Calling an End to the Culture Wars

Connor Wood

Liberal and conservative

One of the most rewarding things about studying religion is that it’s given me a much clearer understanding of the culture wars. If religions are essentially collections of arbitrary demands and senseless supernatural claims, then there’s not much at stake when it comes to the great cultural divides in our modern culture. But if religions are not arbitrary – that is, if their components, such as rituals, mythologies, and symbols, actually play functional roles in organizing and orchestrating collective life – then traditionalists and conservatives have valid motivations to retain and defend their traditions. This is because humans are utterly dependent on one another for survival, and any tool or institution that facilitates collective living is thus worth keeping around. Progressives, academics, and secularists would to do well to pay attention to these motivations if they want to understand the seemingly irrational fervor with which traditionalists defend their faiths.

But that’s a scholarly analysis. About a year ago, I wrote a much more personal piece, which I recently published online at CivilPolitics.org. CivilPolitics is an outreach and public-interest website run by Jonathan Haidt and Ravi Iyer; its founders hope to facilitate better dialogue across ideological and political lines. In an age where people seem to often talk right past one another on issues of moral, political, and metaphysical importance, a site like CivilPolitics is desperately needed.

The basic claim in the essay, which at CivilPolitics.org is titled “The Culture Wars: An Armistice,” is simple: “Conservatives are microscopes. Liberals are macroscopes.” In other words, traditionalists and conservatives tend to be better at using the basic tools of social living, including ritual and religion. This is why they usually report being happier with their family and immediate relationships, and happier in general. Liberals and progressives, meanwhile, are better at understanding the broad-scaled and abstract issues that affect us all, from global climate change to systematic inequality. Each side makes tradeoffs; the traditionalists tend to be pretty poor at identifying (or even perceiving) large-scale challenges, while the progressives are often handicapped when it comes to the basic project of making community work (have you even been to a hippie farm?). Any culture needs both frameworks, both perspectives, to function properly. Here’s an excerpt:

The child of pot smokers and rebels, I have always been taught to believe that conservatives are mostly wrong, about most things, and that the project of civilization is largely the process of dragging these atavistic, blunt-browed austalopithecenes along, very much against their will, until we – the radicals and liberals – have built a society free of inequality, racial hostility, and recreational automobile racing.

I no longer subscribe to that vision.…

Conservatives’ small-scaled lives teach us that friendships and the touch of a loved one matter immensely – give me the choice between a companion and bread, and I will starve with the company. Liberals inspire with their broad understanding, their ability to see the entire and its patterns, their compassion for those who are left outside where it is cold and damp. Perhaps it would be trite to say we need both these strategies. Instead, I will say that I need both: I cannot live in the world of vast systems or in the warm, compressed universe of the tribe alone. My own happiness depends on marrying these knowledges.

Read the full essay here.

  • ortcutt

    I don’t know why you portray liberals as “hippie farmers”. We’re teachers, waitresses, retired people, lawyers, bus drivers, , etc… I live in a quite liberal city, Boston. I don’t see evidence of any neglect of family or immediate relationships here, and I’d say that our community works pretty well when religious conservatives aren’t trying to blow it up. Boston is not a very church-going city, and certainly has very little conservative religious sentiment, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t an abundance of cultural and civic groups to belong to.

  • etseq

    This is just really sloppy thinking – you have bought into Haidt’s moral foundations theory as some sort of grand explanation of human nature and social organization. Haidt’s model may have some descriptive value, although I am highly skeptical of universality of all his categories and the fact that he keeps adding categories to match the unique political demographics of the US (after his book come out he was suddenly publishing articles in Reason magazine where suddenly “liberty” was now a category that just so happens to mirror the rhetoric of modern american think tank Cato branded “libertarianism”) and is grounded in a fringe group evolutionary theory, which has been Wilson’s hobby horse for years but he has failed to convince anyone other than Haidt as far as I can tell (Haidt is an accomplished social psychologist but he has no training in evolutionary theory).

    He further relies on an ongoing online survey that is basically just a website plugging his books. I’s has as much statistical validity as any anonymous internet poll based entirely on self-responses. There is no control group, its not longitudinal, and the questions are designed to elicit responses that fit his narrative. It might be useful as some anecdotal evidence but it can hardly be relied on to empirically prove his theory.

