I want to defend society and its inhabitants from all ideologies, science included. source

Would you tell me what the preposition from means here?

Although I have seen and known the preposition of might mean against, in fact, my profs. has just told me :

the preposition from in this sentence never ever means against, it means just of.

Do you know why?

Because if you want to put the preposition of, then you must put a noun of place after the word inhabitants! for example:

Inhabitants of India not inhabitants from India

And, as there is not any place, so we have to put the preposition from instead of of.

2 Answers 2


A good question, Nima! First, see one of the senses for from

—used as a function word to indicate physical separation or an act or condition of removal, abstention, exclusion, release, subtraction, or differentiation (protection from the sun, relief from anxiety)

Hence, in the sentence

I want to defend society and all of its members from all ideologies, science included.

the meaning of from equals to against, in my view.

However, if in place of ideologies, science included we use phrases like all ideological strata or all ideological groups or all congregations etc., the meaning of from would change, as I see it. Compare:

I want to defend society and all of its members from all ideological strata, including those who pursue science as their chief interest.

In this case, the reader will assume that what's meant here is that the members come or originate from diverse ideological strata, or demographic groups, or ideological groups, or whatever.

Try googling protect people from all, and you will get sentences like

Our organization helps protect people from all walks of life / all backgrounds ..

Here, the people are clearly not being protected from walks of life but rather belong to these walks of life.

  • First thanks. Nevertheless, originally why did not the writer write the word its members instead of inhabitants? I think they could but they avoid it. Consecuently, from does not mean against, does it?
    – nima
    Jul 24, 2014 at 10:30
  • Members seemed more idiomatic to me. A society is not a tangible thing like a building, say. Regarding your second question, see Definition 2 here: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/from Jul 24, 2014 at 10:41
  • I really do appreciate your Great explanations. Nevertheless, I can not yet accept them inclusively!
    – nima
    Jul 24, 2014 at 11:08
  • Nevertheless, If "from" is a shortened way of saying "who come from" then is my prof right?
    – nima
    Jul 24, 2014 at 13:20
  • I'm not sure, I'm not a native speaker. I'm not sure that one could come from an ideology. One could come from a school of thought. There should be some word marking the belonging of the person to a group of people, IMHO. Jul 24, 2014 at 15:45

Your professor is wrong. In this context from is indeed synonymous with against. There's no hard and fast rule as to which one should be used.

  • No hard and fast rule, except that you can't say "never ever" like the prof did.
    – Mr Lister
    Jul 24, 2014 at 16:48
  • 1
    I would not consider "from" and "against" synonymous. To "protect against" X is to prevent X from occurring. To "protect from: X is to prevent X from causing damage. In 1944, the RAF protected London against German bombing raids, while shelters protected its inhabitants from them. To the extent that the RAF could prevent German planes from reaching London, they prevented raids. Shelters didn't prevent raids, but prevented injuries the raids would otherwise have caused.
    – supercat
    Jul 24, 2014 at 17:03
  • It is just as valid to say bomb shelters protect against bombs...
    – user8543
    Jul 24, 2014 at 19:29

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