Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The word historicism (Historismus in German) was probably first used by the German literary critic Friedrich von Schlegel in 1797 when praising the art historian Johann Winckelmann for his awareness of the “immeasurable distinctness” of antiquity when compared to the present. Less than half a century before David Hume (1972) had still claimed that “mankind are so much the same, in all times and places, that history informs us of nothing new or strange in this particular” (p. 83). Apparently, somewhere between Hume and Schlegel a revolution had taken place in how the West related to its past. The term historicism is ordinarily used for referring to this revolution, which was characterized by Karl Mannheim, in what still is the best account of historicism, as the exchange of a “static” for a “dynamic” conception of the world. So not standstill but change was now seen as the normal condition Self-evidently, ...