Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

What Could It Mean for Historians to Maintain a Dialogue With the Past?

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Journal of the Philosophy of History

When historians claim to maintain a “dialogue with the past,” this metaphor is usually interpreted in epistemological terms. Although this is not necessarily wrong, the present article presents a broader reading of the metaphor by arguing that the imperative to engage in “dialogue with the past” can be understood as an ethical claim to scholarly integrity. This argument proceeds from the assumption that historians are usually engaged in multiple “relations with the past” as well as in multiple relations with present-day instances, varying from colleagues and readers to publishers and university administrators. These different relations, in turn, can be seen at least in part as corresponding to a range of different I-positions, some of which tend more towards the monologic than towards the dialogic. Maintaining a dialogue with the past, then, means that the I-position of what this article calls an “inquisitive listener,” characterized by dialogic virtues such as curiosity, imagination, openness, attentiveness, and humility, is cultivated and, if necessary, protected against other, more dominant I-positions, such as the “ground-breaking scholar” and the “best-selling author.” In sum, this article reinterprets the metaphor of a dialogue with the past to such effect that historians are encouraged to critical self-reflection: how dominant or recessive are their respective I-positions and to what extent should they, for integrity’s sake, be challenged or supported?

Affiliations: 1: Leiden University, Institute for


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Journal of the Philosophy of History — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation