Maps of Meaning: A Brief History


Maps of Meaning is a profound book written by Canadian psychologist and professor, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. In this work, Peterson explores the nature of meaning and its significance in human life. Published in 1999, the book provides a comprehensive and multidisciplinary examination of religion, mythology, psychology, and philosophy.

The Story Within Maps of Meaning

The book delves into the fundamental questions of human existence and the quest for understanding the world around us. Peterson uncovers the psychoanalytical roots behind ancient myths, symbols, and stories that have shaped human civilization throughout history.

The core premise of Maps of Meaning revolves around the idea that adopting a specific set of beliefs and values – a “map” of meaning – gives purpose and coherence to our lives. Peterson argues that these maps of meaning are essential for individuals and societies to function effectively and flourish.

Prominent Themes Explored

1. Mythology and Symbolism:

Peterson extensively dives into the realm of mythology and its psychological foundations. He explains how myths, such as those found in ancient cultures, serve as archetypal symbols that represent fundamental aspects of human experience.

2. Religion and Belief Systems:

The book analyzes various religious systems, including Christianity, and examines how they offer structure, meaning, and moral guidance to individuals and societies. Peterson explores the psychological significance of religious beliefs and their impact on our lives.

3. Carl Jung’s Influence:

Maps of Meaning draws heavily on the works of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, particularly his theories on the collective unconscious, archetypes, and the psychological interpretation of myths and dreams. Peterson considers Jungian concepts as integral to understanding the human psyche and the maps of meaning we construct.

Awards, Critiques, and Acclaim

Since its publication, Maps of Meaning has received both critical acclaim and numerous accolades. The book is widely regarded as a groundbreaking contribution in the fields of psychology and cultural analysis.

Although it did not win any specific awards, Maps of Meaning garnered significant attention for its scholarship and the depth of its insights.

Peterson’s meticulous research, analytical prowess, and clear writing style have been commended by scholars and readers alike. The book has sparked intellectual discussions across various disciplines and has been praised for its interdisciplinary approach.

Important Characters

While Maps of Meaning does not revolve around specific characters, the book primarily focuses on the exploration of ideas and concepts rather than narrative-driven storytelling.


The significance of Maps of Meaning lies in its ability to shed light on the intricate relationship between psychology, mythology, and religion. Through its comprehensive analysis, the book offers a profound understanding of the human pursuit of meaning and the impact it has on our individual lives and collective existence.

Scroll to Top