Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Robert Porter & Phil Ramsey
The concept of ideology has been vigorously contested and, at certain points, radically reconstructed in accordance with the interests and actions of those who have used it. We can go right back, for example, to the thinker who is often credited with first employing the term ideology in the late eighteenth century, Antoine Destutt de Tracy. Ideology is the name that Tracy gives to describe a scientific method, a “science of the formation of ideas,” which, in line with prevailing enlightenment aspirations, he believed could promote social progress and the common good. However, Tracy's initial conception of ideology did not survive unchallenged for long. Napoleon Bonaparte, for instance, engaged in a series of polemical attacks against the “shadowy metaphysics” of Tracy and the school of thought he represented. Deriding Tracy and others in his circle as ideologues, Napoleon complained that they indulged a fanciful and doctrinaire speculation entirely innocent of ...