! Read a summary about The Art of War here!

What are the positive points of Maps of Meaning?

The book has several positive points and it would be difficult to put everything in a small text, but I’ll make an effort and give my overview:

The positive points of Maps of Meaning are: it explains perfectly what a myth is and how it works, the ideologies in today’s world, and shows us how it is possible to achieve an objective morality with the system of myths. It is definitely a complete guide to symbolism and psychology.

That is: the positive points really overshadow one or another defect that the book may have. Read a summary about Meditations (Marcus Aurelius) here.

Is it worth reading Maps of Meaning?

But after all that, the question arises: is the book worth reading? That’s what you’ll read in the paragraph below:

Maps of Meaning is worth reading! Despite being a little difficult at first for those who are not used to it, the reader quickly becomes interested in learning Jordan Peterson’s teachings, and the 500-page book goes by very quickly. Must buy for everyone who loves psychology, symbolism and mythology!

So, in case you have any doubts, the answer is clear: it’s a must-read and I know you’ll enjoy it. You can buy the book Maps of Meaning clicking here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the author of Maps of Meaning?

The author of the book Maps of Meaning is Jordan Peterson, a Canadian psychologist with an extensive academic career who became popular through the internet.

Is Maps of Meaning hard to read?

The Maps of Meaning book is a little difficult to read at first, but once the reader gets used to the language, it becomes easier to understand.

Do you need a psychology degree to understand Maps of Meaning?

Anyone who wants to read Maps of Meaning does not need to have a degree in psychology: anyone can read it, just pay attention.

Is Maps of Meaning harder to read than 12 Rules for Life?

Maps of Meaning requires a little more technical knowledge to read than 12 Rules for Life, and therefore is a little more difficult to read. But it can be easily read by a person who is not from the area.

Is the Maps of Meaning book too big?

Maps of Meaning is a very large book, over 500 pages. In addition, the size of the book is larger than an ordinary book.

Vítor Costa

PhD in Polymer Science and Technology. Loves to read and study about sciences, psychology, philosophy and other subjects.

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