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Wesleyan University

Rhetoric and Aesthetics of History: Leopold von Ranke Author(s): Jrn Rsen Source: History and Theory, Vol. 29, No. 2 (May, 1990), pp. 190-204 Published by: Blackwell Publishing for Wesleyan University Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2505225 Accessed: 20/07/2010 21:44
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"Let's do the time warp again!"-Rocky HorrorPictureShow I. THE QUESTION

but Historiansnormallydo not look at the output of their work as literature to this opposition In remarkable endeavor. and as a resultof academicskill opinion, recenttrendsin the theoryof historystressthe poeticaland rhetorical in the overlooked generally -precisely the character of historiography character historians.Thereis of most professional and self-understanding self-awareness of historiand aesthetics in the questfor rhetoric a good deal of postmodernism or- in is defined byits academic of historiography the modernity because ography, And it is a widespread a broadersense of the word-by its scientificcharacter. theoretiand of postmodernist anddeep-rooted opinionof academichistorians, is the oppositeof rhetoric cians of historyas well, that this scientificcharacter I wouldliketo showthat this contrast and aesthetics.In the followingargument as rhetoricaland of historiography understanding betweenthe postmodernist the modernistscientificapproachto historicalknowledgeleads us only to onesided views of historiography.I Ranke'sworkis a good exampleof the fact that rhetoricand aestheticscan whichdefinesthe academicor scientificcharacter be mediatedwith rationality, his work studies.Rankeis knownforbothaspectsof historiography: of historical in the won by a processof scientification the newacademicstandard, represents humanitiessincethe late eighteenthcentury,and at the same time it represents a new literaryqualityof historywriting,whichmakesit an integralpartof the of the nineteenthcentury.We can look at it as a documentof prose literature and at the same time as an importantpart of the a scientifiedhistoriography to confront Ranke's realism.So it seems to be worthwhile so-called narrative of historiof therhetorical principles withthe postmodern question historiography of historical the modernity thought on the one hand,andnot to overlook ography on the other, which historicalstudies realizesby its methodicalrationality.
a Teoria: Refieksje 1. Cf. Jorn Rusen, "New Directions in Historical Studies," in MiedzyHistoria ed. Marian Drozdowski (Warsaw,1988), 340-355; Historycznej, Dziejowi Wiedzy nadProblematyka
and Rusen, "Historische Aufkldrung in Angesicht der Post-Moderne: Geschichte im Zeitalter der undGegenwartsbewuJfltGeschichtsdeutsche Geschichte: 'neuen Uniibersichtlichkeit,"'in Streitfall (Essen, 1988), ed. Landeszentralefur politische Bildung Nordrhein-Westfalen seinin den80erJahren, 17-38. (A shortened English version appears in Historyand Memory1 [19891.)



rationmodernhistoricalstudieslaid claimto methodological Seenhistorically, academic its thus constituting on arguments, anti-rhetorical alityby an emphasis and moldingits statusas an autonomousdisciplinein the character or scientific documentof this claim for a newstandard A famousand influental humanities. firstbook, his Histurnis Ranke's of historicalstudiesand of its anti-rhetorical Nations 1494to 1514,firstpublishedin 1824.2 toriesof the Latinand Germanic Here he wrotehis famous declarationthat historyneed not judge the past in orderto teachthe presentfor the sakeof its future;his book, Rankesaid, "only the new Thisclaimof objectivityreflects wantsto showhowit reallyhadbeen."3 set a with special science an empirical as studies of historical self-understanding of methodologicalrules, constitutinghistoricalknowledgeas a processof research.4 Rankegot his chair in Berlinwhen he publishedhis book; one of the was its appendix,a criticalanalysisof the main reasonsfor this advancement of the time in question.5Here Rankepresentsa methodto get historiography fromthe sourcesvalid knowledgeof the past he wroteabout:by going through of the pastto gainan insightof whatreallyhadbeen. andreports the documents Ranke In orderto emphasizethis new scientificapproachof historiography, rhethe wayhe thoughthistoryshouldbe writtenwiththe traditional contrasted rhetorical this of Rankegave as an example toricalattitudeof historiography. wherethe actorsin the historicalevents historiography, attitudeGuicciardini's explaintheirintentionsby speeches.These speecheshavea rationalfunctionin the leading actionsby explicating important the text:theyexplainthe historically of explaining is that usedhere of the actors.(Themodelof explanation intentions but Rankedoes not argueagainstthis explanation, actionsby theirintentions.6) bysources. theyarenot documented of thespeeches; character thefictional against Theysaywhatwouldhavebeensaid if the actorshadbeenaskedfor the reasons of the speecheswhich for their actions. For Rankeit is the fictionalcharacter makesit impossibleto insertthem into the courseof events,despitetheir explanatoryfunction (which he did not discuss). to saywhatreally in an historiographical text,whichpretend Fictional speeches of that time meantby rhethad been in the past-that is what the intellectuals oric. Theyunderstoodby rhetorica strategyof speakingor writing,charactervon 1494bis 1514, Volker undgermanischen derromanischen 2. Leopold von Ranke, Geschichten 2nd ed. (Samtliche Werke, vol. 33/34) (Leipzig, 1874). 3. "zeigen, wie es eigentlich gewesen," ibid., vii. 4. Cf. Jorn Rusen, "Vonder Aufklarung zum Historismus: Idealtypische Perspektiveneines StrukDenkens, des historischen ZumStrukturwandel zumHistorismus: in Von derAufklarung turwandels," ed. H. W. Blanke and J. Rusen (Paderborn, 1984), 15-57. (Samtliche Werke,vol. 33/34) (Leipzig, 1874). Cf. Ernst Geschichtsschreiber neuerer 5. Zur Kritik Schulin, "Rankes Erstlingswerkoder Der Beginn der kritischen Geschichtsschreibung fiber die NeuvonGeschichtsStudien zurEntwicklung undRekonstruktionsversuch: zeit," in his Traditionskritik Denken(Gottingen, 1979), 44-64. und historischem wissenschaft der Vergan6. The logic of this mode of explanation is discussed in Jorn Risen, Rekonstruktion (Gottingen, 1986),30ff. Forschung derhistorischen II:Die Prinzipien einerHistorik Grundztige genheit:



