reinhart koselleck social history and conceptual history

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Social History and Conceptual History Author(s): Reinhart Koselleck Source: International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Spring, 1989), pp. 308-325 Published by: Springer Stable URL: Accessed: 10/11/2009 06:44Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

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Social History and ConceptualReinhart Koselleck


Whoever it as social vidual same usual within

that is?and defines history?whatever limits his or her theme. And the indi? history obviously to conceptual who narrows does the history obviously history it is not the with both determinations thing. Nevertheless, of special histories which embraces limitation general history or the history of it. England's economic history, perhaps, is occupied themes



or Western are of early modernity ecclesiastical history were materially, and of this type which temporally special Then it is a question of investigation. and worthy present regionally of general of particular history. aspects From for social and conceptual their It is otherwise histories. a general can claim which there arises theoretical self-foundation,

to all special histories. and applied Because what his? in any case something to do with relation? interpersonal of some type or with social strata, so ships with social configurations as social history an of history involves that the characterization so to speak?lasting that it is claim irrefutable?anthropological, in any form of history. And what could there be history implicated as such before it gels as history? The not be conceived which would transformation is so of concepts and their linguistic investigation a history as its defini? a minimal for cognizing condition very much be extended tory has not tion of having to do with human society.

L Historical Both


and conceptual have been social history history explicit of the histor? since the Enlightenment and the discovery hypotheses were break? the former social structures ical world at that time: when of change of a reflection felt the pressure and when linguistic ing up and articulated. If one which itself was newly history experienced of historical the history follows tion since then one finds both reflection grasps and historical and again again representa? it is whether

Politics, Culture, and Society Volume 2, Number 3, Spring






Sciences Press

Reinhart Koselleck


as with Vico, Rousseau elucidation through mutual separate paths. The claim that all historical of life manifestations are to be based on and derived from social formations since the historical of been advanced philosophies ment up histories to Comte of society

or Herder and their

or by trans?

and the young Marx. Following and folk histories and civilization, the cultural of were which the 19th century already positivistically proceeding histories all areas of life, up to the regional methodically, including of which the synthetic achievement by Moeser through Gregor o vius can rightly be named social-historical. up to Lamprecht On the other hand, since the 18th century there have been con? thematized the expression histories1?obviously sciously conceptual comes from Hegel?which have retained their permanent in place of language Of course histories and historical they lexicography. were thematized working by all disciplines historico-philologically which Any must translation secure their sources into one's hermeneutic by posing questions. own present implies a conceptual history,

conditions has the Enlighten? them are the

themethodologicalin his


of which Rudolf Eucken has shownexemplary also occur

to be of Philosophical Terminology" "History and social sciences.2 for all intellectual (paradigmatic) In the practice of research, references then, reciprocal which social and constitution-historical bring special

analyses connec? historical Their mutual questions. together with conceptual or less reflected, tion was more in ancient sciences always present, and the scholarship of the Middle Ages, because what circumstances could be known, with available sources, without especially sparsely of its former and present the manner knowing conceptual shaping? it turns out that the reciprocal Indeed entwinement of social and treated in the 1930's; one history was first systematically conceptual or above of Walter thinks From all of Otto Brunner. Schlesinger closely related

con? there were Rothacker for philosophical regions for legal sciences Carl Schmitt and Jost Trier for history, ceptual who sciences of historical the sharpening linguistic sponsored methods. to the politics With of research, the combined social and respect was two different oriented towards directions history conceptual which dominated both in the 1920's: once it circumvented the differ? were fol? entiation of ideo- and spiritual-historical which concepts, as it were, lowed without their concrete for context, political-social the sake of their own value. On the other hand, it circumvented as a political with history of events to operating primarily history then inquire after the presuppositions for so long. maintained


Politics, Culture, and Society

Otto edition

Brunner of Land

presuppositions sent them." structures

as he maintained in the preface to the 2nd intended, and Domination3 "to inquire about the concrete of the politics of the middle ages, but not to repre? occurred to him and to draw their?never into view longterm instantaneous?

It then

composition in so doing and the respective self transformation, linguistic or strata as well as of the social groups, articulation associations were and interpretive their concepts thematized. history expressly came from an analo? it is no accident which And that the "Annals," in the rubric "Words and Events" gous research interest, provided was an 1930. For Lucien Febvre and Marc Bloch, linguistic analysis of their social historical In Ger? integral component investigations. in acted as a trail blazer for modern G?nther many, Ipsen history researches social-historical, special demographic Werner took up all these sug? Conze through linguistic knowledge. the study group for modern when he founded social history gestions to Conze's in 1956-57.4 of Thanks the bringing initiative, together as well as their and conceptual-historical social-historical questions, supplementing among differentiation, belong at issue in the following. those enduring challenges which are his

of social

IL The Without


of a 'Total History'

for social formations their con? together with searching or self-reflectively?they of which?reflectively virtue cepts, by there is no history, it cannot their challenges, and resolve determine or explained. and be experienced, Society represented interpreted, insofar belong the meta-historical among givens without language are thinkable. no narrative For this reason, and no history which and historical and conceptual social historical theories, hypotheses of the science of are related to all merely methods regions possible a total to be able to conceive the wish So at times, however, history. reasons, creeps in. If for pragmatic investigations empirical history or social or conceptual then this deal with limited themes, historians that diminish the claim to universality still doesn't self-limitation must of possible which from a theory follows presuppose history in any case. and language society or methodologically Under the pressure required specializations, the social- and conceptual-historical grasp must necessarily proceed follow from it doesn't in an interdisciplinary way. Nevertheless, can be posed to universality abso? claim that, that its theoretical lutely or totally. Indeed, they are compelled to presuppose the

Reinhart Koselleck


as well of social relations entirety But of interpretation. and systems

as their linguistic articulations the formally irrefutable premise

that all history has to do with language and society does not admitof its content that by virtue it is the wider-ranging consequence a "Total History." or even merely to conceive to write possible as the empirical to a total and plausible As numerous objections which fol? its possibility are, there is one objection against history at autonomous Because the lows from its attempt thinkability. of society of a


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