The Righteous Mind

The Righteous Mind

Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

Book Club Kit - 2013
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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
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, c2013
ISBN: 9780307455772
Branch Call Number: Book Kit 118
Characteristics: 12 paperback books (500 p.)

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d
dockendorfqcom
Sep 29, 2018

Although the author covers a lot of interesting and relevant material, I believe that because he is both a liberal and an atheist, his coverage is myopic. For example, he totally dismisses ALL religion as pure myth. [I personally find overwhelming scientific evidence--through intelligent design--for the existence of God, and social evidence for the validity of Judaism and Christianity--from a multitude of witnesses willing to die.] Yet much "morality" emanates from religion. [He also errs about blaming multiple millions of murders on religion, when it was primarily socialists (Nazis) and communists.] Additionally, he claims liberals have a major concern for the vulnerable, but somehow misses their overwhelming support of abortion--the intentional killing of the unborn--even when the child ("tissue" to the liberals) is able to survive outside the womb.
Furthermore, he ignores the radicalization of the Left that we have seen over the past 30 years. This was quite evident in the two "stories" he used to describe first liberals and then conservatives. A careful reading of the liberal story showed about five extremist adjectives in their reactions. Such a tendency toward incivility should have been part of his study.
My experience as a conservative has been that facts don't matter to a liberal. Haidt seems to contend that that is true for everyone. But again, Haidt's studies don't cover sufficiently what happens when further information is afforded the people being tested.
In summary, an interesting read. But be cautious and understand the author's bias.

j
jeffreyochsner
Sep 29, 2018

This book is fascinating and very readable. I see others have already commented on the rider and the elephant, so I will share this:

Metaphor: The righteous mind is like a tongue with six different taste receptors.

Secular Western moralities try to activate just two receptors: concerns about harm and suffering, or concerns about fairness and injustice. There are other powerful intuitions: liberty, loyalty, authority, and sanctity. Conservatives tend to value all six. This gives politicians on the right a built-in advantage in reaching all those elephants.

The author defines WEIRD: Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic. WEIRD people are outliers in the world of morality. The WEIRDer one is, the more that person sees a world full of separate objects, instead of a world of relationships. Individual rights and choices are much more important to the WEIRD people than the needs of the group. The vast majority of the world values relationships and the needs of the group above the rights and choices of the individual.

If you want to understand where others are coming from, please read this book.

d
dwaynehoover
Sep 16, 2018

The Righteous Mind is an absorbing book. Haidt looks at how we decide on ‘right and wrong’. He looks at the role of intuition, groupishness, and how morality is multi dimensional – more like taste buds with individuals and cultures responding differently to different moral flavours. He lays out his thesis and rationale clearly and simply. He is more interested in addressing what is going on and why than who is right. In the I/We/It of change, this highly readable book challenges personal assumptions as well as beliefs about the other side. An important contribution to understanding and addressing the roots of divisiveness in politics.

g
Gondorf
Sep 09, 2018

This book knocked me off of my "Elephant", & caused me to revisit Carl Jung, Nietzsche, & the movie "A Few Good Men".
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Caused me to reflect on my life & realize the "Rider" should have taken more caution along the journey in respect to the other passengers.
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Timely, as I have just finished 5 other Psyche & Neuroscience books, some of which are predicting the Decline of the West, particularly the U.S.
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As a Liberal / Libertarian / Social Conservative, I found myself applying the 6 Moralities to current Politics. Watching the Moralist GOP tape their mouths shut & allow a Facist, Racist, Demagogue & Chief Gaslighter play out their agenda does not represent the author's view of Conservatism or Utilitarianism , or anything "Good" by whatever moral foundation you can effuse, embelish, or delude. Having a 2 Party System exacerbates the divisive partisanship.
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The discourse on "Usury" fits well into modern discussion regarding inequality; Usury is the weapon of choice on N.Y. Wall Street, London, Tokyo, Shanghai, etc. to maintain the status quo for the 1%, including the big Orange Headed Populist & his financial bedmates.
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Buckle up, going to be a rough ride.
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A very interesting read; well done.

JCLChrisK Aug 22, 2016

A fascinating examination of moral psychology and what makes us tick as moral creatures. A perfect antidote to the divisive rhetoric of political election season, inspiring humility and understanding.

r
ranXerox
Jan 23, 2016

A very valuable book for people of any political persuasion. If we respect science and fashion ourselves as rational animals, then we should be obliged to respect science within the social sciences and what those findings might mean to us; even, or perhaps especially, when it might offer things we'd prefer not to hear. Haidt is making the effort to bring those scientific findings to wider audience and I believe he succeeds marvelously in this very good book.
One stylistic aspect that I really appreciated was his summarizing of chapters at the end of them, then picking up that thread as he broadens (or narrows) the scope in the next chapter.
This book is without question one of the finest books I have ever read on the schism that separates good people on common ground. Many people may read this as a conservative book, but that interpretation would be an injustice.
I've read this book 3 times and recommended it over and over again to my friends, who are all very liberal minded - as I believe myself to be. To my mild annoyance, it seems none of them want to go near it and I'm strongly inclined to believe it's because they don't believe science has anything to offer the humanities. On that point, I could not disagree more strongly. So we just don't talk about it any more. :-)

This book gave my liberal mindedness a good shake - and that's a fine thing indeed, especially when your opinions spill into feelings of righteousness and you're categorizing a sizeable proportion of humanity as "idiots" and "morons" because they believe differently than you do. When you decide you're tired of believing all liberals are naive morons or that all conservatives must be raging xenophobes, reach for this book.

Absolutely invaluable. Highly recommended.

n
noseinbook
Mar 01, 2014

I'd long been mystified by the questions this book tries to answer -- why are many people unwilling or unable to consider the facts of an issue? How can so many smart people believe manipulative, superficial arguments based on emotion? Ah, it seems we humans come with many different types of brain wiring, no surprise here. We don't often truly change our minds, which is a bit of a downer when you think about trying to influence people. However, there is hope if we can maintain respectful dialogue with those with whom we disagree. It'd be great if more of us would do this, instead of falling back on labels, stereotypes and all those unworthy argument tactics with the Latin names.

s
StarGladiator
Jan 12, 2014

I wasn't planning on commenting on this silly book (having read it awhile back) but since it is in the queue, I will state I agree with ThorinO's comment below. First the reader must agree with the author's definition of "morality" - - but the problem I've run into endlessly is simply that ignorance prevails when it comes to conservatives, libertarians and rightwingers who mistakenly believe themselves to be "liberal" or, (heaven help us) "progressive" - - when they erroneously believe the politicians they vote for (rightwingers) are such because they reside in the democratic party! When one is open minded, they tend to view as many of the facts (and variables) as humanly possible prior to passing judgment.

s
SeattleSaul
Jan 12, 2014

This weighty tome written by an academic may be worth reading by other researchers, but it immediately becomes bogged down in a discussion about morality and the author's struggle to prove what it is experimentally. At the end, he issues an apology that "I fear that I may have crammed too many sights into the tour," and once again tries to explain morality. You can save yourself hundreds of pages of reading by realizing that people cling to their beliefs and will do everything to defend them--ignoring evidence to the contrary--because they don't want to be wrong about the beliefs. Furthermore, I posit, this will never change.

j
jporteno
Feb 01, 2013

on "taste buds" section - 4/10/2013

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allenjboychuk
Dec 16, 2017

The Righteous Mind is good as far as it goes. Haidt's premises make sense and are useful but I found the book a chore to read as it is basically a text book.

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