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Forum LockedWhy is ideology like a prism?

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    Posted: 03-Apr-2009 at 13:22

Why is ideology like a prism?

 

Webster says a prism is “a medium that distorts, slants, or colors whatever is viewed through it”.

 

It appears to me that Marx was the first great thinker to have coined the word “ideology”.  Ideology is a distinctive form of reasoning about the individual and about the individual in society.  Ideology is a systematically biased mode of thinking.  Ideologies vary extensively in so far as the idioms used, the extent of bias, the degree of sophistication, the manner in which bias permeates various aspects of theory, and so on.

 

While ideologies vary widely in certain aspects all ideologies share some common characteristics.  An identifiable logical structure is shared by all.  This structure includes: 1) a moral dimension, 2) it is biased toward a specific group and is biased against those out side this group, 3) an ideology cannot not directly defend it self because it rests on assumptions that have never been critically examined or even formulated, and 4) Marx believes these assumptions to be “nothing more than the intellectual ‘transcripts’ of the conditions of existence of the social group whose point of view it reflects”.

 

Like viewing the world through a prism, the ideologue experiences the world in a distorted manner.  “What a man does not transcend in reality, he cannot effectively transcend in thought either.  The limits of his existence are the limits of his thoughts.  His basic assumptions are therefore ultimately nothing but his conditions of existence ‘reproduced’ in thought.” 

 

Quotes from Marx’s Theory of Ideology Bhikhu Parekh  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Apr-2009 at 14:02
Marx was faced with wanting a word that described a religion without actually admitting it was a religion. So he settled for 'ideology' which had been handily coined by an enlightenment philosopher some half century before.
 
Try substituting 'religion' for 'ideology' throughout that post and see if it makes any difference,
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Apr-2009 at 14:26
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Marx was faced with wanting a word that described a religion without actually admitting it was a religion. So he settled for 'ideology' which had been handily coined by an enlightenment philosopher some half century before.
 
Try substituting 'religion' for 'ideology' throughout that post and see if it makes any difference,
 
Yes, although Marx liked to think of himself as a critic of Hegel, in fact, he admired the philosopher's method but not the idealistic (rather than materialistic) basis from which Hegel started.  Then again, as you pointed out, Marxism in practice is just as much an ideology and a religion as not.
 
Originally posted by coberst coberst wrote:

3) an ideology cannot not directly defend it self because it rests on assumptions that have never been critically examined or even formulated, and 4) Marx believes these assumptions to be “nothing more than the intellectual ‘transcripts’ of the conditions of existence of the social group whose point of view it reflects”.

 

Like viewing the world through a prism, the ideologue experiences the world in a distorted manner.  “What a man does not transcend in reality, he cannot effectively transcend in thought either.  The limits of his existence are the limits of his thoughts.  His basic assumptions are therefore ultimately nothing but his conditions of existence ‘reproduced’ in thought.” 

 

Quotes from Marx’s Theory of Ideology Bhikhu Parekh

 
I would also like to point out that Max Weber offered a stinging critique of Marx's assumptions that society can be reduced to one egalitarian class through state control of the means of production and the relegation of expressions of culture to "superstructure." 
 
Weber said that consciousness is based on an individual's patterns of consumption and not just production.  Class is generated out of appearance of the person's relationship to consumption.  Social status results from one's consciousness of appearance.  Thus, society becomes hierarchized and bureaucratized based on consumption and appearance.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote coberst Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Apr-2009 at 14:24

Human behavior is perplexing; especially so when it relates to human behavior when in a group. 

 

I think that we are all ideologues who are often tremendously influenced by group psychology.  It appears to me that our political affiliation is just one of the groups that tend to affect our behavior.  We all are members of many ideological groups but there is one group which is dominant and we trim our other group allegiances to that dominate ideology.  

 

I might be a Catholic, American, capitalist, gay rights, pro-choice, and Republican.  All of these group affiliations must somehow exist under some dominant ideology. I think that seldom is our political affiliation the dominant ideology.

 

The animals in the swarm follow simple instinctual algorithms.  There exists no management in the swarm and it is this fact that is the reason swarms are so effective.

