The Lappon, the Scythian and the Hungarian, or our (former) selves as ‘others’. Philosophical history in eighteenth-century Hungary
This paper investigates some applications of the discursive patterns and the vocabulary of Enlightenment philosophical history to themes of national history at the beginning of the period of ‘national awakening’ in Hungary (1770s and 1780s). This innovative language was adopted from European models where it was developed in strict reliance on the achievements of the eighteenth-century sciences of man. At the same time, when applied to confronting a theory of linguistic kinship (Finno-Ugrianism) and by implication of national origins which was at variance with the inherited master narrative on the subject (Scythianism), became instrumental in reaffirming the traditional view. It did so by underpinning a quasi-racialist ‘othering’, characteristic of ethno-nationalist discourses of identity arising later on in the nineteenth century, and still preserving their vigour. In all of this, the political climate of the Kingdom of Hungary in the 1770s, and the fact that during this period the relevant trends of Enlightenment were predominantly embraced by nobles strongly attached to the ideology of social distinction posited by the above-mentioned master narrative, played important role.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
László Kontler, "The Lappon, the Scythian and the Hungarian, or our (former) selves as ‘others’. Philosophical history in eighteenth-century Hungary", in Guido Abbattista (edited by), Encountering Otherness. Diversities and Transcultural Experiences in Early Modern European Culture, pp. 131-145.