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Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Lost Language of Liberalism

The liberalism that emerged particularly during the 18th and 19th centuries has been the jewel of western civilization. The liberal discourse of the liberal era featured a number of central words. Many of the central words became confused especially in the period 1880 to 1940. The central words are shown in the left side panel.

Most of the central terms were infused with certain core meanings. In 1870 in the West, though perhaps not dominating the culture, the liberal meanings were at least rather focal. But today for many of the words the core meaning is lost. Today the important words mean little to people, or mean something quite different from the original liberal meaning.

The substance of a cultural system lies in its semantics. The semantics reside in central words. When central words lose their meaning, the civilization loses its character. Their semantics lost, people find themselves lost. In most public discourse today, the central words are in confusion. Liberalism, the jewel of humankind, exists only vaguely, only half perceived, with little voice and standing.

Source: Lost Language, Lost Liberalism 

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