The Righteous Mind

The Righteous Mind

Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

eBook - 2012
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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...
Publisher: 2012
ISBN: 9780307907035

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Feb 01, 2013

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

Samuel A Marcum Nov 28, 2012

This book is definitely worth reading if - like me - you often run in a mixed crowd with respect to politics and religion. The book won't help you too much if your looking to learn to sway people to think more like you. But it will help you to learn why - fundamentally - disagreement is not only okay; its practically necessary as a sociological phenomenon. Haidt does a great job of trying not to choose sides or pick a "winner" side of any argument or ideology. Though he is unapologetically "liberal" or "left-leaning" in his own approach, he acknowledges the merits and even defends the rational of some "right-leaning" or "conservative" principles. Thus the book is hardly "liberal" or "conservative" but rather it strikes a balance of being politically neutral as it stives (and succeeds) to be informative.

Oct 09, 2012

This book is a must-read. It is full of fascinating insights. Yet it also needs to be read critically. It is certainly very useful in helping liberals and libertarians understand what motivates conservatives. Others have already commented on the book's strengths, with which I am for the most part in agreement. I will instead focus on its limitations, which are not so obvious. One is that it is essentially about the United States, where self-described conservatives outnumber liberals by 2 to 1 (and even that does not explain the close to 50/50 split between Democrats and Republicans). With few exceptions (Japan, Hungary), other advanced industrial democracies tend to be far to the left of the US, and so Haidt's thesis does not work there. It also ignores the striking geographic division within the US between the solidly liberal northeast and west coast vs the solidly conservative deep south. In essence, part of the United States behaves more like Western Europe, and another part (the part Haidt focuses on) behaves more like Japan, Hungary, or many of the less developed countries. He implies that levels of education do not matter that much, but clearly there is a correlation between education and less emphasis on tradition, respect for authority, and devotion to national and religious symbols and ideologies.

unbalancedbutfair Sep 04, 2012

Worth reading. A well presented, easily understood argument about how our morals, politics and tribalism intersect. An excellent step towards the various sides of American politics understanding each other. It is a surprisingly quick read. This is exactly how to write a book tying together social science and philosophy. I tore through the book in less than a week. Well worth the time. Many good ideas contained here. If you are actually interested in understanding the other side, whichever side that is for you, read this. If you care about politics, read this. You'll walk away with thoughts worth thinking.

Aug 25, 2012

Highly recommended. Explains differences between conservatives and liberal from the standpoint of Experimental Psychology. Has a lot of Evolutionary Psychology, which I consider pure speculation, but at least it is interesting speculation. If you have a suspicion that there must be something more going on than "all conservatives are crazy" or "all liberal are stupid" then this book is for you.

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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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