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“Can we all get along?” That appeal was made famous on May 1, 1992, by Rodney King, a black man who had been beaten nearly to death by four Los Angeles police officers a year earlier. The entire nation had seen a videotape of the beating, so when a jury failed to convict the officers, their acquittal triggered widespread outrage and six days of rioting in Los Angeles. Fifty-three people were killed and more than seven thousand buildings were torched. Much of the mayhem was carried live; news cameras tracked the action from helicopters circling overhead. After a particularly horrific act of violence against a white truck driver, King was moved to make his appeal for peace.
King’s appeal is now so overused that it has become cultural kitsch, a catchphrase1 more often said for laughs than as a serious plea for mutual understanding. I therefore hesitated to use King’s words as the opening line of this book, but I decided to go ahead, for two reasons. The first is because most Americans nowadays are asking King’s question not about race relations but about political relations and the collapse of cooperation across party lines. Many Americans feel as though the nightly news from Washington is being sent to us from helicopters circling over the city, delivering dispatches from the war zone.
The second reason I decided to open this book with an overused phrase is because King followed it up with something lovely, something rarely quoted. As he stumbled through his television interview, fighting back tears and often repeating himself, he found these words: “Please, we can get along here. We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out.”
This book is about why it’s so hard for us to get along. We are indeed all stuck here for a while, so let’s at least do what we can to understand why we are so easily divided into hostile groups, each one certain of its righteousness.
People who devote their lives to studying something often come to believe that the object of their fascination is the key to understanding everything. Books have been published in recent years on the transformative role in human history played by cooking, mothering, war . . . even salt. This is one of those books. I study moral psychology, and I’m going to make the case that morality is the extraordinary human capacity that made civilization possible. I don’t mean to imply that cooking, mothering, war, and salt were not also necessary, but in this book I’m going to take you on a tour of human nature and history from the perspective of moral psychology.
By the end of the tour, I hope to have given you a new way to think about two of the most important, vexing, and divisive topics in human life: politics and religion. Etiquette books tell us not to discuss these topics in polite company, but I say go ahead. Politics and religion are both expressions of our underlying moral psychology, and an understanding of that psychology can help to bring people together. My goal in this book is to drain some of the heat, anger, and divisiveness out of these topics and replace them with awe, wonder, and curiosity. We are downright lucky that we evolved this complex moral psychology that allowed our species to burst out of the forests and savannas and into the delights, comforts, and extraordinary peacefulness of modern societies in just a few thousand years. My hope is that this book will make conversations about morality, politics, and religion more common, more civil, and more fun, even in mixed company. My hope is that it will help us to get along.
I could have titled this book The Moral Mind to convey the sense that the human mind is designed to “do” morality, just as it’s designed to do language, sexuality, music, and many other things described in popular books reporting the latest scientific findings. But I chose the title The Righteous Mind to convey the sense that human nature is not just intrinsically moral, it’s also intrinsically moralistic, critical, and judgmental.
The word righteous comes from the old Norse word rettviss and the old English word rihtwis, both of which mean “just, upright, virtuous.” This meaning has been carried into the modern English words righteous and righteousness, although nowadays those words have strong religious connotations because they are usually used to translate the Hebrew word tzedek. Tzedek is a common word in the Hebrew Bible, often used to describe people who act in accordance with God’s wishes, but it is also an attribute of God and of God’s judgment of people (which is often harsh but always thought to be just).
The linkage of righteousness and judgmentalism is captured in some modern definitions of righteous, such as “arising from an outraged sense of justice, morality, or fair play.” The link also appears in the term self- righteous, which means “convinced of one’s own righteousness, especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others; narrowly moralistic and intolerant.” I want to show you that an obsession with righteousness (leading inevitably to self- righteousness) is the normal human condition. It is a feature of our evolutionary design, not a bug or error that crept into minds that would otherwise be objective and rational.
Our righteous minds made it possible for human beings—but no other animals—to produce large cooperative groups, tribes, and nations without the glue of kinship. But at the same time, our righteous minds guarantee that our cooperative groups will always be cursed by moralistic strife. Some degree of conflict among groups may even be necessary for the health and development of any society. When I was a teenager I wished for world peace, but now I yearn for a world in which competing ideologies are kept in balance, systems of accountability keep us all from getting away with too much, and fewer people believe that righteous ends justify violent means. Not a very romantic wish, but one that we might actually achieve.
This book has three parts, which you can think of as three separate books—except that each one depends on the one before it. Each part presents one major principle of moral psychology.
