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Culture: The Making And The Make-Up Of A Concept. An Essay In Historical Semantics

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Chapter Summary

An historical semantics of "culture" inevitably draws its material, since the term itself is of scholarly origin, largely from philosophical texts, or at least texts of philosophico-social publicistics. This chapter discusses some of the most important opposites of &t;culture&t;. The objectivational-generic conception of culture, with its emphasis on the idea that all people and nations have their own culture, necessarily brings into relief this historical and social plurality. Modernity, conscious itself as a culture, seems to condemn us to this skepsis-generating chain of self-reflexivity. The concept of "culture," whose rapid linguistic and intellectual spread in the last two centuries was due primarily to the fact that it gave a concentrated expression to the faith of the Enlightenment in the boundless meaning- and value-creating power of the human mind, bears witness to the contradictions, strains and fissures of its contemporary meaning, as well as to the discouraging fate of this faith.

Keywords: culture; historical semantics; philosophical texts; societal dimension



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