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How to Bridge the Divide: The Moral Foundation of Meaning/Indifference

We humans have a deep-seated need to feel heard. Being heard confers meaning, purpose, to one’s existence. It makes us feel like we matter. Not being heard denies us these things; makes us feel like we don’t matter. 

People on both sides of the political aisle feel that they’re not being heard, which causes them to lash out. This explains much of the partisan divisiveness we see today. 

On the left, “You’ve invalidated my existence” is a desperate cry to be heard, as are cancel culture, grievance studies, and maybe even Greta Thunberg’s “you’ve stolen my childhood, how dare you?” They’re all saying “I MATTER! HEAR ME! 

On the right, the demand to be heard manifests in the electoral wins of Trump and Brexit, the gilets jaunes in France, the IDW, and the popularity of Jordan Peterson, who is all about understanding and providing meaning.   

The need for meaning explains our deep-seated desire to believe that loved ones who’ve passed did not die in vain. It explains the many tombs of unknown soldiers around the world, Veterans day and Memorial Day in the U.S., poppy blossoms in England. 

The need for meaning (through being heard) is so wide and deep that it’s probably a moral foundation, the negative side of which is indifference. The moral foundation of Meaning/Indifference.    

“The facts don’t care about your feelings” is indifferent.  “Citation please” is indifferent. Our fixation on evidence and logic is indifferent. Enlightenment norms of WEIRD Platonic rationalism are indifferent.

The West, as a culture, is indifferent. It is the rationalist delusion writ large. It is violating, trampling, the moral foundation of Meaning. Our collective indifference deprives us of our essential humanity; denies it, as if we’re robots devoid of feelings; as if we’re a species of Mister Spocks: Vulcans.

We are being torn apart by the “enlightened,” or so we believe, Tyranny of Reason.

Understanding all of this may be the “in” that could allow Heterodox Academy and anyone else who fancies themselves bridge builders to reach both sides and break the logjam of partisan animosities.

If intuition comes first and reasoning follows then evidence and logic are mere carrier signals for a deeper message. 

This being the case we need to stop obsessing over the signal and instead try to hear the message. 

Stop judging people by the way they express themselves (their evidence and logic) and start sussing out what they’re actually trying to say. 

Talk less and listen more.

Stop trying to persuade and start trying to understand.

Hear people. Demonstrate that you do by expressing *their* message in *your* words.

Show them they matter.



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