Part I is about the first principle: Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second. Moral intuitions arise automatically and almost instantaneously, long before moral reasoning has a chance to get started, and those first intuitions tend to drive our later reasoning. If you think that moral reasoning is something we do to figure out the truth, you’ll be constantly frustrated by how foolish, biased, and illogical people become when they disagree with you. But if you think about moral reasoning as a skill we humans evolved to further our social agendas—to justify our own actions and to defend the teams we belong to—then things will make a lot more sense. Keep your eye on the intuitions, and don’t take people’s moral arguments at face value. They’re mostly post hoc constructions made up on the fly, crafted to advance one or more strategic objectives.
The central metaphor of these four chapters is that the mind is divided, like a rider on an elephant, and the rider’s job is to serve the elephant. The rider is our conscious reasoning—the stream of words and images of which we are fully aware. The elephant is the other 99 percent of mental processes—the ones that occur outside of awareness but that actually govern most of our behavior. I developed this metaphor in my last book, The Happiness Hypothesis, where I described how the rider and elephant work together, sometimes poorly, as we stumble through life in search of meaning and connection. In this book I’ll use the metaphor to solve puzzles such as why it seems like everyone (else) is a hypocrite and why political partisans are so willing to believe outrageous lies and conspiracy theories. I’ll also use the metaphor to show you how you can better persuade people who seem unresponsive to reason.
Part II is about the second principle of moral psychology, which is that there’s more to morality than harm and fairness. The central metaphor of these four chapters is that the righteous mind is like a tongue with six taste receptors. Secular Western moralities are like cuisines that try to activate just one or two of these receptors—either concerns about harm and suffering, or concerns about fairness and injustice. But people have so many other powerful moral intuitions, such as those related to liberty, loyalty, authority, and sanctity. I’ll explain where these six taste receptors come from, how they form the basis of the world’s many moral cuisines, and why politicians on the right have a built- in advantage when it comes to cooking meals that voters like.
Part III is about the third principle: Morality binds and blinds. The central metaphor of these four chapters is that human beings are 90 percent chimp and percent bee. Human nature was produced by natural selection working at two levels simultaneously. Individuals compete with individuals within every group, and we are the descendants of primates who excelled at that competition. This gives us the ugly side of our nature, the one that is usually featured in books about our evolutionary origins. We are indeed selfish hypocrites so skilled at putting on a show of virtue that we fool even ourselves.
But human nature was also shaped as groups competed with other groups. As Darwin said long ago, the most cohesive and cooperative groups generally beat the groups of selfish individualists. Darwin’s ideas about group selection fell out of favor in the 1960s, but recent discoveries are putting his ideas back into play, and the implications are profound. We’re not always selfish hypocrites. We also have the ability, under special circumstances, to shut down our petty selves and become like cells in a larger body, or like bees in a hive, working for the good of the group. These experiences are often among the most cherished of our lives, although our hivishness can blind us to other moral concerns. Our bee-like nature facilitates altruism, heroism, war, and genocide.
Once you see our righteous minds as primate minds with a hivish overlay, you get a whole new perspective on morality, politics, and religion. I’ll show that our “higher nature” allows us to be profoundly altruistic, but that altruism is mostly aimed at members of our own groups. I’ll show that religion is (probably) an evolutionary adaptation for binding groups together and helping them to create communities with a shared morality. It is not a virus or a parasite, as some scientists (the “New Atheists”) have argued in recent years. And I’ll use this perspective to explain why some people are conservative, others are liberal (or progressive), and still others become libertarians. People bind themselves into political teams that share moral narratives. Once they accept a particular narrative, they become blind to alternative moral worlds.
(A note on terminology: In the United States, the word liberal refers to progressive or left- wing politics, and I will use the word in this sense. But in Europe and elsewhere, the word liberal is truer to its original meaning—valuing liberty above all else, including in economic activities. When Europeans use the word liberal, they often mean something more like the American term libertarian, which cannot be placed easily on the left- right spectrum. Readers from outside the United States may want to swap in the words progressive or left- wing whenever I say liberal.) In the coming chapters I’ll draw on the latest research in neuroscience, genetics, social psychology, and evolutionary modeling, but the take- home message of the book is ancient. It is the realization that we are all self- righteous hypocrites:
Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? . . . You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. (Matthew 7:3–5)
Enlightenment (or wisdom, if you prefer) requires us all to take the logs out of our own eyes and then escape from our ceaseless, petty, and divisive moralism. As the eighth- century Chinese Zen master Sen-ts’an wrote:
The Perfect Way is only difficult
for those who pick and choose;
Do not like, do not dislike;
all will then be clear.
Make a hairbreadth difference,
and Heaven and Earth are set apart;
If you want the truth to stand clear before you,
never be for or against.
The struggle between “for” and “against”
is the mind’s worst disease.
I’m not saying we should live our lives like Sen-ts’an. In fact, I believe that a world without moralism, gossip, and judgment would quickly decay into chaos. But if we want to understand ourselves, our divisions, our limits, and our potentials, we need to step back, drop the moralism, apply some moral psychology, and analyze the game we’re all playing. .
Let us now examine the psychology of this struggle between “for” and “against.” It is a struggle that plays out in each of our righteous minds, and among all of our righteous groups.

