Critique and Crisis: Enlightenment and the Pathogenesis of Modern Society

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MIT Press, 1988 - Philosophy - 204 pages
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Critique and Crisis established Reinhart Koselleck's reputation as the most importantGerman intellectual historian of the postwar period. This first English translation of Koselleck'stour de force demonstrates a chronological breadth, a philosophical depth, and an originality whichare hardly equalled in any scholarly domain. It is a history of the Enlightenment in miniature,fundamental to our understanding of that period and its consequences.Like Tocqueville, Koselleckviews Enlightenment intellectuals as an uprooted, unrealistic group of onlookers who sowed the seedsof the modern political tensions that first flowered in the French Revolution. He argues that it wasthe split that developed between state and society during the Enlightenment that fostered theemergence of this intellectual elite divorced from the realities of politics.Koselleck describes howthis disjunction between political authority proper and its subjects led to private spheres thatlater became centers of moral authority and, eventually, models for political society that tooklittle or no notice of the constraints under which politicians must inevitably work. In this wayprogressive bourgeois philosophy, which seemed to offer the promise of a unified and peaceful world,in fact produced just the opposite.The book provides a wealth of examples drawn from all of Europeto illustrate the still relevant message that we evade the constraints and the necessities of thepolitical realm at our own risk.Reinhart Koselleck is Professor of the Theory of History at theUniversity of Bielefeld and author of Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time. Critiqueand Crisis is included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by ThomasMcCarthy.


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The Absolutist State Raison dEtat and
Hobbesian Rationality and the Origins
The Exclusion of Natural Law Morality from
The SelfImage of the Enlightenment Thinkers
The Creation of Indirect Countervailing Powers
The Proliferation of Indirect Power and the Schism
the Illuminati
The Process of Criticism Schiller Simon Bayle
The Philosophy of Progress and its Prognosis
The Recognition of the Crisis and the Emergence of
Crisis Consciousness and Historical Construction

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About the author (1988)

Reinhart Koselleck is Professor of the Theory of History at the University of Bielefeld and author of Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time.

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