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Meaning, Truth, and Reference in Historical Representation$
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Frank Ankersmit

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450716

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450716.001.0001

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(p.29) Chapter 2 Time
Meaning, Truth, and Reference in Historical Representation

Frank Ankersmit

Cornell University Press

This chapter attempts to explain why historicist historians were basically right when they showed so little interest in the topic of history and time. It does so by discussing what several philosophers of history—Danto, Mink, Carr, Ricoeur, and Baumgartner—have said about time (and narrative). It interprets time in three different ways: (1) as a Kantian transcendental category; (2) as chronological time (or “clock time”); and (3) as embodying man's historicity (“lived time”). None of these three forms is time of much significance for the writing of history. Louis O. Mink was right when arguing that the function of time in the study of history is precisely to make itself invisible. Time certainly has its role to play in the writing of history, but its role is a negative rather than a positive one—and this may explain why such scant attention has been paid to it. After arguing for this somewhat paradoxical conclusion, the chapter returns to the transcendentalist approach. It discusses Baumgartner's most valuable proposal to see “narrative” as the transcendental condition of the possibility of historical knowledge.

Keywords:   time, historicist historians, historical writing, historicism, Arthur Danto, Louis Mink, E. H. Carr, Paul Ricoeur, Wilhelm Baumgartner, Kant

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