Critical Notice

Historicism and the a priori of History1

Lionel Rubinoffa1

a1 York University

One of the central problems in philosophy since Kant has been that of the possibility of a science of human culture. Dilthey, Croce and Collingwood devoted their energies to this task, in an atmosphere marked by an intense hostility between positivists, who represented the tradition of naturalism and historicists, who represented the tradition of humanism. The positivists, led by Comte, Buckle, Mill and Taine, argued for a science of man modelled on the prevailing methods of the natural sciences. Typical of this approach was the attempt by the English historian T. H. Buckle:

to accomplish for the history of man something equivalent, or at all events analogous, to what has been effected by other inquiries for the different branches of the natural sciences.


1 The Logic of the Humanities by Ernst Cassirer, translated by C. S. Howe, Yale, 1961, pp. 217, $4.50; and Philosophy and History, ed. by Raymond Klibansky and H. S. Paton, Harper Torchbook, N. Y., 1963, pp. 363, $2.75.