Two Poles Within Historicism: Croce and Meinecke Author(s): Robert A.

Pois Reviewed work(s): Source: Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1970), pp. 253-272 Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2708548 . Accessed: 19/03/2013 09:39
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TWO POLES WITHIN HISTORICISM: CROCE AND MEINECKE
BY ROBERTA. Pois

In History As The Story of Liberty, Benedetto Croce defined historicism as "the affirmation that life and reality are history and history alone."' Friedrich Meinecke, in his Die Entstehung des Historismus, defined the "core" of historicism as "compensation, through individualizing reflection, for a generalizing view of historical-human forces. This does not in any way mean that Historicism absolutely precludes searching after general lawfulness and types of human life. It must [do] this and simultaneously blend it with its sense for the individual."2 It would appear that Croce and Meinecke had two rather different conceptions of the nature of historicism. Nevertheless, their positions on the matter were more similar than not. Both Croce and Meinecke eschewed transcendentalism in history, Croce going so far as to condemn formal doctrines of philosophy of history altogether.3 Both Croce and Meinecke thus attempted to treat history as itself representing, or embodying, a closed totality within which universal (or "general") forces manifested themselves in individual forms. Meinecke's consideration of the particular/general problem was obviously tinctured with strong Rankean overtones. Croce, on the other hand, as a philosopher, carried over elements of his neo-Hegelian critique of empiricism and transcendency into his considerations of historiography: But the really efficaciousnegation of empiricismand transcendency[in history], their positive negation, is brought about not by means of mysticism, butof idealism;not in the immediate,but in the mediatedconsciousness; not in the indistinctunity, but in the unity that is distinction, and as such truly thought.4 Specifically, Croce's method provided for a more rigorously monistic fusion of general and particular than Meinecke's. Nevertheless, the conclusions obtained within the contours of Croce's neo-Hegelian
' Benedetto Croce, History as the Story of Liberty, trans. S. Sprigge (New York, 1941), 65. Croce identifies historicism with humanism: "historicism is the true humanism, that is the truth of humanism" (315). This, it would appear, gave Croce's historicism more rationalisticovertones than that of Meinecke's. 2 Friedrich Meinecke, Die Entstehung des Historismus (Munich, 1936), I, 2. 3 Croce, 140-46; also History: Its Theory and Practice, trans. D. Ainslie (New York, 1960), 64-68. 4 History. Its Theory and Practice, 118. Croce's emphasis. 253

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POIS Idealism approximated those attained by Meinecke: "that history is always particular and always special. This apparent confrontation between Croce and Meinecke stemmed from a fundamental difference between the respective approaches of Hegel and Ranke. and that these two determinations constitute precisely concrete and effective unity. Hegelian individuality. It was the "cunning of reason" which served to mold the often inchoate amalgam of passions and ambitions into the progressive objectification of World Spirit. of course. At the same time. it is important to note that Croce and Meinecke began their respective treks from different. This.254 ROBERT A. while reflection upon this objectification. especially Vico and Hegel. brought Croce into sharp intellectual confrontation with Meinecke. their often morbid passions serving as the vehicles for the realization of the divine plan on earth. poles. This content downloaded on Tue. inasmuch as fairly consistent adherence to Hegelian monism necessitated a distinctly negative attitude towards Ranke on the part of Croce. Although he was quite conscious of their weaknesses. as will be shown below. there could be little doubt that individuality was subordinate to that scheme which was being worked out through it. However.. man himself "would either have to be God or 5 Ibid. made men free. The goal of human history. was coextensive with general force-Objective Spirit-the grasping of which was reflected in Absolute Spirit. almost opposite. one would have to say. Indeed. Croce found spiritual guidance in the line of what Meinecke called "developmental" thinkers.e. in his Uber die Epochen der neueren Geschichte Ranke assailed the Hegelian monism for several reasons: through the "cunning of reason" human freedom would be abolished. then. Freedom. i. Hegel's adherence to a doctrine which saw subject and object as dialectically reconciled through awareness of the former's concretization in the realm of the objective-this realization being the content of Absolute Spirit-necessitated at least a theoretical adherence to monism. the states and political giants of history. the stolid march of God on earth. Ranke took serious issue with Hegel. was attained when Objective Spirit. Absolute Spirit. was reflected upon and thereby grasped by Absolute Spirit (philosophy). The agents of Objective Spirit. As is well known. through adhering to a doctrine that assumes an indwelling spiritual essence propelling man towards some definite goal.. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . surface differences between Croce's and Meinecke's definitions of historicism were apparently negated by their shared concern about relating universal to particular and thus negating a dualism that could only have been pernicious to historical methodology. acted unreflectively. however."5 Thus. 141. Croce's emphasis.

Ranke seemed to be exalting the spiritual inviolability of. "but. It was in this context. 1968). Ranke bears a marked similarity to Comte) different branches of human life advance and retrogress at different times.HISTORICISM: CROCE AND MEINECKE 255 nothing at all". 7History:Its Theory and Practice. The German Conception of History. that Ranke made his famous defense of individuality by stating that every epoch was "immediate to God and its worth does not reside at all in what emanates from it but rather in its own existence. by eschewing the "cunning of reason" inherent in Hegelian monism. Despite sporadic efforts at open-mindedness. but which touches our face and informs us of its action. Croce indicated that various deficiencies in Meinecke's historicism could perhaps be attributed to his slavish worship of Ranke. is based upon rather abstruse metaphysical presuppositions and that "perhaps no German historian of the nineteenth century (with the possible exception of Droysen) paid as much attention to the theoretical foundations of his historical practice as did Ranke. 300-01. should attain its perfect form in such a minor and 6 Georg Iggers. This content downloaded on Tue. 8Ibid. professing the firm conviction that the hand of God shows itself in history. the Rankean system of individualities. then at least the individuality."8 Later. were revealed. progress itself was not monolithic and (here. "conciliatory" historiography."6 Nevertheless. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ."7 Ranke's efforts to bind disparate events together through a more-or-less orthodox Protestant theology only revealed "his slight coherence of ideas" and did not call attention away from his tendency towards "the pragmatic method. Meinecke derived his particular brand of historicism from the Rankean heritage-one which preserved an essentially Judaeo-Christian dualism in the forms of historical individualities and the God before which each of them was immediate. in History As The Story of Liberty. the intrinsic historical phenomenon by and through which the unfathomable potentialities. Croce almost playfully chided Meinecke for believing that "a thought [historicism] first conceived by the weighty mind of a Vico. if not the empirical individual of Anglo-Saxon historical parlance. Conn. its own identity.. Croce considered Ranke as being the archetypal representative of his bete noire. The German Conception of History (Middletown. 64-65." As Georg Iggers has pointed out in his recent work. carefully avoiding the use of any word that might sound too rough or too strong. In History: Its Theory and Practice Croce ridiculed Ranke's tendency to substitute a sort of transcendent positivism for philosophy. a hand that we cannot grasp with ours. then accepted by the sovereign mind of a Hegel. he [Ranke] did this decorously. 291. spiritual and daemonic. each of which embodies a general force or "tendency". As we shall see..

