Mike Moore's Reviews > The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
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M 50x66
's review
Oct 18, 2009

really liked it
Read in October, 2009

This book has a lot going against it. The title is dippy, it's filed under self-help, and the author is attempting to condense the wisdom of the world's great traditions into easily consumed pop psychology.

He is, ultimately, quite successful.

I'm taking a star off, mostly because he has a few weak chapters and he's not a fabulous writer, but make no mistake: I consider this book to be a fine achievement that blends moral philosophy and current directions in psychology into a unified whole. Think I'm being too kind? I'll go one better: Haidt manages to reconcile both science and philosophy with common sense. He maintains a humility and clarity throughout which is not only refreshing but somewhat contagious. And he has written the best inquiry into virtue, morality and divinity from an atheistic viewpoint that I have encountered (chapters 8 and 9 in particular). Though he makes mistakes (at one point he says there are two kinds of love mentioned in the new testament: Agape and Caritas), his errors are only on his asides. The main thrust of his argument is always carefully researched and written with clarity. Further, his arguments are to inquiry, not to dismissal (which is a rarity in moral literature).

There are probably more weak chapters than strong ones here, by my reckoning, but I'm rating this for the weak. The strong chapters are 5 star stuff. I recommend this book.
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