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SecurityPolitics, Humanity, and the Philology of Care$
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John T. Hamilton

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157528

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157528.001.0001

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A Brief Semantic History of Securitas

A Brief Semantic History of Securitas

(p.51) 4 A Brief Semantic History of Securitas

John T. Hamilton

Princeton University Press

What does the term “security” express? What are or have been its semantic functions: its shifting cultural connotations and its divergent discursive values? This chapter examines the figures and metaphors that have been deployed to think about security across the ages. It outlines the main stations along the word's complex itinerary through historical usage. It begins with a cursory overview that marks the major turning points of this history, beginning with ancient Rome and concluding with seventeenth-century Europe. Among the topics covered is the positive sense of security that established its position as a central topic in political philosophy in the work of Thomas Hobbes. Throughout, the affirmation of security as a good is fundamentally connected with the power of sovereignty to alleviate the cares and concerns of its subjects. The state emerges as an institution that protects its citizens from all varieties of existential threats, from external aggression as well as from internal discord.

Keywords:   security, metaphors, ancient Rome, seventeenth-century Europe, Thomas Hobbes, sovereignty, political philosophy

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