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The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are…
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The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012)

by Jonathan Haidt

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This book was written by a social psychologist who tries to challenge conventional thinking about politics, morality, and religion. His life's work was on morality, and he sets out to prove that judgement arise from not only reason, but from personal feelings. He talks about how liberals and conservatives have such different views on right and wrong. What he proves is that both sides are actually right about their central concerns.



This book was just okay. I actually had a hard time with a lot of it because it read like a drone manual. Just a lot of.....blah. It would get very wordy and very technical, but never really went anywhere in large sections of the book. There were a few things that were interesting spattered here and there in the book, but for the most part.....I just worked to get it over with.



I don't recommend it. I think there are probably better books out there about the divide of religion and politics. This one just never really did much and took too long to get to the point in most chapters. ( )
  JenMat | Jan 10, 2019 |
A bit like "Thinking fast and slow". Research based. Interesting and important. ( )
  scottkirkwood | Dec 4, 2018 |
This one actually surprised me. I struggled at first but at least had it two-thirds done in time for book club, and then other things got in the way, but it was compelling enough by part II that I've finally finished it almost 2 months late.

It started out rough, and I didn't like it all that much. I suspect part I is most interesting to people who are into philosophy, perhaps academically. The second part got much more interesting, and the book picked up from there. He has some compelling arguments and it did help me understand other moral frameworks better. It is helping me rethink my views of religion and the utility of institutions that push more tradition and resist change. His argument in the final chapter about liberals and conservatives both having a place in a yin-and-yang balance did resonate with me. It helped that I happened to read the footnote where he clarifies that he is talking about traditional conservatism and not the Republican party. That would be an entirely different conversation.

I'd be interested in having a conversation with the author about some of the ideas in this book. I'm not quite convinced that six moral foundations are enough to cover everything--I'm not sure that care for out-groups (mostly liberals) and care for people in the in-group (mostly conservatives) is the same thing. Or maybe it's when Care gets wrapped up with the Loyalty foundation. I also think there is a sort of sanctity that is different from the Sanctity foundation Haidt lays out, which has a more religious bent. For example, there is the sanctity of people's own bodies and autonomy over their bodies, which I think is a bit different than what Haidt is covering with the Liberty foundation. That reframes things like the abortion debate as one type of sanctity vs. another: the sanctity of all life, including unborn life; vs. the sanctity of someone's control over their own body. The latter would also be a useful frame for talking about sexual assault and consent.

On the whole, though, I'm glad I read this book as someone who has grown up and lived in liberal bubbles and even outside those bubbles is swimming in a WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) culture. I hope to use some of the ideas I've learned here to gain common ground with people I would have previously dismissed. ( )
  jrogoff | Sep 22, 2018 |
Really good read- it's tough to write a book that makes sophisticated social psychology points using language accessible to the average, less educated reader, but Haidt does it pretty well.

Very convincingly takes us through the argument in three parts:
1. We may think that our moral decisions are made through careful reasoning, but actually we are totally ruled by our instincts, and the higher reasoning is little more than post-hoc rationalization. the metaphor is that there is a rider and an elephant- the elephant (instinct) controls the rider (reasoning), who is just there to follow where the elephant wants to go.
2. Morality is broken down, and seen as a concept with 6 moral foundations, some of which appeal more to liberals and some to conservatives. Most notably, conservatives tend to emphasize all of the domains, while liberals tend to focus on just 2- Liberty and Care, with much less emphasis on Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity than conservatives have. (the 6th domain is fairness, which liberals use a little).
3. "Morality Binds and Blinds". He uses the metaphor that we are "90% chimp and 10% bee", that humans are individuals, but that we have a "hive switch" that causes us to join together in certain conditions. Tribalism is an essential part of being human.

He ends with a paean to comity, urging people to get to know those in other political "tribes" and understand each other. It would be nice, and we have a long way to go. ( )
  DanTarlin | Aug 2, 2018 |
I was keeping notes as I read this book and started writing more than I was reading. Usually my notes are positive or neutral but with this book I was writing a parallel screed against the text. To a large extent, this is because I loathe philosophy and the text was philosophy rich, points and conclusions are pulled out of the air or based on anecdote, moral relativism is taken to dangerous lengths, and/or false comparisons. The title gave me great hope for a dispassionate understanding of certain dynamics, but it did not deliver. One can derive a better understanding from any number of sources: biology and psychology texts that show physiological dynamics that can play a role in determining ideology; religious, athiest, and agnostic positions that encourage tolerance, understanding, or neutrality; and studies that consider more roundly history, demographics, and contextual influences. The best things I have learned from this books is to completely ascertain whether a book can be categorized as philosophy so I can avoid it and to not judge a book by its title. ( )
  rosechimera | Mar 16, 2018 |
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I could not understand how any thinking person would voluntarily embrace the party of evil, and so I and my fellow liberals looked for psychological explanations for conservatism, but not for liberalism.
In psychology, theories are cheap.
Libertarians are basically liberals who love markets and lack bleeding hearts.
When libertarians talk about the miracle of "spontaneous order" that emerges when people are allowed to make their own choices, the rest of us should listen.
Emphasizing differences makes many people more racist, not less.
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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.

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307377903, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A groundbreaking investigation into the origins of morality, which turns out to be the basis for religion and politics. The book explains the American culture wars and refutes the "New Atheists."

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