Podcast: The Righteous Mind

Mere FidelityIn this week’s episode of Mere Fidelity, Derek, Andrew, and I get together to discuss Jonathan Haidt’s moral foundations thesis, as laid out in his book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.

You can also follow the podcast on iTunes, or using this RSS feed. Listen to past episodes on Soundcloud and on this page on my blog.

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About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Controversies, Ethics, Podcasts, Politics, Sex and Sexuality, Society, Theological. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Podcast: The Righteous Mind

  1. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    Our lives really are much more informal and unstructured. If you visit a truly religious society, it is quite apparent that that ritual is much more pervasive. Having a diversity seminar every year just doesn’t cut it. Furthermore, one has to notice that even among the really big rituals, like weddings or funerals, people are getting pretty lacadaisical. People just shack up now, and it is much more common for people to not even have funerals at all or to make them much less of a priority. My cousins just lost their grandfather, and the service (not really a funeral) is talking place a month and a half later, when everybody can fit it into their schedules!

    People talk about liberal saints such as Gandhi or Martin Luther King or Matthew Shepherd and so on. But most liberals don’t think about or reference these people with nearly the same frequency that religious Catholics even 60 years ago would talk about saint saints. They aren’t a part of peoples daily lives.

    Some liberals do concern themselves a lot with bodily purity in some way. But most liberals don’t eat organic food and do cleanses and such. Furthermore, at the same time, liberals, often the same ones, are pretty ok with taking recreational drugs (not to mention deeply unsanitary sexual practices), which would violate bodily purity, so concerns about toxins etc. doesn’t seem to run very deep.

    Which is why I argue for a genuine decrease in things like religion, ritual, purity, rather than just a displacement.

    That being said, I agree that human beings will never completely extirpate these things. So, displacement is not completely wrong.

  2. Paul Baxter says:

    Hi Alastair,

    I was listening to the podcast yesterday with some interest. The book certainly sounds very interesting, but what struck me was how similar Haidt’s thesis was to the thesis presented by George Lakoff in his book Moral Politics.

    I know I’ve mentioned the Lakoff book to you at some point (and perhaps you’ve read it?), but for everyone’s benefit, I’ll summarize it briefly. Lakoff was specifically interested in the question of why American liberals and conservatives seemed to be talking past each other with nearly total incomprehension. He started to notice distinct differences in the language patterns used by the two sides and began to analyze those differences. Perhaps due to his background in metaphor studies, he came to the conclusion that liberals and conservatives use rather different metaphorical systems to think about politics.

    His schema to describe these are the Strict Father (conservative) and Nurturing Mother (liberal). Within the actual language of American politicians, commentators, or anyone else talking about politics, confirming examples of these metaphors are innumerable. To that extent I found his thesis quite compelling. It does have the limitation of only really dealing with discourse within America.

    As I was listening to your podcast yesterday I found myself wondering if Haidt had reached his own position independently or if he was influenced by what Lakoff had done ten or more years earlier. Just a quick poke around the internet shows me that others have noticed the connection between the two of them. Haidt’s work, just based on what I heard from you, Andrew, and Derek, sounds a bit more complex and robust.

    In any event, here’s the weird part. Just as your podcast ended I started listening to the next podcast in my queue. It’s a show called Hidden Brain and it recounts various findings in psychology. The topic: George Lakoff and political language.

    Link here if you or anyone else would like to read or listen.
    http://www.npr.org/2016/09/13/493615864/when-it-comes-to-our-politics-family-matters

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