May 01, 2016

Defining Historicism – An Example

The following lines are plucked out from a preface to a book of a highly quoted author named Lane-Poole. He was a Professor of Arabic at Trinity College, Dublin and book was published in 1903 from New York and introduced in England.

“History is always continuous; there can be no ‘fresh start’; and each new period carries on much of what preceded it.” (Preface pp.iv.; Lane-Pool, Stanely, Medieval India under Mohammedan Rule 712 – 1764, 1903, New York.

The lines conceptualize the intrinsic meaning of the term “Historicism” if the term claim any right to existence. I am ready to accept and in recognizing it, I feel no shame that I struggle to learn, understand and perceive the real import of the term ‘historicism’. As I learn that I know it, and the very next pulse of the time, I lose it.

History is a knowledge about past. Among the group of the world of knowledge, the humanity gives preference to those fields of knowledge which provide solutions or to be more specific, working solutions to the problems in present.

History is not past as such. History is about change and continuity. A person asks a question in present, may be when he has a problem. He seeks a solution, which will prove its efficacy in future. Now, where should he look? Can he peep into the future? Which science has that capability? If such a science comes, History will die.

History stipulates that you have to learn about your present to fully understand your problem. You will then find the right solution. The quotation tells that your present has its foundation in past.

However, History is never regarded as such. There is a truth, which a thinking man refuses to recognise. He is troubled by his problem. The answer is in seeking the product which is called ‘Historicism’. But, where is it? What is it?

The above sentiment, the quotation, was recorded in 1903. I, the post writer, was born in latter part of 60s of the same century. Today in 2016, India, the country, which is seeking FDI from everywhere and technology from all over, is making yoga an international movement. Ochre clad Swami is rewriting the theories on marketing and production the field of FMCG picking threads and sinews from pre-medieval India. The country is invaded by ethics and values from outside through information technology. What is changing? What is continuing? I am still unable to get hold of the meaning of historicism. Which is continuing? Pizza or Puri or Prantdha.

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