Ideology

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Ideologies involve a mistake about their origin: agents think that the ideology arose because of its responsiveness to epistemically relevant considerations (e.g., evidence, reasons, etc.), when, in fact, it arose only because it was responsive to the interests of the dominant economic class in the existing economic system. ~ Brian Leiter
The problem of ideology ... has especially to do with the concepts and the languages of practical thought which stabilize a particular form of power and domination; or which reconcile and accommodate the mass of the people to their subordinate place in the social formation. ~ Stuart Hall

An ideology is a collection of ideas used by a ruling class to justify and rationalize its power and privilege.

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  • The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shall not covet," and "Thou shall not steal," are not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.
    • John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government (1787), The Works of John Adams (1851), vol. 6, p. 9
  • At its core, the battle unfolding in the Middle East is more than a clash of arms. It is an ideological struggle. On one side are the forces of terror and death. On the other are tens of millions of ordinary people who want a free and peaceful life for their children. The future of the Middle East depends on the outcome of this struggle, and so does the security of the United States.
  • The only value of ideology is to stop things becoming showbiz.
  • A major danger in using highly abstractive methods in political philosophy is that one will succeed merely in generalizing one’s own local prejudices and repackaging them as demands of reason. The study of history can help to counteract this natural human bias.
    • Raymond Geuss, “Neither History Nor Praxis,” Outside Ethics (Princeton: 2005), pp. 38-39
  • The problem of ideology ... has especially to do with the concepts and the languages of practical thought which stabilize a particular form of power and domination; or which reconcile and accommodate the mass of the people to their subordinate place in the social formation.
    • Stuart Hall, "The Problem of Ideology-Marxism without Guarantees," in Marx:100 Years On (London: 1983), p. 59
  • The whole notion of the free market, laissez-faire capitalism, globalization is a very thin rationale for unmitigated greed by a tiny oligarchic elite. And they have made sure that that ideology is taught in universities across the country. And people, especially economists, who deviate from that ideology have been pushed aside, and become pariahs. And yet the driving ethos of that ideology is really to justify the hoarding of immense amounts of wealth by a very tiny percentage of the upper ruling class.
  • The average, vague understanding of being can be permeated by traditional theories and opinions about being in such a way that these theories, as the sources of the prevailing understanding, remain hidden.
  • Every human way of acting which hides the true nature of society ... is ideological.
    • Max Horkheimer, "Notes on Science and the Crisis," Critical Theory: Selected Essays (1995), p. 7
  • In the sense used by Marx and Engels, the concept of ideology was intended to mean forms of social consciousness which prevent people from realising that their thinking about the world is determined by some conditions which do not depend on them and which are not themselves ingredients of consciousness. In ideological thinking, people imagine that the logic of thinking itself rules their consciousness and they are organically incapable of being aware of the social situations and of the interests which mould their mental work.
  • Ideologies involve a mistake about their origin: agents think that the ideology arose because of its responsiveness to epistemically relevant considerations (e.g., evidence, reasons, etc.), when, in fact, it arose only because it was responsive to the interests of the dominant economic class in the existing economic system.
    • Brian Leiter, “Morality Critics,” The Oxford Handbook of Continental Philosophy (2007)
  • Only the dialectical conception of ... reality as a social process ... dissolves the fetishistic forms necessarily produced by the capitalist mode of production and enables us to see them as mere illusions which are not less illusory for being seen to be necessary.
  • Whereas the particular conception of ideology designates only a part of the opponent's assertions as ideologies — and this only with reference to their content, the total conception calls into question the opponent's total Weltanschauung (including his conceptual apparatus), and attempts to understand these concepts as an outgrowth of the collective life of which he partakes.
  • Today the ideology is in the process of production itself. ... The productive apparatus and the goods and services which it produces “sell” or impose the social system as a whole.
  • The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production.
  • The root cause of terrorism lies not in grievances but in a disposition toward unbridled violence. This can be traced to a world view which asserts that certain ideological and religious goals justify, indeed demand, the shedding of all moral inhibitions.
  • Those who say that all historical accounts are ideological constructs (which is one version of the idea that there is really no historical truth) rely on some story which must itself claim historical truth. They show that supposedly "objective" historians have tendentiously told their stories from some particular perspective; they describe, for example, the biasses that have gone into constructing various histories of the United States. Such an account, as a particular piece of history, may very well be true, but truth is a virtue that is embarrassingly unhelpful to a critic who wants not just to unmask past historians of America but to tell us that at the end of the line there is no historical truth. It is remarkable how complacent some "deconstructive" histories are about the status of the history that they deploy themselves.

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