Thursday, February 06, 2014

It's about peace

Evolution has equipped us with the capacity to cooperate (and survive) in small bands. But we are far less likely to cooperate beyond the band.  We are more tribal than cosmopolitan.  Jonathan Haidt suggests we are 90% chimp and 10% bee. What to do?  Joshua Greene cites the "Tragedy of Commonsense Morality: moral tribes that can't agree on what's right or wrong."  But he also suggests that our dual-mode minds ("Thinking Fast and Slow") have the capacity to "put our divisive tribal feelings aside and do whatever produces the best overall results" (p. 349).

We humans have made some progress, "replacing warfare with gentle commerce, autocracy with democracy and superstition with science." But we can do more. Because we have two modes of thinking available to us, think slow more often.

Robert Wright ("Why we fight -- and can we stop?") is unimpressed. Read the whole essay. I read it before I read the book. Both are worthy.

Wright does not mention "gentle commerce."  But this is within our reach. Obama wants more of it. Many others in Congress (of both parties) do not. If Bill Clinton and Al Gore could get Congress to accept NAFTA, I would hope that Barack Obama and Joe Biden can follow their example in 2014.  It is not just about "jobs".  It's about peace.  Obama is aspires to be thought of as transcendent. This is a place to start.