Talk:Historicism

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idealistic fallacy[edit]

What is that? There is no link and no google search thing for it. 89.150.118.208 (talk) 13:20, 26 May 2013 (UTC)

(December 2003 comments)[edit]

The historicist position is that there is no objective way to determine which of the various competing theories on a subject is correct


The above quote, which came from the entry on historicism, shows the historicism is self-contradictory.

Only if you assume that there is no subjective way to decide if a theory is correct...

(May-July 2005)[edit]

"Hegelian historicism" is a grotesque and fantastic misrepresentation of Hegel's views, which were much closer to the opposite of what is said here. His views were merely that philosophical, scientific etc truth develops historically and dialectically, in a natural manner. "Philosophy is the history of philosophy" means that the historical positions of the various philosophers were genuine attempts to find truth and expressed it, more or less as well as could be done at the time, and which were and are successively improved and incorporated in later and more complex and concrete philosophy as time goes on. According to Hegel, who could thus hardly be further from Nihilism, it is impossible, indeed ludicrous, to refute real philosophy.--John Z 20:40, 15 May 2005 (UTC)

As soon as I saw that, I had to try to rewrite it. In one sense Hegel is historicism, and his views need to be better represented. I hope that what I produced is an improvement. Smerdis of Tlön 18:19, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Good job on this. I'm glad you did it - it is of course much, much better than what preceded. Thanks - means I don't feel compelled to!--John Z 2 July 2005 05:39 (UTC)


Anglo-Saxon v. German "historicism"[edit]

The page is currently devoted entirely the notion of "historicism" as used by Karl Popper. There is another sense of "historicism" which is completely different, advocated by German theorists and thought to have started with Meineke and Ranke and the like (it is in fact almost completely anti-Hegelian). My question is whether or not this distinction should be attempted to be made into this article, or whether a separate article should be held for each? They are completely unrelated as far as I can tell, but are both very interesting and important in histiographical studies. --Fastfission 16:51, 8 October 2005 (UTC)

  • According to [1],
Ranke's aim was to reconstruct the unique periods of the past as they actually were and to avoid injecting the history of former times with the spirit of the present; this approach to historiography is known as historicism.

Is that a good statement of the other sense of "historicism" to which you are referring? If so, it doesn't seem completely different from the need for historical context mentioned in the New historicism and Modern historicism sections of the article. So perhaps there is after all a connection which can be exploited to link the use of the term in Ranke's sense into the existing article. -- JimR 02:39, 9 October 2005 (UTC)

  • The Rankean idea of history is very, very different from new or modern historicism (on a very superficial level it can look like little more than empiricism but there's more to it than that, and its ideas about what is possible in terms of objectivity, and its ideas about the purpose of history, are considerably different than new/modern historicism) -- thinkers like Foucault and Kuhn would not be caught in the same room with a true Rankean. But I think I've discovered a solution: the actual, non-Anglicized German term is Historismus, which could have an article of its own, and this one could have a little note about the difference. --Fastfission 02:50, 9 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Or . . . instead of the German word, how about using the term "historism" for the article name, as the English translation of Historismus? For example, have a look at the (copyright) page [2], and in particular the first paragraph in it which contains the name "Popper". It seems that while introducing his meaning of "historicism", Popper continued to use "historism" for the German idea, in The Poverty of Historicism; if I remember rightly this is also the case in Enemies of the Open Society. -- JimR 11:23, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
  • As long as there is no consensus on this: I made Historism redirect to Historicism. The original page seemed to contain only spam, there was no meaningful content. Crix 03:21, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
  • I really think an addition should be made to this article regarding the alternative, Rankean definition of historicism. I'm a history MA student, studying in Canada, and if I used the word "historicism" around any of my history profs or fellow students, they would immediately assume I was talking about Ranke. It's pretty much the standard definition of "historicism" in the circles I occupy. Maybe for philosophers or European academics it has another meaning, but for North American historians, "historicism" = Leopold von Ranke. -- Mark (August 6, 2006)
  • I've been doing some more research on this, and really, you HAVE to change this article! Historicism has two essentially opposite meanings, one in which history is a function of truth (Hegel) and one in which truth is a function of history (Ranke). Just look it up in the dictionary. Furthermore, if anything, the Rankean version is the more common one. It's listed as the "core sense" in the Concise OED, while Hegel's version is relegated to a "subsense". You have focussed your article on specialized meanings of the term, while ignoring those which are most common. If you want more proof go read Georg Iggers entry on "historicism" from the ~Dictionary of the History of Ideas~. It's available free online: http://etext.virginia.edu/cgi-local/DHI/dhi.cgi?id=dv2-52 -- Mark (August 8, 2006)
Thank you for your suggestion! When you feel an article needs improvement, please feel free to make those changes. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the Edit this page link at the top. You don't even need to log in (although there are many reasons why you might want to). The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold in updating pages. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes — they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome. -- JimR 06:28, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Popper's attack on historicism[edit]

