The rise and demise of non-existent universalism: Reinhart Koselleck and the universality of legal concepts

Ville Erkkilä (2023). In: History of European Ideas, 49(2), 443-459


This article studies the relation between law and historical writing through the works of Reinhart Koselleck. The article investigates the intellectual history of Reinhard Koselleck's ideas on concepts and the experience of time. I argue that those ideas - that are nowadays perceived as central to contemporary contributions to the theory of history and history of historiography - were originally developed in close collaboration with a conservative circle of scholars who were affected by the social turmoil of the year 1968 in the Federal Republic of Germany. The article helps to track the relations that Koselleck's thinking had to other notable German social scientists. In addition it deepens the understanding of Koselleck's main argument on concepts - that they are powerful means of communication due to their ability to link the past, contemporary politics and the anticipated future world.

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