Philosophy and Ideology: Guest Post from Joe Jordan

My friend Joe Jordan, after reading my post on "Religion and Ideology," sent me the following, which I post with his permission:

I bring this up in my political theory courses to differentiate between philosophy and ideology. I hate it when people talk about having a "philosophy" as if it were a method of fixing a flat tire while pulled over on the side of the road. To keep "philosophy" pure from ideology, I present the following dichotomies:

Involves humble personalities
Begins in wonder
Involves dialogue / hence republican
Ever-differentiating Asks questions
Seeks truth

Involves vainglorious personalities
Begins in assumed certainty
Involves dictation / literally dictatorship
Attempts a one-size-fits-all explanation of reality / reductionistic
Avoids questions / Asserts ready-made "answers"
Seeks power

A very rough sketch, of course. The battle between Socrates and Thrasymachus embodies these distinctions, I'd say.


  1. I'd add that ideology can also cause people to think nonsensical things actually make sense (i.e., government can't exist without taxation, shouldn't legislate morality, etc.). To give an example, it can cause people to believe things like a square circle or dry water are possible.


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