A worthy muse.

Muse: As a verb, to muse is to consider something thoughtfully.

Hearth recommended a reading of the introductory chapter of the book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. She has been heavily considering the increasingly divisive and vitriolic discourse which dominates political and religious discussion in our country and thought we might find it interesting. I did find it interesting, and am planning on reading the book sometime this spring. Yes, it is pushing other planned works further down the queue.

I am inviting anyone else who has an interest in discussing such a book to join me and read the book to completion by May 1. I will post a review of the book at that time. To -hopefully- pique interest, I am including a few quotes from the introductory chapter.

“This book is about why it’s so hard for us to get along. We are indeed all stuck here for a while, so while we’re waiting, let’s at least try to understand why we are so easily divided into hostile groups, each one certain of its righteousness.”

“I could have titled this book The Moral Mind to convey the sense that the human mind is designed to “do” morality, just as it’s designed to do language, sexuality, music, and many other things described in popular books reporting the latest scientific findings. But I chose the title The Righteous Mind to convey the sense that human nature is not just intrinsically moral, it’s also intrinsically moralistic, critical, and judgmental.”

“The central metaphor of these four chapters is that the mind is divided, like a rider on an elephant, and the rider’s job is to serve the elephant. The rider is our conscious reasoning—the stream of words and images that hogs the stage of our awareness. The elephant is the other 99 percent of mental processes—the ones that occur outside of awareness but that actually govern most of our behavior.”

Already in the introduction, I can find areas of disagreement with the book’s author, Jonathan Haidt. The point isn’t to promote the book as a solution to the problems. What I am hoping to find within its pages is a fairly detached exposition of the situation.

Even if it fails that test, I consider it a worthy muse.

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9 thoughts on “A worthy muse.

  1. For a while now, I had been considering how the many things I have thought were true (and I have reconsidered a couple of my conservative positions as well) were built on a presupposition of my own rightness or righteousness. And how that has caused me to offer a knee jerk reaction to the contrary views of others.

    I look forward to reading the book and seeing what I come away with as a result. So thank you, for suggesting it.

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  2. What I’m finding MOST interesting is not the discussion of confirmation bias, but the different sets of values the different tribes hold dear. We truly ARE talking past one another, which is why raising our volume and making our points more pointed is not helping to heal the divide or win converts.

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  3. I think I will join you ladies on this endeavour. It would be nice to gain a little more insight, reasoning and articulation for the lefties I run into — other than you are a stupid-head — too daft to grasp beyond the elemental beginnings of a discussion. (I’m finding it frustrating, as you can tell and continually end up back at my husband’s opinion, “Just scroll past Baby, no one ever wins an argument.”)

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  4. Oh good!

    I think chapter 9 is worth skipping for the Christians in the house (it wasn’t all that helpful). But so much stuff is, “OH THIS. THIS. It’s all making so much sense.”.

    Seriously. We’re using two different currencies for value – it’s like trying to buy something in pesos in the middle of Tokyo.

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  5. Okay, so I finished 🙂 I’d watched some of his youtube presentations, which cover much the same territory as the book. If you get bogged down in the middle, skip to the last couple of chapters, which sum everything up and get to a good bit of meat. I found the first few chapters and those last couple the best parts, and it has sparked some thinking and given me new ways to observe the behavior of those around me.

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  6. That sounds like an interesting read. Your excerpt and the discussion reminded me of James’ question regarding why we tend to fight and bicker and covet and kill. I think his summary response is pretty helpful in making sense of the petty, self-righteous nonsense we see and sometimes participate in.

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