Machiavellism. also Walther Hofer's discussion of Meinecke's attack on Hegelian monism in Geschichte zwischen Philosophie und Politik (Basel. the Hegelian synthesis sacrificed the individual on the altar of universal necessity. if the philosopher is concerned with a given philosophy. trans. Rather. more precisely. Scott (London. Meinecke.. History had been converted into a grim Schauspiel and raison d'etat enshrined as a monument to the stolid march of the World Spirit. he is concerned with a specific. POIS philosophically indifferent and inexpert mind as that of Leopold von Ranke. and hence historical."9 Croce's opposition to Ranke is understandable when we realize that. A philosophy therefore is a particular consciousness of an "historical situation" of the Universal Spirit. Each moment of this selfconsciousness represents a synthesis of problems and solutions embodied in a particular philosophy.11 For Croce. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1956). Philosophy of the Practical: Economic and Ethic. Hereafter referred to as Logic. 241. framework. then. Croce. or. every human activity was historical. 1962). we do not foresee results. i. '?History: Its Theory and Practice. the Universal could only be apprehended in the concrete). '2For Croce. on the other hand. philosophy represented the "methodological moment" of history. 1913). and the judgment involved is not future directed. from German by D. one "true" philosophy. he was nevertheless convinced of the "identity" of philosophy and history. It 9History as the Story of Liberty. 1917).e. judgment follows the completion of an act and provides the basis for further action. attacked Hegel with the vehemence which Croce reserved for Ranke. philosophy and history were bound together through the mediation of becoming. This content downloaded on Tue. Thus. Ainslie (London.256 ROBERT A. time-conditioned synthesis. This synthesis represents a particular concretization of the Universal Spirit (for Croce. 310-18. 151. seeking the justification of history in extrinsic ends). nor will there ever be. Hegel represented that daemon peculiar to German historiography: the tendency towards a pernicious monism which completes itself in worship of the historically sanctified state. an individualization of this spirit in time.. that philosophy represents the "methodological moment" of history. Ainslie (London. D.13 In Meinecke's eyes. as we have seen.e. There never has been. Rather. D.12 We can understand why the halfhearted teleology implied by Ranke's pious dualism must have proved particularly irritating to Croce. Hence. practical activity was set within a theoretical. although the former was opposed to philosophies of history as representing various forms of antihistorical transcendentalism (i. 588. trans. 367-68. '3Meinecke. Philosophy of the Practical. trans.?1 What Croce meant is this: the story of philosophy is the story of the self-consciousness of the human spirit. 39-45. For Meinecke. We base our actions on knowledge of conditions at a given moment. 85-86. Logic as the Science of The Pure Concept. "Croce. 78.

'8History as the Story of Liberty. As we have seen. both Croce and Meinecke evinced strong concerns for the historical individual. 650. 154-55. starting from diametrically distinct poles. formal philosophy. H.16 Thus. 66.. 171. Croce's considerations of the relationship between universal and particular were tinctured with strong idealistic overtones. II 639-41. '5Die Entstehungdes Historismus. Croce and Meinecke often displayed the same penetrating insights and. As we have seen. 20Logic. also I. philosophy for Croce is spirit.HISTORICISM: CROCE AND MEINECKE 257 was "the legitimization of a bastard.350. his historiographical considerations as a whole reveal the efforts made by Croce to place philosophy in a temporal context. 1950). a student of Croce. has pointed out. '9Carlo Antoni. From History. It would appear. this led Meinecke to have a "dualistic vision of life and the world with the two poles consisting of Kantian spiritualism and naturalistic philosophy. from the point of view of the Rankean approach. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . '7Hofer. economics. to Sociology: The Transition in German Historical Thinking. Croce's Hegelian ancestry caused him to recoil from Meinecke's efforts to somehow incorporate the "irrational" into history.trans. needing only the proper amalgamation of external forces to bring it into life. the infusion of a timeless spiritual verity. History."'5 The Rankean Idee. Croce maintains. as '4Machiavellism. Ranke had attained the greatest success "in the marriage of Idea and Reality. V. Indeed. despite their rather different points of departure. unfortunately. 478-92.-represents a particular aspect of the moment of spirit (although the concept. represented. and hence to historicize it. and spirit discovers itself in infinite forms. 324. White (Detroit. each aspect of human lifeaesthetics. it must be seen that.'7 Moreover. however. the one attaining these concerns from the point of view of Hegelian immanency (while eschewing Hegelian eschatological considerations).319. Its Theory and Practice. that two such radically different approaches (or points of departure) could and should have brought Croce and Meinecke into sharp opposition.20 Moreover. '6Ibid. Geschichtschreibungund Weltanschauung(Munich. for Meinecke. knowledge of philosophy as a discipline entails a knowledge of it in its temporal moments.'8 As Carlo Antoni. the intrinsic spiritual core which subsisted in the life and action of each state. the other."4 For Meinecke."'' Nevertheless. etc. ran afoul of some of the same problems. Thus. 1959). II. 107. By "irrational" Croce was referring both to Meinecke's emphasis upon the daemonic and to his exaltation of the Kulturindividualitdaen. Croce did criticize Meinecke's Die Entstehung des Historismus for a certain intellectual sloppiness. statecraft. As a matter of fact. This content downloaded on Tue.

