Audio Roundup 2023:1

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by Joel Rich

To J Haidt:
First, let me say I really enjoy your work, especially The Righteous Mind in getting a better understanding of some of the differences in America today. Unfortunately, recognition of this issue doesn’t seem to be making things much better just yet. ☹
Full disclosure I am an Orthodox Jew, who has been wondering about the organizing principle of atheists, in particular the question of why one should feel bound to any set of rules once you know it’s all evolution/culture that causes the development.
My question was with regard to your Happiness Hypothesis final chapter. You differentiate between two questions – why do they all exist, and how can I find a sense of meaning and purpose. If I understand your analysis correctly, the unstated principle is that our personal happiness is the measure of finding a sense of meaning and purpose. You then provide your understanding of the research as to how to find happiness. Assumedly personal happiness is up to each individual to define? If so, if John’s personal happiness is defined by clubbing baby whales, then he should seek to maximize it irrespective of study results? Or generally once one realizes that there is no answer to the holy question then why should one feel bound to any societal definitions of what is “good“. in particular how would one respond if they received the ring of Gyges ?


Anyone comment on the parallels of Yaakov’s pragmatic reactions in Toldot (27:12) (maybe my father will find me out) and in Vayishlach (34:30) (maybe the locals will destroy me/us)?

Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].

About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.

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