The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt
Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

49%

19 Critic Reviews

Haidt’s faith in moral taste receptors may not survive this scrutiny. Our taste for sanctity or authority, like our taste for sugar, could turn out to be a dangerous relic.
-NY Times

Synopsis

Why can’t our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount? Why do people so readily assume the worst about the motives of their fellow citizens? In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding.
 
His starting point is moral intuition—the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong. Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right. He blends his own research findings with those of anthropologists, historians, and other psychologists to draw a map of the moral domain, and he explains why conservatives can navigate that map more skillfully than can liberals. He then examines the origins of morality, overturning the view that evolution made us fundamentally selfish creatures. But rather than arguing that we are innately altruistic, he makes a more subtle claim—that we are fundamentally groupish. It is our groupishness, he explains, that leads to our greatest joys, our religious divisions, and our political affiliations. In a stunning final chapter on ideology and civility, Haidt shows what each side is right about, and why we need the insights of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians to flourish as a nation.

 

About Jonathan Haidt

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Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business. He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. He lives in New York City.
 
Published March 13, 2012 by Vintage. 530 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Law & Philosophy, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Righteous Mind
All: 19 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 12

Kirkus

Excellent
Mar 01 2012

A well-informed tour of contemporary moral psychology.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Nicholas Lezard on May 07 2013

...I am in the odd position of being wary of a book I am also recommending. It's entertaining...But it still doesn't explain the gang running the country at the moment.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Ian Birrell on Apr 21 2012

What makes the book so compelling is the fluid combination of erudition and entertainment, and the author's obvious pleasure in challenging conventional wisdom.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by David Runciman on Mar 14 2012

His hints at practical reform are equally unconvincing.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by William Saletan on Mar 23 2012

Haidt’s faith in moral taste receptors may not survive this scrutiny. Our taste for sanctity or authority, like our taste for sugar, could turn out to be a dangerous relic.

Read Full Review of The Righteous Mind : Why Good... | See more reviews from NY Times

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Mar 12 2012

In his two most insightful chapters, Haidt explains why conservatives have a wider moral foundation and thus, an inherent advantage in politics, and later outlines the necessities of both liberal and conservative moral systems, arguing that the two provide necessary counterbalances to one another.

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Wall Street Journal

Above average
Reviewed by Gary Rosen on Mar 18 2012

Mr. Haidt's approach has the added virtue of encouraging a degree of humility in righteous, partisan minds of every stripe.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Glenn C. Altschuler on Mar 01 2012

His book can provide a pause that refreshes righteous minds, giving them a moment and a method to empathize across a moral divide.

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Globe and Mail

Excellent
Reviewed by Andrew Preston on Apr 06 2012

...The Righteous Mind, which should come with a warning label: “contents highly addictive.”

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Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by Andrew Preston on Apr 06 2012

This is a troubling thought, and Haidt is not always convincing in explaining it.

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Huffington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Ian Mitroff on Apr 10 2012

I part company over the fact that all of this sounds too rational, the very thing of which Haidt is so critical.

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The Daily Beast

Excellent
Reviewed by Noah Kristula-Green on Apr 09 2012

Haidt's The Righteous Mind is an impressive book that should be read by anyone who has the slightest interest in how political opinions are reached

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History News Network

Below average
Reviewed by Jim Cullen on Mar 24 2012

As his tower gets higher, one nevertheless becomes increasingly aware of its wobbliness: scientific findings -- especially social science findings -- are changing all the time; one generation's insight becomes the next generation's fallacy.

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Scientific American

Below average
Reviewed by Brian Mossop on Feb 03 2012

Though at times highly philosophical, Haidt’s book is a must-read if you want to understand how conflicts arise—and how we might prevent them.

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OpEdNews

Below average
Reviewed by Thomas Farrell on Mar 22 2012

But nowhere in his book does Haidt give any indication of understanding, or even knowing about, the centuries-old Catholic tradition of "natural law" moral theory.

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The Humanist

Below average
Reviewed by Jonathan Ree

I am sure that Haidt does not expect Barack Obama to alter his ideals in order to appease a horde of God-bothering bible-bashers, but try as I might I could not see where else his line of thought could lead.

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The Mockingbird

Below average
Reviewed by David Zahl on Mar 28 2012

And while his defense of religion itself is pretty limp–clue: it has to do with community-building–we should nonetheless take what we can get.

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Acton Institute

Below average
Reviewed by Anthony Bradley on Mar 21 2012

In one sense Haidt is not saying anything that religious leaders and economists haven’t been saying for centuries, namely, that at the root of our understanding of politics are fundamental beliefs about human nature and definitions of morality.

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The Rational Optimist

Below average
Reviewed by Frank Robinson on Mar 28 2012

While I found Haidt’s analysis very enlightening, I was somewhat disappointed that after establishing his premises so well, he didn’t spend much time applying them concretely to current American political and religious divisions, and hardly even tried to offer serious solutions.

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