Finalist Kylie Packard

The Righteous Mind


In “The Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt readers are challenged to try and understand why we judge things the way we do. Haidt uses three metaphors throughout the book to explain how our minds work. All three metaphors apply to our everyday lives as our minds solve puzzles and make decisions. For myself, metaphor one stands out the most, and I feel that it applies to my life more so than the other two.


‘The mind is divided like a rider on an elephant, and the rider’s job is to serve the elephant,” (Haidt 7). Haidt describes the rider as our conscious reasoning, and the elephant as our intuition. The point he tries to make in part one of the book is that intuition comes first and reasoning follows. This metaphor is used to explain why everyone seems like such a hypocrite. From what I understood, this metaphor explains why we feel the way we feel about things, and how we make judgments based on what we as individuals know to be right or wrong.


The metaphor I chose applies to my everyday thinking. Working in a grocery store for the past three years I have seen many things my intuition would deem as wrong, but I’ve never thought about the what ifs before I make that judgment. I learned right from wrong when I was young, as most of us do, and I know that stealing is wrong. Stealing is one of the most common things I see customers do wrong at work, and I can’t help but jump to the conclusion of it’s just wrong. Can never explain why it’s wrong though, it just is. After reading this book, I now pause before rushing to make a judgment on another person’s actions. We aren’t having their story read to us. They could very well be stealing the food because of financial reasons to feed their starving children. I wouldn’t consider that wrong. Our intuitions sometimes get the better of us in making quick judgments, but sometimes things our intuitions see as wrong, aren’t really wrong at all.


Intuition comes first and reasoning follows. Our moral beliefs are what make us believe our intuitions are always right, but everyone has different moral. Right and wrong is different for everyone and some wrongs can be right under different circumstances. Our intuitions don’t take the time to listen to the moral of everyone’s story, just the actions taking place. We live in a society that can’t help but judge a book by its cover.

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