The language of power: Science, statecraft, and words
This paper considers how concepts drawn from scientific inquiry inform our understanding of history, and more specifically, the discourse of civilization. Its intent is to explore how terms with origins in Early Modern scientific thought became part of the lexicon which we still use to describe social, political and economic conditions.
Words like Power, Force, Mass, and Energy are integral to our understanding of the world and the idea of civilization that frames our impressions of it. Similarly, concepts like Order and Chaos also have a profound impact on our worldview, and are fundamental to our perception of civilization as a concept. By exploring how these words came to be used to describe the world we live in, we can better appreciate how our present understanding of the world is shaped by historical forces that were unleashed during this important period from the 16th-19th centuries.
By examining the words we use to describe the world we live in, and inquiring as to how their origins inform and shape our perspectives of the world, we can begin to appreciate how truly subjective our understanding of the world really is. In doing so, we can more fully understand a historical past before such language was prevalent, and also begin to conceive of a future which moves beyond it.
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