Sasha Garza's Reviews > The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt
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's review
Aug 27, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: bookclub

I enjoyed this book. Haidt did a good job of examining multiple different perspectives. It is an open minded exploration of the political left and right wings. Divided into three sections, the book discusses morality from many angles.

The first section examines morality from a psychologist standpoint. Haidt discusses theories about human morality and human interactions. He describes studies by modern psychologists. Goes back and forth over the studies. Examines different schools of thought. He collects and sifts through the ideas. Years worth of work and study condensed into 94 pages. It's a little overwhelming. This section reminded me of my PSYC 1301 class.

I liked the tone of the chapters. He's not pushy and he’s not overconfident. There is a sense of inner struggle. Haidt is trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong. The ultimate conclusion being: intuition first, strategic reasoning second. When faced with a moral dilemma, our gut reaction comes first. That reaction is then examined. Its either defended or suppressed by reason.

Part two contains Haidt contribution to moral theory. Haidt builds six moral foundations and compares them to taste buds. Each foundation is triggered by different moral dilemmas. He uses the foundations to explain the moral background for liberals and conservatives. Liberals concentrate on care and fairness [of outcomes]. Conservatives value each foundation equally. From the Liberal perspective, conservatives don't care about the environment and minority groups. From the Conservative perspective, liberals are unclean and unpatriotic.

Summarized, it sounds fairly obvious. His arguments are built in a slow and methodical way. It gives you a new vocabulary. A new way to understand human thinking. The chapters provide a framework to examine the thoughts and arguments of others.

In the third section, he argues that humans can easily become groupish. We group to people we relate to. This binds us to other people in a way that is necessary and useful. Instead of people competing against people, groups compete against groups. This blinds us to the inadequacies of our own ideals.

He compares organized religion to team sports. He examines New Atheism and why their views on religion/God are inadequate. It was interesting seeing religion defended with reason from a historical perspective. The third section is a little weak. The links between arguments are more vague, less concrete. Most of the text is based on the writings of Emile Durkheim, instead of several different sources.

I enjoyed this book. The writing was dry and fact based. He examines views from the idea that their perspective is valid. He stays away from stereotypes and insults. He starts out allied to liberals, but ends by agreeing with the world view of conservatives (but not the Republican party). A lot of research went into this text. Its based on years of study. Somehow, it is still personal. I know what Haidt’s opinion is. Now I am better equipped to understand my own opinions. Overall, an interesting examination.

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Hello . Is there a relationship between loyalty and outsider?

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