Ivar Aasen's Logic of Nation: Toward a Philosophy of Culture

J. Peter Burgess

J. Peter Burgess (1999) Ivar Aasen's Logic of Nation: Toward a Philosophy of Culture. Followed by Ivar Aasen, 'On our Written Language', 'On Culture and Norwegianness', and 'Recollections from the Language Debate of Autumn 1858', J. Peter Burgess (Trans) Volda, Høgskulen i Volda Press.

Who belongs to the Norwegian nation? These who carry a Norwegian passport? Residence permit?  Those who speak Norwegian? Thos with Norwegian ancestors? Those who have lived a certain period on the Norwegian territory? Indeed who belongs to the Norwegian? And who decides who belongs? Who or what authority prescribes the criteria for inclusion or exclusion in the group 'Norwegian'?

It's not the nation itself, but the concept of nation that was prosecuted on the 19th century ideological fields of battle and in the articles and treatises of Ivar Aasen. The struggle for Norway in the 19th century is the struggle for the concept of Norway, for possession of the concept's territory, for the right to draw tis borders and create a corps of conceptual border police, charged with the task of governing and policing the Norwegian. Who will own the concept, who will manipulate it, according to which terms, and with regard to whom? Ivar Aasen was thus not merely the engineer of a language, a capable philologist who carried out the nuts and bolts labor necessary to consolidate the New Norwegian language. He was the catalyst of the question of the nation, oc cultural identity in general and of Norwegian cultural identity in particular. Aasen did not fix Norwegian cultural identity for all times, but rather he problematised it, recast it as a question: New Norwegian as an interrogation, a challenge, a possibility, and a moral imperative.