23History: This content downloaded on Tue.Individuals hopes). POIS utilized by Croce-the mediation between individual and universal or in logical terms.23 transcendency Thus. trans. 1915). 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ." Naturally. 156-57. changed in content and shape. with spirit as living concreteness. in its particular moments. it was temporal).if not as deluded (satisfiedindeed beyond their desires and illuded. 102. 22Croce.)22 Were this form [cunningof reason] exact or were it necessary to take it literally(and not simply as an imaginativeand provisionalexpressionof the would aptruth). in establishing the spiritual union of philosophy and history through the above-mentioned mediation of universal and particular.even thoughbenevolently and Providence. inasmuch as he considered spirit to be. it is'obvious that Croce had succeeded.then certainlyas illuded. or individuals and Reason.2' History and philosophy were one: Indeed. Nevertheless. inasmuch as it was ideally concerned not with logical nit-picking but with spirit in toto. Hegel] be considered. Croce felt that he had preserved: (1) both 2'Logic. was indeed the "methodological moment of history. The Hegelian overtones of this are obvious.e. Ainslie (London.and the individual wouldbe inferiorand the Idea superior-that is to say. but two. position of theirs and toward the Idea or individuals would have to [Vico Providence. leaving aside methodological issues for the moment. i. (Croce's attacks upon Hegel for his mistaken assumption that he had synthesized opposites rather than distincts in his dialectic does not directly concern us here. at least in his owvn mind. Croce's emphasis. However. Its Theory and Practice. unity. What Is Living and What Is Dead of the Philosophy of Hegel. philosophy. i.. D.. 95. Croce. dualism andthe reciprocal of God andthe worldwouldpersist. the merging of subject and predicate-played a timeless role in philosophy. the matter which was its object. Hegel's insistence upon recognizable goals in history and upon the prominence of the "cunning of reason" served simply to reintroduce elements of transcendentalism and dualism which Hegel had attempted to avoid through his rigorous monistic approach. the identification of the individual and the universal in history was necessary inasmuch as spirit unfolds itself in particular forms.e. I greatly fear that a shadowof dualismand transcendency in the of in heart the idealistic For this pear conception. then. 40-57. it is well to point out that Croce rejected Hegel on several points: (1) he overthrew the Hegelian concern for a transcendental justification of history. wouldnot makeone. did not consider periodization. For Croce. numerical classification and chronology to serve any functions other than those mnemonic and epistemological ones dictated by the practical aspects of history. for Croce.258 ROBERT A. and (2) he attacked Hegel's emphasis upon a "cunning of reason" in history. 82-89. By discarding these elements.

since it participated in the embodied universality. Meinecke. while adhering to the Rankean method in a rather broad fashion. Machiavellism. on the other hand (particularly after World War I). However. Meinecke differed both from Ranke and Croce.428. 23."25 What Kultur in fact represented for Meinecke was also explicitly stated: or uncondition. of course. on Meinecke's part. in effect. in a negative sense. . Ranke's linking of power/political drives to a sort of religious teleology had to be exposed and the basically daemonic nature of power "stripped of its veil. His adherence to Hegelian monism. the same thing. First of all. Meinecke. This content downloaded on Tue. Meinecke thus drew a rather sharp line (at least in cultural matters) between the historical individual and causal conditions."24 Briefly. sensed a certain naivete on Ranke's part in regard to power. Meinecke did make certain alterations of his own. of what the historical individual in fact represented. as mentioned above. saw general and particular as being. in his work. he adhered to Ranke's emphasis upon the historical individual." where he made the rather interesting and well-known statement that "history is nothing else but Kulturgeschichte. In this regard. necessitated this approach. 25Meinecke." Historische Zeitschrift. both heuristically and ontologically. and this rejection necessitated a redefinition. Ranke's teleology prohibited him from establishing a spiritual dichotomy between the historical individual and the general environmental forces conditioning its development. This division is most clearly expressed in his Historische Zeitschrift essay of 1928. . Meinecke turned against the statist aspect of Rankean historiography. by his deep-seated reaction against Hegelian monism. Croce. Meinecke attacked Ranke for his overly optimistic view of the state and of its ability to synthesize power and spiritual values (Kultur). broke rather sharply with the Rankean teleology and rejected the Hegelian approach out of hand.HISTORICISM: CROCE AND MEINECKE 259 history and philosophy. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . since each gained meaning through the other. by his admiration for Leopold von Ranke and. "Kausalitaten und Werte in der Geschichte. as we have seen. "Kausal:taten und Werte in der Geschichte.conditionally call which Kultur in the after that men the after values. Nevertheless. Here. behind all searchingafter causalitystands. Meinecke's approach to the individual/universal problem was conditioned. This was necessary because of the "positive" emphasis which Meinecke had placed upon the individual as opposed to the implicitly negative judgment which he made upon the general forces surrounding the individual's emergence. 137 (1928). ally. and (2) the historical individual. searching 24Machiavellism.