Revue de presse

Praise for Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind

“A landmark contribution to humanity’s understanding of itself. . . . Haidt is looking for more than victory. He’s looking for wisdom. That’s what makes The Righteous Mind well worth reading.”
The New York Times Book Review

“An eye-opening and deceptively ambitious best seller . . . undoubtedly one of the most talked-about books of the year.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Splendidly written, sophisticated and stimulating. It may well change how you think and talk about politics, religion and human nature.”
“Ingenious prose. . . . Beautifully written, Haidt’s book shines a new and creative light on moral psychology and presents a provocative message.”
“A remarkable and original synthesis of social psychology, political analysis, and moral reasoning.”
—Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

“Highly readable, highly insightful. . . . The principal posture in which one envisions him is that of a scrappy, voluble, discerning patriot standing between the warring factions in American politics urging each to see the other’s viewpoint, to stop demonizing, bashing, clobbering. . . . Haidt’s real contribution, in my judgment, is inviting us all to sit at the table.”
Washington Times

“Excellent. . . . An impressive book that should be read by anyone who has the slightest interest in how political opinions are reached.”
The Daily Beast

“Haidt’s work feels particularly relevant now. . . . Haidt’s perspective can help us better understand our own political and religious leanings.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“Jonathan Haidt is one of smartest and most creative psychologists alive, and his newest book, The Righteous Mind is a tour de force—a brave, brilliant and eloquent exploration of the most important issues of our time. It will challenge the way you think about liberals and conservatives, atheism and religion, good and evil. This is the book that everyone is going to be talking about.”
—Paul Bloom, Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology, Yale University

“Haidt’s research has revolutionized the field of moral psychology. This elegantly written book has far-reaching implications for anyone interested in anthropology, politics, religion, or the many controversies that divide modern societies. If you want to know why you hold your moral beliefs and why many people disagree with you, read this book..”
—Simon Baron-Cohen, Cambridge University, Author of Zero Degrees of Empathy and The Science of Evil

“A much-needed voice of moral sanity.”

“[Haidt’s] framework for the different moral universes of liberals and conservatives struck me as a brilliant breakthrough . . . The Righteous Mind provides an invaluable road map.”

“A well-informed tour of contemporary moral psychology…A cogent rendering of a moral universe of fertile complexity and latent flexibility.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Haidt’s a good thing.”
The Atlantic

“Jonathan Haidt’s absorbing The Righteous Mind should come with a warning label: ‘contents highly addictive.’ Written in a breezy and accessible style but informed by an impressively wide range of cutting-edge research in the social sciences, evolutionary biology and psychology, The Righteous Mind is about as interesting a book as you’ll pick up this year.”
The Globe and Mail

“What makes [The Righteous Mind] so compelling is the fluid combination of erudition and entertainment, and the author’s obvious pleasure in challenging conventional wisdom. . . . [Haidt’s] core point is simple and well-made: our morality, much of it wired into brains from birth, at the same time binds us together and blinds us to different configurations of morality.”
The Guardian (London)

“An important and timely book. . . . His ideas are controversial but they make you think.”
—Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company

The Righteous Mind refutes the ‘New Atheists’ and shows that religion is a central part of our moral heritage. Haidt’s brilliant synthesis shows that Christians have nothing to fear and much to gain from the evolutionary paradigm.”
—Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution

“The Righteous Mind
 is an intellectual tour de force that brings Darwinian theorizing to the practical realm of everyday politics. The book is beautifully written, and it is truly unusual to encounter a book that makes a major theoretical contribution yet encourages one to turn its pages enthusiastically.”
—Christopher Boehm, Professor of Anthropology, University of Southern California, author of Moral Origins

“As a fellow who listens to heated political debate daily, I was fascinated, enlightened, and even amused by Haidt’s brilliant insights. This penetrating yet accessible book will help readers understand the righteous minds that inhabit politics.”
—Larry Sabato, University of Virginia, author of A More Perfect Constitution

“A profound discussion of the diverse psychological roots of morality and their role in producing political conflicts. It’s not too much to hope that the book will help to reduce those conflicts.”
—Richard E. Nisbett, University of Michigan, Author of The Geography of Thought

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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 528 pages
  • Editeur : Vintage; Édition : Reprint (12 février 2013)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0307455777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307455772
  • Dimensions du produit: 13,2 x 2,6 x 20,3 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.2 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Gu Si Fang le 28 janvier 2014
Format: Format Kindle
Ce livre très intéressant propose une théorie de la morale, et s'en sert pour expliquer les clivages idéologiques que nous connaissons. C'est forcément assez spéculatif, avec de nombreux exemples et arguments - parfois de vraies trouvailles.

