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Futures Past

Widely considered to be the most important German intellectual historian of the postwar period, Reinhart Koselleck has had a profound influence on contemporary historiography. With a new, interpretive introduction by the translator, this revised and corrected edition of Koselleck's most acclaimed work is once again available in English. With the advent of modernity in the late eighteenth-century every aspect of human life was radically transformed, including the experience of time. As the ever-accelerating pace of the modern world left people with briefer intervals of time in which to gather new experiences and adapt to social and technological changes, the demands that were placed on the future correspondingly increased. The promises of modernity -- freedom, progress, opportunity -- began to produce expectations and hopes that broke free of the present and projected utopian visions of unbounded possibility onto the future. In this provocative and erudite book, Koselleck explores the shifting perceptions and conceptions of historical time that have emerged over the past two centuries.Relying on an extraordinary array of witnesses and texts -- from politicians, philosophers, theologians, and poets to proverbs, lexica, Renaissance paintings, and the dreams of German citizens during the Third Reich -- Koselleck argues that the past and the future have become "relocated" in relation to each other, and that "history" has emerged as a new kind of temporality with distinct characteristics and ways of assimilating experience. Chronological time is generally tied to social and political actions, to the concrete experiences of human beings. Yet in reality historical events and epochs intermingle and overlap, transcending strict temporal distinctions that can be derived from physical or astronomical phenomena. In the present context of globalization -- where many cultures and perceptions become superimposed upon one another -- the modern world faces not only temporal acceleration but also historical disorientation. Koselleck believes that any given present is simultaneously a "former future" that was once defined by specific terms and ideas.By analyzing the semantics of historical time, Koselleck brings into focus the far-reaching impact that conceptions of time have on social organization, revealing that human history results as much from structure of temporal experience as from the contingencies of uncontrollable events.
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Table of Contents

Introduction, by Keith Tribe Part I. On the Relation of Past and Future in Modern History 1. Modernity and the Planes of Historicity 2. Historia Magistra Vitae: The Dissolution of the Topos Into the Perspective of a Modernized Historical Process 3. Historical Criteria of the Modern Concept of Revolution 4. Historical Prognosis in Lorenz von Stein's Essay on the Prussian Constitution Part II. Theory and Method of the Historical Determination of Time 5. Begriffsgeschichte and Social History 6. History, Histories, and Formal Time Structures 7. Representation, Event, and Structure 8. Chance as Motivational Trace in Historical Writing 9. Perspective and Temporality: A Contribution to the Historiographical Exposure of the Historical World Part III. Semantic Remarks on the Mutation of Historical Experience 10. The Historical-Political Semantics of Asymmetric Counterconcepts 11. On the Disposability of History 12. Terror and Dream: Methodological Remarks on the Experience of Time During the Third Reich 13. Neuzeit: Remarks on the Semantics of Modern Concepts of Movement 15. Space of Experience and Horizon of Expectation: Two Historical Categories Notes

Promotional Information

With a new, interpretive introduction by the translator, this revised edition of Koselleck's most acclaimed work is once again available in English. Koselleck explores the concept of historical time by posing the question: What kind of experience is opened up by the emergence of modernity? Koselleck explores the concept of historical time by posing the question: what kind of experience is opened up by the emergence of modernity?

About the Author

Reinhart Koselleck, now retired, was previously professor of historical theory at the University of Bielefeld, Germany. He is the author of The Practice of Conceptual History and Critique and Crisis.Keith Tribe was Reader in Economics at Keele University, UK, until 2002. He is now a private scholar and rowing coach at the King's School, Worcester.


"Koselleck turns the procedures of 'conceptual historiography' to the study of the concept of history itself, (providing) original, erudite, and illuminating insights into concepts that have informed the modern idea of historical being: event, chance, progress, revolution, modernity... Koselleck's work augurs a new era in the conceptualization not only of what 'history' means to Western culture but also of what Western culture means for 'history.'" -- Hayden White American Historical Review

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