The Righteous Mind

Posted by CircuitGuy 4 months, 1 week ago to Books
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I just finished The Righteous Mind. I read it as part of my desire to understand "what's political partisanship all about". I obviously know what it's about if it's about a specific issue, but I believe there is something else going on where the same people who hated President W Bush's drone strikes like President Obama's. The same people who hated President Obama's comments about ignoring the law in favor of his view of what's right gush over President Trump doing the exact same thing.

The Righteous Mind actually provides some answers, although some of them I reject. Haidt takes a view decidedly contrary to Ayn Rand. If you want to read how critics of Ayn Rand are just morons who can't see the obvious, Haidt is not for you. Haidt says most of our reason is actually based on various moral foundations that are inherently tribal and groupish. Reason is mostly post hoc rationalization, he says. I completely agree with him that this is a human tendency, but I think it's one we're starting to overcome. My impression is Haidt thinks we should accept tribalism as inevitable and build our society around that fact; I don't see why when humans have overcome other behaviors.

I think Haidt is right on the money about partisanship being a form of groupishness.

He mentions something that was in one of the videos posted here of Dennis Prager debating some students. Prager says he sees humankind as flawed and needing a Leviathan to check human foibles, where as liberals see people as inherently good. I think Haidt and Prager are onto something there.

I had fun with it, even though I, and I suspect most Ayn Rand fans, will have a lot of disagreements with it.

I'm with Haidt in seeing groupishness as part of human nature. But he thinks human progress comes from expanding the group to entire nations or religions. That's intriguing to me because I do not know, but I see human progress as coming from individualism and maybe the anonymity that comes with urbanization, not from an expanded tribe/group.


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  • Posted by freedomforall 4 months, 1 week ago
    "liberals see people as inherently good."
    Rubbish. Liberals who speak out publicly are completely biased against all people who disagree with them, and those liberals assume those that disagree are all bad.
    Especially anyone who advocates the free market and individual liberty. (CG, you are the exception to that rule. You are a liberal who can see the advantages of free markets, but unfortunately, as a liberal, you agree to policies that thwart those goals in every case. Note that lots of people who claim to be conservatives agree to policies that destroy liberty and free markets. They are conservatives in name only.)

    Since this book is about politicians, the pertinent comment should be about politicians.
    Politicians today see people as cattle to feed upon. Liberal politicians are worse than true conservative politicians.
    I can only think of one conservative politician in recent years, Ron Paul. So I group all the GOP politicians with all the Dem politicians as liberals who destroy liberty and free markets.
    I haven't yet decided where to classify Donald Trump, but he's still in the liberal pile of dung until he lifts himself out though actions that kill off the unconstitutional government departments and liberate the people from the chains of the federal government.
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    • Posted by  $  blarman 4 months, 1 week ago
      My personal opinion is that progressives/leftists (I use that term so as not to sully the classic liberals such as Thomas Jefferson) view human beings as being in one of two classes: those who rule and those who live to be ruled. They automatically associate themselves with the first group and everyone else with the second group. Their morals are completely tied to that thinking, which includes a different set of moral values for the elites/rulers than the cattle and the justification for their own failings. To them, the idea that one human being is equal to another in rights or abilities or anything else is anathema, which is why they have been the primary supporters of slavery, illegal immigration, welfare, and many other policies designed specifically to create and maintain a class structure in society.
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    • Posted by giallopudding 4 months, 1 week ago
      Right on. Couldn’t have said it better. In fact, I would suspect there are more rather than fewer liberals who think human nature is basically evil, thus their pathological need for righteous governmental overlords to dictate what is “the good.”
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  • Posted by Abaco 4 months, 1 week ago
    I remember during the W administration when there was a certain intersection here in town that I'd often drive through on my way home. It would be lined on all corners with war protesters. I'd honk and wave, give thumbs up. Then, when Obama got elected they all vanished. I said, "Where'd they all go!? We're still at war!" Nope...all gone. Under their guy they supported war, I guess. Now, I openly say these people prefer war.
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    • Posted by freedomforall 4 months, 1 week ago
      That agrees with my observations, too.
      During the Bush administration I watched and enjoyed Boston Legal (in spite of their liberal bias because it was so blatant.) But I wondered, "what are these writers going to do when a Dem does the same stupid things they are criticizing?"
      Well, in spite of good ratings and Emmy nominations every year including the last, Boston Legal was cancelled at the end of the Bush era - they had nothing they could write about because Obama did the same things they skewered Bush for doing.
      The liberals hid in the shadows instead of protesting because they are looting hypocrites without ethics, integrity, or rational philosophy.
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    • Posted by 4 months, 1 week ago
      "when Obama got elected they all vanished."
      Someone not following the news would think drone strikes on criminal suspects stopped when President Obama took office.

