Historicizing Culture: A Revaluation of Early Modern Science and Culture

Abstract : This article historicizes the concept of culture to better understand discussions of culture and cultural difference in the sciences and beyond. Historicization not only traces the past meanings and practices related to "culture", it also contributes to a more refined and reflexive application of the concept today. The historiographical consensus is that the modern notion of culture was constructed in the nineteenth century in opposition to the sciences. In contrast, this chapter will study a key moment in the late sixteenth century, when the meaning of culture was expanded from its original meaning as "agricultural cultivation" into a full‐fledged "epistemic culture". A study of the Jesuit polemicist and educational reformer Antonio Possevino shows how "culture" comes to stand for a new educational program of the sciences, together with its corresponding pedagogical institutions. Culture is not yet essentialized: it remains an active word that implies processes of "cultivation". On the other hand, culture is politicized.
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Contributor : Koen Vermeir <>
Submitted on : Sunday, January 7, 2018 - 8:28:18 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, February 21, 2019 - 12:22:03 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-01677046, version 1



Koen Vermeir. Historicizing Culture: A Revaluation of Early Modern Science and Culture. Chemla, Karine and Fox Keller, Evelyn. Cultures without Culturalism, Duke University Press, pp.227--249, 2017. ⟨hal-01677046⟩



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