Ideology is Moral Blindness, by Donald Demarco

Founder’s Quote
October 15, 2019
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By Donald Demarco, Crisis Magazine, October 15, 2019

Many moons ago, even before Roe v. Wade, I taught an ethics class that consisted of 16 students. At the outset, I used an anonymous questionnaire to learn about their respective stances on abortion. The class was split in half, with eight accepting abortion and eight opposing it. By the end of the course, all 16 were pro-life.

At that time, abortion was an issue. Pertinent information, a bit of understanding, and the employment of reason were decisive. In the ensuing years, all that has changed. Abortion is no longer an issue: it’s a battlefield. Consider, for example, Cape Breton, where a furor erupted when a pro-choice billboard was erected to counter a few pro-life ones. That was obviously not a dialogue between people of good faith. Abortion has ceased to be an issue that people can discuss rationally and become a fight that no one can win.

How did this come about? One factor relates to the nature of ideology and how it can induce moral blindness in its most loyal adherents. History is replete with examples of this phenomenon. The ancient Greeks found it common enough to justify coining the word scotosis, referring to an intellectual blindness—a hardening of the mind against unwanted wisdom. Pythagorean mathematicians came to the erroneous belief that everything in nature could be reduced to rational numbers. When they discovered that the hypotenuse of a unit square was the square root of two—a non-repeating, irrational number—their ideology was contradicted. In a desperate attempt to preserve their non-scientific ideology, they placed a death curse on anyone who would bring such embarrassing truths “out from concealment.” ….

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