University of Virginia and NYU-Stern
Hive psychology and the moral life of Homo duplex
April 23, 2012
AAG008 5:00 pm
Emile Durkheim described human beings as “Homo duplex,” or “two-level
man.” The lower level is the level of the profane—the level of
ordinary consciousness and self-interested pursuits. The higher level
is the level of the sacred at which we lose our petty selves and
become simply a part of a larger whole. Charles Darwin believed that
morality evolved by multi-level selection, and that some of our
virtues evolved because they conferred an advantage upon our groups.
In this talk I’ll put Durkheim and Darwin together. I’ll suggest that
we are Homo duplex precisely because we evolved by multi-level
selection. I’ll then describe the “hive switch,” which is an
off-switch for the self. I’ll describe some applications of “hive
psychology” in daily life, including sports and business.
Jonathan Haidt is a professor of social psychology at the University of Virginia, and is currently the Henry Kaufman Visiting Professor of Business Ethics at the NYU-Stern School of Business. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 and then did post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago and in Orissa, India. His research focuses on morality – its emotional foundations, cultural variations, and developmental course. He began his career studying the negative moral emotions, such as disgust, shame, and vengeance, but then moved on to the understudied positive moral emotions, such as admiration, awe, and moral elevation. He is the co-developer of Moral Foundations theory, and of the research site YourMorals.org. He uses his research to help people understand and respect the moral motives of their enemies (see CivilPolitics.org, and see his 2008 TED talk). He was the 2004 winner of the Virginia “Outstanding Faculty Award.” He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, and of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. For more information see www.JonathanHaidt.com.
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion