Lesson 7 Part 8: The Epimethean Script?

We're done with Plato! Well, not really. The point is to prove we'll never be done with him! But we're moving on to contemporary moral psychology. This lesson is on moral psychology. How does the moral mind think – work, function? The moral brain. (Psychologists are natural scientists. They figure your mind is your brain although that identification can get puzzling, we shall see.) I discuss one figure in particular: Jonathan Haidt. A popular writer, with good ideas. Also, some bad ones (I say) so that makes it livelier. He knocks Plato. I try to knock back, sometimes on Plato’s behalf. Plato is obviously very concerned with moral psychology. So many colorful, mythic images of all that! Haidt ventures more than a short distance into philosophy, when he sallies forth to correct philosophers, ancient and modern, for doing bad psychology. All very interesting. And I hope, like me, you find having a bit of Plato under your belt, at this point, helps you to organize your thoughts, see positions and patterns. In the first lesson I compared studying Plato to learning chess gambits. No one knows how to win, outright. But some strategies are more ... winning. (But there are always standard defenses.) l A lot of scientific progress has been made in the study of the human mind. But there are a lot of deep, stubbornly un-dissolved conceptual mysteries hereabouts. That means a lot of ancient debate patterns – same old lines, same old counters to the old lines - stay relevant. It’s important to be able to say: hey, we learned something new today! But also: ah, this debate is a version of that old thing we’ve been batting back and forth for centuries! (Even though it’s got new stuff stuck on – fMRI data, or what have you.) Being able to see the old and the new isn’t everything, but it’s a start. Let’s get started.

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