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The Necessity of Historicism

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Rankean historicism is ordinarily seen nowadays as an outdated nineteenth century fashion and that we could not possibly tolerate in our modern intellectual homes.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.

Affiliations: 1: University of Groningen, Email: f.r.ankersmit@rug.nl

10.1163/187226310X509547
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/content/journals/10.1163/187226310x509547
2010-01-01
2016-12-09

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