La morale est comparée au goût, et tout comme l'espèce humaine a évolué pour distinguer les aliments grâce à ses papilles gustatives, elle a développé une aptitude à reconnaître, anticiper et s'adapter au comportement les uns des autres. La première partie du livre rassemble des études à l'appui de cette vision. Puis, l'auteur en déduit que, tout comme nous avons des goûts différents, culturellement hétérogènes en matière d'alimentation, nous sommes aussi différents dans notre façon de percevoir et d'apprécier les questions morales, et donc politiques.

Une version synthétique de la deuxième partie de l'argument peut être trouvée dans l'essai d'Arnold Kling "Three languages of politics".
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Par Heimann, Rolf le 21 février 2013
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This is a must for anybody interested in politics, psychology and philosophy. Haidt writes vividly in the style of a "cool" American professor, drawing on vast historical and academic knowledge as well as on personal experiences.
His findings finally make sense of the great puzzles surrounding cultural clashes and political strife.
Not exactly a book for the bedside table, but very good reading (your anti-Kant in every way;-)
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Par Arun Queibor le 1 octobre 2014
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Cet excellent livre n'est pas disponible en traduction française (à l'heure actuelle). C'est dommage. Si vous le lisez en version originale il révolutionnera la manière dont vous concevez la politique et la morale.
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Par Betty Cordenier le 10 juin 2012
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Very good book! A must read for everyone! It touches on the important issue of how our moral sentiments are built. Very interesting research!
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554 internautes sur 591 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail Ride Through Morality and Politics! 23 décembre 2011
Par Kevin Currie-Knight - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I do not exaggerate when I say this is one of the best (nonfiction) books I've read this year. Haidt is a great writer, and has a real knack for explaining a wide variety of things with clarity and wit. Here, Haidt is concerned to walk us through the world of morality and politics, explaining some of the reasons why very smart and good people disagree on such things as the value of equality, authority, tradition, and other thorny topics.

In 2006, Haidt wrote The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, part of whose thesis was that cognition is primarily based in emotion, with reason coming in after the fact, most often to justify what has already been 'decided' on. Section 1 of this book (one of whose chapters is titled "The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail, also the title of an earlier article by Haidt) picks up where Haid's previous book left off. There is evidence from neuroscience (Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain, behavioral psychology Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart, and other areas (Thinking, Fast and Slow) that increasingly suggests that human reason is less a tool for figuring out what to do, and more a tool for justifying what we've already decided to do (based on emotion and other simple snap-judgment intuition) to ourselves and others. Of course, this isn't to say reasoning is futile, or that we don't ever use it to actually decide what to do, but we generally use reason as a deciding mechanism only when intuition and emotion are at a loss or conflicting.

And the upshot of this? Reason is often less decisive in deciding what the best moral positions or political positions are. And this leads us into section 2, whose primary thesis is that any moral or political theory that attempts to use reason to discover the simple rules that should govern all political and moral decision making are likely going to fail. Why? Because, according to Haidt's and others' ressearch, there are at least six mental 'modules' that go into moral and poltical decisions, and it is difficult to argue that any one (or two or three) are more important than others. And they are: care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation and liberty/oppression. Some people (often of the political left) care most about care/harm and fairness/cheating in their emphasis on egalitarian politics that aim to provide care for those in need and create fair rules in the sense that everyone, relatively speaking, starts on an 'even playing field.' Others (usually conservatives) have tempermants that focus on authority/suversion and loyalty/betrayal, focusing on maintaining or promoting institutions that foster some level of deference to authority (in legitimate hierarchies), and loyalty (whether to country, God, family, etc).

