Venturing beyond Koselleck’s Erwartungshorizont: on the category of the utopian

For a long time, the reception of German historian and theorist Reinhart Koselleck’s work focused on disciplinary and methodological aspects of conceptual history (Begriffsgeschichte). However, in recent years, there has been an increased interest in Koselleck’s more theoretical discussions on historical time and temporality, highlighting his oeuvre of a theory of the conditions for possible histories (Historik). Taking its cue from the current trend, this article revisits the Koselleckian category of horizon of expectation (Erwartungshorizont) in light of Ernst Bloch’s work on the principle of hope (Das Prinzip Hoffnung) and the concept of utopia as the forward dreaming of the Not-Yet (Noch-Nicht). By exploring and developing the utopian as a formal category – used as a supplement to Koselleck’s conceptualization of the relationship between the space of experience and the horizon of expectation – the article argues that Koselleck’s theory can be reframed into one that can fully account for the utopian imaginaries of political thinking.