An artiicle on the dangers of ideology and learning to think well.
“We live in an age of ideology. The world is complex and hard to understand, so we look for a theory that can help make sense of things. This is understandable. Throughout history, people made sense of the world through cultural and religious traditions. But as the world has become simultaneously more connected and more secular, as our awareness of complexity has increased while religious and cultural traditions have weakened, people now exist with a heightened sense of uncertainty. Many of us are unmoored, finding it harder to make sense of the world—and making it more attractive to latch on to simple explanations. This need, along with several other influences, has created the conditions for increased ideological thinking and an inability to consider different perspectives…
What is ideology and what are its sources? Ideology is not merely a set of ideas or principles that one believes in. We all have that to some extent, and it is essential to live one’s life. By ideology I mean a theory that purports to explain reality. One way to understand it is: Ideology is the opposite of philosophy… Human beings don’t like complexity, and ideology provides the comfort of a sure answer.
Philosophy—philo-sophos—is the love of wisdom and the pursuit of truth.
Here I am addressing Christianity, though I think it applies equally to Judaism, religion does not claim to explain everything. God creates and calls us to participate in, and complete creation. We have to figure things out on our own. We have to use our intellects to engage in philosophical and scientific discovery. There is no full solution to the problem of life… properly understood and practiced, religion is not ideology, because by its very nature it is open to revelation. Religion is a simple response to reality. It may not be correct, but like philosophy, religion is a response to something outside itself, whereas ideology is a closed system.”