MAPS OF MEANING:THE ARCHITECTURE OFBELIEFROUTLEDGE (1999)Jordan B. Peterson, Ph.D.PDF Version with FiguresMay 2002


PREFACE: DESCENSUS AD INFEROS 7CHAPTER 1: MAPS OF EXPERIENCE: OBJECT AND MEANING 15CHAPTER 2: MAPS OF MEANING: THREE LEVELS OF ANALSIS 282.1. Normal and Revolutionary Life: Two Prosaic Stories 292.1.1. Normal Life 312.1.2. Revolutionary Life 352.2. Neuropsychological Function: The Nature of the Mind2.2.1. The Valence of Things2.2.2. Unexplored Territory: Phenomenology and Neuropsychology2.2.3. Exploration: Phenomenology and Neuropsychology2.2.4. Explored Territory: Phenomenology and Neuropsychology37384449592.3. Mythological Representation: The Constituent Elements of Experience 802.3.1. Introduction 812.3.2. The Enuma elish: A Comprehensive Exemplar of Narrative Categorization 932.3.3. The Dragon of Primordial Chaos 1152.3.4. The Great Mother: Images of the Unknown, or Unexplored Territory 1242.3.5. The Divine Son: Images of the Knower, the Exploratory Process 1452.3.6. The Great Father: Images of the Known, or Explored Territory 153CHAPTER 3: APPRENTICESHIP AND ENCULTURATION: ADOPTION OF A SHARED MAP 175CHAPTER 4: THE APPEARANCE OF ANOMALY: CHALLENGE TO THE SHARED MAP 1884.1. Introduction: The Paradigmatic Structure of the Known 1894.2. Particular Forms of Anomaly: The Strange, the Stranger, the Strange Idea & the Revolutionary Hero 1974.2.1. The Strange 1974.2.2. The Stranger 1994.2.3. The Strange Idea 2014.2.4. The Revolutionary Hero 2164.3. The Rise of Self-Reference, and the Permanent Contamination of Anomaly with Death 225CHAPTER 5: THE HOSTILE BROTHERS: ARCHETYPES OF RESPONSE TO THE UNKNOWN 2445.1. Introduction: The Hero and the Adversary 2445.2. The Adversary: Emergence, Development and Representation 2475.2.1. The Adversary in Act ion: Voluntary Degradation of the Map of Meaning 2565.2.2. The Adversary In Action: A Twentieth Century Allegory 2695.3. Heroic Adaptation: Voluntary Reconstruction of the Map of Meaning5.3.1. The Creative Illness and the Hero5.3.2. The Alchemical Procedure and the Philosopher’s Stone5.3.2.1. Introductory Note5. Part One5. Part Two5.3.2.2. The “Material World” as Archaic “Locus of the Unknown” Episodic Representation in Medieval Christendom3.3.2.4. The Prima Materia5.3.2.5. The King of Order5.3.2.6. The Queen of Chaos5.3.2.7. The Peregrination5.3.2.8. The 5.4. Conclusion: The Divinity of Interest 3465.4.1. Introduction 3475.4.2. The Divinity of Interest 3533