ized by the meansof persuasionand by an absenceof truthclaims;one could Rhetoricis the insteadof convincingarguments. say by using language-tricks, useslanwhereas scientific historiography for strategic purposes, useof language To put it simply:truthinthe resultsof empiricalresearch. guageto articulate presentasteadof tricks.In Ranke'sown words,directedagainstGuicciardini's Naked conceptof history. "We on oursidehaveanother speeches: tion of fictional the into the particular; research painstaking truthwithoutany embellishment; matter, restlies in the handsof God; rejectingany fiction,even in the smallest rejectingany fantasywhatsoever."' enRankeconfrontsfantasywith truth. For him rhetoricin historiography both. Opposedto this danger whichseparates truth;it crossesthe border dangers evidencegivenbythe sources, thatis, the expositionof empirical standsresearch, truth;it enableshistoriansto say what guarantees ruledby method. Research reallyhad been and lets them respectthe borderbetweenempiricalevidenceor truthon the one sideand fantasyor fictionon the other.Thisoppositionbelongs to the basic argumentsby which professionalhistorianshave gained and are for anyconis indispensable theirimageas experts,whoseknowledge defending of the past. representation vincingand respectable Ranke'swork marksa turningpoint in the developmentof historiography: wastheir the skillof historians to science.Traditionally it changedfromliterature forceof their linabilityto reachthe mind of their audienceby the persuasive of common the language guisticforms,in whichthe pastbecomesalive,speaking topicalproblemsof presentsense,teachingpracticalcompetencein mastering was orientedto the practicalneeds of its audience.It day life.8Historiography an audience,by speakingto someone; wasguidedby the principleof addressing research; becameorientedtowards Now historiography it wasindeedrhetorical. it gaineda new qualityof empiricalevidence.It claimedto speakthe truthirof its audience.It no longertaught and prejudices of all expectations respective It simplysaid how it really but gaveempiricalknowledge. competence, practical had been. After this turningpoint, when historywas done in the form of an academic andstillpresent theirvisionof whathistorimost historians presented discipline, is andhasto be in a remarkably narrow-minded way:forthem,the main ography is basicallynothingbut a comprehistoriography is research; workof historians theseresults formof presenting results.Theliterary of research hensivesummary functionally depenbeing is of no deepconcern;it is of secondaryimportance, dent on the methodologicalprinciplesof gainingsolid knowledgeof the past from the sources.

besideshis emOn the contrary, did not sharethis narrow-mindedness. Ranked

ohne allen Nackte Wahrheit 7. "WirunsersOrts haben einen andernBegriffvon Geschichte. auch nurkeinErdichten, dasubrige Gottbefohlen; Erforschung desEinzelnen; grundliche Schmuck; 24.) (ZurKritikneuererGeschichtsschreiber, nicht im Kleinsten,nur kein Hirngespinst." Praxisoderkritische "Geschichte: Menschliche Kessler: 8. This is clearlyworkedout by Eckard



phasis on researchas the basis of historiography, he nevertheless acknowledged the fact that writing history, that is, shaping research results into an acceptable story, is based on other principles besides research. Whereas the principles of researchare scientificin their natureand belong to the realmof modern methodological rationality, the principles of writing history are artistic or poetic in their nature and belong to the realm of literature. In Ranke's own words: Historyis distinguished fromall othersciencesin thatit is also an art. Historyis a science in collecting,finding,penetrating; it is an artbecauseit recreates and portrays thatwhich it has foundand recognized. Othersciencesaresatisfiedsimplywith recording whathas been found; historyrequires the ability to recreate.9 What does Ranke mean by saying that history as a science is "also"an art? What is the relationship between scientific and poetic principles? Is it characterized by a hierarchical order or is it mediated? Ranke does not give a clear and theoreticallyexplicated answer. He explicates the scientific characterof historiography by pointing to philosophy, which represents the decisive element, namely "discovering causality and conceptualizing the core of existence.""0 History, he says, does this discovering and conceptualizing by working with the sources, which give the empirical evidence of what really had happened in the past. The mode of "discoveringcausality and conceptualizing the core of existence" as it appears in the temporal course of human affairs in the past, is the historical method, the set of rules which guide historical researchas a process of knowledge. Ranke described it briefly but very precisely as "collecting, finding, penetrating,"thus indicating the three main operations of historical research: heuristics, critique, and interpretation." Besides that, he quite simply states the artistic or poetic character of historiography, describing it as "reproducing the appeared life."12 Ranke says that this reproduction is done by activating the "ability to recreate."'3 How does this ability work in historiography,and how is it relatedto the methodological principles of historical research?

