Information icon.svg See the 2017 Moderator election results here!

Jonathan Haidt

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Jonathan Haidt in 2012.

Jonathan Haidt is a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.

The Happiness Hypothesis develops a metaphor of the subconscious and the conscious as an elephant and a rider, with the rider's job being to guide the elephant.[1] This is somewhat unoriginal, and the same thing was said only slightly differently by SchopenhauerWikipedia's W.svg, who wrote that the conscious intellect "is like a lame man who can see, riding on the shoulders of a blind giant." His more original contribution concerns six categories of morality as a number of mental modules that establish scales of good versus evil, which he calls 'moral foundations theory'. They are:

  1. Care vs. harm:: cherishing and protecting others.
  2. Fairness vs. cheating: rendering justice according to shared rules. (Alternate name: Proportionality.)
  3. Liberty vs. oppression: the loathing of tyranny.
  4. Loyalty vs. betrayal: standing with your group, family, nation. (Alternate name: Ingroup.)
  5. Authority vs. subversion: obeying tradition and legitimate authority. (Alternate name: Respect.)
  6. Sanctity vs. degradation: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions. (Alternate name: Purity.)[2]

He has since devolved into a Very Serious Person after winning a Templeton prize, now spending his efforts on foggy discourse and dissing New Atheism.[3]


  1. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom; (Basic Books, 2006; ISBN 978-0-465-02802-3.)
  2. See generally Haidt's The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided By Politics and Religion; (Pantheon, 2012; ISBN 978-0-307-37790-6.)