This is first attempt at communicating an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while. It has finally formed clearly enough out of a cloud of thoughts for me to write it down. With time I may refine or enhance it, expand or contract it, or morph it into something else. For the moment, here’s what I’m thinking:
I propose that the ideas in The Righteous Mind can be summarized in a few short statements which, if worded well and arranged in just the right way, can explain the psychologies and motivations that drive, and have driven, all of human social and political history.
1) Humans evolved to form into social groups for the mutual benefit and protection of the individuals within them.
2) At least six psychological “senses,” or threat/opportunity awareness modules, evolved in the human psyche to help individuals form into, and maintain the strength and integrity of, groups.
3) There are two types of social senses,
a) Individualizing; focused on the autonomy, liberty, and well being of the individual, and
b) Binding; focused on the strength, health, and well being of the group.
4) The six social senses are primary, but not all, of the sources of our Fast intuitions about good and bad social behaviors (i.e., of right and wrong); and of our intuitions to like or dislike, approach or avoid, and fight or flee other individuals or groups.
5) Groups form around shared sets of intuitions called ideologies or moralities.
6) An individual’s ability to maintain membership and good standing in a group depends largely on the individual’s skill at managing his own reputation.
7) The human ability to reason (i.e., The “slow” thinking Daniel Kahneman describes in Thinking, Fast and Slow) evolved to help with reputation management; reason is for winning, not truth finding.
8) Groups compete with other groups for scarce resources, territory, and political power.
9) For the benefit and protection of the group, its members attempt to consolidate and concentrate political power into it.
10) The enemy of “individualizing” is consolidated, concentrated, political power.
In sum: The natural tension that exists between the opposing forces of individualizing and binding is the spark that lights the fire of human social and political action within and between groups.