4. The Theory and Practice of Historical Knowledge

This axe is coordinated by Jean-Louis GEORGET & Denis THOUARD

The research pole of historical knowledge proposes a return to history both with regards to its general problematic and in terms of an engagement with its component elements. It is not merely a question of considering history as a discipline, but of reminding ourselves that all knowledge is historical down to its concepts, mode of interrogation and the concerns which drive such interrogation. Such an orientation requires an engagement with the epistemology of history as much as with the historicity of phenomena and forms of knowledge.

As such, this research pole envisages a common platform of reflection which is not confined to questions of method. The collaborative and individual projects which it embraces are grouped into three orders of priority :

  • Historicity is a dimension of knowledge which itself forms part of history. History itself, being historical, must be rewritten periodically, rethought under the constant transformation of our situation and according to the unexpected challenges which such transformation brings.
  • Yet it also requires an analysis of the modalities and formation of concepts and categories which, in the social and human sciences, have not only an auxiliary function but themselves play a central role in the constitution of objects. Such an analysis accordingly represents an exemplary opportunity for a contrastive study of the different modes of conceptualization into discrete forms of language.
  • Finally, the return to the heuristic practice of these sciences necessitates, on the one hand, a historical investigation which recapitulates the genesis of disciplinary divisions and locates the theoretical references which support the functioning of the different disciplines while simultaneously being accompanied, on the other hand, by a reflection on these concepts.

The diverse projects assemble around three lines of interrogation and concern, respectively, the forms of historicity, categories and objects.