The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

Summary
  1. This book is about why it is so hard for people to get along and Haidt’s aim is to remove the stigma and decisiveness of morality, religion and politics
Key Takeaways
  1. People are intrinsically moral and while this helped us create large groups that can cooperate, it also ensures moral strife
  2. 3 parts to the book –
    1. Intuitions come before reason and we therefore often have trouble changing our minds (separation of rider and elephant, reason and emotion)
    2. Moral intuitions can take on 6 “taste receptors” which change for every culture
    3. Morality binds and blinds
  3. Morality is about treating people well, more than simply not harming
  4. Society’s moral rules tend to put either the individual or the group at the center
  5. Moral reasons and moral emotions are separate processes
  6. Moral reasoning has evolutionary roots but is also learned through culture by understanding what hurts others
  7. To truly change someone’s mind you need to truly see things from their perspective
  8. The rider, reason, evolved after and in order to serve emotion. We feel an emotion and then rationalize it, not the other way around
  9. Appeal to emotion and intuition rather than people’s reason
  10. Reason developed to rationalize, not to find truth
  11. Evolution shaped people to care more about looking good than being good (reputation so important)
  12. Most people cheat if given the opportunity and plausible deniability. But only but to a certain point where they can rationalize it
  13. The difference in the mind between can and must are profound
  14. The 6 moral receptors –
    1. Care / harm
    2. Liberty / oppression
    3. Fairness / cheating
    4. Loyalty / betrayal
    5. Authority / subversion
    6. Sanctity / degradation
  15. More to morality than harm and fairness
  16. Sacredness and disgust are different sides of the same coin.
    1. Disgust helps protect us from overstepping physical and moral boundaries and sacredness helps us rationalize that we are more than thinking meat
  17. Republicans are better at aiming their campaigns at the elephant whereas democrats target the rider
  18. Group selection exists and leads to occasional altruistic actions and strategic cooperation (true team players)
  19. People obsessed with their reputation and this helped stimulate altruistic actions
What I got out of it
  1. An interesting addition to The Happiness Hypothesis. Interesting to hear about the difference between the average democratic and republican campaign and the different moral “taste receptors” and how people/cultures differ based on which of the receptors are most important to them

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