From Dr. Jordan B. Peterson <[email protected]>
Subject JBP Weekly
Date August 10, 2020 11:00 AM
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The Exodus from Egypt, Maps of Meaning, and Children's Games

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** August 9, 2020 | DR. JORDAN B. PETERSON

** Perception as a Map
The following is from a previous draft of Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life.

We don’t perceive the world: not directly. There is just too much world to see, just as there is too much past to remember. We must restrict our limited vision and understanding to that which is of vital importance. Think about it this way: when driving somewhere new, do you pay attention to the road, or the map? Obviously, you pay attention to both—but if the map was good enough, it could replace the road entirely. It’s certainly the case, even now, that the maps provided by services like Google are of such quality that much of the attention of modern drivers remains focused there. It is easy to imagine a projection of a Google map onto the windshield, replacing the road itself (and that would work perfectly fine, as well as the map and the actual road matched well enough so that nothing interfered with the task of driving). This is very instructive, with regard to how you actually see the world.

Inconveniently, to say the least, this replacement of reality by map would only work if the future precisely duplicated the past, and it doesn’t. New obstacles and opportunities emerge continually, although not at every level of being, at every moment. The world is structured in a manner akin to music: some things remain the same—some themes repeat—but other things transform, sometimes dramatically, deeply and unexpectedly. We employ habit, deterministic habit, to deal with the former. But we use consciousness, that deeply mysterious function (our awareness: malleable, unpredictable, difficult, imaginative, contemplative and slow) to deal with the latter. We perceive a map, constructed by our minds, overlaid on the world. Much of our perception is memory, particularly as you gain experience—and that’s a good thing, because it is very hard to see the world, in its full, high resolution complexity, and because it is very difficult to update the map, particularly if it has remained unchanged
for a very long time, and is deeply embedded in habit.

Here’s a familiar and instructive example: Almost everyone has had the experience of having a tooth pulled, or altered in some manner (filled or braced, for example). A feeling of physiological strangeness, orally, emerges after such surgery. Your mouth is different, importantly, distractingly different. The void where the tooth once resided looms surreally large. Whenever you are not talking, or are distracted, your tongue explores the new contours of your month. The feeling of strangeness can take weeks or even months to fully recede. That is how long it takes your tongue, which is very concerned (as it must be) with what is in your mouth, to re-map the new configuration of your teeth, working in concert with the representation of your body in your brain. And after that re-mapping, you once again, to your genuine relief, perceive the map. It’s used as a shorthand, a low-but-sufficient-resolution representation of the full complexity of your mouth.

The whole world is perceived in that manner. Now, your tongue wants to know the contours of your mouth because you need to know what is you, and what is not you (particularly when you are eating, as you need to know what is food, and what isn’t, and because you don’t want to bite your tongue or the inside of your cheeks, because of improper psychophysiological representation). You need to map the contours of your mouth properly so that you can eat. There’s functional utility in your understanding. In the same manner, you need to make a map of the world so that you can navigate through it, with a minimum of pain and suffering—perhaps even with some hope and joy. And the ability to manage both of those depends on the integrity of your map.

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Recent Media Releases
Maps of Meaning ([link removed]) is now airing on the Jordan B. Peterson Podcast.
* Released yesterday: Maps of Meaning 03: Marionettes and Individuals ([link removed]) - **** NOT LINKED YET*
* This podcast series is taken from Dr. Peterson's 2017 lectures at the University of Toronto. The third episode discusses Pinocchio as the puppet of conflicting impulses, but with the ability to integrate them into a well-ordered whole in the service of worthy goals. Listen to the episode and join the discussion ([link removed]) .

The first episode of Maps of Meaning ([link removed]) was released two weeks ago. Join the discussion on the Context and Background ([link removed]) of the lecture series: the search for meaning against the backdrop of the Cold War, chaos, and ideological conflict.


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Recommended Reading

** Crime and Punishment ([link removed])

** Fyodor Dostoevsky
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** Crime and Punishment

** The Psychology Behind the Infamous Raskolnikov
"Raskolnikov is a materialist rationalist... which was a rather new type of person back in the 1880's. He was sort of taken by the idea that God was dead and convinced himself that the reason that anyone acted in a moral way, a traditional way, was because of cowardice..."
-An excerpt taken from 2017 Personality 04/05: Heroic and Shamanic Initiations ([link removed])

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