Axes of Righteousness
- Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, in his 2012 book The Righteous Mind, argued that the human moral faculty is built around five axes. He gave them names like “Care/Harm”—that is, caring about others is at one end of this axis, harming them at the other. Another axis is “Fairness/Cheating” with fairness at the positive end and cheating at the negative. Later Haidt added a sixth axis. Haidt and his colleagues worked up a Moral Foundations Questionnaire they could give to test subjects, to see where they placed on each axis.
Well, one of these basic axes—Haidt actually calls them “foundations”—is “Sanctity/Degradation.” Haidt argues from the case of the German guy who advertised on the internet for someone willing to be killed, cooked, and eaten by him. [German cannibal tells of fantasy, BBC, December 3, 2003] He got hundreds of responses, interviewed likely applicants, made a selection, then killed and ate the guy—all on video, to prove the thing was totally consensual.
So, Haidt asks, did anyone do anything wrong there? Your answer tells us where you are on the Sanctity/Degradation axis.
It happens that I read Haidt’s book shortly after my own public shaming in April, 2012. Reading about those questionnaire scores, I was shaking my head at the book. It seemed to me that liberals are not so much light on regard for Sanctity, they just attach it to different objects.
To blacks, for example. The late Larry Auster said that blacks are sacred objects in the modern West. He was right. To say negative things about blacks, or to be thought to have negative thoughts about them, is a blasphemy.
It’s like someone in 13th-century Europe speaking ill of the Virgin Mary. The reaction is just the same. You have violated a sacred object.
Labels: Race Matters