“Our discipline works under a tacit presupposition of teleology .” —Reinhart Koselleck At the end of the nineteenth century, republicanism became the mythomoteur on which France’s identity was shaped throughout the following century. Back then, the
Pablo Facundo Escalante
A Specter Is Haunting Germany--the French Specter of Milieu
On the Nomadicity and Nationality of Cultural Vocabularies
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.
Departing from Mario Turchetti's study on the concept of tyranny and tyrannicide, the author sets out to explore its specific use in the political discourse in the eighteenth century. Originally, as in the works of Plato and Montesquieu, tyranny was used in reference to degenerate forms of government. Tyranny and tyrannicide gained additional significance with its inclusion in the virulent discourse during the radicalization of the French Revolution. Based on the myth of Brutus and other classical sources, anti-tyrannical rhetoric in the form revolutionary literature and propaganda spurted political activism. As the figure of the king became the main obstacle to liberty and the foundation of a new republic, tyranny and tyrannicide became key concepts in the revolutionary movements.
Semantic Investigations of a Counterconcept during the French Revolution
the observation that the uses of the category of counterrevolution in scholarship on the French Revolution significantly contrast with its historical occurrences. Its widespread association with political reaction, ultraroyalism, or restoration of the
The Specter of Communism
Among all the new phenomena in recent times, none have appeared as radical and comprehensively subversive as socialism and communism. In France, the center and starting-point of all political movement, socialism and communism has proven to be the
Observations on the Semantic Trajectory of Pluralism in Scholarly Discourse
A Study of Two Argumentative Tropes
Kingdom; I also offer some references to French and Italian developments). Moreover, in line with my emphasis on intellectual and political struggle, what I discuss are the positions of both proponents and adversaries of pluralism . Given the constraints
The Concept of Civilisation from Enlightenment to Revolution
An Ambiguous Transfer
This article focuses on the evolution of the concept of civilisation in the French language through the analysis of socio-political discourse from Enlightenment to the Revolution and of the Anglo-French transfers and translations of different English historians and philosophers who first started using the concept in the second half of the eighteenth century. In the interaction between the French and English Lumières, civilization came forward as a meta-concept pitted against that of the contract theory advanced by authors such as Adam Ferguson, with a distinct perspective of an overarching natural history of mankind. Drawing upon the results produced by Frantext and a history of the use of concept in different theoretical frameworks, the author demonstrates the construction of civilisation in its relationship to various antonyms (barbare, sauvage, barbarie), rhetorical uses and conceptions of history.
Pim den Boer
A series of panels focusing on the concept of civilization were organized in each one of the annual meetings held by the History of Political and Social Concepts Group (HPSCG) in New York (2005), Uppsala (2006) and Istanbul (2007). The guiding idea of such an effort was to stimulate research on what became one of the most successful eighteenth-century neologisms in modern socio-political vocabulary. There has been extensive historical and conceptual research on civilization in German, French and English, but little has been produced on its introduction, translation and usage in other European and non-European languages.
Towards an Immortal Political Body
The State Machine in Eighteenth-Century English Political Discourse
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.
The article singles out one dimension of the history of concepts in general and of Koselleck’s work in particular, the “theory of historical times,” which at present is both contested and simply overlooked. After discussing some of the arguments for and against the necessity of such a theory for the practice of conceptual history, the article moves on to suggest an alternative context for grasping its originality, the so-called linguistic turn, manifest in French structuralist thought and especially in the works of Michel Foucault. In Koselleck’s works key structuralist ideas like structure and the diachronicsynchronic opposition are developed in ways that open them to questions of historicity and multiple times.