History and Ethic in Pre-Revolutionary Sweden

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Publication BookChapter
Title History and Ethic in Pre-Revolutionary Sweden
Author(s) Hallberg, Peter
Date 2012
Editor(s) Arnason, Johann Pall; Wittrock, Björn
English abstract
The purpose of this chapter is to analyze how historians and other writers in eighteenth-century Sweden conceived of the social benefits of history writing within the context of what they considered a modern(izing) enlightened polity. In the 1740s and 1750s the benefits of history were discussed in the context of an ongoing enlightenment discourse on society that stipulated a close relationship between knowledge about the past and values like civility, virtue and patriotism. Virtually all of the speeches that are analyzed in this article refer to how historical reflection is a social practice that creates civic bonds between individuals and groups, bonds that constitute the premises for the creation and prosperity of a modern civil society and for a collective identity based on civic, as opposed to religious, foundations. The first two sections of the chapter recreate some aspects of the discourse on society in Sweden around the middle of the century by considering contemporary notions of enlightenment and civil society respectively. The third section shows in more detail how contemporaries argued that moral education was the most powerful instrument to create a community based on fellowship rather than force. A fourth section specifically analyzes texts that articulated the notion of history as a teacher of modern sociability, which is then specified in a final section that considers contemporary ideas about the advantages of visual and written historical media – statues and biographies respectively – to engage broader segments of society in the civilizing project.
Publisher Berghahn
Host/Issue Nordic paths to modernity
ISBN 978-0-85745-269-6
Pages 111-142
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Sweden
Eighteenth Century
Civil Society
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/14674 (link to this page)

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