The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.
If you think that moral reasoning is something we do to figure out the truth, you’ll be constantly frustrated by how foolish, biased, and illogical people become when they disagree with you.
Each of us thinks we see the world directly, as it really is. We further believe that the facts as we see them are there for all to see, therefore others should agree with us. If they don’t agree, it follows either that they have not yet been exposed to the relevant facts or else that they are blinded by their interests and ideologies.
Morality binds and blinds. It binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning each battle. It blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say.
Happiness comes from between. It comes from getting the right relationships between yourself and others, yourself and your work, and yourself and something larger than yourself.
You can’t make a dog happy by forcibly wagging its tail. And you can’t change people’s minds by utterly refuting their arguments.
Gossip and reputation make sure that what comes around – a person who is cruel will find that the others are cruel back to him, and a person who is kind will find others are kind in return. Gossip paired with reciprocity allow karma to work here on earth, not in the next life. As long as everyone plays tit-for-tat augmented by gratitude, vengeance, and gossip, the whole system should work beautifully.
Everyone cares about fairness, but there are two major kinds. On the left, fairness often implies equality, but on the right it means proportionality —people should be rewarded in proportion to what they contribute, even if that guarantees unequal outcomes.
The lesson Buddha and Marcus Aurelius had taught centuries earlier: “Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it”.
People who devote their lives to studying something often come to believe that the object of their fascination is the key to understanding everything.
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