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(10/10) The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

by Jonathan Haidt    

In The Righteous Mind, psychologist Jonathan Haidt answers some of the most compelling questions about human relationships: Why can it sometimes feel as though half the population is living in a different moral universe? Why do ideas such as 'fairness' and 'freedom' mean such different things to different people? Why is it so hard to see things from another viewpoint? Why do we come to blows over politics and religion? Jonathan Haidt reveals that we often find it hard to get along because our minds are hardwired to be moralistic, judgemental and self- righteous. He explores how morality evolved to enable us to form communities, and how moral values are not just about justice and equality - for some people authority, sanctity or loyalty matter more. Morality binds and blinds, but, using his own research, Haidt proves it is possible to liberate ourselves from the disputes that divide good  people.    
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It is quite a long time ago that I read this book, so I am doing this a bit from memory. Luckily, the  book really made a big impression, so that is not overly difficult. In short, in the book Haidt  discusses results from research into how different people, from the political left, right and  centre view the world. What are the moral principles on which they build their world view, and  why is it so different from that of those on the other side of the political spectrum? Why does it  look like that many people vote against their own interests (such as for example here in England,  why would people in the Midlands vote Tories and for Brexit), and why do political discussion  generally end in an argument with nobody changing views?  These questions, and many more, are discussed and shown to be related to the importance  different people place on  different moral principles. For example, have a look at the figure  below twhich is taken from the book (by someone else....I hope it is ok to use it):  So that’s why your nan says these weird things about politics! The book makes a case for the political middle ground, with which I very much symphatise. But  more importantly, it shows you why those “other people” think as they do, act as they act, and  vote how they vote. It aims to build bridges so that, even if you still think your uncle is an idiot  who doesn’t understand what is really going on in the world, at least you now understand where  he is coming from (it is his moral matrix!). It makes Christmas all the more pleasant, and that  can only be a good thing! If it was up to me, everybody should be made to read it. Alas, it is not up to me, so you will have  to just act on my recommendation. For more info, also have a look at the Righteous Mind website that accompanies the book (link)