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Can indoctrination be used in a constructive manner?

  1. Aug 2, 2009 #1
    Are you for or against (certain forms of) indoctrination?

    Can indoctrination be used in a constructive manner?

    The philosophy of individualism fully blossomed in the second half of the 20th century. One of the many pro's of individualism was the freedom to choose the "right" value systems for oneself. However, the advent of moral diversity (coupled with geographic mobility) clearly had its social consequences, one of them being much greater loneliness. This was never a problem until religious bonds came under attack as well.

    Nowadays, it's much harder for me to connect to people in general, much less my own neighbor (if you can, that's wonderful). There are just too many different value systems floating around, and thus it's difficult to forge quality social bonds. It seems that society is more about quantity these days over quality. Even in the realm of value systems. The more value systems you have in your society, the better (yeah, right). And also, it seems that many young adults these days haven't been taught any kind of values at all, other than the consumption of goods and sex. Commitment, the core of creating vibrant social communities, has already become a value of the past.

    Should the government take a role in indoctrinating a standard, non-religious value system in order to create a more integrated society? Although there are many pro's to individualism, it seems that (assuming the sampling procedures were effective), people are generally less satisfied and less trustful of others than they once used to be. So a utilitarian would possibly claim that less choices is actually better for our well-being. Perhaps an indoctrinated (and educated) democracy would be the next step to harmony.

    What does the PF community think about this issue?
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 2, 2009 #2
    This post is ripe with teenage angst philosophy.
  4. Aug 2, 2009 #3
    that was a very mature response
  5. Aug 2, 2009 #4
    The military definitely uses indoctrination/brainwashing. They need to instill a certain sort of attitude and sense of loyalty to keep the troops integrated. I'd say that's a fairly constructive use of indoctrination.

    Many corporations do this on a smaller scale. I'm not sure that it is really any where near as effective though. It actually bothered me when I was working for big corporate entities. One day I was brought into a meeting where the managers wanted we employees to give them ideas for incentives for us and our fellow employees. My suggestion of raises and promotions was pretty much ignored.
  6. Aug 2, 2009 #5
    It's probably a necessary evil. On the one hand, I would say that we're all indoctrinated. On the other, I would say nobody is. Think hard about those two statements and how they can be reconciled, and I'll elaborate as necessary.
  7. Aug 3, 2009 #6
    I agree, this is a bit melancholy. Why worry about what everyone else is doing or feeling? If someone else finds that individualism doesn't work for them it's not like collectivism is outlawed; they can go and find a group of like-minded people and go from there.

    And I would rather be less trustful of my neighbor than be the chump who gets screwed. I don't believe in a functional type of fundamental human goodness. And trust these days is a whole different bag of worms; it's earned, not given.

    On the topic of indoctrination, it's a bit of a scary word. I wouldn't trust the government with anything of the sort! Can you imagine what sort of crap program they'd come up to accomplish this goal? And the democrats and republicans would fight about what sort of values should be included in this indoctrination, how politically correct it is, to whom it is administered, etc. I don't believe that less choices are a good thing. If people feel unsatisfied, that's their fault. It's not as though you can't change. And blaming a culture for your unsatisfied status is shifting the blame a little too much methinks.

    American culture is rich in opportunity and choice and that's what makes it great. If I want to be a community-oriented do-gooder, it's perfectly easy to go out and find people to save the forest preserve and pick up trash along highways. Also, if I wanted to be a neo-Nazi, it's perfectly within my rights to go find a group of neo-Nazis and talk about our views or roast weiners or whatever they do these days. Do not underestimate the freedom of choice because you'll never know how great ti is until you lose it.
  8. Aug 3, 2009 #7


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    I think the premise of this thread is flawed, yet very intriguing (what?). I don't think there's anything inherent in people having different social values that makes people afraid of connecting or pushes us towards "loneliness". For example, I have friends with very different value systems, some I could even describe as truly bad people, yet I'm still their friends even though I consider myself to be a good person. I might be fairly unique though.

    I think the real problem is why do people try to distance themselves from people who dont share the same value system. I think the answers probably obvious... but at the same time I don't know how one could indoctrinate someone to overcome such problems. I mean sure, it's easy to indoctrinate a negative into someone (such as how soldiers have to be indoctrinated if you hope to have an army willing to actually kill people), but how does one make someone trust someone else?
  9. Aug 3, 2009 #8
    Re: Are you for or against (certain forms of) indoctrination?

    Religious bonds have been under attack since long before the second half of the 20th century. Can you clarify which particular aspect of this attack you are talking about?
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