Historicism is the theory that claims:
It can be contrasted with reductionist theories which suppose that all developments can be explained by fundamental principles (such as in economic determinism). Reductionism can either mean (a an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts or to simpler or more fundamental things Economic determinism is the Theory which attributes primacy to the Economic structure over politics in the development of human history.
The theological use of the word denotes the interpretation of biblical prophecy as being related to church history.
The term has developed different and divergent, though loosely related, meanings. Elements of historicism appear in the writings of the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, influential in 19th-century Europe, as well as in those of Karl Marx, whom he heavily influenced. Philosophy is the study of general problems concerning matters such as existence knowledge truth beauty justice validity mind and language The 19th century of the Common Era began on January 1, 1801 and ended on December 31, 1900, according to the Gregorian calendar The term is also associated with the empirical social sciences and the work of Franz Boas. Franz Boas ( July 9, 1858 &ndash December 21, 1942) was a German - American anthropologist and a pioneer of modern
The Austrian-English philosopher Karl Popper attacked historicism along with the determinism and holism which he argued were at its root. Sir Karl Raimund Popper ( July 28 1902  &ndash September 17 1994) was an Austrian and British Philosopher and a professor Determinism is the philosophical Proposition that every event including human cognition and behaviour decision and action is causally determined Distinguish from the suffix -holism, which describes addictions
Post-structuralism uses the term New Historicism, which has some connections to both anthropology and Hegelianism. Post-structuralism encompasses the intellectual developments of continental philosophers and critical theorists who wrote with tendencies of twentieth-century New Historicism developed in the 1980s primarily through the work of the critic Stephen Greenblatt, and gained widespread influence in the 1990s
The historicist position by Hegel suggests that any human society and all human activities such as science, art, or philosophy, are defined by their history, so that their essence can be sought only through understanding that. A society is a Population of Humans characterized by patterns of relationships between individuals that share a distinctive Culture and Institutions Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning " Knowledge " or "knowing" is the effort to discover, and increase human understanding Art refers to a diverse range of Human activities creations and expressions that are appealing to the Senses or Emotions of a human individual Philosophy is the study of general problems concerning matters such as existence knowledge truth beauty justice validity mind and language The history of any such human endeavor, moreover, not only builds upon but also reacts against what has gone before; this is the source of Hegel's famous dialectic teaching usually summed up by the slogan "thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. In classical Philosophy, dialectic (διαλεκτική is controversy the exchange of arguments and counter-arguments respectively advocating Propositions A dissertation (also called thesis or disquisition) is a document that presents the author's Research and findings and is submitted in support of candidature Antithesis ( Greek for "setting opposite" from against + position) is a counter- Propositions and denotes a direct Contrast " (Hegel did not use these terms, although Fichte did. Johann Gottlieb Fichte ( May 19, 1762 – January 27, 1814) was a German philosopher ) Hegel's famous aphorism, "Philosophy is the history of philosophy," describes it bluntly.