So, while liberals like to boil all politics down to questions of fairness, rights, and freedom from oppression, and conservatives like to boil politics down to matters of preserving tradition and legitimate fidelity to rules that have stood the test of time, Haidt reminds us that human nature is more complex than either of these. (Yes, this oversimplifies, but Haidt does it to show that, despite the diversity of beliefs liberal or conservatives have, their within-group 'core' is largely the same.) Humans, he writes in Section 3, are oftee\n self-interested individuals who require liberty, but also have a remarkable capacity (and often longing for) being part of groups where they sacrifice some liberty for the group. Humans have a tendency for egalitarianism (we get mad when we feel, or see others, oppressed), but also organize just as often into hierarchal groups. (Incidentally, this is similar to the thesis of Frans de Wall, who in Our Inner Ape, suggests that our ancestry is mixed between the hierarchal ape and the egalitarian bonobo). Haidt writes that evolution works at many levels: gene, cell, organism, group), and human nature is largely a push-and-pull between individuals competing and individuals cooperating.

The overall mmessage in The Righteous Mind is that the righteous mind, which attempts to privilege its own take on morality and politics, just doesn't grasp the complexities of morality and politics. We try to break down moral decision making into a set of unflappable rules: do what maximizes overall happiness, do what gives everyone the most liberty compatible with the liberty of others, do what strengthens the well-being and cohesion of the group, etc. And all of these seem to have a piece of reality, but none of them captures the whole thing. In reality, we are both selfish and altruistic, yearning for liberty and group-membership, egalitarianism and hierarchy, equality and proportional reward, etc. In the end, Haidt's word of wisdom is that whatever favored position you have politically, try to always question what else it is you are missing. After all, very smart and good people are conservatives, liberals, Buddhists, Christians, atheists, and many other things. Is it more likely that your positoins are right and everyone else is just missing it (the position of the righteous mind), or that you probably have a grain of truth in a field that contains many other grains? As philosopher Isaiah Belrin, a philosopher whose plurallism Haidt's argument resembles, has written (in Liberty: Incorporating Four Essays on Liberty), "One belief more than any other, is responsible for the slaughter of individuals on the altars of the great historical ideals... This is the belief that somewhere, in the past or in the future, in divine revalation or in the mind of an individual thinker, in the ronouncements of history or science, or in the simple heart of the uncorrupted good man, there is a final solution."

If I have one criticism of this otherwise fantastically interesting and wide-ranging book, is that its wide-ranging-ness is not very well tied together. While each chapter definitely has an argument of its own and concludes with a brief summary, he doesn't tie it all together very explicitly. We go from the basics of moral psychology to discussions of the "modular mind" theory in neuroscience, to discussions about different political positions, to group selection theory in evolution, to the New Atheists take on religion.... but Haidt isn't very explicit in explaining how and why he ties these things together. What makes things a tad more confusing is that Haidt is (somewhat) inconsistent between chapters (though not in a way detrimental to his argument): in one chapter he might explain why humans are primarily selfish, or why group selection is a valid theory in evolution, then in a proceding chapter, he'll suggest that selfishness, or group selection theory, are not quite as good as some suppose. So, while Haidt isn't being horribly inconsistent (one can suggest, as he does, that humans are primarily selfish without seeing this as the ultimate explainer of all human activity), but it does add to the book's somewhat disjointed and whirligig feel.

Overall, though, this is small potatoes, and you'll notice that I am still giving the book five stars. I began the review saying that this is esaily one of the best non-fiction books I've read this year (and I've read many). I stand by that, even with some minor flaws. If you have any interest in the field of moral theory, psychology, evollutionary biology, or evolutionary psychology (and I am interested in all four), you MUST read this book. Strongly recommended.
249 internautes sur 270 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Rosetta Stone for Understanding the Left/Right Divide 27 décembre 2011
Par David McCune - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I was first introduced to the striking findings of Dr. Jonathan Haidt's research when I heard him speak at a conference on ethics and human research. The combination of his engaging speaking style married to hard data from his psychology experiments was impressive, as was his ability to constructively engage both the liberal and conservative members of the audience. I was intrigued enough to read the book-length version of the lecture, and I was greatly rewarded. Haidt shows how our minds have evolved to make us prone righteous disagreement. He hopes that a better understanding of our predisposition to take uncompromising moral stands can be a starting point to reverse the increased contentiousness of our politics.

Reading Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" was in some ways like taking a college survey course in moral psychology. In particular, the early chapters take a reader through the controversies and the limitation of prior attempts to study the psychological underpinnings of why we think the way we do. Experiments in psychology are accessible and illuminating in ways that other fields can only envy, and Haidt's book is full of absorbing descriptions of the research. Throughout, this book is highly data-driven (it concludes with nineteen pages of references to the scientific literature). What sets it apart is Haidt's ability to weave into the science both his own research and his evolving understanding of his personal moral frameworks. This human element makes the book both accessible and engrossing. Haidt wraps each section of the book around a "central metaphor" and then demonstrates the fascinating studies that validate that metaphor.

