Intentions, concepts and reception: An attempt to come to terms with the materialistic and diachronic aspects of the history of ideas

History of Political Thought 27 (3):377-406 (2006)

Abstract
The article outlines an approach to the history of ideas which capitalizes on the discussion of the theoretical sides of the history of ideas and the history of political thought during the last three decades. Two aspects are of particular importance in the outlined approach, namely a focus on the materialistic aspect of the text -- the text as a manuscript. A second important aspect is the need to come to terms with the diachronic side to the history of ideas. By combining the insights of linguistic contextualism with Begriffsgeschichte, Receptionsgeschichte and Wirkungsgeschichte, the end result is an approach that perhaps is able to grasp the innovative ideas at the moment they appear as well as to trace their eventual further destiny through subsequent receptions. The first part of the article presents the theoretical synthesis, whereas the second part exemplifies the use of the approach by analysing a medieval text in a manuscript, namely Pope Gregory VII's letter to Bishop Hermann of Metz from 1081
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