Historical Representation

History and Theory 27 (3):205-228 (1988)
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Abstract

The vocabulary of representation is better suited to an understanding of historiography than the vocabularies of description and interpretation. Since both art and historiography represent the world, they are closer to science than are criticism and the history of art because the interpretation of meaning is the specialty of the latter two fields. Historiography is less secure in its attempt to represent the world than art is; historiography is more artificial, more an expression of cultural codes than art itself. Historiography is a suitable paradigm for studying certain philosophical problems, particularly epistemology, or codified representation. Representation always requires the presence of two sets of non-referential logical dummies; disturbing the symmetry between these logical dummies gives rise to the position of realism and idealism. Epistemology is strongly inclined to disturb this symmetry. The parallels between recent developments in art and those in historiography demonstrate how much historiography is part of the contemporary cultural world. The deficiencies of modern philosophy of history can largely be explained by its tendency to neglect the cultural significance of the writing of history

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