Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Principles or ideology?

Many of my readers also read Mary P.'s blog. But those of you who don't might want to check out this post, Parenting Without Ideologies:
I am firmly of the opinion that you are a better parent if you operate from principles and a philosophy, rather than in a constant state of reaction. [But] how do you know whether you are developing an approach and a philosophy, or whether you've crossed the line into ideology?
Even if you're not the parent of a small child (Mary P.'s focus), you may be interested in her criteria for distinguishing principles from ideology.


At 8:27 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger CyberKitten said...

Surely your Principles are based on your Ideology?

Even if you don't think you have one (ideology that is, not principles - grin) dig deep enough... and there it is.....

At 8:47 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger Juggling Mother said...

As I understood it, "ideology" in Mary P's post meant a fixed set of rules. Principles are an ethos to try to live your life by, but we all go against our principles occasionally!

At 9:28 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

No, I don't have an ideology.

Of course nobody is truly objective. My understanding of any issue is going to be subjective and therefore it will not conform 100% to reality.

But that's not the same thing as an ideology. An ideology is a system to which you are irrevocably committed. An ideologue will twist the facts to agree with his or her ideology, and persist with the ideology even when it is demonstrably destructive.

I don't fit either of the two criteria I've just mentioned.

Now debates are breaking out on posts where I haven't even said anything — it's just a link to someone else's blog! But I think you're just trying to push my buttons.

At 9:28 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger Mary P. said...

They are different to me. I quite like Mrs A's summary. Principles are to ideologies what artistry is to paint-by-numbers.

Principles are guidelines; ideologies are sets of fixed rules. Principles take circumstance into account; rules are rules are rules. Principles are reasoned, principles are arrived at individually, they are open to modification, they acknowledge competing interests; ideologies are one-size-fits-all, and are propagated as the only viable perspective with evangelical fervour. We all go against our principles once in a while when we can see that the competing principles are best in this situation.

Principle and ideology can bleed into another, certainly, but less readily when one is aware of the warning signs of ideology. As for me, I will not go gently into that dark night.

At 9:30 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger Mary P. said...

Look at that - Q and I posted at exactly the same moment! (I didn't see his comment till after I hit publish.) Talk about being in synch!

At 9:32 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger CyberKitten said...

An ideology is a collection of ideas. The word ideology was coined by Count Destutt de Tracy in the late 18th century to define a "science of ideas." An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things, as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society - the Marxist definition of ideology

That was from Wikipedia.

That's what I was thinking of:

"a way of looking at things" or a PoV in a sense. In my mind (at least) I would've thought that your underlying Ideology would inform your Principles...?

Though, as always, I'm happy to argue the point... (grin)

At 9:49 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger CyberKitten said...

Q said: But I think you're just trying to push my buttons.

Not guilty.... Sorry if it came across that way.

I just (really) like to discuss things... Blame it on a book about Socrates I read recently..

Q also said: No, I don't have an ideology.

I bet you $10 you do.... (grin) It's my understanding that you're a Christian. To my way of thinking that's an Ideology (though I'm not agreeing with your definition - the rigidity bit anyway). Also you appear to be Deomoctatically inclined - I didn't want to 'label' you a Democrat as the word means different things on either side of the Pond. But that's an ideology too.... at least that's the way I see things... (which is why I said we all have one - but actually we all have several - and some of them actually conflict.. which makes life interesting...)

[As a slight aside - about two nations being divided my a common language....

My friend & I where in Rome some years ago and met up with a variety of teachers from various European countries. Inevitably someone mentioned The Queen. We responded by saying that we were Republicans.. The women stod back in horror... "Fascists!" they said... "No, no" we explained.. "We're Socialists." ANOTHER look of horror passed over their faces and they took another step back... "Communists!"

We just couldn't win]

I missed the mass posting by 4 minutes... but I'm a fairly slow 'typist'...

At 10:55 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger Mary P. said...

All righty then CK: by your definition, you're an ideologue; by my definition, I'm not. I'm content with that.

At 11:04 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger CyberKitten said...

Well... I am an advocate of several ideologies.... So I'm happy with that term....

