n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Historisme en relativisme

Volume 46, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


This article examines the rise of historicism against the background of Greek and Medieval culture. It focuses upon the switch from a realistic understanding of reality to the rise of early modern nominalism. By denying universality outside the human "mind" (thus, by denying any order for or orderliness of creatures,) nominalism paved the way for the relativistic consequences of radical historicism emerging at die beginning of the 19th century. This development was preceded by the conceptual rationalism of the Enlightenment. The irony of historicism (and the relativism entailed within it) is laid bare by pointing out that it achieved the opposite of what was aimed for: if everything is history, then there is nothing left that can have a history. Finally the acknowledgement of logicality and historicity is appreciated positively while simultaneously warning against the unjustified attempt to absolutise these conditions for being human by breaking apart the relations connecting them to other equally meaningful conditions for being human.

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