What Is Ideology?

Sunday, May 8, 2022

What Is It

Political polarization seems to be deepening, both in the U.S. and around the globe. Some believe that the rise of ideology is to blame for growing polarization. But can increased polarization really be attributed to ideology? What is exactly is ideology, and how is it different from dogma? Is ideology a kind of political or philosophical thinking? And how might our understanding of ideology affect how we practice politics? Josh and Ray ideate with Marius Ostrowski from the European University Institute, author of Ideology (Key Concepts).

Transcript

Comments (44)


Daniel's picture

Daniel

Thursday, March 31, 2022 -- 7:25 AM

Grammatically ideology

Grammatically ideology translates as the logic of ideas, which refers to products of the mind without distinct or particular connection to experience. It differs from mundane beliefs and assumptions in that it's purportedly a product of thinking and ratiocination. Therefore it seems to me that political mantras don't fit the definition, since these are more associated with group-identity, than they are with world-view explanation or recommendation. Dogma however is to my mind pretty much the same thing but with the basic difference that dogma contains an objective claim for the group, whereas ideology is its subjective variant for the individual. Dogma requires only conformity to some external authority, whereas ideology needs an internal commitment to defend it without reference to authority.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Thursday, April 14, 2022 -- 7:32 AM

Grammar is less helpful in

Grammar is less helpful in defining ideology than context and history. Logos is to logic as a drumbeat is to Dr. Dre's headphones, or Trotsky is to Putin. There is a liberal and a Marxist history that impinges here and will be touched on, I'm sure, in the show. Words are not bound by etymology and can take on their meaning with each application.

Mundane belief and assumption require thought and rationality. Political mantras can fit for ideology, but I am inclined to not see much value in using the term. It is too steeped in political history and appropriated social rage to have much use. That said, I use it all the time. This show is an excellent opportunity to think this out.

Contrasting dogma and ideology is helpful and needs clarification, but I like this path. Morality is another comparison that bears fruit. In the end, ideology tastes sour on my tongue. This discussion and show will probably not add any zest but might strike at the source of much modern conflict.

Ideology is an action-based system of belief; however, inaction is an action which makes that definition not very helpful. The Ukraine, the racial conflicts in the US and abroad, the treatment of Uyghurs, the Sunni and Shia conflicts, and the us/them conflict in Rwanda and Africa at large can all be pointed to ideology, but that is not quite right and is the source of my inclination to ignore the term altogether in the future.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Friday, April 15, 2022 -- 4:23 PM

--As both sour to the taste

--As both sour to the taste and offensive by the way it's misrepresented in use. Blaming bad situations on ideology gives ideology a bad name. I agree. But that's no reason to my mind to throw it away. For although you're quite right in my view to distinguish meaning from etymology (last sentence, first paragraph), it doesn't necessarily imply that you can have one without the other. Even in words with unknown etymologies, their characteristics are still determined by them in unrecognizable form. Take your example in the second sentence of the first paragraph above of the comparison, by the tokens of prominent figures, between Bolshevik state socialism and current Russian oligarchical state capitalism. By the following sentence, it can be safely read that you're comparing the Marxism of the former, with the Liberalism of the latter. But in my view these are superficial distinctions which upon closer inspection show a much more fundamental version of Western ideology which they share.

From Hegel, Marx gets the idea that history is a rational process based on a dialectic between humans and nature. Its most rational form is therefore for Marx the transformation of nature by labor (or in Hegel, by "spirit"), that is, production. This constitutes a rational unity between the internal element of design and the external product which completes the transformation. Where this transformation is deliberate, there prevails in respective contexts the material expression in the product of the purely formal rational will. Marx's ideological trick is to tie all the other historical relations to the evolution of production in order to map their progress. Feudalism produces more than under Mercantilism, Bourgeoise Capitalism more than under Feudalism, and so on. The more productive a period is, the more valuable it is, which is why history for Marx doesn't march backwards, as the rational mind will seek the more valuable if clearly distinguished from the less.

What's striking about this model is how nature has no value except as a means to something that does. Isn't this also one of the most salient characteristics of state capitalism in its most liberal expressions, the current Russian one included? The term "externality" in economic studies illustrates with some clarity the role that pure and self-renewing nature plays in large parts of capitalist economic theory; which together with the Marxist model could therefore be said to share a singular ideology of material consumption of natural form. Here ideology as the study of ideas equates to the study of shared assumptions expressed by different models or practices, indicating in this case a generic Western anti-naturalism.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, April 15, 2022 -- 5:09 PM

Putin and Trotsky are viewing

Putin and Trotsky are viewing the same reality. The necessity of disambiguation between Marxist and Liberal ideology is precisely the philosophical road I wish to avoid. In my common usage, ideology draws more from Habermas' answer to the issue. But now, I'm not so sure it is worth using.

That questions such as this even arise, burdens ideology with too much baggage for everyday use. If Marius convinces me otherwise, I will amend that take. For now, if any word takes so many to find a purchase... transaction denied is my response. There are enough words for belief systems to express the reality we would discuss without adding ideology to the lexicon.