" i. the two representatives of apparently diametrically opposed varieties of historicism arrived at fairly similar positions in regard to the problem of the historical individual's relation to general causal 26Ibid.. and hence history was. breakthroughs. POIS highest sense.. History was thus seen by Meinecke as essentially concerned with historical individuals (in both a methodological and ontological sense). 27Ibid. as spirit reflects upon itself." The historian was not to be concerned with the network of causality through which these manifestations.260 ROBERT A. On the surface of it. as we shall soon establish.e. at least.. among them. while Meinecke adhered to the Rankean scheme. "nothing else but Kulturgeschichte. in a curious fashion. was tied to Meinecke's very real concern over the problem of good and evil in history and in historical judgment. attacked Hegel."28 In other words. power.18. historical individuals. history was "everything. undoubtedly unsuspected by Croce or Meinecke. 17. For Croce."27 In this regard. In this regard at least. Croce attacked Ranke. i. This content downloaded on Tue. every moment-and every face of every momentof spirit. he was to address himself to the task of establishing a "geistig-sittlichen" pattern. Meinecke placed renewed emphasis on the Rankean dictum that history was "only a great individual filled by countless [numbers] of great and small individuals. was dualistic in this regard... but that in fact he attached an ethical meaning to it as well.8. as Meinecke saw it. broke.26 In the same article. This. albeit modified to suit his purposes. It is obvious that Meinecke was not using the term "value" in a purely heuristic or methodological sense a la Rickert. the historical individuals had been transformed into virtually superrational Kulturindividualitaten. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . while Croce adhered to the Hegelian scheme. beautiful or true and [which] therefore have become meaningful or possessed of value for us. again modified to suit his purposes. Yet. Meinecke.e. rather. but. while Meinecke was not. Meinecke defined historical individuals as being "only such phenomena which have intrinsic to them various tendencies in the direction of the good. sharply differentiating between spirit in the form of Kultur and naked causal forces. Croce's and Meinecke's respective treatments of the particular/general problem would appear to be in sharp opposition. Croce was almost aggressively monistic.. on the other hand. on the contrary. 28id.e. in which historical individuals would yet preserve their respective intrinsic values. Meinecke. Meinecke thus resolved the particular/general dilemma in favor of the particular--a result of ethical as well as metaphysical motives. i. manifestations of the spiritual in the midst of the network of causality. he differed considerably from Croce.

according to Meinecke. spirit in its various concrete forms. in the form of Kultur. Perhaps the most important of these common traits is the shared concern of placing a sort of "positive" stamp upon history. as we have seen. as well as for Croce. both would have rejected such a justification as being extrinsic to the historical process). 64-68. see History: Its Theory and Practice. arrived at this point of view through his application of an interesting form of nonteleological Hegelianism. He simply viewed causality as the enemy of the historical individual. Croce and Meinecke shared the belief that history as history was meaningful. were implicitly precluded from the historian's purview. arrived at somewhat the same position. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Meinecke perhaps for more blatantly moral reasons. both sought to preserve the spiritual integrity of the historical individual by rejecting causality-Croce on philosophical grounds. History was the Universal Spirit unfolding in the manifold individualities which composed human thought and activity. However. besides this one rather obvious similarity. Rather. or at least to circumscribe their influence. by sharply differentiating between them and historical individuals. Croce. For the historian. history was given a stamp that had both strong melioristic and strong spiritual overtones. as we have seen. was possessed both of heuristic and ethical value. Moreover. Thus for Meinecke. This content downloaded on Tue. Thus. Forces of naked causality. For Meinecke. these respective approaches would lead to trouble for both Croce and Meinecke.HISTORICISM: CROCE AND MEINECKE 261 conditions. History was. spirit was the unfolding of universality in the individualities which composed human activity. should be concerned only with the Kultur-laden historical individuals. For Croce. Meinecke never claimed that questions of causality were nonsensical or out-and-out unhistorical. such as power. It is true that Meinecke attempted to expel general forces from history. spirit. after all. Both Croce and Meinecke felt that they had succeeded in making history "meaningful. Although. Meinecke attempted to bind general and particular together in time by linking developmental processes to spiritual spontaneity through the concept of "inborn tendency.29 As we shall see. to transform it into a nexus of spiritual individualities and to thus combat efforts to impose any variety of extrinsic pattern upon it. Meinecke. there are others of equal significance. in Die Entstehung des Historismus. through his creation of Kulturindividualitaten. where this is blended with a brilliant attack on Taine. both Meinecke and Croce saw history as spirit assuming the form of individuality. The most obvious similarity is the common effort of Croce and Meinecke to "individualize" history." Neither of them claimed to have discovered any transcendental justification for history (indeed." Meinecke always insisted on the elevation of the historical individual 290n Croce's rejection of causality.

purely mechanical relationship. in other words it receives that positive treatment which historical thought always gives. Meinecke's occasional emphasis upon the superrational nature of Kultur was also unacceptable to him. and the beautiful. that is. 91-92. The resultant relationship is therefore conceived as an intermixture or interweaving. who also insisted on the necessity of individualizing and. 3'History as the Story of Liberty.30 Croce.32 30Die Entstehung des Historismus. the true. fully rational. 171. Meinecke had in reality deprecated universality by divorcing it from Kultur. and vital subjects. a reciprocal determination of two entities. Nevertheless. As we have seen. 163-64." From History to Sociology. he had shut out the "negative" in history just as decisively through his efforts to escape monism as Croce had through his Hegelian tendency towards individualizing historical phenomena. despite the former's concerns over good and evil. Closely tied up with the distinctions between the neo-Hegelian Croce and the neo-Rankean Meinecke. By demanding that the historian focus upon the good. economic. than the shadow becomes solid and the negative takes on the positive character. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . I.. could never have accepted the superiority of individual over general implied by Meinecke. in the last analysis. it is obvious that Meinecke and Croce had succeeded in accomplishing much the same end in regard to their respective philosophies of history. as may be seen by the following: no sooner is the historical point of view shifted from moral or civil subjects to strictly military. Croce makes the very definite statement that "history is about the positive and not about the negative. true history was positive history and. universalizing all aspects of the moments of spirit. i. 161. 3"History This content downloaded on Tue. about .262 ROBERT A. Moreover. Meinecke approximated the position of Croce. as well as for Croce. of course. POIS at the expense of general causal forces. Antoni makes a most cogent criticism of Meinecke's efforts in Die Entstehung des Historismus to bind general and particular together: "Meinecke thought to mediate the dangers of individualismby refusing to conceive of the individual as a monad and by linking its development to the processes of the external world. Croce had fused universality and individuality and had thus eliminated extrinsic transcendency in the name of neo-Hegelian monism. remains. for Meinecke. at the same time. is the problem of good and evil. despite this apparent clash. 116. History: Its Theory and Practice. when considered in itself. as the Story of Liberty.what man does and not what he suffers. renaming it the "causal nexus" and by placing it under the rubric of the elemental. Nevertheless. upon which we have touched parenthetically. on the study of historical individuals.e."31 Croce defends this point of view by stating further on: That which seems irrational and therefore an object of regret is. natural. an extrinsic and. In History as the Story of Liberty. Meinecke in fact drew fairly close to Croce's monistic approach by virtue of his emphasis on Kulturgeschichte.

