As the world changes through time, the meanings of the key ideas and words that structure our lives also change. Definitions of even the most basic terms, like “I”, are not at all stable. This semester we will be questioning certain critical words that have been especially salient in the last 200 years, the period some people call modernity.

I have collected here standard, commonly-used definitions for a few of these key terms. What these words typically mean is not what they meant in the past and is not necessarily what they ought to mean in a just and humane society.