The Necessity of Historicism

The Necessity of Historicism © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010 DOI: 10.1163/187226310X509547 Journal of the Philosophy of History 4 (2010) 226–240 brill.nl/jph The Necessity of Historicism Frank Ankersmit University of Groningen f.r.ankersmit@rug.nl Abstract Rankean historicism is ordinarily seen nowadays as an outdated nineteenth cen- tury fashion and that we could not possibly tolerate in our modern intellectual homes. In opposition to this common wisdom I argue that historicism – i.e. the claim that the nature of a thing is to be found in is history – is no less true for all writing of history as it was in the days of Ranke. So Ranke was right, after all. I shall argue my untimely thesis by focusing on the historian’s language and by insisting that all the claims made by historicists such as Ranke make eminently sense if read as claim not about objects having existed in the past itself but about the language used by historians in their attempt to account for the past. Keywords historicism, crisis of historicism, philosophy of language, Ranke, Mink, Rorty 1. Introduction The fiftieth anniversary of the journal History and Theory was celebrated in November 2009 with a conference in Middletown. Eight relatively young philosophers of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Philosophy of History Brill

The Necessity of Historicism

Journal of the Philosophy of History, Volume 4 (2): 226 – Jan 1, 2010

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2010 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1872-261X
eISSN
1872-2636
D.O.I.
10.1163/187226310X509547
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010 DOI: 10.1163/187226310X509547 Journal of the Philosophy of History 4 (2010) 226–240 brill.nl/jph The Necessity of Historicism Frank Ankersmit University of Groningen f.r.ankersmit@rug.nl Abstract Rankean historicism is ordinarily seen nowadays as an outdated nineteenth cen- tury fashion and that we could not possibly tolerate in our modern intellectual homes. In opposition to this common wisdom I argue that historicism – i.e. the claim that the nature of a thing is to be found in is history – is no less true for all writing of history as it was in the days of Ranke. So Ranke was right, after all. I shall argue my untimely thesis by focusing on the historian’s language and by insisting that all the claims made by historicists such as Ranke make eminently sense if read as claim not about objects having existed in the past itself but about the language used by historians in their attempt to account for the past. Keywords historicism, crisis of historicism, philosophy of language, Ranke, Mink, Rorty 1. Introduction The fiftieth anniversary of the journal History and Theory was celebrated in November 2009 with a conference in Middletown. Eight relatively young philosophers of

Journal

Journal of the Philosophy of HistoryBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2010

Keywords: philosophy of language; crisis of historicism; Rorty; Mink; Ranke; historicism

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