Wissenschaft?" in Kessler, Theoretiker humanistischer Geschichtsschreibung (Munich, 1971); cf. Kessler,"Das rhetorischeModell der Historiographie," in Formen der Geschichtsschreibung,ed. Reinhart Koselleck, Heinrich Lutz, and Jorn Rusen (Beitrage zur Historik, Bd. 4) (Munich, 1982), 37-85. 9. "On the Character of Historical Science (A Manuscript of the 1830s),"in Leopold von Ranke: The Theory and Practice of History, ed. Georg G. Iggers and Konrad von Moltke (Indianapolis, 1973), 33. ("Die Historie unterscheidet sich dadurch von anderen Wissenschaften, daB sie zugleich Kunst ist. Wissenschaft ist sie: indem sie sammelt, findet, durchdringt;Kunst, indem sie das Gefundene, Erkanntewiedergestaltet,darstellt.Andre Wissenschaftenbegnugen sich, das Gefundene schlechthin als solches aufzuzeichnen: bei der Historie gehbrt das Vermogen der Wiederhervorbringung dazu." ["Idee der Universalgeschichte,"in Leopold von Ranke: Vorlesungseinleitungen,ed. Volker Dotterweich and Walter Peter Fuchs (Aus Werk und NachlaB, vol. IV) (Munich, 1975), 72.]) 10. "On the Character of Historical Science," in Iggers and Moltke, eds., 33 ("die Kausalitat zu ergrunden, den Kern des Daseins in dem Begriff zu fassen." [Dotterweich and Fuchs, eds., 721). 11. It was Droysen who first (1857) explicated the main operations of the historical method in this way. Cf. Johann Gustav Droysen, Historik, ed. P. Leyh (Stuttgart), 1, 67ff. 12. Iggers and Moltke, eds., 34 ("das erschienene Leben wieder zu reproduzieren,"[Dotterweich and Fuchs, eds., 721). 13. Iggers and Moltke, eds., 33 ("Vermogender Wiederhervorbringung,"[Dotterweich and Fuchs, eds., 72]).



Thesequestionsarenot clearlyanswered he just saysthat in history by Ranke; therearetwo forcesof the mindworking,the intellectual force,whosemost representative activityis philosophy, andthe poeticalforce,whosemost representative activityis art. In historythey are mediated."Historybringsboth together in a thirdelementpeculiaronly to itself."1'4 What is this "thirdelement," constitutingthe peculiarity of historicalstudies,combiningand mediatinghistorical research and historiography to make a whole called "history"? This is the decisivequestion. It is decisive(at least for my argument) becauseit is related to the modernistcharacter of historyas a scienceas well as to the actualpostmodernlook at historyas a rhetoricallanguagegame. Rankehimself refutes the dichotomy between scientific andaestheticfeatures of historybyemphasizing the mediationof scienceand art in history.So I thinkit is worthwile to findout whathe pointedto by speaking of the thirdelement,whichmediates the conceptualizingforces of the humanmind with the reproducing ones. his descriptionis not veryclear. He said that this elementis Unfortunately a direction of the humanmindandits forcesof historical consciousness towards the real, which is common to the intellectualas well as to the artisticforceof history.This approachto realitydistinguishesboth of them from philosophy and art, which are directedtowardsthe ideal. This argument leads us back to Ranke'sfamous sayingthat he only wantedto show how it reallyhad been. Our questionthereforeshould be, what leads to this objectivityof what had "really been"?For Rankethe answeris clear:it is research. If that is true,then the basic role of art in historyescapesour attention,becauseresearch cannot mediatebetween itself andartin history. ToquoteRankeagain:"History is never the one withoutthe other."1So the questionremainsopen: what is the mediatingthirdelement?Whatrealizes the peculiarhistoricalrealismcombiningart and science? Rankedid not deal with this questiontheoretically. For him the simple act of writinghistoryusingthe resultsof empiricalresearch provessufficiently that thereis a synthesisof scienceand art in historiography. Art just takes place in the act of historywriting.Art is different from science,whichneedsconceptual and methodologicalclarityin the procedures of gaining knowledge.Art does not need rulesor reflected "Artrestson itself:its existenceprovesits principles. validity.On the other hand, sciencemust be totallyworkedout to its veryconRankedoes not thinkthat the cept and mustbe clearto its core."16 Apparently or poetic side of historyrequires to havea professional artificial historians skill to "Therest lies in the handsof god": comparable their ability as researchers. or better,a super-rational wecanreadthiswordas hintinga non-rational, procein a realmof the humanmind, wherecognitiveprinciplesand dure,generated beentaken ruleshaveno place.It is the placewhichhad formerly methodological rhetoric. by
sie beidein einemdritten,nurihreigentumlichen 14. Iggersand Moltke,eds., 34 ("Sieverbindet and Fuchs,eds., 72]). [Dotterweich Element,"
15. Idem.

vollkommen ihreGultigkeit, beweist dagegen auf sichselber: ihrDasein Kunst beruht 16. Idem. ("Die



