Historical Experience as a Mode of Comprehension

in Journal of the Philosophy of History
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In the past two and a half decades, Frank Ankersmit has developed a complex notion of historical experience. Despite its many virtues it has at least one major difficulty: it implies a sharp separation between experience and language. This essay aims to bridge this gap, while preserving the positive aspects of Ankersmit’s theory. To do this, I will first present the ontological and epistemological implications of Ankersmit’s notion of historical experience. Next, I will present my objections to his idea. Finally, I will propose two modifications to his notion of historical experience: first, in the epistemological sense by considering historical experience as a form of Louis Mink’s configurational comprehension and, second, in the ontological sense by relating historical experience with the vitalist ontology of José Ortega y Gasset.

Historical Experience as a Mode of Comprehension

in Journal of the Philosophy of History

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References

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See especially: C. Behan McCullagh“Bias in Historical Description, Interpretation, and Explanation”History and Theory 39 n.o 1 (2000) 39–66; Michel S. Roth Memory Trauma and History: Essays on Living with the Past (New York Columbia University Press 2012) 293 especially chapter 10 “Ebb Tide: Frank Ankersmit”; Paul A. Roth “Whistling History: Ankersmit’s Neo-Tractarian Theory of Historical Representation” paper presented at the inth Inaugural Conference Ghent July 2013 (full draft available in http://www.inth.ugent.be/?page_id=3912); Peter P. Icke Frank Ankersmit’s lost historical cause: a journey from language to experience (New York: Routledge 2012).

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Martin JaySongs of Experience. Modern American and European Variations on a Universal Theme (Berkeley: University of California Press2005) 216–260.

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AnkersmitSublime Historical Experience102. The many implication of this idea are fully developed in chapter 8 317–368.

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AnkersmitSublime Historical Experience125.

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David Boucher“The Creation of the Past: British Idealism and Michael Oakeshott’s Philosophy of History”History and Theory23:2 (1984) 193–214 196.

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F. Nietzsche“On the Use and Abuse of History for Life”Untimely Meditations1874.

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AnkersmitSublime Historical Experience229.

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AnkersmitSublime Historical Experience121.

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AnkersmitExperiencia histórica sublime68–70.

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AnkersmitSublime Historical Experience248.

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AnkersmitSublime Historical Experience249.

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AnkersmitSublime Historical Experience125.

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AnkersmitSublime Historical Experience250–251.

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AnkersmitSublime Historical Experience252–254.

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E. Bullough“ ‘Psychical distance’ as a Factor in Art and an Aesthetic Principle”British Journal of Psychology5:2 (1912) 87–118.

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AnkersmitSublime Historical Experience256. Ankersmit’s italics. In the Spanish edition it says just “experience” instead of “pae” and the italics are gone.

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See: D. C. Mathur“A Note on the Concept of ‘Consummatory Experience’ in Dewey’s Aesthetics”The Journal of Philosophy63:9 (1966) 225–231.

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MinkHistorical Understanding52–53.

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MinkHistorical Undestanding55.

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AnkersmitSublime Historical Experience119. My italics.

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Ortega“Meditación de nuestro tiempo”46–47.

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Ortega“History as a System”310.

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