But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
I love how Sacks, through his small clinical vignettes, exposes the complex, narrative powers of the brain. Written with a clinician's eye, but a poet's heart, I also love how he is able to show how these patients with all sorts of neurological deficits, disabilities, and divergences are able to adapt and even thrive despite their neurological damage. For the most part, they are able to find "a new health, a new freedom" through music, inner narratives, etc. They are able to achieve a "Great Health," a peace and a paradoxical wellness THROUGH their illness.
A solid survey of behavioral economics literature related to the premise that the wide range of choices we have (what to read, how to read it, what rating to give it, where to post our review) actually ends up making us unhappier (tyranny of small decisions). Schwartz's summary is similar to a lot of those pop-economic books that seem to pop up regularly and sell quite well because they both tell us something we kinda already suspected, but also gently surprise us with counter-intuitive ideas at the same time. We are surprised, we are also a little validated: just little bit of supply with a very light touch demand.
This book belongs snug on the bookshelf next to: anything by Malcolm Gladwell, Freakonomics, Predictably Irrational, Nudge, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me), etc. All interesting, all worth the time (as long as the time is < 5 hrs), but none of them are brilliant. They are all Gladwell-like in their reductionism (this is why they all sell so well to the business community and are pimped heavily by Forbes to TED). I am both attracted and repelled by the form. They seem to span the fissure between academic and pop, between economics and self-help. I read them and I end up feeling like I know a bit more about myself, and NOW I'm just disappointed in that bastard for a couple more rational reasons.
Jonathan Haidt give a nice social science explanation for how we align politically and how we are built to disagree. This is one of those books that seems to fit in the same evolutionary psychology space as Bob Wright's 'The Moral Animal'. It is a combination of ethnography + evolutionary psychology + experimental psychology.
In 'The Righteous Mind', Haidt isn't seeking simply to explain why some people vote Left and others vote Right, or why some people believe in God A and other believe in God B. Haidt's bigger purpose is to explain how we are all hardwired to use reason NOT to MAKE our moral decisions/choices, but rather to use reason to BUTTRESS the choices (about God, politics, etc) that we've already made.
While I think his approach is a bit too simplistic, I still use his Moral Foundations Theory to explain why my father and I might have some overlap in values but different political views. I like the whole matrix of:
1. Care/harm: cherishing and protecting others.
2. Fairness/cheating: rendering justice according to shared rules. (Alternate name: Proportionality)
3. Liberty/oppression: the loathing of tyranny.
4. Loyalty/betrayal: standing with your group, family, nation. (Alternate name: Ingroup)
5. Authority/subversion: obeying tradition and legitimate authority. (Alternate name: Respect.)
6. Sanctity/degradation: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions. (Alternate name: Purity.)
Do I agree that liberals rank certain of these values higher than conservatives? Yes.
Do I agree that conservatives might value some of these foundational values more than liberals? Yes.
Do I agree that this list is the end-all, be-all of our Moral compass? No.
I think this is a good beginning. It is another social science draft that gives another way to look at how we think, how our thinking has evolved, and how we interact with each other. Any theory involving the human brain is bound to be a bit of a game in the dark. I think there are answers and many of the answers are compelling, but not all answers will be final or correct.
Look, there were certain parts of this book that just felt right, so I will spend a bit of time building a rational reason why it feels right and then post that reason on Audible.