he had faced the problem of negativity in a thoroughgoing fashion. even though evil could assume palpable form.. [by compelling it] to make a leap into the void. First of all.. he said. History was thus the "continuous triumph of Life over Death." or by compelling it to will arbitrarily. In other words. in Philosophy of the Practical. In like manner. institutions.253.. by compelling it to the inertia of the fact. after all. radical emphasis of either of the two components of freedom-necessity and freedom-constituted antifreedom and this. i." It will then be immediatelyseen that ancientcivilizationin what it possessed of truly real.e. 36Ibid. and .. was a synthesis of passivity and activity.196.in its contradictions.. "33 Briefly. 37bid.." allowed him to impose his brilliant solution to the question of good vs.e. he maintained quite logically that it was "truly the original sin of reality. 34Ibid.. 251."35 Good and evil were thus bound together. i.because 33Philosophyof the Practical. Croce maintained that the negative. In the Philosophy of the Practical. Croce sharply differentiated between what was "truly real" in history and "that which improperly assumes this name. "aims at making liberty fall into nothingness. its contradictory form did not allow it to partake of substance.. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . as Croce put it." i. did not die. "becoming. 252. antifreedom sought to shatter that "indissoluble nexus" of necessity and freedom of which freedom was composed. Indeed. Croce was not denying that there was evil.and even as acquiredaptitudes.the Middle Ages.. i. recognition either of an isolated fact or of an existing situation.in its incapacityto find polithat is to say.34 For Croce. life itself. such an entity as antifreedom bore a flagrant contradiction in its breast: development of a fact. This content downloaded on Tue. by impelling it to will . whichwas evidentlyin part progress.hence it kept reappearingin the course of the it certainlydied in what it had of unreal. to make a definite but unreflective choice or action..."37 There are several concrete examples in which the Crocean idea of "cosmic progress" manifested itself. 195. by forcing it to adhere "to the inertia of the fact.e.e.. 351bid. depended upon an act of will. "evil" was "antifreedom.. Evil was.. centuriesand still keeps reappearing: for instance." Antifreedom. tical and economic forms answeringto the changedconditionsof spirits. and each of these terms obviously gained meaning only through the other. in both its theoretical and practical aspects was freedom. it could not be.e. was evil.HISTORICISM: CROCE AND MEINECKE 263 Croce did not claim that "negative" moments were nonexistent. It sought either to paralyze liberty by forcing it to conform. i. However."36Croce's view of reality as being development. while only by "persistence in that fact" could the form of will obtain content. In this work. "irreal. evil onto history. Life. Nevertheless. for Croce. "cosmic progress. but was transmittedas thought.

"cosmic progress" appeared for man in reflection upon objective phenomena. and was thus "fecundating the problem for a better solution.. Such concerns.. of 42Ibid. but philosophy and the history of which it was "moment" always strove forward. Historr Italy. to the creation wherethey at times acted as a brake and at times contributed of good laws. M. Furthermore.. Croce's approach precluded any sort of emphasis upon the "negative" in history and in fact led him. C.42 Meinecke. on the other hand. trans. Ideas. as we have seen. 38 Even if nineteenth-century positivism seemed to be "so greatly inferior" to the idealism that preceded it." The same positivistic process is revealed in Croce's A History of Italy.256.. 1871-1915.. As in Hegel's Absolute Spirit. where Croce asserted that the fall of the Italian "Right"--with which he identified cultured and individualistic liberalism (as embodied in such men as Ricasoli. could be stifled but even in stifling it the tyrannies could only admit their fear of it and establish it as a palpable antithesis. Liberty. this was only due to the fact that it was really not a philosophy at all.4' Croce's adherence to monism logically prohibited him from recognizing the "negative" in history except as it was "correlated" with the positive. history was also the "story of liberty" for Croce. 38Ibid.264 ROBERT A. 11-12. A Ady 1929). he admitted. of government. 39Ibid. 18711915. were crowned by his Die Idee der Staatsrtion and were also reflected in his rejection of the optimistic statism of Ranke. but a "hybrid jumble of natural sciences and metaphysics.161.40 eyes upon upon Here.to keep their now that they had assumedthe responsibilities a as liberalism lodestar. Meinecke's strong reactions against casuistic raison d'etat and the Hegelianism which sanctified it forced him to confront what was for him the very real issue of good and evil. to regard evil as being present but "irreal. as mentioned previously.."39 As such. 59-62. 41Historyas the Story of Liberty.254-55. (Oxford. men. and Spaventa)-in 1876 did not mean that the "idea of liberalism was lost thereby": for it lived not only in those of the Right who still took part in public life. it lived also in their former opponents. Minghetti. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ..who were constrained. This content downloaded on Tue. Sella. Croce mentions such men as De Sanctis and Depritis.. 40Croce. posed others that it did not solve and then were solved in the succeeding centuries. POIS it solved problems left unsolved by the preceding civilization. and governments might fall. was almost morbidly concerned with the presence of evil or the daemonic. developing particularly after the German defeat in World War I.. it was serving to carry out that error which had already existed "in germ" in idealism." However.