Figure 1: The Domain and Constituent Elements of the KnownFigure 2: The Metamythological Cycle of the WayFigure 3: Normal AdaptationFigure 4: Revolutionary AdaptationFigure 5: The Ambivalent Nature of NoveltyFigure 6: Emergence of "Normal Novelty" in the Course of Goal-Directed BehaviorFigure 7: Emergence of "Revolutionary Novelty" in the Course of Goal-Directed BehaviorFigure 8: The Motor and Sensory Units of the BrainFigure 9: The Regeneration of Stability from the Domain of ChaosFigure 10: The Motor HomunculusFigure 11: The Twin Cerebral Hemispheres and their FunctionsFigure 12: The Multiple Structure of MemoryFigure 13: Abstraction of Wisdom, and the Relationship of Such Abstraction to MemoryFigure 14: Conceptual Transformation of the Means/Ends Relationship from Static to DynamicFigure 15: Bounded RevolutionFigure 16: Nested Stories, Processes of Generation, Multiple Memory SystemsFigure 17: The Constituent Elements of ExperienceFigure 18: The Positive Constituent Elements of Experience, PersonifiedFigure 19: The Birth of the World of GodsFigure 20: The "Death" of Apsu, and the (Re)Emergence of Tiamat as ThreatFigure 21: "World" of Gods: Hierarchical OrganizationFigure 22: The Enuma elish in Schematic RepresentationFigure 23: The Battle between Osiris and Seth in the Domain of OrderFigure 24: The Involuntary Descent and Disintegration of OsirisFigure 25: The Birth and Return of Horus, Divine Son of Order and ChaoFigure 26: Voluntary Encounter with the UnderworldFigure 27: Ascent, and Reintegration of the FatherFigure 28: The Constituent Elements of Experience as Personality, Territory and ProcessFigure 29: The Uroboros - Precosmogonic Dragon of ChaosFigure 30: The Birth of the World ParentsFigure 31: The Constituent Elements of the World, in Dynamic RelationshipFigure 32: Novelty, the Great Mother, as Daughter of the UroborosFigure 33: The Spontaneous Personification of Unexplored TerritoryFigure 34: Unexplored Territory as Destructive MotherFigure 35: Unexplored Territory as Creative MotherFigure 36: The "Heavenly Genealogy" of the Destructive and Creative MothersFigure 37: The Exploratory Hero as Son of the Heavenly MotherFigure 38: The Metamythology of the Way, revisitedFigure 39: Castle, Hero, Serpent and Virgin: St. George and the DragonFigure 40: The Process of Exploration and Update, as the Meta-Goal of ExistenceFigure 41: Order, the Great Father, as Son of the UroborosFigure 42: Explored Territory as Orderly, Protective FatherFigure 43: Explored Territory as Tyrannical FatherFigure 44: The "Heavenly Genealogy" of the Tyrannical and Protective FathersFigure 45: The Exploratory Hero as Son of the Great FatherFigure 46: The "Death" and "Rebirth" of the Adolescent InitiateFigure 47: The Paradigmatic Structure of the KnownFigure 48: The Known: Nested Groups and IndividualsFigure 49: The Fragmentary Representation of "Procedure and Custom" in Image and WordFigure 50: The "Dual Death" of the Revolutionary HeroFigure 51: The Crucified Redeemer as Dragon of Chaos and TransformationFigure 52: The Socially Destructive and Redemptive "Journey" of the Revolutionary 01511671681711721731801931942012162212224

Figure 53: The (Voluntary) Descent of the BuddhaFigure 54: The World-Tree as Bridge between "Heaven" and "Hell"Figure 55: The World-Tree and the Constituent Elements of ExperienceFigure 56: Genesis and DescentFigure 57: The Devil as Aerial Spirit and Ungodly IntellectFigure 58: The Vicious Circle of the AdversaryFigure 59: The Constituent Elements of Existence, reprise.Figure 60: The Emergence of Christ from Group Identity and ChaosFigure 61: World-Tree of Death and RedemptionFigure 62: The Alchemical Opus as "Normal Story"Figure 63: The Alchemical Opus as "Revolutionary Story"Figure 64: The Wolf as prima materia, Devouring the Dead KingFigure 65: Dragon of Chaos as "Birthplace" of Christ and the LapisFigure 66: The Alchemical Opus as Myth of RedemptionFigure 67: The Restitution of [Christ] the Mystic Apple to the Tree of KnowledgeFigure 68: The Eternal Return of the 3453583595

