The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion 1st Edition by Jonathan Haidt (PDF)


Ebook Info

  • Published: 2012
  • Number of pages: 530 pages
  • Format: PDF
  • File Size: 4.05 MB
  • Authors: Jonathan Haidt


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The acclaimed social psychologist challenges conventional thinking about morality, politics, and religion in a way that speaks to conservatives and liberals alike—a “landmark contribution to humanity’s understanding of itself” (The New York Times Book Review).Drawing on his twenty-five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, Jonathan Haidt shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns.In this subtle yet accessible book, Haidt gives you the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation, as well as the curse of our eternal divisions and conflicts. If you’re ready to trade in anger for understanding, read The Righteous Mind.

User’s Reviews

Reviews from Amazon users which were colected at the time this book was published on the website:

⭐Question authority — your own righteous mind and the self-righteous certainty of your religious or political sect. Haidt’s appeal to reasoned self-knowledge contradicts his main message — that your opinions are largely driven by unconscious intuitions and those who believe reason guides human action are victims of the “rationalistic delusion.”Haidt is a certified “top world thinker” [wikipedia] so all who think about morality, religion, politics have to read this excellent, challenging, enormously informative book, a powerful contribution to the old “nature-nurture” debate. As it has been widely reviewed and praised, I will focus on some criticisms. His study of a vast range of material from philosophy to neuroscience, and his original research, forms the basis of his “moral science.” Is it good science? Less than 40% of psychological research is replicated (scientificamerican).He boldly makes an argument (chapter 9) in favor of a theory of natural selection at the group level. Group selection isn’t widely accepted by evolutionists, but it’s useful for Haidt’s theory of innate moral foundations, the “groupiness” of humans coded in their genes and in “gene-culture co-evolution.”. For good discussion search Haidt + Steven Pinker / Massimo Pigliucci / Sam Harris / Daniel Dennett /Jerry Coyne / John Jost.He quotes colleagues who note that “nearly all our research in psychology is conducted on a very small subset of the human population: people from cultures that are Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (forming the acronym WEIRD).” (96) This unrepresentative set probably skews the results. I think another bias, not mentioned, may result from much of the work being done with college students — in addition to being WEIRD, they are young and inexperienced in the adult world of work, religion, politics.He cites (99) previous research which identifies three major clusters of moral values: 1) autonomy cluster: individual liberty, rights, justice, equality. 2) Community cluster: submergence in family, army, tribe, religious sect, nation; values duty, hierarchy, respect, reputation, patriotism, self-sacrifice. 3) divinity cluster: sanctity/sin, purity/pollution; soul/spirit/mind is spark of divinity, the body is a holy temple not a playground; individualism is denounced as libertinism, hedonism, disobedience, sacrilege; taboos prohibit acts that degrade a person (miscegenation, homosexuality) or dishonor the Creator or violate the sacred order. “The ethic of divinity is sometimes incompatible with compassion, egalitarianism, and basic human rights.” (106) Cluster 2 and 3 were the basis of social control for millennia; it was a fierce struggle in recent centuries that elevated cluster 1, autonomy. Haidt seems to deprecate this achievement.Developing this theory further, Haidt identifies five clusters, or “moral foundations.” His theory posits innate disposition or intuition, partly genetic, partly cultural, to exhibit values and behaviors on one or more of these five clusters. They are: Care/harm, Fairness/cheating, Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, Sanctity/degradation. He finds that liberals rely on the first two predominately; conservatives rely on all five, which may “give conservative politicians a broader variety of ways to connect with voters.” (154). Perhaps a game point to conservatives, but does that valorize the code of ancient regimes? An example of politicians exploiting moral intuitions of conservatives is the North Carolina legislature drafting and passing in one day a law which responds to disgust/fear about transsexuals using the wrong bathroom — a few months before a