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German New Humanism

(1,372 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. The phenomenonThe German term  Neuhumanismus (“Neohumanism, New Humanism”), coined by Friedrich Paulsen in 1885 [11. 191–195], denotes an educational movement (Bildung) that originated in the 1770s in Germany in reaction against utilitarian concepts of education rooted in the Enlightenment. In contrast to education in Germany’s western and eastern neighbors, it celebrated the ancient Hellenic world as the epitome of true, good, and beautiful humanity (Antiquity, reception of). In the first half of the 19t…
Date: 2019-10-14

Decadence

(1,413 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptThe idea that empires and cultures, having risen to power and greatness, must necessarily undergo decline, commonplace among ancient historians after Polybius, was revisited and reformulated by the Humanists. Until around 1800, “decadence” (also “decline”; Latin   inclinatio, ruina, depravatio; Italian  decadenza, declino, caduta; French  déclin, décadence; German  Verfall, Dekadenz) was therefore a basic category of political, social, and aesthetic discourse. As a constitutive element of a cyclical view of history, the concept den…
Date: 2019-10-14

Moralist literature

(1,308 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. DefinitionAt its first appearance in 1690 in Antoine Furetière’s Dictionnaire universel, the term  moraliste (“moralist”) simply meant an author who treated moral questions. By around 1700, however, the pejorative secondary meaning “rigorist” had been coined, referring specifically to adherents of Jansenism. Volume 10 of the Encyclopédie of Diderot and D’Alembert once more denigrated the moralist, defining him in 1765 as a vain, unsystematic littérateur aiming more to amaze than to enlighten [9. 48–52]. The term  moralist literature (German Moralistik), by contra…
Date: 2020-04-06

Morality, history of

(1,148 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Definition and modelsIn the late 18th and 19th centuries, “history of morality” was the phrase used to denote the genre of cultural history that paid special attention to the mores and everyday world of a bygone epoch, culture, nation (Nation, nationalism), or society (Society [community]). The German equivalent, Sittengeschichte, used by Kant in contrast to Naturgeschichte (Natural history), remained limited to German [3]. Ever since Humanism, however, the concept of a historical presentation that seeks to draw conclusions about the civilized …
Date: 2020-04-06

Honnête homme, honnête femme

(1,229 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. DefinitionThe term  honnête homme, first attested in 1538, is defined in the  Dictionarium latinogallicum of Robert Estienne as a “cultured courtly gentleman without presumption.” Since the early 17th century, it expressed the quintessence of courtly urbanity, the social model of the new court society of the age of Louis XIV. Unlike related French words such as  courtisan, homme de qualité, homme de bien, homme galant, and  gentilhomme, the  honnête homme (and the  honnête femme) was not socially predefined; he was the classless ideal of an individual who alw…
Date: 2019-10-14

Dame

(1,564 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept The term, which came into English in the Middle Ages from the French dame (compare Italian dama/ donna, German Dame), derives from the Latin  domina (“mistress”). Dame in English is generally confined to an honorific title; where derivatives of domina in other languages denote a woman of high social rank or status, English uses “lady” (Old English hlafdige = “[woman] who kneads bread”) as Spanish uses señora. As a courtly title, “Dame” was mostly used in conjunction with the possessive “my” or  ma ( Madame, Madonna, Madam, My Lady/Milady). Domina derivatives denote th…
Date: 2019-10-14

Manners

(1,434 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. A social idealManners were understood from the late 15th century as the sum of all behaviors that expressed politeness or courtesy (German Höflichkeit; Italian  cortesia, gentilezza; Spanish  cortesía; French  politesse, civilité, towards ladies also  courtoisie and  galanterie; Dame) in practice. These were therefore more than merely forms of conduct corresponding to applicable social rules. Such prescribed conduct differed in the early modern period according to gender, estate, profession, confession, and social, ethnic, and…
Date: 2019-10-14

Character

(1,502 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptAt the beginning of the early modern period, the Greek term charaktḗr (‘stamp’ or ‘engraving’), which Patristic writers includingAugustine had been the first to introduce into literary Latin, had an abstract and technical meaning. As in the writings of Aristotle’s pupil Theophrastus, it denoted both a permanent mark, distinguishing feature, or symbol, and a prevailing moral quality [5]. The combination of the two senses proved so inspiring and fruitful that by the end of the 18th century, ‘character’ had undergone a rapid change of meaning in…
Date: 2019-10-14

Memoirs

(1,443 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept and definitionThe plural term “memoirs” adopted into all European cultural languages and derived from the Latin memoria and the French  mémoire (“memory,” “remembrance”) meant, like its Latin counterparts commentarii (“[legal] record”) and  adversaria (“[journal recording] what is before one's eyes”), a juristic, official, or diplomatic record describing the prior history and problem context of a conflict requiring negotiation. Academies also often titled their publication as “memoirs.” In its most significant connot…
Date: 2019-10-14

