Jordan Peterson and Immanuel Kant

Jordan Peterson’s second rule for life reminds me of Immanuel Kant’s goodwill theory, except that Peterson expresses it with more compassion and takes it from a different perspective.

Kant’s moral theory teaches us that there is nothing good within humanity except for one’s goodwill. Generally, there is no good or bad in this world – the world is merely natural. There is only the survival instinct. We are the only species that tries to define good and bad by acting it. The only way to show good, according to Kant, is to treat others how we wish to be treated.

However, in Peterson’s perspective, we should treat ourselves like people for whom we’re responsible. I see a strong connection between these two statements.

I just realised that I’ve been doing my best to live life according to Peterson’s principles. And to be honest, you have to prioritize yourself so that you take care of your physical and mental health. You can’t help if you’re not healthy. 

Therefore, you’re responsible for your well-being, and as long as you are content with yourself, you may start treating others the way you wish to be treated. I don’t know how to call this, if not a Buddhist principle.

You can’t refer any of this to Christianity or other religions, as it will trigger conflicts and wars.

(Note: I don’t view Buddhism as religion.)

But this is not what I want to discuss. I want to talk about selfishness. I don’t know about others, but I’m very prone to a guilty conscience, mostly in situations where I shouldn’t feel guilty. I know what is right for me, and I apply it to my life as much as possible. Knowing myself well, I only take so much responsibility that I can handle, and I’m honest about it. If I don’t have a full grip on existing obligations, I won’t just mindlessly add another responsibility to my life.

But this situation becomes debatable if a component of the existing responsibility demands more responsibility.

Anyway, is it fair if you accuse me of being selfish? I currently don’t feel like I have a good grip over my life, and I think I need help and time to fix it.

The motivation that I have is nowhere close to a year ago when it was all about self-publishing my goddamn book and make meaning of the ten years that I’d spent on it. Even though I’m proud of my accomplishment, I haven’t done enough.

In other words, I don’t think I put enough effort into the whole process of editing, publishing and marketing! 

But it’s time to move on and work on something new. I suppose you learn things painfully (according to Peterson), and a part of you does die. Doesn’t everyone die a little in order to grow? It could also be ageing because your perception changes over time. (If lucky, you become wiser.) The most important thing is to know how much capacity you have for responsibility.

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