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The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religionby Jonathan Haidt
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Amid America's tense culture wars, Haidt (The Happiness Hypothesis), a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, has produced this thought-provoking investigation into the innate morality of the human mind. Dismissing the notion that the human mind is fundamentally rational, Haidt briskly guides the reader through decades of psychology research in order to demonstrate that emotion and intuition determine our judgments, while reasoning is created only later to justify these judgments (Ã la Hume). From there, Haidt dispels the classic notion that morality is based upon concepts of harm or fairness and outlines the variety of moral categories before entering a discussion of how our 'righteous minds' 'Bind and Blind' us in politics, religion, and nationalism. But Haidt is at his best when using his comprehensive knowledge of moral psychology to explain both sides of American politics with an admirable evenhandedness and sympathy. In his two most insightful chapters, Haidt explains why conservatives have a wider moral foundation and thus, an inherent advantage in politics, and later outlines the necessities of both liberal and conservative moral systems, arguing that the two provide necessary counterbalances to one another. Blending lucid explanations of landmark studies in psychology and sociology with light personal anecdotes, Haidt has produced an imminently readable book about the complexities of moral psychology and the human fixation with righteousness. Illus. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A groundbreaking investigation into the origins of morality, which turns out to be the basis for religion and politics. The book is timely (explaining the American culture wars and refuting the "New Atheists"), scholarly (integrating insights from many fields) and great fun to read (like Haidt's last book, The Happiness Hypothesis).
About the Author
JONATHAN HAIDT is a professor in the Department of Psychology at University of Virginia. He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis.
Table of Contents
Part I Intuitions Come First, Strategic Reasoning Second
1 Where Does Morality Come From?
2 The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail
3 Elephants Rule
4 Vote for Me (Here’s Why)
Part II There’s More to Morality than Harm and Fairness
5 Beyond WEIRD Morality
6 Taste Buds of the Righteous Mind
7 The Moral Foundations of Politics
8 The Conservative Advantage
Part III Morality Binds and Blinds
9 Why Are We So Groupish?
10 The Hive Switch
11 Religion Is a Team Sport
12 Can’t We All Disagree More Constructively?
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