Ankersmit’s Dutch Writings and Their Audience

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History
Jacques Bos Universiteit van Amsterdam

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This article analyses Frank Ankersmit’s Dutch-language writings in the context of Dutch debates on historical theory. In the 1970s and 1980s historical theory became a flourishing discipline in the Netherlands; it was a compulsory part of all history programmes in the country, and all history departments employed one or more historical theorists. The Dutch theoretical debates of the 1970s and 1980s mainly dealt with the relation between history and the social sciences. In these debates Ankersmit defended the traditional historicist conception of historiography, while developing philosophical views that would remain important in his later work. Especially relevant in this respect is his critique of linguistic transcendentalism. This view is already present in his earliest writings in the 1970s, but it also informs his work on historical representation of the late 1980s and 1990s, and it is very important in his analysis of historical experience, which has its roots in his Dutch writings of the mid-1990s.

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