Hegel's position is perhaps best illuminated when contrasted against the atomistic and reductionist view of human societies and social activities self-defining on an ad hoc basis through the sum of dozens of interactions. Yet another contrasting model is the persistent metaphor of a social contract. Social contract describes a broad class of republican theories whose subjects are implied agreements by which people form Nations and maintain a Social order Hegel sees the relationship between individuals and societies as organic, not atomic: even their social discourse is mediated by language, and language is rooted in etymology and unique character. Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature origins and usage of Language. Etymology is the study of the History of Words &mdash when they entered a language from what source and how their form and meaning have changed over time It thus preserves the culture of the past in thousands of half-forgotten frozen metaphors. Metaphor (from the Greek: μεταφορά - metaphora, meaning "transfer" is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects To understand why a person is the way he is, you must put that person in a society: and to understand that society, you must understand its history, and the forces that shaped it. The Zeitgeist, the "Spirit of the Age," is the concrete embodiment of the most important factors that are acting in human history at any given time. Zeitgeist ( pronounced) is a German language expression literally translated Zeit time; Geist spirit, meaning "the This contrasts with teleological theories of activity, which suppose that the end is the determining factor of activity, as well as those who believe in a tabula rasa, or blank slate, view, where individuals are defined by their interactions. Tabula rasa ( Latin: blank slate) refers to the epistemological thesis that individual human beings are born with no built-in mental content
These ideas can be taken in several directions. The Right Hegelians, working from Hegel's opinions about the organicism and historically determined nature of human societies, took Hegel's historicism as a justification of the unique destiny of national groups and the importance of stability and institutions. The Right Hegelians, Old Hegelians, or the Hegelian Right, were the followers of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel who took his Hegel's conception of human societies as entities greater than the individuals who constitute them influenced nineteenth century romantic nationalism and its twentieth century excesses. Romantic nationalism (also National Romanticism, organic nationalism, identity nationalism) is the form of Nationalism in which the state derives The Young Hegelians, by contrast, took Hegel's thoughts on societies shaped by the forces of social conflict for a doctrine of progress, and attempted to chart a course that would manipulate these forces to lead to various improved outcomes. Young Hegelians, or Left Hegelians, were a group of Prussian intellectuals writing in the decade or so after the death of Georg Wilhelm Hegel in 1833 and responding Social progress is defined as the changing of society toward the ideal Karl Marx's doctrine of "historical inevitabilities" and historical materialism is one of the more influential reactions to this side of Hegel's thought. Historical materialism is the methodological approach to the study of society economics and history which was first articulated by Karl Marx ( 1818 - 1883 Significantly, Karl Marx's theory of alienation comes full circle to the thought of the Hegelian right, arguing among other things that capitalism disrupts the rooted nature of traditional relationships between workers and their work. Marx's theory of alienation ( Entfremdung in German) as expressed in the writings of young Karl Marx, refers to the separation of things that naturally Capitalism is the Economic system in which the Means of production are owned by private Persons and operated for Profit and where
Hegelian historicism is related to his ideas on the means by which human societies progress, specifically the dialectic and his conception of logic as reflecting the inner essential nature of reality. In classical Philosophy, dialectic (διαλεκτική is controversy the exchange of arguments and counter-arguments respectively advocating Propositions Hegel attributes the change to the "modern" need to interact with the world, whereas ancient philosophers were self-contained, and medieval philosophers were monks. In his History of Philosophy Hegel writes:
In modern times things are very different; now we no longer see philosophic individuals who constitute a class by themselves. With the present day all difference has disappeared; philosophers are not monks, for we find them generally in connection with the world, participating with others in some common work or calling. They live, not independently, but in the relation of citizens, or they occupy public offices and take part in the life of the state. Certainly they may be private persons, but if so, their position as such does not in any way isolate them from their other relationship. They are involved in present conditions, in the world and its work and progress. Thus their philosophy is only by the way, a sort of luxury and superfluity. This difference is really to be found in the manner in which outward conditions have taken shape after the building up of the inward world of religion. In modern times, namely, on account of the reconciliation of the worldly principle with itself, the external world is at rest, is brought into order — worldly relationships, conditions, modes of life, have become constituted and organized in a manner which is conformable to nature and rational. We see a universal, comprehensible connection, and with that individuality likewise attains another character and nature, for it is no longer the plastic individuality of the ancients. This connection is of such power that every individuality is under its dominion, and yet at the same time can construct for itself an inward world.
This view that entanglement in society creates an indissoluble bond with expression, would be an influential question in philosophy going forward, namely, the requirements for individuality. It would be taken up by Nietzsche, John Dewey and Michel Foucault directly, as well as in the work of numerous artists and authors. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15 1844 August 25 1900 ( was a nineteenth-century German philosopher and classical philologist John Dewey (October 20 1859 &ndash June 1 1952 was an American Philosopher, Psychologist, and educational reformer, whose thoughts and ideas have Michel Foucault ( (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984 was a French philosopher, Historian, Intellectual, Critic and Sociologist. There have been various responses to Hegel's challenge. The Romantic period focused on the ability of individual genius to transcend time and place, and use the materials from their heritage to fashion works which were beyond determination. The modern would advance versions of John Locke's infinite malleability of the human animal. Post-structuralism would argue that since history is not present, but only the image of history, that while an individual era or power structure might focus on a particular history, that the contradictions within the story would hinder the very purposes that the history was constructed to advance.
