Frank Ankersmit's Lost Historical Cause
A Journey from Language to Experience
By Peter Icke
Routledge – 2012 – 198 pages
Series: Routledge Approaches to History
The contemporary Dutch historical theorist/philosopher Frank Ankersmit, an erstwhile advocate and promulgator of what has become known as "the linguistic turn" in historical theory, is very well known within the discipline. His early position with regard to the historical text is frequently discussed and evaluated today, and his writings on the subject are often cited. However, this former narrativist position, so robustly and effectively defended by Ankersmit in the past, has been progressively marginalized by Ankersmit himself as his current and radically different theoretical position, most fully expressed in his recent publication Sublime Historical Experience, now (for him) takes precedence. Yet, despite this radical shift in Ankersmit's position, this conspicuous "conversion" of an eminent prime mover in the field of mainstream language centred historical theory, there has been no comprehensive and sustained (investigative) critique of his various works taken in the whole. Consequently, there has until now been no close reading and analytical dissection of that whole, such that Ankersmit's overall trajectory of philosophical thought might be adequately discerned, and perhaps even explained. In short, there is a vacant space here, and the function of this book is, precisely, to fill that space.
'This first full-scale critique of Frank Ankersmit’s historical theorising is extremely valuable. The author’s close analysis of the character and implications of his subject’s intellectual development throws considerable light on some previously un-noticed, or ignored, difficulties, which really do need to be addressed. This work is likely to be not only of theoretical interest, but also potentially of some practical importance for historical studies.' – Alan Munslow, University of Chichester, UK
'Peter Icke’s pioneering assessment of Frank Ankersmit’s historical thinking and practice is in itself a substantial contribution to the debates on the nature of history. As with Ankersmit’s own work, this book is indispensable reading for anyone interested in contemporary historical thought.' – Beverley Southgate, University of Hertfordshire, UK
'This book is an excellent and invaluable addition to the literature on the philosophy of history and is a generous, balanced and sympathetic account of the work of Frank Ankersmit, whilst also being critical and sharply argued. It has the great merit of being both accessible to readers who have not previously encountered Ankersmit’s work and of great value to those who already engaged in these debates in the philosophy of history.' – James Connelly, University of Hull, UK
Introduction 1. The Good Ankersmit 2. A Moment of Hesitation 3. Ankersmit in Transition 4. Sublime Historical Experience Conclusion Bibliography
Peter P. Icke is a Lecturer in the Department of History, University of Chichester, UK.