The more significant problem is inaction concerning ideology than the philosophical view toward its use and application.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Saturday, April 16, 2022 -- 12:09 PM

--Which ones? Isn't there

--Which ones? Isn't there more than one? And what's the problem with "inaction concerning ideology"? Inaction with regards to its destructive effects, or with regards to its possible creative use? Habermas's view, which you referenced but failed to explain, as I understand it, is that ideology equates to fantasy, as grounds for action with unjust and oppressive effects, overriding clear understanding of the world for which one can provide an account. Critical analysis of arbitrary ideological constructions is therefore part of the larger project of human emancipation from traditional structures of repression. Is this the version that you don't want to use (last sentence, first paragraph)? And if so, what traditional structures of such a variety do you have an interest in holding on to?

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Saturday, April 16, 2022 -- 5:03 PM

What I don't want to do is

What I don't want to do is get into a meta-discussion of what ideology is when the word has been used in so many different ways and with devastating effects. The term can't be divorced from its history. If one wants to discuss a system of belief, let us do that directly without importing the baggage.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Thursday, April 21, 2022 -- 4:09 PM

How is it clear that

How is it clear that ideologies are systems of beliefs at all? Might one allow for the name's application to empty baggage? Or are you referring to the baggage contents, so that their import-packaging is unimportant? Are you directing your complaint at what's imported, or the medium of import? Take your critique of baggage in the post of 4/15/22, 5:09 pm above. The second paragraph introduces the notion of common household use of ideology, and the supposition that to burden it with ideas from elsewhere, aka "baggage", would be inappropriate as reducing its social value for the community. Whatever accuracy in terms of semiological intent my paraphrase may have obtained here, its relationship to the next and final paragraph expresses the same ambiguity as in the post above: Does "inaction concerning ideology" refer to a lack of concern about its misuse, or to a refusal to approximate one's self to its expressed values? Is your luggage being mishandled, or is the ideology just sitting there with nothing good to put it in?

While answers to these questions are doubtless important, which way they come out must include your definition of ideology as a system of beliefs (first clause, last sentence above). Attending closely to this definition should therefore be the guiding principle for the concept of ideology in the analysis of its contents. In a Guest Post of 4/17/22 for Justice Everywhere, Professor Ostrowski writes that diagnosis of existing conditions is analytic and value-free. As purely descriptive, two opposite ideologies can have an identical diagnosis of the same conditions. He continues, on my reading, that any critique of existing conditions cannot rely on mere observations, but must import values to what is observed, so that a synthetic judgement is made. The concept to which something from experience, (the diagnostic observations), is added, then, must be some form of a belief-collection. So what kinds of beliefs are they? My belief that the sun will rise tomorrow can be seen to derive from observed experience, and is therefore not ideological. But add all the other beliefs to it, and the whole set is too big to have a single concept which holds them together to be also derived from experience. Where this set contains
beliefs about living with other human beings, or "social" beliefs, the optional insertion of logically arbitrary concepts in the service of holding all the non-arbitrary ones together could for practical purposes be called "ideological" in character, and therefore serve as collective guides for rational social institutions.

Whatever the strength of this assessment, if accepted for the moment for purposes of argument, one can draw two salient implications: First, ideologies contain by definition a claim to regulative legitimacy of institutional form. Second, it is easy to see by this why ideology gets such a bad name. The original legitimacy-claim serves as a ready pretext for any private violation of principles of public welfare which are ably repeatable simultaneous with actions contradicting them. "Shared values" in cases of ideological overreach become little more than demands for agreement, regardless of what those values are said to be. Professor Ostrowski provides by my reading a good example of such overreach on the conceptual level in an editorial written in 2021 for Ideological Studies and Comparative Political Thought, where he writes that the ideological constructs which include appeal to international institutional form is used in two ways: as support for human rights and respect for sovereignty by the "capitalist-democratic societies", on the one hand, and as emphasizing "institutional alignment" and collective solidarity by the "communist or authoritarian" societies, on the other. From this comparison I draw the implication that as an ideology, what the Professor calls "internationalism" is either a way to excuse military aggression and geo-political instability, or a method of enforcing private control over nationalized resources. In both cases no system of beliefs is observable, but only private interest with regards to social control. That is to say, no real ideological contents and only symbolically labeled baggage.

Interest in such discussions would certainly have to with belief-systems, as you suggest, but in their typical form as empty shells of repeated symbols and mantras without any ideational contents whatsoever, those shells, empty husks made of demanded associations and morbidly embraced by those who want to be seen as obedient servants to the higher ideal, must not only be included, but undertaken non-peripherally as the degenerate form of socially appropriate collaborative ideological constructions.

P.S. for Admin. --Apologies for accidentally posting this two extra times, as there was a delay. Could you please delete the extra two? --Thanks,
--D.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Friday, April 22, 2022 -- 7:48 AM

Has anyone read Hannah Arendt

Has anyone read Hannah Arendt's book on Totalitarianism? She has an excellent chapter titled "Ideology and Terror: A Novel Form of Government." The entire book is excellent, but this chapter is particularly relevant now. In her view, "The only capacity of the human mind that needs neither the self nor the other nor the world in order to function safely and which is as independent of experience as it is of thinking is the ability of logical reasoning whose premise is the self-evident." (p.175) I think American philosophers may want to reflect on her work, as Hitler was greatly inspired by the American eugenics movement in science. We have our own seedy political history rationalizing the irrational, and this is not a Republican-Democrat, Liberal-Conservative issue. Both of these lovely binaries have used science to back irrational racist and class-based agendas.

