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Can a sophisticated individual rise above ideology?

 
 
coberst
 
Reply Thu 26 Mar, 2009 01:23 pm
Can a sophisticated individual rise above ideology?

All thought is saturated with egocentric and sociocentric presuppositions. That is, all thought contains highly motivating bias centered in the self or in ideologies such as political, religious, and economic theories. Some individuals are conscious of these internal forces but most people are not.

Those individuals who are conscious of these biases within their thinking can try to rid their judgments of that influence. Those who are not conscious, or little conscious of such bias, are bound to display a significant degree of irrational tendencies in their judgments.

“Can the intellectual, who is supposed to have a special and perhaps professional concern with truth, escape from or rise above the partiality and distortions of ideology?”

An intellectual might be properly defined as those who are primarily or professionally concerned with matters of the mind and the imagination but who are socially non-attached. “The intellectual is thought of not as someone who displays great mental or imaginative ability but as someone who applies those abilities in more general areas such as religion, philosophy and social and political issues. It is the involvement in general and controversy outside of a specialization that is considered as the hallmark of an intellectual; it is a matter of choice of self definition, choice is supreme here.”

Even anti-ideological is ideological. If partisanship can be defended servility cannot; many have allowed themselves to become the tools of others.

We have moved into an age when the university is no longer an ivory tower and knowledge is king but knowledge has become a commodity and educators have become instruments of power; the university has become a privately owned think-tank.

“A profound change in the intellectual community itself is inherent in this development. The largely humanist-oriented, occasionally ideological minded intellectual dissenter , who saw his role largely in terms of proffering social critiques, is rapidly being displaced either by experts and specialist, who become involved in special government undertakings, or by generalist-integrators, who become house-ideologues for those in power, providing overall intellectual integration for disparate actions.”

The subordination to power is not just at the individual level but also at the institutional level. Government funds are made available to universities and colleges not for use as they deem fit but for specific government needs. Private industry plays even a larger role in providing funds for educational institutions to perform management and business study. Private industry is not inclined ‘to waste’ money on activities that do not contribute to the bottom line. ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune.’



Thomas Kuhn, in his famous book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, explains the difficult we have with recognizing and accepting experiences that contradict our anticipations.

As Kuhn observed:
“Novelty emerges with difficulty, manifested by resistance, against a back drop provided by expectation. Initially, only the anticipated and usual are experienced even under circumstances where anomaly is later to be discovered…Further acquaintance, however, does result of awareness of something wrong…[which] opens a period in which perceptual categories are adjusted until the initially anomalous has become the anticipated.”

He concludes: “What a man sees depends upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual-conceptual experience has taught him to see.”

Kuhn provides us with an experiment performed by Jerome Bruner and Leo Postman undertaken to illuminate this human characteristic of seeing only what we are prepared to see.

Subjects were shown standard playing cards mixed with the anomalous card a red six of spades and a black four of hearts. Subjects repeatedly and erroneously identified the anomalous cards as a six of hearts or a four of spades. Some, even after the experiment was over, displayed confusion and even anger at the experiment. Only after repeated exposures to the cards did the subjects slowly feel something was askew here. Only after forty exposures did the subjects correctly identify the cards.

Quotes and ideas from “Knowledge and Belief in Politics” Bhikhu Parekh
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,835 • Replies: 42
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Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Mar, 2009 03:32 pm
@coberst,
Quote:
An intellectual might be properly defined as those who are primarily or professionally concerned with matters of the mind and the imagination but who are socially non-attached. “The intellectual is thought of not as someone who displays great mental or imaginative ability but as someone who applies those abilities in more general areas such as religion, philosophy and social and political issues..."


These two sentences wholly contradict each other. Which one is the right one?
coberst
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 01:11 am
@Shapeless,
I do not think that they contradict one another. Please elaborate.
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 01:36 am
@coberst,
Shapeless is correct, they contradict each other.

(A) An intellectual might be properly defined as : primarily concerned with matters of the mind and the imagination, but... (vs)

(B) “The intellectual is not someone who displays great mental or imaginative ability, but...

(A) ...who are socially non-attached. (vs)

(B) ...as someone who applies those abilities in more general areas such as religion, philosophy and social and political issues..." (religion, social and political focuses suggest attachment)

By the way, I would think it's the sophisticated individual that rises about ideology, but the simplistic individual. To my way of thinking, sophisticated entails complex and refined ideology, while simplistic doesn't need ideology - things 'just are'.
coberst
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 11:05 am
@vikorr,
I think that it depends upon the individuals ability to act as a Critical Thinking individual. Since our schools andcolleges seldom teach CT it is unlikely that many can overcome the urge to be ideological.
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 02:44 pm
@coberst,
There's more that would need to be taught than critical thinking.

The buddhist concept of not being attached to anything has it's merits - any attachment can become an ideology.

