The starting point of my analysis will be Reinhard Koselleck’s hypothesis of historical asymmetrical counterconcepts. His belief in a conceptual and ideological global dualism (Hellene/Barbarian, Christian/Heathen, Superman/Subhuman), in which a collective Self is contrasted to a generic Other of negation, will be tested on Linnaeus’ 18th-century classifications of human varieties (races). Though proposed as a neutral scientific map of human ethnic groups, the conceptual asymmetries were nestled within Linnaeus quadripartite and occasionally quinquepartite division of the world. The asymmetric character of these taxonomies, complicating Koselleck's essentially dichotomous vision of conceptual asymmetry, will be explored through their connotations of inclusion and exclusion, immateriality/invisibility vs materiality/visibility, civilization, authenticity/originality/innocence and, 'degeneration'. The binary scheme of asymmetrical concepts is further qualified by Linnaeus' empirical and morphological findings that thwart easy clear-cut distinctions, as well as by his reliance on ancient Humoralism with its stress on symmetry, equality and balance of four nodes (rather than two), and, finally, Linnaeus' self-referential characterization of the human species (nosce te ipsum - know thyself) which does not preclude, however, a subtle ambivalence regarding European cultural sophistication.
|Title of host publication||Hellenes and Barbarians|
|Subtitle of host publication||Asymmetrical Concepts in European Discourse|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 2016 Aug|
|Name||European Conceptual History Series|