Should you know if Ideology or Principled Position Matters?

This is an important tool to help students of all ages distinguish the characteristic marks of a person who uses the language of ideology versus a person who uses the language of a principled position.  Not every person arguing vigorously for a position is putting forth an ideology.  Some actually are expressing what they believe is a serious position and enjoy discussing with a person who has a different opinion.  Once upon a time, this was how someone learned to persuade, learned to back up their beliefs with correct information and learned that what they believed just might not be true or good for them. 

  • Use this table to help you identify those you shouldn’t take seriously and those who might be fun to talk with and take seriously.
  • Use the  tool to evaluate yourself.   Make sure that when you speak you are speaking from a principled position based on your own experiences, your own research from a variety of sources.  Don’t just repeat what you heard someone say.  Read, check it out.

 Language of ideology

Language of principled position

Disdains argument Welcomes arguments and having their position tested and possibly corrected
Uses language to inflame passions Engages the logic of the mind
Appeals to fear and plays on people’s anxiety Asks people to think about the evidence, reflect on possible unintended consequences of a course of action
Will not clarify the meaning of the words they use because one’s terms are “obvious” Clarifies the meaning of words / terms
Makes blanket claims about a group Human beings are too diverse and complicated to fit into a universal category
Clearly sets out to disadvantage one side from rather than the other. No advantages — what is good for the goose is good for the gander?  No side is favored or excused
Engages in attacks, insults, disrespect Examine terms, premises or arguments
Dismiss people who don’t agree as fools, ignorant, etc. Enjoy engaging in discussion with others even those with differing ideas

 

Make copies of this Table, so students can take this checklist and use it when they are evaluating themselves, professors, employers, or relationships in the future.

SELECT                 X Language of Ideology SELECT                X Language of Principled Position
Disdains argument Welcomes arguments and having their position tested and possibly corrected
Uses language to inflame passions Engages the logic of the mind
Appeals to fear and plays on people’s anxiety Asks people to think about the evidence, reflect on possible unintended consequences of a course of action
Will not clarify the meaning of the words they use because one’s terms are “obvious” Clarifies the meaning of words / terms
Makes blanket claims about a group Human beings are too diverse and complicated to fit into a universal category
Clearly sets out to disadvantage one side from rather than the other. No advantages — what is good for the goose is good for the gander?  No side is favored or excused
Engages in attacks, insults, disrespect Examine terms, premises or arguments
Dismiss people who don’t agree as fools, ignorant, etc. Enjoy engaging in discussion with others even those with differing ideas
Total   Total

 * Ideology and the Corruption of Language by Randall B. Smith

 

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