Not rigid though.... but at my age I'm not as flexible as I once was..... (sound of creaking bones/muscles)

At 11:05 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

It's OK, I wasn't offended. It just seems to me that you enjoy provoking a debate … but then, so do I.

The word ideology has an innocent meaning and a not-so-innocent meaning. I have a reference work that makes such a distinction. But I don't have it with me just now, so I'll make the case another way.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ideology quite innocently, a system of ideas and ideals forming the basis of an economic or political theory.

This is very much the way you define it. If ideology is equivalent to worldview, then I have one. As you say, everybody has one. But note Oxford's definition of ideologue:

a dogmatic or uncompromising adherent of an ideology.

Clearly a negative perspective is dominant by the time we get to the word ideologue.

And even the word ideology has a negative connotation in some contexts. Since I must rely on online resources at present, consider this ideology handout by Professor John Lye of Brock University (in Ontario):

The concept of ideology is most generally associated with power relations. … Ideology is a term developed in the Marxist tradition to talk about how cultures are structured in ways that enable the group holding power to have the maximum control with the minimum of conflict. … Some conceptions of ideology de-emphasize the power aspect and see ideology as the structure of assumptions which form the imaginative world of groups. … [But] any ideology will contain contradictions, will repress aspects of experience, will 'disappear' that which tends to contradict it or expose its repressions.

Note the last statement in particular: it corresponds with my comment, An ideologue will twist the facts to agree with his or her ideology. It moves the word ideology in the direction of the word ideologue, which has a negative connotation.

As for my Christianity, I am able to look at the Christian faith critically. I affirm that the Bible contains errors. I deny the deity of Jesus. I deny that everyone who disbelieves in Jesus is destined for eternal torment. And I think evolution is an accurate description of how the human race arose — though I think there are key gaps in the theory which support a theistic understanding of evolution.

I could continue. My point is, I want you to stop making assumptions about what I mean when I affirm that I am a Christian.

I have a theistic worldview. But I am not an ideologue, about Christianity or on any other subject. Ideologues are unable or unwilling to think critically about their ideologies.

At 11:22 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger CyberKitten said...

Q: You said "My point is, I want you to stop making assumptions about what I mean when I affirm that I am a Christian."

Again I appologise for any misunderstanding. Maybe I should just shut up for a while? I certainly did not mean my statement to imply any form of criticism whatsoever. Which is why I said that I didn't agree with the idea that ideologies are necessarily rigid. From what I can tell from your Blogg you are open-minded and thoughtful. I enjoy debating with you.

To me an ideology is an overarching set of beliefs and ideas which inform the way you look at the world. To me the word is not, in and of itself, a 'bad' one - though it has often been used pejoratively. I think that's where the misunderstanding might have originated.

I am fairly uncompromising in some of my beliefs - its just part of my nature (which I have been 'called on' before now). However, some of my beliefs demand to be uncompromising.. so I agree (to a large degree) that I am an ideologue. Though, again, I do not think that this in itself is a 'bad' thing.

Soory again for any misunderstanding..

At 11:34 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Again, no offence taken. I'm just reflecting back what I see in your comments: that you tend to leap to conclusions about what I believe without having many facts at your disposal.

I gather that your strong views and your love of debate are not always well received elsewhere. But you've always expressed yourself respectfully here — i.e. you don't put others down for disagreeing with you — so I welcome your comments.

That said, I think it's constructive to mirror back what people say from time to time. (I did the same thing to Snaars recently, you may remember.) It allows people to see how they're "coming across" to others, and to clarify their intent as necessary.

At 11:39 AM, October 11, 2005, Blogger CyberKitten said...


I'll see what I can do about cutting back on my assumptions - though it will mean that I'll be asking more questions...

As to disagreements.... Bring 'em on.... It helps people think more clearly...

At 12:26 PM, October 11, 2005, Blogger The Misanthrope said...

I just did my best to parent from commonsense and learn from the mistakes of my parents. I knew/perceived what my faults were/are and was determined that Daughter not have the same. Over the years, I have discovered that the most important ingredient a parent can provide a child is love. But love does not mean lack of discipline or being one's best friend. To me it means being there for them, giving them time (although I probably could and should have given more), and showing them how to study.


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