The Righteous Mind Book Summary - The Righteous Mind Book explained in key points

The Righteous Mind summary

Jonathan Haidt

Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

4.5 (157 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt helps us understand why people have different moral views. It explains how our moral intuitions work and how we can develop a more intuitive and nuanced understanding of the world.

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    The Righteous Mind
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    Contrary to popular belief, it is emotion, not reasoning, that drives our moral judgment.

    Western philosophy has emphasized reason and logic over emotions for thousands of years. This tendency still prevails, but a growing body of research proves that emotions should no longer be regarded as secondary to logic.

    For example, American neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has demonstrated that emotions play a more important role in processing information and making moral judgments than had previously been thought.

    He studied patients with brain damage which had resulted in their emotionality dropping to nearly zero, and found that, at any given moment in their everyday life, every option the patients had at their disposal felt equally right to them.

    Imagine that every choice you made in life meant as little to you as choosing a new kettle. This was life for Damasio’s patients: they could think about anything at all with absolutely no emotional input, leading to a general indifference in their behavior. Their social lives were severely impaired as they became less thoughtful partners, friends and colleagues.

    And not only do emotions have a valid role in processing information, they are also constantly at work. Research has demonstrated that everything triggers emotions in us, and these emotions automatically influence our moral reasoning.

    This was demonstrated in an experiment by social psychologist Robert Zajonc, who asked people to view a series of slides of pictures, words and figures. Every single slide immediately triggered a tiny flash of affect in them, even when the images were arbitrary things like geometric shapes and squiggles. This indicates that emotions work instantly and constantly, ready to guide thought, behavior and moral judgment.

    So there is no need to distrust your feelings – they always play an important role when you are processing information or making moral decisions.

    Contrary to popular belief, it is emotion, not reasoning, that drives our moral judgment.

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    What is The Righteous Mind about?

    The Righteous Mind (2012) explores how moral decisions are made, concluding that moral judgments stem from intuitions, not logic. The author draws on his background in social psychology and 25 years of groundbreaking research to explain how morality both binds us and divides us and how religion and politics create conflicting communities of shared morality.

    The Righteous Mind Review

    The Righteous Mind (2012) by Jonathan Haidt is a thought-provoking exploration of the moral psychology that shapes our political views and beliefs. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers fascinating insights into the nature of morality and why people from different political ideologies think the way they do.
    • By examining moral foundations such as loyalty, authority, and sanctity, it challenges our assumptions and helps us better understand the complexities of human morality.
    • With a rich blend of scientific research, philosophical ideas, and real-world examples, the book ensures an intellectually stimulating and enlightening experience.

    Who should read The Righteous Mind?

    • Anyone who wants to learn how moral decisions are made
    • Anyone interested in understanding how our moral interests both unify and divide us

    About the Author

    Jonathan Haidt, PhD, is a social and cultural psychologist at the University of Virginia. He studies morality and emotion and his research has also led to the publication of The Happiness Hypothesis.

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    The Righteous Mind FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Righteous Mind?

    The main message of The Righteous Mind is that our moral judgments are based on intuition, not reason.

    How long does it take to read The Righteous Mind?

    The reading time for The Righteous Mind may vary, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Righteous Mind a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Righteous Mind is a thought-provoking and insightful read. It provides a deeper understanding of moral psychology and our divided political landscape.

    Who is the author of The Righteous Mind?

    The author of The Righteous Mind is Jonathan Haidt.