Become a Great Thinker with 10 Amazing Books recommended by Jordan Peterson
By Derek Beres / Big Think
We like to know what informed thinkers read in order to better understand what shaped their worldview. On his website, Jordan Peterson offers his Great Books list, granting insight into the turning of his own mind.
I've discovered a few that I'll pick up from the numerous titles that he offers. The following ten also resonated with me.
Island was Aldous Huxley's utopian counterpart to Brave New World, yet unlike Dante, he concluded this series (and his life; it was his last novel) quite well. This is a more reflective, psychedelic-loving Huxley sharing his profound connection to Buddhist philosophy in the guise of the disbelieving writer, Will Farnaby. The myna birds screaming "Attention!" throughout the book serve as an important reminder to everyone walking around with their head glued to a screen today.
Not much has changed in the nearly 70 years since Steinbeck published this masterpiece. Too many Americans are still clawing at the imagined dream. This book is the poet and patriot in his finest moment.
The Denial of Death -- Ernest Becker
It's also Becker wrestling with his own questioning and validation of Freudian psychology. I also recommend the posthumous follow-up, Escape From Evil.
Answer to Job -- Carl Jung
Unlike the "ultimate perfection" of God as espoused by many religious, Jung sees his treatment of one of his most faithful as the deity's own development—a sharp rebuke to anyone believing in an ultimate good, but also a valuable lesson that we're all works in progress.
Affective Neuroscience -- Jaak Panksepp
Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy -- Mircea Eliade
Eliade was one of the greatest religious thinkers of the 20th century, also penning one of the best scholarly books on yoga. Just as Joseph Campbell discovered links between archaic religions, Eliade sought out common occurrences in shamanic practices across the planet, writing them down in this exquisite work.
The World's Religions -- Huston Smith
He was a lovely man and beautiful writer, appealing to our highest angels in his lifelong pursuit of comparative religion. While he produced many important books over his 97 years, his debut remains a class in the field.
Animal Farm -- George Orwell
Orwell worked as a police officer in Burma, a political journalist in Paris, and a teacher in England before settling into his novelist career. He put a history of experiential knowledge into Animal Farm, an overt critique of Stalinist Russia. Too bad he's not around today to serialize the current state of affairs on his old beat.
The Origins and History of Consciousness -- Erich Neumann
There is plenty that doesn't hold up in this work—he believed that homosexuality was the result of underdevelopment and that even in women, consciousness has a masculine bent. But his exploration of creation and hero mythology makes this a fascinating read.
The Emotional Brain -- Joseph LeDoux
Even though we don't face the types of threats we endured for hundreds of thousands of years, our brain's threat detection system is what relates us to the rest of the animal kingdom.
We like to think we've scaled to the top of that pyramid, but from a neurological perspective, we're still running through the proverbial forest seeking shelter at every turn.
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