Analyzing Jordan Peterson’s Octagram
I recently had the honor of seeing Jordan Peterson at one of his talks for his book tour. With the barrier of a few years’ worth of screen time removed, it was beyond surreal to see him in the flesh — not dissimilar to the first time I met Chase.
After the event a spark caught fire in me to dig deeper into Peterson’s psyche, and understand his mind not only from a Four Sides perspective, but from our recent Octagram perspective as well — captured through the Temple Wheels.
Peterson is one of the most polarizing cultural figures of our time. His content reveals just how attuned his finger is to the pulse of our world. Analyzing his psyche right now is also of particular interest to me, given the brutal near-death experiences that both he and his wife endured synchronously in recent years.
Within the Four Sides Dynamics, we know that deep suffering often stretches a person’s mind to access all the tools in their psyche. To my eye, there is a stark emergence of Peterson’s Superego in recent months.
Peterson has begun, at times, to lead with the value judgments of his Fi Demon. His Fe Inferior has become pincered between his Ti Hero and Fi Demon, and tremendous pressure has been exerted through his Fe Inferior to change social norms. More and more, Peterson’s work has become about applying pressure on society’s collective values, showing us where the foundation has already been broken.
Jordan Peterson is a more complex man than our analysis will exhaust today. But we will provide a framework to interpret his journey and, perhaps, reveal some insight into where that journey will end.
Jordan Peterson’s Type
Like Jung, John Beebe, Slavoj Zizek, and many others in the psychological and philosophical fields, Jordan Peterson is an INTP.
INTPs, the highly logical innovators, are one of the “watchers” for our race. Bound by their sense of duty and driven by compassion to help solve others’ problems, INTPs remain deeply mysterious in the eyes of most.
In my opinion, Peterson’s most fascinating Cognitive Function is his Extraverted Intuition Parent. The Parent, the source of one’s responsibility, is also the primary source for a person’s individual senses of meaning.
Extraverted Intuition as a standalone function is always focused on the future. But the INTP, with Ne Parent, is focused on the future cautiously, with a precise — albeit skeptical — awareness of consequences.
INTPs are not “fearful” in the same way ISFJs, with Ne Inferior, are. Ne Parent, especially as it gains responsibility, becomes about sober mindedness. With the pessimistic tinge present, the focus becomes about avoiding negative outcomes rather than just pursuing radical successes.
The INTP’s Ne Parent is about being aware and cautious in guiding others’ futures away from danger, and into the narrow road that leads to prosperity. Peterson’s own rise to intellectual stardom demonstrates just the profound development of his Ne Parent. His mission is built around his Ne Parent guiding us away from our own implosion.
Ne Parent is tied on an axis with Si Child. The more experiences an INTP gathers, and the more discipline they obtain, the better they will be able to guide others. It’s no wonder then that so much of Peterson’s life has been dedicated to gathering experiences through studying history and psychology, revealing the patterns that lead to societal destruction, so that his Ne Parent could sense those same patterns in our own society.
Peterson has embraced, as his sacred duty, the mission of guiding our society to a different place. He has sacrificed so much effort and comfort with his enduring Si Child to uphold that duty. Jordan Peterson, an INTP, is one of the watchmen of our world.
Jordan Peterson’s Temple Wheel
This is one of our eight prototype wheels for the 16 types. The other seven can be found here. These wheels are a core component of our evolving new personality system called the Octagram.
These wheels represent what a given type is seeking most in life — the Cognitive Origin in the middle — and the four strategies they use to obtain it, the four surrounding poles.
- The top pole is a type’s Living Virtue
- The bottom pole is a type’s Deadly Sin
- The left pole is the Shadow Pole
- And the right pole is the Aspiration Pole
A note for the curious: the colors are meaningful, but their explanation is outside the scope of this article. See the above link to the Temple Wheels to learn more.
The above Temple Wheel belongs to the INTP and ESFJ Dyad. Both types are seeking Discovery and use the same four poles to do it — albeit in slightly different ways.
What can we discern about Jordan Peterson by using this Wheel? If you’ve been following Chase’s recent content, you know that we’ve mapped the four sides onto these Temple Wheels, which we are using to determine someone’s nurture.
Jordan Peterson’s Four Sides of the Mind + Nature
Jordan Peterson’s Temple Wheel + Nurture
There are four options for Jordan Peterson’s Octagram.
SD | SF
Subconscious Developed, Subconscious Focused types primarily occupy the top right area of their Octagram wheel. SD | SF INTPs are Generative + Servile, selflessly and dutifully giving themselves away to a cause with increasing levels of productivity and creative innovation.
SD | UF
- Subconscious Developed, Unconscious Focused types primarily occupy the bottom right area of their Octagram wheel. SD | UF INTPs are Gluttonous + Servile, focusing more on consumption than production, while remaining selfless in giving to others. They are searching to consume appreciation and gratitude for their helpfulness to others.
UD | SF
- Unconscious Developed, Subconscious Focused types primarily occupy the top left area in their Octagram wheel. UD | SF INTPs are Generative + Hedonistic, where they experience a deep sense of personal pleasure in their work. For UD | SF INTPs, the act of generativity itself is about pleasure.
