The English term historicism came into use at the beginning of the twentieth century as a translation, on one hand, of the German term Historismus (as used by Wilhelm Dilthey, Ernst Troeltsch, Friedrich Meinecke, and others), and of the Italian term storicismo (Benedetto Croce), on the other. The term historism is also frequently used in English, and in German the term Historizismus is sometimes found. In both languages, the meaning of the term is often identical, sometimes different, and quite frequently completely opposing. In other words, here one can find an ambiguity and confusion of concepts remarkable even in the cultural sciences.

Originally, the German term Historismus denoted the view that ideal (geistige), cultural, and social realities cannot be described and explained by means of general ...

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