Last night, Trump supporters were physically attacked by protesters. This sort of action seems to be baked into the cake of the one-foundation, WEIRD Platonic mindset, and virtually absent from the all-foundation holistic Aristotelian mindset. Recognizing why this is so is a necessary step toward avoiding similar events in the future, and toward reducing partisan rancor in general.
Possibly the biggest of all misconceptions about the dynamic between left and right is that it is a struggle between relatively equal but opposite priorities of change and stability; or between equal but opposite priorities of individualizing and binding moral foundations; or between equal but opposite ethics of autonomy and community.
That’s not it AT ALL. Not even close.
Social science findings show that, In truth, it is a struggle between a priority for change and a priority for a balance of change WITH stability; between individualizing and a balance of individualizing AND binding; between autonomy, and a balance of autonomy AND community.
The dynamic between left and right is struggle between a) the emergent mindset that results from the combination of WEIRD Platonic idealism and the individualizing foundations, and b) the emergent mindset that results form the combination of holistic Aristotelian empiricism and the need to balance the natural tension between the individualizing foundations AND the binding foundations.
To be clear, I think the cognitive styles of WEIRD Platonic idealism and holistic Aristotelian empiricism exist in a continuum. They’re not binary, either/or, switches of the mind. The same is true of moral foundations.
The difference between the liberal left and the illiberal left, I suggest, is that the illiberal left is much closer to the extreme end of both continuums. It is an extreme version of WEIRD Platonic idealism, AND it is an extreme version of the individualizing foundations. It does very little holistic thinking, and it employs very little, if any, amount of the binding foundations.
Also, the groupthink of the culture of local time, place, and circumstance plays an important role. The more isolated one is from people who think differently, and the more of a homogeneous bubble of similar-thinking people one is surrounded with, the more extreme one’s overall outlook, world view, or vision will tend to be. The culture of college campuses is about as pure of a bubble as exists in the world. Universities are ideal Petrie dishes for the incubation of 99.99% pure versions of The Rationalist Delusion. So in some ways it’s only natural that some of the most extreme thoughts and behaviors will be exhibited there.
But with all that said, in the same way data and evidence allow us to make generalizations about left and right – for example, about the way each employs the moral foundations – they also allow us to make generalizations about the outlook, or world view, or vision, of each, and based on that we can more accurately characterize the dynamic that exists between the two sides.
The dynamic between left and right, to varying degrees, depending on the particular combination of cognitive style and moral foundations, is like that of Flatland vs Spaceland, or like that of the morally colorblind vs the morally fully sighted. As R. R. Reno said in his review of The Righteous Mind, “Liberalism is blind in one eye yet it insists on the superiority of its vision and its supreme right to rule. It cannot see half the things a governing philosophy must see, and claims that those who see both halves are thereby unqualified to govern.”
The Flatland vision of the illiberal left explains, more than any other single factor, the SJW campus crazies and the physical assaults on Trump supporters: When half of the evolved psychological mechanisms of social awareness are effectively unavailable to one’s moral cognition one is left with no logical alternative but to conclude that people who think differently must be, can only be, afflicted with some sort of mental, social, or psychological disorder; i.e., they’re sick in the head. That being the case it’s only natural, and practically inevitable, for one to feel not only justified, but duty bound, to prevent those people and their ideas from entering the public sphere. It’s the exact same psychological and cognitive root cause that led the French Revolutionaries to conclude that The Terror was in the best interests of mankind.
So, here’s where the misconception I mentioned earlier comes into play: A sacred value of Western culture that creates a MASSIVE blind spot in its overall understanding of itself – and specifically of some of the real root causes of the thinking and actions of the SJW left, and thus prevents empathy, exacerbates partisan rancor, and drives the wedge of the Coming Apart – is the religion-like unquestioning blind faith in the assumption – no, the FACT, the self-evident KNOWLEDGE, the foregone conclusion – that the dynamic is Flatland vs Flatland.
The assumption that the dynamic is that of Flatland vs Flatland has an effect similar to the assumption that the purpose of reason is to help us find truth. It prevents us from seeing and understanding the true nature of things. It instead sends us down rabbit holes of inquiry into what’s “wrong,” when in fact what’s truly wrong is the assumption itself.
Haidt’s repeated mention of consensual hallucination – like in the Dave Rubin interview – fans the flames. It’s the Yin/Yang fallacy by another name. It reinforces the false assumption of Flatland vs Flatland. It gives the impression that each consensual hallucination is equally grounded in reality – in understanding of human nature, and in ability to imagine one’s self in the shoes of another (i.e., of empathy) – but merely in different ways.
The truth is nothing of the sort.
Nobody is perfect. Nobody is right all the time or wrong all the time. But the empirical data and analyses behind The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion shows that when it comes to understanding human nature the WEIRD one-foundation Platonic mindset is more wrong than right, and the holistic all-foundation Aristotelian mindset is more right than wrong. The Venn Diagram of the all-foundation holistic mindset is significantly more congruent with the realities of human nature than is the Diagram of the one-foundation WEIRD mindset.
Similarly, that data also shows that the holistic all-foundation mindset is better at “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this” (i.e., having EMPATHY) than is the WEIRD one-foundation mindset.
My fear is that unless and until we shine the light of day on the elephant in the room of the false assumption of a Flatland vs. Flatland dynamic we have close to Zero chance to understand the true nature of the political divide, and lacking that understanding we have about the same chance of preventing or avoiding continued assaults by the left, and the continued widening of the political divide.
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