P.S. I'm also curious how privately held ideologies play into our present global situation. Much of our behavior as a nation reflects rather problematic social beliefs. I'm thinking about our crazy incarceration rates, vaccine inequity, radical levels of financial inequality, contributions to international de-stabilization (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, all of latin America, etc. etc.), double standards regarding weapons policies and international relations as reflected with our interactions with Saudi Arabia, and on and on...If more Americans were politically active and involved, I would blame the population as a whole, but according to a recent Princeton study (Inequality and Democratic Responsiveness, Martin Gelins), the views of average citizens have little to no connection with policy decisions made by their political representatives. Some here in the States are clearly not believers in the four Socratic virtues of moderation, courage, wisdom, and justice. The American people are largely good and self-sacrificing, as we witnessed during Covid, but I'm not so sure about our elites. Actions speak louder than words, as they say, and our actions as a nation state are screaming out for all to see a pretty ugly belief system that has nothing to do with the genuinely held notion that our equality as people is sacred and undeniable, as Jefferson originally worded it.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Friday, April 22, 2022 -- 9:14 AM

So where does that leave the

So where does that leave the principle of double-effect? Might some of the situations you describe be acceptable costs of greater anticipated goods?

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Friday, April 22, 2022 -- 11:42 AM

Oh, please elaborate. I want

Oh, please elaborate. I want to grasp your full meaning here. Use your best omelette-making skills to clarify key terms (i.e., "double-effect" "acceptable costs" "greater anticipated goods"). Write as if you're speaking to an amateur blog participant, perhaps someone completely unfamiliar with philosophy. Let it all flow, go into great detail--I for one really want to understand precisely what ideas you're intending to share with others.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Friday, April 22, 2022 -- 2:50 PM

Why? Are you doing a survey?

Why? Are you doing a survey? In any case, I assume your answer to my question is "no". I surmise also you've no interest in sharing your obviously complex reasoning for that thoughtful reply.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Friday, April 22, 2022 -- 4:46 PM

Actually (being honest here),

Actually (being honest here), I would do my best to answer your question but I sincerely don't understand it. I'm really telling the truth. I know I play around a lot, but this time I'm super serious. I genuinely do not understand what you mean by the terms I cited in my question. In the context of my comment, they are fairly weighty and although I like to play with language, there are some things I do not play around with, so I want to be careful in my reply. I'm sure you would agree this is prudent.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Friday, April 22, 2022 -- 6:45 PM

Prudent and not distributive?

Prudent and not distributive? How could such a sincere request from an illustrious and valued colleague be denied by anything other than the rash heedlessness of a drowsy moment in the study-parlor of this inchoate greenhorn? There remains of course, as you're well aware, an alternative for this collegiate solicitation: you could just look it up. But as I see it, the principle of double effect is either a way to get out of getting blamed for something you did but didn't intend, or a way of taking credit for doing something good which looks really bad. Kant offers a good example of the latter variety in the Critique of Practical Reason at A107 in which someone who deliberately annoys others while relishing their displeasure is beaten (mit einer tuechtigen Tracht Schlaege abgefertigt), and compares it with a surgical operation. The beating, as with subcutaneous trauma of surgery, is in itself bad but its result is judged as good, and therefore the negative result is morally permissible on grounds of the good one. Examples of the former variety are also easy to find, as for instance the case of a suitor who intends to propose marriage after dinner in a restaurant by placing an engagement ring in a slice of chocolate mousse as a surprise and before he can get the question out she eats it and is hospitalized, which is bad, but the proposal is nevertheless accepted, which is good, so he doesn't get blamed for almost killing her. Note that the mistake is not an innocent one, as it was an exceptionally unwise plan. The ascribable value of the institution of marriage, however, overrides any condemnation of how it began. And there are other versions. But it's the first one (with Kant's example) which seems to my mind the most pertinent to your remarks. So with regards to their double-effect, might there be any positive result of the actions producing the conditions you describe above which, although they are bad in themselves, would furnish their moral permissibility on account of some positive effect which they in addition produce?

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Friday, April 22, 2022 -- 9:22 PM

Dear friend, I'm not sure how

Dear friend, I'm not sure how to respond to that. I think you may have imagined an attempt at insult where none existed. Sorry if I have rubbed the wrong way. No offense was intended. Take care...

