Timofeev D. V. Applying of the concept of “freedom” in Russia of the early 19th century (.pdf)
The paper presents a brief analysis of the main provisions of the Anglo-Saxon and German («Begriffsgeschichte») direction of modern methodology called the history of concepts. Based on it, the research model of studying history of social thought in Russia of the late 18th – early 19th centuries is presented. The history of concepts is considered as a special method of work with historical sources allowing to reconstruct evolution of public consciousness and the related changes in political, social, economic, and spiritual spheres. The basis of a research is made by the two complexes of historical sources: 1) the texts created in public communication (laws, textbooks, magazines, and dictionaries); 2) nonpublic texts addressed to certain personnel (personal letters, projects, reports, applications). The author compares the main and additional connotations of the concept of “freedom” used by the Russian authors of the first third of the 19th century to address the most pressing issues of intra- and interclass interactions. The comparative analysis of historical sources shows that the concept of “freedom” was not an abstract category, had a relationship with the Russian reality and was used to achieve particularly utilitarian purposes. But the desire to extend the limits of personal or group freedom did not mean aiming at its achievement in all possible ways. Most Russian citizens expected talent of freedom from representatives of local authorities or the sovereign.
Key words: history of concepts, history of public thought, history of Russia in the first quarter of the 19th century, problem-comparative analysis, comparative contextual analysis, concept of “freedom”.