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This essay is an initial attempt to posit a method which has slowly taken shape through our individual and collaborative investigations into the history of democracy in the United States and France. Our overall approach builds on a number of diverse methodological influences, but in this particular essay we highlight just two of the most influential precedents for our work: first, the pragmatic-hermeneutical approach most explicitly outlined by James T. Kloppenberg in his “Thinking Historically : A Manifesto of Pragmatic Hermeneutics” and second, Pierre Rosanvallon's methodological essays on the theme of “Une histoire conceptuelle du politique,” ​​which he launched with his inaugural lecture at the College de France. Part one of this article recounts the original search for a more philosophical conception of American history as illustrated in James Kloppenberg's pursuit of a more pragmatic hermeneutics. Part two charts Pierre Rosanvallon's somewhat different path towards a more pragmatic historical orientation from his distinctive place within a French historical tradition with an already well-developed philosophical (as well as symbolic) pedigree. We conclude with some brief reflections on how the rudiments of this pragmatic historical method might be further deployed and developed in the future.


Article is presented in the original Portuguese