This seminar offers an introduction to the history of ideas. History of ideas, nowadays more commonly referred to as intellectual history, is however not confined to the boundaries of historical discipline. Historical context is of undeniable value for the understanding of past thought. Political theory, understood as the history of political thought, cannot but refer to methods debated in the history of ideas. By tracing the development from unit ideas (Lovejoy) to the history of concepts (Koselleck) to modern intellectual history, we take a close look on a tradition self-reflective about its methods: Knowing about various a priori forms of thought and yet always trying to avoid them.
Arthur O. Lovejoy: The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea. Cambridge 1936.
Quentin Skinner: Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas. In: History and Theory, Vol. 8, No. 1. 1969.