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Historicism as a Cultural Pattern: Practising a Mode of Thought

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What is the basis for the enormous success of Historicism? In my paper I attempt to answer this question by deploying the concept of the cultural pattern. A ‘cultural pattern’ may be defined as the connection of concepts and practices which have gained a relative perpetuity through cultural habitualization. Cultural patterns include a combination of interpretative schemes according to which the world can be categorized, structured and interpreted with individual or social practices which either develop out of, or follow these schemes. Because they combine concepts and practices in a significant manner they gain a contour which enables the creation of communicative addressability, practical appropriation and discursive analysis and hence the creation of a long-term exemplary status. A cultural pattern according to this definition has a relative stability and an observable effect over a long period of time, but which is simultaneously liable to permanent actualization and adaption. Historicism has been considered to be a basic thought-pattern of modernity since Troeltsch, Meinecke and Koselleck; defining Historicism as a cultural pattern can help to explain its long-term effectiveness and its continuing productivity to the present day.

Affiliations: 1: Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Email:


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