Catholic Enlightenment

(1,174 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Term The concept of Catholic Enlightenment developed in German historiography from the early 20th century, and has since the 1970s established itself as a specialist term [3. 40–53]; [5. 76–85]. In its general and internationally current sense, it denotes all the efforts undertaken within European Catholicism before around 1820 to adapt the ideas and accomplishments of the Enlightenment and to implement them in culture, education, scholarship, economics, and political organization [1]; [6]. In the specific sense widely used in German scholarship, it refers above …
Date: 2019-10-14

History

(4,883 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. OverviewThe urge to know as much as possible about the past of one’s race, clan, class, place of birth, homeland, people - and that of other groups, populations, and cultures too - and to certify and curate this knowledge in the hands of scholarly experts, was common to all learned cultures of the early modern era (Historiography; Historical traditions beyond Europe). This can be seen in the fact that tradition was fundamentally significant in all these cultures as the basis for claims to owne…
Date: 2019-10-14

Mythology

(2,027 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept and phenomenonIn Greco-Roman antiquity, the Greek term  múthos adopted into all European languages (German  Mythos, French  mythe) denoted a semantic field ranging from “word” and “factual statement” to “invented narrative.” Beginning with Plato, its meaning became confined to “story of the gods and heroes” [13. 181]. Accordingly, “mythology” throughout the early modern period was almost invariably taken to mean the study of the worlds of the Greek and Roman gods (Ancient religions), as it was portrayed by poets like Homer and …
Date: 2020-04-06

Civilization

(1,497 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept The term “civilization”, which appeared in French and in English shortly after 1750 and by 1820 was established in all Western European languages (French civilisation, German Zivilisation, Italian civilizzazione, Spanish civilisación), marks an ideal of the Enlightenment: a polity which has implemented, as much as possible, enlightened values - ranging from political freedom and a modern political economy (Economy, political) to humanity, education and urbanity -  und goes on perfectioning them. In this respect civi…
Date: 2019-10-14

Humanism

(10,285 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Introduction Humanism was the most important and influential European educational and cultural movement of the early modern period before the Enlightenment (Bildung). It arose in Italy in the 14th and 15th centuries, and by the mid-16th century it had spread across the entire western world. Its aim was an aesthetic one: the restoration of the literature, arts, and sciences of classical antiquity, especially Roman culture from the period between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE, which …
Date: 2019-10-14

Curiosity

(1,429 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Problem and conceptThe desire to expand one's knowledge was by no means regarded as a virtue in principle in the early modern period. Rather, there was intensive and passionate debate throughout, from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, on how far curiosity (from Latin  curiositas; Italian  curiosità; Spanish  curiosidad; French  curiosité, but German Neugier, literally “craving for the new”) might legitimately go, and at which limits it must cease. This debate, which was conducted in media ranging from sermons and disputations, to disser…
Date: 2019-10-14

Individuality

(1,883 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. General observations 1.1 DefinitionUntil the end of the 18th century, “individual” and “individuality” (from Lat. individuum; “indivisible”) was a technical term in philosophy that could denote “smallest unit” or “special character.” Consequently, it could also refer - as it does to this day in many European languages - to a single thing or person. In Germany during Idealism and Romanticism it acquired an emphatic tone; individuality became a synonym for the unmistakable uniqueness of a concrete personality,…
Date: 2019-10-14

Humanities

(2,002 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Concept and definition The concept and the term came into existence in late-19th century Germany, an outgrowth of the conviction developed within historicism that human will, thought, and activity could not be measured by the inductive methods of natural science and traced back to general rules, but must instead be studied as manifestations of each unique individuality in the specific shape they took. Hence, the Humanities were taken to comprise all academic disciplines (Disciplines, a…
Date: 2019-10-14

Dictionary

(1,606 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptA dictionary (Latin  dictionarium; Italian  dizionario, vocabulario; French dictionnaireglossaire, Spanish  diccionario, German Wörterbuch) is a usually alphabetical register presenting the vocabulary of a language in whole or in part, either to comment on each word as such or to present its equivalent(s) in one or more other language(s). Dictionaries in the early modern period were by no means confined to pragmatic purposes of language tuition or mutual understanding in contexts of travel, pilg…
Date: 2019-10-14

Fate, destiny

(1,425 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. Meaning and conceptThe idea of fate or destiny (French  fortune, destin, destinée; Italian  fato, destino; Spanis  fortuna, suerte, destino; German Schicksal) became in the early modern period a preferred mode for discussing the relationship between autonomy and necessity, that is, the question of freedom of will, and the driving forces of history and politics, in a secular context. As a synonym for whatever was peculiar, unalterable, and perhaps inexplicable in the course of the history of an individual, a peopl…
Date: 2019-10-14

Mazarinades

(667 words)

Author(s): Walther, Gerrit
1. ConceptThe term  Mazarinade, used by scholars since 1850, derives from  La Mazarinade, the title of a 1651 Paul Scarron literary parody of the  Iliad (French  Iliade). It serves as an umbrella term for over 4,000 mostly highly polemical pamphlets, published in France at the time of the Fronde (1648-1653) in opposition to attempts by the crown to centralize the government and administration in the spirit of absolutism. Because these efforts were embodied by Cardinal Jules Mazarin, the confidant and chief minister o…
Date: 2019-10-14
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