History and historicism

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    7 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    History occupies a singular position among the modern social sciences. It was the first to assume a durable professional shape. The basic canons for modern academic historiography were introduced in Germany early in the nineteenth century. By that century’s end, the model of Barthold-Georg Niebuhr and Leopold von Ranke had been widely imitated across western Europe and the United States, establishing the permanent institutional mold of the discipline. The special place of history among the social sciences involves more than mere precedence, however. For historiography was accompanied in its passage toward science by an enabling philosophy of history - or a set of such philosophies - that claimed a unique privilege for historical explanation and understanding, with consequences for the entire range of the social sciences. It was only early in the twentieth century that these philosophies or ideologies of history were first gathered together, retrospectively, under a single rubric, that of “historicism.” Although the term was a century old, its release into wider circulation really began with Ernst Troeltsch, who used it, in the years following the First World War, to describe what he saw as the dominant outlook of the preceding century, which had emphasized the decisive place of change and development in the human realm. Contrasting it with Naturalismus, the outlook of the natural sciences, Troeltsch declared Historismus to be in “crisis,” having issued into antiscientific skepticism and relativism. A decade later, Friedrich Meinecke gave the term a slightly different inflection. Tracing its origins to Johann Gottfried von Herder and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Meinecke saw their stress on the concrete, the unique, and the individual as the core of historicism.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of Science: The Modern Social Sciences
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Pages113-130
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Print)9781139053556, 0521594421, 9780521594424
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

    Fingerprint

    Social Sciences
    Historicism
    History
    Ernst Troeltsch
    Historiography
    Philosophy
    Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
    World War I
    Skepticism
    Natural Science
    Philosophy of History
    Canon
    Inflection
    Historical Explanation
    Ideology
    Germany
    Relativism
    Johann Gottfried Herder
    Privilege

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Arts and Humanities(all)

    Cite this

    Wright, J. (2003). History and historicism. In The Cambridge History of Science: The Modern Social Sciences (pp. 113-130). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521594424.009

    History and historicism. / Wright, Johnson.

    The Cambridge History of Science: The Modern Social Sciences. Cambridge University Press, 2003. p. 113-130.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Wright, J 2003, History and historicism. in The Cambridge History of Science: The Modern Social Sciences. Cambridge University Press, pp. 113-130. https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521594424.009
    Wright J. History and historicism. In The Cambridge History of Science: The Modern Social Sciences. Cambridge University Press. 2003. p. 113-130 https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521594424.009
    Wright, Johnson. / History and historicism. The Cambridge History of Science: The Modern Social Sciences. Cambridge University Press, 2003. pp. 113-130
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