Is Ideologie just a foreign word/scientific term for Weltanschauung? Where do you see nuances in meaning? Would you use Weltanschauung in an academic discussion? What is the correct context?

For example, would you say leftism is a ideology, atheism a weltanschauung/world view? What is a simple criterion to differ both? The number of people sharing this view? A Weltanschauung can become a Ideologie but not the other way round? A Ideologie needs a stronger & more exact accordance in content by many people? Here are some examples listed for Ideologie/World view, to test your criterions...

3 Answers 3


A literal translation of Weltanschauung is "world view." It is the prism ("spectacles" if you will) through which one views the world.

Ideologie refers to one's BELIEFS/ATTIUDES about the world. It stems from Weltanchauung, and is shaped by it, but is not the same. That is, Weltanshauung underpins Ideologie. One is cause, the other is effect.

For instance, a Weltanschauung might be, "the world is a dangerous place." The resulting Ideologie might be, "We need a strong national defense," or "we need more police."


Personally, I'd use "Ideologie" for some technical meanings (similar to "Philosophie"), while "Weltanschauung" seems to be only related to people. Duden lists both as synonym, but has this as the meaning for the latter:

Gesamtheit von Anschauungen, die die Welt und die Stellung des Menschen in der Welt betreffen

Entirety of views regarding the world and the position of humankind in the world

The meaning of "Ideologie", on the other hand, is this:

a. an eine soziale Gruppe, eine Kultur o. Ä. gebundenes System von Weltanschauungen, Grundeinstellungen und Wertungen

b. politische Theorie, in der Ideen der Erreichung politischer und wirtschaftlicher Ziele dienen (besonders in totalitären Systemen)

c. weltfremde Theorie

So it has several wider meanings than "Weltanschauung", often referring to a group, culture or country.

  • 4
    to me, "Ideologie" also has a bit of a negative touch. If you're talking about a fanatic attitude, you would always use "Ideologie". A "Weltanschauung" is rather neutral.
    – ladybug
    Jul 18, 2011 at 16:09
  • @ladybug: I think you're right. The meanings b. and c. from the Duden entry underline that. Jul 18, 2011 at 20:02
  • Testing 1, 2, 3: "Braune Weltanschauung" - doesn't sound neutral any more. Neoliberalism is an ideology too, and not restricted to totalitarian systems. Jul 19, 2011 at 2:30
  • 2
    True. However, "Braune Weltanschauung" very much feels like an euphemism to me.
    – ladybug
    Jul 19, 2011 at 15:57
  • @ladybug im still unsure whether one would call todays atheism/creationism a ideologie or Weltanschauung, as people like richard dawkins are organized and acting politically. Is atheism/creationims better called a "movement" nowadays? A atheist would likely say, creationsm is a ideology to use the denigrating connotation of ideology. Ideology implicates to me a political agenda...@user
    – Hauser
    Jul 19, 2011 at 16:05

I cite the wikipedia article on Weltanschauung:

Der Begriff Ideologie wird häufig synonym zu Weltanschauung verwendet. Eine strenge Unterscheidung der beiden Begriffe ist nicht möglich, vielmehr rechtfertigt eine Abgrenzung lediglich die verschiedene Verwendung der Begriffe in der Literatur, Philosophie und Soziologie. So wird „Weltanschauung“ eher für ganzheitliche, weniger theoretisch ausformulierte Sichtweisen auf die Welt und den Menschen verwendet als die „Ideologie“.[4] Letztere möchte überdies die Welt nicht nur erklären, sondern auch beeinflussen.[5] Die begriffliche Unterscheidung zwischen „bösen Ideologien“ und „guten Weltanschauungen“ (die vor allem durch Karl Marx geprägt wurde) kommt ausschließlich in der deutschen Literatur vor.[4] Die häufig abwertende (pejorative) Verwendung des Ideologie-Begriffes im allgemeinen Sprachgebrauch für manipulative, unzulängliche oder nicht wissenschaftlich begründete Ideen-Systeme und Theorien geht darauf zurück.

Tranlation (by me):

The word Ideologie is often used synonymously with Weltanschauung. A strict distinction between the two concepts is not possible, but a delimitation simply justifies the different use of the concepts in literature, philosophy, and sociology. Thus "Weltanschauung" is used more for holistic, less theoretically formulated views on the world and man than the "Ideologie". [4] The latter would not only explain but also influence the world. [5] The conceptual distinction between "bösen Ideologien (=evil ideologies)" and "guten Weltanschauungen (=good world views)" (which was mainly coined by Karl Marx) comes exclusively in German literature. [4] Due to this the word "Ideologie" is often used in a derogatory (pejorative) way in the general language usage for manipulative, inadequate, or non-scientifically based ideas systems and theories.


  1. Klaus von Beyme: Politische Theorien im Zeitalter der Ideologien: 1789-1945. 1. Auflage, Westdeutscher Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2002. S. 48.
  2. Franz Austeda: Lexikon der Philosophie. 6., erweiterte Auflage, Verlag Brüder Hollinek, Wien 1989, S. 165-166, Stichwörter „Idologie“ und „Ideologiekritik“

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