Sunday, May 3, 2009

Objectivity, Self Righteousness and exiting The Moral Matrix: Jonathan Haidt's TED Talk

TED Talks

I have lately been on a TED Talks binge, both on The Walkabout and on the Green Initiatives blog. I cannot seem to get enough of these talks. They truly are ideas worth sharing. So, today I present one of my top favorite TED Talks.

Jonathan Haidt

On 20th March, I wrote about Jonathan Haidt's book, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, after watching him on TED.

Ideology and Openness to Experience

In this TED Talk, Jonathan Haidt talks about ideology and openness to experience. He discusses moral psychology, and outlines the moral roots of, and major differences between liberals and conservatives.

Watch the talk, read comments and download the video on the TED web site.

Key highlights:

  • People who are higher on openness to experience just crave novelty, variety, diversity, new ideas, travel.
    People low on it like things that are familiar, that are safe and dependable.

  • "Open individuals have an affinity for liberal, progressive, left-wing political views, whereas closed inviduals prefer conservative, traditional, right wing views"
    - McCrae

  • When people all share values, when people all share morals, they become a team, and once you engage the psychology of teams, it shuts down open minded thinking.

  • The first draft of the moral mind.
    "The initial organization of the brain does not rely that much on experience... Nature provides a first draft, which experience then revises... 'Built in' does not mean unmalleable; it means organized in advance of experience."
    - Marcus

  • The Five Foundations of Morality
    1. Harm/Care
    2. Fairness/Reciprocity
    3. Ingroup/Loyalty
    4. Authority/Respect
    5. Purity/Sanctity

  • The truth of social entropy is that "Order tends to decay."

  • Traditional authority and morality can be quite repressive and restrictive to those at the bottom, to women and to people that don't fit in.

  • Liberals speak for the weak and oppressed; they want change and justice, even at the risk of chaos.

  • Conservatives speak for institutions and traditions; want order even if at cost to those at the bottom.

  • "The restraints on men, as well as their liberties, are to be reckoned among their rights"
    - Edmund Burke

  • "If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.
    The struggle between "for" and "against" is the mind's worst disease."
    - Sent-ts'an

  • Our Righteous Minds were designed to...
    1. unite us into teams
    2. divide us against other teams
    3. blind us to the truth

Let us learn, share and purpose to be objective, by cultivating moral humility, acknowledging and respecting the differing opinions of others.


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