Theory and Concept of an Interdisciplinary Conceptual History

Program Sponsorship Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) 2008–2013. This project conceives a dictionary for discipline- and discourse-comprehensive concepts and their history in the modern era.
The dictionary lays its foundation on interdisciplinary research correlations, focusing upon the differences and displacements in the meaning of concepts belonging to various subjects, jargons and everyday culture. It addresses transformations between metaphorical and terminological meanings as they appear in research regarding their discourse and practice. The dictionary should help dispel misunderstandings and »language difficulties« in the exchange between the supposed disparate cultures of the humanities and natural sciences. As the natural sciences often overlook the history of their own episteme, the dictionary addresses the historical dimension of their terminology. In the realm of the humanities, it unveils connections to knowledge of the natural- and technical sciences. Contemporary variations in meaning between the various disciplines constitute the point of departure, forming a project that reconstructs the differentiation of their pre- and trans-disciplinary perspectives.

While notable monographs exist, an interdisciplinary conceptual historical dictionary remains much to be desired. The large, predominantly insular dictionaries of conceptual history prove heretofore confined to individual disciplines, as well as to the methodology of traditional subjects within the humanities (philosophy, social history, rhetoric, aesthetics, etc.). On the other hand, the investigation of the natural sciences into their conception has been largely limited to a selectively historical outlook. In light of the fragmentary nature of past research, the projects of ZfL are the following: The dictionary builds upon the following past projects of ZfL:

The dictionary will be digital and published online. For this purpose, a website was developed, allowing the authors to engage in a »work in progress« based on Wiki-software.
The project establishes a platform of interdisciplinary collaboration at ZfL. To discuss conceptual history research ZfL regularly hosts the Interdisciplinary conceptual history forum.

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