German Historical Institute Washington D C

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THE MEANING OF,HISTORICAL TERMS,AND CONCEPTS,NEW STUDIES ON BEGRIFFSGES CHICHTE. Hartmut Lehmann,Melvin Richter,Occasional Paper No 15. Edited by Detlef Junker Manfred F Boemeke,and Janine S Micunek. Copyright 1996,Published by the,GERMAN HISTORICAL INSTITUTE. 1607 New Hampshire Avenue N W,Washington D C 20009.
Tel 202 387 3355,Detlef Junker,Appreciating a Contemporary Classic The. Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe and Future Scholarship 7. Melvin Richter, Otto Brunner and the Ideological Origins of Begriffsgeschichte 21. James Van Horn Melton,On the Margins of Begriffsgeschichte 35. Donald R Kelley,On Koselleck s Intuition of Time in History 41. Gabriel Motzkin,Concepts and Discourses A Difference in Culture.
Comment on a Paper by Melvin Richter 47,J G A Pocock. A Response to Comments on the Geschichtliche,Grundbegriffe 59. Reinhart Koselleck,THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK. The most important objective of the German Historical Institute in. Washington D C is to foster the exchange of ideas between German. and American historians The publication of this Occasional Paper is. therefore of special significance since Begriffsgeschichte and the central. work in this field the eight volume Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe edited by. Otto Brunner Werner Conze and Reinhart Koselleck belong to the. most original and truly pathbreaking achievements of German histori. ography in the past decades, The great achievement of Begriffsgeschichte and the Geschichtliche Grund. begriffe lies in the fact that the latter surpasses the claim to be merely a. lexicon of the changing meanings of central terms and concepts of. human history Begriffsgeschichte is based on a particular theory even an. ontology of history It was especially Reinhart Koselleck who devel. oped this theory which became the structural principle of the Geschicht. liche Grundbegriffe A superior philosopher of historical theory and. someone who has at his intellectual disposal the entire Western tradi. tion Koselleck attempted to apply the discussion on historicity as. defined to a large extent by Heidegger and Gadamer to a theory of. empirical historical scholarship According to Koselleck the study of. history must not become lost in a sea of equally valid questions and in. the postmodern interchangeability of all things Out of contemporar. ies changing experiences of time in history it is necessary and possible. to reconstruct differential temporal structures of the past and at the. same time to convert these into the basic principles and methods of. historical inquiry To put it more concretely the foundation of the. Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe rests on the hypothesis of the so called Sattel. zeit or Schwellenzeit between 1750 and 1850 The denaturalization of. older experiences of time was completed during this century Older. concepts such as democracy freedom and the state now de. noted a new future oriented perspective that is they became concepts. in motion Only after the articulation of this hypothesis was it possible. to create a lexicon of historical terms and concepts and not merely a. positivistic catalog of events and ideas, Although it might be difficult to relate Begriffsgeschichte to recent.
scholarship on the history of ideas in the United States and even more. difficult to incorporate it into the discussion within the American his. torical profession I am very grateful to Professor Hartmut Lehmann. former director of the GHI for hosting in December 1992 a sympo. sium to commemorate the completion of the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. Professor Melvin Richter was instrumental in organizing the sympo. sium and the driving force behind the publication of its proceedings. We were most honored that Professor Koselleck was able to come to. Washington for this occasion His response to the papers given at the. symposium is published here I am equally grateful to Professors Don. ald R Kelly James Van Horn Melton Gabriel Motzkin and John G. A Pocock for their contributions and their enormous support. The participants of the symposium the contributors the translators. and the editors of this Occasional Paper all share one fundamental ex. perience the extraordinary difficulty of translating the meaning of. terms and concepts from one language into another from one cultural. tradition into another and from one intellectual climate into another. Therefore we hope that the essays in this Occasional Paper lead to a. deepening transatlantic dialog on Begriffsgeschichte We also hope that it. is not clarity that is lost in the translation,Washington D C Detlef Junker. March 1996,Appreciating a Contemporary Classic,The Ges chi chtli che Grun dbeg riffe. and Future Scholarship1,Melvin Richter,A CONTEMPORARY CLASSIC. We meet to commemorate one of the greatest achievements of. German historians during what is already being called the old Federal. Republic After more than a quarter of a century there soon will be. available all eight volumes of the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe hereafter. GG 2 The seventh and last substantive volume is in press as is the. eighth or index volume which will greatly facilitate the use of those. that preceded it In coming together on this day we honor Professor. Reinhart Koselleck not only as the preeminent theorist of Be. griffsgeschichte the history of concepts but also as the sole surviving. editor of the GG It is he who has successfully brought to completion. the monumental collective work begun by Werner Conze Otto Brun. ner and himself The book s program is stated most dearly in his in. troduction to the first volume of the GG published in 1972 It may be. safely predicted that a century from now scholars will still be relying. on this rare example of a reference work focused in terms of a histori. ographical theory, In 1989 the president of the Federal Republic awarded Koselleck. the prestigious prize of the Historisches Kolleg in Munich This cita. tion for his notable contributions to the historical profession. Research for this paper in the Federal Republic of Germany was made possible. by support from the PSC CUNY Research Award Program of the City University. of New York Grant 667420 and the DAAD Deutscher Akademischer. Austauschdienst I also wish to acknowledge with thanks the indispensable aid of. the National Endowment for the Humanities the History of Ideas Unit the Aus. tralian National University and the National Humanities Center. Otto Brunner Werner Conze and Reinhart Koselleck eds Geschichtliche. Grundbegriffe Historisches Lexikon zur politisch sozialen Sprache in Deutschland Basic. Concepts in History A Dictionary on Historical Principles of Political and Social. Language in Germany 8 vols Stuttgart 1972 1993,8 Melvin Richter.
