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.
Jan Ifversen is Professor in European Studies at Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christoffer Kølvraa is Associate Professor in European Studies at Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University. Email: email@example.com