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‘Meddle Not with Them
that Are Given to Change ’:
Innovation as Evil
Workshop on the Rhetoric
of Innovation in Contemporary Society
University of Helsinki
8-9 February 2010
- Greely et al., Nature, 2008
- Greeks and Romans political thought
(more on this later)
- Reformation
- Edward VI, A Proclamation Against Those
that Doeth Innovate, 1548
- Common Prayer Book, 1549
- Act of Uniformity, 1549
Introduction (continued)
- How, when and why did innovation
become a positive value?
- Project on the Intellectual History of
- Innovation as a category
- Representations of innovation
- Origins, context, meaning, uses, values,
discourses, theories, measurements
Introduction (continued)
- A forgotten concept
- German Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe
project (Brunner, Conze and Koselleck,
1972 and after)
- Dictionary of the History of Ideas (1974)
- Raymond Williams’ Keywords (1976)
- Ideas in Context series (like Ball, Farr and
Hanson, 1989)
Introduction (continued)
- Innovation controversy, 1636-41
- Henry Burton versus Archbishop
William Laud and ‘laudians’ (P. Heylin,
C. Dow)
- Purity of Protestantism
- Introduction of popery
Henry Burton
- For God and the King, 1636
- My Sonne, feare thou the Lord, and the
King, and meddle not with them that are
given to change. For their calamity shall
rise suddenly; and who knoweth the
ruine of them both?
- An exegesis and accusation
Burton (continued)
- The exegesis
- An exhortation: My Sonne, feare thou the
Lord, and the King
- An admonition: and meddle not with them
that are given to change
- A Reason: For their calamity shall rise
suddenly; and who knoweth the ruine of
them both?
Burton (continued)
- The accusation: eight innovations
Worship of God
Civil Government
Altering of Books
Means of Knowledge
Rule of Faith
Rule of Manners
Burton (continued)
- Innovation: a political (and contested) category
- Ancient political thought (more on this later, again)
- Proclamations and Declarations
- Edward VI (1548, 1549)
- Charles I (1626, 1628, 1638)
- Burton
- Political vocabulary; political issues; political effects
- Crossing boundaries and using a category for one’s own
- Burton as ‘innovative ideologist’
- Uses the category for polemical purposes
- Uses it against the authority
Laud and laudians
- No innovation
Ad hominem: a frustrated individual
Ad populum: popularity
Invention, fancy
Misunderstanding and misinterpretation
History (times and circumstances)
Revolution (rebellion and sedition)
Laud and laudians (continued)
- 1937: Burton brought before the Court
(High Commission)
- He had his ears cut and was sentenced
to imprisonement
The Parliament
- End of the controversy
- After three years, he is released by
Parliament and becomes a popular hero
- Orders from the House of Commons
- Proceedings of the bishops (1941)
- Laud beheaded (1945)
Explaining Innovation
Context: orthodoxy
Meaning: ‘introducing change’
Value: pejorative
- Prohibition (Kings)
- Polemical (Burton)
- A subjective category
1. Politics
- Greek and Roman political thought on change
(metabole, parekbasis) and stability (soteria) of
constitutions: Plato, Aristotle, Polybius, Livy
- Change as intermediary; gradualism
- Innovation (kainotomia)
- A metaphor (Xenophon); meaning: introducing change
- Pejorative representation (individuals)
- N. Machiavelli
• Princes should innovate to secure power (usefulness)
• People do not innovate (resistances)
• Early and fast – to make people forget (strategy)
Genealogy (continued)
2. Religion
- Reformation (a new orthodoxy)
- People should not innovate
- Even the King does not innovate (Charles,
Genealogy (continued)
- Impact 1: few uses of innovation (until
20th century)
- Science
- New everywhere, but:
- Innovation used by enemies (novellists, etc.)
- Satires
- Literary criticism: own vocabulary
(invention, then imagination, creation)
- (Mechanical) arts: invention, projectors
Genealogy (continued)
- Impact 2: two vocabularies
- Alteration, innovation (as novelty,
invention, opinion, fancy: individual)
- Versus change (natural, social; but
- Reformation, restoration, renovation
- Italian: XXXX; German: erneuerung
- But: no substitute to innovation
- Then: revolution
Genealogy (continued)
3. Technology and theorists on modernity and progress
(philosophy, sociology and economics)
- Goes back to F. Bacon
- Novelty (as curiosity, subtlety) versus invention (as usefulness)
- Vocabulary of restoration, but forward-looking (totally new
- ‘Strategic’ thoughts on how to deal with innovation (like
- Usefulness, resistances, ‘strategy’ (slowly, as time goes – to get
people accustomed)
- But took time
- Projectors: innovation as cheat; satires
- Rehabilitation: D. Defoe; J. Bentham
Genealogy (continued)
- Technology’s theorists
- Anthropologists: cultural change (diffusion
- Sociologists: social change (Tarde, Ogburn)
- Economists: technological change
(Schumpeter, Maclaurin), then technological
innovation( Manchester, Sussex/SPRU)
- Policy (and statistics)
Genealogy (continued)
4. Creativity
- Idea of ability in Machiavelli
- An old tradition
- Psychology of imagination (combination)
- Literary criticism: imagination, creation
- 1950 and after: rise of a literature on creativity; buzzword
- A few precursors: Schumpeter (creative destruction), Usher,
- But mainly indirect, through:
- Invention (technology)
- Rossman on creative inventors (new subtitle in 1964)
- R&D
- R defined as original, creative work (NBER, 1962; OECD FM, 1962)
- R&D as proxy to innovation
Innovation: an everyday category
- From: innovation as heresy (religion),
revolutionary (politics) and cheat (business)
- To: innovation as an obsession and panacea
Extension (social innovation)
Metaphor (biological innovation)
Greely et al.
‘Innovation’ (instead of ‘technological innovation’):
dominant and hegemonic representation