tight election. Trump expressed disgust at Clinton’s use of a restroom–many were embarrassed, but maybe Trump knew what he was doing.Ongoing research and criticism convinced Haidt that his five foundations failed to fully explain moral and political values. More analysis is needed on the cluster of values around Liberty/oppression. This oversight is strange, as Liberty is the central moral value of modern liberalism, at the root of the Enlightenment, the American Revolution and our Constitution and Laws. Other values he believes need study are Proportionality (a division of Fairness), Honesty, Property (the main concern of moralists like Abbe Augustin Barruel and Edmund Burke!).I have seen conservatives misuse this book to say it proves conservatives are more intelligent or moral than liberals. Haidt is not saying which moral cluster is best: the theory is a descriptive analysis of how people think. But he allows such misinterpretation by lecturing liberals on their need to honor conservative intuitions.In the U.S., he says, these five or six clusters of moral intuition are at the root of the left-right political conflict. Can we explain current political conflict as growing out of genetically embedded feelings? Can we describe as “morality” attitudes based on Loyalty, Authority, Sanctity without evaluating specific attitudes or acts? He says Democrats are naive because they respond to a narrower set of “moral tastes” than conservatives. (157) That’s a value judgment. If we are being urged to choose our moral foundation, we need to discuss specifics: appeal to loyalty gave us McCarthyism; appeal to authority gave us a war based on lies; appeal to sanctity gave us slavery and homophobia. The “five moral foundations” are not equal in merit for guiding moral choice. Haidt acknowledges this criticism but does not, in my opinion, make a satisfactory revision of his analysis.The “research” consists in the questions and stories framed, and the body of respondents selected. I think questions and stories could be framed that reveal liberal embrace and conservative rejection of Loyalty, Authority, Sanctity. Do you loyally honor the President even if he is a black Democrat? Should persons and corporations comply with the authority of the IRS and the EPA to make rules, and respect the authority of scientists on issues like evolution and human-caused global warming and species extinction? Does sanctity (purity, avoidance of disease) motivate citizens to support FDA in protecting the purity and healthfulness of consumer products? Do you approve the disloyalty of the American Revolution? Of the Confederate rebellion? Do you support the authority of the Supreme Court (and the value of autonomy) to say gays have the right to marry?It is not a great revelation that liberals care more about Care/harm and Fairness/cheating and Liberty/oppression than about Loyalty, Authority, Sanctity. Has Haidt proven that conservatives do not value autonomy higher, or is it merely that they are more easily triggered by the older codes? If one catalogs all the “triggers”, gut reactions, fear, hate, superstition associated with each “foundation”, it’s not hard to see where the higher morality is — which conservatives and liberals perhaps equally embrace. Surely most Americans highly value the overthrow of millennia of tyranny under monarchy, aristocracy, theocracy and the enshrinement (new content for Loyalty, Authority, Sanctity??) of liberty, justice, equality.Haidt puts cleanliness, avoidance of disease, and such under Sanctity (purity), and implies liberals don’t value this cluster much. That’s clearly wrong, and he acknowledges that “the Sanctity item showed no partisan tilt; both sides prefer clean[liness]” (162).Learned responses are wrongly defined, it seems to me, as “intuitive” or gut instinct. EGGs show the brains of liberals and conservatives react differently to significant words without deliberation. Yes: the brain has already learned the meaning of words, and the meanings vary with one’s learning.His famous metaphor — the mind is divided into parts, like a small rider (conscious reasoning) on a very large elephant (automatic and intuitive processes) — is upside down. He says the metaphorical elephant is in charge, but a real rider or trainer of an elephant is clearly in charge of a very powerful animal. The power of intelligence to control atavistic impulses is the foundation of civilization. His other metaphor — humans are 90% chimp and 10% bee — is equally misleading. Bees don’t think, so where is human intelligence in this metaphor?”Democrats often pursue policies that promote pluribus at the expense of unum, policies that leave them open to charges of treason, subversion, and