The Red Pill or the Blue? Moral Psychology, and Whose Team Are You On? member (from his TED profile) and Social Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies morality and emotion in the context of culture. He asks: Why did humans evolve to have morals — and why did we all evolve to have such different morals, to the point that our moral differences may make us deadly enemies? It’s a question with deep repercussions in war and peace — and in modern politics, where reasoned discourse has been replaced by partisan anger and cries of “You just don’t get it!”  

Haidt asks, “Can’t we all disagree more constructively?” He suggests we might build a more civil and productive discourse by understanding the moral psychology of those we disagree with, and committing to a more civil political process. He’s also active in the study of positive psychology  and human flourishing.

Rather than me comment on it and perhaps skew responses or seed expectations, I’ll just let you watch and listen and take whichever pill you prefer.

This video is a TED talk Haidt gave last year. If you want hear more of his ideas and thinking, this year, posted today, Haidt spoke to the TED Blog about the moral psychology behind the healthcare debate in the United States.


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    • Edger on September 28, 2009 at 04:29
    • Joy B. on September 28, 2009 at 07:48
    • jamess on September 29, 2009 at 04:01

    and informative!

    but, but, I want the Purple Pill!

    thx for the post Edger

    • banger on September 29, 2009 at 04:19

    Too much chaos and integrity disappears and we dissolve into chaos. To much order and rigidity envelops us and we crack and break and/or cannot adapt to new situations.

    I think, on the whole, Haidt has it a little wrong. It is not a question of personal tendencies but culture. Liberalism contains within it highly conservative and “liberal” people — just visit DKOS and follow its career over time to see how fundamentally conservative and rigid the place can be. I don’t necessarily find all conservatives that rigid; rather, they seem to be highly suspicious of “liberals” from a cultural and class perspective. Liberals are seen as elitists who actually preserve the system by being its high priests and priestesses. It is liberals who often man the great institutions in the corporate world, government and so on or at least appear to. The resentments of the yeomancy (lower middle class) in America comes from class consciousness as much as anything else.

    We need caution and nerve. Ideally we cooperate–different people take on their roles. We can see this in families, relationships, sports teams, business relations and so on. What Haidt did not address is that the current political system is neither liberal or conservative in any reasonable definition of those words. The oligarchy is, increasingly, a criminal elite that preys on the profound ignorance of the people whether they are on the “left” or the “right”. Both sides are deluded about the true nature of our political and cultural situation. Both sides know next to nothing about the essential situation we are in and, furthermore, don’t want to know. At any rate, our current politics has nothing to do with left/right politics. It is thieves and murderers against the rest of us.  

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