whenit got placedinto God'shands?I wouldlike to rhetoric Whathappened the anto play a little bit furtherwhichthese words.If you take them literally, And that was indeedthe case: sweris: Rhetoricmust havebeen spiritualized. whichchanged of an aesthetics, or at leastelements substance it got an aesthetical by of historiography rationalization to the modernizing according its character did not simply turn of historiography scientificresearch.The anti-rhetorical a new form of abolish rhetoricin it, but changedit, gave it a new character, speakingto its audience. levels:On this noveltyon both the practicaland theoretical Rankerepresents aestheticquality;they mainworkshavean undeniable the levelof praxisRanke's Thisaestheticqualityis not simply of realism. belongto the greatproseliterature historiof European it is representative uniquegift as a writer; of Ranke's theresult Michelet,and centuryin general.I thinkof Macaulay, of the nineteenth ography RomanHistory. forTheodorMommsen's of the NobelPrizefor Literature mainly On the levelof theory,Rankespeaksof art in historyin a waythat can easily Hereartis seenas a precogbe understood as in accordwithclassicalaesthetics.17 to rules; beingsubmitted without an imageof life of producing nitiveprocedure itself generatesits rules, and the more originalthey are, that is, the procedure the artifacts the betterandthe moreeffective formulated, the lesstheyarealready becauserhetoric givesrules anti-rhetorical, are.Thisideaof artis fundamentally This and effect. their rules stand for success and the for linguisticprocedures, idea of art is the reasonRankelets art "reston itself"in history anti-rhetorical and not on its his effortsin historicalknowledgeon research and concentrates linguisticform. historthe questionaboutthe peculiar UntilnowI havenot only not answered ical elementin the humanmind mediatingbetweenscienceand art, but I have this questionevenmoreby pointingto the aestheticaleffectof the complicated this complicationis a turnof historyin Ranke'stime. However, anti-rhetorical by scientificreis negated rhetoric Ranke, For the question. way of answering search,and there is only a residueof rhetoricremainingin a fundamentally The mediatingelementin queschangedform:the aestheticsof historiography. assertionthat rhetoric tion now comesinto view,whenwe ask whetherRanke's I think this is not the case. that completelyvanishedin aestheticsis convincing. in orderto So I will ask about the hidden rhetoricin Ranke'shistoriography forcesof the findan answerto the question:whatcombinesthe conceptualizing humanmindwiththe imaginingforcesand givesthemboth theirspecifichistorical character?

Fromrecenttheoryof historywe can learnthat the conceptof rhetoric,underdurchgearbeitet sein bis zu ihrem Begriff und uber ihr Eigenstes klar mud die Wissenschaft sein." [Dotterweich and Fuchs, eds., 73])

zumBegranUntersuchungen AsthetikundGeschichte: Geschichtstheoretische 17. Cf. JoMn Rusen, (Stuttgart,1976),14ff. und Wissenschaft von Kunst,Geselischaft dungszusammenhang



studiesas scienceand still turnof historyinto historical lyingthe anti-rhetorical Its widermeaning vivid in the mindof professionalhistorians,is too narrow.'8 on scienceand art in hiscomes into view when we look at Ranke'sarguments both aredealing (tatigeGeisteskrafte) forcesof the humanmind" tory.As "active with the same matter,called by RankeLeben(life-in the senseof humanlife) 19History of life in time.Science as a subjectmatteris the appearance or Existenz. of the source the information studiesrecognizes it byconceptualizing as historical it by imaginingthe past as a vivid, reproduces material.Art as historiography temporalhappeningin humanaffairs.Both operationsof historicalconsciouswhichgiveeventsandtheir of significance patterns nessareguidedbyunderlying - or in Ranke's words,the existence of life or connectionthe character temporal characterof being somethingwhich "reallyhad been." courseof human in thetemporal hadbeen" what"really Whattellsthehistorian - thought - andmaybeevenRanke in the past?Althoughmanyhistorians affairs it is fact, told by the sources, given is an objectively reality and think that this in the senseof alive,effective, somethingelse, somethingevenmore"objective" constitutinghumanexistenceratherthan a dead fact, a positivedatumof what in linguistic liveliness thisfundamental is or wasthe case.Historyrepresents form, it is the livelinessof languageas a form of humanexistence. lives in the languageof the The life of historypresentedby historiography of the past into the presentation historian,by which he places his recollecting of thispresent life of the audiencein sucha waythat it gainsthe liveliness present life. Whereis historyalive in this fundamental,existentialway? Whereis it a that is, practicallife?This placein life is the culturalorientation partof "real," in social relations.Historyis an essentialpart of humanactivityand suffering cannottakeplace. withoutwhichhumanactivity of world-andself-interpretation What has this generalargumentto do with rhetoric?In fact I have already spokenof rhetoric,becauserhetoricin historyis nothingbut a set of linguistic formswithin which historicalknowledgegains its elementaryand basic liveliwhich give the facts ness in practicalhuman life. The patternsof significance life are linguisticformsof of the past theirsense and meaningfor present-day historicalnarrativeswhich can be furtherdescribedas topoi of the historiographicaldiscourse.2 of significance, of historyconsistsof a set of topoi, basicpatterns The rhetoric the past is to play a vivid role presentation, whichare used when, by narrative in thesetopicalpatterns,historicalknowledge becomes in actuallife. Presented
in Nineteenth Europe (BalTheHistorical Imagination White,Metahistory: 18. Hayden Century Criticism 1978);White, (Baltimore, Essaysin Cultural of Discourse: timore,1973);White,Tropics andHistorical 1987); DomiRepresentation (Baltimore, Narrative Discourse TheContent of theForm: als The(Ithaca,1985);Jorn Rtisen,"Geschichtsschreibung Historyand Criticism nick LaCapra, der Geschichtswissenschaft: Skizzezum historischen der gegenwartigen Hintergrund orieproblem in Koselleck, Lutz, and Rdsen,eds., 14-36. Diskussion," and Fuchs,eds., 72). 19. Iggersand Moltke,eds., 33ff. (Dotterweich undFunktionen einerHistorik III:Formen Geschichte. 20. Cf. JdrnRusen,Lebendige Grundzige des historischenWissens (Gdttingen,1989).