sacrilege.” (185) He doesn’t say the charges are fair, but he says Ann Coulter’s book “Treason: Liberal Treachery” “says it all” (141) What it says to me is that hateful slanders of liberals are popular among conservatives. What does Haidt think it says? Such charges are bogus (McCarthyism) and a “morality” that motivates them is atavistic. The thesis of the book is that Republicans successfully appeal to these (atavistic–my word) impulses. If liberal politicians decline to push these effective (atavistic) triggers, is that evidence of truncated moral foundations?In chapter 11 Haidt criticizes three scientists, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, for books denouncing religion as delusion. (He omits Victor Stenger, physicist, philosopher, atheist, who has written a dozen books on science [“flies us to the moon”] and religion [“flies us into buildings”].) Haidt faults them for focusing on belief in supernatural agents. Haidt says that is not the principle function of religion, which is to create community. But state churches created warring communities until our new constitutions disestablished religion. Haidt is advocating a “Durkheimian model” is which humans are fully human only as part of a social group. He acknowledges the danger — the value creates fascist societies too (271) but still he defends group loyalty and authority as a necessary foundation for morality. Don’t liberals support building social cohesion? Doesn’t the American “creed” enshrined in our Constitution and Laws give us a superior unity without blind loyalty or obedience to (what other?) authority?Haidt quotes two archetypal narratives on pages 284-285 that give us a clear choice. The “liberal progressive narrative” seeks liberty and justice and has “succeeded in establishing modern, liberal, democratic, capitalist, welfare societies.” The “Reagan narrative” calls on good Americans to “take back” the nation that has been “undermined” by anti-market, anti-American, anti-family, criminal-coddling, flag-burning liberals. [How many liberals have ever burned a flag?!] The merit of the conservative narrative, relying on all five (or six) “moral foundations”, where conservatives smear liberals as flag-burners, escapes me. It’s a dishonest caricature.A caricature from Haidt: liberals see only individuals, while conservatives see that essential moral community arises from “the complete community.” (292) [But it was conservatives who ridiculed Hillary Clinton for borrowing the African wisdom “it takes a village to raise a child.”] Another Haidt caricature, unscientifically taken from conservative rhetoric: liberals think fairness means equal outcomes. No liberal theorist or Democratic leader takes that position.Haidt defines morality near the end of the book (270) : “Moral systems are interlocking sets of values, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions, technologies, and evolved psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate self-interest and make co-operative societies possible.” He is clear that he is describing, not prescribing, morality. He includes “technologies” but omits “rational guidance for good behavior” or the idea that morality “make good societies possible.” But calling bad ideas and behaviors a system of morality is confusing. Morality usually implies the search for ideal or prescriptive values, even if the search is unending and full of disagreement. Here is a better definition, IMO, from the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy — “morality, an informal public system applying to all rational persons, governing behavior that affects others, having the lessening of evil or harm as its goal, and including what are commonly known as the moral rules, moral ideals, and moral virtues.” I think liberals and conservatives would subscribe to this. It addresses the social aspect of morality, in contrast to Haidt’s claim that liberals “focus intently on individuals” while conservatives “recognize that human flourishing requires social order” (272) — a false dichotomy. Hillary Clinton’s theme was that flourishing societies are necessary for the development of flourishing individuals.Despite his disparagement of “the rationalist delusion” (28, 88) his work is rational/scientific and he expects his book to influence rational persons toward civility and cooperation. This is an affirmation of the power of learning to shape morality. It made me more sympathetic toward people who differ from me. This is an important book and Haidt earns great deference — respect for authority — for his mastery of a vast literature in philosophy and science, and for his ongoing industry. He is associated with several websites that continue this research.