occupied fifteen pages of the elegant laudatio presented by Professor. Rudolf Vierhaus who by a felicitous coincidence will be succeeded as. the head of the Max Planck Institut f r Geschichte in G ttingen by. the host of this symposium Professor Hartmut Lehmann Among. Koselleck s most considerable achievements Vierhaus ranked his con. tributions as theorist editor and contributor to one of the most no. table and ambitious historical enterprises of the past two decades 3. A definitive work on its subject the GG is unlikely to be superseded. for a very long time to come Although any or all of its articles may be. corrected within the predictable future it will continue to be indispen. sable Thus the GG will join Paulys Realencyclop die der classischen Alter. tumswissenschaft as among those indispensable classic works first con. sulted by anyone beginning serious research on the subjects it covers. This comes as close to immortality as scholars may reasonably aspire. We congratulate Professor Koselleck and express our gratitude to him. the GG s contributors and his fellow editors Werner Conze and Otto. Brunner who did not live to see the results of their labors Although. Brunner contributed much to the GG s agenda as Professor Melton. has demonstrated the many editorial and administrative burdens of. completing the GG in a quarter of the time needed for the Paulys fell. upon Professors Conze and Koselleck Moreover it was they who had. to write or rewrite articles when contributors failed to do so satisfacto. But what exactly is the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe Some of those who. praise it tacitly diminish their praise by classifying it as a reference. work a dull genre executed by contributors rather than by an individ. ual with shining abilities Thus to describe the GG as a multi authored. lexicon while not completely inaccurate is seriously to underestimate. the originality of its program and the high quality of its execution Nor. does such well merited praise suggest that the purposes of the GG are. advanced by prematurely canonizing it After all as a work of scholar. ship its value in part derives from those of its statements that can then. be revised in the light of subsequent, Rudolf Vierhaus Laudatio on awarding the prize of the Historisches Kol. leg to Reinhart Koselleck Munich Nov 23 1989 In Stiftung Historisches Kolleg. im Stifterverband f r die Deutsche Wissenschaft Dritte Verleihung des Preises. des Historischen Kollegs Schriften des Historischen Kollegs Dokumentationen. Munich 7 1991 32,Appreciating a Contemporary Classic 9. research More generally the distinctive advantages of Begriffsgeschichte. can be realized only after both its method and findings have been sub. jected to vigorous criticism and reworking by those who care enough. to separate what is worth preserving from what ought to be discarded. because of faults in the method inadequacies in its application or. ideological biases in one or another article, It is in this spirit that I propose two main purposes for the rest of. this paper First I should like to continue the dialogue among English. and German speaking specialists in the history of political thought and. intellectual history 4 Our commentators today rank among the most. respected and influential scholars writing in English on these subjects. Perhaps the single most relevant issue involves the relationship of in. dividual concepts to the political language or languages in which they. are used For English speaking historians such as John Pocock. Quentin Skinner and Keith Michael Baker have developed distinctive. modes of treating political and social thought and language historically. These have been assessed by Donald Kelley in his own work and in his. capacity as editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas Professor Pocock s. work has been described by Keith Thomas a leading English historian. as an exemplary model of how historical study is the indispensable. condition of interpreting the political texts of the past 5 We are fortu. nate to have them with us as well as Dr Motzkin an authority on. Professor Koselleck s thought and intellectual provenience Their. work while differing in some regards raises important questions about. the linguistic and, My own attempts to inaugurate and continue this dialogue are Conceptual. History Begriffsgeschichte and Political Theory Political Theory 14 1986 604 637. Begriffsgeschichte and the History of Ideas Journal of the History of Ideas 48. 1987 247 263 Finnish translation with preface by Kari Palonen Politiikka XXXI. 1989 76 87 Pocock Skinner and the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe History and The. ory XIX 1990 38 70 German version Zur Rekonstruktion der Geschichte der. Politischen Sprachen Pocock Skinner und die Geschichtlichen Grundbegriffe in Alt. europa Ancien Regime Fr he Neuzeit Probleme and Methoden der Forschung eds Hans. Erich B deker and Ernst Hinrichs Stuttgart Bad Cannstatt 1991 134 174 Be. griffsgeschichte in Theory and Practice Reconstructing the History of Political. Concepts and Language in Main Trends in Cultural History eds Willem Melching. and Wyger Velema Amsterdam Atlanta 1994 The History of Political and Social. Concepts A Critical Introduction New York 1995, Keith Thomas New York Review of Books Feb 27 1986 36.
10 Melvin Richter, extra linguistic dimensions of historical analysis Second now that the. lexicon is finished what sorts of research or application of Be. griffsgeschichte in the style of the GG ought to be undertaken. Before turning to these two questions let me summarize briefly. what I take to be the main points of the research project The GG en. compasses some 120 concepts covered in more than seven thousand. pages Articles average over fifty pages the most important contribu. tions are monographs exceeding a hundred pages Yet it is not the pro. ject s scale but its program that makes it notable What are its stated. purposes They are to provide for the first time reliable information. about past uses in German of political and social concepts by assem. bling systematically extensive citations from original sources to char. acterize the ways in which language both shaped and registered the. processes of change that transformed every area of German political. and social life from approximately the middle of the eighteenth cen. tury to the middle of the nineteenth to sharpen one s awareness at the. present time of just how one uses political and social language. By understanding the history of the concepts available to us we. 2O t oB ru n e W C z ad Rih Kslck ds G es chitl Grundbegriffe Historisches Lexikon zur politisch sozialen Sprache in Deutschland Basic Concepts in History A Dictionary on Historical Principles of Political and Social Language in Germany 8 vols Stuttgart 1972 1993

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