Time Gardens: Historical Concepts in Modern Historiography

This article argues for the analysis of temporal concepts such as “age,” “century,” and “epoch,” “past,” “present,” and “future,” formed during the Enlightenment, as an approach to the study of the history of modern historiography. Starting from the basic distinction of “empty” and “embodied” time in Leibniz's and Newton's dispute of 1715 about the philosophical nature of time, it traces the episteme of the eighteenth century using the metaphor of a “time garden” for describing some basic features of enlightened historiography. Finally, the paper discusses the consequences of the increasing employment of concepts of embodied time for the future development of the historical sciences.