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ETpro's avatar

How do you draw the line between being a good ideologue and a bad one?

Asked by ETpro (34490points) May 10th, 2010

We all need some guiding principles that we hold dear. Without any, a citizen of a free nation would see nothing wrong with abandoning their freedoms in favor of a new Enabling Act allowing some latter day Hitler to grab the wheel and steer the ship of state into genocide and destruction. But we have to be vigilant not to become too ideologically ingrained, to the point we reject perfectly logical and even necessary political policy proposals because they run afoul of a cherished belief system we are unwilling to hold up to critical analysis.

How do you decide where to draw the line. And once you have thought this through, and know that on most issues, you are open to fresh ideas and willing to question your beliefs in light of new evidence, how do you deal with true ideologues who debate along the lines of:

X is true. I say it’s true. Nothing you do can convince me otherwise. If you don’t believe in X you have a closed mind. I like it at least. It’s true. Oh, shut up and have an open mind! Of course it’s true!! Of course, “Oh shut up!” is generally stated in far cruder, more emphatic language. And the sheer comedy of this is their utter refusal to look at conflicting facts while simultaneously insisting that it is anyone who doesn’t share their ideology who is prejudiced. It matters not a whit if you are open to new ideas. Is there any way to prevail against such a debater?

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15 Answers

Jack79's avatar

I think the whole trick is to know when to walk away from such a debate. I have not been blessed with that wisdom yet.

The_Idler's avatar

Ideology does not necessitate argument from assertion…

There’s your line.

Seaofclouds's avatar

My general rule for debates is once it start getting more about personal anecdotes than facts, it’s time to end the debate. Though, so debates are hard to just walk away from.

dpworkin's avatar

Any argument based on petitio principii fails on it’s face as being a fallacy in rhetoric.

ETpro's avatar

@Jack79 & @Seaofclouds Right. We always want to walk away from debates that turn to name-calling contests, but not to do so as if admitting that by wounding our feelings, the boorish clod is right about their original premise. :-)

@The_Idler It’s worth a try.

@dpworkin Very true, but getting a boor to understand what Begging the question even means is beyond my patience. As former Treasury Secretary William G. McAdoo correctly quipped, “It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.”

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I find, when I’m in these debates, it’s more about who has be right. It’s a personal thing. I got into such an arguement with a friend about who had the worse breakup. I finally just let my friend have the last word. That’s how I “end” these arguements.
It’s like talking to a wall. You can throw any logic or fact at them you want, but it isn’t going to help. Both people have to be open minded.

ETpro's avatar

@py_sue Yeah, you are right about that. But your friend was right about who had the lousiest breakup. :-)

Qingu's avatar

They never resort to violence or advocate for it.

They are polite and tolerate opposing views.

They make arguments and good faith and don’t pester people.

They are honest and willing to question their assumptions.

ETpro's avatar

@Qingu My goodness, where are these people of whom you speak. I would love to move there. :-)

Qingu's avatar

Well, I do consider myself an “idealogue.” Those are the principles I try to live up to. Obviously, I don’t always succeed. :)

ETpro's avatar

@Qingu Same here. I doubt many of us do.

mattbrowne's avatar


ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne I am not so sure. I am stubborn when it comes to my opposition to genocide, or 1st degree premeditated murder. Actually, there are a good number of things I would stubbornly oppose, and many others I stubbornly support.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ETpro – I would call that persistence. I am very persistent in my opposition to genocide or holocaust denial. But there’s a certain overlap between the two words. But some of the connotations are different.

stubbornness = the trait of being difficult to handle or overcome [syn: obstinacy, obstinance, mulishness] or a resolute adherence to your own ideas or desires [syn: bullheadedness, obstinacy, obstinance, pigheadedness, self-will]

persistence = the property of a continuous and connected period of time [syn: continuity] or the persistent determination [syn: doggedness, perseverance, persistency, tenacity, tenaciousness, pertinacity] or the act of persisting or persevering or continuing or repeating behavior as in “his perseveration continued to the point where it was no longer appropriate”

So I think there’s a difference between a stubborn ideologue and a persistent ideologue.

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne You are right. Thanks for the distinction. It is an important one to keep in mind.

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