Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another person's goodness

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues irritate me. Their reasoned, exhaustive work on morality makes it impossible for me to do what I want to do: Claim the high ground, declare that my idea of goodness is the only definition in existence, and paint anyone who disagrees with me as a self-centered, power-hungry jerk. But Haidt et al make a compelling case for the idea that other moralities exist.

If I’m going to truly understand goodness, I’m going to have to accept that fact (albeit with gritted teeth). When I’m not being annoyed by Haidt and friends, I’m thankful they have given me a way into other modes of thought. Hence, the purpose of this post is to dive into their work and through it to peer out of the eyes of folks who believe respecting authority, remaining pure and giving loyalty to one’s group are as important to goodness as compassion, caring and fairness.

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