Conceptual History

Agreeing on definitions of complicated concepts cannot be regarded as a necessary precondition for mutual understanding. On the contrary, attempting to arrive at such a definition can easily lead to unpleasantness like superficiality, even oppression. Narratives about how concepts have been used and how conceptual struggles have been resolved in different sectors of public life in different cultural settings promote, in a deeper sense, an understanding of otherness.

In English political language, the notion of people has not been in use for decades, possibly even centuries - until Tony Blair used the word several times outside 10 Downing Street after the Labour Party election victory. Previously, if used at all, it basically referred to a leftist notion of the average life of ordinary people. According to a dominant tradition among British scholars the roots of many unpleasant political currents in Europe, such as authoritarianism, centralism, anti-republicanism, lie in the philosophies that take the notion of people (Volk) as a serious point of departure.

At least the notion of the Irish people occasionally comes up in Irish political debate. To understand Finnishness, one has to understand the key significance of the concept of the Finnish people.

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