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. This is somewhat unoriginal, and the same thing was said only slightly differently by Schopenhauer, 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:
- Care vs. harm:: cherishing and protecting others.
- Fairness vs. cheating: rendering justice according to shared rules. (Alternate name: Proportionality.)
- Liberty vs. oppression: the loathing of tyranny.
- Loyalty vs. betrayal: standing with your group, family, nation. (Alternate name: Ingroup.)
- Authority vs. subversion: obeying tradition and legitimate authority. (Alternate name: Respect.)
- Sanctity vs. degradation: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions. (Alternate name: Purity.)
- The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom; (Basic Books, 2006; ISBN 978-0-465-02802-3.)
- See generally Haidt's The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided By Politics and Religion; (Pantheon, 2012; ISBN 978-0-307-37790-6.)