Groping in the Dark

Conceptual History and the Ungraspable

in Contributions to the History of Concepts
Author:
Jan Ifversen Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark jif@cas.au.dk

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Christoffer Kølvraa Associate Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark eurock@cas.au.dk

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Abstract

While Reinhart Koselleck articulated the limits of conceptual history in relation to social history, and the limits of historiographical understanding in his discussion of the event, his thinking about the limits of the conceptual as such is harder to trace. However, a close reading of key texts where he discusses situations or events marked as “meaningless” or absurd, allows us to uncover both his ethics and analytics of the limit of meaning, of what we call “the ungraspable.” It is further argued that Koselleck's conceptual mapping of European modernity can be fruitfully extended by bringing it into contact with the ideas of thinkers such as Michel De Certeau, Edourd Glissant, and Francis Affergan who have contemplated how especially “the colonial” both represents the outside to and is the site from which the limit of European modernity and its conceptual universe might be (re)thought.

Contributor Notes

Jan Ifversen is Professor in European Studies at Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University. Email: jif@cas.au.dk

Christoffer Kølvraa is Associate Professor in European Studies at Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University. Email: eurock@cas.au.dk

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