This section of the article tells us what Popper think Historicism is, and that the writer of the article tends to think his definition should not be applied to Hegel, but we never got to actually learn what Popper's "attack on historicism" actually was. Put differently, there's no connection between the title of the section and its content. 192.115.133.141 12:35, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

Good point! I've attempted a description of Popper's attack, but it's many years since I read The Open Society, so if anyone has a copy handy, please quote from it (sparingly under fair use), and/or correct or neutralise my point of view. -- JimR 17:14, 14 October 2005 (UTC)

Citation for Hegel quotation?[edit]

Could a direct citation or better yet, the german of the given Hegel quotation be provided? The very article seems to be all over the internet yet this quotation is cited nowhere and my searches for the German have resulted in rather different but similar lines.

(129.206.196.162, 9 November 2005)

Put on a citation needed sign so that mirrors will be able to recognise the problem, and hopefully someone who knows where to find the quote. Ansell 04:24, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Many quotations have been falsely attributed to Hegel. It should be remembered that most of Hegel's books were merely lecture notes that were accumulated by his students. The problem is compounded by the notorious obscurity of Hegel's teachings, in which concepts are not illustrated by perceptual experience. Therefore, any time, without exception, that a quotation is attributed to Hegel, there should be a definite, precise citation.71.125.136.45 17:00, 18 July 2007 (UTC)Lestrade

Mr. Gruder,

Perhaps when you are amongst cordial intellectuals such as those that are found on this discussion page, you could strive to suppress your animalistic instinct to use such foul language. It is indicative of a person who generally does not possess the intelligence to express himself or herself in a precise manner and thus reverts to spewing forth verbal sewage. While you are pondering your decision, you may also wish to brush up on your spelling, it is spelled "unencyclopedic", not "Unencylopedic". To all those discussing historicism on this page, keep up the good work.

Regards, J.R.R. 138.162.128.53 19:55, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

"Burke" - who?[edit]

Who is the Burke referred to alongside Tocqueville, Augustine, and Mill? Can someone else disambiguate as necessary, as I'm not familiar with the subject so may well choose the wrong one.--94.197.161.111 (talk) 20:06, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

It can be none other than Edmund Burke. The "mill" in question is undoubtedly John Stuart Mill. The article could really use some citations, but that is another matter. --Saddhiyama (talk) 20:13, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

Add Vico[edit]

I would add Vico as the initiator of the concept. —Preceding unsigned comment added by FixMacs (talkcontribs) 23:46, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Any reference to Vico should be qualified. In fact, a careful reading of Vico points against any historicist leaning (in spite of what some popular English interpreters would suggest). At the very least, *arguments* are needed to back the claim that elements of historicism are to be found in Vico. Otherwise, one must believe Vico when he swears by ancient political Platonism, or where he defends the classical teaching of natural right against its modern detractors (Machiavelli, Spinoza, Hobbes, etc.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 87.16.191.44 (talk) 21:03, 10 February 2013 (UTC)

First sentence[edit]

"Historicism is a mode of thinking in which the basic significance of specific social context--e.g., time, place, local conditions--is central; whereas the notion of fundamental generalizable immutable 'laws' in the realm of sociology/social behaviour tends to be rejected."

This is a wonderfully academic sentence. It separates a fragment by using two dashes. It parenthesizes the word "laws" so you are not sure of the meaning of the word. It uses a slash to confuse "sociology" and "social." In general, it is a marvellously obscure sentence worthy of the great Hegel himself. If the purpose of a Wikipedia article is to astound , amaze, and impress its readers, then this sentence is first–rate. If, however, the reader is looking for information, then this is not the article to read.Lestrade (talk) 13:40, 20 February 2010 (UTC)Lestrade


Yes, but look what was there before. If the purpose of a Wikipedia article is to astound , amaze, and impress its readers, then what was on offer before was falling short. And was not even an attempt to be concise, accurate, incisive, etc.--Artiquities (talk) 14:06, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia Principle of Relativity: Bad is Good when it is compared with Very Bad.Lestrade (talk) 19:09, 21 February 2010 (UTC)Lestrade

Although I can't formulate a good first sentence, I agree that the current one is terrible, absolutely meaningless. Hoping someone better qualified than me can replace it.

"Historicism is a mode of thinking that assigns a central and basic significance to a specific context, such as historical period, geographical place and local culture." — Preceding unsigned comment added by 90.196.122.233 (talk) 14:27, 6 October 2014 (UTC)