Well, not much response to my first post. So let me entice you further along toward my questions as I read Haidt’s book. I left off with the broad question of how could you tell which of two theories was true and asked for an alternative. No one bit, so let me offer you one: Freudian theory:
Sigmund Freud is not considered the father of psychology, but he definitely popularized new science through his writings and provocative theories. Some of Freud’s theories have borne fruit – virtually all schools of psychology acknowledge some form of transference and attachment theory has its origins in addressing a Freudian question about why children love their mothers. Many of Freud’s theories were dismissed as ridiculous, and others were dismissed as untestable – though untestable doesn’t mean they are not true or partially true.
Freud was a big thinker, attempting to develop a theory that explained the entire gambit of human behavior and motivation – including theories about morality and social interaction. Freud posited a dynamic system of ongoing tension within an individual between three personality structures – the id, the ego, and the superego. The id was a ball of primal desire, wordless and driven by the pleasure principle. The ego had to manage the desires of the id with the social and physical reality of the world – it was driven by the reality principle. Finally, the superego was the incorporation of societal rules and roles from culture into the personality and thinking of the individual.
So what about this formulation:
The largely unthinking elephant that follows its emotions = id.
Rider on top of the elephant trying to use reason to guide the elephant = ego.
Feel free to read more about Freud to consider the overlap – but don’t look in Haidt’s book: Freud only gets three citations, two of which are in the footnotes. Was Freud right about in this aspect of his theory all along? Did science finally get around to testing some of Freud’s theories. Why should we believe Haidt’s theory more – or is Haidt’s theory just a logical extension of Freuds?
P.S. Freud is the ultimate straw man. You should know your job now.