Reinhart Koselleck

Futures Past - On the Semantics of Historical Time

(German title: Vergangene Zukunft)
ca. 757 pages
Reinhart Koselleck
Foto: Reinhart Koselleck
© Isolde Ohlbaum
Reinhart Koselleck (1923-2006) was Professor in Bochum, Heidelberg and Bielefeld. He was pioneering studies on the history of the European Enlightenment, the theory of history, and the history of concepts.
Awards (Selection):
Sigmund Freud Prize in 1999
Historian’s Prize of the City of Münster in 2003


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English world rights (Columbia UP), Spanish world rights (Paidos Iberica), Chinese simplex rights (Commercial Press), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Contrapunto), France (Éditions de l'EHESS), Italy (CLUEB), Sweden (Daidalos), Korea (Munhakdongne), Poland (Poznanskie), Hungary (Atlantisz), Turkey (Dost Kitabevi), Greece ( Exandas), Ukraine (Spirit and Letter)


Modernity in the late eighteenth century transformed all domains of European life – intellectual, industrial, and social. Not least affected was the experience of time itself: ever – accelerating change left people with briefer intervals of time in which to gather new experiences and adapt.

In this provocative and erudite book Reinhart Koselleck, a distinguished philosopher of history, explores the concept of historical time by posing the question: what kind of experience is opened up by the emergence of modernity? Relying on an extraordinary array of witnesses and texts from politicians, philosophers, theologians, and poets to Renaissance paintings and the dreams of German citizens during the Third Reich, Koselleck shows that, with the advent of modernity, the past and the future became 'relocated' in relation to each other.
The promises of modernity – freedom, progress, infinite human improvement – produced a world accelerating toward an unknown and unknowable future within which awaited the possibility of achieving utopian fulfillment. History, Koselleck asserts, emerged in this crucial moment as a new temporality providing distinctly new ways of assimilating experience. In the present context of globalization and its resulting crises, the modern world once again faces a crisis in aligning the experience of past and present. To realize that each present was once an imagined future may help us once again place ourselves within a temporality organized by human thought and humane ends as much as by the contingencies of uncontrolled events. (book description from the English edition published by Columbia UP)

Other publications

Begriffsgeschichten/Concepts (2006)

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Spanish world rights (Trotta), Italy (Il Mulino), Poland (Oficyna Naukowa), Romania (Editura ART), Turkey (Iletisim)