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Sunday, 29 July 2012

What is the opposite of a doctrinal ideologue? (Answer: ME!)

Tony Blair has given an interview to Charles Moore for the Daily Telegraph. It exemplifies the vapid, inconsistent, loose-thinking mush that passes for "faith" among our politicians when they decide to "Do God" or rather to do "spirituality."

Mr Blair says that he accepts the doctrine of the Catholic Church but that he is "not a doctrinal ideologue." An ideology is a set of ideas that constitute one's beliefs, moral and philosophical, and doctrines are statements of the beliefs to which one adheres. As any first year student of philosophy can readily grasp, it is simply fatuous to deny that we have certain beliefs and ideals that shape the way that we think and act concerning particular problems both theoretical and practical.

When a man denies that he has an ideology or that he is a dogmatist, it simply means that he rules out the validity of the doctrines and ideals of anyone except himself. Everybody else has beliefs which are dogmatic or ideological but he is the clean man whose beliefs are simply self evidently true and need no scrutiny

So for example, Mr Blair is in favour of same sex marriage but says "I understand why people take a different view." His own view is presumably self-evident. (It also flatly contradicts the teaching of the Catholic Church which, earlier in the interview, he has professed to accept.) Others (the dogmatic ideologues) with their different view, can be understood even though they are wrong. No need for argument, simply the statement of "my view" as a  supposed non-dogmatist.

Mr Blair is kind about the doctrinal ideology of the Koran:
I see the Koran very much as an outsider. It stands in the great prophetic tradition of trying to return people to the basic principles of spirituality. Taken for its time, it was an extraordinarily progressive declaration of principle.
Really? The Koran does not admit of western liberal "it's a nice book with lots of spiritual things in it" approach. Unless you believe it with absolute submission, you are lost:
Garments of fire have been prepared for the unbelievers. Scalding water shall be poured upon their heads, melting their skins and that which is in their bellies. They shall be lashed with rods of iron. (Surah 22.19-22)
And what exactly are the "basic principles of spirituality"? I'd love to see a statement of those - but the drawing-up of such a list would presumably put one in the realm of doctrinal ideology.
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