Ideology vs. Philosophy

I’m in a very privileged position these days. Despite the chaos of trying to figure out which way is up through the charged experience of re-relating to my woman-child as we both go through a familiarly painful process of un-enmeshing and differentiating, the current version of this storm is offering me, once more, ample opportunity to shine a spotlight on my ideological and dogmatic self-protectionist tendencies. Thanks to the curiously quiet space created by current world events I now have the bandwidth to lean into my intellectual space with curiosity and I can, with compassion, see finally that I have been operating under the assumption that my ideologies were truths above all. The last few months have presented me with the gift of a kind of objectivity I didn’t have access to when life was about the struggle to survive. I’m moving away from a self-righteous world-view to a more inquisitive and accepting approach to my relationships.

Through coach training I am learning that I have vastly overestimated my own importance. I think we all do. We are all narcissists in our own right, living in a future that doesn’t yet exist or a past that we have selectively rewritten to suit the stories we don’t know how to distance from. This is human nature, and it takes a strong desire to be otherwise to understand that we have options. But in the meaning, the gravest mistake for someone like me is to assume that I have all the answers. In coaching, we approach our relationship with our coachee as a collaborative space, viewing the client as a whole person within whom truths reside. In other words, the coachee knows all there is to know about themselves. It is not incumbent upon me to have the answers for them. This leaves me free to self-reflect through the mirroring that they offer as I hold space for them to discover themselves. I have a responsibility to become deeply aware of any ideological and dogmatic attachments I have that I may inject into our dynamic. I play a role, but I am not otherwise important.

I recently became aware that I have a philosophical mind. A dangerous man that I had a brief connection with listened to my concerns about the Cartesian and dogmatic nature of modern Scientism with fascination, and then declared that I had one of the most scientific minds he’d ever encountered. Perhaps the purpose of that encounter was, above all else, NOT just to help me recognize the trademark behaviours that may define Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but to help me make sense of the way I organize and navigate information, which will be necessary should I choose to become a coach.

So today I choose to dig more deeply into the difference between Ideology and Philosophy, because I think I made the mistake of thinking that they were one at the same.

“Ideology is rigid and once fixed on certain beliefs, refuses to change its stance irrespective of any change in the surrounding environment. Challenging an ideologue can be the most difficult task. A philosopher, on the other hand, may arrive on some construct for the basis of life and other things but will be willing to discuss and ponder other philosophies. A philosopher is open minded and willing to listen to criticism whereas an ideologue will refute anything challenging his or her ideology outright. This also suggests that while philosophy encourages people to think, ideology discourages any thinking that goes against the basic doctrines that govern the ideology.

Philosophy is objective whereas an ideologue will always impose his or her ideology’s vision and discard anything against it. Philosophy requires structured thinking whereas ideology has lot of personal emotions in play.

Read more:  Difference Between Philosophy And Ideology | Difference Between

Most of us who live with attachment to ideology become dogmatic because we cannot make space for new information which may prove us “wrong”, and being wrong is so heavily weighted for so many. So technically we cannot call ourselves philosophers if we’re married to ideology, because being philosophical means we are always open and receptive to new ideas, which is the opposite of being ideological. Philosophy and ideology seem to occupy opposite poles on the objectivity scale. To an ideologist, a philosopher may be maddeningly neutral about everything. As I haven’t spent much time considering my world from a philosophical viewpoint, I cannot yet confirm whether or not the opposite is true. I’m looking forward to finding out.

My first true foray into studying any particular philosophical approach was through Buddhism, specifically through the readings of Pema Chodron. I felt limited by the ideological nature of Buddhist practices, and the amount of austerity required in order to achieve ascension, should that be one’s ultimate goal. Though the philosophy can exist separate from the ideology, I was hard pressed to figure out how to exist within that particular sphere.

I then stumbled upon Stoic philosophy, which feels like a much better fit: A guiding set of principles that, if applied ideologically, cancel themselves out. Stoic Philosophy merely offers a framework through which one can orient oneself and finding meaning in work and uncomplicated living. From within there is much space for the individual, and for life to flourish in a timeless awareness that we are one with our environment and with each other. An ideological religious practice can exist within the approach to the philosophy, but they are not one and the same.

Philosophy as a practice demonstrates that settled science is ideological, biased, and should be taken with a grain of salt. It recognizes that any top down approach to managing any system is dogmatic by nature, as it does not allow room for questioning. It allows for freedom of thought, and can breed anarchic mindsets as we understand how little we actually know about what is, and yet how the fundamentals of our society are governed by outdated philosophies that left no room for upgrading. Being philosophical means that everything is subject to rigorous questioning, and requires either deep self awareness, or really powerful blinders. It can make it really challenging to feel we belong, because we understand that we don’t quite fit in. While the status quo can be accepted, it will not happen without much turning over, picking apart, questioning, challenging, and disrupting.

I am self defining as a philosopher because I am finished with being an ideologist. I will still live by my ideals, but do understand that I will no longer use them in self-defence. It’s no longer my mandate to push what I think is right and virtuous on others, but it will always be my purpose to question anything that expresses itself rigidly in my person.

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