Why can’t our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount? Why do people so readily assume the worst about the motives of their fellow citizens?
In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding. His starting point is moral intuition - the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong.
Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right. He blends his own research findings with those of anthropologists, historians, and other psychologists to draw a map of the moral domain, and he explains why conservatives can navigate that map more skillfully than can liberals. He then examines the origins of morality, overturning the view that evolution made us fundamentally selfish creatures.
But rather than arguing that we are innately altruistic, he makes a more subtle claim - that we are fundamentally groupish. It is our groupishness, he explains, that leads to our greatest joys, our religious divisions, and our political affiliations. In a stunning final chapter on ideology and civility, Haidt shows what each side is right about, and why we need the insights of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians to flourish as a nation.
©2012 Jonathan Haidt (P)2012 Gildan Media LLC
"Haidt is looking for more than victory. He's looking for wisdom. That's what makes The Righteous Mind well worth reading…. a landmark contribution to humanity’s understanding of itself.” (The New York Times Book Review)
I love Audiobooks. I listen to roughly 50-100 hours a month. It's a good thing I work for Audible!
In terms of books on politics, philosophy and cognitive science, its one of the best.
The book tackles very sensitive topics - people's most closely held beliefs, and explains the WHY in a way that is sensible and non-controversial. Haidt provides a compelling case for why morality may have a genetic basis.
The chapter on Moral Foundations Theory. I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.
Its not really that kind of book, but the part describing group selection theory was good.
The most boring movie that ever changed your life.
Regardless of your political or religious persuasion, you should listen to this book.
This books provides the best response I have ever read until now to a very deep question: why evolution generated intelligence and rational thought? To have a full time advertising agency that improves our odds to reproduce. Not to reach the truth. At least not in the social environment. This is the author response based on high amount of empirical evidence in the ever more influential field of Evolutionary Psychology. A must read (or heard) for those who want to enlarge their scientific worldview in areas not still fully understood.
Loved it. Especially relevant with the current election. Highly recommend if you want to find some appreciation for all political parties.
Urban planner. Environmentalist. Geek.
This book only earned its fifth star from me a week after I finished it and I realized it had changed the way I think about other humans.
Reading political arguments on Facebook, I've started thinking about everyone's position in terms of the underlying values Haidt identifies. It is particularly valuable to me to understand the impact that "sacred" ideas have on people's thinking. Surface-level logic won't help to budge a person if it contradicts what's sacred to them, so either arguments need to work with that, or strong emotional tools are necessary that can reach and adjust that sacred value itself. It's a simple but profound insight that will influence how I do my job for years to come, so a book that accomplishes that deserves five stars.
The first few chapters alone are worth the price of the book. If you ever want to convince anyone of anything, understanding the power of our emotional instincts and how our logical mind works to rationalize them is necessary.
I will quibble with a few things. It is unclear whether the author believes there truly are six distinct moral frameworks that have separately and physically evolved in the mind, or whether this is just a useful artificial system of categories to help understand a much more complex underlying moral system. The conflation of what's real and what's a useful abstraction leads to some sloppy thinking. He assumes that each moral framework are set up as binaries (good v. bad) without defending why the brain would work that way. So, for example, he suggests our sense of sacredness can only exist if we have a sense of disgust to contrast it. Maybe, maybe not. The fact he offered no evidence suggests the idea is so embedded in his thinking he doesn't realize it's an empirical question.
Heidt is also, at times, slips into relativism, suggesting (I think without meaning to) that understanding why someone believes something is right or wrong is to justify that moral belief. Better understanding why people believe what they do is valuable for moving issues forward. It does not require that we respect or agree with throwing acid in women's faces or treating lower classes with discrimination. While he himself makes this point late in the book, he avoidably crosses the line into relativism more than once early on.
He spends the latter part of the book defending the value of religion as a group adaptation to allow humans to work together more effectively. Some of his evidence here feels flaky, like the powerful common feeling ravers feel while dancing. While ravers like to suggest they are building a stronger sense of common humanity, because that idea makes them feel good, I have first-hand experience to suggest that this is bullshit. His conclusions are compelling and suggest a need for atheists to think about accomplishing what religion does by other means, but as the cliché goes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. More work needs to be done on the evidence.
A work that makes the modern American Liberal think twice, for good reason, and puts Group Selection back on the table in a fairly irrefutable way. Love Haidt and his commitment to what is true, even at the expense of political correctness and the self (to most intellectuals, taking on the New Atheists isn't exactly the "cool" thing to do).
With all that said, this is a wealth of information, and is difficult to consume in one take. Do yourself the favor of tracking back when necessary.
SIDENOTE: Not a fan of Haidt as the reader of his own work. Never quite came around to it.
I read a lot of books like this but very few of them contain many new ideas. Not so the righteous mind! Very entertaining and often enlightening.
Mr. Haidt masterfully constructs an argument in favour of religion, moderatism, and diverse moral foundations.
One index for my participation and respect for a text is found in the number of books I acquire as the result of a more scholarly read. I have five additional books from this read.
This is erudite tome worthy of your full attention and lively enough to keep it…
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