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Renowned psychologist to discuss religion, politics, and why they divide us

  • Jonathan Haidt

Posted on October 14, 2013

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt will explore why politics and religion have the power to divide people, and how understanding moral intuition can help point the way toward mutual understanding at the next “American Conversations” event hosted by Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies. 

“The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion,” hosted by Jonathan Haidt, will take place at 7 p.m. on October 22 at the L.V. Eberhard Center on Grand Valley’s Pew Grand Rapids Campus. An RSVP is requested at The Hauenstein Center has partnered with the Seidman College of Business’ Business Ethics Center for this event.

“The timing of Jon Haidt’s visit could not be better,” said Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center. “The current stalemate in Washington has not only ground the federal government to a halt, but has made lots of Americans lose confidence in both parties and, worse, in our system of government. Against the current crisis, Professor Haidt will show us how to get back on track as a nation, not only in theory but also in practice. He will share proven ways that conservatives, liberals, and libertarians can arrive at common ground.”

Haidt will speak about moral intuition, and how our perceptions make us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong. Haidt will explain how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right, and why we need the insights of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians to flourish as a nation. 

The program “The Righteous Mind” is the third installment in the Hauenstein Center’s 2013-14 “American Conversations” series, which runs through May 2014. Upcoming speakers in the series include author and columnist Amity Shlaes, journalist and historian Colin Woodard, and former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe. The topic of each event centers on a “Common Ground” theme.

Haidt joined the New York University Stern School of Business in July 2011. He is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, based in the Business and Society program area.

Haidt is a social psychologist whose research examines the intuitive foundations of morality. His most recent book is the New York Times best-seller “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.” Before coming to Stern, Professor Haidt taught for 16 years at the University of Virginia, where he was given three awards for outstanding teaching, including the Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, conferred by Governor Mark Warner. His first book was “The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.” His writings appear frequently in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

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