Jonathan Haidt on what our moral and intellectual superiors need to realize about the rest of us …
|February 1, 2012||Posted by News under Evolutionary psychology, News|
If only they could condescend to be humble enough:
How did people come together to build cooperative societies beyond kinship?
Morality is the glue, he answers. Humans are 90-percent chimp, but also 10-percent bee—evolved to bind together for the good of the hive. A big part of Haidt’s moral narrative is faith. He lays out the case that religion is an evolutionary adaptation for binding people into groups and enabling those units to better compete against other groups. Through faith, humans developed the “psychology of sacredness,” the notion that “some people, objects, days, words, values, and ideas are special, set apart, untouchable, and pure.” If people revere the same sacred objects, he writes, they can trust one another and cooperate toward larger goals. But morality also blinds them to arguments from beyond their group.
How much of moral thinking is innate? Haidt sees morality as a “social construction” that varies by time and place. We all live in a “web of shared meanings and values” that become our moral matrix, he writes, and these matrices form what Haidt, quoting the science-fiction writer William Gibson, likens to “a consensual hallucination.” But all humans graft their moralities on psychological systems that evolved to serve various needs, like caring for families and punishing cheaters. Building on ideas from the anthropologist Richard Shweder, Haidt and his colleagues synthesize anthropology, evolutionary theory, and psychology to propose six innate moral foundations: care/harm, fairness/cheating, liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation.
– “Jonathan Haidt Decodes the Tribal Psychology of Politics” (Chronicle of Higher Education, January 29, 2012)
Many, it seems, do not wish to so condescend, which frustrates him.
Fortunately for him, he doesn’t need to consider what the objects of his would-be beneficence increasingly think of all of them.