Gustav Teichmüller and the Systematic Significance of Studying the History of Concepts

  • Gottfried Gabriel
Keywords: categorial distinctions, concepts and metaphors, definitions, history of concepts, explications, Eucken, Teichmüller


The history of concepts is relevant in philosophy because conceptual distinctions fundamentally shape cognition. Because these conceptual distinctions are deeply entrenched in our way of thinking, we are not usually aware of this influence. How we view the world depends crucially on the concepts we have. These concepts, however, are the products of their history. Following Herbart, Gustav Teichmüller viewed philosophy as the systematic analysis and refinement of concepts. Refining concepts in such a way allows us to make new distinctions, or to transform or abandon old ones. In contrast to Herbart, Teichmüller emphasized that this process presupposes detailed historical studies. This does not mean, however, that Teichmüller embraced a kind of historicism---the view that philosophy and its history are one and the same thing. On the contrary, he derogatorily referred to such a view as "historical psychology". Rather, the history of concepts in Teichmüller's sense has to be understood as a history of problems which are reflected in conceptual distinctions. This means that the history of concepts, which brings to light explicit and implicit distinctions, can be applied as a kind of hermeneutics of world views---as the basis on which we can systematically reconstruct concepts in a new light. It is the aim of this presentation to unfold such an understanding of the history of concepts in view of Teichmüller's contribution to it.

How to Cite
Gabriel, G. (2016). Gustav Teichmüller and the Systematic Significance of Studying the History of Concepts. Studia Philosophica Estonica, 8(2), 129-140.