    Where he goes completely off the rails is towards the end of the book when he suddenly uses the sketchy descriptive work as the basis for moral and political prescriptions. He realizes that he can derive an ought from an is but that doesn’t stop him from trying. His 5 (but later 6) foundations have suddenly become naturalized by evolution and operate as universal iron laws that must be carefully balanced in order for a society to flourish.

    He is suddenly extolling the virtues of order and tradition – very Burkean of him – warning liberals that if they don’t restrain themselves, society will collapse if we don’t see the necessity of the conservative communitarian model where the our individual desires are subject to a web of thick structures like religion, shame, and disgust. Haidt is basically recycling durkheim but he he only talks in generalities and soundbites. For example, the amazing advance of gay rights in our lifetime occurred in spite of conservatives values. When asked about gay marriage fits into his theory, he basically says gays should just take civil unions as a compromise and leave marriage to heteosexual tradition. At least thats what I make of him comments. Of course, this seems perfectly reasonable to him a straight white male but he has no clue when it comes to politics. Conservatives have fought any advance in gay rights, including any compromise such as civil unions. Thats because they are true to their values of in group loyalty and disgust. God is on their side – screw the perverts! The progress we as a society have made on gay rights has been a struggle but there is no shortcut that can be derived from Goldilocks and Three Bears approach to porridge – not too hot, not too cold, just right in the middle.
    Long story short – Haidt is selling the same old “conventional wisdom” that moderate to center-right pundits always say – democrats are secular effete elitists that are somehow deficient in two of these foundations – order and purity. Conservatives, on the other hand, come out as having just the right amount of all 5 (or rather 6) of these magical essences. How do we know this? Well, because of that wonderful online self-reported survey that assumes the universality of his 5 (now 6) universal evolutionary categories.

    Haidt started out as a sort of contrarian scholar in a field that has the methodological fluidity to allow for such contrarianism to flourish. Some would say this over reliance on speculative theory with often some dodgy social experiments tacked on at the end for evidence is the reason social psychology is in the mess it is in right now. It also allows researchers personal baises or pet theories to heavily influence the their conclusions. While this is true to some degree in every field, Haidt is a prime example of unwittingly relying on ones on experiences and perspectives to lead him to reach conclusions that just aren’t supported by the evidence.

    Haidt has always had a conservative streak in him, even when he claimed to be one of the biased liberal academics he now denounces. His last book both a personal biography of sorts that helps explain, probably in ways he doesn’t realize, how he does so wrong. He tells the familiar story of the prodigal liberal who has a road to damascus conversion to the always mushy centrist or moderate.

    Haidt is at heart not just a cultural relativist but a moral relativist as well. This is illustrated in the anecdote in his book where he visits India I think and has a wonderful meal with a High Caste Brahmin man and is treated so well by the submissive wife who serves them their meal (she isn’t allowed to eat with the men of course) assisted by the lower caste servants. Haidt was apparently so impressed by the order and harmony of this patriarchal and caste based slice of old India that he began to respect, some might say agree, with these “conservative values” – the old liberal in him would have denounced the sexism and social inequality of that society but he now connected the dots to similar values in conservative america. He now recognized that he liberal bias had prevented him from appreciating these values. Never once did he think to view these values from the perspective of the wife or the servants – liberals with their defective morality just can’t appreciate the good that comes with highly authoritarian in group loyalty (women and minorities just have to value their own repression – anyway, in rehash of the 80s political correctness battle – Haidt actually now claims that conservatives are the real victims, at least in the Universities where women and minorities have taken over and any dissent is crushed. Find homosexuality perverted and disgusting – that’s not homophobia or prejudice – its just an inherent naturalized moral foundation that deserves equal respect. Repressive gender roles are suddenly resurrected and essentialized in the name of patriarchal loyalty and order.

    How does he work his way out of the prescriptive moral relativism that is based on universal values that include things we now know to be actually immoral? It is very ironic that Haidt’s relativism is so selective. He relies on speculative evolutionary just-so stories to turn social constructs into human universals written into our very dna but he lapses back into relativism when he wants to support conservative policies in the guise of liberal tolerance.

    His theory fails to account for moral progress by relying on these essentialized universal moral foundations. It never occurs to him that liberals are actually correct in minimizing the loyalty and purity aspects of his theory and that harm/care is an actual advancement of moral thought. The problem is like an political convert he is too busy denouncing his past political crimes when he was a misguided liberal and he chastising his former partisans for failing to see the light as he had. Maybe if they spent some time with that nice rich brahmin chap they could appreciate the upside of sexism and social inequality. Without them, we will apparently lose all our social capital, society will atomize, women will become sluts and not marry and breed like they are supposed to.

