The author argues that conceptual history is becoming increasingly indispensable due to the historical trend in political practices to move from a politics of answers to given questions to a politics of thematizing the questions themselves, that is, of agenda-setting. The very understanding of a certain question as contingent and controversial marks a politicizing change in the agenda. From the perspective of the history of concepts, the formulation of questions themselves become politically key issues, given that rhetorical problems of the renaming and reinterpretation of the meaning, significance and normative color of concepts play a key role in the decisions regarding inclusion and exclusion. Assuming that concepts function as “pivots” in the contemporary controversy, there is at least some possibility for change in terms of rendering the controversy intelligible by means of the instruments of conceptual history. If conceptual history were ever to play a direct political role, it might concern teaching politicians the styles of both a conceptual reading of politics and a political reading of the uses of concepts.
Its Development and Prospects
This article explores the development of Korea's conceptual history from the perspective of sociology of knowledge by focusing on the intellectual environment since the early 1990s, pioneers and areas of conceptual research, the kinds of expectations that Korean scholars have of conceptual research, data archiving and methodology, works and tasks of conceptual history in Korea. The article finds that the conceptual research on Korea's modernization is a good approach to construct a reflexive history beyond the false dichotomy of Western influence and nationalistic response.
The article examines, through the use of conceptual history, the semantics of ruling and government in Europe. The author identifies the discourses that have been constructed in order to answer the question of what can be ruled and governed in European cultures and shows how their prominence and timing have varied in different political cultures.
Is the Concept of Democracy Essentially Contested?
This article surveys the history of the concept of democracy from Ancient times to the present. According to the author, the conceptual history of democracy shows that the overwhelming success of the concept is most of all due to its ability to subsume very different historical ideas and realities under its semantic field. Moreover, the historical evolution of the concept reveals that no unequivocal definition is possible because of the significant paradoxes, aporias, and contradictions it contains. These are popular sovereignty vs. representation, quality vs. quantity, liberty vs. equality, individual vs. collective, and, finally, the synchronicity between similarities and dissimilarities. The ubiquitous usage of democracy in present-day political language makes it impossible to speak of it from an external perspective. Thus, both democratic theory and practice are suffused with empirical and normative elements.
A Challenge for Conceptual History
The debate between metaphor theorists and conceptual historians has been intensifying in recent years. This article takes this debate beyond the bias toward Blumenberg's metaphorology, and starts from the interaction view of metaphor as formulated by Max Black. The article opens with a theoretical framework that reformulates Black's notions of metaphorical resonance and emphasis. It adapts them to the requirements of Conceptual History, and adds a third, historical criterion for metaphoricity. It then applies these suggestions to the history of the metaphor play/game/Spiel/jeu within twentieth-century political thought. Here, the focus lies on the role this metaphor plays in the conceptual relations between the ideas of political order, conflict, and immanence.
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.
Challenges and Prospects
ALP EREN TOPAL and EINAR WIGEN
In this article, we discuss the pitfalls and benefits of conceptual history as an approach to Ottoman studies. While Ottoman studies is blossoming and using a wider set of tools to study the Ottoman past, Ottoman intellectual history is still resigned to a life-and-works approach. Th is absence of synthesizing attempts has left intellectual history in the margins. In addition to the lack of new, theoretically sophisticated accounts of how Ottoman intellectual and political changes were intertwined, the old Orientalist works still hold canonical status in the field. Drawing on recent developments in social and political history, conceptual history may be a good way of doing self-reflective longue durée intellectual history. Ottoman conceptual history may also off er nonspecialists more sophisticated bases for comparison with non-Ottoman cases.
The Sanctification and Democratisation of "the Nation" and "the People" in Late Eighteenth-Century Northwestern Europe
Proposing a Comparative Conceptual History
This paper suggests that the study of the modernisation of European political cultures in the eighteenth century would greatly benefit from a comparative conceptual historical approach. is approach would effect the reconstruction of a variety of meanings attached to chosen political concepts in different national contexts through the side-by-side analysis of primary sources originating from each case according to the methodology of both historical semantics and pragmatics. A promising research topic is the continuity and change in the conceptualisation of national community, national identity, popular sovereignty and democracy in various European political cultures. e conceptual analyses of late eighteenth-century political sermons from five northwestern European countries, conducted by the author, for example, reveal that conceptual changes related to the rise of nationalism took place even within public religion, allowing it to adapt itself to the age of nationalism. Further analysis of the secular debates taking place in representative bodies and public discourse in late eighteenth-century Britain, the Dutch Republic and Sweden elucidates the gradual development of the notion that all political power is ultimately derived from the people and that such a system constituted a "democracy" in a positive sense within different parliamentary traditions and perhaps even before the French Revolution.
From National to Entangled Histories
The last decade has witnessed a remarkable internationalization in conceptual history. Research covers more countries and languages than ever before, and there have been a number of very good comparative studies. This article reflects on the possibility of taking conceptual history beyond comparison. Like nations, languages can no longer be considered as naturally given entities, but have to be viewed as profoundly shaped by historical exchanges. This brings conceptual history into a dialogue with translation studies in a common attempt to unravel how equivalents between languages have been created by the actors.
An Interview with Reinhart Koselleck
Javiér Fernández Sebastián, Juan Francisco Fuentes and Reinhart Koselleck
Among the many subjects you have worked on throughout your career, we would like to concentrate on those related to the methodology of intellectual history, especially conceptual history. We will then go on to make you a few questions about your recent work on memory and identity.