⭐5/2/12: Okkaaayyy, I decided to give my original, rather negative review a complete overhaul, take out the cynicism and bitterness after all, and bump it up from three to four stars. Not so much because I now believe that my initial critique is invalid, but because I realized that this book somehow does what Haidt say’s his intention is, it did help me strive for more understanding, patience, and tolerance.It did so because it had me thinking, reasoning, debating, and yes, evolving for weeks. I am not quite sure if that is part of Haidts intention, even if he says so. I perceived the book more as an appeal to stop thinking too much and trust my instincts instead (like in: to dumb down somewhat), and that’s my main problem with this book. Putting more trust in ones instincts might be a good advice in general (as in being less cerebral and getting some stuff done instead), yet I don’t think it is a good idea when it comes to politics. Not with all the sound bites, over promises, scare tactics and mud slinging in nowadays politics that might corrupt our instincts.About the book: Haidt tries to explain why conservatism is more appealing to the broader audience then liberalism. Conservatism is more in tune with emotions and intuition (the elephant part of our human personalities), while liberals address thought and reason (the elephants rider). But because, according to Haidt, the rider doesn’t have control over the elephant, and the riders only purpose is to help the elephant justify his actions (like a PR agent), liberals have a harder time to get their messages across. He also claims that conservatism is based on a broader spectrum of morality than liberalism, by putting more emphasis on motions like loyalty, authority, and sanctity, not just ‘do no harm’ and fairness. He also points out how humans are part chimp, part bee, and that we thrive within groups (beehives), and put personal interests aside for the sake of the group, which can result in extraordinary achievements. Conservatism lines up with this tribal instinct by promoting strong binds to family, community (church), and country (patriotism).Haidt explains how he discovered that conservatives are ‘on to something’, because they tend to be happier with life and ‘get more stuff done’. He thinks that left and right balance each other out for the greater good, that both sides should show more tolerance and respect, and that fundamentally both sides are not that different in their goals and values as it seems.Here is where I disagree:Conservatives are generally happier and get more stuff done, Haidt says. Conservatives know how to activate the beehive switch, which turns selfishness into groupishness, enabling humans to achieve great things. I think he sneaks in a bit of judgement here. Beehives are good and useful, but in my opinion the whole argument sounds less pleasant if you replace the beehive with an anthill or termite colony. Germans made that discovery after world war II. Post war german historians came to the conclusion that german citizens didn’t exercise their moral responsibilities to take a more critical look at their ‘beehive’, turning a blind eye for the sake of self serving groupishness. So I believe it is the responsibility of each and every individual to make sure that the ‘beehive’ doesn’t turn into a wasp nest. Because our national hive is wide spanning and complex, we need the help of the rider to make such assessments.Haidts elephant/rider analogy sounds convincing at first glance, but it doesn’t make all that much sense to me on second thought. If the riders only job is to act as a PR agency for the elephant, with the only purpose to justify any kind of action the elephant takes, but otherwise having no say in were the elephant goes, than what’s in it for the rider?? If an an elephants strength and power cannot be directed and channeled in any meaningful way, it is pretty much useless to the rider, so why would he bother? I believe Haidt got it wrong here. Also, elephants in the wilderness don’t look for a rider, why would they? Unless they find a good reason, but elephants don’t reason, riders do. Riders have the ability to foresee the potential advantage in domesticating an elephant. Riders have imagination, elephants don’t.If an elephant rider team is to be of any use or purpose, one of them has to take the lead and be in control, and how can that not be the rider?But here is my biggest complaint: I don’t think you can have a multiset of different rules or moralities without having a master rule. In Christianity most people would agree that to be the Golden Rule (‘do