Towards an Immortal Political Body

The State Machine in Eighteenth-Century English Political Discourse

in Contributions to the History of Concepts
Pasi Ihalainen University of Jyväskylä

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The importance of bodily and mechanical analogies in everyday political argumentation has been seldom discussed in the academic literature. This article is based on a contextual analysis of the uses of bodily and mechanical analogies in parliamentary and public debates in eighteenth-century England, as they can be retrieved from full-text databases of printed literature. The author demonstrates the continuous use of bodily analogies for much of the century particularly in defence of traditional conceptions of a unified political community. The article considers the expanding use of mechanical analogies as well, tracing their evolution in political debates and the effect of the American and French revolutions in their usage.

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