Thursday, August 03, 2017

The Chronicle of Higher Education Posted My Letter To The Editor About Adam Smith And Jonathan Haidt

See The Ugly and Dangerous Side of Political Righteousness? Haidt is a social psychologist who works to reduce the political polarization and animosity in America today.

Evan Goldstein’s article ("Can Jonathan Haidt Calm the Culture Wars?" July 7) reminded me of a passage in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, by Adam Smith, on the "animosity of hostile factions." Smith says there are only a very few whose judgment is "untainted by the general contagion." Haidt seems to be one of those few today. But Smith says "such people are held in contempt" by "the furious zealots of both parties" due to their candor, which is anathema to the "true party-man." These zealots "impute all their own prejudices" and "all their own vindictive and implacable passions" to the "great Judge of the universe." We need people like Haidt to remind us of this ugly and dangerous side of political righteousness.

Cyril Morong
Associate Professor of Economics
San Antonio College
San Antonio

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