Ideology (20TH CENTURY)

Theory of knowledge and values. Term first used by the French philosopher Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836) in 1795 to denote the general science of ideas, but now principally associated with Marxism.

The major version of the theory of ideology sees both perceptions and values as shaped by the social situation of the person, and especially of social classes. Ideology is partial truth presented as if it were universal truth. It justifies and sustains the privileges of dominant classes.

A minor version of the theory, promulgated in the 1950s and 1960s, spoke of an end of ideology, and described as ‘ideology’ any view which claimed either general explanations or general solutions.

David Miller et al., eds, The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought (Oxford, 1987)

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