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Jonathan Haidt: “How Human Beings Got Morality, Religion, Civilization, and Humanity.”

 

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Which human faculty is more powerful, reason or intuition? When confronted with a situation or decision we find troubling or morally questionable, how do we make up our minds about what is “right?” Why is it so difficult to persuade people to change their minds about strongly held political or religious beliefs? Can we learn to disagree with others while still respecting their sincerity and decency?

These are some of the questions social psychologist Jonathan Haidt will explore on May 29 and 30, 2013 in the final lectures in this year’s “being human | human being” series. Haidt, the author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, is the OHC’s 2012–13 Kritikos Professor in the Humanities. He will be giving two public talks while visiting Oregon.

On Wednesday, May 29th at 7:30 p.m. in 182 Lillis Hall on the UO campus, Haidt will tackle some of these questions from an historical/anthropological perspective in his talk titled “How Human Beings Got Morality, Religion, Civilization, and Humanity.” Haidt will describe the pivotal shift that occurred roughly 800 millennia ago, when our ancestors first developed the ability to work together, and how that led to shared norms, tribalism, intergroup conflict, and ultimately, the distinctly human trait known as morality. He will also explore another transformative event in human history that took place “nearly instantaneously” about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, when we went from living as small bands of hunter-gatherers to living in larger groups in cities, and the profound effects that transition had on how we interact with one another.

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