The term “ideology” was born in the highly controversial, philosophical and political debates and fights of the French Revolution and acquired several other meanings from the early days of the First French Empire to the present.

The word ideology was coined by Destutt de Tracy in 1796 assembling the parts idea (near to the Lockean sense) and -logy. He used it to refer to one aspect of his “science of ideas”. He separated three aspects, namely: ideology, general grammar and logic, considering respectively the subject, the means and the reason of this science.He argues that among these aspects ideology is the most generic term, because the science of ideas also contains the study of their expression and deduction.

According to Karl Mannheim’s historical reconstruction of the meaning-shifts of ideology, the modern meaning of the word ideology was born when Napoleon Bonaparte (as a politician) used it in an abusive way against “the ideologues” (a group which included Cabanis, Condorcet, Constant, Daunou, Say, Madame De Stael and Tracy), to express the pettiness of his (liberal republican) political opponents.

History embraces past, present, and future. The future is yet to happen. It is real only in the sense of being what the interested people may envisage through their understanding of the past and the present. Such understanding of different persons and groups may be quite variable.


Time past and time present are both perhaps present in time future. Any human society in historical process is not fully known on the evidence alone of what has actually happened. It calls for a perception of what is yet to happen and remains unknown from what is already known. The ideological elements have their important role in a historical account to commingle all those dimensions.

The term ideology is often used in two different ways. In one sense, it is a set of ideas, views and beliefs which sustains an individual or a social order. It may be used to maintain the status quo-, but it may also be used to oppose the system. There may be various ideologies, sometimes antagonistic to each other in a given social system.

It may also differ according to classes. Various social, economic and political systems in history have been sustained by certain dominant ideologies. In another sense, ideology is also interpreted as false consciousness as opposed to the real, scientific knowledge of the world. In this sense, it is used to mislead people and influence them to support the status quo.