a part of practicallife, of effectiveorientationof humanactivityand suffering in the courseof time. Rhetoricfurnisheshistoricalknowledge with ideas of the courseof time comprisingpast, present,and futureinto a thoroughgoing unit of sense,significance, or meaningfor the action-guiding of world interpretation and humanityin human life. This conceptof rhetoricof courseincludesmuchmorethan merelythe insertion of fictionalelementsin narratives of factualoccurrences; it includesmuch morethan merelya set of linguistictricksto be used in the strategyof persuasion. It has to be seen as a necessaryconditionfor an historicalunderstanding of thepastbyplacing it withthevitality of language in theactualcourseof presentday life. How is this done by Ranke?It is not my intentionto describehis network of rhetorical forms,which from past occurrences, as he has found them by research,createsa vivid historicalnarration.I can only hint at some of the most important rhetorical structures whichareinherent shapingprinciples of Ranke's historiography. Beforedoingso I wouldliketo distinguish between different levelsandaspects of rhetorical structures in historiography. The basicrhetorical of every structure historicaltext is constitutedby a mixtureof the four types of fundamental and elementary topoi of historicalnarration: the traditional, the exemplary, the critical,andthegeneticmodeof makingsenseout of the empirical factsof thepast.2" Thisbasicstructure now be can filledin andmadeconcrete withpoliticalaspirationstowards the intendedorientation of practical life in its temporal dimension by historicalknowledge. Herewe can easily distinguishbetweenleft and right, moderateand radical,feministor patriarchal intentions,and so on -in short, it is possibleto find everypolitical position shapingthe design of the past in historiography. Besidesthe politicalrhetoric wecanfindotherintentional factors of practicallife constitutingthe livelinessof historiography by rhetoricalpatterns,for example, ethics,religion,world-views, and ideologies.Wecan describe analyzethese factorsby means of typologies,and we can transformeverytypology into a set of rhetoricaltopoi in historiography. Goingbackto Ranke,I wouldlike to desribethe rhetoric of his historiography bypointing to twolevelsor aspects: the basically andthe politicaltopoi. historical Botharewellknownas characterizing of Ranke's the peculiarity modeof history he presents writing: historypredominantly in the meaning-constitutive topos of geneticalnarration, and his politicalattitudeis historiographically visibleas a moderateconservatism. The geneticaltopos is presentin the often used categoryof "development" (Entwickelung) and in a multitudeof metaphorsof movement,expressing the senseof the presented historical of the past.The folthoroughgoing occurrences lowingquotationfromthe Historyof the Popes is typicalof this rhetoricof the
21. Cf. JoMn Rfisen, "Die vier Typen des historischen Erzdhlens,"in Koselleck, Lutz, and Rfisen, eds., 514-605; Rfisen, "Historical Narration: Foundations, Types, Reason," in History and Theory, Beiheft 26 (1987), 87-97; Riisen, Lebendige Geschichte.



genetic type of historical orientation in time: "We are forced irresistibly to the conviction that all the purposes and efforts of humanity are subjected to the silent and often imperceptible, but invincible and ceaseless march of events." 22 Ranke presents this "march of events" as an historical process, leading to the political constellation of modern states in Europe, which Ranke thought to be predominant in his time. In the context of our quotation, Ranke expresses this leading genetic perspective of modern history as "a spirit of community in the modern world which has always been regarded as the basis of its entire development, whether in religion, politics, manners, social life, or literature."23 Ranke shapes this perspective politically mainly by presenting interactions of leading personalities, thus underlining the fundamental importance and competence of governments for the essential decisions without relating too much to the governed people and their normal life. Ranke's political ideas and his standpoint in political life are well known,24as well as their manifestation in his historiography. But it is less known how he transforms them into rhetorical modes and strategies of history writing. We can describe these modes and strategies by referringto perspectives within which acts of governments appear, and to attributes which characterizepolitical actions and actors. Such a perspective often implies a view from above, favoring state-politics as the main force of historical development, and such attributes can be found in Ranke's characterizationof mass-movements- like the peasant's war during the Reformation in Germany-as driven by blind naturalforces rather than by reflected and culturally legitimized intentions.25 All these rhetorical strategies are at work in Ranke's historiography, as well as in historiography in general. So what about the anti-rhetorical turn of historiography towards its modern, scientific form? Recognizing the unbroken force of rhetoric in historiography, one could easily come to the opinion that all the anti-rhetorical sayings of research-based historiography are nothing more than rhetoric itself. It seems simply to hide the rhetorical character of historiography in order to take part in the cultural prestigeof science and to legitimate the professional skill of historians, now cultivating an image of academic seriousness. This postmodern view of modernity which historiography has gained by historical studies and its scientific methods is seductive. It seriously takes into consideration the literary character of historiography and lifts the veil of ignorance which
22. Iggers and Moltke, eds., 185 ("Es ist nicht anders, als daB alles menschliche Tun und Treiben dem leisen und der Bemerkung oft entzogenen, aber gewaltigen und unaufhaltsamen Gange der Dinge unterworfen ist.") (Ranke, Die romischen Pdpste in den letzten vier Jahrhunderten [Samtliche Werke, vol. 37] [Leipzig, 1874], 23.) 23. Ranke, Die romischen Pdpste, 185 ("Es gibt eine Gemeinschaftlichkeit der modernen Welt, welche immer als eine Hauptgrundlage der gesamten Ausbildung derselben in Staat und Kirche,Sitte, Leben und Literatur betrachtet worden ist.") 24. Cf. Helmut Berding, "Leopold von Ranke,"in Deutsche Historiker, ed. Hans-Ulrich Wehler (Gottingen, 1971), 1, 7-24. 25. Ranke'swords:"Unaufh6rlichvernimmtman dies dumpfe Brauseneines unbandigenElementes in dem Innern des Bodens, auf dem man steht." Deutsche Geschichte im Zeitalter der Reformation (Samtliche Werke, vol. 1) (Leipzig, 1867), 1, 143.