In this respect. Meinecke tended. 94-95. At the same time he relegated evil to a kind of nether-world which could be either irrational or mechanistic. In Aphorismen und Skizzen zur Geschichte.45Inasmuch as "accident" and the "typical" logically seem to be related to elemental forces. Meinecke was forced to confuse the issue (at least that of his own precise position in regard to causality. at least hypothetically: the "negative" in history could only be considered (except. Meinecke tended to approach a nebulous Rankean teleology. The historian could deal with this world but he could never understand it in an historical fashion. 540-42. esp. while transforming history into a positive nexus of historical individuals. where Meinecke revealed a newfound admiration for the deliberations of Goethe over the relationship between individuality and developmental processes. 172-75 for his discussion of the role played by the "tragic" in history. though. 45Meinecke. as mentioned above. also. as revealed in Aphorismen und Skizzen zur Geschichte. the historical individual. each of which retained intrinsic value by being a manifestation of an element or elements of the eternal. to separate general from particular in an ethical sense. Unfortunately. This raised rather disturbing problems for his historiography: (1) the apparent contradiction in attempting to establish a pattern (geistig-sittlichen) of urfique and eternally conditioned historical individuals.43 In a curious fashion. 480-631.HISTORICISM: CROCE AND MEINECKE 265 Meinecke's confrontation of the good/evil problem in history led him in the direction of abandoning those elemental forces which both conditioned and. it is difficult to see how such phenomena could effect a substantial change in a spiritual entity. taken together. 39. when Croce was willing to make concessions to "practical" history) inasmuch as it was somehow correlated with all the positive movements of spirit which. Hence. as we shall see. This content downloaded on Tue. (2) his later efforts. This post-World War I concern of his was eloquently reflected in Die Entstehung des Historismus. 1942). threatened historical individuals (Kulturindividualitaten). Aphorismen und Skizzen zur Geschichte (Leipzig. to reintroduce 43DieEntstehungdes Historismus II. but through the back door. he indicated that historical "accident" (a phenomenon whose efficacy in history Croce's monistic approach precluded altogether)44 and the "typical" could and did often play a role in the life of a Kultur. and "accident"-Zufall-in history). Meinecke's pre-World War I concern over the issue of good and evil was the motivating factor which led him in the direction of his own efforts to individualize history. This caused him to give history an almost sanctified character-it was now the study of eternal verities as these were embodied in historical individuals. Meinecke and Croce were extremely close. can be called history as lived and thought. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 44History:Its Theory and Practice. from time to time.

the new religion of race.Geschichtschreibungund Weltanschauung.266 ROBERT A. (In this regard. and as a philosopher and thus a student of the manifestations of spirit. demonic "natural" patterns of causality. was in essence nothing else but a means to power for a thoroughly nihilistic tendency. Meinecke was able to view Nazism itself as a product of both. Meinecke.48 In Die deutsche Katastrophe. 1930 meeting of the German National People's Party." Meinecke could declare that the actual ideology of Nazism was unimportant: The ideology .Ranke und Burckhardt(Berlin. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . If a few anti-Nazi Nationalists had been present at the June 30.. while preserving the spiritual integrity of the Kulturmensch. Because Meinecke was admittedly not as systematic as Croce. One obvious consequence was the following: Meinecke could avoid condemning the role of German Kultur inasmuch as this phenomenon emerged only when man wished to concretize himself in the true. 1948). for which each ideology was correct only if it brought quick power...47 Furthermore. 1958). then perhaps the pernicious alliance with Hitler could have been avoided. Meinecke sought solace in the capricious role of Zufall. Meinecke's post-World War II writings clearly reveal those consequences for historical analysis that had to follow from his earlier polarization: "historical" Kulturindividualitdten vs. it is not easy to find concrete examples of his "positivizing" of historyin the name of Kultur. . Ranke und Burckhardt. the good. felt that he was drawing upon deeper spiritual wellsprings than was Croce. . Kotowski (Darmstadt. 488. However. Meinecke wanted to have it both ways-as an historian.480. and thus a student of disaster and tragedy as well as of the good. 50Ibid. 1949). [volkisches Deutschtum] . Thus. 47Meinecke. or the beautiful. the very Kulturindividualitaten themselves partook of the superrational.50 If Nazism could be viewed as resulting from unhistorical 46Hofer. On the other hand. G. It was this dichotomy which Croce sensed when he attacked Meinecke's efforts to incorporate the irrational into history.)46 In a sense. in his 1948 essay.95. In his 1948 essay. of course. 93. 29-31. ed. Meinecke was able to place the burden of blame for recent unhappy events upon a materialistic and selfish civilization. through his previous tying together of nature-bound elemental drives and demonic accident.49The accidental also raised its ugly head in the form of Hindenburg's senile weakness at a time when strength of resolve was most needed. "Zusammenarbeit. 48Meinecke. Politische Schriften und Reden. 49Meinecke. being spiritualized entities. POIS accident (Zufall) and the "typical" into history and thus to justify intellectually his own conception of history as being both positive (good) and negative (evil). This content downloaded on Tue.Die deutsche Katastrophe (Wiesbaden.

in his sacrificing of ethical judgment to historical (or "philosophical") judgment. of course. It was in this context. judgments. or perhaps he was maintaining that morality as a category-and hence.53 This indeed is one of his very well-known statements and. For. Croce himself. could be preserved intact-and unquestioned. in an often rather general fashion.HISTORICISM: CROCE AND MEINECKE 267 "nihilistic' tendencies and an amalgam of "accidents" dialectically related to these tendencies. insisted that history as history is contemporary. cannot always sharply differentiate between value in a heuristic 'sense and value in an ethical or moral sense. of course. that Meinecke advised his countrymen to recapture the spirit of Goethe's age: "In the age of Goethe. 53History:Its Theory and Practice. i.. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . inasmuch as Goethe was an embodiment of the uniquely German Kulturmensch. . enumeration. raised some rather profound problems for his own variety of historiography..172-73. Croce appears to have divorced subject from object. however."" Indeed.169. the Kulturindividualitiaten. perhaps unlike the philosopher. This content downloaded on Tue. In his sharp division between nonhistorical moral judgments and genuinely historical. Croce maintained throughout his career that history can only be history to the degree that it lives. and periodization.e. but are inextricably inter- twined. the eternal truths of history. philosophical.. i. is seen as representing one of the substantial differences between history and "chronicle. in fixed opposition. inextricably intertwined with more concrete philosophical concerns. the external was in the background. and the validity of Croce's earlier critique of Meinecke's approach to historicism established. often are of vital importance in determining just what aspects of the past are to be brought forward into life and thus become history. moral or perhaps even ethical concerns. participates in concerns and issues of the present. "Cosmopolitanism and national spirits are not . thus allowing the internal to develop freely. Croce appears to have sacrificed a vital aspect of the historical mode of thought in the name of philosophy: the participation of moral interests in history. little to do with resolving ques52Ibid."52 History had been sacrificed to a mystical permutation of it. moraljudgment cannot be so easily relegated to the realm of the practical as can such mnemonic devices as classification. The historian." Briefly. Croce.e.. as Croce himself admitted. In almost casually divorcing moral concerns and involvement from questions of right and wrong as discovered and resolved in an historical context. recapturing his spirit would allow Germany to preserve her uniqueness even while seeking to establish spiritual bonds with other nations. a time-conditioned aspect of history as philosophy-had 51Ibid. . In a word. 11-15.

