Quotes I Like

Near the top right of the home page of this blog is a text box called “Quotes I Like.”   It’s pretty much just what it says; quotes that happen to resonate with me.  Often they support one or more regular posts.  This page is an archive of the quotes that have been in that text box.  This page will grow with time.


Let Go of For and Against, from the TED Talk, The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives, by Jonathan Haidt:

These two stanzas contain, I think, the deepest insights that have ever been attained into moral psychology. From the Zen master Seng-ts’an: “If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between for and against is the mind’s worst disease.” Now unfortunately, it’s a disease that has been caught by many of the world’s leaders. But before you feel superior to George Bush, before you throw a stone, ask yourself, do you accept this? Do you accept stepping out of the battle of good and evil? Can you be not for or against anything?.


“The moral domain is unusually narrow in WEIRD cultures, where it is largely limited to the ethic of autonomy (i.e., moral concerns about individuals harming, oppressing, or cheating other individuals). It is broader – including the ethics of community and divinity – in most other societies, and within religious and conservative moral matrices within WEIRD societies.”  – Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind, page 129

“Several of the peculiarities of WEIRD culture can be captured in this simple generalization: The WEIRDer you are, the more you see a world full of separate objects, rather than relationships.” – Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind, page 113

Psychopaths seem to live in a world of objects, some of which happen to walk around on two legs. – Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind, page 72

Liberals Think More Analytically (More “WEIRD”) Than Conservatives ( here:  http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2111700 )


I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view. I think you should be able to — anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with ‘em. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, “You can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.” That’s not the way we learn either.

Barack Obama, September 14, 2015


The irony is that it has taken a century for sociologists like Haidt, et al, to only begin to understand what the Founders already knew and applied so well in their statecraft. The Founders were haunted by the long history of brittle Republics of the past as chronicled by the likes of Livy and Tacitus. Indeed, if you were to read Haidt’s text then venture to read Madison’s Federalist 10 you would realize there is very little that Haidt learned in his extensive sociological studies that the Founders didn’t already divine from their deep reading of history. Man is by nature tribal and factitious. Republics must therefore be so constituted with this feature in mind. The Founders solution was two-fold, a Republic structured with redundancies that required constant checks and accountability between multiple centers of political power, and a system of education that sought to form citizens who were citizenship-minded. The tragedy is that during the last century, our experts have succeeded in virtually leveling any remnant of that system designed to override our most factitious instincts.

From Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump, and the Perils of Unexamined Political Rage by ForeFare Davis, August 20, 2015


If you’re on the side of the little guy, you should be a conservative. Every leftist scheme — every subsidy, every tariff, every alternative energy boondoggle, every industrial regulation — ends up privileging some vested interest at the expense of ordinary people.

Capitalism is the only economic model which allows you to prosper by serving the mass market. Under every rival system, you prosper by sucking up to the right people: commissars or kings or ayatollahs. As the economist Joseph Schumpeter observed, the achievement of capitalism was not to provide more silk stockings for princesses, but to bring them within the reach of factory girls.

From If You’re For The Little Guy, You Should Be A Conservative by Dan Hannan


“The media tends to be liberal, um, as the academic world is, and Hollywood. So you cannot grow up in this country without being exposed to lots and lots of liberal ideas. But it wasn’t until I was about 40 that I happened to pull a book off a shelf that said conservatism on it that I was ever exposed to conservative ideas. And I’m well educated. And I had never encountered conservative ideas. So, there’s a real asymmetry in access to the other side’s ideas.”

From an interview of Jonathan Haidt on On Being, with Krista Tippett
Used in This Post.


Ms. Tippett: I mean, here is the one way you said this. When it comes to moral judgments, we think we are scientists discovering the truth, but actually we are lawyers arguing for positions we arrived at by other means.

Dr. Haidt: Exactly. And if you don’t believe that about yourself, just note how true it is of everybody else…and then think they think that of you.

From an interview podcast of Jonathan Haidt, by Krista Tippett, at On Being, with Krista Tippett. Transcript here.
Used in This Post.


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I Support Viewpoint Diversity


A politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars who want to improve our academic disciplines and universities. We share a concern about a growing problem: the loss or lack of “viewpoint diversity.” When nearly everyone in a field shares the same political orientation, certain ideas become orthodoxy, dissent is discouraged, and errors can go unchallenged.

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This sidebar lists a series of posts which together make up an essay relating Moral Foundations Theory to today's politics, and even a little history, as viewed through The Independent Whig's six-foundation moral lens.


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