Beyond WEIRD Morality – The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion – Jonathan Haidt
Trigger warning – tre etiche: autonomista, comunitaria e divina – perversioni ripugnanti che non danneggiano nessuno – perché certe affermazioni ci disturbano? – razzismo e sessismo come tabù della religione laica – perché il materialismo ci disturba? –
But what I didn’t expect was that these working-class subjects would sometimes find my request for justifications so perplexing. Each time someone said that the people in a story had done something wrong, I asked, “Can you tell me why that was wrong?” …this same question often led to long pauses and disbelieving stares. Those pauses and stares seemed to say, You mean you don’tknow why it’s wrong to do that to a chicken? I have to explain this to you? What planet are you from? …
Note:L’UOMO COMUNE DI FRONTE AL COMPORTAMENTO RIPUGNANTE
I came from a strange and different moral world—the University of Pennsylvania. Penn students were the most unusual of all twelve groups in my study. They were unique in their unwavering devotion to the “harm principle,” which John Stuart Mill had put forth in 1859:
Note:PER GLI UNIVERSITARI IL DANNO È TUTTO
In 2010, the cultural psychologists Joe Henrich, Steve Heine, and Ara Norenzayan published a profoundly important article titled “The Weirdest People in the World?”2 The authors pointed out that nearly all research in psychology is conducted on a very small subset of the human population: people from cultures that are Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (forming the acronym WEIRD). They then reviewed dozens of studies showing that WEIRD people are statistical outliers; they are the least typical, least representative people you could study if you want to make generalizations about human nature.
Several of the peculiarities of WEIRD culture can be captured in this simple generalization: The WEIRDer you are, the more you see a world full of separate objects, rather than relationships.
Note:UN MONDO SENZA RELAZIONI
Most people think holistically (seeing the whole context and the relationships among parts), but WEIRD people think more analytically (detaching the focal object from its context, assigning it to a category, and then assuming that what’s true about the category is true about the object).
But when holistic thinkers in a non-WEIRD culture write about morality, we get something more like the Analects of Confucius, a collection of aphorisms and anecdotes that can’t be reduced to a single rule.
if you live in a non-WEIRD society in which people are more likely to see relationships, contexts, groups, and institutions, then you won’t be so focused on protecting individuals.
Note:O RELAZIONE O INDIVIDUI
THREE ETHICS ARE MORE DESCRIPTIVE THAN ONE
The ethic of autonomy is based on the idea that people are, first and foremost, autonomous individuals with wants, needs, and preferences. People should be free to satisfy these wants…You find it in the writings of utilitarians such as John Stuart Mill and Peter Singer …
The ethic of community is based on the idea that people are, first and foremost, members of larger entities such as families, teams, armies, companies, tribes, and nations. These larger entities are more than the sum of the people who compose them; they are real, they matter, and they must be protected.
The ethic of divinity is based on the idea that people are, first and foremost, temporary vessels within which a divine soul has been implanted.12 People are not just animals with an extra serving of consciousness; they are children of God and should behave accordingly. The body is a temple, not a playground.
Note:ETICA DELLA DIVINITÀ
HOW I BECAME A PLURALIST
I had read about Shweder’s ethic of community and had understood it intellectually. But now, for the first time in my life, I began to feel it. I could see beauty in a moral code that emphasizes duty, respect for one’s elders, service to the group, and negation of the self’s desires.
Note:CAPIRE IL COMUNITARISMO
The same thing happened with the ethic of divinity. I understood intellectually what it meant to treat the body as a temple rather than as a playground, but that was an analytical concept I used to make sense of people who were radically different from me. I personally was quite fond of pleasure and could see little reason to choose less of it rather than more. And I was quite devoted to efficiency, so I could see little reason to spend an hour or two each day saying prayers and performing rituals…Why do Hindu gods care about the state of their devotees’ bodies? …In graduate school I had done some research on moral disgust, and that prepared me to think about these questions. …
Note:CAPIRE L’ETICA DIVINA
theory, in brief, was that the human mind automatically perceives a kind of vertical dimension of social space, running from God or moral perfection at the top down through angels, humans, other animals, monsters, demons, and then the devil, or perfect evil, at the bottom. …you do find the idea that high = good = pure = God whereas low = bad = dirty = animal quite widely. … Our idea was that moral disgust is felt whenever we see or hear about people whose behavior shows them to be low on this vertical dimension. …
Note:TEORIA DELLE VIRTÙ
man who robs a bank does a bad thing, and we want to see him punished. But a man who betrays his own parents or who enslaves children for the sex trade seems monstrous—lacking in some basic human sentiment. Such actions revolt us and seem to trigger some of the same physiology of disgust as would seeing rats scampering out of a trash can.