and in reality had polarized history. how can one judge volition."57 This statement points to Croce's awareness of some very serious problems: How can one separate individual volition from result in history? In fact. and in fact cannot be judged. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . what we are con54Philosophyof the Practical.. Once volition is translated into result. Here. there can be little doubt that he felt a vague uneasiness about his solution. Croce maintained that we can apply a utilitarian or "moral" critique to a work of Kant or to Napoleon's unfortunate execution of the Duc d'Enghien.g."54 However. an uneasiness. was to reintroduce transcendency. 571bid. the action of the Whole. the action of the Individual is no longer the issue. economic or ethical history. we place ourselves at the point of view of the individual activity. 94. In a word... As can be seen. history as being itself judgment. "When we narrate artistic or philosophical.e. 55Ibid.e. 56Ibid. rather.. judgment of individual volition. In this work he attempted to resolve the issue by differentiating between judging individual works and judging so-called "historical" facts. which." are not to be judged.. if not in an ethical sense.97-98. and to these and not to history is the practical judgment applicable. To contemplate history is the same as to judge it. i. because it always transcends individuals. then certainly in itself. i. without judging the result? The only way Croce was able to solve the problem.56 History was progress. Croce certainly seemed to be aware of this problem. Croce fell back rather heavily upon his Hegelian ancestry. Rather. 256-57. The judgment of the world is its history. but of the Whole. This content downloaded on Tue. If the latter were indeed the case. upon the historical nexus of individuality and universality. Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht. The way in which Croce resolved this problem was purely Hegelian: "History is happening." things which Croce says are works "not of the individual. but. reflected in his willingness to allow the question to come in through the back door. POIS tions of right or wrong. and the only judgment that can be applied is thus the one of necessity and reality. how can one judge (in a utilitarian sense) the volition without judging ideological or philosophical origins? Further.55 Here. this was not done in any sort of eschatological sense. the historian can judge volition only in a utilitarian or moral fashion. "facts that have happened. as has been seen. from historical judgment. In the Philosophy of the Practical. however. it would appear that Croce's treatment of the problem was resolved in more of a semantic than a logical (and hence historical) fashion. history implied development.96.. At any rate. as we shall see. Stalin's purging of the kulaks for political reasons. e. What Croce had done was to impose his separation of practical judgment. is not to be judged practically.268 ROBERT A.

moral or civil aspects of spirit-to lower aspects of spirit. Indeed. to the higher strands of history. in a rather external and mechanical fashion.58 He made this judgment despite his efforts to bridge the gap.e. Croce. artificially created by German historiography..e. Croce had admitted the existence of historical phenomena. In other words. 173. are shattering. This content downloaded on Tue. However. Croce did not and could not establish a dialectic between the various levels of spirit.HISTORICISM: CROCE AND MEINECKE 269 fronted with is a curious transcendentalizing of the immanent. For now. between Kulturgeschichte and political history. 164. History: Its Theory and Practice. events or entities apparently possessed of little spiritual significance. 60History as the Story of Liberty. Perhaps suffering from an inner uneasiness. to allow these phenomena to receive rationality from the higher levels or moments of spirit with which they came in contact. in fact were being "illuded" not by a World Spirit. Croce had introduced a nondivine cunning of reason. e. 167. 59Ibid.59 However. whose wills were being judged morally. in his effort to expunge the irrational or the negative from history. if Croce was indeed eager to preserve his unification of history and philosophy. albeit on a lower level.. Croce did maintain that the more purely spiritual histories of civilization and culture were on a higher plane than histories of the state. the only means by which the unified nature of history could have been preserved would have been for Croce to reintroduce the 58Historyas the Story of Liberty. he in fact partially did this in his effort to preserve the vital distinction between practical judgment and historical judgment. the only way out of this dilemma would have been for him to have reintroduced the "List der Vernunft" back into his historical approach. transcendency in a perhaps horizontal rather than a vertical sense.60 The implications of this. 172-73. As we have seen above. on that level concerned with thirteenth-century military technology. In confronting the issue of judgment in history. took a curious position: things irrational or unfortunate became rational and perhaps even positive when the historian shifts his emphasis from the higher-i. He did this by extricating strands of "special" histories (as opposed to universal history) and then rejoining them.. i. The individuals. as seen above. He hoped. the positive nature of which can only be grasped as one descends from the higher levels of the moments of spirit to the lower. What Croce actually succeeded in doing was to provide a place for phenomena which were irrational when viewed philosophically. but by the sum total of historical events for which their wills were not responsible.g.. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . regained their spirituality. 150 fn. perhaps. the plunder and slaughter perpetrated by the legions of Ghengis Khan.

