History, Before and Beyond the Limit

in Journal of the Philosophy of History
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Abstract

What is the relation between past and present, and what role does historical research, writing and thinking play in regards to that relation? Does it, for instance, primarily record the features of objective breaks and continuities between past and future (as A. Danto has it) or does it rather institute those breaks and continuities (as C. Fasolt has recently argued)? Here I stress that historical understanding is a basic dimension of understanding in general, including understanding of the relation of past and future. Historical research, writing and thinking promise indefinite expansion and qualification of that understanding. In contrast to Danto and with Fasolt, I hold that the possibilities of qualification cannot be definitively foreclosed; against Fasolt I urge an epistemological optimism about the consequences of that admission.

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