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Saturday, April 23, 2022 -- 10:49 AM

And part of that care you

And part of that care you implore to be taken would be best brought to the topic at hand, which I suppose you're attempting to give an example of in drawing an insult out of an explanation, hence a double-effect. My question was a relatively simple one: Might the actions which create the adverse conditions you describe above be morally permissible on account of some positive effect they have in addition to the negative ones described? Take your reference to the "American eugenics movement" as having an inspirational effect on German political leadership in the 1930's. Most would agree that is a negative effect. But some would argue that the movement, in spite of its abuses, resulted in identifying genetic diseases that later resulted in the development of a cure for them, which would be a positive effect. Under the principle of double-effect, the question is asked whether the positive effect grants moral permissibility to the action which produces the negative one as well. In the eugenics case the general consensus today is no, but not in the past where such justifications were taken more seriously. Therefore, remiss in my scholarly duties would I be if I, without effort to the contrary, allowed a valued colleague to escape the inquisitive snare of a pertinent question without its being addressed: Can the principle of double effect be applied to the actions with the effects you describe? Surely there is no malice on your part to deny your readers a thoughtful response. Might they be morally permissible on grounds of some positive effect?

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Sunday, April 24, 2022 -- 7:18 AM

I don't feel at all qualified

I don't feel at all qualified to tackle such a question. Your position seems rather circular, as anything could be rationalized according this logic.

I did have some thoughts that I think relate to your notion of double-effect, but I'm not sure if they are what you mean. Oedipus thought he was in the right when unknowingly he killed his father, for he thought he was defending his just social position against an impudent subordinate who would not yield the right way. Bad things happened, but he did not knowingly intend them. Later he married his mother, but he thought he was doing a good and honorable thing when accepting the hand of the widowed queen. Oedipus was a good person, who accidentally did bad things. Similarly, Narcissus thought his reflection was real, and so he felt justified in falling in love with it. He meant no harm, but bad things happened.

Would these negative consequences of actions intended to be positive classify ironically as double-effects?

I do feel that members of today's white-collar classes suffer from a complex similar to this Oedipus-Narcissus psychology. They simply won't or can't listen to anyone outside of their bubbles that is trying to get them to snap out of it. They are so busy fanatically pursuing their beloved "visions" building their new "enlightened" technological utopias, that anyone getting in their way (native peoples, homeless people, workers, regulations, laws, traditional conceptions of morality and virtue) arouses intense rage. Genuine philosophers (not the go-along-to-get-along with those in power kind) are like poor Tiresias, trying to get them to see that they are the one they seek. And Poor Echo is like the working-class, she doesn't understand why she is viewed with such contempt by Narcissus. Why isn't she valued and loved by him? What's so bad about her? Why doesn't he see beauty in her instead of only in himself. Why is she excluded from his fanatical monolithic vision of social perfection?

Anyway, I tried to think about your question and answer in good faith, so don't be too angry with me. I'm not a robot.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Sunday, April 24, 2022 -- 10:20 AM

--Why would someone be angry

--Why would someone be angry with a robot? The Oedipus case qualifies, (based on my reading when, not knowing what it referred to, I picked up a book called "dictionary of philosophy" and turned to the page with a passage on it under the title "double effect, principle of"), only after his crimes were revealed to him (as guilt is not in that context conditioned by intent), having the effect of causing him to self-perform a dual ophthalectomy in order to become blind, and decides in retirement that the whole episode actually did him some good, since the blindness opened his mind's eye to greater wisdom. Receiving the news from Tiresias constitutes a mere observation, with the good result and the bad one following one another chronologically in the mind of the perpetrator, while the effect of the action is the same. There is no double effect, but merely a reversal in recognition. Only when the negative effect can be justified by a positive one is the principle applied. So called "collateral damage" in military jargon is almost always justified in this way. Austerity measures in economics and the abortion issue are a couple of others.

So how do you apply the principle to the actions producing the conditions you describe? Might some be justifiable on the basis of some positive result which they have in addition to the negative ones? And if not, isn't there something one can do about them? In the second sentence of the third paragraph above you've committed what in my view is the very serious error in reasoning which I call "the leadership fallacy", which is based on the assumption that, because someone else caused all your problems, you have to make them solve them too. "Speaking truth to power" in this context is utterly useless, as power already knows it and doesn't care. This is true on account of the fact that the state-capitalist economies could not exist without competitive self-maximization being consistently rewarded as the highest virtue, and brought up into the halls of governance. That produces the negative consequence of artificial demographic divisions for population-management in the service of specially privileged sectors, whose positive effect for those who rule of holding onto power can not justify the negative ones of impoverishing the lower classes and threatening the future existence of the species by environmental destruction and wars in geopolitical contexts over control of exploitable resources; --hence no double effect.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Sunday, April 24, 2022 -- 4:21 PM

You forgot to mention poor

You forgot to mention poor Echo.

Anywho, in my own social philosophy I don't separate myself absolutely from those in power. I don't identify as purely impotent (a servant of those in power with no agency) or as omnipotent (purely in a position of power). Although, I know I am guilty at times of identifying more or less with either of these extremes. My social philosophy aligns better with Jefferson's original wording of social equality as something sacred and undeniable (not something self-evident, as in, something scientifically or logically verifiable). I think poetry and art are better ways of expressing the connection between the two extreme positions--omnipotence and impotence. The truth involved in this matter, in my opinion, is simply not self-evident. I absolutely believe in social equality, but I don't believe the power dynamics involved in it are equally obvious to everyone, everywhere, at all times. Things are complicated.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Tuesday, April 26, 2022 -- 10:36 AM

P.S. This double-effect thing

P.S. This double-effect thing is more than a wee bit like Orwell's concept of double-think when applied to today's political reality in the manner you suggest. It definitely violates the excluded middle...And yes, it does not surprise me that when I did finally look up the term, there was the lovely Thomas Aquinas right at the top of the page. Sigh...