upon others…’, or Do No Harm/Fairness). Non religious people might rather think of Kant’s categorial imperative. Haidt is saying it is not only tolerable but also justified to apply different sets of moralities in any given circumstance, I respectfully disagree with that. For rules or moralities to serve any kind of purpose or meaning, you need a reference point (like true North on a compass), hence the name Golden Rule. So while loyalty, authority, sanctity as moralities are of value no doubt (like West, South and East on the compass), they only retain their value as long as they don’t breach the Master Rule/Golden Rule (or can be crosschecked against true North). How else would one ever claim moral integrity? Impossible if one keeps contradicting themselves, by following one of the rules, while in doing so breaking another.It’s like adhering to the speed limit while running a red light.A good example for such a double standard would be somebody to expect their preschooler to master behavior skills like sharing, waiting your turn, looking out for others, apologizing, not to bully or hit; and than cry out in outrage when the president considers to offer an apology to foreign nations for past controversies (like in offering the olive branch). If he did so or not, or if he had a reason to do so or not is besides the point, its about moral conduct, and consistency thereof. The same applies to ‘historical car crashes’ like communism, the French revolution (fought in the name of reason), or the crusades, the Inquisition, and the 30 year war (fought in the name of religion), just to name a few. In none of these events True North (the Golden Rule, Do No Harm/Fairness) was being tracked, it was never really about reason or religion, but rather about power and control.In my opinion, running red lights at a reasonable speed is not too big of a deal with only 3 cars in town, but becomes a recipe for disaster with 7 billion cars (or elephants) all over the place. And some nukes too boot, and who knows how long we are able too keep them out of angry elephant’s (as in alienated nations) trunks? Do we really want to try to find out? Yes, some elephants undeniably seem to suffer from a form of ‘mad cow disease’, and hopefully can be taken out the way Bin Laden was handled, instead of spooking the whole herd into a stampede (think ‘the axis of evil’).How to keep families, communities or nations together without conservative impulses? I think there are many cultural impulses that are worth conserving but are not controversial; take traditions like Thanks Giving or Christmas for example, or the sports we play, or music, from enjoying geographic landmarks like national parks or mountain ranges to the skyline of NYC, all the way to Disney Land, Coca Cola and Apple. The list is endless. There is so much to love about America, and to be proud of as an American. But I think wether or not we are the shining beacon on the hill is not on us to decide, it’s on the rest of the world to judge that. To put it another way: A little more leading by example, less of ‘do as I say, not as I do’.As for our tribal instincts I would suggest that elephants in need of a well deserved break from the rider could go to a football game and yell and howl all they want to support their team, or find a similar outlet of that nature. But when it comes to politics in the domestic or – even more important – the international arena, one should make sure to bring a well trained, good natured elephant. And whoever we send there by our vote should be able to handle their elephant well (and know how to read traffic lights). Only then the rider can do his real job and engage in a meaningful debate.Bottom line: When it comes to politics, Haidt, in essence, is asking for more of the same, just at a lower volume. That is a good start, but it leaves me dissatisfied. After listening to a book introduction on NPR, I was expecting more. He basically tells us, look, it is what it is, let’s all be nice, and move on. I wish he would have provided some inspiration what COULD be achieved if all of us would try to become more of an ‘elephant whisperer’, not only in our personal lives, but on a global scale. People, families, communities, governments, nations, all those entities are elephants. Haidt misses out on that opportunity.But than again, if lowering the volume helps calming down spooked elephants, so the rider gets to spend less time finding excuses for the good beast, and more time for some serious soul searching, while blending out the sound bites and mud slinging, than maybe that’s all that can be asked for.

