Ideology pp 15-31 | Cite as

The Uses of the Word

  • John Plamenatz
Part of the Key Concepts in Political Science book series (KCP)


The word ‘ideology’, like the word ‘sociology’, was invented in France. It meant the science or study of ideas, and was first used to refer to a type of philosophy fashionable at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a philosophy whose exponents prided themselves on not being metaphysicians. They explained all ideas as deriving ultimately from sensations. The most famous French thinker of this school was Condillac, a disciple of the British empiricists, but the epithet idéologue or ideologist was applied, not so much to him, as to men who came after him. This early meaning of the word would perhaps be even more forgotten than it is, if Napoleon had not picked on it and used it to express the impatience and even contempt of the man of action for men so much more interested than he is in abstract ideas. Thus, the word ‘ideology’ was French for a few decades before it became international and in the process changed its meaning. And though the meaning is altered, the word is still, quite often, used disrespectfully.


True Belief Coherent System False Consciousness Class Interest Social Existence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Pall Mall Press Ltd, London 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Plamenatz

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