The Evolution Gap and Rule Six

Jul 31, 2023

Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize the World

Rule Six from Jordan Peterson’s book “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” states: “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.” Interpreting this rule through the lens of the Evolution Gap— the discrepancy between our slow genetic evolution and our rapidly changing societal and technological environment—provides valuable insights into how we can adapt to the complexity of modern life.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived in relatively small, tightly-knit communities with well-defined responsibilities and roles. The sphere of individual influence was mostly limited to their immediate surroundings— their “house”. In this context, maintaining order was a direct, tangible task.

However, with the exponential growth of technology and societal structures, our “house” has expanded beyond physical boundaries to include virtual spaces and social networks. This change has outpaced our evolutionary wiring for simplicity and close-knit communities, creating a chasm called the Evolution Gap.

Setting our “house” in order in the modern context often means more than caring for physical spaces. It includes our mental and emotional states, relationships, and digital areas. This rule becomes even more relevant as our world has become increasingly complex. It implies that before attempting to fix broader societal issues, we must ensure that our personal world— our habits, routines, relationships, and responsibilities— is in order.

Viewed through the lens of the Evolution Gap, this rule encourages us to acknowledge and manage the complexities of modern living. Our evolutionary past did not equip us with the tools to handle the numerous responsibilities and challenges of an interconnected, digital world. By setting our “house” in order, we are attempting to bridge the Evolution Gap, creating a structured and manageable personal environment that echoes the simplicity of our evolutionary past.

In this light, Peterson’s rule serves as a reminder to tend to our immediate environment and personal well-being before seeking to tackle more significant societal issues. It prompts us to recognize and address the Evolution Gap in our lives, fostering adaptability and resilience in the face of the rapid changes characteristic of our era.

In conclusion, when examined in the context of the Evolution Gap, Rule Six encourages us to balance our evolutionary instincts with the demands of our modern environment. It underscores the importance of personal responsibility and the need to create order in our world as a prerequisite to engage with and contribute to the broader world effectively.

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