Section 1: Central metaphor - Our minds are like a rider on the back of an elephant. Through multiple studies, many conducted by Haidt himself, a reader learns how our conscious thoughts have a very limited ability to influence our emotional predispositions. We spend most of our intellectual effort as the "elephant rider" not in rationally deciding what course of action to take, but in trying to justify what the elephant has already done based on its gut level snap judgment. Or, to quote David Hume from 1739, "¯reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them." What Hume perceived, Haidt validates. In addition to the research demonstrating that this is so, Haidt also explores the teleological argument of _why_ our brains evolved this way. Fascinating.

Section 2: Central Metaphor - The human "moral palate" is like a tongue, but instead of taste receptors for bitter, sweet, salty, etc., it responds to different dimensions, or flavors, of morality. Liberal morality draws most heavily from the moralities of "care/harm", "liberty/oppression", and, to a lesser degree, "fairness/cheating". Conservative morality, in contrast, values "care/harm", fairness/cheating", and "liberty/oppression", but not quite so highly as liberal morality. At the same time it also elevates concerns about "loyalty/betrayal", "authority/subversion", and "sanctity/degradation", flavors of morality that are rare on the liberal palate . This places the two sides of the political divide in an asymmetrical position. Conservatives seem to have an ability to at least appreciate liberal reasoning, even if they disagree about its conclusions. Liberals, in contrast, have trouble even recognizing as authentic any arguments which appeal to the non-liberal moral palate.

Haidt, who began his research as a proud liberal, finds this to be one of the central reasons for the failure of liberalism to connect with the broader public. I think this sort of openness to unexpected findings is sadly rare in the behavioral sciences, which are replete with papers explaining what is "wrong" with conservatives. It is to Haidt's great credit that he used his research to look for a greater understanding of moral psychology, not for confirmation of his underlying personal bias.

Section 3: Central metaphor - We humans (at least morally) are 90% chimp, 10% bee. Haidt makes the case that the human mind crossed the intellectual Rubicon from chimp to man when we developed "shared intentionality", the ability to work together for a group, not an individual goal. From that point forward, it is possible that natural selection favored not just the fittest individual, but also the fittest groups. Haidt suggests that a portion of our psychology co-evolved with religion and other group-binding mechanisms to make the best use of interconnected moral communities. In short, our understand of the underpinnings of civilization is incomplete if we think purely in terms of "Homo economicus", man as a seeker only of individual reward, and instead must at least consider our instinct for "hive-ishness".

Conclusion: There really wasn't a metaphor here, but I'd call this the "that's all very interesting, but what can we do about it?" section. In some ways this is the weakest chapter, in that it is more proscriptive and (somewhat) less data-driven. On the other hand, it is also the most ambitious, as this is clearly the section where Haidt tries to leverage his research into practical application. He hopes that a clearer understanding of what motivates our fellows will lead to less divisive politics. As he says:

"Morality binds and blinds. It binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning each battle. It blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say."

The proscriptions for achieving this are more general, but none-the-less worthy. Haidt calls for a less Manichean approach to politics, recognizing that liberal, conservative, and libertarian have vital contributions to the success of the body politic. If his book can help opponents to see the morality, even if it is a different morality, that is at work in the values of our political opponents, then maybe compromise might stop being a political dirty word. As Haidt concludes:

"We`re all stuck here for a while, so let`s try to work it out."

5 stars.
167 internautes sur 181 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Beautifully written with compelling, provocative ideas 15 janvier 2012
Par Todd B. Kashdan - Publié sur
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Published at the perfect time in American politics, The Righteous Mind belongs next to other scientific gems by Pinker (The Blank Slate), Sagan (The Demon Haunted World), Wright (The Moral Animal), Ariely (Predictably Irrational), and Wilson (Strangers to Ourselves). The main thesis is morality tends to operate by initial, intuitive reactions and only then do people respond with post-hoc strategic justifications. This seemingly small idea alters dominant theory and research on moral psychology. Why should you read this particular book?

1. Haidt does not try to persuade you with a smattering of self-selected studies. He carefully walks the reader through multiple philosophical traditions and quite an impressive body of research spanning ethology, behavioral economics, neurobiology, and psychology. The descriptions of these studies are stimulating and everything is in the service of setting up a revised conceptual model of morality. I love the fact that he wants to neutralize the readers natural defenses (reflexive mental processes outside of conscious awareness). Thus, he does not offer a definition of morality until p. 274. This is one example of Haidt's careful structuring of topics, examples, and data. There appears to be a motive for every decision. Something that is far too rare in a culture where speedy presentation and publication is the norm.

