The approach of November 2012 reminds us, once more, of how polarized otherwise intelligent people are about politics. I picked up Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion to see if he had answers for this vexing behavior.
I got far more than I expected: a multi-faceted answer encompassing, among other topics, ethics, human and group psychology and historical context. Haidt, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, explores his question with an academic rigor shown by the more than 25 pages of footnoted references at the end of the book. But The Righteous Mind is far from pedantry. It has an engaging freshness one might get from Malcolm Gladwell--that is, any layman can easily take this on as pleasurable reading for insight in why so often we fail to have civil conversation about politics and religion.
Albert Camus, writing in one of his notebooks, commented "The need to be right: a sure sign of a vulgar mind." Haidt, however, sees the righteous in more nuanced terms.
As a psychology professor, Haidt sets forth a morality matrix that has six dimensions: Care/harm, Liberty/oppression, Fairness/cheating, Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, Sanctity/degradation.
Read Charlie Dickinson's
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