    Finally, there is a tendency in social psychology and cognitive science to privilege emotion over reason and Haidt is so extreme he barely allows for us to use reason for anything but after the fact justifications of our emotions. There is probably some truth to this but it is often used to minimize the possibility of moral agreement and suasion. The theory does not reflect the historical development of science itself – how did we arrive at the scientific method if we are just slaves to our emotions? The social and economic progress born in the enlightenment and the development of liberal democracy and human rights alone shows that reason is alive and well. It’s not perfect but it better than throwing our hands in the air and giving in to our basest emotions.

    It’s the same recycled conservative prejudices with the same bizarro world reversal with white rich conservative men are the new victims of liberal political correctness. There were never two equal partisans in the so called culture wars – it was basically a bait and switch routine where the economic elite of the republican party stoked up moral panics about evil gays, slutty women, and the loss of a mythical past that never existed. Coupled with the infamous Southern strategy that cynically exploited the inevitable racial backlash against the civil rights movement, the conservatives make alot of advances in the last few decades. But both sides were not equal and this faux relativism is just an excuse to to blame liberals for actually standing up for their values and taking the short term political losses that were necessary for society to catch up and morally progress to where we are today.

    Basically, these sentiments, while true, are just centrist bromides that lead to apathy. Liberals values are not deficient and to the extent Haidt has reified prejudice, discrimination, and disgust as universal conservative values, his theory fails to provide any guidance on how to weigh the merits of competing values or any method of resolving these dilemmas. It is also clear that he is very naive about how politics works and the influence of other power systems beyond his grand theory of morality.

    Finally, it comes as no shock the once Haidt got his first media breakthrough with his ted talk that he is now more of a public intellectual and pundit than a research scientist. He sells alot of books and has moved on to a well funded chair at NYU business school. He definitely is embracing another conservative value – its all about the benjamins…

    PS – This pops up every time the democrats get in power – the DLC in the 1980s and 1990s made the same arguments but with similar flawed logic.

  • connorwood

    Wow, that was quite a response. Clearly we disagree on many things. I think it would be better not to throw away all structures and institutions we’ve inherited, despite their serious flaws. You think differently and advocate an Enlightenment ethos of progressively casting off the shackles of tradition and culture. Perhaps time will tell which of us is right, although of course my own money is on the moderate view. Thanks for reading.

  • connorwood

    Unfortunately, I’ve just had to delete your other comment. If you’d like to participate in the discussions at Science On Religion, you’ll need to avoid calling any other interlocutors things like “jerks,” “shallow,” or “solipsistic.” You can be harsh when describing the ideas of others, including authors, but you can’t directly insult the people themselves.

    Any further comments on this or other articles here will need to follow our discussion guidelines, which are described in the link at the top of the page. Thanks, and have a pleasant day.

  • etseq

    You and Haidt have this penchant for caricaturing and minimizing liberal values and then framing politics as an irrational conflict of opposing values. No where in my comment did imply that liberals wanted to “throw away all structures and institutions we’ve inherited, despite their serious flaws” – in fact I explicitly drew a distinction between radical and liberal politics, which you continue to conflate as the same project. Most radicals hate liberals more than they do conservatives because liberal democracy is premised on reforming and improving existing institutions rather than revolutionary change. Further, you again misrepresent liberalism and my comment (and the Enlightenment I might add) when you make polemical statements like “Enlightenment ethos of progressively casting off the shackles of tradition and culture” You certainly argue like a conservative and

    The other comment that you deleted was confrontational and direct but it certainly did not warrant deletion. You chose not to engage in any of the reasonable criticisms I made of Haidt’s model of moral reasoning and his shifts back and forth from the descriptive to the prescriptive.

    Serious question, what liberals do you know (liberals not radicals) who want to abolish all existing structures? The greatest success in liberal politics these days is the extension of once conservative institution, civil marriage, to include gays and lesbians. Unless you honestly agree with the religious right that gays are somehow morally disordered and unfit for marriage or hold to some sort of natural law theory of marriage for biological procreation only, how is a modest reform of an existing institution an attempt to “throw away all structures and institutions”?

    I am just asking for some evidence to support the extremely broad generalizations you made about liberals, conservatives, individual flourishing, neuroscience, etc. Am I allowed to challenge any of your premises or do you consider any disagreement to be inherently insulting.