I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 13:35)6

PREFACE: DESCENSUS AD INFEROSSomething we cannot see protects us from something we do not understand. The thing we cannot see isculture, in its intrapsychic or internal manifestation. The thing we do not understand is the chaos that gaverise to culture. If the structure of culture is disrupted, unwittingly, chaos returns. We will do anything –anything – to defend ourselves against that return.“. the very fact that a general problem has gripped and assimilated the whole of a person is a guaranteethat the speaker has really experienced it, and perhaps gained something from his sufferings. He will thenreflect the problem for us in his personal life and thereby show us a truth.” 1I was raised under the protective auspices, so to speak, of the Christian Church. This does not mean that myfamily was explicitly religious. I attended conservative Protestant services during childhood with mymother, but she was not a dogmatic or authoritarian believer, and we never discussed religious issues athome. My father appeared essentially agnostic, at least in the traditional sense. He refused to even set footin a church, except during weddings and funerals. Nonetheless, the historical remnants of Christianmorality permeated our household, conditioning our expectations and interpersonal responses, in the mostintimate of manners. When I grew up, after all, most people still attended church; furthermore, all the rulesand expectations that made up middle-class society were Judeo-Christian in nature. Even the increasingnumber of those who could not tolerate formal ritual and belief still implicitly accepted – still acted out –the rules that made up the Christian game.When I was twelve or so my mother enrolled me in confirmation classes, which served as introductionto adult membership in the Church. I did not like attending. I did not like the attitude of my overtlyreligious classmates (who were few in number), and did not desire their lack of social standing. I did notlike the school-like atmosphere of the confirmation classes. More importantly, however, I could notswallow what I was being taught. I asked the minister, at one point, how he reconciled the story of Genesiswith the creation theories of modern science. He had not undertaken such a reconciliation; furthermore, heseemed more convinced, in his heart, of the evolutionary viewpoint. I was looking for an excuse to leave,anyway – and that was the last straw. Religion was for the ignorant, weak and superstitious. I stoppedattending church, and joined the modern world.Although I had grown up in a “Christian” environment – and had a successful and happy childhood, inat least partial consequence – I was more than willing to throw aside the structure that had fostered me. Noone really opposed my rebellious efforts, either, in church or at home – in part because those who weredeeply religious (or who might have wanted to be) had no intellectually acceptable counter-arguments attheir disposal. After all, many of the basic tenets of Christian belief were incomprehensible, if not clearlyabsurd. The virgin birth was an impossibility; likewise, the notion that someone could rise from the dead.Did my act of rebellion precipitate a familial or a social crisis? No. My actions were so predictable, in asense, that they upset no one, with the exception of my mother (and even she was soon resigned to theinevitable). The other members of the church – my “community” – had become absolutely habituated to theincreasingly-frequent act of defection, and did not even notice.Did my act of rebellion upset me, personally? Only in a manner I was not able to perceive, until manyyears later. I developed a premature concern with large-scale political and social issues, at about the sametime I quit attending church. Why were some countries, some people, rich, happy and successful, whileothers were doomed to misery? Why were the forces of NATO and the Soviet Union continually at eachother’s throats? How was it possible for people to act the way the Nazis had, during World War Two?Underlying these specific considerations was a broader, but at the time ill-conceptualized question: how didevil – particularly group-fostered evil – come to play its role in the world?I abandoned the traditions that supported me, at about the same time I left childhood. This meant that Ihad no broader socially constructed “philosophy” at hand, to aid my understanding, as I became aware ofthe existential problems that accompany maturity. The final consequences of that lack took years to become7

fully manifest. In the meantime, however, my nascent concern with questions of moral justice foundimmediate resolution. I started working as a volunteer for a mildly socialist political party, and adopted theparty line.Economic injustice was at the root of all evil, as far as I was concerned. Such injustice could berectified, as a consequence of the re-arrangement of social organizations. I could play a part in thatadmirable revolution, carrying out my ideological beliefs. Doubt vanished; my role was clear. Lookingback, I am amazed at how stereotypical my actions – reactions – really were. I could not rationally acceptthe premises of religion – not as I understood them. I turned, in consequence, to dreams of political utopia,and personal power. The same ideological trap caught millions of others, in recent centuries – caught andkilled millions.When I was seventeen I left the town I grew up in. I moved nearby and attended a small college, whichoffered the first two years of undergraduate education. I involved myself there in university politics –which were more-or-less left wing at that time – and was elected to the college board of governors. Theboard was composed of politically and ideologically conservative people: lawyers, doctors, andbusinessmen. They were all well (