“The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion”
A book by Jonathan Haidt.
Jonathan Haidt’s book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion” trumpets yet another grand theory of evolution, this time in the form of evolutionary psychology, which purports to unravel the mystery of moral behavior. Such theories, whether in the form of dialectical materialism, Social Darwinism, biblical inherency or its more bizarre subsets of phrenology or eugenics, never hold up against the vast complexity of history, the inner workings of economic and political systems, and the intricacies of the human psyche. But simplicity has a strong appeal for those who seek order in the chaos of existence.
Haidt, although he has a refreshing disdain for the Enlightenment dream of a rational world, fares no better than other systematizers before him. He too repeatedly departs from legitimate science, including social science, into the simplification and corruption of science and scientific terms to promote a unified theory of human behavior that has no empirical basis. He is stunningly naive about power, especially corporate power, and often exhibits a disturbing indifference to the weak and oppressed. He is, in short, a Social Darwinian in analyst’s clothing. Haidt ignores the wisdom of all the great moral and religious writings on the ethical life, from the biblical prophets to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, to the Sermon on the Mount, to the Quran and the Bhagavad Gita, which understand that moral behavior is determined by our treatment of the weakest and most vulnerable among us. It is easy to be decent to your peers and those within your tribe. It is difficult to be decent to the oppressed and those who are branded as the enemy.
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