Within anthropology and other sciences which study the past, historicism has a different meaning. Anthropology (/ˌænθɹəˈpɒlədʒi/ from Greek grc ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos, "human" -λογία -logia) is the study of It is associated with the work of Franz Boas. Franz Boas ( July 9, 1858 &ndash December 21, 1942) was a German - American anthropologist and a pioneer of modern His theory took the diffusionist concept that there were a few "cradles of civilization" which grew outwards in circles, and merged it with the idea that societies would adapt to their circumstances, which is called historical particularism. Cultural diffusion, as first conceptualized by Alfred L Kroeber in his influential 1940 paper Stimulus Diffusion, or trans-cultural diffusion in later reformulations Historical Particularism (coined by Marvin Harris in 1968 is widely considered the first American Anthropological school of thought The school of historicism grew up in response to unilinear theories that social development reflected adaptive fitness, and therefore existed on a spectrum. Unilineal evolution (also referred to as classical social evolution) is a 19th century Social theory about the Evolution of societies and Cultures While these theories were espoused by Charles Darwin and many of his students, historicism was neither anti-selection, nor anti-evolution. Charles Robert Darwin (February 12 1809 &ndash April 19 1882 was an English naturalist, who realised and demonstrated that all Species of life However, it attacked the notion that there was one normative spectrum of development, instead focusing on how local conditions would create adaptations to the local environment. What was adaptive for one region might not be so for another. This conclusion has likewise been adopted by modern forms of biological evolutionary theory.
The primary method of historicism was empirical, namely that there were so many requisite inputs into a society or event, that only by focusing on the data available could a theory of the source be determined. In this view, grand theories are unprovable, and instead intensive field work would determine the most likely explanation and history of a culture, and hence it is named Historicism. Boas would later teach at Columbia University and this would produce a school of thought based on his ideas. Columbia University is a private University in the United States and a member of the Ivy League.
This view would produce a wide range of definition of what, exactly, constituted culture and history, but in each case the only means of explaining it was in terms of the historical particulars of the culture itself.
Since the 1950's, when Lacan and Foucault argued that each epoch has its own knowledge system, which individuals are inexorably entangled with, many post-structuralists have used historicism to describe the view that all questions must be settled within the cultural and social context in which they are raised, answers cannot be found by appeal to an external truth, but only within the confines of the norms and forms that phrase the question. New Historicism developed in the 1980s primarily through the work of the critic Stephen Greenblatt, and gained widespread influence in the 1990s Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan (French ʒak lakɑ̃ ( April 13, 1901 &ndash September 9, 1981) was a French Psychoanalyst Post-structuralism encompasses the intellectual developments of continental philosophers and critical theorists who wrote with tendencies of twentieth-century This version of historicism holds that there are only the raw texts, markings and artifacts that exist in the present, and the conventions used to decode them. This school of thought sometimes goes by the name of New Historicism.
