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Part of an outline of Research Creation [Link] as methodology.

The term concept is often used quite loosely to refer to something conceived in the mind, a thought, an abstract or generic idea.

I prefer a pragmatic use of the term as tool or tactic. Concept is here close to the term conceit.

concepts – theory

Theory can mean the fundamental basis of a subject of interest or area of study. Concepts are key components of theory. While theory is often taken as abstract and contemplative, in contrast to action and practice, I prefer to take concepts and theory as part of the process of researching and learning about something. Such work is informed by interest, aims and intentions, and is constrained by the skills and resources available to any project to find out and learn.

As an archaeologist who works with what remains of the past, I am interested in how we might understand making and creating, innovation and change, experiences and lifeworlds, past and present, so as to inform action now and for the future (see the JANUS Initiative for more on this – [Link]). The concept of praxis [Link] refers to this combination of interest, understanding, and action.

In such ways, theory and concepts are part of thoughtful practice. Any archaeologist interested in the shape of history should be expected to make use of social and cultural concepts such as society, class, ethnicity, community, politics, status, agency, and many more, according to the focus of a specific archaeological project.

Read more – book – Social Theory and Archaeology [Link]
Read more – book – Archaeology: the Key Concepts [Link]

concepts – methodology

The term (or concept) Research Creation [Link] directs attention to the ways that knowledge is made, ways that understanding is achieved. Research is a creative practice, crafting, producing works.

Concepts play a key role in praxis [Link]

Concepts are

tools, tactics, techniques;
means of grasping a matter, getting a handle on things;
means of directing attention, offering orientation;
means of framing, scaffolding, organizing;
means of realizing intention in designing and planning;
fundamental/underlying principles;
generative tactics in creative projects;
guides, sometimes algorithms or templates.

concepts in the archaeological imagination

Here are some key concepts in my own research creation – in the archaeological imagination.

  • through a glass – [Link]
  • vox tantum atque ossa supersunt[Link]
  • ROMA – [Link]
  • figure and ground – [Link]
  • figuration – [Link]
  • ghosts in the mirror – [Link]
  • et in Arcadia ego[Link]
  • ataraxia[Link]
  • So werd ich Todten-Kopff ein Englisch Antlitz seyn[Link]
  • (signal and) noise – [Link]
  • mark making – [Link]
  • synchronicity – [Link]
  • prehistory, antiquity, modernity – [Link]
  • actuality – [Link]
  • interruption – [Link]
  • geology – topology – [Link]
  • architecture – place/event – mise-en-scène – [Link]
  • alchemy – [Link]
  • deep mapping – [Link]
  • microlandscape [Link]
  • memory – [Link]
  • opportunity (kairos) – [Link]
  • allegory – [Link]

black boxes

Most of these concepts are compounds, bundles, assemblages of heterogeneous components such as characters (personae), figures, emblems, symbols, scenarios. This makes them black boxes.

aspects and components

Concept is related to two verbs:

  • To conceive – involving generative, creative energy, referencing the constitutive imagination, a capacity or faculty for imagining things, the imagination.
  • To comprehend – grasp, capture.

Key roots include Latin:

  • concipere, to conceive, be mother of, form, devise, understand, imagine, utter an oath.
  • capere, to take, sieze, capture.
  • comprehendere, to grasp, sieze, arrest, comprehend.

Compare the German Begriff, concept and begreifen, to understand, grasp, comprehend.
Here is the same association of comprehending with grasping, taking hold, taking in hand.

More etymological notes on usage from the Oxford English Dictionary

Partly an alteration of conceit n. after classical Latin concept-, past participial stem of concipere conceive v. Compare Middle French, French concept (1404, earliest in sense ‘idea, mental image’; the specific use in philosophy is not paralleled until 1647), Catalan concepte (14th cent.), Spanish concepto (early 15th cent.), and also Italian concetto (see conceit n.), Portuguese conceito (1523; also 1537 as †concepto). Compare also Dutch concept (1504, earliest in senses ‘plan, design’ and ‘draft’), German †Concept (now Konzeptc1500 in sense ‘design, plan’), early modern Danish concept (Danish koncept), Swedish koncept (1527 as †concept, earliest in sense ‘draft’).

The chief senses of Italian concetto ( < classical Latin conceptum concept n.) are: intention, design, plan (a1306), idea, thought, mental image (both a1308), fundamental idea which underlies a work of art (a1374), esteem, reputation (a1529), opinion, judgement (1532), fanciful or ingenious expression or rhetorical figure (a1595).

Originally in Philosophy: a general idea or notion, a universal; a mental representation of the essential or typical properties of something, considered without regard to the peculiar properties of any specific instance or example. Later often (frequently with of): the meaning that is realized by a word or expression.

Read more about Research Creation – methodology:

Note – Cicero (Academic Questions 1.47) on Zeno and comprehension:

Zeno … stretched out his fingers and showed the palm of his hand. “Perception,” he said, “is a thing like this.” Then, when he had a little closed his fingers, “Assent is like this.” Afterwards, when he had completely closed his hand, and held forth his fist, that, he said, was comprehension. … He called this κατάληψις (katalepsis). Then he brought his left hand against his right, and with it took a firm and tight hold of his fist. Knowledge, he said, was of that character.

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