This article attempts to refine the understanding of translation, thus contributing to evaluate its role in reception theory and in the history of ideas. A discussion of on the character, theories, and practices of translation in early-modern times is its entry point of analysis. During this period, what mattered in the first place was not the extent to which the translated text succeeded or failed in making the source text and its "original" ideas accessible in the target language, but rather the extent and the way in which the source text was instrumental in pursuing the agenda set by the translator or others in compliance with specific contexts. Such a perspective on translation seems also appropriate to current modes of inquiry for which translation is not an instance of inter-cultural communication, aiming to penetrate the Other in its fullness and make it intelligible in its otherness, but a communicative act whose purposes are predominantly intra-cultural and consist in supporting domestic agendas to which the translated text looks instrumental.
Translation and Comparison
Early-Modern and Current Perspectives
Conceptual History in the United States
A Missing "National Projec"
Martin J. Burke
The author addresses the question of why there has been no national project on the history of political and social concepts in the United States analogous to those which have appeared in many countries in the wake of the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe, the Handbuch politisch-sozialer Grundbegriffe in Frankreich and, the Historisches Wöterbuch der Philosophie. Nevertheless, by listing and explaining how to use a number of available internet resources, the author suggests ways for scholars to develop histories of central concepts in American public discourse
Virtus as a Political Concept in the Middle Ages
The article deals with the semantic career of virtus as a political concept in the Middle Ages. It traces the different aspects of meaning assigned to this word in four medieval texts, namely St. Augustine's City of God, the Regula Pastoralis of Gregory the Great, the Via Regia of Smaragdus of St. Mihiel, and the Policraticus of John of Salisbury. Using quantitative methods, I analyze the employment of virtus with a focus on its relevance in the political discourse, and I also address the shift in meaning and argumentative capacity that the term undergoes over time. In the end, virtus can be shown to be a highly flexible yet strongly functional term that plays an important role in the conceptions of medieval societies.
Isaiah Berlin and the Animal Instinct
into the history of ideas. In 1968, he would argue that there had to be a connection between life and thought: The only truth which I have ever found out for myself is, I think, this one: of the unavoidability of conflicting ends. … All central
Ideas, History and Social Sciences
An Interview with Quentin Skinner
Jérémie Barthas and Arnault Skornicki
history of ideas, had to be omitted; it is reintroduced here. The questions have been translated for Theoria by Victor Lu. Quentin Skinner is Emeritus Professor in the Humanities at Queen Mary University of London and co-director of the Centre for the
Historical Semantics in Medieval Studies
New Means and Approaches
Bernhard Jussen and Gregor Rohmann
Between 1972 and 1992 Reinhart Koselleck, Otto Brunner, and Werner Conze published the famous seven volumes of Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe: Historisches Lexikon zur Politisch-Sozialen Sprache in Deutschland. The handbook was, in its day, a milestone for any historian interested in turning from the history of ideas to the history of semantics, of the verbal (and non-verbal) production of meaning. In his introduction, published in 1972, Reinhart Koselleck had directed the authors’ attention to the understanding that Historical Semantics stands and falls with defi ning corpora. In the pursuit of orientation about the quantity and dissemination of semantic figurations, but also of comparability of the articles’ findings, all authors were expected to use predefined text corpora. In conversations with his Bielefeld colleagues Koselleck often complained later that too many authors did not follow his rule and that too many of the handbook’s articles had just continued to work with approaches rooted in the history of ideas.
Translation and Comparison II
A Methodological Inquiry into Reception in the History of Ideas
This article addresses the methodological issues involved in the study of interlingual translation as an avenue of reception in the history of ideas. In particular, it assesses the possible uses of linguistic contextualism and conceptual history (Begriffsgeschichte) in this endeavour. It argues that both of these approaches have been, or are capable of being, far more sensitive towards the phenomenon of reception and, indeed, this is an area where cross-fertilization between them (often commended in general but rarely if ever in specific terms) is a practical possibility. Perspectives from Rezeptionsgeschichte may provide useful tools for building bridges between them. A few case studies in translation history are then critically examined, and on the basis of the foregoing methodological reflections propositions are made for further refining the approach taken in those case studies.
A Step Forward
João Feres Júnior
Contributions to the History of Concepts has now completed two years of existence. Its history has been closely tied to the annual meetings of the History of Political and Social Concepts Group (HPSCG). Talks about evolving from the HPSCG’s Newsletter to an academic periodical publication began in Bilbao, in 2003. The following year, at the 7th International Conference on the History of Concepts, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, we designed a plan to create a new journal that would serve as a conduit for researchers working with conceptual history, as well as for scholars interested in other related fields, such as intellectual history, the history of political thought, the history of ideas, etc. After a great deal of ground work, the journal was finally launched in 2005, both in digital and paper format, with an elegant graphic design and a host of excellent texts by distinguished scholars in the fields of conceptual history, intellectual history, and the history of political thought, such as Quentin Skinner, Melvin Richter, Kari Palonen, and Robert Darnton. The response from the international academic community was immediate and very encouraging. Since then positive feedback from a growing audience worldwide has been constantly on the rise.
The Affective (Re)turn and Early Modern European History
The call to attend to a history of affect is hardly a new one in the profession: in 1941, in a classic essay entitled “La sensibilité et l’histoire: Comment reconstituer le vie affective d’autrefois?,” Lucien Febvre laid out an agenda for just such a historiographical turn. His reasoning, however, had less to do with the need for a history of affect per se than with the belief that the history of ideas or of institutions, both of them mainstays of traditional historiography, “are subjects that the historian can neither understand nor make understood without this primordial interest that I call the psychological.” In a perceptive review essay of the historiography of emotions that marked the beginning of the current affective turn in historical inquiry, Barbara Rosenwein argued that Febvre’s turn toward such a history was less a repudiation of the political focus of history than a belief born from observing the rise of Nazism: “politics itself is not rational, not unemotional.” As Rosenwein notes, Febvre answered the skeptics in his own essay: “The history of hate, the history of fear, the history of cruelty, the history of love; stop bothering us with this idle chatter. But that idle chatter … will tomorrow have turned the universe into a fetid pile of corpses.”
Berlin's sexuality and his turn from analytical philosophy towards the history of ideas. He suggests that these shifts in Berlin's thinking are reflected in two concepts of liberty, negative and positive. The article also notes the prejudices that a