The Idéologues

  • H. M. Drucker

Abstract

The word ‘ideology’ was first used on 23 May 1797 by the French theorist Antoine Louis Claude Destutt de Tracy.1 This author, a founding member of the Institut National, introduced the word as the name of a newly conceived science — the ‘science of ideas’. He recognized that although the name was new, the science had a considerable pedigree. ‘Ideology’, in Destutt de Tracy’s sense, might indeed be said to have added only minor refinements to the system already elaborated by Condillac. But the science of ideas belonged to a different moment in French history; and when de Tracy introduced the word ‘ideology’, he and his fellow practitioners of the new science found themselves in political difficulties. The time, they realized, was critical.

Keywords

Defend Monopoly 

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy, ‘Mémoire sur la faculté de penser’, Mémoires de l’Institut National des Sciences et des Arts pour l’an IV de la République: Sciences morales et politiques, tome ler, Paris, Thermidor an IV, p. 324.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
  3. 3.
    La Décade Philosophique, litteraire et politique par une société des Gens de lettres, Paris, 30 nivose IX, p. 137.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    F. Picavet, Les Idéologues: Essai sur l’Histoire des Idées et des Théories Scientifiques, Philosophiques, Religieuses, etc., en France depuis 1789 (Paris, 1891) pp. 624–7Google Scholar
  5. J. W. Stein, The Mind and the Sword (New York, 1961).Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    C. H. Van Duzer, Contributions of the Ideologues to French Revolutionary Thought (Baltimore, 1935) p. 17.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
  8. 7.
    L. Lévy-Bruhl, History of Modern Philosophy in France (London, 1899) p. 272.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    E. Condillac, Essai sur l’Origine des Connaissances Humaines (Paris, 1789) p. 124.Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    Lévy-Bruhl, History of Modern Philosophy in France, p. 305.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy, A Treatise on Political Economy: to which is Prefixed a Supplement to a Preceding Work on the Understanding of Elements of Ideology (Georgetown, 1817) p. 252.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy, Éléments d’Idéologie (Paris, 1801) vol. I, p. xiii.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    Ibid., p. 4.Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    P. J. G. Cabanis, ‘Rapports du Physique et du Moral de l’Homme’, in Van Duzer, Contributions of the Ideologues, p. 43.Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    Destutt de Tracy, A Treatise on Political Economy, p. 7.Google Scholar
  16. 15.
    Ibid., chap. 6.Google Scholar
  17. 16.
    Ibid., p. 107.Google Scholar
  18. 17.
    Ibid., p. 187.Google Scholar
  19. 18.
  20. 19.
    Ibid., p. 254.Google Scholar
  21. 20.
    J. Lakanal, L’Ancien Moniteur: seule histoire authentique et inaltérée de la révolution française, depuis le réunion des États Généraux jusqu’au consulat, vol. XXIII, 20 Mar 1895, p. 346.Google Scholar
  22. 21.
    Ibid., p. 347.Google Scholar
  23. 22.
    L. Napoléon, Correspondance de Napoléon Ier, no. 2306; cf. the account in Lacour-Gayet, Bonaparte, membre de l’Institut (Paris, 1921): A. Guillois, Le Salon de Mme Helvétius, Cabanis, et les Idéologues (Paris, 1894) pp. 103, 121, 127, 156, 179–85.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© H. M. Drucker 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. M. Drucker
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK

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