allowed his concern over the problem of good and evil to drive him into a peculiar variety of purely "positive" history. according to him. and. Another possible alternative for Croce would have been for him to accept something akin to Dilthey's "Objective Spirit. with emphasis upon Kultur-bearing historical individuals which are in essence distinct from the patterns of causality which condition and oppose their development. H. but spirit in itself. Croce. Yet. the object of the historian's task. in view of this dilemma.. did not want to do this. an unwanted dualism) which would have bound the mundane to the supramundane by impregnating it with the immanency of spirit realizing itself at the moment for itself. Everything that had been was rational to the extent that it was spirit. as we have seen.e. Furthermore. not manifesting itself. his efforts in the direction of a positive historical individual were bound to break down. in view of his rejection of the Hegelian sacrifice of history in the name of philosophy.. an intuitively grasped concept of the totality of experience of a given epoch. was adamant in maintaining that such a role had to be as limited as possible if history was not to partake of the characteristics of aesthetics. the problems involved in his reintroducing the elemental into Kulturgeschichte in the form of accident and the typical. 122-27. wanted very much to have it both ways-as a student of history and as a student of Kultur. 283-88. filled with a number of individuals. ed. 62Logic. 1962)." i. i. but virtually did so anyway. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Croce was confronted with much the same problem.e.270 ROBERT A. P. Pattern and Meaning In History. rather than because of. to rationalize. both logic and conscience led him to differentiate between the various aspects of spirit and to see one as substantially on a higher level than the other.61 However. Croce had sought to individualize. Croce did not recognize the good/evil dichotomy as being vital to historical investigation. while not rejecting the role of intuition in history. Like Meinecke-only in spite. a particular form. Croce. Croce's attempt to provide a niche for practical judgment in historical investigation led him towards that illusive aspect of Hegel which he disliked most. This content downloaded on Tue. We have already discussed the problems which this raised for Meinecke: the contradiction implied in attempting to somehow link together historical individuals into a coherent pattern (something that Meinecke sought to do). and the very introduction of the superrational Kulturindividualitaten. albeit in a different context.62 Meinecke. Rickman (New York. Yet. Meinecke. POIS "cunning of reason" (and thus. one from which his monism ostensibly should have shielded him. a morbid concern for good and evil-he attempted to transform history into a "positive" and therefore rational entity--a totality in itself. Kulturgeschichte. as we have said. Croce was bound to be 'Wilhelm Dilthey.

64 Yet. He thus indicated that these were qualitatively different from history per se. and the statism of German historiography-a factor which was due in no small infuriated and disgusted him. 64Historyas the Story of Liberty.. "wie es eigentlich gewesen ist" had to remain the uncongenial if stolid companion of those who sought to comprehend history in all its amoral individuality. "without it ethico-political history would come to lack its proper object." or as means to the ends of civil or ethicopolitical history.66 measure to Hegel-alternately 63History:Its Theory and Fractice. As simplistic or pious as it may have sounded. the Rankean dictum. he had to admit it back into history in the form of the accidental and tragic. as we have seen. The profound yet brutal nature of historical fact proved too tough for the neo-Hegelianism of Croce or the desperate mysticism of Meinecke. 66Historyas the Story of Liberty.. This content downloaded on Tue. Meinecke capitulated to twentieth-century horrors altogether. Historicism itself proved to be a jealous god. or "natural" history.HISTORICISM: CROCE AND MEINECKE 271 as unsuccessful as Meinecke in his effort. yet his very unwillingness to succumb to the temptations of transcendency forced him to confront negativity. economic. while he regarded such elements as obstacles to "civil history. Croce failed to be consistent. For. extracted the particular from the Rankean synthesis of general and particular.63 However. Croce had expelled it from history altogether. Philosophy of the Practical. yet. here again. and consecrated it upon the altar of the rationally unknowable. 165. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . . the elemental. intellectual honesty had to readmit the irrational in history."65 In a word. 150 ftn. 167-68. 65Ibid. He attempted to reject the histories concerned with these moments. 27-28. This closely paralleled his brilliant division of "practical activity" into logically united "ethical" and "economic" forms. Croce seemed less sure of himself. Croce's rationalism had caused him to reject Hegel. 84. In this regard he relegated specialized history to "histories of vitality as of the so-called inferior or natural reality of the human species. He fragmented history in the name of Kultur and then sacrificed Kultur to the emotions which called for its preservation. One had to take it whole or not at all. by allowing such things to be reabsorbed at the level of military. 477. in regard to history. he had to bring it back at the lowest moments of spirit. only to have to admit the importance of the vitality dwelling at these levels. First of all. Meinecke had placed it under the rubric of external forces of causality. tried to expunge the practical judgment altogether. for Croce. He did this. and to make it the extrinsic catalyst of spiritual progress. 53.. he had to admit that vitality was the element which gave moral and civil aspects of spirit "form and direction". in fact. proved to be as troublesome as it was for Meinecke. yet. Croce.Philosophy of the Practical.

This content downloaded on Tue. and the challenge posed by a sanguine nineteenth-century historian went unanswered. History had to stand on its own and no longer be the casuistic protector of national policy or the pallid shadow of the Absolute. If history consisted of Kulturindividualititen and if these entities were immune from rational investigation. in which the role of Germany's cultural heritage in relation to the origin of Nazi barbarism was hardly even considered. the two greatest twentieth-century representatives of historicism. although perhaps less profound.272 ROBERT A. but. particularly German Kultur. Yet. Meinecke had succeeded. in his post-World War II work. Meinecke sought to preserve the hallowed respectability of Kultur and yet preserve the historical individual. University of Colorado. the two became one and the zeitgebunden individual of Ranke became transformed into the timeless individuality of Meinecke. of course. POIS Hegel had to be brought down to earth. Meinecke's reasons for abandoning himself to an historical mysticism in the name of individuality were more obvious than Croce's. The apotheosis of Meinecke's approach was attained. could not remain within its sharply defined boundaries. much less historicism. the national heritage was secure. Die deutsche Katastrophe. at least in his own mind. As we have seen. Benedetto Croce and Friedrich Meinecke. 19 Mar 2013 09:39:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . from the vulgar forces of militarism and misused Realpolitik. Croce's own sensitivity forbade him from following through to the end the consequences of his division between moral judgment and historical judgment. One could argue that this hardly constituted history. For reasons both personal and cultural. So. in preserving Kultur.