Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind was one of my favorite recent nonfiction books I’ve read in the last few years. It’s one of the most objective, deep analyses of a question that’s interested me for years: why do people have such fundamental and deep disagreements on how the world works or should work? Why are political left and right seemingly so far apart from one another on such fundamental levels? Haidt’s perspective as an expert in moral psychology provides insights into the foundations of how we’re different and how we’re the same.
Haidt argues that reason often serves our emotions rather than the mind being in charge. We can be less interested in the truth and more interested in finding facts and stories that fit preconceived narratives and ideology. We are genetically predisposed to work with each other rather than being purely self-interested and our genes influence our morality and ideology as well. Haidt tries to understand why people come to different visions of morality and politics and how we might understand each other despite those differences.
This is an EconTalk interview with Haidt on the book from 2014. It’s a good primer on the ideas and hopefully whets the appetite to read — a highly recommended book, for sure.
I love EconTalk’s show notes. Each episode contains an additional many hours worth of interesting reading material, links, books, and more. Great stuff.