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Tuesday, April 26, 2022 -- 10:36 PM

Tartarthistle, I am about

Tartarthistle, I am about half way through Michael Lynch's 'Know-It-All-Society' and he has a similar take on Arendt at the begining of chapter 4 discussing the roots of authoritarianisn. Thanks for pointing this out. I will read this next. I am very much enjoying Lynch.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Tuesday, April 26, 2022 -- 10:52 PM

Arendt is speaking

Arendt is speaking presciently about our current politic. Thanks for posting this!

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 -- 8:02 AM

You must read her book on

You must read her book on totalitarianism. She's incredibly in-tune with the subject--no doubt due to her own very personal experience. I did my master's thesis on totalitarianism and how it relates to Plato's philosophy and relied heavily on her work.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 -- 9:03 AM

Looking forward to it.

Looking forward to it.

It might take me a few weeks to get it done, but I will do this. So far it is resonating with me.

Thanks again!

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 -- 8:04 PM

Does Arendt take any position

Does Arendt take any position on Plato's advocacy in The Sophist of arresting professional sophists, who were philosophic opponents of his (235b8-235c7)? The reason I ask is that she was dating the philosopher Heidegger while he was teaching at Marburg in the mid 1920's, and who held a seminar on Plato's Sophist at that time. Because he was also writing the book "Being and Time" during this period, chapter 74 of which many scholars associate with his later support for German fascism, Arendt's thoughts on this particular passage might shed some light on the gray area between her understanding of totalitarianism and her deep friendship with the intellectual fascist advocate.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 -- 9:44 PM

I'm not familiar with this

I'm not familiar with this specific passage and I haven't read Plato's Sophist. I don't know anything about this. I do know that Arendt and Heidegger had an affair (I wouldn't call it dating, since he was married and they met in motels). I suspect she had the hots for him largely because he put on quite the performance in the lecture halls. A good mesmerizer gets the attention of the young students. A predatory teacher, lacking self-control, takes advantage of this wide open door. A genuine teacher, like Socrates, says "No, thank you," and heads home to Xanthippe (perhaps stopping off at several bars along the way).

Anyway, have you read her book Totalitarianism? It's actually creepy how it so accurately captures our present social situation with regard to mass movements, technology, and politics...Personally I'm climbing under a rock and waiting out the sand storm...

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Friday, April 29, 2022 -- 11:40 AM

Isn't that the sort of thing

Isn't that the sort of thing Arendt's analysis would council against? Doesn't she make a point somewhere that totalitarian movements differ from nationalist political ones (like fascism) in that it doesn't need popular support, but only a mass of isolated individuals? While I'm confident your decision is tactically sound, it appears on the surface inconsistent with recommendations for social health which could claim derivation from Arendt's treatment.

Arendt's relationship to Heidegger is controversial with regards to how much her mature work retained his influence. But I think it's safe to assume that the influence flowed in both directions: to Arendt in style and manner, to Heidegger regarding the notion of social isolation as pretended denial of social entanglement. Because this latter appears as a major theme in his book Being and Time, written, as mentioned above, during their affair, there is some credible justification for crediting Arendt as its partial coauthor. (Biographical note: H. initiated the relationship with A. and approached her first by dropping a note on her desk in class inviting her to his office to discuss the material; and your confidence in Socrates' marital fidelity is a minority view).

Although it's unknown if Arendt was enrolled in Heidegger's seminar on the Sophist, it's very probable that she was, and therefore it's in this respect, what she received and developed into her later work from this period, that the passage cited above becomes significant. The Sophist for Plato is someone who pretends to be they're not. As producers of mere appearances, or "semblence-makers" (eidolopoiikoi), they've made a career out of things which are not true, including themselves. Plato at this time is also dealing with a severe and crippling challenge to his theory of forms from which, according to his lecture notes, Heidegger believed was headed up by Plato's rebel-student named Aristotle, (the so-called "third man" argument which appears in the Parmenides, and written into the Sophist as the "Giantomachy"). This is apparently very threatening to Plato, as the success of such a challenge would "destroy the possibility of common discourse" (Parmenides 135c); which further indicates that the sophist, as a committed producer of false appearances, erodes the common ability to trust as true anything about other people, so that the sophist's success would mean the destruction of society.