Attachments come in all forms - associations, triggers, anchors, values, ideals, beliefs, morals, patriotism, nationalism, loyalty, consistency, culture, methedology etc, etc, etc...you get the feeling you are looking at almost all of human life?

All of the above suggest either an ingrained 'reasoned', or automatically triggered 'right way of doing things'...which if asked to be justified, can easily become ideology.

If you've ever read Robert Cialdini's Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion, you will also know there are many ingrained human responses to reciprocation, social proof, committment and consistency, scarcity, authority, and liking...responses that have little to do with 'reason' or 'critical thinking'.
coberst
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Mar, 2009 03:35 pm
@vikorr,
I must admit that I know nothing about Eastern philosophy/religion.
0 Replies
 
Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Mar, 2009 12:03 pm
@coberst,
Quote:
I do not think that they contradict one another. Please elaborate.


As Vikorr summarized, you wrote that an intellectual displays imagination, and then the sentence you quoted immediately afterward says that an intellectual does not display imagination. You wrote that an intellectual is not attached to social issues, and then the sentence you quoted says that an intellectual is attached to social issues. Which one do you believe?
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Mar, 2009 12:22 pm
Quote:
Can a sophisticated individual rise above ideology?


Yes.

In the Eastern tradition we talk about "seeing", which is a whole body exercise involving the mind, the heart, and the senses. Humans tend to see what we want to see. However, with diligent working towards knowing yourself and our biases (our nature and how it colors what we see) and with the training from a good teacher, it is possible to go a great way towards seeing what people and things really are. Ideology is a concept, it is a framework for precessing all that we see. The one who has been trained makes use of concepts as needed, but is dependent (wedded to) no particular frames.
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Mar, 2009 12:36 pm
If an ideology is a set of aims and ideas........

If sophistication is that of being knowledgeable and worldly.........

then there is no reason why the two need be interrelated, thus your post's title is inherently flawed in its inference.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Mar, 2009 12:42 pm
@Chumly,
Quote:
then there is no reason why the two need be interrelated, thus your post's title is inherently flawed in its inference


So ones "aims and Ideas" need not be connected to ones knowledge of the world........is not the lack of connection generally called either fantasy or mental illness??
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Mar, 2009 12:53 pm
@hawkeye10,
Aims and ideas need not be a function of sophistication.
0 Replies
 
coberst
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 01:05 am
@Shapeless,
Some intellectuals display imagination and some do not do so nearly as well.
coberst
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 01:07 am
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye

Now I know why you have the handle "hawkeye". You are truly insightful and I agree with your statements.
0 Replies
 
coberst
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 01:11 am
@Chumly,
While examining the results of psychological testing Bertrand Russell is said to have remarked how American and British rats seemed to behave almost exactly like Americans and Britishers behaved in their ordinary lives.

Social and political theories seem to constantly succumb to selectivity due to cultural conditions. Marx was first, I think, to coin the word “ideology”, which for him means that systems of ideas are constantly illuminated through prisms of class status. Since Marx’s time we can see that almost all social theories become ideological candidates due to reasons of self interest beyond those of social status.

Social and political theories must constantly be subjected to critical analysis by all responsible citizens of all societies. “The institutionalization of criticism, as Popper has rightly emphasized, is the basic precondition of improving social and political theories.”
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 11:34 am
@coberst,
Your point, relative to your initial query, is opaque.
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 01:19 pm
@coberst,
Quote:
Some intellectuals display imagination and some do not do so nearly as well.

You will probably find that it is the articulation of the imagination that is the problem, rather than the imagination itself.
0 Replies
 
coberst
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 01:50 pm
@Chumly,
Both posts are about the great problem that we have regarding the dominating influence of ideology in our culture. I think that ideology distorts the view of most people because our (American) schools and colleges have failed to teach the student how to think. Without Critical Thinking skills and character traitswe have little upon which to fight off the overwhelming attractivness of ideological thinking.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 01:53 pm
@coberst,
Quote:
“The institutionalization of criticism, as Popper has rightly emphasized, is the basic precondition of improving social and political theories.”


Well-- as Popper is a critic and "improving" is a buzz word associated with approval, one might expect him to say a thing like that.

There is a tendency for some critics to write about people from the outside and yet treat themselves as exempt from the explanations they are offering.

Matthew Arnold deals with these matters in relation to the institutionalising of criticism in the setting up of the French Academy as contrasted with the English manner of the general free for all and traces the effects of this difference of emphasis on national character.

How would the institutionalising of criticism not result in totalitarianism?
coberst
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Mar, 2009 02:03 pm
@spendius,
>How would the institutionalising of criticism not result in totalitarianism?<

I find that to be a strange question.

William Graham Sumner, a distinguished anthropologist states the ideal:

“The critical habit of thought, if usual in a society, will pervade its entire mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life.”
 

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