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Is It Scripture or Not?

On Moments of Conceptual Tertium Datur

Ralph Weber

Focusing on examples related to the concept of scripture, I highlight certain moments of indecisiveness in the context of larger processes of possible conceptual change. In these moments, agents involved in the process frequently employ language that in one way or another expresses a conceptual tertium datur. This article sets out to distinguish some of those ways, such as analogy, assertions of resemblance, quasi-status or partial scripturality, oxymoronic adjectival qualification, and exclusivity by selection. The examples draw on four cases, the publication of the Sacred Books of the East series, Petrus Venerabilis's discussion of the Koran, a taxonomy by al-Shahrastānī with regard to the “People of the Book”, and the canonization of the Five Classics in ancient China. Finally, I issue a rallying cry for an entangled and transnational conceptual history. Such an approach is likely to foreground interlingual situations where conceptual indecisiveness is the rule rather than the exception.

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Reviews

Jan Surman, Gabriel Entin, Kari Palonen, and Imke Rajamani

Stefan Willer, Sigrid Weigel, and Bernhard Jussen, eds., Erbe: Übertragungskonzepte zwischen Natur und Kultur [Heritage/inheritance between nature and culture] (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2013), 274 pp.

Ana María Stuven and Gabriel Cid, Debates republicanos en Chile: Siglo XIX [Republican debates in Chile: Nineteenth century], Vol. 1 (Santiago de Chile: Ediciones Universidad Diego Portales, 2012), 627 pp.

Tobias Weidner, Die unpolitische Profession: Deutsche Mediziner im langen 19. Jahrhundert [The unpolitical profession: German medical doctors in the long 19th century] (Frankfurt am Main: Campus, 2012), 447 pp.

Hubert Locher and Adriana Markantonatos, eds., Reinhart Koselleck und die politische Ikonologie [Reinhart Koselleck and political iconology], Transformationen des Visuellen 1 (Marburg: Deutsches Dokumentationszentrum für Kunstgeschichte, 2012), 312 pp.

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Clones as Epistemic Objects

Conceptual Processes of the Configuration of Knowledge

Stefan Halft

The creation of life has always spurred literary and cinematic productivity. Due to scientific progress in the fields of microbiology and genetics, countless novels and films today reflect the idea of human cloning more than other ideas. While the clone is often seen as the epitome of the posthuman, contemporary texts and films tend to modify the concept and (re)humanize the clone. It can be said that fictional literature and films play a pivotal role in the construction, modification, and circulation of concepts. Based on a cognitive linguistic concept of concept, the clone will be analyzed as an epistemic object. Focusing on conceptual processes of the configuration of knowledge, this article will show how the process of conceptualization works in literary texts and films and describe the techniques by which categories and concepts are constantly modified. Thus, it will be argued that literature and film play an active part in shaping a society's stock of knowledge.

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From Organisms to World Society

Steps toward a Conceptual History of Systems Theory, 1880–1980

Julian Bauer

This article proposes to analyze the idea of organism and other closely related ideas (function, differentiation, etc.) using a combination of semantic fields analysis from conceptual history and the notion of boundary objects from the sociology of scientific knowledge. By tackling a wide range of source material, the article charts the nomadic existence of organism and opens up new vistas for an integrated history of the natural and human sciences. First, the boundaries are less clear-cut between disciplines like biology and sociology than previously believed. Second, a long and transdisciplinary tradition of talking about organismic and societal systems in highly functionalist terms comes into view. Third, the approach shows that conceptions of a world society in Niklas Luhmann's variant are not semantic innovations of the late twentieth century. Rather, their history can be traced back to organicist sociology and its forgotten pioneers, especially Albert Schäffle or Guillaume de Greef, during the last decades of the nineteenth century.

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From Social to Biological Parasites and Back

The Conceptual Career of a Metaphor

Andreas Musolff

The categorization of individuals or groups as social parasites has often been treated as an example of semantic transfer from the biological to the social domain. Historically, however, the scientific uses of the term parasite cannot be deemed to be primary, as their emergence in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was preceded by a much older tradition of religious and social terminology. Its social use in modern times, on the other hand, builds on a secondary metaphorization from the scientific source concept. This article charts the history of the term parasite from its etymological origins to the present day, distinguishes its metaphorical and non-metaphorical uses, and discusses the implications of these findings regarding the cognitive understanding of the relationship between (perceived) literal and metaphorical meanings. In conclusion, it is argued that metaphorization needs to be analyzed not only in terms of its conceptual structure but also in its role in discourse history.

