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Johann Gustav Droysen on Individuals - Dictionary of Arguments

Gadamer I 218
Individuals/Action/Acting/Droysen/Gadamer: Ranke's use of the term "historical fact" finds a correction in Droysen. The single individual in the randomness of his particular movements and purposes is not a moment in history, but only insofar as he or she rises to the moral commonalities and participates in them. In the movement of these moral powers, which is brought about by the common work of men, lies the course of events. It is quite true that what is possible is thereby limited. But it would mean reflecting from one's own historical finiteness, if one spoke therefore of an antagonism of freedom and necessity. The acting human is constantly under the postulate of freedom.
The course of events is not an external barrier to his or her freedom because it is not based on rigid necessity, but on the movement of the moral powers to which one has always been attached. It sets the task in which the moral energy of the doer proves its worth(1). Droysen therefore determines far more appropriately the relationship between necessity and freedom that prevails in history, determining it entirely from the person acting historically. He assigns to necessity the unconditional should, to freedom the unconditional will (from "to want"), both expressions of the moral force with which the individual belongs to the moral sphere(2).


1. Vgl. Droysens Auseinandersetzung mit Buckle (Rothackers Neudruck S. 61).
2. J.G. Droysen, Grundriss der Historik, 1868, § 76


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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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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2022-05-20
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