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Kosellecks Wende zur Pragmatik

Dutt, Carsten

Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte, Bd. 62 (2020), Iss. 0: S. 210–236

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Dutt, Carsten


Among the achievements for which Reinhart Koselleck has been praised as one of the most important historians of the 20th century, his groundbreaking approach to conceptual history deserves a systematic reconstruction that would throw into relief what might aptly be called the pragmatic turn in conceptual history. In order to highlight its key features and some of its still unexhausted historiographical potentials, the following essay will proceed in three steps. In a first step, it distinguishes Koselleck’s theory and practice of Begriffsgeschichte with regard to the wideranging social and political use of concepts from the more narrowly defined goals and procedures of a discipline-immanent history of philosophical terms. In a second step, the essay expounds and critically discusses the theoretical premises, methodological claims and explanatory criteria of Koselleck’s primarily (but not exclusively) actor-centered version of a historical pragmatics of politicaland social concepts. Finally, it offers some methodological considerations for discussion in reference to a recent project, propagated by prominent German historians, which aims to extend the scope of the research program Koselleck developed for the investigation of the epochal processes of the »saddle period« (Sattelzeit) between roughly 1750 and 1850 to the 20th century.


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Carsten Dutt\r Kosellecks Wende zur Pragmatik 209