In philosophical circles, calling someone an historicist is like talking trash about someone's mother. It doesn't accomplish much, but it could rock a pretty lazy day.
Unless, of course, one's actually talking about a priori truth, which in this day and age is pretty rare.
Have you met an extreme apriorist lately? You have now, but I'll save the Austrian Methodenstreit topic for another time.
I visited Och's tea party after a six-month absence when friend Sophocles asked me to sound off on something. Unfortunately, Och's daily topic didn't permit my periodic anti-ecumenist diatribe, but it was almost as interesting:
I'm still trying to figure out what Och means by usury, because he describes all sorts of things as usurious, but I know it means something BAD.
To me, usury means:
ZIP. ZERO. NOTHING. NADA.
The East and West diverged in their treatment of interest on loans.
We all know how things went in the West: (1) Interest was outlawed, thanks to Aristotle and his episcopal cheerleaders and (2) Cardinal Cajetan saved Westerners from Aristotle's error. Deo Gratias.
How did things go in the East? Byzantium and Russia didn't outlaw interest. Their cultures were commercial. The West's was agrarian. The Fathers--the Real Ones--concerned themselves with loans and interest being charged to the destitute. Plainly put, it's uncharitable for someone to charge interest to a distressed borrower. Unpaid interest compounds over time and magnifies the distress of the already-distressed borrower. It's simple decency not to charge interest, and it's meritorious to forgive the principal as well.
Let's add another dimension--the penalty for nonpayment of debt. Back in the Fathers' time, failing to pays debts could land one and one's family and heirs in prison or slavery. When the Fathers talk about interest and enslavement, they mean it. It's not metaphorical.
Charging compounding interest to a distressed borrower heightens the probability that the borrower won't die as a free man.
You can call it usury. I call it evil.
In our casually-clothed age, however, debt enslavement is metaphorical. The borrower's downside is truncated by bankruptcy. Unpleasant, but one remains free. One can even pick a preferred chapter of the Bankruptcy Code.
When the Fathers talk about usury, it's good for us to know what they mean. All ya'll gotta look at the words, but what do the words mean?.
Sometimes meaning can be gleaned by the cultural and historical context that shaped their concepts and language. Sometimes context is an excuse for historicism.
By the way, Mom's fine. Thanks for asking.