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Nomadic Concepts

Biological Concepts and Their Careers beyond Biology

Jan Surman, Katalin Stráner, and Peter Haslinger

This article introduces a collection of studies of biological concepts crossing over to other disciplines and nonscholarly discourses. The introduction discusses the notion of nomadic concepts as introduced by Isabelle Stengers and explores its usability for conceptual history. Compared to traveling (Mieke Bal) and interdisciplinary (Ernst Müller) concepts, the idea of nomadism shifts the attention from concepts themselves toward the mobility of a concept and its effects. The metaphor of nomadism, as outlined in the introduction, helps also to question the relation between concepts' movement and the production of boundaries. In this way conceptual history can profit from interaction with translation studies, where similar processes were recently discussed under the notion of cultural translation.

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Reviews

Helge Årsheim, Nicole Hochner, Helena Rosenblatt, Vilius Mačkinis, Søren Friis, Bogdan C. Iacob, and Gennaro Imbriano

Brent Nongbri, Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 288 pp.

Christopher H. Johnson, Bernhard Jussen, David Warren Sabean, and Simon Teuscher, eds., Blood and Kinship: Matter for Metaphor from Ancient Rome to Present (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2013), 362 pp.

Quentin Skinner and Martin van Gelderen, eds., Freedom and the Construction of Europe, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 878 pp.

Anna Grzes´kowiak-Krwawicz, Queen Liberty: The Concept of Freedom in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2012), 135 pp.

Conor Gearty, Liberty and Security (Cambridge and Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2013), 146 pp.

Balázs Trencsényi, The Politics of “National Character”: A Study in Interwar East European Thought (London: Routledge, 2012), 227 pp.

Janet Roitman, Anti-Crisis (Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 2014), 157 pp.

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A Specter Is Haunting Germany--the French Specter of Milieu

On the Nomadicity and Nationality of Cultural Vocabularies

Wolf Feuerhahn

Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Isabelle Stengers fought against a state-controlled form of science and saw “nomadic science/concepts” as a way to escape from it. The transnational history of the term milieu marks a good opportunity to contribute to another theory of nomadic vocabularies. Traveling from France to Germany, the word milieu came to be identified as a French theory. Milieu was seen as an expression of determinism, of the connection between the rise of the natural sciences and the rise of socialism, and it deterred the majority of German academics. Umwelt was thus coined as an “antimilieu” expression. This article defends a “transnational historical semantic” against the Koselleckian history of concepts and its a priori distinctions between words and concepts. Instead of taking its nature for granted, a transnational historical semantic investigation should analyze the terminological and national status given to the objects of investigation by the term's users.

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Accessing Citizenship

The Conceptual and Political Changes of the German Naturalization Policy, 1999–2006

Anna Björk

This article deals explicitly with the dimension of access in the concept of citizenship and is discussed from the point of view of migration. Access is analyzed in the context of the reform of German citizenship laws in 1999. The state of Hesse is singled out to be used as an example of parliamentary debate on the concepts of citizenship and integration. The point is to explicate the interrelations of the federal legislative reform and the conceptual implications thereof, using Hesse as a state-level example.

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The Europeanization of Citizenship

Conceptual Innovations, Legal Changes, and Development of New Institutional Practices

Claudia Wiesner

The development of citizenship in the framework of European integration has been marked by conceptual innovations. This article concentrates on three of its elements: antidiscrimination rights, the concept of Union Citizenship, and the right to free movement. In these cases, either concepts were newly coined, or already-established concepts were newly interpreted in the context of the European Union by the European Commission or by the Council. In a second step, they were then incorporated into new EU citizenship laws and then transferred into national legislation and national political and administrative practice. During the implementation phase in the member states, the innovations often led to conflicts related to the interpretation of the new concepts in political and administrative practice. The article discusses the related processes as a pattern of conceptual innovation by law making that is typical for the EU.