    Are all liberals doomed to existential misery? Are conservative values the only route to happiness? Should we reduce human flourishing to a simple utilitarian calculus that maximizes certain brain chemicals and equate that with happiness?

    Finally, I do find it ironic that you have railed against reductive scientism in previous articles and I agree that science is often invoked as a trump card to reduce all disagreements to factual claims and thus avoid any moral engagement. Would you not agree that social psychology as a discipline has a tendency to make strong theoretical claims that often exceeds the underlying evidence? You chose to frame your article around Haidt’s controversial MFT theory, a neuroscience study on oxytocin and happiness, contested sociological theories about happiness and whether political ideology is an true input or just a dependant variable. Most of the studies I am aware of contain disclaimers that they cannot prove causation due to the limitations of the data and the inability to do real controlled experiments on humans when it comes to outputs like happiness.

    I am unclear if you are actually making a moral critique of liberalism or in favor of conservatism, which would not be a scientific claim, or if you are saying as a matter of science, liberalism is somehow deficient in providing the tools for human flourishing based on Haidt’s descriptive model that purports to ground moral differences in evolutionary theory and thus a universal feature of human nature. The latter to me is an example of a type of scientism that I think is unhelpful in political and moral debates, whether it is from the left or the right. I say this not to attack you but to tease out what points you were trying to make with your article.

    Haidt has argues that liberals fail to appreciate the sophistication and validity of certain conservative arguments since we liberals have an impoverished morality – we lack 2 of his 5 (now 6) foundations while conservatives have all 5 (sorry libertarians have all 6 – its hard to keep up when he continues to add foundations) . If so, perhaps I am being unfair in pressing you for more evidence to support your claims. Maybe as a conservative you have greater access to moral foundations than I do and I am just deluding myself in continuing to use reasoning to resolve conflicts in political and moral commitments. If Haidt is correct that we are 99% emotions and only use reasoning after the fact to justify our beliefs and that his framework of moral foundations is rooted in universal evolutionary group adaptations, then we may well be doomed as you indicated in your article.

    Luckily, I do not share Haidt’s or your pessimism in either liberalism or moral progress in general. History has shown that we can find common ground as a society and through collective action make real progress in human flourishing. Maybe because I am gay I am a bit more appreciate of the social justice advances we have made and that liberalism can rightly claim a role in advancing those gains. Wouldn’t you agree that the reduction in homophobia a worthy goal despite conservative moral claims to the contrary based on disgust and loyalty? Am I being a smug liberal because I resent being classified as immoral and disgusting by religious conservatives? Am I allowed to challenge them or am I required to accept them as valid moral claims?

  • etseq

    Simple and honest question – was your article meant to be your coming out as a conservative? How does one practice conservative values for the sake of achieving happiness but not believe in their actual truth value? Are you arguing that because you believe that conservatism leads to more human happiness that for pragmatic reasons liberalism should be abandoned?

    Also, what if the studies you referenced regarding conservatism and happiness have the causation reversed and selection bias is the better explanation for the happiness outcomes. That is ideology is not the independent variable and once you control for class, SES and race, the happiness gap disappears? Wouldn’t that complicate your pragmatic embrace of conservatism and undermine your prescriptive claims?

  • connorwood

    > was your article meant to be your coming out as a conservative?

    No.

    >How does one practice conservative values for the sake of achieving happiness but not believe in their actual truth value?

    I do believe in their truth and pragmatic value, provisionally. I don’t think traditionalists are evil; I think they’ve got some very good insights into how communities need to function, especially at the in-person and interpersonal levels. I also believe in the truth and insight of many liberal values, especially at the systemic and overview levels. Does this make me a liberal or a conservative?

    >Are you arguing that because you believe that conservatism leads to more human happiness that for pragmatic reasons liberalism should be abandoned?

    No. I don’t have any idea how you got that from my essay. I think both liberals and conservatism should be tempered by incorporating each other’s valuable insights.

    > once you control for class, SES and race, the happiness gap disappears?

    Researchers have already done this. The happiness gap persists across conditions and controls. You might like the work of John Jost, at NYU, who argues that the happiness gap is explained by conservatives’ willingness to tolerate inequality. But even Jost doesn’t contest the existence of the gap.

