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← Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by phil rimmer

This looks like a real low for Haidt. His evidence is of the weakest kind, the logical linkage sometimes non existent and the emotional volume is turned up to max to drown out the glaring deficits. There is a narrative that looks a little like this one that observes that co-operation was once mediated mostly by religion that allowed a substantially coercive co-operation. Shamans endorsed the tribal chief's power by proxy from the spooky invisible super chiefs of life and death. But these are the smart exploiters evolved into the most effective exploiting position.

Metaphors of religion without the ever present fact of religious leaders are woefully incomplete. The worm is in the rosebud right from the start.

The "transcendence" invoked at the start can now be seen as one of the the levers exploited by those leaders, part of their justifying spiel. It is unconnected to group behaviours else. It becomes the proof of the shamans' own insightful powers.

Co-operation has evolved though from absolute mind control dogma to the slightly lesser cultural then political dogmas and thence via enlightened reasoned evidence to the starting of something genuinely co-operative with a potential for fairness and co-equality throughout the groups.

This is the typical failing of social science, a just-so story offered as proof of humans as fixed in their natures. A dismally parochial (21st century American-centric) offering.

(And I speak as a fan of some of his earlier work...)

Tue, 20 Mar 2012 08:28:49 UTC | #928867