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Frank Ankersmit

Frank Ankersmit (1945) studied both history and philosophy in Groningen. Since 1992 he has been professor of intellectual history and historical theory at the University of Groningen. Since 1986 he has been a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of the Sciences (KNAW). He is member of the editorial board of the journal History and Theory (which is the leading international journal in the field), of Rethinking History, of Clio, of Historiography East and West, The Journal of the interdisciplinary crossroads. In 2007 he founded the Journal of the Philosophy of History, of which he is the editor-in-chief. He is a member of the Wissenschaftliche Beirat of the Kulturwissen- schaftliches Institut in Essen (Germany).

In 1990 De navel van de geschiedenis. Over interpretatie, representatie en historische realiteit (The Navel of History. On interpretation, representation and historical reality) was published by the Historische Uitgeverij, followed by Ankersmit’s inaugural lecture (1993), entitled De historische ervaring (The Historical Experience), in which, for the first time, he announces the end of theory, and his shift towards experience.

De sublieme historische ervaring (Sublime Historical Experience) was published in 2007 by the Historische Uitgeverij, and gives a thorough, and yet vivid and personal account of Ankersmit’s philosophical shift towards the historical experience of the past. In 2008, the assembled Dutch colleagues of Ankersmit praised his Sublieme historische ervaring as the most original philosophical book of the year, and rewarded the author with the prestigious Dutch Socrates-Prize.

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De sublieme historische ervaring

isbn 978 90 6554 1130

480 pp., with 10 black and white illustrations

3000 copies sold

For more information, please contact Patrick Everard

cover of De sublieme historische ervaring

Sublime Historical Experience

In Sublime historical experience, philosopher of history Frank Ankersmit offers a systematic account of the history of the concept of experience and rehabilitates experience as a philosophical concept. In Ankersmit’s view, history will remain remote if it is limited to an objective analysis of documents. He criticises all theoretical approaches in philosophy and historiography of the past decades that leave no space for experience, pointing out that it is missing even from the work of those thinkers, such as Gadamer and Rorty, who are most attuned to it.

Ankersmit sets out across a landscape full of unknowns and taboos, taking his reader on an extraordinary intellectual adventure. He takes up where the famous Dutch historian Johan Huizinga left off: when Huizinga saw an exhibition of paintings by Flemish primitives in 1902, he was so overwhelmed by a sense of direct contact with the past that it prompted him to think about what really connects us with earlier times. Ankersmit passionately defends the role of experience in the writing of history. The historian can only see the past as truly real when he regards himself as part of it. Individual aesthetic experience can provide unmediated access to the reality of the past. Ankersmit proposes a new, ‘romantic’ approach to history, in which this ‘sublime historical experience’ plays a central role. Sublime historical experience is a challenge to traditional conceptions of the relationship between experience and truth and can provide us with new insights into the all-important question how we should approach the past.

Sublime historical experience is a major contribution to the lively international debate about the nature of history as a discipline and the role of experience in our encounters with the past. This is a wonderfully provocative book, ambitious and quirky in all the right ways, written by an internationally acclaimed scholar at the height of its powers.” — Martin Jay, Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History at Berkeley University.

“Ankersmit is one of our subtlest and most accomplished philosophers, with a range and depth of understanding that are impressive and worthy of the great tradition of Dutch cultural commentary from which his thought derives. His work in philosophy of history, political philosophy and aesthetics is original and provocative.” — Hayden White, University of California

De navel van de geschiedenis

isbn 978 90 6554 1116

copies sold

For more information, please contact Patrick Everard

cover of De navel van de geschiedenis

De historische ervaring

isbn 978 90 6554 1123

50 pp., and 1 illustration in colour

2000 copies sold

For more information, please contact Patrick Everard

cover of De historische ervaring

The Historical Experience

How can we know the past at all? In The historical experience, Ankersmit argues that historical representation and debate alone are not sufficient. The historian can only truly understand the past if he is open to the ‘historical experience’ – a moment in which the historian has the authentic feeling of a direct and unmediated contact with the past, where the lines separating past and future dissolve. The historical experience is based on Ankersmit’s inaugural lecture, which constitutes the starting point for his quest for the nature of the historical experience. It is a wonderful introduction to a new way of perceiving history. This controversial book caused an intense debate among historians and is still a challenging and thought-provoking work to read.

“A convincing plea for the rehabilitation of the historical experience as the alpha and omega of historiography” — Ger Groot – NRC Handelsblad

“Revolutionary philosophy of history by Ankersmit, who disregards theory of knowledge in favour of the historical experience” — Piet Gerbrandy – De groene Amsterdammer


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omslag Ankersmit De sublieme historische ervaring
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omslag Ankersmit De sublieme historische ervaring
isbn 9780804749367