Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Quote of the Day

So the thing that really has motivated me in writing the book is trying to think about this miracle of human civilization. No other species on the planet can cooperate unless they are siblings. So that bees, ants, wasps, termites, and naked mole rats can all live in giant structures that they've built together because they are all sisters, or sisters and brothers. But humans develop this ability to work together in all kinds of ways, not just people who are not kin but even with strangers. You and I have never met but we are able to cooperate and put on this podcast. We're just so good at this. How did that happen? And so, you know, we could look at language; we could look at all sorts of things that allowed us to interact. But what allowed us to actually trust each other and not take advantage of each other and to reap the benefits of cooperation? And the story I tell in the book is that morality serves a variety of functions but they are social functions, one of which is to bind groups together in ways so that they can cooperate to compete against other groups. And so what we gain in cohesion we often lose in open-mindedness. And you see this on Capitol Hill all the time--one side, the mere fact that one side proposes something means the other side will suddenly do everything it can show why that's wrong.

- Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

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