The same label, new historicism is also employed for a school of literary scholarship which interprets a poem, drama, etc. Drama is the specific mode of Fiction represented in Performance. as an expression of or reaction to the power-structures of the surrounding society. Stephen Greenblatt is an example of this school. Stephen Jay Greenblatt (born November 7, 1943) is a Literary critic, theorist and scholar
Within the context of 20th century philosophy, the conflict over whether ahistorical and immanent methodologies were sufficient to understand meaning — that is to say, "what you see is what you get" positivism — or whether context, background and culture are important beyond the mere need to decode words, phrases and references. While post-structural historicism is relativist in its orientation, that is, it sees each culture as its own frame of reference, a large number of thinkers have embraced the need for historical context, not because culture is self-referential, but because there is no more compressed means of conveying all of the relevant information except through history. This view is often seen as being rooted in the work of Benedetto Croce. Benedetto Croce ( February 25, 1866 – November 20, 1952) was an Italian critic idealist Philosopher, and Recent historians in this tradition include Thomas Kuhn. Thomas Samuel Kuhn (surname ˈkuːn July 18, 1922  &ndash June 17, 1996) was an American intellectual who wrote extensively
In Christianity, the term historicism refers to the confessional Protestant form of prophetical interpretation which holds that the fulfillment of biblical prophecy has taken place throughout history and continues to take place today; as opposed to other methods which limit the time-frame of prophecy-fulfillment to the past or to the future. In Christian eschatology, Historicism is a school of interpretation which treats the eschatological prophecies of Daniel and Revelation as finding literal Christianity ( Greek Χριστιανισμός from the word Xριστός ( Christ)is a monotheistic Religion centered on the life and teachings Protestantism refers to the forms of Christian faith and practice that originated in the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Etymology According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word bible is from Latin biblia, traced from the same word through Medieval Latin and Late Latin Prophecy, generally describes the disclosing of Information that is not known to the Prophet by any ordinary means The historicist method is what led reformers throughout Europe to declare that the Pope was the man of sin sitting on the seven hills of Rome. Examples of famous Christians and Protestant denominations declaring the pope to be the antichrist include the Waldensians, Albigenses, Lollards, Lutherans, Calvinists, Hussians, and a host of individuals, including the father of the modern English Bible William Tyndale and even articles of faith such as the Westminster Confession of Faith. See #External links below.
Karl Popper used the term historicism in his influential books The Poverty of Historicism and The Open Society and Its Enemies, to mean: "an approach to the social sciences which assumes that historical prediction is their primary aim, and which assumes that this aim is attainable by discovering the 'rhythms' or the 'patterns', the 'laws' or the 'trends' that underlie the evolution of history". Sir Karl Raimund Popper ( July 28 1902  &ndash September 17 1994) was an Austrian and British Philosopher and a professor The Open Society and Its Enemies, is an influential two-volume work by Karl Popper written during World War II. Karl Popper wrote with reference to Hegel's theory of history, which he criticized extensively. History is the study of the past particularly the written record Those who study history as a Profession are called Historians Etymology However, there is wide dispute whether Popper's description of "historicism" is an accurate description of Hegel, or more a reflection of his own philosophical antagonists, including Marxist-Leninist thought, then widely held as posing a challenge to the philosophical basis of the West, as well as theories such as Spengler's which drew predictions about the future course of events from the past. Marxism-Leninism is a Communist ideological stream that emerged as the mainstream tendency amongst the Communist parties in the 1920s as it was adopted The term Western world, the West or the Occident ( Latin: occidens -sunset -west as distinct from the Orient) can have multiple meanings Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 Blankenburg am Harz &ndash 8 May 1936 Munich) was a German Historian and Philosopher whose
In The Open Society and Its Enemies, Popper attacks "historicism" and its proponents, among whom (as well as Hegel) he identifies and singles out Plato and Marx — calling them all "enemies of the open society". The Open Society and Its Enemies, is an influential two-volume work by Karl Popper written during World War II. Biography Early life Birth and family Plato was born in Athens Greece The objection he makes is that historicist positions, by claiming that there is an inevitable and deterministic pattern to history, abrogate the democratic responsibility of each one of us to make our own free contributions to the evolution of society, and hence lead to totalitarianism. Determinism is the philosophical Proposition that every event including human cognition and behaviour decision and action is causally determined History is the study of the past particularly the written record Those who study history as a Profession are called Historians Etymology Democracy is a form of government in which the supreme power is held completely by the people under a free electoral system A society is a Population of Humans characterized by patterns of relationships between individuals that share a distinctive Culture and Institutions Totalitarianism (or totalitarian rule) is a concept used to describe Political systems where a State regulates nearly every aspect of public and private
Another of his targets is what he calls "moral historicism", the attempt to infer moral values from the course of history. This may take the form of conservatism (former might is right), positivism (might is right) or futurism (coming might is right). Futurism must be distinguished from prophecies that the right will prevail: these attempt to infer history from ethics, rather than ethics from history, and are therefore historicism in the normal sense rather than moral historicism.
He also attacks what he calls "Historism", which he regards as distinct from historicism. By historism, he means the tendency to regard every argument or idea as completely accounted for by its historical context, as opposed to assessing it by its merits.