- In the work of Popper (The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945, and The Poverty of Historicism, 1957), any belief in the necessity of historical processes, or belief that such processes are governed by laws, and are immune to human choice and agency. Popper influentially attacked this belief as he found it in Hegel, Marx, and their followers, both as a mask for a totalitarian ideology, and as itself unscientific because compatible with any course of events. More loosely, historicism may refer to other positions. One is the general view that historical periods must be understood ‘in their own terms’, as opposed to the terms of the present, although how we escape the categories of the present is not so clear. Another is the view that to understand a social phenomenon is to be able to trace its genesis and development; there is no understanding a phenomenon such as democracy or liberalism (or even perhaps the language) by considering it as we have it now in abstraction from its history.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.
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