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Ideological Fixation From the Stone Age to Today's Culture Wars

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2022-10-18
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Combining insights from evolutionary psychology with a broad sweep through history, down to the ideological civil war ripping the United States apart, the book explores the deeper roots of people's inability to accept claims about reality which come from the opposite ideological camp, no matter how valid they might be.

After theorists around 1960 proclaimed the 'death of ideology', ideological divides and clashes have reemerged with renewed intensity throughout the world. In the United States they have become particularly venomous. Each side in America's escalating ideological civil war charges the other with concocting 'fake news' and 'alternative facts'. The other side is widely viewed as malicious, irrational or downright stupid, and, often, as barely legitimate. People are deaf to claims about reality that come from the opposite camp, no matter how valid they might be. The zeal of the opposing sides is often scarcely less than that which characterized the religious ideologies of old. Indeed, historical religious ideologies have largely been replaced by 'secular religions' or 'religion substitutes'.

Ideology consists of normative prescriptions regarding how society should be shaped, together with an interpretive roadmap indicating how this normative vision can be implemented in reality. Ideological Fixation is the result of tensions and conflicts between these two elements. The book focuses on ideologies' factual claims about the world, typically subordinate to, and often distorted by, their normative commitment. In exploring this phenomenon, the book combines insights from evolutionary psychology regarding the nature of some of our deepest proclivities with a broad sweep through history and around the world. It proceeds from the Stone Age to the rise of civilization, the great religions and modernity, to a critique of fundamental factual premises that underlie some of the major debates dominating today's liberal democracies, not least the United States.

Author Biography

Azar Gat is Ezer Weitzman Professor of National Security in the School of Political Science, Government, and International Affairs at Tel Aviv University. He is the author of nine books, including, more recently: A History of Military Thought: From the Enlightenment to the Cold War (Oxford, 2001);
War in Human Civilization (Oxford, 2006), named one of the best books of the year by the Times Literary Supplement (TLS); Victorious and Vulnerable: Why Democracy Won in the 20th Century and How it is still Imperiled (2010); Nations: The Long History and Deep Roots of Political Ethnicity and
Nationalism (2013); The Causes of War and the Spread of Peace: But Will War Rebound? (Oxford, 2017); and War and Strategy in the Modern World: From Blitzkrieg to Unconventional Terrorism, (collected articles and essays, 2018). His books have been translated into Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean,
Greek, Turkish, and Hebrew. He has held visiting positions at Oxford, Yale, Ohio State, Georgetown, Hoover-Stanford, Freiburg, Munich, and Constance. In 2019 he was awarded the EMET Prize in the fields of Political Science and Strategy. Granted under the auspices of the Prime Minister's office, it
is considered Israel's highest scholarly prize.

Table of Contents


A. Groundwork
Chapter 1: What Is True? (Though Never the Whole Truth)
Chapter 2: What Is Right? How Morality Should be Conceived

B. The Classical Ideologies
Chapter 3: Religious Ideological Fixation - Examined by a Non-Hostile Atheist
Chapter 4: The Major Contenders of Modernity: Liberalism, Socialism, Fascism

C. Current Debates and Fixations in the Democracies
Chapter 5: The West's Guilt towards the 'Rest'
Chapter 6: Nature or Nurture? - Nations and Nationhood
Chapter 7: Nature or Nurture? - Gender and Sexual Behavior
Chapter 8: Can anything be Done? Some Very Tentative Reflections on Current Ideological Battlefields
Chapter 9: Conclusion: Ideological Fixation - Now and Ever


Supplemental Materials

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The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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