⭐This was a book club choice, and one of the best that we have read in recent years. I would recommend it to everyone, but particularly those with strong and confirmed moral or political convictions. It will change your views about religion and politics, and hopefully make you more tolerant of other peoples perspectives. Here are my notes:Haidt: The Righteous MindOverallThis was one of our best recent book club choices. It was well written, clear and thought provoking. The main point of the book to me was to demonstrate that morality has a social purpose, as the foundation on which social capital is constructed. What matters is that people share the same moral values, not whether those values are “right or wrong”. It has changed my thinking, and I have bought copies for friends of mine to see if it can also change theirs.SynopsisThe book is divided into sections:• Section 1: Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning secondThe central metaphor is that the mind is like a rider on an elephant, whose job is to serve the elephant without much control of where the elephant is going. Traditionally Western philosophy separated the body and the mind, with the mind being the “ghost in the machine”, but according to Haidt the two are intimately connected. In fact morality is rooted in emotion and not in reason. We act first (the elephant moves), and justify our actions later (the rider).• Section 2: There’s more to morality than harm and fairnessThe central metaphor is like a tongue with six taste receptors. Morality has evolved to bind social groups together. Haidt identifies 6 different moral foundations, each of which has a role to play in addressing specific human behaviours:Care/Harm: evolved for the protection and care of vulnerable offspringFairness/Cheating: evolved to encourage sharing and punish cheatingLoyalty/Betrayal: evolved to bind people together in social groups and to punish defectorsAuthority/Subversion: evolved to bind people within a hierarchical social structure within the groupSanctity/Degradation: evolved to protect health by avoiding unsafe foods and encouraging hygienic practisesLiberty/Oppression: evolved to balance the personal freedom and group loyalty• Section 3: Morality binds and blindsThe central metaphor we are 90 percent bee and 10 percent chimp. We naturally tend to aggregate into large social groups bound by shared morals. In this context religion should not be seen as a parasitic meme, but as a social tool that binds people together into a cohesive and effective unit. Further, our political inclinations are a function of our individual sensitivities to each of the 6 moral foundations. Socialists are primarily driven by Care/Harm considerations for “social justice” and equality of outcomes. Conservatives are more concerned with maintaining social capital in an imperfect world where people cheat and exploit the system. Neither has a monopoly on righteousness, and each has their place in maintaining a balanced society.CritiqueI thought that this was an excellent book, grounded in science, which succeeds in its main argument that morality is an evolutionary adaptation whose purpose is to behind social groups together. I also very much enjoyed the description of how the field of moral psychology has developed over time. I have only a few points to discuss:1. Religion as a memeHaidt argues that the new Atheists are wrong in characterising Religion as a pernicious meme, and that instead it has a social purpose in binding people together into a cohesive whole. I think he overstates his case, and that his argument is not incompatible with that of the new atheists (Dawkins, Hitchens etc). Although the set of religions as a whole may well have a social purpose (religion has spontaneously evolved too often for it not to have some use), each individual religion can also be regarded as a meme that exploits humanity’s social needs to propagate itself. Thus when Haidt states that religions change over time to fit the needs of a changing society, the New Atheists would argue that the meme mutates and evolves with its host to ensure its continued propagation. It is merely a question of perspective.2. Moral foundations of political viewsAlthough, the conclusion of Haidt’s discussion of the moral foundations for Conservative and Liberal viewpoints is a refreshing call for tolerance, I thought that this was the weakest part of the book. His claim that political beliefs can be traced back to differing sensitivities to the 6 moral foundations mentioned above was justified by social surveys in which people were asked their political orientation and then asked to answer moral questionnaires. Conservatives and Liberals were then found to have different reactions to questions that targeted particular moral foundations. Correlation is not necessarily causation I thought that some of the graphs showed relatively weak relationships. In order for Haidt to be right the questions must be formulated so that the subject interprets them in the way intended, and that each question must target the intended moral foundation correctly. There is significant room for error and ambiguity there. His results seemed strong enough to draw general but not specific conclusions from.3. I have an old friend whose politics are different from mine (he is a lifelong Socialist), so I bought him a copy of the book in the hope that it would provide some perspective and allow us to better understand each other’s viewpoints. As I handed it over he took one look and said “Not bloody Haidt, I hated that book.” We continue to avoid discussing politics. I am pessimistic that Haidt’s call for political toleration will be heeded.OverallI thought that this was a terrific book, and one of the best we have read in a while.