      What stood out even more is mainstream Republicans condemning him and Democrats cheering him for reducing Medicare payments as part of PPACA. This only 15 years after Demcorats condemned Republicans for the exact same thing. They traded sides on the issue.
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  • Posted by mia767ca 4 months, 1 week ago
    hence, epistemology first....I would not debate in competition in high school until we had agreement on the definition of various words...and hierarchy of percepts, concretes, and concepts....
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  • Posted by giallopudding 4 months, 1 week ago
    I believe people are inherently cooperative, and in environments where they are free to exchange ideas and products they flourish. Unfortunately, people also tend to follow leaders rather than reason through difficult issues as individuals. And since a small percentage of humans are sociopathic, and some of these aspire to leadership positions in business, religions and government, it is easy to get a skewed view of human nature when people follow morally bankrupt charlatans. The followers are good people, duped by their own intellectual laziness and nefarious leaders.
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  • Posted by chad 4 months, 1 week ago
    From my observations of mankind when they are left alone to deal with each other on a one to one basis people are basically good. They help one another, risk their lives and safety to rescue those in immediate danger and generally care for each other. When given the opportunity to steal from one another through a mechanism that hides their involvement and gives an excuse; i.e. it is to help the old people, feed the poor, educate the children, etc. they will do it almost every time. They will kill others on command because 'they are not us' and may destroy us if we don't destroy them first. Unfortunately history reveals that the character of man is easily led to destructive tendencies far more often than he rises to the moral code he claims and treats other human life as worthwhile no matter what disagreements one individual may have with another. Socialists play on this tendency more than any other for it benefits them by providing a power structure they can use while claiming; "I am doing this to help all."
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  • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 4 months, 1 week ago
    I deny that this is "human nature" in the same sense as having ten fingers. It is common enough as learned behavior, though.

    I also think that Prager is as flawed as his liberal targets. That in particular was a singular insight from Ayn Rand, though shared by other small-l libertarians of the 1930s such as Rose Lane Wilder and Isabel Paterson. They saw fascism and communism as two expressions of the same premises.

    You are right about the fact that supporters of Presdient Trump are motivated by moral indignation, rather than philiosophical principles. Notice the deafening silence in the Gulch on the question of tariffs.
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    • Posted by 4 months, 1 week ago
      "I deny that this is "human nature" in the same sense as having ten fingers."
      It seems like human nature that we are capable of rising above to me. I think of it as occurring everywhere in human history.

      "You are right about the fact that supporters of President Trump are motivated by moral indignation, rather than philiosophical principles."
      I may be misunderstanding what you mean, but I'm saying vocal supporters or critics of any politician they are not involved with personally is motivated by groupishness, not morals or philosophy.
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      • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 4 months, 1 week ago
        Sorry, what I meant was that collectivism and mysticism - "groupishness" around a leader - is not human nature. It is the nature of some humans, obviously. But just as clearly, other humans.- more and more now - are genetic individualists.

        Sorry, again, but yes, I agree that morality and ethics are studies within philosophy. However, the sense of moral indignation is an emotion, nothing more. It is "hating the threat" i.e., standing at the bounds and yelling outward.
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