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Learned PatriotsDebating Science, State, and Society in the Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Empire$
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M. Alper Yalçinkaya

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226184203

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226184340.001.0001

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Speakers, Institutions, Discourses of Science in a New Regime

Speakers, Institutions, Discourses of Science in a New Regime

(p.42) Two Speakers, Institutions, Discourses of Science in a New Regime
Learned Patriots

M. Alper Yalçinkaya

University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on the period following the Tanzimat Decree of 1839 in which new bureaucrats acquired significant power. It discusses with examples the life styles and dispositions of the members of this class, and analyzes how these bureaucrats talked about science. Science is commonly referred to as the opposite of “ignorance” in these texts. These ways of talking about science were strategies for claiming distinction, and indicate the new bureaucrats’ struggle to define themselves as the new “knowing class.” In this analysis, the chapter also traces the birth of a key theme of the debate: “science as the route to patriotism.” Science, as knowledge that the holders of state power possessed, was identified with the state in the new discourse, and scientific knowledge was presented as knowledge that made one respect the state. The important conclusion is that right at the outset the debate on science was fundamentally about social order and the characteristics of “virtuous men,” be they high-ranking officials or humble subjects.

Keywords:   Ottoman Empire, Tanzimat, science, virtue, ignorance

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