There is much debate over the nature of ideology. I am not talking about any particular ideology (I can get to that at another time) I am talking about ideology in general.
Definitions, unless otherwise noted, come from Merriam-Webster.
Ideology: A systematic body of concepts, especially about human life or culture.
From the start, ideology is a vague, yet complex idea. There are two words that I found to be particularly important in this definition.
So I’ll break it down a bit further.
System: A regularly interacting group or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole.
Concept: An abstract or general idea generalized from particular instances.
From this I have deduced that ideology can be described as a group of interdependently working ideas conceived about human life or culture.
Even after breaking the word down, it still may be a bit confusing. Below is a basic chart that I will use as an aide to explain ideology.
I used Christianity because it is a fairly common, fairly simple ideology to model.
Starting at nine o’clock at Jesus is the son of God and moving clockwise with the arrows can create the essential ideological argument for Christianity. To illustrate even further, here is how a conversation about Christianity might go.
It is given that good means preferable. It is also given that God is good.
Jesus is the son of God.
The blood of Christ forgives sins.
Those who are forgiven go to heaven.
Hell is bad.
Heaven is good.
God is there.
“Those flow one to the other, they aren’t interdependent. This is not an example of an ideology. This is a bad illustration. You suck, Bob Voluntarist. I hate you.”
Calm down. They are interdependent, just give me a minute to explain.
A good way to test interdependence would be to start at any point and connect it to as many other points as you can.
By following the arrows, you can construct an argument for Christianity.
“Jesus is the son of God. This is important because Jesus’ blood forgives sins. This, too, is important because hell is bad. Hell is bad because God is in Heaven and not Hell. Want to get into Heaven? Well those who are forgiven get into Heaven. Heaven is good, so it would be in your best interest to become a Christian.”
The main points of Christianity work together. If you don’t have Jesus as the son of God, he would have just been a crazy guy who was killed for claiming to be a king. If Heaven is not good and Hell is not bad, there is no reason to ask for the blood of Christ and be forgiven. Without one, the whole system topples.
Often times, the term ideology is used when it shouldn’t be. It is important to understand what ideology is in order to engage in conversations and debates. Finding ideological inconsistencies within oneself is also a good way to stay honest in private and to be en pointe when discussing ideas with someone else.
I hope this was informative and enjoyable.
If you would like to discuss this topic, other topics, or if you would just like to connect, feel free to tweet me @BobVoluntarist.