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date: 20 January 2021


The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance
Ronald W. VinceRonald W. Vince

One answer to the ancient question of whether historical explanation is nomothetic, concerned with the pervasive and universal, or idiographic, concerned with the specific and the individual, modern historicism was conceived at the end of the eighteenth century in reaction to the Enlightenment assumption, based in the new scientific discipline, that historical truth was abstract and universal. Historicism stressed instead that such truth was to be found in a particular object or event, which is explicable only in terms of the idiosyncratic context of its own time and place. There were hints, even during the Enlightenment, of a historicist perspective that recognized the variety of human institutions, and realized that those who lived differently must also have thought differently. ... ...

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