the academic self-understanding of historians has spread on history writing as the main task of historians. But unfortunately the new awareness of historiography as a working process of writing produces a new veil over what historians do, now concealing the research-process as an important part of the work of historians. I think it worthwhile, therefore, to ask, what are the consequences of the antirhetorical input of researchinto historiography? Is there any effect of it signalling a new, a specifically "modern"quality in the art of history writing? Looking at Ranke's work gives us an answer: it is aesthetics.

What is the difference between rhetoric and aesthetics?26By its rhetoric historiography realizes its practical function of orienting the practical life of its audience in the course of time. It transforms the necessity of action into the linguistic forms of its temporal orientation by historical memory. By doing so it follows the logic of practical needs in human world-interpretation and selfunderstanding. Aesthetics introduces the element of freedom into this constraint of practical needs shaping historiography;it unburdens action-leading historical memories from the dominance of practical interests and opens up a space for free self-reflection in the temporal orientation of human activity. It is the attractiveness of freely dealing with historical knowledge while using it rhetorically in the cultural struggle for life. We are aware of this appearance of freedom and acknowledge it when we appreciateand enjoy Ranke'shistoriographyas very well written, or of a high literary standard, without accepting its standpoint in social and political life. Historiography has this aesthetical quality in common with literature such as poetry. So it seems to be a quality which has nothing to do with the anti-rhetorical turn which Ranke and all academic historians are so eager to emphasize. I think that this is not true. For me the aesthetic appeal of the classical historiography of the nineteenth century is more than just a consequence of the personal abilities of historians; it is a reflection of an inner rationalization of historiography by historical studies. It is the gleam of reason in the artistic or poetic dimension of historiography. For us the linguistic articulation of scholarly skills in historiography appears in footnotes.27The more footnotes, the deeper the academic concern. Ranke's works do not have many footnotes. Their academic or scientific concern is much more internalized. It becomes visible in the way the claim for objectivity founded in historical research is a principle of shaping or linguistic presentation of historical knowledge. It is often said that Ranke indicated historical objectivity by avoiding speaking of himself in his historiography. That he wanted to "extinguish my self and only

26. For a more detailed argument see Rusen, Lebendige Geschichte. 27. Cf. Peter Rief3,Footnotoly: Towardsa Theory of the Footnote (Berlin, 1985).



let speakthe matter,make apparentthe powerfulforces,"28is well knownand He speaks,neverthenarration. this attitudeof authoritative seemsto underline less, of himself. I found the word"I"in the firstvolumeof his History of the wondering pages.This"I"is the historian, timeswithina hundred Popesthirteen explicatinghis sourcefor a an event or an action,29 how he should understand the mulof describing aboutthe impossibility complaining certainoccurrence,30 art, and so on. This "I"in fact neverreflectshis concept titudeof Renaissance withinwhichthegreat perspective thecomprehensive of thewholeinterpretation, and not with the whole. It dealswith singularities marchof eventsis presented. temporalconnectionof events,occurThis whole, the internaland substantial in this temporal rences,and actions,whichformsthe whole story,is implicated It is the luster presentation. connection;it appearsin the mode of its narrative orderin the temporalchangeof the humanworld. Herelies the of a universal it is his conception reasonfor the aestheticqualityof Ranke'shistoriography: in the form of temporalsepresentation of temporalwholes and its narrative (mainlyevents). quencesof occurrences his conception,whichcomof himselfwhilepresenting Rankeavoidsspeaking whole that formsthe basic senseof his historiogtemporal prisesan integrative He is convincedthat this whole is essentiallymorethanonly a subjective raphy. in his poeticalmind. It is a realtemporal constructof the historian,generated chain order.Thisgreattemporal definingtheirhistorical chainof humanaffairs, of humanaffairsis pregivenin the sourcematerial.It can be found there,but it has to be workedout by historicalresearch. temporalwholesin the courseof This basic conceptof objectivelypregiven, tradiagainstthe rhetorical it is the mainargument rhetoric; pasteventsdestroys of historywriting it is the linguisticprocedure In rhetoric tion of historiography. which presentsthe past in such a way that the knowledgeof it playsan active view it in presentpracticallife. In Ranke's role in solvingorientation-problems is the temporalwhole of historyitself, whichcombinesthe past so tightlywith activity. partin present-day timethatits memorycan workas an integral present life practical between mediate present-day does not rhetorically Historiography an objectively pregiven scientifically of the past, but it explicates and knowledge internalconnectionbetweenpast and present. The temporalwholes bringingabout this connectionare constitutedby the historiandclassical changein thehumanworld.Ranke movingforcesof temporal cism of the nineteenthcenturysaw these forcesworkingin the action-guiding (Idee).Forhim it was and -movingintentionsof the humanmind,called"idea" the spirit of mankind,presentin everyword and deed of any memberof the senseto its course whole,givinghistorical humanrace,whichshapesthetemporal
28. "Ich wunschte mein Selbst gleichsam auszuloschen, und nur die Dinge reden, die machtigen Krafteerscheinenzu lassen."(Englische Geschichte vornehmlichim 17. Jahrhundert[SamtlicheWerke, vol. 151 [Leipzig, 18771, II, 103.) 29. Ranke, Die romischen Papste, 37. 30. Ibid., 39.