⭐I read the review that gave this book low rating and I feel like they’re missing Haidt’s main point/ reason to write about this book. Haidt is concerned about social cohesion. And the thing is social cohesion comes from homogeneity or at least shared values or activities. Considering that the left is all about diversity, newness and difference, it makes sense that he would portray it in a somewhat negative light. The problem with insisting on difference and individuality, is that instead of making society adapt to you, it makes society notice your difference even more and hence, cause more bigotry and racism. Furthermore, I would like to point out something about diversity and multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is a pretty word that is tossed around when we’re talking about diversity, but it seems to me that very few people understand it.Multiculturalism hardly means people living together as a community, it means having community within a larger community. Take the example of London, you have people from Eastern Europe on one side, the Polish only stays with the Polish, the Slovakian with the Slovakian and so on and so forth. Then, you have Black Jamaican who make up another unit. You have Black African (Anglophone and Francophone) – Nigerian, Ghanaian, Ugandan, Ivorian, Congolese…etc. Obviously nobody actually mix together. Nigerian stays with Nigerian, Ivorian with Ivorian and so on and so forth. Then you have Indians and Pakistani who stays with people who come from the same country as them. Even Italian in London usually stays with Italians. In fact not long ago, an Italian told me that there was a big association for Italian in London and that he was a member. There are many other group that I skipped because I couldn’t be bothered but you understand what I mean. And then you have the English – some accept this diversity (usually easier in good economic time), others merely tolerate it.All group have a natural tendency toward self-segregation. But on top of that, these days we have an external pressure from the Left. The Left does everything it can to remind people how different they are from another, besides picking nonsense battle which erode social trust and our already tenuous social cohesion (i.e tearing statues, protests on university…etc).The left in its haste to remake fail to understand that a) the world as it is though not perfect is way better than it use to be and b)that if they continue it will only lead us to a civil war. There is still poverty but anyone who’d read history would know that it’s nothing as it used to be (read for example Way to Wigan Road), racism though still a major issue is better now than it ever was. I should also point out something people always talk about how Trump brought a fascist state, about how much of a Nazi he is and so on and so forth. Do they not realise that if they were living in a true Nazi state they could not insult him, or his supporter the way they do on TV or even anonymously on social media? Trump is bad, but no he’s isn’t creating a new Nazi Germany or URSS. And really saying such things is terribly insensitive to the people who lived through those time.By the way, I do not mean to say that injustice should not be tackled, but it has to be done in a pragmatic and useful way. Concretely, though I understand why he did this, what has Kaeparnick protesting the American flag accomplished besides increasing polarisation? Similarly, for the last couple of years I have heard using terms such as white privilege, white supremacists, old white men, patriarchy and other similar words in almost in every sense and often when they aren’t warranted. But what has it accomplished? It has created a backlash from conservative and annoyed liberals. You also have white liberals who have accepted those terms. But I believe for some, it is only a cool trend they have stumbled into, for other it is a form of religion which I’m not entirely sure they fully believe into, and the last group simply feel obliged.To be clear, I do believe that in an unfair world, black people are more likely to suffer from unfairness than white people. There are various reasons for this bias and prejudice, the fact that black people are a numeral minority (10% of black in US, only 2% in UK and probably also about 2% in France) whereas white are the majority, lack of economic power of black people in the country they live, lack of economic country of African countries and cultural difference. So, in a sense I believe that white privilege exists, but I think that the way we go about talking about it is simply too divisive and does not promote understanding or even compassion.I am very well aware of all the wrong white led country have done in history. Though if we’re being very fair about it, Arab countries (slavery) and Asian countries (mostly Japon have done the same [severe colonisation of neighbours]) have done similar misdeed. But really, we can’t expect someone to understand our point of view when we scream have him that the colour of his skin make him a bad person, even if he personally hasn’t done anything. Or when we say that all white people are basically evil. I understand where people are coming from when they say that. Exchanging with someone who has entrenched beliefs about you & your people, who simply cannot imagine that his experience is