Ankersmit’s Leibnizism

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History
Daniel Fairbrother University of Oulu

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This paper takes as a starting-point the ostensibly enormous distance between Frank Ankersmit’s Leibnizian concerns in the philosophy of historiography and the contents of works of history. Sections 1, 2 and 3 display this distance by juxtaposing the details of a historical example with the basic features of Leibniz’ philosophy and Ankersmit’s mediation of it. Section 4 discusses the relationship between Ankersmit’s Leibniz-inspired apriorism and empirical historiography. Sections 5 and 6 explain the Leibnizian logic standing behind Ankersmit’s ideas about historical representations as self-sufficient semantic (“intensional”) objects. Sections 7 and 8 consider some objections to Ankersmit’s Leibnizism and his likely replies. Section 9 emphasises just how committing is Ankersmit’s claim that historical representations are “strong individuals”. A final comment on how to view the distance between Ankersmit’s Leibnizism and the contents of works of history is offered in section 10.

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