Jonathan Haidt on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives brought to Cornerstone by Stephen Stacey (UTS’90)


The moral mind

Haidt is a social psychologist whose research on morality across cultures led up to his much-quoted 2008 TED talk on the psychological roots of the American culture war. He asks, “Can’t we all disagree more constructively?” In September 2009, Jonathan Haidt spoke to the TED Blog  about the moral psychology behind the healthcare debate in the United States.

He’s also active in the study of positive psychology and human flourishing.

At TED2012 he’s combining his work on morality with his work on happiness to talk about “hive psychology” – the ability that humans have to lose themselves in groups pursuing larger projects, almost like bees in a hive. This hivish ability Is crucial, he argues, for understanding the origins of morality, politics, and religion. These are ideas that Haidt develops at greater length in his new book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.

Learn more about his drive for a more productive and civil politics on his website And take an eye-opening quiz about your own morals at


Quotes by Jonathan Haidt

  • “If our goal is to understand the world, to seek a deeper understanding of the world, our general lack of moral diversity here is going to make it harder. Because when people all share values, when people all share morals, they become a team.”

The moral mind


Gordon Anderson Ph.D. (UTS ’78) comments:

The TED talk is excellent.



The TED film shows both the value of liberal openness and pluralism, but criticizes their resistance to moral concepts that have proven necessary for society. Conservatives are stuck looking in the rear-view mirror, unwilling to improve on their sacred inheritance. Both views—and both our political parties—appeal to incomplete and inadequate thought systems.


I think the TED film helps to pave the way for headwing thought more than the D’Souza film, but the D’Souza film is valuable in staving off total collapse because a moral system in which pluralism is the only value is no moral system at all and leads to hell. The object is not to break down the inherited civilization that has evolved and improved over thousands of years, but to improve it further, recognizing limitations.  Most liberals are guilty of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and their present worldview leads to an outcome similar to the French Revolution.


This is why we should view the U.S. Constitutional system as “Life, liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 3.0,” and develop a headwing thought that will bring “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0.” And, I think Hayek’s talk on receiving his ICUS founder’s prize is very similar to what the TED talk is saying, but goes beyond it.



Gordon L. Anderson, Ph.D.


[The D’Souza film is due for release this summer]

D’Souza talks about  the upcoming film at CPAC

Obama & 2016

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