religion and ideology

Benjamin Spatz (bspatz@BRONZE.LCS.MIT.EDU)
Tue, 9 Apr 1996 16:08:59 -0400

ideology very much. In addition, I would like to posit an idea I had: What
if ideologies are doctrines and rules which we follow, and mythologies are one
method (the method of story-telling) which we use to propogate our own
ideologies. In other words: Telling a child "Thou shalt not do x, y, nor z!" is
not likely to have a great effect on them. Because of children's wonderfully
inquisitive nature, they will always ask "Why?" Why _not_ do x, or y, or? In
many cases, we use conditioning. When a child steals, we reprimand them. But
in some cases, such as murder (and the argument of whether "thou shalt not
kill" is an inborn idea is a separate, though interesting, one), this is
impossible. We can not wait for a child to kill someone before we tell them
why not to. We must have a way to tell them it's wrong without the use of
positive and negative conditioning. Perhaps we tell them a story, in which
a killer is punished. The child doesn't need to experience "being a killer"
to apply the punishment to her/himself. This, then, may be mythology.
Other methods of propagating ideologies might be to appeal to the
child's sense of self-interest ("_You_ wouldn't want someone to kill anyone
_you_ care about") or to present images of peace and trust, for example on
Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers.
The point here is that people seldon LIVE according to mythologies.
Rather, we extract from mythologies, the ideologies inside, and live according
to those.
I realize this may sound a bit cynical.
Just a thought.

Ben Spatz
(617) 661-2430