 

It appears that group behavior is dominated by suggestibility and transference.  Transference is what makes hypnotism possible.

 

Wo/man worships and fears power; we enthusiastically give our loyalty to our leader.  Sapiens are at heart slavish.  Therein lay the rub, as Shakespeare might say.

 

Freud was the first to focus upon the phenomenon of a patient’s inclination to transfer the feelings s/he had toward her parents as a child to the physician.  The patient distorts the perception of the physician; s/he enlarges the figure up far out of reason and becomes dependent upon him.  In this transference of feeling, which the patient had for his parents, to the physician the grown person displays all the characteristics of the child at heart, a child who distorts reality in order to relieve his helplessness and fears. 

 

Freud saw these transference phenomena as the form of human suggestibility that makes the control over another, as displayed by hypnosis, as being possible.  Hypnosis seems mysterious and mystifying to us only because we hide our slavish need for authority from our self.  We live the big lie, which lay within this need to submit our self slavishly to another, because we want to think of our self as self-determined and independent in judgment and choice.

 

The predisposition to hypnosis is identical to that which gives rise to transference and it is characteristic of all sapiens.  We could not function as adults if we retained this submissive attitude to our parents, however, this attitude of submissiveness, as noted by Ferenczi, is “The need to be subject to someone remains; only the part of the father is transferred to teachers, superiors, impressive personalities; the submissive loyalty to rulers that is so widespread is also a transference of this sort.”

 

Freud saw immediately that when caught up in groups wo/man became dependent children once again.  They abandoned their individual egos for that of the leader; they identified with their leader and proceeded to function with him as their ideal.  Freud identified man, not as a herd animal but as a horde (teeming crowd) animal that is led by a chief.  Wo/man has an insatiable need for authority. 

 

People have an insatiable need to be hypnotized by authority; they seek a magical protection as when they were infants protected by their mother.  This is the force that acts to hold groups together, intertwined within a mutually constructed but often mindless interdependence.  This mindless group think also builds a feeling of potency.  The members feel a sense of unity within the grasp of their leadership.

 

‘Why are groups so blind and stupid?’ Freud asked; and he replied that mankind lived by self delusion.  They “constantly give what is unreal precedence over what is real.”  The real world is too frightening to behold; delusion changes this by making sapiens seem important.  This explains the terrible sadism we see in group activity.

 

Ideologies are layered upon us as we grow from childhood on.  We must become critically self-conscious in order to become conscious (focused) of them and then with that consciousness as a base we can begin a slow process of habit change to come to knowledge and understanding and thereby modify these forces.  Of course all the while the present plutocratic forces are constantly ingraining other ideologies.  We are faced with a constant effort and that is why we need a firm foundation in CT (Critical Thinking).

 

I think that we can look at this matter from two points of view.  The individual finds comfort and security in belonging to a group.  It is like the football fan that now lives in a city with a football team.  The fan embraces that team and every thing it does is OK with the fan especially as long as it is winning.  Then look at the matter from the view of the individual who recognizes this behavior and uses the group as a tool for his own interests.

 

Religion might be a useful example.  Religion can be a great tool for those who know how to use it and religion can be a great comfort for the believer.

 

There is a fundamental difference between egocentric and sociocentric in that the ego is an apriori essence whereas the socio centric center is an idea created by another human.  The group is a human construct with human purpose behind the construct.

 

Tradition Western thought holds the dichotomy of mind/body.  Body is material substance whereas mind is a spiritual non material essence.  Ideas are the result of that which is transcendent of material.  The world is dominated by ideas especially theoretical thinking.  Intellectual, moral, and artistic endeavors are spiritual in nature.  And is the essence of humanity (according to Western tradition).  These ideas can be analyzed without regard for the material existence of humanity. 

 

Given this view the ideologue reifies (makes objects of these abstractions) ideas, which are the only legitimate objects of investigation.  These abstract ideas which are now accepted as objects can be defined and manipulated by the source so as to cause the members to do whatever the source wishes.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2009 at 17:40
Are you going to comment on my reply?  It seems you just posted the next part of your pre-written statement.
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