in Bhubaneswar. Cows and dogs roamed freely around town, so you had to step carefully around their droppings; you sometimes saw people defecating by the roadside; and garbage was often heaped into fly-swarmed piles. It therefore began to feel natural to me to adopt the Indian practice of removing my shoes when I entered any private home,
Private homes had a similar topography, and I had to be sure never to enter the kitchen or the room where offerings were made to deities. The topography of purity even applies to your own body: you eat with your right hand (after washing it), and you use your left hand to clean yourself (with water) after defecation, so you develop an intuitive sense that left = dirty and right = clean.
I also began to understand why the American culture wars involved so many battles over sacrilege. Is a flag just a piece of cloth, which can be burned as a form of protest? Or does each flag contain within it something nonmaterial such that when protesters burn it, they have done something bad (even if nobody were to see them do it)? When an artist submerges a crucifix in a jar of his own urine, or smears elephant dung on an image of the Virgin Mary, do these works belong in art museums?21 Can the artist simply tell religious Christians, “If you don’t want to see it, don’t go to the museum”?
If you can’t see anything wrong here, try reversing the politics. Imagine that a conservative artist had created these works using images of Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela instead of Jesus and Mary. Imagine that his intent was to mock the quasi-deification by the left of so many black leaders. Could such works be displayed in museums in New York or Paris without triggering angry demonstrations?
Note:OLTRAGGIARE LE ICONE DI SINISTRA
why are many of us bothered by rampant materialism? If some people want to work hard in order to earn money in order to buy luxury goods in order to impress others, how can we criticize them using the ethic of autonomy?
Note:QUEL MATERIALISMO CHE DISTURBA
I was recently eating lunch at a UVA dining hall. At the table next to me two young women were talking. One of them was very grateful for something the other had agreed to do for her. To express her gratitude she exclaimed, “Oh my God! If you were a guy, I’d be so on your dick right now!” I felt a mixture of amusement and revulsion, but how could I criticize her from within the ethic of autonomy?
Note:COSE CHE DISTURBANO. LA RELIGIOSITÀ DEGLI ATEI
STEPPING OUT OF THE MATRIX
I began to see that many moral matrices coexist within each nation. Each matrix provides a complete, unified, and emotionally compelling worldview, easily justified by observable evidence and nearly impregnable to attack by arguments from outsiders.
When I moved from Yale to Penn, and then from Penn to the University of Chicago, the matrix stayed pretty much the same. It was only in India that I had to stand alone. Had I been there as a tourist it would have been easy to maintain my matrix membership for three months; I’d have met up now and then with other Western tourists, and we would have swapped stories about the sexism, poverty, and oppression we had seen. But because I was there to study cultural psychology I did everything I could to fit into another matrix, one woven mostly from the ethics of community and divinity. When I returned to America, social conservatives no longer seemed so crazy. I could listen to leaders of the “religious right” such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson with a kind of clinical detachment. They want more prayer and spanking in schools, and less sex education and access to abortion? I didn’t think those steps would reduce AIDS and teen pregnancy, but I could see why Christian conservatives wanted to “thicken up” the moral climate of schools and discourage the view that children should be as free as possible to act on their desires.
Social conservatives think that welfare programs and feminism increase rates of single motherhood and weaken the traditional social structures that compel men to support their own children? Well, now that I was no longer on the defensive, I could see that those arguments made sense, even if there are also many good effects of liberating women from dependence on men.
Note:WELFARE E DONNE
began to think about liberal and conservative policies as manifestations of deeply conflicting but equally heartfelt visions of the good society.
Note:LA BUONA SOCIETÀ
In 1991, Shweder wrote about the power of cultural psychology to cause such awakenings: Yet the conceptions held by others are available to us, in the sense that when we truly understand their conception of things we come to recognize possibilities latent within our own rationality
The second principle of moral psychology is: There’s more to morality than harm and fairness.