Ideology and Truth
Ideology was defined by French theorists Condillac and Destutt de Tracy as the study of ideas versus material things. But ideology took a derogatory turn, when Napoleon associated it with a lack of realism and action-centric thinking. Over time, ideology became a rhetorical weapon, often used to discredit opposing views by focusing on statements rather than the underlying thought processes. Ideology's primary function became truth concealment, achieved through deception, self-deception, or driven by interests.
Francis Bacon and John Miller therefore emphasized the need for critical reflection and self-awareness. Philosophers like Sorel and Pareto how factual knowledge often loses the fight for attention because of the allure of myths. Statements are labeled as ideological when they surpass empirical proof, and rely on personal beliefs or assumptions not universally accepted as true, rather than established truths.
A distinction between theoretical and non-theoretical statements shows the ideological nature of value judgments, which lack objective measures for validation; they rest on subjective feelings rather than inherent qualities of an object. Primary evaluations, immediate emotional responses, versus reflective evaluations, show the subjective nature of moral behavior and evaluations in regulating societal institutions. Attempts at creating an objective moral system have faltered due to differing societal values.
Paratheoretical statements blend empirical evidence with factors like theory longevity or support by renowned scientists, which shapes beliefs about scientific theories. These statements harbor objective elements embedded with value judgments, forming beliefs about theories. In societal discussions, the accusation and rejection of ideology in debates can themselves become ideological attitudes, when one assumes one's position as the objective truth. It’s important to distinguish genuine theory from paratheory in identifying an ideology's content accurately.
Speculative metaphysics ventures into concepts beyond experience, while critical metaphysics integrates experience and scientific knowledge, which calls for a critical examination of knowledge content to ward off ideological influence.
Words themselves can serve ideological functions. Identifying ideological sources requires a keen eye for distinguishing genuine theory from paratheory, revealing societal attitudes toward self-deception or life lies. For example, questioning the dualistic contrast between the state and society in sociology and politics is essential, as both share characteristics. Scientific research is susceptible to personal motives, biases, and interests; this warrants caution against manipulating research in favor of preconceived hypotheses. Geiger warns against the ideological dangers in hypothesis formation, advocating for empirical evidence and the avoidance of confirmation biases.
Addressing ideology in daily life beyond theoretical constructs is imperative. Throughout history, the correctness of thoughts must be seen as relative based on class perspectives. The social conditioning of thinking and logic underscores how societal frameworks influence knowledge claims and perception. Understanding reality beyond ideological biases is a complex endeavor, which requires introspective analysis to distinguish between ideological and non-ideological statements.
Geiger, T. (1953), Ideologie und Wahrheit: eine soziologische Kritik des Denkens, Stuttgart/Wien: Humboldt Verlag.