Translations, Histories, Enlightenments: William Robertson by L. Kontler

By L. Kontler

Historian and minister William Robertson used to be a valuable Scottish Enlightenment determine whose effect reached way past the limits of the British Isles. during this reception research of Robertson's paintings, Laszlo Kontler exhibits how the reception of Robertson's significant histories in Germany checks the boundaries of highbrow move via translation.

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Especially perplexing was the question of what the knowledge of the progress of civilization could reveal about the eternal and unchanging mind of God. Robertson’s solution to this problem was befitting the man of synthesis he was in his scholarship and the man of compromise he was in his politics. 36 The case is similar with Robertson’s endeavor to understand the history of the Western world—of Scotland in her relations with Europe and of Europe in its relations with the widening overseas spaces—in terms of the ever-increasing access to the full richness of the Gospel through material and cultural progress and refinement, in the lack of which any revelation of the primitive Christians could only have been incomplete.

56 Thus they were on the way of being developed into the “philological–critical method,” and also a refined historical hermeneutics. 58 The “critical” character of historical research was to Politics, Literature, and Science 35 be manifest no longer merely in the criticism of earlier accounts, but in the exercise of the researcher’s philological skills in the uncovering and weighing of new evidence as the foundation of historical representation. 59 This was the sense in which the practitioners of the field sought to establish the “immanence” of history.

All of this served to underline the significance of the economic realm for the social realities behind these historic developments, including the patterns of the production, consumption, circulation, and distribution of goods, and the agents of such processes, together with the cultural practices, habits, beliefs, and lifestyles peculiar to them. Historical reflection in the eighteenth century could have hardly afforded not taking into account such conditions of emerging modernity. Even among these circumstances, neither history’s traditional concern with and for public life nor the consequent endeavor to derive normative judgment and moral purpose from narrative was abandoned.

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