ideology vs. conviction

Ideology does not need to be affirmed or demonstrated as being “true” in order for a human being to pledge loyalty to it. One is loyal to an ideology in proportion to one’s intensity and zeal for it. No conviction about the truth of ideological claims is needed to ground one’s endorsement of the ideology. Ideology feeds on and thrives on, as an object of loyalty and exaltation, the intensity of feeling that its adherents feel and embody, not on the veracity of the claims that an ideology makes or takes as given. Ideology does not need verifiable, truthful reasons to command loyalty. The fact that people choose to be (or feel they want to be) loyal adherents of an ideology is sufficient for vindicating an ideology as valid. The “truth” of an ideology lies merely in the positive regard and sentiments of those who uphold or follow it. Ideology is all that is left in a world (or a life) that accepts the idea of “post-truth” or “no-real-truth”. And as ideological claims, all ideologies are equal, differing only according to the power/strength/zeal of those who proclaim, defend and spread it. Ideology is the soul of all a-rational or supra-rational tribalisms and identitarian allegiances. Ideology depends for its continuation on an indoctrinated army of committed zealots and pietists, immune to the requirements of reason, of evidence for the truth or falsity of claims, the requirements of rationally testing and THUS affirming or rejecting claims based on evidence and a reflective consideration of alternatives. Ideological commitments are groundless and normative, not reasoned conclusions….TO BEGIN WITH…and THIS is the KEY: ideology begins life as a claim “taken-as-if-true.” This “ideas taken to be true” are a necessary feature of thought. Something makes sense “given” this or that. There is always a given. But this given is not true until it is vindicated. Until then, it is simply something that is “not-false” or “not-denied-by-me.” When matters are left there, ideology becomes something I value without knowing what makes it valuable. It becomes a lie. It becomes a dogma, not just a necessary normative commitment that needs to validated, or rejected/changed, through reflection. When ideology is tested for its outcome for meaning and satisfaction of the heart/mind, it becomes a perspective that one has with a level of conviction proportional to the evidence one has of its truthfulness. One’s commitment is now a conviction about truth and not a groundless ideological non-denial (which most people wrongly consider a positive belief).

Ideological assumption (non-denial) in the sense I have described above is an inevitable aspect of coming to have a truthful perspective. All reasonings and all notions of what is or is not “evidence” for some claim need one or another prior “ideological” commitment. The real question is this: is my ideological commitment justifiable and satisfactory for me (in terms of the meanings it gives me access to) as a human being or is it not? This is a question that a human being can only really meaningfully raise to themselves about their own commitments. When raised about another’s commitment, it can only produce endless argument and polemic and claims/counter-claims. It is the person herself, in the first-person, that needs to ask and answer this question for herself. So let me speak in the first-person then.

What meaning does life and existence have for me? What can I say about what is good for me about it and what is not good for me? What are my questions? What are my choices? How can I find the truth about my life? What commitments are reasonable and which ones are not? I need to earnestly ask these questions with an open mind and seek. What perspective should I have/affirm and what should I reject?

Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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