Here's where the passage comes in. Plato has a solution in his ideal state for the possibility of that eventuality: Simply arrest them. "To seize him (sullabein auton) according to instructions from the king's argument (kata ta epestalmena hupo tou basilikou logou) and, handing him over (paradontas), to proclaim the manhunt's success (apophaenai taen agraen)". So what argument is it that is referred to as authorizing such action? Since Plato is not explicit about it in the text, one can surmise that it's his theory of forms, uninstantiated universals called "ideas", prominent among which is the idea of freedom which controls the truth of people as real, and not mere appearances. Because no one can in truth deny their own freedom, to make a career out of pretending to be a mere appearance corresponds in aggregate to an unfree society, or tyranny. But that sounds very similar to Arendt's view that involves totalitarian movements as elevating the small, anonymous person to the appearance of threatening the established powerful one. This is where the individual uninterested in civil participation and is hidden "under a rock", in your terminology, is seen in aggregate to ruffle the feathers of the powerful and equates to a surrender of one's own freedom, as though such a thing would be possible, in unconscious exchange for the totalitarian movement's leadership elements to "do the acting for you", so to speak, as a surrogate voluntariness of agency. Well then, couldn't Plato's idea to arrest sophists in order to keep society together resemble a similar tactic based on Arendt's analysis to arrest leaders of totalitarian movements? While such a recommendation would be inadvisable according to current legal standards, it may offer insight into the precise nature of Heidegger's influence of Arendt.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Sunday, May 1, 2022 -- 6:49 AM

I'm going to have to revisit

I'm going to have to revisit your comment when I'm sober, but I will add now that my guess is that the nature of Heidegger's influence on Arendt was rather lower than you might be imagining. As someone who's had many a crush on a teacher, I can say that sometimes while attending a seminar or lecture, one is simply captivated by the position the teacher occupies (the actual living source point of attention may be rather unattractive, even sort of intellectually lame), but it's the position--front, center, radiant, all eyes upon--that raises the horns, so to speak. Wittgenstein could apparently mesmerize from this position (rhetorical seduction is a known art-form). Heidegger was known to mesmerize. I'll bet Socrates could mesmerize (he certainly got Alcibiades' horns going). I could be wrong, but my suspicion is that all that's "philosophical" is not strictly philosophical. Arendt was a pretty, bright young student. Heidegger was a man, and thus mortal.

Sorry, but as someone who's not been sheltered from the truth by protectors, my observation is that things in these sorts of realms are complicated....

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Monday, May 2, 2022 -- 6:34 PM

--And also due to the fact

--And also due to the fact that the older partner was married, as you make note of above, the affair between them must have compounded the ground-level complication of a professor dating his student. Some facts of the affair though I think can be safe to assume. The first is that Arendt's influence on Heidegger was at least as significant as his influence on her. Pretended social isolation as denial of social entanglement which can not be discarded by free individuals, arguably comes from Arendt, and finds its way into Being and Time in the form of an attack on Cartesian subjectivism. But Heidegger's contribution to this same notion might not be at all insignificant, and related to your remarks in the post above, as the notion of always falling back into that subjectivism wherever it is momentarily overcome could have specific reference to the male phallus as the physiological equivalent of socialized institutional apology for group-responsibility abdication.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, April 4, 2022 -- 6:25 AM

Yes. All of the previous

Yes. All of the previous comment encompasses ideology well, I think. I guess the only thing I would claim is that an ideology---any ideology---needs both group identity and internal commitment in order to survive and thrive. People are herd-oriented and don't want to think too hard about that. But, if the foundations are insufficient to warrant internal commitment, the sheep ship out.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Tuesday, April 5, 2022 -- 3:00 PM

--Ship out by the wind of

--Ship out by the wind of internally unreflected dogma in the sails which bear the repeated symbols of ideologies, or ship out by the oars of worked-out ideology into a still sea free from the gusts of dogmatic bluster? What does it mean for an ideology to "thrive" if not to back up dogmatic demands with ready-to-hand answers to problems of consistency when dogma gets into trouble at forums of political expression and in the lecture halls of academics? One such ideology can be identified in the field of economics called "supply-side economics", associated with the economist Milton Friedman and the so-called "Chicago School" of economics, commonly held to have provided important intellectual support for the Pinochet regime in Chile after the coup of 1973. Here the sheep we're "shipped in" and any rival economic shepherds were successfully kept away from the grazing herd, who in turn were compelled to put up with a highly exploited pasture. On this and similar examples one could make the case that any ideology which becomes successful and widespread will come to subvert its original intellectual legitimacy in service to the centers of power associated with prevailing dogmas.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 -- 7:30 AM

Are centers of power

Are centers of power associated with prevailing dogmas commonly visible and known? The center of power in a circle is 3.14. The center of power in our present society is certainly not any of our visible leaders, and whatever dogma is motivating their decision-making it's certainly not the prevailing and commonly recognized one.

