Chapter

Humboldt the Proteus

Frederick C. Beiser

in The German Historicist Tradition

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199691555
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731839 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691555.003.0005
Humboldt the Proteus

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This chapter is a detailed examination of the intellectual development of Wilhelm von Humboldt's theory of history. It treats Humboldt's shifting intellectual interests as different approaches to the problems of history. Humboldt's classicism, anthropology and philosophy of language are examined insofar as they affect his view of history. The final section is an account of Humboldt's famous essay on the task of the historian. Humboldt is treated as a transitional figure insofar as he belongs to, yet sees beyond, the naturalistic tradition of anthropology.

Keywords: Wilhelm von Humboldt; classicism; hermeneutics; natural law; philosophy of language; history; spirit of the age; individuality

Chapter.  25276 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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