Philosophical Historicism and the Betrayal of First Philosophy

Philosophical Historicism and the Betrayal of First Philosophy

Philosophical Historicism and the Betrayal of First Philosophy

Philosophical Historicism and the Betrayal of First Philosophy

Excerpt

Since the middle of the nineteenth century Historismus has been a familiar item in the lexicon of German scholarship. In contrast, only in the latter half of the twentieth century has the kindred (though not equivalent) term historicism appeared as a category in the working vocabulary of English-speaking academics. Despite this apparently late start on their part, it is now fair to say that historicism is a well-worn, if less than well-understood, piece of taxonomic coin. Within the last decade its increased circulation in the conversations of philosophers in particular has been especially marked. The significance of this recent philosophical appropriation of historicism is the subject of the present book.

Although the upsurge in philosophical use is recent, it has not taken long for the currency to become debased. As a label, historicism may now be found attributed to almost any philosophical position that makes some approving reference to history, regardless of the specific form in which it should happen to do so. When used in this indefinite way, historicism becomes equally applicable to the views of Hegel and to those of Richard Rorty. Nonetheless, the widespread willingness to . . .

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