2. Haidt's personal journey, involving several changes in moral beliefs, is a secondary storyline. By presenting his own biases, the reader is able to focus on the persuasiveness of his arguments. Again, this is all in the service of reducing defensive reactions in readers and I believe it works quite well.

3. There is a perfect blending of philosophy and science. Morality is difficult to study and readers will be pleased to find that the arguments do not rest on empirical data alone. When evidence is presented, Haidt carefully walks the reader through three or more distinct reasons for his position. No different than a lawyer, he adopts an open, reflective attitude toward supportive and non-supportive evidence to obtain his current worldview.

4. The book is descriptive and prescriptive. In the last two chapters, Haidt uses his knowledge of moral psychology to offer suggestions for improving public discourse on religion and politics. Its a satisfying ending to a comprehensive volume. I would offer the disclaimer that if all you want are tips on how to bridge the divide between atheist and religious individuals, and liberals and conservatives, this is probably not the book for you. This is not a self-help book. This is a book for people who are interested in how and why automatic, non-conscious mental processes play a role in politics, religion, war, and peace. This is a book for people who are interested in the latest perspectives in evolutionary theory. For instance, Haidt offers a persuasive argument for the possibility that human evolution occurs at the group level and not just at the level of genes and individuals (a multilevel approach).

The world would be a better place if people read this book. I am hoping this gets in the hands of every person in a position of power to impose their moral beliefs on others, from political advisors, pundits, and politicians to the leaders of churches, synagogues, and mosques.


297 internautes sur 344 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Namby-pamby, yet full of promise 9 janvier 2012
Par Eric Robert Juggernaut - Publié sur
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`The Righteous Mind' presents an imaginative theory on the origins of human morality and the source of discord in the realm of moral systems such as politics and religion. It is one of the more ambitious endeavors a reader will come across in popular science and philosophy today, and for this, it is to be commended. But, the theory is far too immense for this book's style and scope to handle appropriately, it is highly speculative when it shouldn't be, and ultimately is not nearly as convincing as it could be.

One of the main difficulties is that the author is not straightforward with his premises. By the subtitle we know this book is going to be about "why good people are divided by politics and religion". But the author does not tell us his hypothesis until we're nearly finished with the book. Indeed, he admits on page 274 that he hasn't even established a definition of `morality' by that point. "You're nearly done reading a book on morality, and I have not yet given you a definition of morality." As a matter of fact, he never really does define morality (he offers a definition of `moral systems', not `morality'), and so it is impossible to make a reasonable assessment of this argument, supposedly on morality.

His rationale for doing this gives the show away: "The definition I'm about to give you would have made little sense back in chapter 1. It would not have meshed with your intuitions about morality, so I thought it best to wait." In other words, he needed to prepare the reader by giving preliminary arguments, the assumption being that only after those preliminaries were done, the real argument could be understood.

But this is to conceal the point being made until after it has been made, and so no one can properly assess that point in the process. This amounts to a rhetorical trick to get people to accept the argument's foundation and thus have a harder time denying the argument when it is finally presented. In the meantime, the objective reader will be left confused and a little frustrated--What point is he trying to make? Why is he being so elusive? Why doesn't he come out and say what he means?

This approach does conform to the theory, itself, however, one of whose main points is to diminish the role of reason and rationality. According to Haidt, people don't really pay attention to reasonable arguments anyway, rather making decisions based on emotions and intuition. As such, he spends most of the book bypassing a reasonable argument.

It is a shame because the theme is fairly interesting and deserves to be fleshed out in a good, straightforward argument. The argument, summed up by the definition of moral systems that Haidt offers (on page 274), is as follows:

"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 cooperative societies possible."

Basically, morality is an artificial construct geared toward making society work. Once we arrive at this thesis, we actually have something to work with and much of the material leading up to this point finds its place. Of course, one will still have questions about the thesis and the various proofs offered in defense, but at least one has substance to reflect on and test.

And there is plenty to reflect on and test. Haidt is clearly imaginative and is willing to check prejudices in order to arrive at some penetrating conjectures. He's right when he suggests that the best way to approach a political argument is to start with common ground. His metaphor of `innateness'--a first draft that can be revised with work--is excellent. Throughout this book, the attentive reader will be compelled to question standards, clarify logic, and conquer new intellectual territory. For this, it is worth the read. And, as long as the reader watches out for the book's stylistic deficiencies, it can be a rewarding experience.

