Nov 6, 2011

"An Ideology and a Utopia" by Karl Mannheim

I'm reading "An Ideology and a Utopia" by Karl Mannheim, was a founder of the sociology of knowledge.

He insisted that historical, social, and cultural contexts determined our recognition, thoughts, and beliefs, which he called "total" ideologies.

I also think that our recognition, thoughts, and beliefs are based on the preconditions, which we can't know by ourselves. In order to find the preconditions, which determine our thoughts, we should get out of our "total" ideologies.

There are two ways to get out of our own "total" ideologies.

The first way is to go to other ages. Michel Foucault revealed the preconditions, which he called "episteme", through his comparative study of prisons and madness between the pre modern and the modern age.

The second way is to go to other cultures. Claude Lévi-Strauss went to the jangle in Amazon, and found "pensee sauvage (savage mind)" in a primitive culture. He criticized modern Western philosophy (including Jean-Paul Sartre) from the standpoint of "pensee sauvage".

When I talk with people in other cultures, sometimes I can't make them understand what I mean, because we have different "total" ideologies. For example it's really difficult to explain my religious feeling to people born to be Christians, or the virtues of non-democratic system to Americans who believe in "American democracy".

If I try to explain them too much, it would make them angry. But these kinds of conflicts are chances to know the difference between their and my preconditions, which constrain our thoughts. We could realize that our own recognition, thoughts, and beliefs aren't universal but local, just one of "total" ideologies.

If both of us realized that we have different ideologies, we could understand each other more deeply.

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