of eventsin the past, and combinesthis course with the actual changeof the humanworld, happeningin presentactions and sufferings. rhetoricis replacedby an idealisticphilosophyof hisFor Ranke,therefore, structure an underlying tory.31This philosophylets historiansfind by research of temporalchangeshapedby the mentalforcesof humanlife, and this underlife. In this way of present-day comprisesthe actualoccurrences lying structure whatis really of whatreallyhappenedin the pastexpresses historicalknowledge mental forces of arecombinedbythe actuality happening today.Pastandpresent which place them into an intelligibleorderof time. The knowledge ("ideas"), of this orderis objectiveand theoretical(in the sense of intelligible),because it is empirically evident in the events of the past and can be discernedin the and practical(in the sense At the sametime it is subjective sourcesby research. life or actionswith an idea of a temporaldirectionof the of orientingpractical changeto be effectedby practice),becauseit enlightensthe intentionalforces of present-day activity and suffering. is, therefore,alThe scientificmode of thinkingin historicalinterpretation of historical knowlfortheimplementation a sufficient condition ready in principle as a strategy life. Rhetoricis no longernecessary edge into the coreof practical of such an implementation. we can unhistoriography, groundof historicist Relating to this philosophical of rhetturnof historical studiesas a theoretization the anti-rhetorical derstand oric, as an input of essentialprinciplesof reasoningconcerningthe temporal into lingusticprocedures, by whichhistoricalknowledge chainof humanaffairs for life. becomes of the past important practical its remarkable aesthetic It is this reasonwhich gives Ranke'shistoriography his basic philosophyof historybecause Rankedid not conceptualize character. competing in his time philosophyof historywasa formof historicalknowledge research. withits strategies of empirical withhistorical studiesandnot compatible status,which he called So he kept his conceptionof historyin a pretheoretical conand which can be describedas a preconceptual Ahndung(presentiment), templation.In this statushis philosophyof historycould work as an aesthetic is a The aestheticlusterof Ranke'shistoriography elementof historiography. to recognize wholes temporal gloomof reason.It is reasonwhichmakesit possible in the underlyingstructureof events in the past, and which at the same time to find out these wholes as a rationalprocedure: constituteshistoricalresearch material. the source by "collecting,finding,and penetrating" fromrhetoric,I havesaid thataesaestheticsand its difference Characterizing in favor of practicalnecessitiesin historiography theticsbreaksthe constraints of a free relationship of its audienceto historicalexperience and its role in the lightens temporalorientationin practicallife. By its aesthetics,historiography into the burdenof historyin the determination of humanactivity.It introduces life.a chancefor autonomy.How is the historicalpredetermination of practical
zur Theorie und Theoria: Untersuchungen zwischen Zemlin,Geschichte 31. Cf. Michael-Joachim Rankes(Wirzburg,1988). Geschichtsphilosophie



sight theoryof historyguideshistorians' His pretheoretical this done by Ranke? throughthe empiricalevidenceof the sourcesto the movingmentalforcesof changein the humanworld,and it makesthese forcesunderstandable temporal and their audience'ssubjectivity, as movingforcesin the depthsof historians' wherethey constitutethe historicalidentity,the "self' of them. So looking into the past, they find their self, the spiritof their life, in the form of a temporal of the with the experience the historianexplicates own words: whole.In Ranke's of the world"and "theforcesthat are past "theplansof God in his government by therefore, in action for the educationof the humanrace."32 Historiography, its audiencein a waythat makesvisiblethe mentalforces addresses its aesthetics, people in the temporalcourseof whichconstitutethe identityof the addressed by historiography theirlife. This comingto oneself is the freedominaugurated into the temporalorientationof practicallife. It is still unRanke'saestheticstheoretically. So far I haveonly characterized woven intentions and standpoints to clearwhat it meansin respect the political and it is still unclearas well how into the textureof historiography, rhetorically conceptor vision of temporalwholesis preand aestheticizing the deliberating sented historiographically. of one'spoint of view, the constraint How does one breakhistoriographically foundedin one's standpointin political and social life? It would be wrongto of historical insightinto the movingmentalforcesof temsaythatthe objectivity is not freedom; Neutrality pointsof viewor standpoints. poralchangeneutralizes and importance of of the significance simplydepriveshistoriography neutrality life. Ranke'sclaim for objectivismshould be historicalknowledgefor practical it does not avoid points of view or politicaland understoodquite differently: social standpoints,but offersa mode of dealingwith them using a deeperand of actual practicallife. It offerscomprising,medilargertemporalperspective of onewhichcan breakthe constraint historicalperspectives ating,reconciling sided, exclusivepoints of view,withoutnegatingthe practicalneedsfor historof temporal introduction ical orientation.Wecan signifythis historiographical in words, Ranke's life standpoints, on of practical the dependence wholes into in theirpracas guidedby the intention"tolet the peoplesharedivineliberty"33 tical life. How is this done in the practiceof historywriting?This questionleads us composition.Its main principleis a to Ranke'stechniqueof historiographical events. and particular narrative synthesisof generaltendenciesand structures of the fundamental of eventsas manifestations sequences Ranke temporal presents forcesof temporalchangein the humanworld.He writes,so to speak,a structural historyof the humanmind in the form of a history of mainly political
32. Iggers and Moltke, eds., 184 ("den Planen der gdttlichen Weltregierung, den Momenten der Erziehung des Menschengeschlechtes nachzuforschen" [Ranke, Die r6mischen Papste, 221). 33. Ranke, De historiae et politices cognatione atque discrimine [On the Relationship and Difference between History and Politics, inaugural lecture, 1836] (Sdmtliche Werke,vol. 24) (Leipzig, 1877), 290.