  • etseq

    Not to be accusatory or paranoid but are you funded by Templeton? I followed a link to this site: http://www.exploringmyreligion.org and I must say it quite a sophisticated and detailed resource. But it does have an odd sort of peppy, uncritical take on matters religious. I’ve have seen similar sites and they all end up being traced back to templeton. Are you guys allowed to criticize religion?

  • connorwood

    Valid points are welcome. Insults will get your comment deleted. Again, the rules are stated in the Comments Policy section above.

    > Serious question, what liberals do you know (liberals not radicals) who want to abolish all existing structures?

    A lot of anarchists and vegans do. But you’re right – those groups tend toward radicalism. Maybe my essay was a reaction to years of being around radicals.

    >Are all liberals doomed to existential misery?

    No. But in my experience (and in studies) they’re slightly more likely to experience more of it, for Durkheimian reasons.

    > Are conservative values the only route to happiness?

    No. But incorporating some of them into my own life seems to have worked well for me.

    > saying as a matter of science, liberalism is somehow deficient in providing the tools for human flourishing

    I think you can make a good case that progressivism, as long as it entails a general rejection of traditional social forms and relies on a highly explicit/analytic cognitive style, will be mildly correlated with less happiness. If progressivism were to somehow become an internal facet of EXISTING traditionalist social structures, particularly religious ones, this gap would probably disappear. But A:) I’m not sure this is even a semantically coherent vision; and B:) this would require that religious conservatives and traditionalists be more open to dynamic and novel input from people internal to their social worlds, which obviously is a tall order. In this case, I think traditionalists are on the hook for not being better at integrating the types of high-openness, curious, and artistically/scientifically inclined people who tend in our culture to be drawn to progressivism.

    > Maybe because I am gay I am a bit more appreciate of the social justice advances we have made and that liberalism can rightly claim a role in advancing those gains.

    This is probably true. Everyone has their reasons for their opinions, and those reasons are usually valid.

    >Wouldn’t you agree that the reduction in homophobia a worthy goal despite conservative moral claims to the contrary

    Yep. You will note that I talked about excluded minorities in the essay.

  • etseq

    Again with the imputing claims to me that I have never made and trying to paint me as some radical hater. It gets tiring Connor and it betrays an orthodoxy that Haidt and your brand of centrists share – a sort of pox on both your houses but more on those mean liberals for calling conservatives evil. You are basically following in the footsteps of the sort of lefty communitarians like William Galston and Jonathan Rauch, and to a lesser degree the DLC/New Democrats of the 1990s.

    It is a weird sort of moral relativism where somehow liberals are blamed for conservative intransigence because they criticize actual racism, sexism and homophobia that are associated with some forms of conservatism. Notice how I do not essentialize these structural attitudes to conservatives as a whole but it is just foolish to pretend that, especially when it comes to gay rights, that the some forms of religion are
    used to demean and marginalize gay people . I have been on the receiving end of this for 40 years and there is simply no equivalency between what the religious right and gay people.

    I get that you want to straddle the divide but sometimes you have to take a stand. You may just end up alienating both right and left. Most critters that try to stay in the middle of the center median just end up as road kill…

  • connorwood

    ExploringMyReligion doesn’t currently have any Templeton funding. But I’d welcome it if it did.

    > Are you guys allowed to criticize religion?

    Of course. http://scienceonreligion.org/index.php/news-research/research-updates/541-criminals-use-religion-to-justify-their-crimes

  • connorwood

    >You may just end up alienating both right and left. Most critters that try to stay in the middle of the center median just end up as road kill…

    A price I’m willing to pay. You only get one life; if the middle is what you stand for then stand for it.

  • etseq

    I appreciate the feedback. I think we have a fundamental disagreement about the nature and inputs for flourishing. You seem to essentialize the religious element of social structures as the primary causal factor and ignore research to the contrary that focuses more on class and SES. For instance, Scandinavian social democracies have the best outcomes in the world, especially for children. This is due primarily to the incredible welfare state, high SES,, low amounts of social and economic inequality, etc. They are the most secular societies in the world and the most socially and economically progressive. They have managed to transition out of a highly religious culture without the problems you envision. Whats really interesting is that there child outcomes are incredible but they have the lowest rates of marriage and highest cohabitation in the developed world. So, single motherhood and divorce are not driving bad outcomes for kids – its the lack of economic support to buffer against transitions that is critical. Of course, its a catch-22 here because conservatives are ideologically opposed to a generous welfare state, even when it would resolve lower child outcomes they blame on single mothers and divorce.

