Anglophone Historicisms

This paper explores the place of historicism in Anglophone and especially analytic philosophy. Analytic philosophy arose as part of a general modernist revolt against the developmental historicisms of the nineteenth century with their faith in progress. Modernism inspired more formal approaches to knowledge, philosophy, and the human sciences. It is, however, a mistake to assume the rise of modernism and analytic philosophy left no space for historicism. Three main traditions of historicism continued to persist in Anglophone philosophy through the twentieth century. First, the lingering presence of idealism continued to inspire the historicism of philosophers such as R. G. Collingwood and later Charles Taylor. Second, modernist historians, such as Quentin Skinner, sometimes grabbed at arguments from analytic philosophy to defend their methodological agendas. Third, the rise of holistic themes in analytic philosophy opened the way to historicist moments and themes in philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Donald Davidson, and Richard Rorty.