Constantin Fasolt
Constantin Fasolt Office: Phone: Email Interests:

Development and Significance of Historical Thought, Political, Social, and Legal Thought in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Conciliar Movement and Reformation


Karl J. Weintraub Professor Emeritus

Prof. Fasolt has retired and no longer directs BA theses or accepts new graduate students.

Columbia University, PhD '81


My work is aimed at a historically-grounded diagnosis of the condition of our time. It focuses on principles of thought and action that have governed the European and American worlds since early modern times, but are now giving way under the impact of changes both obvious and poorly understood. These principles include concepts like sovereignty, democracy, nation, liberty, progress, science, conscience, and human rights, as well as distinctions like those between self & other, nature & culture, past & present, public & private, state & church, legal & moral ... the list is easy to extend. Understanding why these concepts and distinctions are losing their meaning requires a perspective on European history as a whole, beginning with its medieval phase and leading all the way across the modern age to globalization and postmodernism. It also requires a systematic challenge to the dogmas of historicism, particularly the taboo on anachronism and the restriction of meaning to the context of a particular time and place. The most abundant source of support that I have found for mounting such a challenge without denying our ability to tell the truth about the past consists of a reading of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations that is quite different from the readings most likely to be familiar to historians.