Friday, August 22, 2014

Kalb Speaks: What do traditionalists and progressives really disagree about?

James Kalb, author of two excellent books of political and cultural analysis―The Tyranny of Liberalism and Against Inclusiveness―is one of those rare people who can tell you why people think the way they do. He has another excellent essay on the divide between traditionalists and progressives in the always excellent Crisis Magazine:
A recent account of moral sentiments, proposed by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Pantheon, 2012), has attracted attention for its explanation of the difference between progressives and traditionalists.
According to the account, moral judgments typically have to do with six dimensions of concern: care versus harm, fairness versus cheating, liberty versus oppression, loyalty versus betrayal, authority versus subversion, and sanctity versus degradation. Surveys show that progressives, by and large, are concerned with the care, fairness, and liberty dimensions, while traditionalists are concerned with all six. So it appears that the “culture wars” have to do with the moral status of loyalty, authority, and sanctity. Traditionally minded people accept them as morally important, while their more progressive fellows do not.
But why the difference? It appears, although Haidt’s concerns lie elsewhere, that the difference lines up with the opposition between the modern tendency to view man as radically free and the world as technological, and the traditional, classical, and religious view of man as social, and the world as pervaded by intrinsic meanings, natural ways of functioning, and natural ends.
Read more here.

1 comment:

Old Rebel said...

Great piece. I think Haidt provides useful insights into the two worldviews. No wonder it is the Left that degrades man's social and physical nature at the expense of the purely mental. In their view, mind is king. So if someone asserts they are female despite a Y chromosome, then who's to say they're wrong?

Conservatives, on the other hand, see man as an authentic being with a history and an inborn nature.