Power dynamics are complex, and anything but self-evident...All I have to do is smile and say something kind, and the biggest meanest angriest suddenly becomes sweet. It's like magic.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 -- 9:02 PM

--If that trick can be

--If that trick can be learned, it certainly seems worth teaching! In response to your question though, centralized power wherever it appears is normally hidden behind a manufactured appearance of benevolence to its subjects, but is usually pretty thin. In our society there's no ambiguity. Consolidated business institutions and multinational wealth remain in firm control over the levers state power. By no means absolute and credibly challenged by popular forces as well as state sector interests overriding at times the interests of big business, nothing else at present comes close. Therefore I'm not quite in agreement with your point in the last sentence of the first paragraph. My view is that not only is the dogma associated with most, but certainly not all, current U.S. political leadership currently recognized, it's advocated by much prevailing opinion. Well being of the nation as equivalent to the health of the corporate sector, "a rising tide lifts all boats", and other such nonsense, is still parroted today by much of the educated class as though they were not waist deep in the toxic sewage of the predatory institutions such attitudes are designed to support. Here I think the centers of power are therefore visible and known, since the ideological constructions rewarded by the institutions which serve them must be functional for popular acquiescence to private control over the state.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Thursday, April 28, 2022 -- 8:09 AM

I'm not disagreeing with you,

I'm not disagreeing with you, it's just that the visible sources of "power" just make me laugh. In fact, they make a lot of people laugh. We just don't see this laughter in the media. But trust me, a lot of people are laughing. Sorry...I'm not saying this to be mean, just being honest. The world is laughing at the "powerful." It's just being filtered out...

P.S. That "firm control" stuff is pretty amusing. If this present experience of collective insanity is any example of those in power (consolidated business institutions and multinational wealth) being in "firm control," then such language has no meaning. I recommend using a fork, not a whisk to blend the eggs. That's what the French do, and they always make the best omelettes, n'est-ce pas?

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Thursday, April 28, 2022 -- 10:29 AM

Laughter can be a counter

Laughter can be a counter-argument under the condition that what is being laughed at is made clear. What amuses you in this case is the disparity between the claim of big business being in firm control of the levers of state power, and what you describe as the "present state of collective insanity". Your argument appears to turn on the meaninglessness of the term "firm control" if collective insanity is an example of it. But this does not follow. If we accept for the sake of argument that your collective insanity-premise is true, how does that equate to a lack of control over state agency? Are you asserting that once state control is assumed, that no matter who has it, collective insanity would be avoided? And how is it clear that collective insanity would not be a tremendous benefit to private control? Your position is therefore a weak one on account of the fact that it's based on the arbitrary assumption that state control and collective insanity are incompatible. Now, what's the relation to Continental breakfast food?

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Thursday, April 28, 2022 -- 11:23 AM

Still laughing. (Is laughter

Still laughing. (Is laughter an argument?)
The relationship is sustenance. And pleasure. (Are sustenance and pleasure arguments?)

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Thursday, April 28, 2022 -- 7:55 PM

They can be, depending on the

They can be, depending on the context. Take disrespect. Without context it's by definition a relation between two things, something disrespected and whatever is doing the disrespecting. But let's say someone becomes involved in an organized group activity with others for the sole purpose of disrupting it and demeaning its participants. That would be in effect an argument that the activity is not to be taken seriously and its participants are misguided in doing so. But interestingly it also could also provide the content of a premise in someone else's argument that such an activity is not worth engaging in, as it is seen being disrespected. Laughter is frequently used in this way; and given sufficient context, there's no reason why the other two things you reference could also be an argument. But perhaps the question should be thrown back to its inquirer. You're clearly making an argument here, so what do you think? Can they be arguments?

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Friday, April 29, 2022 -- 9:22 AM

Not all laughter is intended

Not all laughter is intended to be disrespectful or overly disruptive. Sometimes laughter lightens the intellectual load, lets the steam out of the brain tanker. Sometimes laughter is playful and releases mental tension. Sometimes laughter is just meant to be what it is. Fun, but not fun at someone else's expense. Just fun for itself. And a wee bit of disruption in philosophical discussion is sometimes just the spice needed to liven up a debate (not too much, just a sprinkle of paprika in the sauce). This is sometimes very helpful in getting one's self and others to see things in a new light, to learn something new. Fun is sometimes good. Pleasure is sometimes good. I enjoy writing, I do like to play. Perhaps sometimes I use too much paprika. But I'm not trying to be disrespectful or disruptive. I mean no harm (sincerely). I also think dry boring crunchy language is not healthy or helpful in seeking truth. It can also be a way of disrespecting and excluding others, as only academics can put up such diatribes. A lively fun spicy discourse--not too much, not too little--but just right, is more inclusive and welcoming to a larger audience, and it can really hit the spot of truth. I think we could all use a little more life and liveliness and play (not too much) in our language games with one another...But that's just me...and please know that when I'm playing around, I'm not trying to make fun of others or be disrespectful or disruptive. And if I have been, I do apologize. I will try to be more crunchy...

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Friday, April 29, 2022 -- 11:24 AM

My apologies, but I don't

My apologies, but I don't understand your reply. Are you saying that they can be arguments, as for example against stilted and overly serious verbalization? Or is your claim that they can't be arguments, as mere stylistic choices available to the disputant? And just for clarification purposes, no one is saying laughter is always intended to be disrespectful. In one respect, laughter is not intentional at all, occurring as it does in the majority of contexts as a spontaneous response to the perception of funniness. The example is provided to show how laughter can be an argument in the case cited: where some activity is argued not to be taken seriously. How it relates to the individual preferences and opinions you've offered above is not clear, as well as its relevance to the larger discussion of ideological constructions.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Friday, April 29, 2022 -- 10:02 PM

I'm making funny sounds right

I'm making funny sounds right now. Much like laughter. Yes, very much like laughter. Larger discussions...ideological constructions...You're right, I'm definitely wrong...naughty, trouble, and problematic on so many levels...Please don't let them take me away...I mean no harm. (They're super scary too. They'll string me up good.) Ahhh!!!

