German and Brazilian Perspectives
Edited By Luiz Estevam de Oliveira Fernandes, Luísa Rauter Pereira and Sérgio da Mata
What is Conceptual History and to What End Do We Use It?
In 1789, Friedrich Schiller held his famous inaugural lecture, „Was heißt und zu welchem Ende studiert man Universalgeschichte?“ (What’s the meaning of universal history and to which end does one study it?) This lecture can be seen as being typical of the last third of the 18th century because Schiller outlined a philosophical view of history that highlights the progress of the human race as regards culture, humanity, and freedom. Moreover, it is itself meant to promote progress. In our time, such progressive philosophies are by no means typical. On the contrary, this way of thinking and literary genre is almost extinct. Instead, it is distinguished by various forms of political history, social history, cultural or intellectual history and, as a branch of the latter, history of concepts or conceptual history (Begriffsgeschichte).3 In these fields, several large dictionaries, at least since the 1970s in Germany, have been published, which are now used permanently in the field of humanities. For philosophy, the Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie is available (13 volumes), for the study of history, the handbook Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe) (8 volumes), for the literary history, Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft (3 volumes), for aesthetics and fine arts, Ästhetische Grundbegriffe (7 volumes). Other major projects of this type have not yet been completed, like the Handbuch politisch-sozialer Grundbegriffe in Frankreich 1680-1820 and within musicology the dictionary Handwörterbuch der musikalischen Terminologie. Meanwhile, even a historical dictionary of biology was published (Historisches Wörterbuch der Biologie, 3 volumes)...
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