Reinhart Koselleck’s 100th birthday: three breaks – culture

Reinhart Koselleck’s doctoral thesis “Criticism and Crisis”, published in 1959, deals with the distant epoch between the religious wars of the early modern period and the French Revolution, but right at the beginning the young historian draws attention to the fact that his book is written entirely from the perspective of the present. “The current world crisis”, according to the first sentence of the dissertation, “determined by the polar tension between the world powers America and Russia, is — historically speaking — the result of European history.” Koselleck attributes the fragile political situation in the middle of the 20th century, after two world wars, the atomic annihilation of entire cities and the “Cold War” of two irreconcilable systems, to a historical development in the 17th and 18th centuries, to the replacement of absolutism “bourgeois society” and its utopian philosophy of history.

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