UD | UF
- Unconscious Developed, Unconscious Focused types primarily occupy the bottom left area in their Octagram wheel. UD | UF INTPs are Gluttonous + Hedonistic, consuming personal pleasure through endlessly absorbing the content of their interests.
Remember, too, that all of these variants of the Octagram are still centralized around the achievement of one’s Cognitive Origin. “Discovery” is one of many origins. While the atypical Octagrams, SD | SF and UD | UF, reach across to other Cognitive Origins a little more, our home base is still our home base.
So, which of these four options is Jordan Peterson’s Octagram?
We believe that Jordan Peterson is a UD | SF INTP — making him Generative + Hedonistic, occupying the top left quadrant in his Temple Wheel.
Exploring Generativity + Hedonism — UD | SF
People often have knee-jerk reactions to the terminology we’ve used for the Temple wheels. If you haven’t watched the Deadly Sins Series, it’s even more likely that words like “Hedonism” or “Gluttony” will be met with instinctual resistance.
However, I am going to describe Generative Hedonism through the context of behavior, using Peterson’s own life to illustrate how his Octagram is evident in his actions.
Generativity is innovative productivity. It is a combination of working hard and efficiently, while also utilizing creative energy to bring about new work.
One, just one, glance at Jordan Peterson’s career — and his ever-evolving pursuits, from creating applications, new lectures, new books, to even launching an online university — should clearly reveal that Peterson leads with his living virtue of Generativity.
He exists on the fringe of his own personal cutting edge.
What about Hedonism? Colloquially, “Hedonism” and “Gluttony” are often used interchangeably. But this is incorrect. Hedonism simply means the pursuit of what is pleasurable. And, philosophically, that “pleasure or happiness is the highest good.”
Many assume that “hedonism” means bodily pleasure. While hedonism encompasses the body, it is not solely contained by the body. Hedonism can also be focused on creative enjoyment, social fulfillment, and many other pursuits that extend beyond mere physical stimulation.
Notice, too, that “Hedonism” is colored green in the INTPs wheel, meaning that it is an influence of the Mind Temple. Perhaps unintuitive at first, as “Hedonism” may seem more easily attributed to the Heart — passion — but threaded through the Mind Temple’s influence, “Hedonism” becomes centered around learning, education, expertise, and the pursuit of skill and excellence.
Octagram Nurture vs. Psychological Integration
If Peterson is UD | SF, does that mean his ESFJ Subconscious is not developed?
Peterson likely has a more developed ESFJ subconscious than many SD | SF INTPs. But that does NOT mean Peterson is SD | SF. A person’s Octagram development is relative to their nurture. Their Octagram is where they default to when pressure is applied (Development), and where they are looking to expand their home (Focus).
To be focused on a side of the mind means that your psyche and environment have determined you need MORE of that side of the mind. Being “focused” does NOT mean that that side of the mind is absent development.
Gender and age also play tremendous roles in “quantifying” someone’s level of development or focus. And though Peterson has, in my opinion, remarkable accessibility to his ESFJ subconscious, confirmed through his 20+ years of clinical practice, Peterson’s psychological base remains Generative Hedonism. But his pole of Servility is, at times, evident.
Every podcast he does, every talk, every product or piece of content he releases, is about Peterson furthering his own intellectual territory, which inevitably leads to more exploration and, eventually, more creation. To my eyes, it feels appropriate to say that Peterson is “addicted” to his work — as Hedonism has fused through the Mind Temple to continue his path of learning and teaching.
Jordan Peterson is a UD | SF INTP, obtaining Discovery primarily through Generative Hedonism.
What’s Next for Peterson?
For Peterson, we should keep our eyes open to the continual expressions of his ISFP Superego. He has a few books coming soon that are more artistic, expressive, and narratively driven than his previous works of rigorous intellectualism.
The behavior he has demonstrated in some of his recent stances, what I would call “wrathful” in response to what he believes is the unjustified overstepping of society’s influence, can be attributed to his ISFP Superego.
Why? Because the ISFP Superego is directed by the Soul Temple — and wrath is expressed via the Soul Temple. I believe Peterson will continue on the path of experimenting with artistic and expressive pieces. These pieces, I believe, will be flavored with a sardonic personal morality, and will reveal nuggets of insight that survived the fire of his own personal hell.
I do not know what depths of darkness Peterson found in his recent near-death experiences; but it is both my hope and opinion that the nuggets he will share in future work will be made from the pieces brought back from the abyss.
Peterson’s Relationship with Discovery
Peterson has spoken about his system for preparing his talks before audiences. He doesn’t have a “plan” going into each talk, and he doesn’t recycle the same talk night after night.
Pick out any lecture or talk Peterson gives on Youtube and observe the fluidity in his presentation. He describes sitting down for a few minutes before he goes on stage, opening himself up to feel out whatever themes or questions will guide his talk for that night.
It is remarkable that an Outcome type — INTPs being focused first on planning and then doing — is capable of such a courageous embrace of the journey.
Earlier this year, Peterson was on the Lex Friedman podcast — my personal favorite Peterson podcast of all time. Peterson was describing how he spoke and he said this: “I pray before every word.”
I pray before every word.
What does this mean?
Keeping his Cognitive Origin in mind, we begin to see that every gesture and movement Peterson makes on stage, every silent moment spent searching for his next phrase, and every word that eventually leaves his mouth is in itself an act of discovery.