"The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Mustang, May 23, 2012.

  1. Mustang

    Mustang Gold Member

    Jan 15, 2010
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    Full title -- "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion"

    This is a MUST read for all people interested in politics. Liberals would (and should) learn the most from it, especially about how they have a greater uphill climb to connect with the general electorate. Conservatives will gain insight into why exactly they have an advantage.

    Ever wonder exactly why "the political opposition" could POSSIBLY believe what they do? Ever wonder how they can possibly reach the conclusions they reach?

    Maybe a better question is how do YOU (or any of us, really) reach (y)our conclusions. Maybe an even better question is this: what mechanisms are at work which guide our 'thinking?' Do we, as we probably believe, use reason (as in logic) to reach our conclusions from the available information? Or is it something other than reason? And what exactly is the underlying mechanism at work? And could evolution really be playing a role in how we view the world?

    Haidt's new book (just published earlier this year) takes a fresh look at moral beliefs on the individual level and how our collective moral beliefs influence group behavior about what constitutes moral beliefs within different groups (Note: this book is NOT about group dynamics). The human mind is examined from an evolutionary psychology (Darwinist*) perspective in evaluating both individual AND group behavior and how it manifests itself in the political and religious realm.

    Haidt examines moral psychology, sociology, philosophy, and evolution to create a truly thought-provoking reexamination of how and why people believe what they believe when it comes to the differences in values between liberals and conservatives. Libertarians are also included.

    Just in case anyone is curious, Haidt is a lifelong liberal in his politics. One of the conclusions he reaches is that conservatives actually have an advantage when it comes to politics, although that's not really the core thrust of his theories regarding evolutionary moral psychology.

    *I was unaware that Darwin believed in multilevel selection (natural selection and survival of the fittest on the group level as well as the individual level) Apparently, Darwin's group selection theories fell out of favor a few decades ago and are now, only recently, making a comeback.

    This is a must read book. If you only read one nonfiction book this year, this should be that book!!!

    Edit to add: While the book is listed as being 448 pages in length, much of that is taken up in end notes, references, and an index. The actual length of the text is 318 pp. (plus a 7 page introduction).
    Last edited: May 24, 2012

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