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Concepts, Beliefs, and Their Constellations

A Proposal for Analytical Categories in the Study of Human Thought

Ilkka Kärrylä

Abstract

The article argues that all disciplines examining human thought could use certain shared analytical categories. This would not mean eradicating all differences between various approaches such as intellectual history and discourse analysis, but acknowledging that they are examining partly the same basic entities. The article argues that ideational entities in human thought could be understood as concepts, beliefs, and their constellations. The article discusses the views of scholars who have theorized similar categories and shows how these can be studied through historical language use. Shared analytical categories would enhance interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars of human thought and allow more rigorous debates on issues that truly divide different disciplines, such as the explanatory values of human agency and structures.

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The English Reformation and the Invention of Innovation, 1548–1649

Benoît Godin

Abstract

Innovation is a key concept of modernity. It acquired its lettres de noblesse in the twentieth century, thanks to or because of economics and technology. However, for centuries the concept was essentially pejorative. How can we explain this connotation? This article suggests that one of the crucial moments is the Reformation. Using official documents of the time, the article studies the vocabulary of the English Reformation and documents the meanings and the uses made of innovation. The article suggests that innovation served two functions or purposes: an injunction (not to innovate) and an accusation of non-conformity. Thereafter, innovation became a linguistic tool of polemic.

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From Femicide to Feminicidio

Latin American Contributions to Feminist Conceptual History

Camila Ordorica

Abstract

Feminisms in the second half of the twentieth century were reshaped by the efforts to end violence against women. Feminist activists in national and international settings invented concepts to refer to previously unquestioned societal practices as oppressive to women and changed the world by naming them. In this article, I engage with the concepts of femicide/feminicidio (f/f): the murder of women for gender reasons. I follow the history of this concept and its incursion into the broader political and public sphere in Latin America. Focusing on the Mexican case, I show how the study of national feminist histories is relevant to the history of women's activism in the international arena. This article contributes to the history of concepts by showing the linguistic distinctions and connections of feminist concepts in different sociocultural environments. Overall, this research argues in favor of studying feminist concepts with Latin American perspectives to articulate the complexity of the world today.

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From Illiberal State to Christian Values

Naming the Current Politics of Hungary

Heino Nyyssönen and Jussi Metsälä

Abstract

This article examines the problematic phenomenon of political naming through conceptual history. It is evident that illiberal is an ambiguous term and determining what it means is challenging, not to mention the political aspects of the name itself. We claim that naming is a political act par excellence and test our hypothesis by examining Viktor Orbán's Băile Tuşnad speeches between 2014 and 2019 and the annual State of the Nation speeches between 2015 and 2020. We claim that even Orbán has difficulties in naming his political system. Moreover, we link naming to discussions concerning democracy. In Hungary, this “illiberal” position enables a ruling party to act in accordance with a purely majoritarian form of democracy, that is, to implement legislation with very little regard to the opposition, and by concentrating power to the party and especially to its leader.

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A History of the Concepts Experience and Experiment in Russian Culture

Ekaterina Smirnova

Abstract

Why, for a long time, was there no linguistic means to distinguish between the concepts experience and experiment in many European languages, such as Italian, French, and Russian? Was the Russian case influenced by French culture? This article addresses these issues. The most important finding of the study is that no idea of personal experience existed in Russian literature before the second half of the eighteenth century, and the word opyt was later borrowed from the scientific lexicon for expressing the meaning of experience. This is the opposite of what happened in other European languages. This suggests that the concept of experiment is more basic in the Russian mentality. Experience grows from experiment but not vice versa. All these aspects of the semantic history of “experiment” and “experience” are illustrated with extensive textual citations found in the Russian National Corpus and in the electronic library of Institute of Russian Literature.

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Reviews

An Invitation for the Curious; Into Blumenberg's Lens Cabinet; The Historian and His Images

Luc Wodzicki, Marcos Guntin, and Kerstin Maria Pahl

Ernst Müller and Falko Schmieder, Begriffsgeschichte: Zur Einführung [Conceptual history: An introduction] (Hamburg: Junius Verlag, 2020), 200 pp.

Hans Blumenberg, History, Metaphors, Fables: A Hans Blumenberg Reader, edited, translated, and with an introduction by Hannes Bajohr, Florian Fuchs, and Joe Paul Kroll (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2020), 609 pp.

Bettina Brandt and Britta Hochkirchen, eds., Reinhart Koselleck und das Bild [Koselleck and the image] (Bielefeld: Bielefeld University Press, 2021), 248 pp.

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Transformation of the Concept of Kyoyang (Self-Cultivation) in Korean Print Media, 1896–1936

Ah-reum Kim

Abstract

The Korean concept of kyoyang (self-cultivation) conceives different layers of meaning corresponding to the enlightenment and reform project in the early modern and colonial periods of Korean society. This article traces the historical trajectory of kyoyang published in Korean vernacular magazines and newspapers by Korean reformists, the main media intellectuals who appropriated Japanese and Western ideas of enlightenment, nationalism, and culturalism. It reveals the way the reformist media intellectuals employed kyoyang to define the nature of modern print media while simultaneously transforming the concept, providing resources for enlightening the populace. Accordingly, kyoyang, once assumed by a few literary men under the influence of Neo-Confucianism, was shifted to encompass the commoners, envisioning the enlightened national subjects who embody contradictory qualities.

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“Biggest Nationalist in the Country”

Self-Descriptive Uses of “Nationalist” in Contemporary Russia

Veera Laine

Abstract

Nationalism is an ism rarely used as self-description. This article suggests that nationalist discourses are on the move, meaning the concept may be used in novel ways. In Russia, for example, the president recently identified himself as a nationalist, claiming ownership of the concept in the long-standing struggle against manifestations of oppositional nationalism. The article asks who describes themselves as nationalists in contemporary Russia, how do they define the concept, and how did it change during the years 2008–2018 when nationalism as a political idea became increasingly important in Russian politics? Drawing from Russian newspaper sources, the article suggests that diverse, self-proclaimed nationalist actors rely on narrow ethnic understandings of the concept and do not embrace the president's interpretation of multinational nationalism.

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Conceptual History of the Near East

The Sattelzeit as a Heuristic Tool for Interrogating the Formation of a Multilayered Modernity

Florian Zemmin and Henning Sievert

Abstract

Conceptual history holds tremendous potential to address a central issue in Near Eastern Studies, namely the formation of modernity in the Near East, provisionally located between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. The encounter with European powers, primarily Britain and France, was a decisive historical factor in this formation; and European hegemony is, in fact, inscribed into the very concept of “modernity,” which we take as an historical, rather than analytical, concept. The conceptual formation of modernity in Arabic and Turkish was, however, a multilayered process; involving both ruptures and continuities, intersecting various temporalities, and incorporating concepts from several languages. To interrogate this multilayered process, we suggest the metaphor of the Sattelzeit (Saddle Period) as a heuristic tool, precisely because of its being tied to modernity. Finally, the article will show what conceptual history of the Near East has to offer to conceptual history more broadly.

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Conceptualizing an Outside World

The Case of “Foreign” in Dutch Newspapers 1815–1914

Ruben Ros

Abstract

This article studies the concept of buitenland (the foreign) in a broad sample of Dutch newspapers in the period between 1815 and 1914. Buitenland emerged as a key concept in the nineteenth century. It referred to an “outside word” that was marked by semantic properties such as instability and closeness. As such, this apparently mundane spatial indicator bolstered the emergent “spatial regime” of globality and globalization. The article thus shows how a computational analysis of concepts that could be easily overlooked reveals structural transformations in the way past and present societies conceptualize (global) space.