The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

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Pantheon Books, 2012 - Philosophy - 419 pages

Why can't our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount? Why do people so readily assume the worst about the motives of their fellow citizens? In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding.

His starting point is moral intuition--the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong. Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right. He blends his own research findings with those of anthropologists, historians, and other psychologists to draw a map of the moral domain, and he explains why conservatives can navigate that map more skillfully than can liberals. He then examines the origins of morality, overturning the view that evolution made us fundamentally selfish creatures. But rather than arguing that we are innately altruistic, he makes a more subtle claim--that we are fundamentally groupish. It is our groupishness, he explains, that leads to our greatest joys, our religious divisions, and our political affiliations. In a stunning final chapter on ideology and civility, Haidt shows what each side is right about, and why we need the insights of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians to flourish as a nation.

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User Review  - GShuk - www.librarything.com

This is a 5 star because of the new ideas (to me) he presents on morals and how they play out in religion and politics. It was slow in parts and more studies than I care to listen to, however it flowed good enough and the insights make this a must read. Read full review

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User Review  - DanTarlin - www.librarything.com

Really good read- it's tough to write a book that makes sophisticated social psychology points using language accessible to the average, less educated reader, but Haidt does it pretty well. Very ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business. He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. He lives in New York City.

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