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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Let Us Take A Single Step Further

Or, as I have originally referred to this post in my head:
Why Do All Ideologies Not Work?

First, let us start by briefly defining what an ideology is, in practice.

An ideology is a set of logical rules, vis-à-vis "ideas," that we choose to live by. In other words, my ideology represents the perspective I have on life. More often than not, I would refer to my ideology, in order to decide my actions, rather than describe my ideology by reviewing my past choices.

We develop an ideology as a strategy to cope rapidly with challenges. Having a pre-made set of rules that we feel are safe to follow, lets us worry less and achieve more. This, of course, does not mean that we have more success in life - but, rather that we feel a sense of steady progress and stability. Important things to have!

So, why does having an ideology not work?

Funny drawings are great at giving us a break, while reading a long post.
Well, I do not want to drive anybody to extremes. Having an ideology, in the sense that I have an idea or a set of ideas, is not a bad thing. We all have ideas, after all. We only face a conflict, if our idea of life does not represent our own experience of life.

For example, if I find it important to have a romantic partner (spouse), and upon examination I see that I have no such person in my life, then I will reveal an internal conflict. Like in any conflict, I then have to choose to either pursue my goal or to give up on it.

If, on the one hand, I choose to pursue it, then I might do so without really asking myself, whether this goal is worthwhile. It just might be that at my current situation in life, having a spouse is not a good idea. Harmful, even.

Yoga works. It just does. Even though it looks silly.
On the other hand, if I let go of this idea, then I can feel I am missing out on something big. It would take soul searching for a resolution, and that may take more time than I am willing to spend. It is not easy to resolve internal conflicts, because they are internal, and thus not available for outward examination. People often recommend writing your thoughts down, exactly for this purpose.

Ideas are a great occupation. I love ideas! Most people do. Maybe some few silent hermits - not so much. Ideas let us review life inside our own minds. Ideas let us understand life better. Deeper. With more meaning.

Ideas, dangerously enough, are also infectious and addictive. We fall prey to ideas all the time. Holding onto an idea that does not work for us, is a sure recipe for hurt and failure. That is why, having a full set of ideas that are interconnected - an ideology, is many times more dangerous. We can find ourselves trapped in our own minds.

To conclude this idea, this individual idea that decided to stand up against all those groups of ideas out there, remember this:
If you have two ideas and they are in conflict, because life disagrees with your current perspective, then simply put them aside and find a new idea that works for you.
It is as simple as that. Take a step backwards and review everything, again.

Read 4 comments.

  1. People use the word "ideology" inconsistently and in a way that confuses me. I would say your definition only roughly matches common usage, and in the most interesting cases it fails. So I don't really understand what you mean when you write about ideology not working. What is it you mean to say? I am not sure. Ideology is a messy blob of ideas about cause and effect, how things work, and how we ought to value things.

  2. I personally use the strict translation of the term, as in "idea" + "logic". The dictionary says that ideology is "a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture.' In other words, it's taking a bunch of supposedly consistent ideas, and giving them a title, and then usually sticking to it as a group, just as you would to your regular diet; if that makes any sense.

    More specifically, I mean to say that when a person holds on to a set of ideas, then they are susceptible to rejecting other good ideas, simply because they would not be part of their ideology. This encourages conflict between people, because without understanding each other's ideas, we cannot work together.

    It seems like you have a very personal relationship with ideology, as an experience. What sort of interesting usage cases do you have in mind?

  3. "More specifically, I mean to say that when a person holds on to a set of ideas, then they are susceptible to rejecting other good ideas, simply because they would not be part of their ideology."

    Or we can take a Bayesian approach, where we mentally keep track of alternative hypotheses and score them on the merits of the evidence. We still feel confirmation bias, but maybe it won't make us so totally blind. Maybe this is a diffeent ideology, or meta-ideology?

    "It seems like you have a very personal relationship with ideology, as an experience. What sort of interesting usage cases do you have in mind?"

    Marxists always seem to have a very specific jargony meaning when they talk about ideology. In other cases, pundits often oppose ideology and pragmatism, implying that pragmatism = the end justifies the means, ideology = who cares about the ends, those means are too yucky. Or something like that. It seems like a false dichotomy to me, because my ideology includes my understanding of what is achievable and what is worth achieving. If my ideology is preventing me from supporting something, it's because I don't think it will work, or it costs too much. It's not that I'm not being pragmatic, it's because I have a different understanding of what works and/or what is worth doing.

  4. I agree with your approach and sympathize with your experience.

    It seems that people can't avoid having an ideology. It's part of how we function and that's quite self evident. With that in mind, we can assume that the best way to handle new ideas, is to be able to hold them as sub-ideologies ("meta-ideology" is nice, too.) As such, while we always rely on a a main ideology or perspective, we can still continuously compare it to those sub-ideologies. So, yeah, I agree.

    Maybe, if we continuously practice an investigation of our prime ideology, then we can avoid the issue of confirmation bias, as you name it. On the other hand, it seems only philosophers do that, and most people aren't inclined to be that way. So, my post is more like a rant than a practical tool. :=D


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