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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.102) Chapter 6 Truth
Meaning, Truth, and Reference in Historical Representation

Frank Ankersmit

Cornell University Press

This chapter attempts to develop a theory of truth that does justice to all the facts about historical representation established in the previous chapters. It argues that we are justified in speaking of historical truth. Not only are a historical text's individual sentences typically true of the past but the same can be said of that text as a whole, though in that case we are dealing with a different kind of truth. A historical representation may reveal to us a truth that is inherent in the world itself (namely, as embodied in the representation's presented) and that we can become aware of only through the representation in question. The rationality of historical debate—as exemplified in the history of historical writing—makes abundantly clear that this kind of (historical) truth is anything but irrational or arbitrary. Truth as revelation must therefore be added to the inventory of instruments we rely upon for the cognitivist conquest of the world in which we live.

Keywords:   historical representation, historical writing, historical truth, historical texts

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