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Philosophy versus Ideology: Following the Argument or Following the Party Line?

After the recent passionate exchange on Mill and Rand, I can see that the members are hungry for another dialogue.

But I am going big, and focusing on the larger picture: WHAT differentiates philosophy from ideology?

I am going  to be sending you material on that distinction,including a helpful excerpt from a superb study of the meaning of ideology.

Until then, let me lay out some basic distinctions as preliminary terms of reference:

1. Philosophers follow the argument not a party line. Philosophy 's function is ask questions and follow arguments not issue party manifestos and declare final absolute answers-or religious dogmas. A helpful example is the evolution of philosopher Antony Flew from Atheist to Theist. He became convinced through argument and proof to reject his earlier arguments for atheism.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/17/arts/17flew.html?_r=0

In contrast the dogmatically faithful -ideologically or religious- cling to their beliefs without subjecting them to Socratic questioning. Or consider changing their argument based on logic and facts.

2. Ideologists -again a parallel to religious dogma-seek total solutions and confuse agreement with the part as ratification of the whole. This is the Fallacy of Composition.  http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Composition_and_division

For example, because John Stuart Mill might have agreed in part with the Socialists on one issue ( but criticized them on several other fronts) , the ideologist concludes fallaciously that because Mill agreed in part, he must agree with the entire 'socialist'doctrine

The ideologue makes the Fallacy of Composition. This is what I was getting at when I asked if Eisenhower was a Nazi because he concluded that the Nazi Autobahn road system was a great system that should be a model for the post-World War II road system.

http://www.historynet.com/president-dwight-eisenhower-and-americas-interstate-highway-system.htm

His agreement with a tiny part of the Nazi system does not align him with the whole of the Nazi system. Of if one agrees with Marx's critique of the globalized economic system, this does not make that person  ipso facto a Marxist.

(Philosophers approach issues and questions analytically on their own merits without pre-set agendas and systems. Mill's essays on Socialism are a masterpiece of this Socratic approach ).

This is why ideologues in their worse incarnation refuse the Socratic Method and even try to disrupt free discourse and dialogue.

More to follow.

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  • Daniel B. D.

    To me, the main mark of ideology is imperviousness to contrary facts; the ability to maintain a position both contradicted by the facts, and to which only tortured refutations of those facts are available. But, of course, the judgement as to what is tortured can become itself part of ideology. I do not find it necessary to use ipso facto suppression of discourse as a mark of ideology, though it can, if present, be one. Being able to maintain one's position despite contrary arguments, while a useful criterion of ideology, is not in itself quite such a strong indication since there can be many reasons for that, such as taking the burden of the argument as applying to another domain, using differing definitions, etc. Even such things as which facts plug into the argument and where they do so, can be hard to pin down.

    November 17, 2012

    • Craig Y.

      If ideology is to address certain the interests of a group of people, then it is rooted in that situation, it can not transplanted to other people who have different self interests. It is not a pure theoretical question.

      November 18, 2012

    • Craig Y.

      In contrast to Plato's ideal rose and immitation real rose in the world, there is another look at the problem. Whiteness. Nobody has seen a pure white color except attached, measured on a substance. There is white feather, white jade and white snow. They all look different and one is just as real as the other. If one claims its white (feather, jade, or snow) is the pure white, it runs into all sorts of justifications and confusions. So ideology by its nature is attached to the interests of a group of people, trying to make it universal causing a lot of confusion.

      November 18, 2012

  • Craig Y.

    Party line is ideological more specific according to a party dogma. Socrates arguments are logical arguments following certain IDEA or in political terms IDEOLOGY. To engage Socrates argument against another ideology is to use one ideology against another ideology.
    If one wants to be non-ideological, one must get away from the Platonic tradition of IDEA.

    October 29, 2012

  • Daniel B. D.

    The website did not update the rsvp count although I did log in. Surely by now there are more than 3, as shown on my web page. Isn't this an automatic function? If not, I can do better, as no doubt can many others of our membership.

    October 20, 2012

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