8. Hermeneutics and Historicism
We understand historicism as an idea in reaction to the Enlightenment philosophy of history, particularly to Hegel. Historicism puts into contrast Hegel’s idea of the sole and all-comprising meaning of historical development and the uniqueness of a human’s life and actions. He contrasts particularity of partial events in life with great stories. His opposition to an idea of great historical relations led in the course of time to the methodological fusion with positivism and to resignation that lead to a simple description of facts. In this context, we speak of the emergence of historical consciousness that resulted from a conviction that each individual historical phenomenon can be understood only in the context of its own time. It is an obvious connection with a so-called hermeneutic circle: the achieved truth is always historically or subjectively conditioned, it is relative. We can ← 49 | 50 → not get off the hermeneutic circle of historicity to the benefit of truth!
The 19th century was not only a period of Romanticism but also a period of technological revolution, an age of triumph of science, and consequent optimism. Wilhelm Dilthey (1833 – 1911), a German psychologist, philosopher, and representative of a so-called philosophy of life with a lively interest in hermeneutics, entered the history of philosophical hermeneutics in the second half of the 19th century. The following texts of his are worth noting Einleitung in die Geisteswissenschaften. Versuch einer Grundlegung für das Studium der Gesellschaft und Geschichte (Introduction to Humanist Sciences. An Attempt...
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