from Daniel Larison at The American Conservative, Ideology vs Principle

Well, it matters which word you choose, because ideals, dogma, and principles are words that refer to things that are significantly different from ideology. If these words all seem to mean the same thing to some people today, that is evidence of their thoroughly confused thinking. An ideal is a standard of conduct or virtue to which one aspires. Dogma is a religious teaching that it invested with special authority because it is believed to represent an eternal and unchanging truth. Principles are firm moral and/or political commitments that one has made and relies on to guide one’s practical judgment and actions. Ideology may borrow elements from each of these, but it typically twists the meaning of each and perverts it.

Ideology is above all intended for the justification and use of power over and against other people. Ideologues can and do adapt their ideologies to suit changing political circumstances, but they are also equally willing to employ coercion and force to conform existing realities to their vision of how the world should be. “We have always been at war with Eastasia” is a familiar extreme form of an ideological claim. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality” is another. One important difference between ideology and political principle is that ideology is generally used to excuse and permit vicious behavior against others for the sake of some supposedly “greater” purpose, and political principle typically creates obstacles to committing vicious acts. For ideologues, the ends usually justify the means. In the end, the most important difference between the two is that ideology is used to deny the dignity and humanity of other people because they happen to fall on the wrong side of the “ideological struggle” of the moment. One might be inclined towards ideological thinking in politics and also hold certain “limiting principles,” but the two are going to be in conflict and the latter will be eroded by the former over time.

from Paul Greenberg at The Patriot Post

It is easier to illustrate the difference between ideology and principle than to define it. Just compare the writings of Karl Marx, who spoke proudly of his ideology, to the Federalist Papers, which are blessedly free of it.

By their fruits ye shall know them: Compare the French Revolution, which became the historical template for modern revolutions, with a quite different one – the American Revolution. One would culminate in a Reign of Terror followed by Napoleon’s dictatorship, the other in a republic and the Constitution of the United States.

For an example of ideological rhetoric that enflames the passions while narrowing the mind, it would be hard to find a better example than the campaign waged against the nomination of Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. It was so vicious that it gave birth to a new verb in the American language, “ to bork,” meaning to savage a nominee for office. The prime example of that technique was the speech the late, not altogether great Ted Kennedy delivered on the floor of the Senate within an hour of Judge Bork’s nomination – even before the confirmation hearings had begun:

“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government …” and so hysterically on.

There were sound reasons of principle to oppose (or support) the judge’s nomination to the court, but this was just an ideological diatribe.

The Difference Between Philosophy and Ideology

There are very fundamental differences between philosophy and ideology. Ideology refers to a set of beliefs, doctrines that back a certain social institution or a particular organization. Philosophy refers to looking at life in a pragmatic manner and attempting to understand why life is as it is and the principles governing behind it.

Ideology expresses dissatisfaction with the current state and aspires to be some future state whereas philosophy tries to understand the world in its current state. In other words, ideology is aimed at changing the world whereas philosophy is aimed at seeking the truth.

Ideology is rigid and once fixed on certain beliefs, refuses to change its stance irrespective of any change in the surrounding environment. Challenging an ideologue can be the most difficult task. A philosopher, on the other hand, may arrive on some construct for the basis of life and other things but will be willing to discuss and ponder other philosophies. A philosopher is open minded and willing to listen to criticism whereas an ideologue will refute anything challenging his or her ideology outright. This also suggests that while philosophy encourages people to think, ideology discourages any thinking that goes against the basic doctrines that govern the ideology.

The above definitions and differences clearly indicate that philosophy and ideology, if measured on a scale, would occupy two extreme ends of the scale. The purpose of any philosopher is to seek knowledge for the sake of wisdom and truth whereas an ideologue’s sole aim is to advocate and enforce his or her ideology wherever he can.

Philosophy is objective whereas an ideologue will always impose his or her ideology’s vision and discard anything against it. Philosophy requires structured thinking whereas ideology has lot of personal emotions in play.

Philosophy is neither harmful nor helpful as there is no advocacy behind it. On the other hand, an ideology can bring both harm and good to the society. This is because the set of doctrines that govern the ideology may always not serve universal interests and ideology demands advocacy and conversion of other beliefs and thoughts to that particular ideology in order to reign supreme. However, every ideology is born out of some philosophy.

In conclusion, here is a summary of differences between philosophy and ideology.
1.Philosophy refers to a pragmatic approach of looking and analyzing life. Ideology refers to a set of beliefs and rules belonging to a particular group or set of people
2.Philosophy aims at understand the world as it exists whereas ideology is born out of a vision for the future and aims at changing the current state to that particular vision
3.Philosophy is objective whereas ideology is dogmatic and refuses to participate in any discussion that does not agree with that ideology
4.Philosophy does not have as much impact as an ideology would have on the world ‘“ for ideology aims at spreading the beliefs and imposing them on the rest of the society irrespective of its relevance
5.All ideologies have some underlying philosophy but it is not vice versa.


From The Right Wing Nut House

Stephanopoulos describing what Schwarzenegger said reveals a supposedly experienced and educated man who doesn’t know the difference between “ideology” and “principles.” Ideology can be defined as how we see the world through the prism supplied by our principles and defines where we come down on important issues like taxes, government spending, abortion, etc. One can change their position on issues – ideology – as long as you remain true to basic principles.

Principles, on the other hand, are virtually immutable philosophical concepts that form the underpinnings of ideology and are “true” to the extent that they are informed by logic and reason rather than emotion.. An example of a conservative principle is the belief that in a well ordered society, government is required to take from the people in taxes only that which it needs to function. Ideological conservatives transform that sensible principle into the issue of cutting taxes, feeling that the government has taken too much. It is an arguable point that I happen to agree with and which ideologues from the other side might see differently. But there is no conservative “principle” that specifically holds that cutting taxes is always the right thing to do in every situation nor even that it is necessary at all. It is this notion among others that ideological conservatives have conflated with “conservative principles” to the detriment of the movement.

As I have written previously, conservatism has become excessively ideological where instead of conservative principles informing ideology, a mindset has developed that equates ideology with principles, abandoning Burke and Hayek for Hannity and Limbaugh. Until conservatives can sort out and redefine for the modern age what our traditional, classical, view of man and his relationship to government and society means, it is probable that people will continue to listen to Rush rather than Russell Kirk (among others) and believe they are being exposed to conservative “principles” rather than the entertaining ideological slants of show biz personalities.