• Robert-Jan Wille

    Thorough! And I think it is nice that you show the irony of trying to write a whig history of historicism. A caveat, though: the word ‘historicism’, thanks to Popper, has a double meaning in the English language, meaning both Rankean ‘Historismus’ and what (some, but not all) consider to be its intellectual opposite: Comtean-Marxist progressive, lawlike history. But I take you use it in the first sense here. Popper used the word ‘historism’ for that, but that term is not widely used.

  • Yes, that’s also something Joep Leerssen once wrote an article on 🙂 [“Historisme en historicisme”. De Negentiende Eeuw 30 (2006), 110-117.] On the whole, I’m not that adverse to whig history if it means ‘showing that they knew less in the past’ or even ‘judging the dead by what came of it’ – as long as you take into account what the actors themselves thought they were doing. Vico’s canonization as a founding figure is very much in agreement with how he saw himself; apart from the term ‘historicism’, which he of course did not use and which Wolf, Niebuhr, and Michelet also did not use, it is not a violation of actor’s categories by any means. The main difference is that Wolf, Niebuhr, and Michelet did not proceed ‘de more geometrico’ and that they did not believe in shit-eating giants.