Re: NOTE: We're discussing "The Righteous Mind" for a second time! First time was in 2012.
If anyone wants to catch up with Jonathan Haidt, a good place is https://www.disruptorawards.com/2017-ho ... than-haidt
. He did the work on The Righteous Mind
while at the University of Virginia. I was a little bummed when he jumped ship for NYU's Stern School of Business, but that was definitely a promotion for him. He made two lists of most influential world thinkers after the book was published. He now has an interesting project called the Heterodox Academy, which aims to make academic intellectual life more open to diverse opinions.
The tone he shoots for in the book, successfully I think, is exemplified by the epigraph from Baruch Spinoza: "I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not to hate them, but to understand them." In his own words in the introduction, he writes, "My goal in this book is to drain some of the heat, anger, and divisiveness out of these topics [politics, morality] and replace them with awe, wonder, and curiosity. We are downright lucky that we evolved this complex moral psychology that allowed our species to burst out of the forests and savannas and into the delights, comforts, and extraordinary peacefulness of modern societies in just a few thousand years."
The last part of that statement echoes a thread pursued recently by Stephen Pinker: that civilization reduced violence and that we continue to evolve more and more peaceful societies. Many people, perhaps most, have the opposite impression about levels of violence.
In 2012, when the book was published, Haidt addressed the divisiveness of that time. One worry he doesn't have is that 8 years later his book is dated. It's more relevant than ever.