not the experience of everybody else or someone who is wilfully ignorant/ selectively chose morsel of history (many Conservative) can be very trying. Nonetheless, if our objective is to make a positive change then we need to change how we communicate.Going back to the book, though Haidt says that Conservative have six moral foundation rather than the Liberal’s three, he does point out the flaws within the Conservative movement. Besides, Haidt never said that having the six moral foundation mean that you can’t be biases or that your reasoning is perfect. In fact, you could argue that he said the contrary. One more thing, someone pointed out that if Conservative score high in Loyalty how come they distrust the government. Well, this reading is wrong. Conservative do trust government to provide a good environment/ market, they trust the government’s words, including its lies. Essentially, they gov to rule the environment but not the individual. You should remember that they also score high in Liberty. Hence, it isn’t surprising that they do not want an external force to rule them.I suppose some people aren’t happy just because he didn’t call them racist idiots. By the way, even after reading this book, I still have trouble reconciling my initial views with the picture Haidt presented. What I’m trying to say is that though Haidt’s book gave me a lot of insight, I still have much to digest.I would recommend this book to anyone who want to understand politics and their neighbours with different political opinion.There’s only one thing which the book is missing for me. It is a niggle and really, Haidt already did enough and couldn’t have looked at this. But I wonder how morality work/ develop across race. For example, a lot of black people are liberal/ democrats because this side have generally been against injustice and willing to do something for the lower section of society. But, could it be that some despite their skin colour are actually closer in their moral spectrum to the white conservative they despise (and who in turn may despise them)? More bluntly said, if instead of being black, they had been born white, could their political leaning be completely different because being white and conservative doesn’t come with the same baggage has being black and conservative? Really, if they white conservative could leave out his bias, could the black who have the same moral makeup as him get along better with him than with fellow black who do not have the same moral buds?Really, I can’t help wondering how much who you are outside influence your political leaning despite who you are inside. If I had the opportunity I would have done a Phd on this. But ah…I’m way too busy. Has anyone ever thought about this?In any case, as I said, highly recommended!

⭐Haidt is a self-professed liberal who among other things tries to persuade Democrats to broaden their moral compass to include what he calls foundations of loyalty, sanctity for example which the political right are familiar with and use to good advantage. Ultimately we should be able to appreciate each other’s moral construct and conduct a more civilized debate with preferable outcomes for (American) society. His argumentation includes or points to all kinds of interesting factoids like gene- culture coevolution, and the role of genes and related Neuro transmitter s in deciding which side we support. But as a European one feels he misses the point of marxist theory that there is such a thing as social evolution, historical forces and an antagonism between the interests of ruling and potentially revolutionary classes. Something that maybe can’t be debated out of existence,. Haidt in the last section of this work,where he really gets going reveals his political position as that of a social democrat. As such I feel he underestimates the hypocrisy and manipulation of moral matrices by the right.

⭐Reading this book completely changed my life. I am about as liberal as you can imagine and reading this book showed me how tone-deaf I am to certain kinds of moral arguments. I figuratively don’t have the “taste receptors” to sense what people are trying to say. I am now so much more attuned to the arguments of people who are nothing like me. I can more palpably see what is important to them and can respect it much more. I followed this with Haight’s Coddling of the American Mind and the two pair well. I learned A LOT from this book and it completely changed my worldview. I cannot recommend it more highly.

⭐I now realise that I have been wasting my time tolerating patronising put downs from friends unsympathetic to my moral compass. I understand now why my liberal friends get upset when I attempt to explain my conservative morality. I understand why liberals feel it is okay to refer to conservatives as Tory F*****s or Tory Scum – terms I would not dream of using towards them. I understand why they cannot understand me – see, for example, the review ‘Opium for the Masses’ which neatly demonstrates how liberals are often illiberal. I intend to maintain friendships with liberals where we can talk about other things than politics and religion. Equally I do not intend to waste my time on relationships where these issues result in me being patronised and insulted. Thank you Jonathon Haidt – it’s a brilliant book.


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