14 Feb 2020 · 10.00 am

Schulen, Gruppen, Stile. Denken, kollektiv betrachtet

Venue: ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Aufgang B, 3. Etage, Seminarraum
Organized by Nicolas Berg (DI), Daniel Weidner (ZfL/HU Berlin)
Research project(s): Style. Past and Present

Joint workshop of the Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow Leipzig (DI) and the Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Studies (ZfL)

“Right in the middle” between human ideas and human society—this is where Kurt H. Wolff saw the sociology of knowledge. Today, the Mannheim-student and Simmel-translator is mostly unknown. Influenced not only by his teacher but also by Ludwik Fleck, who assimilated the term Denkstil from Mannheim and developed it further, Wolff was concerned with the epistemological domains in which individual human experience touches upon collective forms of thought—for instance in science. Thinking of knowledge as collective is, however, not only relevant to the history of science but challenges our conception and experience of cognition generally. For what is spectacular about Fleck’s Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact (1979 [1935]) is not so much the relatively intuitive conclusion that scientific results (or those of the arts) are the outcome of collective cooperation. It is rather the author’s conviction that cognition itself and the knowledge it gives rise to are, in fact, the “most socially determined activity of Man.”

This seemingly paradox hypothesis has led to several “renaissances” (Sylwia Werner and Claus Zittel) of Fleck’s book (the first being Thomas S Kuhn’s now classical study The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962, German 1967)). However, such resurging interest in approaches that focus on groups, schools of thought, and styles has only seldomly been extended to areas concerning cultural and literary studies or even history (at least outside of the history of science). Interest in collective thought processes and the aesthetic appeal of formal analogies in expression, style, and language promote a cyclical recovery of the writings of Georg Simmel, Siegfried Kracauer, and Karl Mannheim. But although these canonical works of the history of theory are rediscovered in the humanities time and again, Fleck’s ideas have only seldomly been applied and compared to them.

The fourth workshop in the series Jüdische Geschichte und Literaturforschung, which the ZfL holds together with the Dubnow Institute, seeks to provide a forum for reflecting not only methodologically and theoretically on these canonical texts and authors but also for considering possible applications of their figures of thought.

In German. Admission is free of charge, there is no need to register in advance.



  • Nicolas Berg (DI), Daniel Weidner (ZfL/HU Berlin): Denkstil, Denkkollektiv und Verwandtes zur Einführung. Implikationen und Möglichkeiten
  • Magnus Klaue (DI): Das Ende der Nuancen. Von der Kritischen Theorie zur Frankfurter Schule
  • Pola Groß (ZfL): (Denk)Stil und Sprache bei Ludwik Fleck


  • Philip Emanuel Bockelmann (DI): “Der Heidelberger Geist.” Walter Jellinek und das Rechtsdenken in der frühen Bundesrepublik
  • Falko Schmieder (ZfL): Denkstil und Denkkollektiv bei Ludwik Fleck und Thomas Kuhn


  • Claude Haas (ZfL): Denkverbote, kollektiv betrachtet. Erkenntnis und Gemeinschaft in der Wissenschaft des George-Kreises
  • Annette Wolf (DI): Begriff und Biografie. Zur Denkfigur des Außenseiters bei Hans Mayer