    I guess my point is there is nothing special or unique to religion and traditional values that can’t be be repurposed or reformed without the baggage of the sectarianism and purity taboos. I’m not saying its easy or it won’t take political effort but it certainly isn’t impossible…

  • Jay

    I enjoyed the article you wrote quite a bit. Question for you: How does what you said in the article from CivilPolitics.com line up with what was reported within this previous blogpost:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scienceonreligion/2013/03/how-weird-are-you/

    If social liberalism leads to thought processes that are more analytical and social conservatism leads to more holistic thought processes, then that would make me think that social liberals would be more concerned about how things work within the community and social conservatives more concerned about how things work on the global level. This obviously has not been the case from what I have experienced, but how would you say these two different findings add up?

  • connorwood

    Interesting question. The short answer is that holistic thought processes are in general better suited for small-scale social environments, because they help people to attend to interpersonal context, social rituals, body language, and relational dynamics. They also encourage intuitive thinking, which means trusting your gut feelings about things. This is important because a lot of evidence suggests (to me and to other people I know in the scientific study of religion, but not to all of our colleagues) that traditional social environments, religion-based culture, and small-scale societies do a lot of “cognitive shortcutting” in order to convey important social information very quickly and efficiently. For example, a quick nod of the head or an offhand mention of a religious symbol in a high-context (that is, insular and homogenous) culture might convey a whole bucketload of vital information that it would be very good to know about. If you’ve ever lived in a country such as Korea you’ll know what I mean – things are very high-context there, and so much information is conveyed through body language, oblique references, and ritual protocol instead of through explicit propositional language, which is more of an analytic tool. So an inhabitant of a homogenous, traditional, or small-scale social world often has very good motivations for relying on intuition and shortcut thinking; if you try to explicitly (analytically) keep track of all the hints, cues, and subtle ritualized behaviors that convey info in such a setting, you’d be totally overwhelmed in an instant. We’re just not cognitively equipped to keep conscious track of that much information.

    On the other hand, a person who inhabits a less contextually rich world, such as a progressive cosmopolitan dude in Boston (cough cough), can’t trust his social intuitions, because he’s constantly bumping up against people from all kinds of different cultures who use different cues, different body language, different social rituals. If you trust your gut (holistic thinking) when interacting with people from a culture you don’t know, you’re going to get in trouble very quickly. Things don’t mean what you assume they mean. So in many ways liberalism – a correlate of, outgrowth from, and contributor to cosmopolitanism – could be thought of as an optimal social strategy for low-context environments. The Enlightenment/scientific tendency to mistrust intuition, to interrogate assumptions, and to disdain tradition is, therefore, very copacetic with cosmopolitan social contexts. (There’s no chicken-or-egg answer here; I’m pretty sure scientific/analytic thinking and cosmopolitan social arrangements have mutually stimulated one another, so there’s no one “origin” of the feedback cycle.) The upshot is that, because progressives have valid contextual motivations to engage in analytical rather than holistic thinking, they’re actually also better at extrapolating out from concrete data to ABSTRACT, highly analytic, projections and systems.

    In other words, abstractions and systems thinking – two tools you absolutely need in order to see things at a global level – are dependent on analytical, not holistic, thinking. This is because holistic thinking is better geared toward helping humans get by in local, high-context, human-scale environments. It’s fundamentally an embodied, personal, and concrete form of cognition, and thus a local one. (You can’t really engage with big weather patterns in a concrete or embodied way – seen from the human scale, they’re abstractions.) Systems and abstract thinking styles, on the other hand, are fundamentally less embodied or concrete and more impersonal cognitive expressions; they depend on one’s extracting oneself from high-context (personal) social environments in order to perceive impersonal systemic realities.

    Here’s a piece that shows how systemic/analytical and holistic/personal thinking are often counterposed: http://scienceonreligion.org/index.php/news-research/research-updates/553-thinking-about-physics-suppresses-our-social-minds

  • Jay

    Wow! That was a pretty in depth answer! Thanks so much for your time :)

  • Thursday1

    No where in my comment did imply that liberals wanted to “throw away all structures and institutions we’ve inherited, despite their serious flaws” – in fact I explicitly drew a distinction between radical and liberal politics, which you continue to conflate as the same project.

    These are tendencies. Liberals may not want to throw away all structures and institutions, but they have shown a tendency to throw away quite a few. Perhaps too many.


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