conclusion attests more to a diffuse manner of speaking than it contributes to the diagnosis of our situation.” 3 And yet, examining diffuse manners of speaking are themselves central to the practice of conceptual history. Stretching the Word-Concept
Reflections on an Overburdened Word
An Essay on the Semantic Structure of Religious Discourses
The widespread opinion among conceptual historians is that political concepts are always contested in their actual usage. Religious concepts in modernity are also not only contested; they are constructed on an ontological contradiction. They imply that the object to which they refer exists, and at the same time that it does not. I demonstrate this idea using four religious concepts: religion, God, the beyond, and spirit. I conclude with discussion on the reality status of religious concepts in modern historiography and religious studies.
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.
cendres (1966) Conceptual history is devoted to studying the use of concepts in historical change, which human beings must always manage cognitively. Reinhart Koselleck, the founder of Begriffsgeschichte , made time management the central focus of this
From the English Philosophical Context to the Greek-Speaking Regions of the Ottoman Empire
Eirini Goudarouli and Dimitris Petakos
and the philosophy of science and technology, scholars strongly acknowledge the role and gravity of conceptual change in historical and philosophical inquiry. They are interested in the changing meaning of fundamental scientific concepts and the direct
Reflections on the Concept of Unnati (Progress) in Hindi (1870–1900)
This article analyzes the historical semantics of the concept of unnati in the nationalist discourse in Hindi between 1870 and 1900. The article first outlines the basic features of the Enlightenment concept of progress using Koselleck's analysis. It then goes on to discuss the place of the concept of progress in the colonial ideology of a “civilizing mission,“ and concludes by taking up the analysis of the usage of the term unnati in the nationalist discourse in North India.
Peter De Bolla, Ewan Jones, Paul Nulty, Gabriel Recchia and John Regan
This article proposes a novel computational method for discerning the structure and history of concepts. Based on the analysis of co-occurrence data in large data sets, the method creates a measure of “binding” that enables the construction of verbal constellations that comprise the larger units, “concepts,” that change over time. In contrast to investigation into semantic networks, our method seeks to uncover structures of conceptual operation that are not simply semantic. These larger units of lexical operation that are visualized as interconnected networks may have underlying rules of formation and operation that have as yet unexamined—perhaps tangential—connection to meaning as such. The article is thus exploratory and intended to open the history of concepts to some new avenues of investigation.
How the Scientific Reflex Came to be Employed against Nazi Propaganda
The article analyzes Sergej Chakhotin’s transfer of the concept of reflex from Russian physiology to German propaganda. Chakhotin had been working at Ivan Pavlov’s laboratory in St. Petersburg in the 1910s. The experiences he had there with reflex conditioning, the boom of psychotechnics, and the application of psychological practices for aesthetic purposes were his basis for the invention of a socialist propaganda program against the Nazi regime. It is shown how the concept of reflex changed as it meandered through different disciplines.
Empire was never an important concept in Ottoman politics. This did not stop Ottoman rulers from laying claim to three titles that may be called imperial: halife, hakan, and kayser. Each of these pertains to different translationes imperii, or claims of descent from different empires: the Caliphate, the steppe empires of the Huns, Turks, and Mongols, and the Roman Empire. Each of the three titles was geared toward a specific audience: Muslims, Turkic nomads, and Greek-Orthodox Christians, respectively. In the nineteenth century a new audience emerged as an important source of political legitimacy: European-emergent international society. With it a new political vocabulary was introduced into the Ottoman language. Among those concepts was that of empire, which found its place in Ottoman discourse by connecting it with the existing imperial claims.
Generation in Physiology, Pedagogy and Politics around 1800
Using the pattern of subsequent generations, contingent processes of historical change can be narrated as if they were something natural. The article explores this naturalizing potential of the modern concept of generation by tracing it back to its origin around the year 1800, when current physiological theories about the “epigenetic” self-organization of life became applicable to pedagogical and political programs of “new” and “forthcoming” generations. The article also discusses the methodological question of how such conceptual transfers can be adequately described.