Ideologies, What is Ideology?June 28, 2021
It would not be an exaggeration to say that ideology, which has its roots in the Ancient Greek words eidos and logos, but dates back to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, is one of the most elusive concepts of both social sciences and philosophy.
It is difficult to speak of a clear consensus on what should be understood from this concept, which is also at the center of many discussions in the field of politics today, and this is one of the main reasons for the variability in the concept of ideology (Mc Lellan 2005, p.1).
In the Social Sciences Handbook, this concept is defined as “Common ideas and beliefs that justify and support the interests of a particular group or organization”; We can see that it is explained with the expressions “shared thoughts or beliefs that allow to justify the interests of dominant groups” (Arda 2003, p. 268).
Ideologies, which are defined by reference to elements such as thought, belief and justification, try to find a philosophical basis for themselves, to justify themselves with philosophy, but it is difficult to say that ideologies always rely on a philosophical basis. Here, under this title, we will consider ideology as a concept and problem of political philosophy, after recognizing its development process in the history of thought, we will examine the main ideologies and finally we will try to evaluate the ideology in terms of political philosophy.
According to Antoine Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836), who used ideology for the first time, this concept is the name of a philosophical-scientific discipline and this discipline forms a basis for other sciences (Özbek 2003, p.9). The aim of ideology is to investigate the natural origins of thoughts, to reveal the mistakes and mistakes in thought and to put them at the service of social reforms (Çelik 2005, p. 28).
The use of the concept of ideology is first encountered in Antoine D. De Tracy’s The Elements of Ideology.
In his work The Theories of Ideology, Sinan Özbek mentions thinkers such as Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Adrien Helvétius (1715-1771) and Dietrich Holbach (1723-1789) as the precursors of this concept before Tracy (Özbek 2003, p. 9) . It can be said that the way to the use of the concept of ideology was opened in the 16th century with the search for an answer to a question posed by Étienne de la Boétie in his work named Discourse on Voluntary Servitude (Çelik 2005, p. 13).
Boétie’s question is how to explain why, beyond hundreds and thousands, a hundred countries, a thousand cities, and even the best of people in them, a million people who were made slaves and serfs did not attack a single person (Boétie 1995, p. 23). Wilhelm Reich expresses this question as why the hungry majority did not try to steal, why the exploited majority did not even attempt to revolt (Reich 1974, p. 53).
As can be seen, the process leading up to the emergence of the concept of ideology is also the process of passing a comprehensive questioning and critique of the established structure, institutions and understanding of sovereignty in European society.
According to Tracy, ideology is a philosophical discipline that should be at the foundation of all sciences, and the purpose of this science is to investigate the natural origins of thought. The main thinkers who contributed to the emergence of the concept of ideology before Tracy can be counted as De la Boétie, Bacon, Helvétius and Holbach.
De la Boétie raised the question of how it was possible for millions of enslaved people not to attack a single person, and although this was not his purpose, he was one of the initiators of the concept of ideology.
In the European societies, which experienced a scientific and philosophical enlightenment after the Renaissance and Reformation movements, the views that the mysteries of nature can be solved by means of reason and science and that nature can be dominated in line with human will begin to gain weight. One of the clearest expressions of this belief is seen in Bacon’s Novum Organum, in which he comes to terms with Aristotle and scholastic philosophy by referring to Aristotle’s Organon. In this work, Bacon developed an idea that can also be called “The Doctrine of Idols”. The basic presuppositions on which Bacon’s doctrine of idols is based can be listed as follows:
Man has the possibilities and power to know and dominate nature.
In order to dominate nature, it is necessary to know/know it with all its mysteries and as it is.
In order to know nature as it is, it is necessary to purify the mind as much as possible, that is, to purify it from the distortions of sensation and perception, and from the stereotypes of prejudice – in short, from idols – that prevent us from knowing nature as it is.
These idols are Bacon; examined and explained under four headings: lineage, cave, bazaar and theater idols. According to this, genealogical idols are prejudices stemming from human nature. For instance, we are under the influence of ancestral idols by attributing human characteristics to every object in nature and trying to understand everything we perceive by fitting it to human standards.
Cave idols refer to Plato’s Analogy of the Cave