(Planet Me)
Thursday, April 26, 2012
The Righteous Mind

The Righteous Mind

Morality is an act, and a way of thinking. It's easy to be moralistic, but hard to actually be a moral being. To choose your actions by what is not easiest for you, but what is least hard for the majority takes a courage, a sense of self awareness, a perception that is not always immediately apparent.

"The Righteous Mind" explores this : as a father of two (aged 7, and 2), when, in the opening chapters, Haidt explores the concepts of relative morality, by absolutes and by convention, where nature vs. nurture wrestle. It's a fascinating, and clearly explained, journey littered - in the best sense of the word - with examples that demonstrate the cognitive construction of our thinking, that explores the nuance of detail, the varying types of offence and defence, and rests clearly on the detail that makes our lives so damn difficult.

The starting point is a simple statement, from Rodney King. "We're all stuck here. So why can't we just get along?". We've all heard this plea. And fought that war - with lovers, ex-wives and ex-husbands, with everyone, everywhere, forever. It explores one of the central tenements in our lives, being how we as individuals, and as disparate communities, as a collective but distant human entity, incentivise each other away from the general selfism and selfishness to working together - some believe it is is deprivation (the stick of denial) and other it is reward (the carror of comfort). Whatever it is, and there are as many theories and opinions as there are human beings, Haidt explores this essential dialogue with a clear flair and style.

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