Engagement – metahistorical considerations on a disputed attitude in historical studies
Jörn Rüsen, Jorg
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It is the main intent of this article to correct a misunderstanding of what engagement in historical studies, historiography and historical culture means and what it is about. So, first of all I will shortly describe the widespread notion of engagement as the direct opposite of objectivity in historical studies. In a second step I will show that this juxtaposition contradicts basic principles of historical thinking. For this I will explicate these principles in a twofold way: first, as basic factors of human historical thinking in general, and, second as basic factors of the professional academic treatment of history. Since historical thinking is more than only a cognitive procedure but includes non-cognitive elements, I will identify these elements and clarify their role as determining factors in historical culture. Doing so, engagement becomes visible as a complex interrelationship of different dimensions of historical culture and their basic concepts. As a further step I will discuss the contribution of historical studies to the practical functions of historical culture in human life. To round off the discussion, I will give a short outlook focusing on a form of engagement which has mainly been overlooked and is worth taking into account.
- Faculty of Humanities