1st Edition

The Emergence of Relativism
German Thought from the Enlightenment to National Socialism

ISBN 9781138571877
Published February 28, 2019 by Routledge
268 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Debates over relativism are as old as philosophy itself. Since the late nineteenth century, relativism has also been a controversial topic in many of the social and cultural sciences. And yet, relativism has not been a central topic of research in the history of philosophy or the history of the social sciences. This collection seeks to remedy this situation by studying the emergence of modern forms of relativism as they unfolded in the German lands during the "long nineteenth century"—from the Enlightenment to National Socialism. It focuses on relativist and anti-relativist ideas and arguments in four contexts: history, science, epistemology, and politics.

The Emergence of Relativism will be of interest to those studying nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophy, German idealism, and history and philosophy of science, as well as those in related disciplines such as sociology and anthropology.

Table of Contents

General Introduction

Part I: History

Introduction Katherina Kinzel

1. Hieroglyphic Historicism: Herder’s and Ranke’s Theology of History Niels Wildschut

2. The History of Philosophy and the Puzzles of Life: Windelband and Dilthey on the Ahistorical Core of Philosophical Thinking Katherina Kinzel

3. Hermeneutic Responses to Relativism: Gadamer and the Historicist Tradition Kirstin Gjesdal

Part II: Science

Introduction Martin Kusch

4. Perspectivalism in the Development of Scientific Observer-Relativity Lydia Patton

5. Physical or Philosophical? Mach and Einstein on Being a Relativist Richard Staley

6. Husserl on Relativism Dermot Moran

7. "Open Systems" and Anti-Relativism: Anti-Relativist Strategies in Psychological Discourses around 1900 Paul Ziche

Part III: Epistemology

Introduction Niels Wildschut

8. Knowledge and Affect: Perspectivism Reconsidered Brian Leiter

9. Cassirer on Relativism in Science and Morality Samantha Matherne

10. Simmel and Mannheim on the Sociology of Philosophy, Historicism and Relativism Martin Kusch

11. Was Heidegger a Relativist? Sacha Golob

Part IV: Politics

Introduction Johannes Steizinger

12. Unity and Diversity: Herder, Relativism, and Pluralism Vicky A. Spencer

13. Socializing Knowledge and Historicizing Society: Marx and Engels and the Manuscripts of 1845–46 Terrell Carver

14. National Socialism and the Problem of Relativism Johannes Steizinger.


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Martin Kusch is a professor of philosophy at the University of Vienna and the principal investigator of an ERC Advanced Grant project "The Emergence of Relativism" (2014-2019).

Katherina Kinzel is a postdoctoral researcher in the ERC project "The Emergence of Relativism" (2014-2019).

Johannes Steizinger is a postdoctoral researcher in the ERC project "The Emergence of Relativism" (2014-2019).

Niels Wildschut is a PhD student in the ERC project "The Emergence of Relativism" (2014-2019).