Why are good people divided by politics and religion?

Why are good people divided by politics and religion? This question is addressed in the best-selling book by moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt (pronounced “height”):

The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion (2012)

In this meeting, we’ll find out what late-breaking research in moral psychology reveals about how we acquire moral values, how we make moral judgments, and how we can improve our personal lives and our society.

Haidt’s book has three parts, covering the following topics:

A model of cognitive processing

A model of moral values

A model of evolution and society

Philip Bitar will present the topics in an interactive format, introducing each topic with questions to which we will propose answers. After presenting Haidt’s theory, Bitar will lead a discussion of how we can apply the theory to our personal lives and to our society.

For a more detailed statement of this agenda, please see the agenda link for[masked] on the following webpage:

www.WhyHumanLifeMakesSense.com/Handouts/Index.php?pageid=Meetup

The organized meeting will last till about 4:30 or 5:30, as per group preference as we're proceeding with our discussion. You can leave whenever you want to. The room is reserved till 5:45 for whoever might like to stay for informal conversations. Feel free to bring a non-alcoholic beverage that won't stain and that is in a container with a lid in order to minimize the chance of spills.

The Montlake library is located at the NW corner of 24th and McGraw. To avoid a two-hour parking limit, park in one of the following locations: library parking lot (small and cramped, enter from 24th); directly in front of library on 24th (parallel parking); directly across McGraw to south (diagonal parking); on 22nd from Calhoun south (parallel parking).

Philip Bitar bio

Philip Bitar earned bachelor degrees in Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Washington, and then followed this, at U.C. Berkeley, with graduate study in Cognitive Psychology, a master degree in Statistics, and a doctorate in Computer Science.

Bitar subsequently spent 10 years developing a comprehensive theory of human life covering the following topics: knowledge, reality, religion, ethics, commerce, government, and meaning — the meaning of human life.

Thus far, Bitar has published three books presenting portions of his theory:

Why Human Life Makes Sense (2011) — knowledge, reality, religion, ethics, and meaning

The Second American Revolution (2012) — commerce and government

Why? In Pursuit of the Ultimate Answer (2008) — comprehensive theory of human life

For more info on Bitar’s work, please visit the meetup site Why Human Life Makes Sense

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  • V

    This sounds like a great meetup!.. Wish I could be there.

    October 22, 2012

  • Gene L

    Philip,

    You - and any going to the meetup - should read these two recent articles from the New York Times about the relationship between intuition and reason - a criticism and Haidt's response.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/hope-for-reason/

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/reasons-matter-when-intuitions-dont-object/

    October 13, 2012

    • Philip B.

      Gene, thanks for posting the links. In part 1 of the meeting, we’ll discuss cognitive processing, and I’ll present a model of the mind so that Haidt’s overall idea of the role of intuition will make sense. To quote from my comment on 10-05: “I will clarify the complementary roles of intentional reasoning and automatic intuition, showing that the latter is based on the former.” With an accurate model of the mind in place, the perspectives of Haidt, Lynch, and Gutting can all be accommodated. Their differences will reduce to details of the interplay of intentional reasoning and automatic intuition.

      October 16, 2012

  • Margaret B.

    I won't be attending because of a schedule conflict. Also, I find these discussions are frustrating if you can't go deep, which is difficult to do in a group situation with strangers. But I piped in here because I like the format of having someone who's read a book present the info to others who haven't read it, but I think it needs to be a fact-based book. Many of these philosophical debates just end up as semantics, which is kind of a waste of time,IMHO.

    October 13, 2012

    • Gene L

      Margaret, I think the problem with "philosophical"­ debates with a general audience is that everyone has a different background and no common understanding of certain terms, so it turns into, as you say, semantics. Discussions among philosophers start with a common understanding so this issue typically doesn't arise. Now the problem with "fact-based" discussions is that the relevant expertise (not from reading popular books) should be there.

      October 14, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sounds like an interesting group discussion topic. Would like to share my views and also learn what others have to say.
    Like w/ any other matters of the heart, faith and belief people tend to be more uni-dimentional. Sometimes we just accept it as a fact that religion and politics exists, not so long ago these were indistinguishable... Politics was Religion and vice verca.
    Maybe both were made to divide and conquer, arrange people and Shepard them. Will definitely like to attend. Weather its shallow or deep I know I'll learn something from the discussion, looking forward to it.
    Anyone going from downtown Seattle? May I join you?

    October 14, 2012

  • Gene L

    Ok I guess I misinterpreted the intent of the meetup then. Most book club discussions would presume people have already read the book. Authors might present their own books on tours for promotional purposes. It would be unusual for someone not the author to present a book to those who haven't read it, outside of academic settings by professors with expertise in the topic using it to teach. But maybe the format will prove successful and popular.

    October 13, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Gene, I haven't read Haidt's book, mostly because it seems that his emphasis is on how people people reason on a day to day basis, which is important to understand, but my personal interests lie more a deeper understanding of our nature. Even so, Lynch's piece already seems to miss the mark in too many regards for this small space. I should also mention that Phillip's goal for this presentation is a trial run of a format to facilitate discussion for people who not read the book. This or another meetup could have another meeting if people want to go into more depth on particular aspects of Haidt's work.

    October 13, 2012

  • Philip B.

    Gene, I don’t have a simple answer that I can briefly state here. I do refer to the beneficial role of religion in the agenda handout. In my presentation, I will clarify the complementary roles of intentional reasoning and automatic intuition, showing that the latter is based on the former.

    October 5, 2012

  • Gene L

    Philip,
    I'm curious how you think Haidt's theories can be applied to improve our personal lives and our society. Besides reading this book, I've heard Haidt speak and spoken to him, and he doesn't really have too many suggestions as to how one might apply his findings in this manner. At best, if we realize that our political beliefs (for example) are largely not based on reason, this might lead us to respect those of other political persuasions more.

    September 27, 2012

  • Philip B.

    The library is located at the NW corner of 24th and McGraw. To avoid a two-hour parking limit, park in one of the following locations: library parking lot (small and cramped, enter from 24th); directly in front of library on 24th (parallel parking); directly across McGraw to south (diagonal parking); on 22nd from Calhoun south (parallel parking).

    September 16, 2012

  • Philip B.

    Note that I changed the location to the Montlake Branch, which is south of the U.W., about six blocks south of the Montlake Bridge.

    September 10, 2012

  • September 4, 2012

  • Philip Bitar changed the date and time to Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    September 4, 2012

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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