[Silence.]

[She really wasn't a robot.]

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Sunday, May 1, 2022 -- 11:26 AM

By my reading, an argument

By my reading, an argument can be implied without being explicit, and still be an argument. This above is the third one you've constructed for topic and/or forum irrelevance. The first, of April 4/28/22, 8:09 am, concludes that the pathological effect on a discussion-content receptacle (in this case, the interlocutor to whom the original premises are transmitted) overrides in relevant importance the content of those premises. If reflected as positive on the content, say, a nodding of the head, then relevance is confirmed. If reflected as negative, in this case producing laughter in the recipient, then a claim of irrelevance is issued. Your argument turns on a logical solipsism of stated interaction-value. The content's pathological effect on the recipient is the point of reference from which all valid inferences can be made.

One such inference drawn as the stated cause of this effect is that any assertion (in my post of 4/28/22, 10:29 am) of "firm control" over state agency can not be true on the basis of observed "collective insanity", the rebuttal to which, in my post of 4/28/22, 10:29 am, points out that private control over the state and collective insanity are not incompatible. From this is issued a repetition of the first argument (post of 4/28/22, 11:23 am), with the addition of a claim that response-pathology might not be an argument at all, and thereby no responsibility for it to be defended can be ascribed.

To my counter claim reasserting the position that responsive disputant-pathology can carry premise contents (post of 4/28/22, 7:55 pm), your second argument is issued (post of 4/29/22, 9:22 am). Here the apparent attempt is made to dismiss the contents of an example provided in the responsive-pathology premise by claiming that it applies to the recipient, so that if the latter modifies her/his future argument-conduct, the premise can no longer apply. While the assumption of logical solipsism is still operative in this second argument, the detailed self-description of interlocutor-inclinations which affirms how the example is understood does not constitute an additional premise, so that the validity of response-pathology is retained.

To the reply thereto (post of 4/29/22, 11:24 am) that internal interlocutor reform is relevant neither to the claim that laughter can be an argument nor to the topic of ideology, your third argument is given above: that premise-misinterpretation vacates responsibility for conclusion-defense. Clearly therefore, three arguments for topic-irrelevance, by means of the premise of validity of response-pathology, have been made here. They differ from the more formal variety in the disputant's consistent refusal to defend them.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Sunday, May 1, 2022 -- 4:12 PM

[Don't worry, we've got her

[Don't worry, we've got her strung up good. All is under control. This one appears to be suffering from a serious case of response-pathology. But her premise-misinterpretation has now been vacated. Thistle won't be bothering you further.]

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Sunday, May 1, 2022 -- 5:20 PM

--A clever and relevant

--A clever and relevant reference to Plato's Sophist at 235c2-7: "if however she/he submerges (duetai) into the parts of her imitation (mimetikeas), [we must] follow closely upon her/him, always partitioning the impression of the part (tean hupodexomenean) from the part itself (auton moiran), until she/he is apprehended (heosper an lephthea)". Is not something similar going on here?

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Tuesday, May 3, 2022 -- 5:31 AM

Lots of information and

Lots of information and debate here. Ideology emerges from belief, when there are enough ideologues. Insofar as I believe Davidson, belief is propositional: whether I can accept the proposal determines whether I subscribe to the belief. Ideologies are like architects---they come and go and may never change one's point of view. They may, if pernicious enough, come and go and come back
with alterations...like a suit worth wearing a bit longer. Just a few thoughts here. I am not looking to initiate an ideology.

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines
Daniel's picture

Daniel

Tuesday, May 3, 2022 -- 9:34 AM

Interesting proposal. So by

Interesting proposal. So by your account, and considered in relation to the post above of 4/16/22- 5:03 pm by participant Smith, upon which I've based a large part of my analysis, ideology is not properly described as a system of beliefs themselves, but a product of their interrelation in that, considered as a group, they can then be tinkered with by the ideologue, with some put on top of others, others set next to each other which did not occur together, and so on. And this is consistent with the notion of belief as more of an attitude about something than the holding as true of some specific conceptual contents. So, for example, if I find myself in possession of two beliefs about ice cream which are already there without any proximate effort on my part, --that it is a dairy product, and that strawberry tastes better to me than vanilla, no ideology of ice cream is detectable. But then an ideologue comes along and tells me that consumption of dairy products violates ethical standards by supporting the abuse of livestock, and any flavor added to such products serves only to mask the unethical basis of how it is produced. Now the two beliefs have been arranged in an architectural form, where the belief about taste, a positive attitude towards strawberry, is stacked on top of the belief about dairy products, a negative attitude about how its made. Does that sound about right for how an ideology emerges from belief? The problem here is, of course, how to prevent the ideological architecture from becoming just another belief, so that the explanatory value of the distinction is preserved. Could one solution be to distinguish between simple and complex beliefs, with ideological constructions being of the latter variety?

I've read and agree to abide by the Community Guidelines