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History and Historicity (Geschichtlichkeit)

HISTORY AND HISTORICITY (GESCHICHTLICHKEIT)

Standard English dictionaries have not furnished a definition of historicity corresponding even roughly to that given the term Geschichtlichkeit by German existentialists. Owing to the diversity in German existentialist thought, the terms geschichtlich (historical) and Geschichtlichkeit (historicity) exhibit a fairly wide semantic range. However, it may be said in general that, from the existentialist point of view, the historically significant is not necessarily identified completely with the factually historical. Thus, because of their impact on the individual believer, the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ are to be regarded as historically significant, whether factually established or not. Geschichtlichkeit may be described approximately as the full, authentic, active, and durative expression of a belief or movement in terms of personal participation and in relation to a given time. It can be used in an absolute sense, but also in a relative sense as well. It has application to the general as well as to the particular, and to the individual in relation to the community. It often involves contrasts and paradoxes. Geschichtlichkeit implies a rejection of traditional metaphysics, but, despite its opposition to certain aspects of historicism on the factual side, it likewise reflects, in some of its representatives at least, a relativistic concept of truth.

See Also: history, philosophy of; history, theology of; existentialism.

Bibliography: a. darlapp, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 4:780783, with bibliog. a. brunner, Geschichtlichkeit (Bern-Munich 1961). w. kamlah, Christentum und Geschichtlichkeit (2d ed. Stuttgart 1951), esp. 730. g. hasenhÜttl, Geschichte und existenziales Denken (Wiesbaden 1965).

[m. r. p. mcguire]

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