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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 (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Jonathan Haidt

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8472310,623 (4.08)35
Member:ThufirHawat
Title:The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
Authors:Jonathan Haidt
Info:Pantheon (2012), Hardcover, 448 pages
Collections:Kindle Editions
Rating:
Tags:psychology, social psychology, political psychology, religion, politics, United States, current affairs

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

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As an atheist, progressive liberal who strongly values rationalism, secularism, justice, and fairness above patriotism, religiosity, free markets, traditionalism, etc. I find myself looking across a divide at other partisans unable to fathom how they could be so cruel, obtuse, selfish, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, patriarchal, and ahistorical. This book is a valuable bridge to the other side of the divide -- not in the sense that it excuses racism, or any of the other evils of the world -- but in that offers explanations grounded in research that explain how libertarians and religious conservatives arrive at the conclusions. (As well as how I arrived at mine.)

I often found myself grumbling that outside of sociology, Haidt's understanding of history and economics was superficial and lacking nuance, but he's not a historian or economist and where I found myself wishing he understood Marx better, or the history of the progressive movement in America, I didn't see that his generalizations did very much harm to the sociological basis of arguments. I didn't always agree with his examples, but I'm hard pressed to find fault with his approach and methodology overall.

At the end, I found his thesis encouraging, even if unsettling in some ways. I don't like the idea of a "hive button," as he calls it, but I recognize the value in recognizing that groupishness may be an evolved trait arising from multi-level selection, and that purely rational arguments, and policies based on those arguments by extension, will fail to persuade or win support if their advocates don't consider the arguments of the opposition, and the basis of those arguments.

Haidt's style is clear, lucid, and effective in laying out arguments, and their evidentiary basis without bogging down in sociological jargon. ( )
  cdogzilla | Sep 2, 2016 |
Um. Haidt had too much to say, and said it too soon. One thing that didn't work is that there's too much of the ivory tower perspective - yes, Haidt & co. went to the 'ordinary people' to do some of the research, but they didn't really see us. Haidt should've taken a sabbatical to mull this all over first and then written it in a MacDonald's in Iowa, to gain some real perspective on the subject.

Another problem is that the book is structured like a lecture course, outlined formally, w/ intro. paragraphs, supporting arguments, conclusions... I got to the point where I was wishing there were review questions at the end of each chapter. An assigned syllabus of related readings would have been helpful, too. Other perspectives to read while studying the book, that is, not additional readings as we can glean from the bibliography.

Most importantly, I could not find answers to my questions on the subject. I admit I did not digest every paragraph, but I already knew (from other evolutionary psychology & related books, and from literature, and from life) all that I did understand from his text here. And I still am baffled by much of moral" human behavior.

I did love his other book, and look forward to his next. I do sorta hope is next is a more coherent visit to the themes of this one." ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
The title of this book suggests that it will contain information about the thoughts, and feelings that we have about what is morally right, and why there exist such a divergence of views about this subject. The author approaches the topic using psychological tools to determine the basis for this divergence. After a brief summary of the book I will discuss my misgivings about his project.

In the first section of the book the author discusses the idea that we use our intuition to first identify what is right and afterward apply strategic reasoning. The concept is summarized metaphorically by the image of an elephant and its rider with the elephant representing our intuition or "automatic" processes and the rider our rational deliberative mind. He goes on in the second section to identify five categories (later expanded to six) of moral issues using the metaphor of taste; based in part on the philosophical views of David Hume. In the final section he discusses why humans tend to form groups based around shared approaches toward moral categories. In this case the metaphor is the chimp and the bee, with the chimp representing the individual and the bee the group or "hive". The formation of groups is helpful in understanding the different viewpoints toward issues as each group emphasizes different categories of moral issues. All of this discussion is laced with observations of responses to hypothetical questions and situations by individuals and different groups.

I found Haidt's approach to be fundamentally flawed, yet I also found it fascinating and helpful both in enlarging and refining my thinking about the subjects he discussed. The fundamental flaw is the author's attempt to identify moral principles by using behavior and in the process of doing so eliminating the possibility that some moral principles may be foundational for any other activities. The result of his method is to conclude that good people can hold any combination of moral beliefs the difference between which can only be considered a difference in emphasis. This may be useful for a relatively homogeneous culture but it does little to explain the fundamental differences between cultures for whom there are fundamental differences in moral principles. He also seriously underestimates the power of reason in our moral judgements. While it is true that we sometimes make mistakes in moral judgement due to faulty reasoning; our reasoning can be improved, resulting in better judgement. In either case this is not sufficient ground to claim that there are no right or wrong answers to questions of morality. The psychological approach used by Haidt leads him to these conclusions.

In spite of some specious eristics the book contains much useful information about the nature of the human mind, its development and actions such as decision-making. Reading it stimulated me to consider related works in philosophy, anthropology and evolutionary biology. This is one of the aspects that I value most in reading and The Righteous Mind was successful in this regard. ( )
  jwhenderson | Nov 14, 2015 |
An incredibly interesting and insightful book discussing peoples moral foundations, where they come from, and what it means for society. Rather than following Dawkin's proposal that religion has evolved as a parasitic meme, Haidt proposes that religion evolved as a group selection process. Religion became a corner stone of every society because it enables people to co-exist in groups where we have no family connection. Societies with religion (and morals) were competed out of existance. He goes on to talk about the impact of moral foundations on current politics. If nothing else, read the concluding chapter! ( )
  jvgravy | Jan 31, 2015 |
Haidt goes into detail explaining why liberals think as they do, and why conservatives think as they do. He argues (convincingly to me) that both sides of our American political/religious spectrum base our arguments largely on morals... but the two sides have different definitions of what morality is. He discusses the evolution of religion in our world, and argues that even if there is no God at all (an indeed, Haidt himself is an Atheist), that religions have been an absolutely essential force in the development of a civilized world, and that they are still of vital importance today. I would recommend the book to anyone, but especially those who are far enough on the left or right of the political spectrum that they have trouble understanding their opponents as anything other than stupid and/or evil. This book shows that this is not the case. ( )
  fingerpost | Sep 26, 2014 |
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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.

Download the accompanying reference guide.
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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."

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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