levels of occurThis is done in a very artisticway by fittingdifferent events.34 rencesinto each other.35 The deepestlevelis that of the principleof historicaltime in general.Ranke and ceaseless or the "invincible necessities"36 world-governing calls it the "great only in very short passages It appearshistoriographically marchof events."37 sectorsof the text. It apbridgingdifferent importantoccurrences, surrounding or explanation,but in the form of digression in a theoretical pearsnot at all remark. the form of a rathercasual, accidental,and arbitrary of this principlein the form The next level is that of an abstractappearance Rankespeaksof tendenciesof universalizaof modesof temporalmovements. both fightingwith each other and of of particularization, tion and tendencies constitutinga complexityof directionsof temporalchange.This level appears passages,whichindicatethe placeof parin the textin the formof summarizing that comprisethe temporalwhole. ticulardevelopments mainlyof those personswho The next level is that of actionsof individuals, a politicalsystem,such as kings, popes, ministers.Theiractivityaprepresent it fillsthe mainstreamof the narpearsas the surfaceof historicaloccurrences; evidenceon the bonesof principles. Eventsthusarethe fleshof empirical rative. of temporalwholesappears structure them,the mentalunderlying By narrating in the survivingdocuments.Ranke at the surfaceof whathappenedas reported as an emathe temporal sequenceof eventsin sucha waythatit appears narrates suchas nationprocesses, but- as wecallthem- structural nationof non-eventful of political betweenstates,emerging constituting politicalrelationships building, struccultures,and so on. The eventshold the place and actualizeunderlying of events Thissignificance tendencies. wholesin theircomprising turesof temporal He speaksof "great historiography. elementof Ranke's formative is an outspoken and he uses in whichthe generalcourseof historyis concentrated, moments"38 factor. the denominationand descriptionof those momentsas a dramatizing of alternative of those momentswithconsiderations He enlarges the description thuselucidating of flashbacks andprojections, of conflicting forces, developments, the historicalrole of eventsas emanationsof the temporalwholes, which give the courseof eventsan historicalmeaning.Finally,they point to the temporal life. changein present-day connection Rankepresentseventsas symbols;they appearin their narrative
34. Cf. Hans Schleier, "Narrativeund Strukturgeschichteim Historismus";Georg Iggers, "Historicism (A Comment)"; and Jorn Ruisen,"Narrativeund Strukturgeschichteim Historismus," in Storia della Storiografia 10 (1986), 112-152. 35. In the following remarks I agree with a good deal of Hermann von der Dunk's observations in "Die historische Darstellung bei Ranke: Literatur und Wissenschaft," in Leopold von Ranke und die moderne Geschichtswissenschaft, ed. Wolfgang J. Mommsen (Stuttgart, 1988), 131-165, mainly 151ff. weltbeherrschende Notwendigkeiten," (Ranke, Die romischen Pdpste, 64); in Iggers 36. "groJ3e and Moltke, eds., 203: "coercive circumstances with universal implications." 37. Iggers and Moltke, eds., 185 (der "gewaltige und unaufhaltsame Gang der Dinge," [Ranke, Die romischen Papste, 23]). 38. For example, Die Romischen Pdpste, 57, 129.



happening as temporally significance, andgeneral occurrence as unitsof singular of temmediationsof factsand meanings.This is how reasonas the knowledge as an aestheticsparkleon the surface poralwholes appearshistoriographically Rankeseemsto follow Hegel'sphiof a historyof events.In his historiography losophy of art, which definesbeauty,the essentialaestheticqualityof human products,as "the sensualshiningof the idea."39

or to givehis modeof historiHegelianism to praiseRanke's It is not myintention historywriting.I wantedsimply for present-day an obligatoryrelevance ography of reasoninto historiogimportantintroduction to remindus of an historically whichgaveit a certainaestheticquality.Historicalstudieshas forgotten raphy, of profesqualityof modernhistory.It fell out of the self-awareness thisaesthetic gift and losingits internalrelasionalhistorians,becomingan extradisciplinary It stillremains research. of historical rationality tionshipwiththe methodological the rhetorturnof theoryof history,rediscovering forgottenin the postmodern Hereit is forgottenas long as of historiography. and procedures ical principles we do not distinguishbetweenrhetoricand aesthetics,and ask ourselveshow of practical forcesof reasoninto the restraints the deliberating we can introduce (as its rhetoric).We knowthat we cannot in historicalnarration needseffective becausewe historiographers, do it in the way of Rankeand his contemporary havelost theirconfidencein an idealisticphilosophyof history.That is not at to strengthen all an argument againstreasonin history,but ratheran argument should in historiography of rhetoric recognition ourquestforit. Thepost-modern rhetoricbut forwardto a rhetoricof historiognot lead us back to premodern and the necessityof liberatingreasonin historiography raphywhichpreserves a but with much of research, a technique this reasonnot simplyas whichreflects widerand deeperapproachto historicalstudiesas a questionof the aesthetics of historiography. Universitdt Bielefeld

39. G. W. F. Hegel, Asthetik, ed. Friedrich Bassenge (Berlin, 1955), 146.