Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Maps of Meaning

The Architecture of Belief, 1st Edition

By Jordan B. Peterson


564 pages

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pub: 1999-03-24
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Why have people from different cultures and eras formulated myths and stories with similar structures? What does this similarity tell us about the mind, morality, and structure of the world itself? From the author of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos comes a provocative hypothesis that explores the connection between what modern neuropsychology tells us about the brain and what rituals, myths, and religious stories have long narrated. A cutting-edge work that brings together neuropsychology, cognitive science, and Freudian and Jungian approaches to mythology and narrative, Maps of Meaning presents a rich theory that makes the wisdom and meaning of myth accessible to the critical modern mind.


"The book reflects its author's profound moral sense and vast erudition in areas ranging from clinical psychology to scripture and a good deal of personal soul-searching and experience…with patients who include prisoners, alcoholics and the mentally ill." -- Montreal Gazette

"This is not a book to be abstracted and summarized. Rather it should be read at leisure…and employed as a stimulus and reference to expand one's own maps of meaning. I plan to return to Peterson's musings and mapping many times over the next few years." -- Am J Psychiatry

"…a brilliant enlargement of our understanding of human motivation…a beautiful work." -- Sheldon H. White, Harvard University

"…unique…a brilliant new synthesis of the meaning of mythologies and our human need to relate in story form the deep structure of our experiences." -- Keith Oatley, University of Toronto

Table of Contents

Preface: Descensus ad Inferos

1. Maps of Experience: Object and Meaning

2. Maps of Meaning: Three Levels of Analysis

Normal and Revolutionary Life: Two Prosaic Stories

Neuropsychological Function: The Nature of the Mind

Mythological Representation:The Constitutent Elements of Experience

3. Apprenticeship and Enculturation: Adoption of a Shared Map

4. The Appearance of Anomaly: Challenge to the Shared Map

Introduction: The Paradigmatic Structure of the Known

Particular Forms of Anomaly

The Rise of Self-Reference, and the Permanent Contamination of Anomaly with Death

5. The Hostile Brothers: Archetypes of Response to the Unknown

Introduction: The Hero and the Adversary

The Adversary: Emergence, Development and Representation

Heroic Adaptation: Voluntary Reconstruction of the Map of Meaning

Conclusion: The Divinity of Interest

About the Author

Jordan B. Peterson is a clinical psychologist and Professor at the University of Toronto and was formerly at Harvard University. He has published numerous articles on drug abuse, alcoholism and aggression.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / General
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health