Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Righteous Mind :Why Good People are divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidth



Many of us are guided by very strong and absolute morals. If some one’s morals differ from ours  , we treat him or her   less moral or even immoral .Such an attitude creates tremendous communication barriers, even  damaging misunderstandings. This book “The Righteous Mind  . Why Good people  are divided by Politics and Religion “ is a seminal book   which contributes  significantly to our understanding about ourselves and others. It tells us why we hold certain moral beliefs   and why many people disagree with us , even  if they are good.
                   I must state at the outset that  Jonathan Haidth  has written this great  book with great care and clarity and I  have very deep regards and respect for his integrity , indepth research  and his communication ability. He   has been on the faculty of  the University of Virginia  since 1995  and is currently a visiting Professor  of business ethics  at New York University’s  Stern School of Business. It is a book on moral psychology.The book is full of  brilliant insights.First published in The United States  of America in 2012 , it was republished in 2013 by Penguin Books in 2013 and has 500 pages.
       His first principle is :”Intuitions come first , strategic reasoning second.”In other words , we first make a decision  based on our intuitions , then  make post hoc  arguments /reasoning  to dismiss other people.(Inspired by David Hume).
          Another insight is derived from Glaucon , Plato’s brother , who says that people are only virtuous  because they fear the consequences of getting caught—especially the damage to their reputations.
             The second principle of moral psychology  is:”There is more to morality than harm and fairness”.The six moral foundations of politics are Care, fairness, loyalty,authority,sanctity and  liberty.Be suspicious of moral monists.Beware of any one who insists that there is one true morality  for all people , times and places—particularly if that morality is founded upon a  single moral foundation.You don’t need to use all six foundations , and there may be certain organizations or subcultures  that can thrive with just one.
            There is a total difference between moral relativism and moral pluralism .He quotes Isaiah Berlin :”The number of human values  is finite.If aman pursues one of these values ,I who do not ,am able to understand  why he pursues it .Hence the possibility of human understanding”.
           The third principle of moral psychology is:”Morality binds and blinds”.We are 90 percent Chimp(Selfish) and 10 percent  bee (selfless).We are Homo Duplex.We have been told for 50 years  now (By Richard Dawkins Selfish Gene , and others) that human beings are fundamentally selfish.But it is not true.We may spend most of our waking hours  advancing our own interests , but we all have the capacity to  transcend self interest  and become simply a part of a whole.Though it is difficult  but not impossible  to connect with those who live in other  moral , religious and political matrices.
           It is a brilliant book based on latest research .I highly recommend you to read it ---to understand your self , to understand others , and to bring about unity in the  world.