Historical dictionary of philosophy

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HWPh (full edition)

The Historical Dictionary of Philosophy (HWPh) is a multi-volume German-language historical dictionary of philosophical terms that was published from 1971 to 2007 by the main editors Joachim Ritter , Karlfried Gründer and Gottfried Gabriel in Schwabe Verlag , Basel . It sees itself as a “completely revised edition” of Rudolf Eisler's dictionary of philosophical terms .

Concept and meaning

The dictionary is the world's most successful large-scale project in German academic philosophy. It forms one of the most important working bases for philosophical and humanities education and research.

The HWPh was originally initiated by Joachim Ritter in the 1960s, based on Eisler's dictionary and its conceptual historical approaches. A large number of co-editors coordinated the work on the articles assigned to them. In the HWPh, the “participation of more than 1,500 specialist scholars” is specified, who processed “3,670 terms in 17,144 columns”. According to the register, the articles are divided into 47 different subject groups, which in addition to the sub-disciplines, which are philosophical in the narrower sense, also include astronomy, biology, geography, geology, Islam, Judaism, cultural theory, linguistics, literary theory, mathematics, medicine, mysticism, economics, pedagogy, physics, Include psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychology, sociology, and theology. The online version of the HWPh has been available as a searchable full text since September 1, 2017.

Due to the originally relatively new conceptual historical approach and the long duration of the project, some peculiarities can be observed:

  • The article style developed a lot in the later volumes. In the first volumes in particular, there are some articles that are not written with a focus on conceptual history.
  • The length of the article increases sharply in later volumes (from an average of two columns per keyword to over six).
  • The last volume was published with a "delay" of almost a quarter of a century compared to the original plan.
  • A license edition is available for members of the Scientific Book Society .

The outline of the history of philosophy , published by the same publisher, is the systematic counterpart to the alphabetically arranged dictionary.

Bibliographical information

Overview of the individual volumes

Volumes 1–3 were edited by Joachim Ritter, volumes 4–10 by Karlfried founder, volumes 11–12 by Gottfried Gabriel, the register volume by Margarita Kranz .

  • 1st volume (A-C) 1971
  • 2nd volume (D-F) 1972
  • 3rd volume (G-H) 1974
  • 4th volume (I-K) 1976
  • 5th volume (L-Mn) 1980
  • 6th volume (Mo-O) 1984
  • 7th volume (P-Q) 1989
  • 8th volume (R-Sc) 1992
  • 9th volume (Se-Sp) 1995
  • 10th volume (St-T) 1998
  • Volume 11 (U-V) 2001
  • Volume 12 (W-Z) 2005
  • Volume 13 (Register) 2007

Volume 13 contains a register and a CD-ROM with the full text of all volumes as well as software for Windows and macOS that enables the full text to be searched . Unusually for such works, the software does not contain a DRM process .

Complete edition


  • Walter Tinner: The company historical dictionary of philosophy. In: Riccardo Pozzo, Marco Sgarbi (Ed.): A typology of the forms of conceptual history (= archive for conceptual history . Special issue 7). Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-7873-1917-6 , pp. 9-13.

Web links