Sur l'influence en histoire des idées

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Thérence Carvalho


What is influence? The term is now widely used in the scientific field, but its exact meaning and the unthought it conveys remain obscure. The purpose of this article is to question, from a methodological point of view, the uses of the concept of influence in the history of ideas. Despite its practicality, the word ‘influence’ often remains ambiguous and fails to describe the complexity of intellectual phenomena. Yet, if the researcher wants to understand the truth, he must first replace common terms, which may in fact turn out to be screens or walls, by mastered, validated and controlled terms. Verbal automatisms can lead to distortion of reality and there can be no scientific progress without the prior conquest of a specific vocabulary. In order to make a better use of the term ‘influence’, this article proposes to circumscribe it according to determined criteria. Finally, it calls for going beyond it by using other more relevant concepts.

English Title: On ‘Influence’ in the History of Ideas

Keywords: History of Ideas, Methodology of Historiography, Influence, Conceptual Alternatives to Influence


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Author Biography

Thérence Carvalho, Université de Nantes

Doctorant contractuel en histoire du droit à l'Université de Rennes 1.

Je prépare une thèse sur la circulation et la réception de la physiocratie dans l'Europe des Lumières.