Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.


Domesticated Humans: Childlike, Sociable, and Gentle

I like this quote, particularly the last two sentences:
Early humans domesticated themselves when they began to select friends and partners based on their ability to live within the tribe's moral matrix. In fact, our brains, bodies, and behavior show many of the same signs of domestication that are found in our domestic animals: smaller teeth, smaller body, reduced aggression, and greater playfulness, carried on even into adulthood. The reason is that domestication generally takes traits that disappear at the end of childhood and keeps them turned on for life. Domesticated animals (including humans) are more childlike, sociable, and gentle than their wild ancestors.
It comes from The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Johnathan Haidt.

I've shared other quotes from it in World Peace and Before We Can Talk About Politics, We Need to Talk About How We Talk About Politics.

Here are a couple more:

We humans all have the same five taste receptors, but we don't all like the same foods. To understand where these differences come from, we can start with an evolutionary story about sugary fruits and fatty animals, which were good food for our common ancestors. But we'll also have to examine the history of each culture, and we'll have to look at the childhood eating habits of each individual. Just knowing that everyone has sweetness receptors can't tell you why one person prefers Thai food to Mexican, or why hardly anyone stirs sugar into beer. It takes a lot of additional work to connect the universal taste receptors to the specific things that a particular person eats and drinks.

It's the same for moral judgments. . . . The righteous mind is like a tongue with six taste receptors. In this analogy, morality is like cuisine: it's a cultural construction, influenced by accidents of environment and history, but it's not so flexible that anything goes. You can't have a cuisine based on tree bark, nor can you have one based primarily on bitter tastes. Cuisines vary, but they all must please tongues equipped with the same five taste receptors. Moral matrices vary, but they all must please righteous minds equipped with the same six social receptors.
The six moral receptors are (stated in positive/negative terms):
  1. Care/harm
  2. Liberty/oppression
  3. Fairness/cheating
  4. Loyalty/betrayal
  5. Authority/subversion
  6. Sanctity/degradation
A few of the ways these play out:

  • The various moralities found on the political left tend to rest most strongly on the Care/harm and Liberty/oppression foundations.
  • Everyone--left, right, and center--cares about Care/harm, but liberals care more.
  • Everyone--left, right, and center--cares about Liberty/oppression, but each political faction cares in a different way. . . . Liberals are most concerned about the rights of certain vulnerable groups (e.g., racial minorities, children, animals), and they look to government to defend the weak against oppression by the strong. Conservatives, in contrast, hold more traditional ideas of liberty as the right to be left alone, and they often resent liberal programs that use government to infringe on their liberties in order to protect the groups that liberals care most about. . . . Libertarians care about liberty almost to the exclusion of all other concerns.
  • The Fairness/cheating foundation is about proportionality and the law of karma. . . . Everyone--left, right, and center--cares about proportionality; everyone gets angry when people take more than they deserve. But conservatives care more, and they rely on the Fairness foundation more heavily. . . . Liberals are often uncomfortable with the negative side of karma--retribution . . . after all, retribution causes harm, and harm activates the Care/harm foundation.
  • The remaining three foundations . . . show the biggest and most consistent partisan differences. Liberals are ambivalent about these foundations at best, whereas social conservatives embrace them. (Libertarians have little use for them.)
  • Liberals have a three foundation morality, whereas conservatives use all six. . . . Liberals are often willing to trade away fairness (as proportionality) when it conflicts with compassion or with their desire to fight oppression. . . . Conservatives are more willing than liberals to sacrifice Care and let some people get hurt in order to achieve their many other moral objectives.


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