Those interested in these themes might also consider Everyone Agrees: Book I: Words, Ideas, and a Universal Morality
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More Haidt, Less Hate 28 décembre 2011
Par J. Ott - Publié sur
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I recently read Jonathan Haidt's THE HAPPINESS HYPOTHESIS and greatly enjoyed its synthesis of ancient philosophers and modern neuroscience. So I was excited to read THE RIGHTEOUS MIND, even though I'm not as interested in morality -- or at least I wasn't before I read it. Haidt once again does a great job of creating a narrative surrounding recent scientific studies and famous philosophers and thinkers, this time in the realm of ethics and morality. It works great as a sequel of sorts to the chapters in HAPPINESS HYPOTHESIS that deal with the ideas of 'hypocrisy' and 'divinity'.

Haidt begins by looking at morality across various world cultures, bringing in his experiences living in the caste-based society in Orissa, India and a cross-cultural study done with colleagues in Brazil. He challenges our own pre-conceived notions using the elephant-and-rider metaphor from HAPPINESS HYPOTHESIS, which puts the modules of the brain that reason (the rider) at the mercy of the larger impulsive and emotional parts (the elephant). Basically, study after study shows that we form our opinions intuitively, then work backwards to justify the opinions with reason.

You can see how this will quickly lead into the third rails of religion and politics. Haidt proposes that decisions within these realms are guided by a moral matrix which is comprised of six different parts: Care/harm, Fairness/cheating, Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, Sanctity/degradation and Liberty/oppression. Liberals (in the American sense), conservatives and libertarians all place differing degrees of emphasis on these different modes.

For example, while a liberal or libertarian might see no harm in someone using an American flag as a rag to scrub a floor inside the privacy of their own home, for a conservative, this activates the Loyalty/betrayal module because the American flag is a symbol of cultural unity. So even if no one knew about it, to the conservative it would still be wrong. On the other side, liberals see overt expressions of patriotism like American flag pins as naïve jingoism at best and as the first steps toward fascism and genocide at worst.

Although Haidt doesn't say it, I believe his Sanctity/degradation schema goes along way towards explaining why American democracy responds differently to sex scandals than does European democracy.

According to the twin studies cited by Haidt, one third to one half of our tendency toward one political philosophy is inherited. We are born on one side of the aisle and few of us choose to cross it. If that's the case, what can be done to change people's minds? Haidt has little answer for this, but his moral matrix theory does at least offer some hope that the liberal side can begin to understand the conservative side as well as the conservatives understand the liberals. I phrase it this way because Haidt cites another study in which he asked respondents to answer questions about morality "as a typical liberal" or "as a typical conservative". This study showed that conservatives were actually much better at seeing the liberal point-of-view than were liberals the conservatives'. Haidt himself identifies as liberal, so it is not as if this is the conclusion he would have sought.

I don't know enough about the literature to judge whether Haidt's analysis is correct. I do think his ideas about the six moral dimensions and the group-level evolution that might explain its emergence are highly stimulating. Not since I read Lakoff's DON'T THINK OF AN ELEPHANT have I felt so many new vistas open up in the landscape of political language. If Haidt is right, and 'different strokes for different folks' leads to a stronger, more competitive nation, then perhaps this is just the paradigm shift we need. I worry that this will just arm political speechwriters with more ways to conceive 'dogwhistles' that cynically divide conservatives and progressives.

For the political discussion alone, I recommend this book. However, I must also briefly touch on the 'religion' part of the subtitle. In a central chapter on religion, Haidt takes on the thinkers he calls "The New Atheists": Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens and Dennett. To Haidt, the New Atheists don't understand the Hive Switch mechanism which can be activated by any group activity - from church to raves to a good play. It can even be activated in isolation in the cathedral of nature, as with the Emersonian Transcendentalists. He cites studies that show churchgoers -- while no more generous than non-churchgoers in some psychology studies -- when looked at as a larger community are much more generous within their own community. Religion also yields dividends in trust-based games. (His primary example is the Orthodox Jewish diamond syndicate.) To me, it's a bit of a strawman argument to say that religion is beneficial in many aspects. None of the New Atheists dispute this, and Alain de Botton has written a whole book on the premise. Haidt fails to address the concern that religion is broadly polarizing *between cultures*.

His argument rather should be along the lines of fundamental American ideals: toleration of all religions and other Hive Switch activators so long as they do not interfere with civic life -- separation of church and state. Haidt also glances at the idea that the most powerful binding forces in today's world may not be governments or churches but multi-national corporations. In Haidt's analysis, the advantage liberals have over conservatives is not to be blind to the 'capture' of governments and other institutions by corporate forces. I can see the moral matrix at work in recent events. Conservatives view Occupy Wall Street as dirty and disrespectful of authority. They do not see them as freedom fighters for fairness and against oppression, as many progressives do.

All in all, THE RIGHTEOUS MIND is a thought-provoking book and one that I hope will change the shape of the political debate between left and right. Highly recommended.
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