The Conceptual Change of Conscience: Franz Wieacker and German Legal Historiography 1933 - 1968

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph

    Abstract

    This dissertation is a history of the ideas of German legal historian Franz Wieacker. The broader aim of this study is to analyze the intellectual context in which Wieacker’s texts were situated, thus the German legal scientific discourse from 1933 to 1968. In this study Franz Wieacker’s texts are analyzed in the light of his correspondence and the broader social historical change of the twentieth century Germany. The study concentrates on the intertwinement of his scientific works with the contemporary society, as well as on the development of his personal perception of continuity and meaning in history. The theoretical framework of the dissertation derives from conceptual history and hermeneutics of historiography. As objects of analyze I have picked two concepts which Franz Wieacker often utilized in illuminating European legal history: Rechtsbewusstsein (legal consciousness) and Rechtsgewissen (legal conscience). These concepts were the key terms in his attempt to analyze the themes of justice and the rule of law in European history. In concrete terms, the change in the meanings of Wieacker’s concepts Rechtsgewissen and Rechtsbewusstsein is being tracked in reference to paradigmatic changes in continental legal science and social historical development of Germany. The analysis conducted in this dissertation proves Franz Wieacker’s continuous and firm belief in the necessity of the distinct social position of legal scholars in society. The prestigious status of the ‘juridical estate’ was a premise for social justice. Furthermore, Wieacker’s view on society was shaped by his unconditional trust on the values concerning learnedness and higher education. This preconception was due to his upbringing and attachment to the values of Weimar Republic Bildungsbürgertum, ‘learned bourgeoisie’. As a result, in the later scientific production of Franz Wieacker, the themes of ‘communality’ as the context of legal scholarship and ‘elastic creativity’ as the aim of legal science were significantly important. Wieacker explained the diverse social breaches and recent crises of Germany through a vast narrative of European legal culture, which he constructed with the means of concepts. Despite the radical changes brought about the National-Socialist seizure of power of 1933 and the end of the Second World War in 1945, the core of his scholarly identity remained the same from Weimar to the Federal Republic of Germany.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Helsinki
    Supervisors/Advisors
    • Tuori, Kaius, Supervisor
    Award date13 Oct 2017
    Place of PublicationHelsinki
    Publisher
    Print ISBNs978-951-51-3688-6
    Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-3689-3
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2017
    MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

    Fields of Science

    • 513 Law

    Cite this