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Johann Gustav Droysen on Research - Dictionary of Arguments

Gadamer I 220
Research/Historics/Droysen/Gadamer: At the end of the lectures of 1882(1) there is a turn of phrase: "that we do not have the means of experiment like the natural sciences, that we can only do research and nothing but research".
Gadamer: There must be another important moment for Droysen in the concept of research, and not only the infinity of the task, which, as the characteristic of an infinite progress, would have historical research in common with natural research, and which, in comparison with the "science" of the eighteenth century and the "doctrina" of earlier centuries, helped the concept of research to rise in the nineteenth century.
History of the concept: This concept of "research", probably starting from the concept of the explorer who ventures into unknown territories, includes knowledge of nature as well as the historical world. The more the theological and philosophical background of the knowledge of the world fades, the more science is thought of as an advance into the unknown and is therefore called research.
Gadamer: But this consideration is not enough to explain how Droysen can set the historical method in the manner cited against the method of experiment in the natural sciences by saying of history that it is "research, nothing but research". It must be another infinity than that of the unknown world which, from Droysen's point of view, distinguishes historical knowledge as research. His thought seems to be this:
Droysen: Research is suited to a different, quasi qualitative infinity, if what is being researched can never be seen for itself. This is indeed true of the historical past - in contrast to the self-giveness that the experiment represents in natural research.
Experiment: Historical research, in order to recognize, always asks only others, the tradition, always new and always anew. Like the experiment, its answer never has the unambiguousness of the self-seen. >Science/Droysen, >History/Droysen, >Recognition/Droysen.
Gadamer: If one now asks oneself what origin this moment of meaning has in the concept of research, which Droysen follows in the surprising juxtaposition of experiment and research, one is led, it seems to me, to the concept of consciousness research. The world of history is based on freedom, and freedom remains an ultimately inscrutable mystery of the person(2). Only the self-examination of conscience can
Gadamer I 221
come close to him, and only God can know here. For this reason, historical research will not want knowledge of laws, and in any case cannot invoke the decision of the experiment. Because the historian, through the infinite mediation of the tradition, is separated from his or her
object. >Understanding/Droysen, >Sense/Droysen.

1. Johann Gustav Droysen, Historik, hrsg. von R. Hübner (1935), S. 316, nach einer
Nachschrift von Friedrich Meinecke.
2. But the theological impact in the concept of research is not only to be found in
relationship to the unfathomable person and his or her freedom, but also in the "hidden meaning" of history, that which is "meant" in the providence of God, which we can never fully decipher. In this respect, history here is not completely alienated from hermeneutics, as it is appropriate for the discoverer of "Hellenism". Cf. vol. 2 of the Ges. Werke, p. 123f. and "Heideggers Wege", Die Marburger Theologie, p. 35ff.; vol. 3 of the Ges. Werke.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Droys I
J. G. Droysen
Grundriss der Historik Paderborn 2011

Gadamer I
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik 7. durchgesehene Auflage Tübingen 1960/2010

Gadamer II
H. G. Gadamer
The Relevance of the Beautiful, London 1986
German Edition:
Die Aktualität des Schönen: Kunst als Spiel, Symbol und Fest Stuttgart 1977

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