Regular, Dependable, Mechanical

J.F. Struensee on the State of Denmark

in Contributions to the History of Concepts
Frank Beck Lassen Aarhus University

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This article examines the de facto rule of Johann Friedrich Struensee from 1770 to 1772 in Denmark, in which an effort was made to implement administrative reforms inspired by the ideas of French materialism and Prussian cameralism. Metaphors, particularly mechanical ones, had an important role in Struensee's attempt to legitimize his actions. Based on theoretical premises first presented by Hans Blumenberg, this article investigates two issues: first, how explicit and implicit mechanical and machine-like metaphors were used by Struensee to indicate the ideal architecture of the Danish absolutist state in the 1770s; and second, how his opponents made use of the same metaphors to describe what they saw as Struensee's illegitimate reach for power.

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