Gerhard Dilcher - Historical Social Science as a Means of Overcoming Modernity – A Comparison of Max Weber and Otto von Gierke


Although Otto von Gierke (1841-1921) and Max Weber (1864-1920) belong to different generations, they were shaped by many similar influences and share the common link of Weber’s doctoral qualification in the history of law and his professorship in Berlin. Both academics pursued their careers within the historical social sciences and this perspective informs a somewhat dismal prognosis for the future of modernity. This is the hallmark of both authors’ published works as well as their political activities – albeit in different political camps – during and in the aftermath of the First World War.

This lecture is aiming at illustrating how starting from a historically developed perspective, theoretical projections and basic philosophical arguments both authors achieve, admittedly, quite distinct prognoses about the threats to modernity and proposals to overcome this.

The differences, which clearly emerge in this process, allow the characteristics of each respective scientific work to appear in even sharper focus.

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Dilcher

Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/Main (em.)

The lecture will be held in German.

Curriculum Vitae

Gerhard Dilcher studied law in Frankfurt am Main where he was awarded a PhD in 1960. Before his appointment as a professor of German history of law and civil law, Gerhard Dilcher was a research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Rome. After his professorship at the Free University of Berlin, Professor Dilcher accepted a chair in the law faculty of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main where he taught German history of law, canon law and civil law. He embarked on numerous lecture tours including Japan, Korea, China, India and Malaysia and his insights are reflected in his multilingual publications. In 1986 and 1996 visiting professorships took Professor Dilcher to the University of Florida and since 2002 he has been visiting professor at the University of Trento in Italy.

Publications (selected)

  • Auf dem Wege zur Etablierung des Öffentlichen Rechts zwischen Mittelalter und Moderne, ed. with Diego Quaglioni, Bologna/Berlin, 2011.
  • Max Weber. Zur Geschichte der Handelsgesellschaften im Mittelalter, Schriften 1889-1894 (Max Weber Gesamtausgabe. Abteilung I: Schriften und Reden, Band 1), ed. with Susanne Lepsius, Tübingen, 2008.
  • Normen zwischen Oralität und Schriftkultur. Studien zum mittelalterlichen Recht und zum langobardischen Recht, ed. with Bernd Kannowski, Susanne Lepsius, Reiner Schulze, Köln/Weimar/Wien, 2008.
  • Von der Rechtsgeschichte zur Soziologie – Max Webers Auseinandersetzung mit der Historischen Rechtsschule, in: JZ 2007, p. 105 – 112.
  • Bürgerrecht und Stadtverfassung im europäischen Mittelalter. Köln, 1996.
  • Mittelalterliche Rechtsgewohnheit als methodisch-theoretisches Problem, in: Dilcher et. al., Gewohnheitsrecht und Rechtsgewohnheiten im Mittelalter. Berlin, 1992.
  • Die Entstehung der lombardischen Stadtkommune. Aalen, 1967.