In Martin Kusch, Katherina Kinzel, Johannes Steizinger & Niels Jacob Wildschut (eds.), The Emergence of Relativism: German Thought from the Enlightenment to National Socialism. London: Routledge. pp. 26-42 (2019)

Katherina Kinzel
Utrecht University
The professionalization of the study of history in the Nineteenth Century made possible a new way of thinking about the history of philosophy: the thought emerged that philosophy itself might be relative to time, historical culture, and nationality. The simultaneous demise of speculative metaphysics scattered philosophers’ confidence that the historical variance of philosophical systems could be viewed in terms of the teleological self-realization of reason. Towards the late Nineteenth Century, philosophers began to explicitly address the worry that all philosophical systems might have only relative validity. This paper compares two key figures in late-nineteenth-century debates concerning historical relativism: Wilhelm Windelband and Wilhelm Dilthey. Beneath the deep disagreements between these two authors, it reveals their common concern to immunize philosophy from the threat of historical relativism. The paper traces how both philosophers sought to fend off relativism by defending the idea of an ahistorical and permanent stratum of philosophical thinking. And it argues that although they succeeded in blocking historical versions of relativism, they did so at the cost of incurring a relativism vis-à-vis philosophical systems. This relativism turned out to be rooted not in the historicity of philosophy but in the timeless essence of philosophical reasoning itself.
Keywords Wilhelm Dilthey  Wilhelm Windelband  Neo-Kantianism  History of Philosophy  Historicism  Relativism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Wilhelm Windelband.Katherina Kinzel - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Wilhelm Windelband and the Problem of Relativism.Katherina Kinzel - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (1):84-107.
Historicism and Neo-Kantianism.Fred Beiser - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (4):554-564.
History and Natural Science.Wilhelm Windelband & Guy Oakes - 1980 - History and Theory 19 (2):165.
Inner Experience and Articulation: Wilhelm Dilthey’s Foundational Project and the Charge of Psychologism.Katherina Kinzel - 2018 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 8 (2):347-375.
Methodology of the Sciences.Lydia Patton - 2015 - In Michael Forster & Kristin Gjesdal (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of German Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford University Press. pp. 594-606.
Dilthey and the Narrative of History.Jacob Owensby - 1997 - Cornell University Press.
Early Heidegger's Concept of History in Light of the Neo-Kantians.Ingo Farin - 2009 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 3 (4):355-384.


Added to PP index

Total views
188 ( #62,133 of 2,505,146 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
43 ( #20,468 of 2,505,146 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes