Any history of ideas and concepts hinges on the observation that ideas and concepts change over time. This notion seems to be so self-evident that the question of why they change is rarely addressed.
Interestingly enough, it was only during the course of the nineteenth century that the notion of a history of ideas, concepts, and doctrines became widespread. Ideas increasingly became to be seen as contingent or “situational” as we might phrase it today. Ideas were no longer regarded as quasi-metaphysical entities unaffected by time and change. This hermeneutic shift from metaphysics to history, however, was far from sudden. It came about gradually and is still ongoing.
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