TUNA Summary No. 2, 2012
Eestlased Eestis 18 Jul 2012  TUNA
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While in our everyday life we take the existence of
what is called Estonian culture to be a self-evident
truism, it is very difficult to define the concept of
Estonian culture with philosophical rigour. This is
because we are used to conceptualising it by means of
the notion of national culture derived from Herder’s
Volksgeist, which is heavily criticised in post-modern
theory as an imaginary identity performing a mostly
political function as a nationalist ideology. The essay
outlines a constructivist critique of Estonian culture
and comes to the conclusion that if Estonian culture
is viewed as a means for creating the political selfconsciousness
of Estonian nationals, then its critique
as a nationalist ideology is justified. The second part
of the essay analyses Estonian critical theorists who
have attempted to define Estonian culture from the
position of its constructivist criticism – Hasso Krull,
Tiit Hennoste, Marek Tamm, Peeter Torop and Rein
Veidemann – and offers an alternative view, according
to which Estonian culture should not be seen as a
set of (retroactively created) meanings that define a
common “way of life”, a common worldview, a common
model of self-description, or a common “basic
vocabulary”, but as a horizontal structure that allows
the formation of any type of meaning without giving
its products any unifying characteristics. In other
words, the essay argues that Estonian culture should
be seen as a “stage” for meaning-formation processes,
rather than a particular result of such processes.


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