Musings in Moral Theology (2)

www.internetmonk.com | 7/29/2017 | Chaplain Mike
Mireille (Posted by) Level 3
The central metaphor of these four chapters is that the mind is divided, like a rider on an elephant, and the rider’s job is to serve the elephant. The rider is our conscious reasoning—the stream of words and images of which we are fully aware. The elephant is the other 99 percent of mental processes—the ones that occur outside of awareness but that actually govern most of our behavior.

The first principle Jonathan Haidt sets forth in his book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, is:

Intuitions

Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second.

Haidt urges us to recognize that there are two kinds of cognition that we access when making moral judgments: (1) intuition, and (2) reasoning. Thousands of “tiny flashes” of judgment “flit through [our] consciousness” every day. These are “automatic” processes that lead us to make “effortless” judgments and decisions, and in fact, they run the human mind and have for millions and millions of years.

Metaphor - Haidt - Forms - Cognition - Elephant

The metaphor Haidt uses to describe these two forms of cognition and how they function is that of the elephant and the rider. Over the course of human evolution, the elephant (intuition) took on a rider (reason) because the rider did something useful for the elephant. The elephant is still in charge and...
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