Historicism and its Critics

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Faculty of Humanities, National Research University Higher School of Economics
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameVoprosy filosofii
EditionIssue 12

Historism (historicism) in a most general sense is a principle of historical science, which demands to see the phenomena in their development and connection with concrete circumstances of the past. In a more narrow sense it is a trend in the European historical thought, emerging under the influence of German Romanticism and Hegelianism. Specific features of it were the romantic thesis about uniqueness and singularity of individuals, cultures and epochs, the opposition of methods of natural and human sciences, view of history as a history of spirit (Geist). The overcoming of this program in historical science occurred during the first decades of the XX century, the philosophical critics had to do mostly with its relativism. K. Popper’s critics of “historicism” had nothing to do with these debates or with German Historismus itself. Indeterminism of Popper and F.A. Hayek is close to this Historismus; their direct precursor and mentor L. von Mises himself developed the ideas of German historical school in “national economy”. In the debates on positivism in sociology, transformed then into debates on hermeneutics took part Popper’s disciple H. Albert, but he negated the methodological dualism of “emancipative” hermeneutics of J. Habermas and K.-O. Apel, without any reduction of Historismus to economical determinism. Among the opponents of historicism in political philosophy important were the arguments of L. Strauss. In polemics with A. Kojève he turns against not only of the Hegelianism or Romanticism; Historismus with its radical relativism begins with Machiavelli and Hobbes, from the outset of the Modernity.

Keywordshistoricism, philosophy of history, philosophy of spirit, romanticism, Hegelianism, Marxism
AcknowledgmentThe research is carried out at expense of RFBR, project № 18-011-01132 “Crossroads of cultures in the XX century: European philosophy with Russian roots (A. Koyré, A. Kojève and I. Berlin)”.
Publication date20.12.2018
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